Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

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.”

Making discipline consistent and fair

May 20, 2019

Studies show that many police officers don’t think discipline is fair in their agencies. At the same time, a substantial portion of the public believes police are not held accountable for misconduct. In this paper, Darrel Stephens identifies 5 factors that can be used to make fair and consistent disciplinary decisions. Moreover, “Putting these factors in writing and sharing them with the department and community helps take some of the mystery out of the discipline decision making process and highlights the complexity of the job police officers are asked to do.”

Narcan not everywhere

May 7, 2019

Officers in at least 2,500 law enforcement agencies are equipped with naloxone (Narcan), according to this article, but many others still aren’t. The main hurdle is cost, especially for the newer auto-injector priced at $4,500 before any discounts or rebates. Even that high cost represents a saving compared to hospitalization, though. Most importantly, thousands of lives have been saved, and one official notes the additional psychological benefit for officers when they save a life, coupled with increased public appreciation and support for police.

Delaware reviewing hair evidence convictions

March 5, 2019

The FBI determined in 2015 that its crime lab had a very high error rate in microscopic (non-DNA) hair comparison analyses completed prior to 2000, possibly contributing to mistaken convictions. Delaware has now joined several other states conducting independent reviews to identify any past convictions involving questionable hair evidence, as reported here. The announcement notes that use of such evidence “would not necessarily cast doubt on the case’s resolution if additional evidence, such as confessions or DNA analysis, supported the conviction.”

Discussing driving while black

August 10, 2018

Here’s a nice 16-minute public radio segment from North Carolina featuring the Chapel Hill police chief and the author of a new book that analyzes 20 million traffic stops since 2002. Similar to many other studies, the analysis revealed a strong pattern of disproportionate stops and searches with no apparent positive results in citations, arrests, or contraband seizures. The book’s author recommends refocusing police attention on traffic safety rather than stopping vehicles as a crime fighting tactic. Some departments have already reduced their emphasis on enforcing minor vehicle equipment violations and tightened their rules on consent searches.

Drones for crash investigation

August 7, 2018

This article reports growing police use of drones for crash investigation. Estimates are that the overhead technology cuts the time needed to document the scene by half or even two-thirds, which saves money, reduces traffic disruption, and puts officers in less danger on the highway. This type of drone usage does not generally arouse the privacy and civil liberty concerns associated with surveillance and has been permitted in some states that have otherwise restrictive legislation.

Not a police matter

July 16, 2018

Police have been called recently to deal with a black guy wearing socks at a private pool (in Memphis), an 11-year-old black kid on his first day delivering newspapers (in Cincinnati), a 12-year-old black kid mowing a lawn who accidentally crossed into a neighbor’s yard (outside Cleveland), and a 9-year-old black girl selling water outside her apartment building (in San Francisco). This article discusses what police should do, including having call takers ask more specific questions and routing such calls through supervisors before assigning them to patrol officers.

Prevalence of police in schools varies

July 12, 2018

This article reviews data on police assigned to schools. Two-thirds of high school students attend a school that has an officer assigned, compared to 45% for middle school and 19% for elementary school. School officers are most common in Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and North Carolina, least common in New York, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Iowa, and Michigan. The evidence on the impact of officers in schools on arrests, offenses, and student behavior is mixed and inconclusive.