Posts Tagged ‘Missouri’

Banishing people from neighborhoods

December 5, 2022

Several cities use court orders to prohibit chronic offenders from entering designated areas, as reported here. In St. Louis, municipal courts issue neighborhood orders of protection, typically served on individuals, often homeless, who have been arrested for aggressive panhandling, trespassing, and similar offenses. One concern raised by advocates is that the orders often ban people from the very locations where services like shelters and counseling are provided. Another is the somewhat murky enforcement role played by private police companies patrolling more affluent neighborhoods. 

Uneven use of Brady lists

October 26, 2021

The Supreme Court’s 1963 Brady ruling requires prosecutors to “turn over exculpatory evidence to defense attorneys, including information that could be used to question the officers’ credibility.” According to this article, prosecutors around the country vary substantially in how they adhere to Brady. One reason is that the court’s ruling did not specify either the procedures to be followed or precisely what information might implicate an officer’s credibility. As a result, some prosecutors and police agencies, but not all, maintain lists of officers whose testimony should be avoided. Also, some include complaints of unnecessary or excessive force among the criteria affecting an officer’s credibility, while others argue that use of force and honesty are separate and independent considerations.

Wrong way to fund policing

July 26, 2021

In this column a former sheriff points out the negative consequences of funding police via fines, fees, and forfeitures. He notes that “In too many cases, citizens are incarcerated unnecessarily due to unpaid financial obligations and not because of criminal acts impacting public safety.” Sadly, this affects lower-income communities the most. This phenomenon “leads to distrust of police and less cooperation from the community to solve crime” and it “warps incentives and forces law enforcement to unnecessarily focus on these nonpublic safety endeavors.” The fix for this situation is for governments to fund policing at a satisfactory level from general funds, i.e. from taxes paid by everybody. Whether that approach is feasible in light of re-funding and de-funding pressures is a question currently being debated in many jurisdictions.

Churn at the top

July 23, 2021

Some 40 major U.S. cities have changed police chiefs in the last 18 months, according to this article. Increased turnover at the top is not surprising given recent events, and it’s clearly a 2-edged sword. As one observer put it, old school chiefs are “making a wise decision by leaving the profession,” and their departure opens the door for reforming and reimagining policing. However, it’s also true that it takes time and effort to implement change, especially culture change. Frequent turnover of chiefs can interrupt the change process, resulting in stops and starts in different directions and little real progress. Another problem is that many of the chiefs who have recently departed were progressive, not old school, but were caught up in situations where satisfying the community, political leaders, and members of the police department — the proverbial 3-legged stool — was simply impossible. 

Firearms mortality by state

March 26, 2021

In 2020, 44,000 Americans died by firearm in the U.S. — almost 20,000 by murder or accident, and 24,000 by suicide. This short column presents data on death by firearms by state for the previous year, 2019. Two states, Alaska and Mississippi, had firearms mortality rates 7 times higher than the state with the lowest rate, Massachusetts. Besides Alaska and Mississippi, other states with rates above 20 per 100,000 population were Alabama, Louisiana, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Missouri. Along with Massachusetts, states with fewer than 5 per 100,000 were Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York.

How not to police a protest

August 5, 2020

In this interview, Ed Maguire summarizes what’s been learned from policing protests. What works best is constant communication, establishing relationships, and “winning hearts and minds” by making it clear that police are there to help protesters exercise their constitutional rights. Then, if targeted arrests are necessary in response to violence or property damage, the crowd is less likely to turn against the police. Generally, unless local police are the specific focus of the protest, they are best situated to be successful, since they already have relationships. Federal authorities, as in the recent Portland situation, lack connections and may not be seen as 1st amendment protectors, especially if they employ more heavy-handed tactics from the outset. When that happens, they run the risk of becoming the focus of protesters’ attention and anger, likely making the situation worse.

Policing after the first wave of COVID-19

May 22, 2020

This op-ed considers the top challenges for policing during the next wave of the pandemic virus. It notes that COVID-19 initially disrupted patterns of street crime in some places, but, in Mexico for example, “premeditated strategic warfare among organized crime groups did not, for the most part, decrease during the worldwide lockdowns.” Now, with communities re-opening amid much higher unemployment and potential food shortages, street crime may surge. In the U.S., the author identifies two big factors of additional concern — the national government’s counter-productive pressure to focus local policing on immigration enforcement, and the rise of violent right-wing, neo-Nazi, anti-government groups that pose “an even greater danger to public safety and the quality of democracy than most criminal groups could ever mount.”

RTM in Kansas City

April 30, 2020

Nice blog post here by the Kansas City PD chief. The agency implemented Risk Terrain Modeling (RTM) in target areas for a year and compared the results to the previous year and to comparable non-test areas. The takeaway was a 24% reduction in violent crime in target areas versus a 1% reduction elsewhere. The chief emphasizes that RTM targets risky locations, not people, and the risk factors vary from area to area — sometimes laundromats, or liquor stores, or convenience stores, etc. He notes that “the KCPD was able to achieve these impressive results with virtually no added cost. There was no overtime required, no grant funding needed, nor specialized squads to create. Instead, we were able to see meaningful crime reduction using our current resources in more strategic, focused ways.”

Extreme speeders on empty roads

April 22, 2020

This article reports another pandemic-related phenomenon — extreme speeding on nearly empty roads. Nationally, vehicle traffic has dropped by about two-thirds, which should result in fewer crashes, but some states have experienced increased high-speed fatalities. According to one official, “People are saying, ‘Wow, the roads are wide open. There’s no one here but me.’ We’re seeing incredibly crazy, off-the-chart speed and aggressiveness.” Police in several states report 100+ mph violations becoming common.

Financial implications of the pandemic

April 7, 2020

This article reports “The mark the coronavirus is leaving on state budgets became more apparent in recent days, as governors took action to reduce spending and gloomy new revenue estimates emerged.” Unanticipated spending related to public health, first response, and unemployment benefits is affecting both state and local governments. At the same time, revenue from sales tax, income tax, gasoline tax, hotel tax, and other sources has shrunk. Federal assistance is forthcoming but not likely to close the gap entirely. Once the health crisis abates, funding levels for police are likely to be under pressures similar to those experienced following the 2008 recession.