Posts Tagged ‘Illinois’

Reducing auto theft including carjacking

March 8, 2023

Police in Denver are implementing a vehicle tracking system that they hope will make stolen vehicle recoveries quicker and also prevent thefts, as reported here. Overall in Colorado, vehicle thefts have doubled in the last 5 years. City residents with sensors in their cars will be able to register those with police, speeding things up when they report their car as stolen. Also, police are providing stickers that owners can put on their cars publicizing that they are registered in the program. The initiative is modeled after one in Cook County, Illinois, where jailhouse interviews indicated that the sensors and stickers would significantly reduce the likelihood of a vehicle being targeted for theft.

50/50 whether homicides get solved

July 14, 2022

The national clearance rate for homicides has fallen to about 50%, the lowest in more than 50 years, according to this article. It was 83% in 1965. A few states do substantially better than others — Alabama and Nebraska were best at 83% over the period 2015-2020, while Rhode Island was lowest at 21% (a quarter of the states have had data problems making it impossible to calculate their clearance rates over the 5-year period). The data also indicate lower clearance rates for victims of color. The article provides examples from several cities, noting an unusually high proportion of exceptional clearances in Chicago, which had a 44% clearance rate in 2020, but half were exceptional clearances.

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.”

Police departments lowering education requirements

March 25, 2022

Several police departments have stopped requiring some college as a minimum standard in the hiring process. This article focuses on Chicago, which had required 60 college credits. Officials there and elsewhere point to the downturn in applicants as the main justification. Chicago will now “waive a college credit requirement for recruits who have two years of military or peace officer experience, or three years in corrections, social services, health care, trades, or education.” Applications reportedly spiked as soon as the 60-credit mandate was relaxed. The article cites Philadelphia and New Orleans as two other police departments that have lowered their educational requirements, as well as New York’s mayor expressing interest in following suit.

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.

Uneven use of Brady lists

October 26, 2021

The Supreme Court’s 1963 Brady ruling requires prosecutors to “turn over exculpatory evidence to defense attorneys, including information that could be used to question the officers’ credibility.” According to this article, prosecutors around the country vary substantially in how they adhere to Brady. One reason is that the court’s ruling did not specify either the procedures to be followed or precisely what information might implicate an officer’s credibility. As a result, some prosecutors and police agencies, but not all, maintain lists of officers whose testimony should be avoided. Also, some include complaints of unnecessary or excessive force among the criteria affecting an officer’s credibility, while others argue that use of force and honesty are separate and independent considerations.

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.”

Violence interrupters or police?

September 6, 2021

Violence interrupters are currently being promoted as a strategy to reduce shootings and homicides. This article reviews the evidence on the effectiveness of interrupters — it’s weak and inconsistent. The strategy’s popularity is mainly due to two things — it is seen as an alternative to police by those who support #defunding, and the fact that it can be implemented quickly for (possible) immediate results, as contrasted with other long-term approaches that aim to address root causes. Of note, all the violence interrupter initiatives since the 1990s have been in addition to police, not in place of them. Upcoming debates are likely to land in the budget arena — how much to spend on interrupters, and how much of that should come from the police budget.

Questions about ShotSpotter effectiveness

August 30, 2021

Assessments of ShotSpotter’s effectiveness vary widely, as reported here with a focus on Chicago. The city recently extended its multi-million dollar contract for the technology, upsetting some activists and elected officials. A recent Chicago inspector general report labeled the technology “unreliable and possibly dangerous to communities of color,” but the police department and others strongly defend it. It seems clear that the system helps police respond more quickly to gunfire incidents, but studies haven’t shown that the quicker response leads to more successful investigations or fewer shootings. Also, the proportion of alerts that turn out to be false positives is disputed. Activists fear that the technology sends officers into poor neighborhoods primed to make stops and take other aggressive actions, which results in disproportionate negative outcomes for people of color.

Who speaks for police?

March 2, 2021

Black officers in Chicago have formed a new Black Public Safety Alliance “as a way to collectively speak out on policing issues,” as reported here. Referring to the PD’s controversial FOP leader, one of the founders of the new association says “We want to not just let other officers (know) but let the community know: He doesn’t represent us.” More generally, the FOP has resisted reform efforts whereas members of the new group “want to work to support programs and policies that strengthen bonds between residents and the community.”