Posts Tagged ‘California’

Recovering from bankruptcy-induced defunding in Stockton

July 21, 2020

This article profiles Stockton, California, which went through defunding caused by bankruptcy following the 2008 recession. The department shrank by over 100 officers then and was left with only about 1 officer per 1,000 residents, among the lowest ratios in the country. The agency still has below-average salaries that cause continuing turnover challenges, but crime has fallen and the clearance rate for homicides is about 80%. The chief initiated tough conversations about race and has emphasized relationship-building and engagement both in the community and within the department, noting that officers “suffered from working in an oppressive system, and that too needed to change.” The city is still in a difficult situation, but the chief credits what has been achieved to “better communication and responsiveness in neighborhoods where people felt disenfranchised, a reliance on community organizations to fill in gaps where police lack resources and a system that rewards officers for positive interactions, not just arrests.”

Fewer police shootings in large cities

June 8, 2020

Since the Washington Post and others started systematically counting deaths in police custody 5 years ago, the total number per year in the U.S. has stayed relatively flat. However, this analysis reports that the number has decreased 30% in large cities since 2013, and 17% since 2015. There has also been a 37% decrease in total (fatal and non-fatal) police shootings since 2013, according to data available for 23 of the large cities. These drops have been offset by increases in suburban and rural areas. The author speculates that reforms implemented in many big cities since 2015 have not been as widely adopted in non-urban jurisdictions.

Study finds LAPD community safety partnership effective

May 15, 2020

LAPD began its community safety partnership in public housing developments in 2011 in an effort to reduce violent crime and gang activity. As reported here, there was little impact initially, but since 2014 homicides, aggravated assaults, and robberies are down in comparison to similar areas of the city. In addition, “Most of the residents surveyed had good impressions of CSP and said the officers generally got along well with people.” One challenge is the aggressive style employed by other units in the police department. A civil rights leader who helped fund the evaluation said “The LAPD has vastly improved its relationships with minority communities, but CSP still clashes with the traditional ‘warrior’ style of policing.”

Police budget cuts looming

May 6, 2020

The economic fallout from COVID-19 is expected to have an impact on police agency budgets. San Diego’s proposal would reduce helicopter air support and eliminate 7 civilian investigator positions, a recruiting initiative, and funding for at-risk youth mentoring, as reported here. The L.A. County sheriff plans to close 2 patrol stations, cancel 4 of 12 academy classes, and cut 10 positions from homeless outreach, as reported here. Baltimore’s mayor is proposing cutting hundreds of vacant positions city-wide, reducing additional district-level intelligence centers from 5 to 2, reducing helicopter air time, and reorganizing the mounted and traffic units, as reported here.

At-home rape kits

April 23, 2020

One California county has begun using at-home rape kits as “a temporary protocol put in place amid staff shortages and fears of infection during the coronavirus pandemic,” as reported here. The process includes police delivering the kit to the victim’s residence, and then a video call with the victim, the officer, an advocate, and a forensic nurse. The practice is not used for child victims and is only an option when adult victims are willing and physically able to conduct their own examination. A local prosecutor indicates that she is “confident that the evidence collected in those exams would be admissible in court.”

Extreme speeders on empty roads

April 22, 2020

This article reports another pandemic-related phenomenon — extreme speeding on nearly empty roads. Nationally, vehicle traffic has dropped by about two-thirds, which should result in fewer crashes, but some states have experienced increased high-speed fatalities. According to one official, “People are saying, ‘Wow, the roads are wide open. There’s no one here but me.’ We’re seeing incredibly crazy, off-the-chart speed and aggressiveness.” Police in several states report 100+ mph violations becoming common.

Retail crime during the pandemic

April 11, 2020

This article discusses recent trends in retail crime due to business closures, social distancing, and other factors at work during the virus pandemic. Based on Los Angeles data, retail burglary is up, likely due to more closed businesses, many of which lack strong security measures. Retail robberies spiked in mid-March, concentrated in those businesses remaining open. Overall shoplifting has declined, but appears to be up in the smaller number of retail businesses still in operation. One expert notes that “while some may have been intimidated initially, the fear may be disappearing quickly, with some criminals taking advantage of limited guardianship. Furthermore, some perpetrators may have heightened motivation to commit crimes as they lose their sources of income.”

Policing social distance

March 27, 2020

This article reports on police involvement in enforcing “social distancing.” Agencies are using public education, warnings, business checks, and visible presence to encourage voluntary compliance, but are finding that stricter action is sometimes necessary. This has included breaking up gatherings, removing basketball hoops on public courts, and issuing citations. Cities are also using building inspectors, code enforcement staff, fire personnel and others to augment police in enforcing shutdown and stay-at-home orders along with social distancing.

Policing coronavirus

March 18, 2020

In response to the coronavirus, police are taking extra precautions, revising their operational strategies, being given additional authority, and even asking criminals to take a holiday, as reported here, here, and here. Specific measures adopted in some places include:

  • Encouraging victims of minor crimes to make reports on-line or over the telephone.
  • When police response is needed, having victims/witnesses meet police outside homes/offices.
  • Encouraging police to avoid enforcement of minor traffic and criminal violations.
  • When people telephone the police for assistance, asking screening questions to determine the level of virus risk for responding police.
  • Having police wait for medics to arrive at scenes of accidents, injuries, etc. when immediate life-saving isn’t required (medics have better masks, gowns, etc. than police).
  • Restricting use of road-side breath-testing equipment in cases of suspected drunk driving.
  • Using drones and other surveillance systems to assess situations before police arrive.
  • Allowing administrative staff to work from home.
  • Using 1-officer rather than 2-officer patrols to enhance social distancing.
  • Shifting more police to patrol duties (from investigations and other operational or administrative assignments).

Citizens in charge

February 22, 2020

In most American cities and towns, the police chief is hired and fired by a mayor or city manager, sometimes requiring city council approval, though in a few states chiefs have civil service protection that keeps them from being fired except for cause. An exception is Oakland, California, where voters overwhelmingly approved, in 2016, creation of an elected 7-member police commission that can fire the chief for cause, and can fire the chief even without cause, if the mayor agrees. The commission has done just that, terminating Chief Anne Kirkpatrick after 3 years in the position, as reported here. The mayor “spoke highly of Kirkpatrick even as she joined the police commission in firing her,” suggesting that opposing the commission would have been too costly, politically.