Posts Tagged ‘Nevada’

Murder clearance rates have actually improved — with one big exception

January 26, 2019

This article analyzes city clearance rates for murders and shootings. One key finding is a drop from 65% to 42% since the 1980s in the clearance rate for black and Hispanic victims killed by guns — aside from this category, murder clearance rates have actually improved. Also, non-firearm homicides, which are more likely to yield DNA and other suspect evidence, are solved at higher rates regardless of victim characteristics. Solve rates for non-fatal shootings vary widely but tend to be well below those for murder, at least in part due to overwhelming caseloads.

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Michigan lacks standards for volunteer police

October 25, 2018

This article reports that there are about 3,000 armed reserve officers and deputies serving agencies throughout Michigan. Some departments impose hiring and training requirements but the state has thus far failed to establish minimum standards, despite legislation authorizing its POST to do so. Nationally, California and Nevada are among states with established standards for volunteer officers, but others haven’t acted.

DNA errors

September 27, 2018

DNA evidence is widely regarded as iron-clad. Particularly when the evidence is a mixture from several people, however, crime labs are prone to make errors, according to this op-ed column. In one study, 74 out of 105 labs incorrectly implicated an innocent person in a test sample, and the labs’ calculations of probability statistics varied hugely. Independent reanalysis of DNA has recently led courts to overturn 5 convictions. Efficient methods are now available for reanalysis of DNA mixtures in past cases, but labs and prosecutors do not seem anxious to adopt them.

Web sleuthing

August 14, 2018

This brief article provides an interview with the founder of Websleuths, an online platform through which volunteers from the general public can help solve real crimes. In one cold case over 20 years old, a t-shirt from an unknown murder victim was identified within 36 hours. The platform, likened to a 21st century version of America’s Most Wanted, seems to have considerable potential, but the willingness of investigators and law enforcement agencies to use it is yet to be determined.

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.

Disproportion persists in marijuana arrests

February 1, 2018

The number of marijuana arrests has dropped dramatically in several jurisdictions following adoption of legalization measures, but people of color are still sharply over-represented, according to this article. Despite similar levels of marijuana use across racial groups, the arrest rate of blacks is 11 times higher than for whites in Washington, DC, 10 times higher in Alaska, and nearly 3 times higher in Colorado.

Bundy trial fiasco

January 18, 2018

This column by a western public-lands rancher reviews the dramatic 2014 Oregon wildlife refuge standoff and subsequent trial of Cliven Bundy and sons, which recently resulted in conspiracy charges being dismissed with prejudice by a federal judge citing “flagrant prosecutorial misconduct.” The writer finds plenty of failure on both sides and notes the irony that “the legal system the Bundys assailed protected their rights in the end.”

BWC study in Las Vegas

November 28, 2017

This article reports final results from a year-long study of body-worn cameras in Las Vegas, prior to agency-wide implementation. Sample officers wearing BWCs had reduced citizen complaints (30%) and reduced use of force (37%), compared to officers not equipped. The study also estimated substantial cost savings in internal affairs investigations due to the availability of video evidence.

Sleepy, tired cops

November 6, 2017

This article reviews evidence about the impact of fatigue on police performance and decision making. Between long shifts, night work, overtime, and secondary employment many officers end up working tired or even sleepy. Most departments fail to monitor outside employment and many don’t even regulate the amount of overtime that individual officers can accumulate.

Transparency or public relations?

October 26, 2017

This article reviews police practices in releasing body cam video, noting a tendency to promote positive stories while refusing to provide video in situations where actions might have been improper. This pattern risks hurting police legitimacy if the public comes to believe that officials are cherry-picking what to release rather than truly honoring transparency.