Posts Tagged ‘Illinois’

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.

Looking at edged-weapon tactics

August 25, 2018

This article reports a delegation from Elgin, Illinois visiting Scotland and England to examine police tactics for dealing with subjects armed with knives and other edged weapons. “We are exploring less lethal tactics that are not prevalent in the United States and believe it’s important to learn those tactics from agencies that have cultivated best practices with policies, procedures and training,” according to the Elgin chief. The city recently had its first fatal police shooting in 19 years, and it was someone armed with a knife.

Social networks of bad cops

August 23, 2018

This article reports a social network analysis of 23,000 complaints against Chicago police from 2000 to 2018. Not surprisingly, officers in certain assignments such as the gang unit generated more complaints. Most interesting was the tendency for problematic officers, regardless of assignments, to work together and, apparently, contaminate others — “The same cops who are exposed to other high complaint officers go on to be listed on four times as many uses of force per year in the next few years. They also commit shootings at rates more than five times higher than their colleagues who weren’t exposed to misbehaving officers.”

Bola wrap

August 13, 2018

This article and brief video report a new less-lethal technology that shoots a 8-foot Kevlar tether up to 25 feet. The device is designed to immobilize a subject who is resisting arrest or failing to respond to deescalation, such as someone experiencing mental health crisis. Illinois officials were impressed with the product demonstration and several California agencies are currently testing it.

Drones for crash investigation

August 7, 2018

This article reports growing police use of drones for crash investigation. Estimates are that the overhead technology cuts the time needed to document the scene by half or even two-thirds, which saves money, reduces traffic disruption, and puts officers in less danger on the highway. This type of drone usage does not generally arouse the privacy and civil liberty concerns associated with surveillance and has been permitted in some states that have otherwise restrictive legislation.