Posts Tagged ‘Nevada’

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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Insurance companies funding police investigations

August 19, 2019

This article discusses the practice of insurance companies funding police (and sometimes prosecutors) to investigate cases of alleged insurance fraud. On the plus side, it’s an example of public-private partnership and cost sharing. In some cases, however, it puts police in the position of serving the financial interests of insurance companies. The article reports several examples of flawed investigations that wreaked havoc on individuals later determined to be innocent.

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.

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.