Posts Tagged ‘Missouri’

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.

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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.

Gun deaths of men by race & state

May 12, 2018

This article and video report an analysis of 9 years of U.S. death certificates, comparing non-Hispanic black and white men. Four findings stand out regarding men’s gun deaths: (1) nationally, black men were about 15 times more likely than white men to die of firearm homicides; (2) white men were almost 3 times more likely to die of gun suicides; (3) rates varied widely across the states; and (4) firearm homicides were higher in urban areas while gun suicides were higher in rural areas. Rhode Island had the lowest overall gun homicide rate, Missouri the highest. Massachusetts had the lowest firearm suicide rate, New Mexico the highest.

New Haven’s secret sauce

May 7, 2018

This article reports a visit by St. Louis police to New Haven, where the PD and the Yale Child Study Center have collaborated for 27 years to deliver prevention and treatment services to at-risk families and youth. Officers and clinicians make joint home visits as one way to implement community policing and overcome bureaucratic silos in the Connecticut city.

World’s most murderous cities

April 5, 2018

This article and map identify the world’s 50 deadliest cities in 2016. There is certainly a pattern — 43 are in Latin America and the Caribbean, 4 in the mainland U.S. (St. Louis, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Detroit), and 3 in South Africa. Cities in Mexico, Brazil, and Venezuela occupy the top 12 (worst) rankings.

Bad sheriffs

April 3, 2018

The U.S. has about 3,000 sheriffs, an office that goes back to colonial days and preceded the creation of police departments. This article reports numerous recent scandals, embarrassments, and shortcomings in sheriff’s offices around the country and discusses why they persist despite being an elected office that voters should be able to hold accountable.