Posts Tagged ‘California’

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.

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.”