Posts Tagged ‘DC’

Fallout from 2020 protests

April 5, 2022

A federal jury in Denver has awarded $14 million to 12 protesters who were “hit with pepper balls and a bag filled with lead” during post-George Floyd protests in 2020, as reported here. According to the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, there are at least 29 other similar lawsuits pending, including ones in New York, Washington, and Rochester. Meanwhile, last month 19 Austin PD officers were indicted on two counts each of aggravated assault resulting in injuries to 11 protesters in May 2020, mainly from beanbag rounds, as reported here. One use-of-force expert cites the relative lack of training for police on handling protests, noting “it would be prohibitively expensive to have officers practice deploying equipment” such as rubber bullets, pepper balls, bean bag rounds, and gas cannisters.

More died from gunshots than car crashes in 2020

January 11, 2022

According to CDC data, gunshot deaths exceeded car crash fatalities in 2020 for the 4th year in a row, as reported here. More than 45,000 people died of gunshot wounds in the U.S., an all-time high. The total was up 14% over 2019, the biggest one year spike on record. The age-adjusted gun death rate was the highest since 1994. The increase was largely driven by homicides, which increased 35% in one year. Mississippi and Louisiana had the highest rates of gun deaths, while Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New Jersey had the lowest. Mississippi’s rate was more than 8 times higher than Hawaii’s and more than twice the national average. Nationally, Black males between the ages of 15-34 continued to bear the brunt of gun homicides, accounting for 42% of victims — but representing only 2% of the population.

Arbitration not the only discipline hurdle

December 20, 2021

Many chiefs have been frustrated when arbitrators overturn their discipline decisions, forcing them to reinstate fired officers. This article describes a different twist in the DC police. When their internal process results in a termination recommendation, accused officers can appeal to the Adverse Action Panel, an internal body made up of three members from a rotating pool of agency commanders. The panel effectively has the final say — the chief of police cannot impose a punishment any harsher than the panel’s decision. One analysis over a 10-year period found the panel had overturned 21 of 24 firing recommendations, imposing lighter punishments instead. Separately, a former head of discipline in the agency estimated the panel had overturned almost 2/3 of decisions during his tenure.

New Capitol Police Chief

August 13, 2021

The U.S. Capitol Police have a new chief, Thomas Manger, formerly chief in Montgomery County, MD and Fairfax County, VA. As reported here, he was happily retired as of January 5, and then the next day could not believe what he watched on television. “I got very emotional. It was horrible. I watched cops getting hurt just trying to do their job so the members of Congress could do their job. It just shook me,” he says. Settling into his new position, Manger emphasizes that he’s not going to play politics. “It is the only way to stay true to the job. I’m politically agnostic. I’ve met the members of the committees that have oversight. I’ve met Democratic and Republican leaders. They’ve been very helpful. What they’ve said is encouraging. They just want me to communicate with them.”

COPS Guide on civilian oversight

August 6, 2021

The COPS Office has published a report on civilian oversight of law enforcement, available here. Prepared by the National Association of Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE), the report “combines survey data, case studies of oversight bodies nationwide, and a literature review to outline the history of civilian oversight and its spread; define three standard oversight models and discuss their implementation; propose 13 principles for effective oversight; and provide recommendations for each within an effective practices framework.” Links to an executive summary and case studies from 9 cities are available here.

Policing the American City

February 24, 2021

A new book, Tangled Up in Blue: Policing the American City is authored by a law professor, in her 40s, who joined the Washington, DC Metro Police as a reserve officer. It describes her path through the police academy and several years as a patrol officer in one of DC’s toughest districts. The book has gotten favorable coverage here and here, and there’s an excerpt here. The author doesn’t spare criticism, but also describes the “humanity of front-line officers and the despair of the people who are trapped in a cycle of poverty, poor decisions, and a criminal justice system designed for everything but justice.” Reviewers agree the book will challenge both supporters and detractors of the police.

Rise in carjacking

February 8, 2021

The increase in homicides in 2020 has gotten a lot of attention, but another crime that seems to have spiked is carjacking, as reported here. Minneapolis saw a 4-fold increase, with heavy involvement by juveniles. Washington, DC saw their numbers more than double. Many of the crimes turn quite violent — “they’re not just pointing a gun and making the demand for the vehicle and phones or wallets; they’re also beating people up ruthlessly. People give up their phones, purses, and car keys, and then they’re beating them down.” Speculation centers on kids not being in school and the juvenile justice system being on hold due to the pandemic.

Challenging time for Secret Service

January 22, 2021

January 6 at the U.S. Capitol illustrated the evolving threat environment facing the Secret Service and its duty to protect the President and other top leaders. This article reviews security enhancements that have been made since 9/11 and speculates about additional changes that may be on the horizon. Reduced travel by the president is one likely option — “You can’t launch the National Guard every time the president goes somewhere, and this will result in greater demands on local partners.” A related concern is insider threats, both within the Secret Service itself and with state and local police — previously, “You didn’t have the emotional content in the environment that you do now.” A specific suggestion is to make the Multi-Agency Command Center in DC a 24/7 operation to overcome information siloes within the dozens of federal law enforcement agencies operating in the District. That would likely improve coordination and allow for quicker identification and response to serious threats.

Protecting Congress and its members

January 7, 2021

Failure to take right-wing domestic terrorism seriously is to blame for the January 6 takeover of Congress, according to this article. The author notes that enhanced security measures were adopted at the Capitol since 9/11 but argues there was a failure of imagination — “the threat posed by a mob of white vigilantes was too far out of mental reach.” He thinks the next threat could come after members of Congress go home — “many of them will be targets. And it will be up to state and local officials to pick up the slack.”

New law prohibits using anonymous federal officers at civil disturbances

January 6, 2021

The recently passed National Defense Authorization Act included a requirement that, “when responding to a ‘civil disturbance,’ federal officers ‘shall visibly display’ their name and the name of the federal entity that employs them,” as reported here. The provision, which had bipartisan support, was in response to situations last summer in which federal law enforcement officers were deployed in Washington, DC, Portland, and elsewhere without badges, name tags, or agency insignia. Critics saw that as an impediment to governmental transparency and accountability, and also noted that it invited confusion with similarly-dressed militia members and other private citizens.