Posts Tagged ‘Massachusetts’

New DNA applications

September 25, 2017

DNA in investigations has mainly been used to match human cells from a crime scene to a known suspect or DNA in a database, but this article describes some other emerging uses, such as identifying physical characteristics of an otherwise unknown suspect. This type of genetic analysis recently helped solve a 1992 murder case in Massachusetts, according to a prosecutor’s statement.


Fired and reinstated

August 7, 2017

This article summarizes data from 37 large agencies, finding that 1,881 officers were fired for misconduct since 2006 but over 450 were reinstated after appeals. “In many cases, the underlying misconduct was undisputed, but arbitrators often concluded that the firings were unjustified because departments had been too harsh, missed deadlines, lacked sufficient evidence or failed to interview witnesses.” Chiefs express frustration whereas union officials argue that officers’ rights must be protected.

Managing overconvergence

June 10, 2017

According to this article, a draft review has found command and control lacking in the police response to the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting last January. Over 2,000 officers responded to the scene in an uncoordinated response, an example of “overconvergence” also seen following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and several other subsequent incidents.

Preventing the next tragedy

April 11, 2017

This column describes how a fatal medical mistake at a respected Boston hospital eventually led to a much stronger focus on safety, risk reduction, and preventing future mistakes, at the hospital and now through a statewide center. The suggestion is to apply the same approach in policing and criminal justice, rather than limiting attention and passion to finding someone to blame after a tragedy, or near-tragedy, occurs.

Making the transition from soldier to cop

March 31, 2017

This article highlights challenges faced by officers and their departments when transitioning from combat to civilian policing. National data are elusive but the rate of psychological issues, including PTSD and suicide, seems higher among returning soldiers. In addition, veterans’ preference in police hiring often interferes with efforts to increase the number of women and minority officers.

Risk/reward in SWAT no-knock entries

March 18, 2017

This in-depth 2-part series, located here and here, examines the practice of no-knock dynamic entries by SWAT teams. National data are not systematically collected, but nearly 100 deaths are known to have occurred in such raids since 2010, including at least 13 police officers. The vast majority of raids are drug cases, leading some police and legal experts to question whether the rewards justify the risks.

Shooters rarely arrested in Boston

February 14, 2017

Suspects were arrested in less than 4% of 618 non-fatal shootings over a 32-month period during 2014-2016 in Boston, according to this article. Community members say that witnesses and victims fail to cooperate in investigations because they fear the shooters more than they trust the police. Comparable figures for non-fatal shootings in other cities are elusive but clearance rates of 30-40% seem more typical.

The evolution of MS13

December 2, 2016

Insight Crime has published a 3-part series on the recent evolution of the US/Salvadoran gang MS13. Part 1 describes how the gang struck up a partnership with Mexican cartels in 2011, Part 2 traces the gang’s effort to combine its east and west coast factions into a “national project,” and Part 3 details its most recent effort in 2015 to coordinate cliques based in several different states. Federal indictments have consistently interrupted the gang’s plans but leaders in prison in both countries still seem to exercise considerable influence over their members.

SWAT mission creep

October 13, 2016

While police militarization and the expansion of police paramilitary units were controversial topics before Ferguson, they have gotten even more attention since. This article (with a trailer) describes the award-winning new documentary Do Not Resist. The filmmaker’s father was a SWAT commander in Michigan in the days before the use of such units in search warrant cases became more frequent.

Boston’s glow fades

August 19, 2016

Boston PD has gotten much praise and support since the Marathon bombing and has avoided crises experienced in other cities over the last 2-3 years. However, as this column notes, the police union recently issued a harsh criticism of President Obama, not a single officer signed up for a complaint-mediation program mirroring one that has been very successful in nearby Cambridge, and not a single officer volunteered for a pilot body-camera program, suggesting that at its core, the PD isn’t as special as it seemed.