Posts Tagged ‘Illinois’

Narcan not everywhere

May 7, 2019

Officers in at least 2,500 law enforcement agencies are equipped with naloxone (Narcan), according to this article, but many others still aren’t. The main hurdle is cost, especially for the newer auto-injector priced at $4,500 before any discounts or rebates. Even that high cost represents a saving compared to hospitalization, though. Most importantly, thousands of lives have been saved, and one official notes the additional psychological benefit for officers when they save a life, coupled with increased public appreciation and support for police.


Chicago’s gangs have changed

April 23, 2019

This column summarizes conclusions from a recent conference on gangs and violence in Chicago. It reports that “The old hierarchical super-gangs, fighting citywide over control of drug trafficking, are largely gone. African-American gangs have fractured into different types of cliques and neighborhood peer groups, affiliated more with rappers than with the old gang chieftains.” Associated violence is “more expressive than instrumental,” calling for different strategies by police and the rest of the city.

Victim tracking of rape kits

April 9, 2019

An increasing number of states have laws establishing rape kit tracking systems, as reported here. At least 17 states now have such laws, with 5 others pending this year. A key feature of the systems, besides helping officials track cases and reduce backlogs, is empowering victims to monitor the status of evidence collected from them. Advocates argue this “provides a degree of transparency and accountability that, until now, had been notoriously absent from sexual-assault cases.”

Costly year in Chicago PD lawsuits

March 21, 2019

Chicago spent over $113 million on police misconduct lawsuits in 2018, including awards, settlements, and private attorney fees, as reported here. This was the most expensive year in recent history, although of course many of the cases originated years earlier. The 2018 bill “doesn’t include cases of property damage, minor car accidents, vehicle pursuits or employment-discrimination lawsuits” and brought “Chicago taxpayers’ tab for police misconduct to well over half a billion dollars in the past eight years.”

Walker meets Mr. Rogers

February 12, 2019

This article reports the experience of a Chicago couple who brought their autistic adult son to the emergency room when he was having a violent reaction to medication. As they entered, the son bit his mom’s hand, hard, causing her to scream, and then “suddenly there’s all these cops on him. I’m thinking, My God, they’re gonna kill him.” Instead, the cops (hospital public safety officers) figured out how to calm and amuse him, singing the Mr. Rogers theme song among other things. According to the mom, “He was kind of mystified and charmed and started smiling. They were men his size who considered him a real person. It’s scary when people don’t think you’re a real person. You have autism and you can’t talk — but you’re a person.”

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.

Pedestrian stops down, vehicle stops up in Chicago

January 15, 2019

Following an agreement with the ACLU in 2015, Chicago PD person stops dropped 82%, but vehicle stops more than tripled, as reported here. According to officers, “The documentation they must fill out for traffic stops is much simpler than the lengthy, detailed reports required for pedestrian stops.” African American drivers in traffic stops increased from 49% to 61%, compared to 31% of the population. The police department pointed to “crime statistics and calls for service in the largely African-American areas in which the highest number of traffic stops took place” while critics say residents of those areas feel “subject to surveillance, that they’re not treated as equal citizens, that the police are not there to protect them but are there to hunt them down.”

Low clearance rates in Chicago

December 31, 2018

Among its challenges, Chicago PD has a low success rate in solving murders and shootings, as reported here. Its clearance rate for homicides fell from 49% to 35% between 2011 and 2017, compared to the national figure of 60%. Explanations include heavy workload, limited staff, and inadequate supervision. Another factor is lack of witness and victim cooperation, attributed largely to lack of trust in police and fear of retaliation from offenders. The city is adding investigators, detective sergeants, and new technology centers in an effort to improve the situation.


December 10, 2018

This article recounts a 1910 case in Illinois believed to have been the first use of fingerprints to secure a conviction in a criminal case. A lot of technology has changed since then, but it still comes down to an expert’s conclusion about whether a latent print and the suspect’s print are a match. Despite scientific concerns about validity and error rates associated with expert judgments, fingerprints are still widely used in investigation and adjudication. “A hundred years is kind of an impressive run … fingerprint patterns are very information rich, you can see that there’s a lot of information packed into a small area.”

Gun violence not (just) a public health problem

November 8, 2018

This article notes the increasingly popular view that gun violence is like an epidemic and can best be reduced by adopting the public health approach. The authors acknowledge the value of that approach but argue that it needs to be combined with effective deterrence and incapacitation. In particular, the importance of investigating and solving shootings is sometimes under-appreciated. They discuss “the paucity of research on police investigations and gun violence” and suggest some topics deserving closer study, including how many detectives are needed, the effectiveness of various investigative techniques, and the challenge of witness cooperation.