Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

54th Mile Policing Project

June 28, 2022

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, three Black police executives, one each from California, Texas, and North Carolina, walked the historic 54-mile civil rights journey from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama. Done by them for the purpose of self-reflection in troubled times, it has now been made into a short documentary film — the trailer is here. Expect to see the film used in police training and to facilitate police-community conversations.

Challenge of diverting mental health calls

March 4, 2022

Police departments started implementing formal differential response systems in the 1980s. Way back then, it was recognized that telecommunicators (911 operators and dispatchers) play a key role. If they don’t correctly diagnose and categorize incoming calls, the default response of sending an officer right away doesn’t change. This article discusses how that same factor is now affecting efforts to divert mental health crisis calls. While the true proportion of calls to police that involve mental health issues is hard to determine and certainly varies from place to place, one recent study in Durham, NC “found that operators had categorized only 1 percent of the calls as mental-health-related at the time of dispatch.” An analysis in another North Carolina city found “just 42 percent of mental-health calls had been correctly coded.”

Making the case for more women police

November 8, 2021

The proportion of U.S. police who are women has been stuck at 12% for over 20 years. Increasing that percentage might contribute positively to police reform efforts, as reported here. A number of studies indicate that women police, compared to men, “use less excessive force, are named in fewer complaints and lawsuits, are perceived by communities as more honest and compassionate, see better outcomes for crime victims (especially in sexual assault and domestic violence cases), and make fewer discretionary arrests, especially of Black and Latino people. And, most important, when female officers do stop or arrest people, they are more likely than their male peers to actually find guns or drugs.” The 30X30 initiative, aimed at reaching 30% women police by 2030, has signed up over 100 agencies since it was started 8 months ago.

Questions about ShotSpotter effectiveness

August 30, 2021

Assessments of ShotSpotter’s effectiveness vary widely, as reported here with a focus on Chicago. The city recently extended its multi-million dollar contract for the technology, upsetting some activists and elected officials. A recent Chicago inspector general report labeled the technology “unreliable and possibly dangerous to communities of color,” but the police department and others strongly defend it. It seems clear that the system helps police respond more quickly to gunfire incidents, but studies haven’t shown that the quicker response leads to more successful investigations or fewer shootings. Also, the proportion of alerts that turn out to be false positives is disputed. Activists fear that the technology sends officers into poor neighborhoods primed to make stops and take other aggressive actions, which results in disproportionate negative outcomes for people of color.

Focusing traffic stops on traffic safety

April 18, 2021

From 2013 to 2016, Fayetteville, NC decreased vehicle stops for non-moving violations by 75% and eliminated pre-text stops, while increasing moving-violation enforcement more than three-fold. There were two main objectives, reducing searches of Black drivers and reducing traffic fatalities. Both objectives were achieved, as reported here. In addition, “Uses of force went down, injuries to citizens and officers went down, and complaints against officers went down.” Experts note that traffic enforcement focused on equipment and registration violations inevitably has a disparate impact on lower income drivers, and often amounts to fishing expeditions that lead to even more disparity in searches of drivers and vehicles. Taking a targeted approach focused much more directly on unsafe driving seems more likely to enhance traffic safety and to support rather than impair police legitimacy.

125 recommendations in North Carolina

December 17, 2020

North Carolina’s Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice has released a report with 125 recommendations, described as a next step, not the final word. The task force, co-chaired by the state’s Attorney General and a state Supreme Court Justice, included “members of the state justice department, state lawmakers, representatives from several reform and advocacy organizations, judges, police chiefs, prosecutors and public defenders.” The recommendations include “suggestions for how to reshape policing, especially in instances where officers are more likely to interact with communities of color, particularly Black residents of the state,” as reported here.

Black chiefs squeezed from all sides

September 14, 2020

Particularly in these times, Black police chiefs have to walk a complicated tightrope, as reported here. Black women chiefs recently announced resignations in Seattle and Dallas and the Black chief in Rochester, NY resigned along with his entire command staff. One chief described the challenge of trying to please his bosses in city government, officers in the department, and the community, all of whom are suspicious and jealous of each other. Black chiefs have the added burden of being expected to solve longstanding race issues in short order. The chief in Phoenix cites the importance of years of having shown up for painful conversations in her city, allowing her to say “I’m true to blue, I’m true to Black, it’s time for us to roll up our sleeves and really take care of the police reform issues that need to be taken care of.”

Russian trolls, race, and police

December 8, 2019

This article describes how Kremlin social media trolls targeted black Americans in 2016 in an effort to discourage their voting and amplify racial tensions. One target was Charlotte, North Carolina where protests following a fatal police shooting quickly turned from anger into hate. One protester sensed “This doesn’t seem like our community” and noticed that internet messages seemed inauthentic and purposefully manipulative. Another recalls that “much of the messaging wanted to stop forward progress, overpower it.” Subsequent investigation confirmed the Russian origin of fake accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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.”

New sheriffs in town

July 4, 2019

This article profiles Garry McFadden, sheriff in Charlotte/Mecklenburg, one of 7 new African-American sheriffs elected last year in North Carolina’s most urban counties. They ran on a promise to stop honoring ICE detainers, which are not judicial warrants and which they regard as unconstitutional. The state legislature, backed by rural sheriffs, has tried to force their hand, a highly unusual move given the historical independence afforded sheriffs, especially in the South. The governor, expected to veto the bill, says “current law allows us to lock up and prosecute dangerous criminals regardless of immigration status. This bill isn’t about that—in addition to being unconstitutional, it’s about scoring political points and using fear to divide us.”