Posts Tagged ‘Missouri’

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.”

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Interim chief reflects on Ferguson experience

August 12, 2019

Here is a 6-minute radio interview with Andre Anderson, a police commander in Glendale, Arizona who served as interim chief in Ferguson for 6 months. He discusses what the situation was like, the efforts he made to try to better connect the community and police, and lessons he learned that he has brought back to his home agency as well as shared around the country.

More unsocial media

June 6, 2019

An independent review focused on 8 police departments recently uncovered hundreds of  social media posts by current or retired officers “displaying bias, applauding violence, scoffing at due process, or using dehumanizing language,” as reported here. One expert noted that much of the language may be hyperbole, just a way of dealing with stress and frustration, while another worried that it confirms the public’s worst suspicions about police. Some of the posts were from supervisors and commanders — a former chief lamented that “You pay sergeants to be leaders, you pay them to uphold the values of the organization, and to demand constitutionally correct behavior.”

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.

Prosecutors vote to join police union

December 18, 2018

In St. Louis County, prosecutors have voted to join the police union, as reported here. The unusual move follows the November election victory of a reform candidate, the county’s first ever African American head prosecutor, ousting a 28-year incumbent. The line prosecutors already have civil service protection. Additional information on the union, the election, and new prosecutor is available here.

Death certificates often inaccurate

October 20, 2018

According to this article, cause of death and other information on death certificates is often incorrect — 20% to 50% contain errors based on studies conducted in several jurisdictions. Reasons seem to include lack of training, assigning the task to the lowest staffer on the totem pole, and poorly-designed forms. One result of the errors has been that survivors aren’t eligible for insurance payouts that they actually deserve. Also, violence and disease studies that rely on death certificate data are probably less valid than one might assume.

Crime victim vs. public nuisance

October 13, 2018

This article points out an apparent flaw in many public nuisance laws — they can penalize crime victims. In the case of domestic violence, some victims who have called the police multiple times have crossed a threshold that put their home into the public nuisance category, particularly risky when renting from a landlord. Others have been warned that their next call could qualify them as a public nuisance, effectively deterring them from reporting future assaults. Estimates are that less than 10% of public nuisance laws have an exception for domestic abuse victims.

Autopsy overload

August 31, 2018

This article reports a growing shortage of forensic pathology capacity around the country. An estimated 1,000 more forensic pathologists were needed even before the opioid crisis, which has caused significantly heavier workloads. Though states vary widely in the roles played by medical examiners and sometimes-untrained coroners in determining cause of death, every system depends on autopsies and toxicology tests. As one coroner put it, “More people are just dying in ways that need to be investigated.”

Graffiti — vandalism or street art?

July 6, 2018

This column discusses evolving strategies used by cities to deal with graffiti, including rapid removal and designating locations for street art. “Art alleys” and wall murals, examples of “second-generation graffiti,” are increasingly popular. But one expert says “Most of the kids doing graffiti are not into artistic murals. The tagging motivation is to seek notoriety. The gang motivation is to instill fear.” Big cities continue to spend millions per year on graffiti eradication.

Where killings go unsolved

June 7, 2018

This article analyzes over 50,000 homicides in U.S. cities, mapping neighborhoods with higher and lower clearance rates. There are variations between cities but also within, with fewer murders solved in low-income minority neighborhoods. Factors seem to include the challenge presented by drug- and gang-related cases, reluctant witnesses, lack of trust in police, and the resources devoted to homicide investigation.