Posts Tagged ‘Maryland’

Threatening to commit mass shootings

September 3, 2019

This article reports over 40 people arrested around the country over the last month for threatening to commit mass shootings or bombings, most after tips from the public. Common themes included right-wing ideology and threats against schools, Walmarts, and Planned Parenthood. The nature of the cases ranged from “vague social media threats from juveniles that set parents on edge to well-developed plots from people who had access to weapons and appeared to authorities to have been planning a mass murder.”

Advertisements

Ring doorbell cameras

August 30, 2019

The Ring doorbell-camera company has secured partnerships with 405 police agencies around the country, as reported here. Besides selling the devices to homeowners, the company provides a social media app that helps neighbors share information and videos with each other. The app also enables police to request video from Ring customers, and officers are encouraged to participate on the social media platform in order to raise public awareness and increase community vigilance. Critics worry about police seeming to endorse a commercial product, the expansion of surveillance, and the impact of bias on what residents perceive and report as suspicious behavior.

Screening in, not just out

June 24, 2019

Police selection systems tend to emphasize screening out candidates for various reasons, rather than screening in new employees who have specific desirable skills and traits. Baltimore and Washington have recently begun testing for interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence, with less emphasis on “reading comprehension, writing and arithmetic — cognitive skills,” as reported here. For example, one new test “poses questions to candidates based on videos of officers interacting with the public in situations they might face, such as a driver who is hostile when pulled over or ticketed.”

An app named Citizen

March 17, 2019

Now available in New York and a few other cities, the Citizen app rebroadcasts and maps selected police, fire, and EMS calls, so a user can be aware of any dangerous activity in their proximity. As reported here, users are warned to stay safe, but also encouraged to submit photos, video, and commentary from the scenes of incidents. The company says more than 100,000 live videos have been recorded; an alert about a recent car fire in Times Square hit 31,000 phones. Currently the app is free with no advertising, but future commercialization seems inevitable.

The tragedy of Baltimore

March 13, 2019

Baltimore has just confirmed the appointment of a new police commissioner, Michael Harrison, recently retired from New Orleans. This article reviews the last few years of crime and policing in the city, describing in detail the tension between residents’ critical need for more safety through engaged policing, and the social and economic factors fueling high levels of street crime. People attending recent community meetings “were not describing a trade-off between justice and order. They saw them as two parts of a whole and were daring to ask for both.”

Improving recruiting

February 5, 2019

This new report presents results from projects in 21 different jurisdictions aimed at identifying police recruiting messages and processes that produce more applicants and more people following through in the hiring process. The Behavioral Insights Team helped evaluate various alternatives to determine which ones worked better than others. One finding was that “Even small changes in how jobs are advertised can make a real difference to both the total number of applicants and the diversity of those applicants.”

Scooting away from the scene of the crime

January 30, 2019

A bank robber in Austin, Texas made his getaway recently on a rental scooter, as reported here. Apparently he didn’t realize that, having used an app with his credit card to activate the scooter, he was leaving “digital bread crumbs” all the way home. One detective observed “In the past you were looking for fingerprints and then it was DNA, and now you’re looking more and more towards examining people’s digital footprint.” As for rental scooters, they have been used in the commission of crimes in several other cities as well.

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.

Police & sex workers

January 9, 2019

This article summarizes a study of 250 street-based female sex workers in Baltimore. More than half had experienced some form of client violence in the last 3 months. In regard to contacts with police, “Excluding arrest, 92 percent had experienced at least one patrol/enforcement activity, and 78 percent had experienced at least one abusive encounter in their lifetime.” Frequent police interactions were more common for those who were also daily drug abusers. The study recommends developing police training specific to interactions with sex workers and establishing a liaison within each police agency.

Baltimore still in limbo

December 26, 2018

This article identifies several challenges still confronting Baltimore PD, which remains under a federal consent decree, faces additional scrutiny from a state commission looking into systemic misconduct including corruption, and awaits confirmation of a new police commissioner, their 5th in less than 4 years. Homicides in the city have exceeded 300 for the 4th year in a row — some think mistrust of the police plays a role in people’s “willingness to take interpersonal differences into one’s own hands.”