Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey’

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.


Use of Force in New Jersey

December 1, 2018

News media in New Jersey obtained over 72,000 documents from the state’s 469 police departments for the years 2012-2016 to compile what it calls a “comprehensive statewide database of police use of force.” According to the authors, “No one has ever seen data like this in New Jersey. Not the attorney general, not county prosecutors and not local police departments. And that’s because, though it was available for the taking, no one ever collected and digitized it as originally envisioned, rendering it nearly useless.” Initial findings are available here, along with a searchable database, and  a series of articles are forthcoming.

Scoop and go

November 15, 2018

This article reports the common police practice in Philadelphia of “scoop and go” — immediately taking gunshot victims to the hospital in patrol cars, rather than waiting for an ambulance. Explaining it, a captain says “We don’t join the Police Department to watch people die.” Study results are mixed, but trauma surgeons say that seconds and minutes matter most in shootings, not any care that EMTs can provide along the way. Besides saving lives, the chief in nearby Camden adds “The streets are always watching. And they see your behavior, and actions speak far louder than words.”

Proactive non-enforcement in hot spots

September 29, 2018

This blog post summarizes a study of foot-patrol hot spot policing in Newark, New Jersey. Enforcement actions (arrests, stops, and summonses) did not result in violent crime decreases, but other forms of proactive policing were apparently more effective — collectively, increased citizen contacts, business checks, bus checks, and taxi inspections were associated with a drop of over 50% in violent crime in the target areas, with no evidence of displacement.

Vacant lots & abandoned buildings

August 24, 2018

This article reports efforts in various cities to reduce crime by focusing on places, especially vacant lots and abandoned buildings. The approach follows the same logic as broken windows theory, but emphasizes improving the physical environment rather than police action. A Philadelphia experiment resulted in a 39% reduction in gun violence in and around remediated abandoned buildings and a small decrease for fixed-up vacant lots, with no evidence of displacement and impacts lasting 1-4 years.

Camden’s turn

August 20, 2018

Camden, New Jersey has made some remarkable changes in its police department since 2013 with substantial results in crime reduction, improved community relations, and a more positive police culture. A 28-minute video about the changes is available here. A companion publication from the COPS Office designed to facilitate law enforcement and community discussions is available here.

From trauma to trust

May 8, 2018

This article and short video report a project in Newark, NJ aimed at helping police and community understand each other better. Thus far, 117 officers and 163 community members have met in small groups to share the personal trauma they have experienced. The city’s police director says “Police have to put themselves in the residents’ shoes, the residents have to put themselves in the police shoes.”

Prosecutor authority

March 31, 2018

There are interesting variations across the 50 states in law, structures, and practices related to police. This article reports a county prosecutor in New Jersey ordering the replacement of an internal affairs head in a local police department, as allowed by state regulations. He called the move extraordinary and wrote that it is “quite apparent that the Carteret Police Department is in need of effective leadership at the highest level.  As such, the duties associated with internal affairs must fall to another.”

Police misconduct in New Jersey

February 2, 2018

Updating an earlier post, links to a series of 20 articles based on a 2-year local news investigation of police misconduct in New Jersey are available here. Topics include secret civil settlements, lack of transparency, weak accountability, inconsistent drug testing, and retaliation against whistleblowers.

Getting oversight right

January 24, 2018

This article discusses the pros and cons of various alternatives for achieving police accountability, such as civilian review, police auditors, and special commissions. The public tends to want an independent process but the oversight systems don’t always succeed and they risk diluting the chief or sheriff’s responsibility for discipline. Chicago is cited as one place currently trying several options at once.