Posts Tagged ‘Massachusetts’

Insurance companies funding police investigations

August 19, 2019

This article discusses the practice of insurance companies funding police (and sometimes prosecutors) to investigate cases of alleged insurance fraud. On the plus side, it’s an example of public-private partnership and cost sharing. In some cases, however, it puts police in the position of serving the financial interests of insurance companies. The article reports several examples of flawed investigations that wreaked havoc on individuals later determined to be innocent.

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New approach to deescalation

April 12, 2019

The newest member of the Franklin, Massachusetts PD recently deescalated a tense situation involving a distraught student at a local school, as reported here. An officer and a teacher couldn’t calm the student, but upon the arrival of Ben, the department’s 5-month old therapy puppy, the youngster “looked at the officer and snapped out of it. He said ‘Can I pet him?’ and the officer said ‘Yes, if you’re good.’” Ben, whose grandfather won a title at the Westminster Dog Show, is one of only a few police therapy dogs in the state, but “the idea of a dog solely focused on community outreach is picking up steam.”

Delaware reviewing hair evidence convictions

March 5, 2019

The FBI determined in 2015 that its crime lab had a very high error rate in microscopic (non-DNA) hair comparison analyses completed prior to 2000, possibly contributing to mistaken convictions. Delaware has now joined several other states conducting independent reviews to identify any past convictions involving questionable hair evidence, as reported here. The announcement notes that use of such evidence “would not necessarily cast doubt on the case’s resolution if additional evidence, such as confessions or DNA analysis, supported the conviction.”

Half of city’s police given pink slips

January 28, 2019

A labor contract dispute in Methuen, Massachusetts has resulted in layoff notices for 50 police officers, according to this article. The crisis is caused by the city’s contract with superior officers that went into effect July 1 — escalator clauses in the fine print raised pay for sergeants, lieutenants, and captains far beyond what the mayor and council realized. Captain salaries jumped to $432,295 and lieutenants to $269,823, as reported here. The city administration reached a compromise last summer setting captains pay at $188,206, but council members have so far refused to sign the new agreement, citing budget concerns.

Civil rights officers in Massachusetts

November 27, 2018

The Massachusetts governor is encouraging departments to adopt 4 recommendations made by the state’s hate crimes task force, as reported here. To improve reporting, agencies are asked to designate one of more “civil rights officers” as point persons to “serve as a community liaison and to participate in appropriate community outreach, to review incident reports for potential hate crimes, and to serve as a resource for your agency on any issues related to hate crimes.” Adoption of the IACP model policy, UCR reporting through NIBRS, and enhanced training are also recommended.

Firearm homicides & suicides in metro areas

November 10, 2018

This CDC report looks at firearm homicides and suicides in 2015-2016 in the 50 largest metropolitan areas. New Orleans had the highest homicide rate by firearm, Providence the lowest. Oklahoma City had the highest firearm suicide rate, New York the lowest. Combining the two (homicides and suicides), Boston had the lowest rate of firearm deaths while New Orleans had the highest, followed by Birmingham and Memphis. An unusual case was Salt Lake City, which had the 6th lowest homicide rate, but the 2nd highest suicide rate.

Looking back at the Boston miracle

September 28, 2018

Here’s an informative video that details the original Operation Ceasefire in Boston that helped reduce homicides by 80%. The approach that was developed involved police, probation, clergy, social services, and prosecution. David Kennedy observes that it’s actually easy to implement, but difficult to sustain. According to one pastor, “The miracle was not that the crime rate went down, but that adults figured out how to collaborate in the interests of young people.”

State & federal charges in Massachusetts OT scandal

September 21, 2018

This article updates the inquiry into abuse of overtime in the Massachusetts State Police, with 3 former lieutenants indicted on state charges of larceny and fraud. Some of the more than 40 troopers being investigated have resigned or been suspended. In a parallel federal case 6 have been charged and some have already pled guilty. Allegations center on Troop E responsible for the Massachusetts Turnpike and include getting paid for hours not worked and filing phony citations to cover up the scam.

Civilian police commissioners

June 21, 2018

This column discusses the potential benefits of utilizing civilian police commissioners at the head of police departments, including current or past examples in New York, Baltimore, and a few other cities. The argument is that commissioners “maintain a level of objectivity and avoid much of the conflict that uniformed police chiefs often face in having to balance their allegiance between the elected officials who appointed them and the personnel who share the uniform that they wear.”

Policing the homeless

June 13, 2018

PERF has released a new report on the police response to homelessness, emphasizing problem solving, innovation, and partnerships as alternatives to either making arrests or doing nothing. Insights from police departments all over the country are included, as well as background information on how the problem overlaps with mental illness and substance abuse.