Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

Florida legislature considers protections for police chiefs

February 23, 2023

Bills currently filed in the Florida House and Senate would provide additional job security and due process rights for chiefs of police. Of course, most police chiefs in most states “serve at the pleasure” of their appointing authority and have very few employment protections. The Florida bills provide that a chief “May not be terminated by his or her employing agency without being provided written notice,  including just cause for the termination, and the opportunity to defend himself or herself against the termination at a public meeting or hearing.” The preamble to the legislation emphasizes the importance of transparency and the value of community participation in decisions to terminate a chief. Text of the House bill is here.

2021 crime statistics a mess

June 13, 2022

2021 was the first year that the FBI required that crime data submitted by state and local agencies be in NIBRS format (National Incident Based Reporting System) instead of the old aggregate-style Uniform Crime Reports (UCR). NIBRS was launched back in 1988, and in 2015 the FBI announced the 2021 deadline. Unfortunately, 35% of U.S. law enforcement agencies missed the deadline, as reported here, including NYPD and LAPD and most agencies in populous California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Florida. As a result, “The data gap will make it harder to analyze crime trends and fact-check claims politicians make about crime, and we’ll likely have to live with greater uncertainty for at least a couple of years.”

Corporate investigators target organized retail crime

June 1, 2022

Large retailers like Target and CVS are undertaking their own investigations in an effort to solve organized theft cases, as reported here. Techniques include interviewing and trailing shoplifters to discover who they work for, and conducting surveillance of people and places involved in trafficking of stolen goods. According to a CVS official, “We only follow someone if we think they are part of a ring worth $1 million or more. We don’t do small cases.” When investigations are successful, the information is turned over to police and prosecutors. “They often give us evidence. They give us leads. We don’t ever use them as a surrogate for our own investigation. But they can be incredibly valuable partners,” said a U.S. Attorney.

Making the case for more women police

November 8, 2021

The proportion of U.S. police who are women has been stuck at 12% for over 20 years. Increasing that percentage might contribute positively to police reform efforts, as reported here. A number of studies indicate that women police, compared to men, “use less excessive force, are named in fewer complaints and lawsuits, are perceived by communities as more honest and compassionate, see better outcomes for crime victims (especially in sexual assault and domestic violence cases), and make fewer discretionary arrests, especially of Black and Latino people. And, most important, when female officers do stop or arrest people, they are more likely than their male peers to actually find guns or drugs.” The 30X30 initiative, aimed at reaching 30% women police by 2030, has signed up over 100 agencies since it was started 8 months ago.

Only 7% women in state police

October 25, 2021

About 13% of U.S. police are women, but among state police, it’s only 7%, as reported here. That figure was at 6% in 2000, indicating only a tiny increase in 20+ years. Some factors that make a police career less attractive to women in all kinds of agencies include a male-dominated culture, lack of family leave, and lack of child care assistance. For state police, the likelihood of assignment to remote areas far from family and friends adds another disincentive. Many state police agencies see the need to secure a more representative workforce and have implemented focused recruiting, though without much effect. The Vermont State Police, at 13% women, has had one of the most successful efforts, but as a captain notes, “The makeup of our department is probably 85% straight, White men. That’s not the makeup of the population of Vermont.”

Promising strategies for police wellness

October 4, 2021

PERF and the COPS Office have released a report titled Promising Strategies for Strengthening Police Department Wellness Programs, available here. Based on a technical assistance project with 3 medium-sized agencies, the report “provides a roadmap to creating a wellness program, … encouraging participation in the program, and normalizing the routine use of mental wellness services in policing.” The report offers 82 recommendations applicable to physical, mental, emotional, financial, and spiritual wellness, along with links for numerous resources.

More on Covid & cops

September 7, 2021

Since the start of 2020, 61% of police line of duty deaths have been the result of Covid-19, as reported here. The next biggest category, gunfire, accounts for less than 14%. More and more jurisdictions and police departments are mandating vaccinations for employees, as well as wearing of masks. The Officer Down Memorial Page displays the banner “Getting vaccinated is just as important as wearing your vest and your seatbelt.One chief put it this way — “Knowing that COVID-19 killed more cops last year than all other causes combined, to include traffic accidents and being shot, what kind of Chief would I be if I didn’t consider it to be the singular most critical Officer Safety issue of our time?”

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.

Churn at the top

July 23, 2021

Some 40 major U.S. cities have changed police chiefs in the last 18 months, according to this article. Increased turnover at the top is not surprising given recent events, and it’s clearly a 2-edged sword. As one observer put it, old school chiefs are “making a wise decision by leaving the profession,” and their departure opens the door for reforming and reimagining policing. However, it’s also true that it takes time and effort to implement change, especially culture change. Frequent turnover of chiefs can interrupt the change process, resulting in stops and starts in different directions and little real progress. Another problem is that many of the chiefs who have recently departed were progressive, not old school, but were caught up in situations where satisfying the community, political leaders, and members of the police department — the proverbial 3-legged stool — was simply impossible. 

Pedestrian fatalities up in 2020

May 21, 2021

Despite Covid, the number of U.S. pedestrian fatalities rose 4.8% in 2020, as reported here. When the year’s decreased vehicle traffic is factored in, the rate of pedestrian deaths jumped an unprecedented 21%. Likely factors were the increase in risky driving behavior attributed to unclogged roadways and an increase in pedestrians seeking outdoor exercise during the pandemic. To reduce pedestrian fatalities, safety experts recommend “high-visibility enforcement for reckless driving, automated enforcement for speeding, and dedicated space for walkers and bikers.”