Posts Tagged ‘California’

An app named Citizen

March 17, 2019

Now available in New York and a few other cities, the Citizen app rebroadcasts and maps selected police, fire, and EMS calls, so a user can be aware of any dangerous activity in their proximity. As reported here, users are warned to stay safe, but also encouraged to submit photos, video, and commentary from the scenes of incidents. The company says more than 100,000 live videos have been recorded; an alert about a recent car fire in Times Square hit 31,000 phones. Currently the app is free with no advertising, but future commercialization seems inevitable.

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Social media guidebook

March 6, 2019

The Urban Institute has published a social media guidebook for law enforcement agencies, available here. The document, focused mainly on Twitter, “provides data-driven recommendations and step-by-step strategies for agencies that want to use social media to enhance community engagement.” One observation is that agencies of all sizes and types can benefit — “nearly any agency that has buy-in from leadership can effectively engage with their community through social media.”

Focus on wellness in Stockton

February 23, 2019

This article describes Stockton, California PD’s wellness network aimed at helping officers deal with stress and trauma. The award-winning initiative includes a significant orientation for new recruits and proactive measures when officers encounter difficult situations in the field. The police department endured layoffs earlier in the decade while the city went through bankruptcy, adding to the burdens facing officers in a violent, high-crime environment. So far, worker’s compensation claims are down as are citizen complaints.

Risk management vs. civil rights

February 14, 2019

This article discusses the impact of Lexipol, a California-based company that provides policies to 3,400 public safety agencies around the U.S. The company says that agencies using its policies experience a reduction in legal claims and payments to plaintiffs. Critics say the approach is focused more on minimizing lawsuits than on improving police services to the public — “They’re designed for maximum protection against civil liability. It’s not maximum protection of civil rights.”

Bike fatalities up

February 11, 2019

Bike fatalities in 2016 were the highest since 1990, with 835 deaths, according to this article. One contributing factor could be the 50% increase over time in the number of people commuting to work on bicycles. Interestingly, though, several cities with the highest rates of biking to work — Portland, Minneapolis, DC, San Francisco, Seattle — had among the lowest fatality rates. The highest bike fatality rates were in Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and Jacksonville.

Improving recruiting

February 5, 2019

This new report presents results from projects in 21 different jurisdictions aimed at identifying police recruiting messages and processes that produce more applicants and more people following through in the hiring process. The Behavioral Insights Team helped evaluate various alternatives to determine which ones worked better than others. One finding was that “Even small changes in how jobs are advertised can make a real difference to both the total number of applicants and the diversity of those applicants.”

49 recommendations for Sacramento

January 31, 2019

Following a fatal officer-involved shooting last year, Sacramento PD asked the state attorney general for an outside review of policies and practices. That review has been completed with 49 recommendations, as reported here, covering use of force policies, reporting, training, and investigation, along with complaint procedures, community engagement, and transparency. The full report is available here. In support of the recommendations, the police chief said “The Sacramento Police Department is not interested in being ‘good enough’,” while the mayor promised the city would become a leader in law enforcement, saying “We’re not going to try to huddle in the middle of the pack.”

Crime down in Los Angeles

January 29, 2019

Homicides dropped 8% in Los Angeles in 2018 and rapes were down 12%, as reported here. Murders in the city peaked in 1992 at over 1,000 but were at 259 last year. Overall since 1992, LA’s violent crime has decreased 67% and property crime is down 60%, despite increased population. Also last year, the police department had 11 fewer officer-involved shootings compared to 2017.

Murder clearance rates have actually improved — with one big exception

January 26, 2019

This article analyzes city clearance rates for murders and shootings. One key finding is a drop from 65% to 42% since the 1980s in the clearance rate for black and Hispanic victims killed by guns — aside from this category, murder clearance rates have actually improved. Also, non-firearm homicides, which are more likely to yield DNA and other suspect evidence, are solved at higher rates regardless of victim characteristics. Solve rates for non-fatal shootings vary widely but tend to be well below those for murder, at least in part due to overwhelming caseloads.

Rapid DNA in action

January 22, 2019

This article reports early adoption of Rapid DNA technology in Bensalem, Pennsylvania and a few other sites around the country. The equipment requires little training and returns results in 90 minutes. Scientists are generally satisfied with the accuracy of matches from cheek swabs but consider crime scene DNA much more complicated to process and interpret. A current limitation is that most machines only link to local databases, not the FBI’s national CODIS system. Critics worry that the technology will tempt police to collect DNA from anyone they deem suspicious, leading to an ever-larger DNA database susceptible to misuse.