Posts Tagged ‘Utah’

Traffic impunity in Nevada

July 18, 2022

Between 2017 and 2021, courts in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, and Henderson in Nevada reduced more than 200,000 traffic tickets to parking violations, as reported here. This included over 80% of 95,000 speeding tickets in Las Vegas. Among these, “Deals were given to more than 400 people cited for driving more than 30 mph over, as well as about 80 people accused of going more than 40 mph over.” Reducing the tickets to parking violations meant no points on licenses. As a result, Nevada suspends driver licenses at a much lower rate than neighboring California, Idaho, and Utah. The story cites several traffic-related tragedies caused by drivers who had previously accumulated numerous tickets but evaded any consequences.

Position: Police data science and research administrator

March 12, 2022

Salt Lake City is searching for a Police Data Science and Research Administrator, described as “a high-level administrative position responsible for planning and coordinating policing-related analyses and research projects. Responsibilities include extraction, assessment, analysis, improvement, and continued monitoring of data and reporting systems. Responsibilities include developing, implementing, and managing research agendas to assist the agency’s policing units with resource allocation, operational efficiencies, and predictive analysis.” The position posting is here. Review of applications begins March 28.

PBS documentary “Shots Fired”

November 29, 2021

The new PBS Frontline documentary “Shots Fired,” available here, examines police shootings in Utah, where the numbers have increased in recent years. Persons of color have been over-represented among those shot, and mental health crisis has been a factor in many of the incidents. Almost all the cases have been ruled justified, based on officers’ objectively reasonable perceptions of the violent threats they were facing. The film raises questions about the state’s 16-week police academy training program, especially the prevalence of no-win scenarios in which deadly force is inevitable, which may heighten new officers’ fears for their own safety.

How not to police a protest

August 5, 2020

In this interview, Ed Maguire summarizes what’s been learned from policing protests. What works best is constant communication, establishing relationships, and “winning hearts and minds” by making it clear that police are there to help protesters exercise their constitutional rights. Then, if targeted arrests are necessary in response to violence or property damage, the crowd is less likely to turn against the police. Generally, unless local police are the specific focus of the protest, they are best situated to be successful, since they already have relationships. Federal authorities, as in the recent Portland situation, lack connections and may not be seen as 1st amendment protectors, especially if they employ more heavy-handed tactics from the outset. When that happens, they run the risk of becoming the focus of protesters’ attention and anger, likely making the situation worse.

Pandemic trends in crime and calls for service

May 22, 2020

Jurisdictions are experiencing a variety of trends associated with the virus pandemic. Jersey City reports an increase in street violence and is on pace to seize 50% more illegal guns compared to last year. Year-to-date homicides in Milwaukee are more than double the number from 2019, with 40% linked to family violence. Honolulu police have re-arrested 47 people who had gotten COVID-related jail releases; new charges have included “robbery, assault, burglary,  … smashing the windshield of a car while people were inside, sexual assault and theft.” Nationally, reports of child cyber abuse in April were up 4-fold compared to last April. Calls for mental health and wellness checks are up by 1/3 in Utah County, Utah since February 1st.

Policing coronavirus

March 18, 2020

In response to the coronavirus, police are taking extra precautions, revising their operational strategies, being given additional authority, and even asking criminals to take a holiday, as reported here, here, and here. Specific measures adopted in some places include:

  • Encouraging victims of minor crimes to make reports on-line or over the telephone.
  • When police response is needed, having victims/witnesses meet police outside homes/offices.
  • Encouraging police to avoid enforcement of minor traffic and criminal violations.
  • When people telephone the police for assistance, asking screening questions to determine the level of virus risk for responding police.
  • Having police wait for medics to arrive at scenes of accidents, injuries, etc. when immediate life-saving isn’t required (medics have better masks, gowns, etc. than police).
  • Restricting use of road-side breath-testing equipment in cases of suspected drunk driving.
  • Using drones and other surveillance systems to assess situations before police arrive.
  • Allowing administrative staff to work from home.
  • Using 1-officer rather than 2-officer patrols to enhance social distancing.
  • Shifting more police to patrol duties (from investigations and other operational or administrative assignments).

Gun deaths in the U.S.

March 11, 2020

This report provides a variety of information about gun deaths (murder, suicide, and accident) in the U.S. in 2018 and over the preceding decade, based on CDC data. Nationally over the 10-year period, gun death rates increased 18%, with suicide the most common category each year. Comparing states for total gun deaths in 2018, Mississippi, Alabama, Wyoming, and Missouri had the highest rates, more than 5 times higher than in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and New York. Looking just at gun homicides, Mississippi had the highest rate in 2018, more than 10 times above the lowest, Utah.

On-line recruit training

May 29, 2019

Utah has completed its first on-line police academy designed to serve remote rural areas, as reported here. Recruits gathered for live lectures by teleconference each weeknight for about 8 months, with the capability of asking questions, engaging in discussions, etc. Skills training was provided at local law enforcement agencies. Without this option, the nearest academy is a 3-hour drive away. Rural agencies expect this option to help with recruiting and also retention, as it appeals to local people with roots in the area. Individuals benefit since they can keep their day jobs while going through the academy.

Victim tracking of rape kits

April 9, 2019

An increasing number of states have laws establishing rape kit tracking systems, as reported here. At least 17 states now have such laws, with 5 others pending this year. A key feature of the systems, besides helping officials track cases and reduce backlogs, is empowering victims to monitor the status of evidence collected from them. Advocates argue this “provides a degree of transparency and accountability that, until now, had been notoriously absent from sexual-assault cases.”

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.