Posts Tagged ‘Utah’

Rapid DNA in action

January 22, 2019

This article reports early adoption of Rapid DNA technology in Bensalem, Pennsylvania and a few other sites around the country. The equipment requires little training and returns results in 90 minutes. Scientists are generally satisfied with the accuracy of matches from cheek swabs but consider crime scene DNA much more complicated to process and interpret. A current limitation is that most machines only link to local databases, not the FBI’s national CODIS system. Critics worry that the technology will tempt police to collect DNA from anyone they deem suspicious, leading to an ever-larger DNA database susceptible to misuse.

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Utah adopting .05

December 28, 2018

On Sunday, December 30 Utah becomes the first state to implement the .05 BAC level for driving under the influence. This article reports that the National Transportation Safety Board has been recommending lowering the legal limit from .08 to .05 since 2013, and several other states have considered the change but proposed legislation did not pass. Experts are divided on whether the lower limit will have much impact on alcohol-related traffic crashes.

Firearm homicides & suicides in metro areas

November 10, 2018

This CDC report looks at firearm homicides and suicides in 2015-2016 in the 50 largest metropolitan areas. New Orleans had the highest homicide rate by firearm, Providence the lowest. Oklahoma City had the highest firearm suicide rate, New York the lowest. Combining the two (homicides and suicides), Boston had the lowest rate of firearm deaths while New Orleans had the highest, followed by Birmingham and Memphis. An unusual case was Salt Lake City, which had the 6th lowest homicide rate, but the 2nd highest suicide rate.

Navajo Nation police revival

October 3, 2018

The largest tribal police force is Navajo Nation, which covers an area larger than West Virginia. The agency struggled for almost a decade without a permanent police chief, but recently re-opened its police academy and graduated a new class of officers, with another class underway, according to this article. A senior officer says homegrown policing is key: “We are from this community. We understand the language, the personalities, the puns that we have. We understand our own people better than anyone who would come in.”

Federal policing of public lands in the West

May 10, 2018

This article reports a Senate hearing on policing practices of the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and other federal agencies on public lands in the West. The specific focus was a years-long undercover investigation targeting private collectors of Native American artifacts that culminated in pre-dawn raids, charges against two dozen people, several suicides, 19 guilty pleas, but no jail time. Utah elected officials condemned the action as heavy-handed federal overreach, while Native American groups saw it as “a long-needed crackdown on the removal of precious artifacts from their resting grounds.”

Competition in recruiting

April 22, 2018

This article reports continuing recruitment challenges facing police agencies due to the strong economy, retirement of baby-boomers, and recent negative narratives about policing. One result is more competition between agencies for the best recruits and lateral hires, including bonuses for successful applicants and for current officers who refer them. Average police salaries have been raised 15% since 2010 to make them more attractive. Larger agencies continue to offer substantially higher salaries than smaller ones.

Cyber crimes under-reported and under-investigated

February 5, 2018

This article discusses the huge challenge facing law enforcement agencies dealing with cyber crimes and other newer forms of hi-tech crime. One impediment is crime reporting systems designed a century ago. Efforts have been underway for 30 years to update and refine the Uniform Crime Reports, without much progress yet.

More on proprietary big data systems

August 12, 2017

This article reports the experiences of several law enforcement agencies with Palantir’s data analysis systems. The company’s hardware and software systems, originally developed for intelligence agencies, help with integration and visualization of data stored in multiple “silos.” LAPD was able to cut the time required to produce Chronic Offender Bulletins from an hour to 3-5 minutes, which helped reduce violent crime in one target district by 15%. The systems are very expensive, however, and some users complain about hard-to-use software, costly upgrades, poor technical support, incompatibility with non-Palantir systems used by other agencies, and generally being at the mercy of the company once its products have been purchased and installed.

Risk/reward in SWAT no-knock entries

March 18, 2017

This in-depth 2-part series, located here and here, examines the practice of no-knock dynamic entries by SWAT teams. National data are not systematically collected, but nearly 100 deaths are known to have occurred in such raids since 2010, including at least 13 police officers. The vast majority of raids are drug cases, leading some police and legal experts to question whether the rewards justify the risks.

No tape, no testimony

November 30, 2016

In order to incentivize more systematic use of the new technology, this law school column recommends that courts devalue or discredit the testimony of police officers when they fail to activate their body cameras. The proposal is patterned after rules in place in several states regarding mandated recording of custodial interrogations.