Posts Tagged ‘California’

Impact of opening records in California

January 10, 2019

This editorial details one quick result of a new law in California unlocking certain police personnel records. An officer, facing termination in 2018 for offering to help a DUI suspect in return for sex, was allowed to resign and the DA chose not to prosecute, citing lack of corroborating evidence. Unknown to the DA, the police internal investigation had turned up two similar complaints against the same officer. Now armed with that additional information, the DA is considering whether prosecution is warranted. In the editors’ view, “It’s time for police to support transparency and law and order. It’s time for them to stop trying to cover up for bad cops.”


New public records law in California

December 23, 2018

New legislation in California taking effect January 1 increases public access to “internal investigations of officer shootings and other major uses of force, along with confirmed cases of sexual assault and lying while on duty.” Existing law, though, only requires departments to retain such records for 5 years. This article reports city approval in Inglewood to destroy more than 100 older records before the new statute takes effect. Other cities are wrestling with what to do with their records.

Berkeley not so special any more

December 22, 2018

Berkeley PD has many unfilled positions and has lost experienced officers to other agencies in recent years, something that rarely happened before, according to this article. The agency has a distinctive history going all the way back to August Vollmer, and was the “go to” agency in northern California for many years. Current and departed personnel cite expanding workload, long hours, political interference, weak leadership, and lack of public support. One comments “You would never walk into some accounting firm and go up to someone at their cubicle and tell them they’re not doing their job right. But there’s this weird sense among residents they know police work and can tell you how to do your job.”

LASD disbands Domestic Highway Enforcement team

December 15, 2018

An LA sheriff’s team working the I-5 freeway was recently found by media and official inquiries to be stopping and searching Latino drivers at a disproportionately high rate. As reported here, the team has now been disbanded until further notice. Earlier, the county’s inspector general “questioned the reason for the unit’s existence and said sheriff’s officials failed to take heed of several federal court rulings that found the deputies on the team violated the rights of motorists by detaining them longer than was reasonable.”

Short-term results from foot patrol in San Francisco

December 6, 2018

This article reports a 17% drop in thefts and 19% drop in assaults in San Francisco following reassignment of 69 officers to foot patrol in 2017. The main target was thefts, especially from autos, which had nearly doubled since 2010, from 2,100 per month to over 4,000, with a very low clearance rate. Analysis by UC-Berkeley documented the decline in offenses over the first few months of the initiative, while controlling for other variables. However, “the additional foot patrols didn’t impact the city’s other most-frequently reported crime categories, including robbery, burglary … vandalism and vehicle theft.”

Mass casualty threat assessment

November 11, 2018

This article by a chief in California discusses the challenge facing police when they have some information about an individual who might pose a mass casualty threat, but not enough evidence to make an arrest. He realized that his officers needed better guidance to help them decide whether a preventive intervention was warranted — “Threat assessments must be more than a gut feeling or hair-raising hunch.” A 12-question tool was developed based on research and expert advice and officers were trained. The tool has been used once so far, to avert a possible workplace violence incident.

2018 Goldstein award winner

November 8, 2018

This year’s winner of the Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing is the Chula Vista, California Police Department for its initiative focused on reducing domestic violence. The agency analyzed over 10,000 DV calls and incidents and then implemented a tiered response model in one district, resulting in a 24% reduction in domestic violence crimes and positive feedback from both victims and police officers. The initiative is now being expanded department-wide. The winning submission along with other finalists will be posted on the website of the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing.

The murky side of police foundations

November 2, 2018

This article reports criticism of the police foundation in one California city where police sought funds from companies they do business with and told potential donors that contributions would provide access to “dignitaries” and “movers and shakers.” While the current flap is political and has come up during election season, it points to a more fundamental ethical issue for public agencies (the police) expected to be fair and impartial. There are an estimated 250 of these local police foundations around the country, most offering little transparency. The ethical issue also affects national professional organizations like IACP and PERF that rely heavily on corporate donors.

Transit agencies & homelessness

October 27, 2018

This article reports several examples of cities and transit systems responding to challenges presented by homelessness. Subway stations and other transit facilities are often chosen by homeless people for weather protection and some remain open throughout the night. Philadelphia has brought social services into metro stations and police in Minneapolis have taken the lead in obtaining housing and shelter options for people they encounter.

Michigan lacks standards for volunteer police

October 25, 2018

This article reports that there are about 3,000 armed reserve officers and deputies serving agencies throughout Michigan. Some departments impose hiring and training requirements but the state has thus far failed to establish minimum standards, despite legislation authorizing its POST to do so. Nationally, California and Nevada are among states with established standards for volunteer officers, but others haven’t acted.