Posts Tagged ‘Oregon’

Podcasting for traffic safety

May 9, 2019

Portland, Oregon PD has launched a podcast series, as reported here. The first installment, available here, covers traffic safety in the city, emphasizing “licensed, insured, safe drivers on the road” and advising pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcycle riders to assume that car drivers don’t see them. Other podcasts focus on recruitment and behavioral health. The PD’s page of podcasts and videos is located here.


Sheriff says uphold the law

April 17, 2019

In this op-ed, an Oregon sheriff reminds his peers that their responsibility is to uphold laws, not make them or cherry-pick which ones to enforce or ignore. Referring to those refusing to enforce gun safety laws, he argues “Anyone who believes that equal protection under the law is the cornerstone of our democracy should be concerned to see sheriffs in a handful of states vowing they will not comply with or enforce state laws they do not personally support.” He reminds his colleagues that there are established ways to challenge laws they don’t agree with, through the legal system and the political process.

Fewer applicants — not just police

March 25, 2019

A survey of state government officials indicates the number of applicants for public sector jobs dropped 24% from 2013 to 2017, as reported here. Among the reasons: the low unemployment rate, non-competitive salaries, negative perceptions of government work, and antiquated recruiting/hiring processes. On the latter, California recently cut the steps in the hiring process from 89 to 14, and the average application to hiring time from 179 days to 65. Law enforcement was cited as the category experiencing the biggest drop in applicants.

Risk management vs. civil rights

February 14, 2019

This article discusses the impact of Lexipol, a California-based company that provides policies to 3,400 public safety agencies around the U.S. The company says that agencies using its policies experience a reduction in legal claims and payments to plaintiffs. Critics say the approach is focused more on minimizing lawsuits than on improving police services to the public — “They’re designed for maximum protection against civil liability. It’s not maximum protection of civil rights.”

FBI shooting data

February 12, 2019

FBI agents have been involved in 228 shooting incidents since 2011, including 113 accidental discharges, 34 animals, and 81 “intentional shootings involving people or objects” according to this NBC news segment and article. Agents were found at fault in 5 of the shootings, none of which resulted in fatalities. The bureau has not traditionally released information about its agent-involved shootings, and has not employed independent or external investigation. Looking ahead, the FBI will be administering the new national database of police shootings, announced last year — reportedly, “the bureau itself would also submit information to the database.”

Bike fatalities up

February 11, 2019

Bike fatalities in 2016 were the highest since 1990, with 835 deaths, according to this article. One contributing factor could be the 50% increase over time in the number of people commuting to work on bicycles. Interestingly, though, several cities with the highest rates of biking to work — Portland, Minneapolis, DC, San Francisco, Seattle — had among the lowest fatality rates. The highest bike fatality rates were in Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and Jacksonville.

Calling 911 for unwanted persons

February 7, 2019

Portland 911 gets about 100 calls a day for some version of “unwanted person,” mostly homeless or street people acting strangely, blocking entrances, obstructing sidewalks, or camped out on somebody’s property. According to this article, “Oregon’s percentage of unsheltered people is second-highest in the nation. Much of the city is feeling fed up and freaked out.” Efforts are underway to develop alternative responses to relieve police (and 911) of the burden since few of the situations are emergencies or serious criminal matters.

Improving recruiting

February 5, 2019

This new report presents results from projects in 21 different jurisdictions aimed at identifying police recruiting messages and processes that produce more applicants and more people following through in the hiring process. The Behavioral Insights Team helped evaluate various alternatives to determine which ones worked better than others. One finding was that “Even small changes in how jobs are advertised can make a real difference to both the total number of applicants and the diversity of those applicants.”

Broken safety net in Portland

February 1, 2019

This 4-minute public radio report and accompanying article discuss the lack of mental health services in Portland and the rest of Oregon. As in many other jurisdictions, dealing with people in crisis has fallen to police, emergency rooms, and jails, none of which are really equipped to provide the intervention and treatment that people need. The commander of the PD’s behavioral health unit says “We’re kind of there collecting the people at the bottom in the worst moments at the depths of their crisis where it would be ideal to coordinate and do whatever we can upstream to prevent them cascading off the waterfall.”

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.