Posts Tagged ‘Virginia’

Keeping Nightlife Safe

November 18, 2019

This COPS newsletter article describes an initiative in Arlington, Virginia aimed at improving safety in their nighttime entertainment district. The program “provides a wide range of resources and staff training to restaurants that participate” and accredits establishments “that are committed to responsible alcohol management.” Participating businesses are promoted by the city and “by reducing disorderly conduct and crime, local nightlife is more attractive to visitors, which makes businesses better and the community happier.” The police department has been able to reduce their nightly staffing in the entertainment zone from 20 officers to 8 officers.

National look at SROs

October 23, 2019

The organization Strategies for Youth has published a national study of school resource officers (SROs), available here. They found that 24 states have enacted training for SROs, with Nebraska and Virginia leading the pack. But they also note “The fact that over half of the states still do not mandate any specific training or oversight for SROs is troubling,” especially since the presence of SROs “increases the odds that students will be arrested for minor offenses and that children of color and those with disabilities will be treated most harshly.”

Ring doorbell cameras

August 30, 2019

The Ring doorbell-camera company has secured partnerships with 405 police agencies around the country, as reported here. Besides selling the devices to homeowners, the company provides a social media app that helps neighbors share information and videos with each other. The app also enables police to request video from Ring customers, and officers are encouraged to participate on the social media platform in order to raise public awareness and increase community vigilance. Critics worry about police seeming to endorse a commercial product, the expansion of surveillance, and the impact of bias on what residents perceive and report as suspicious behavior.

Guns stolen from cars

July 31, 2019

Over 100 guns were stolen from vehicles in Richmond, Virginia in the first half of 2019, as reported here. Police are asking residents to secure their firearms more carefully which does not include “placing them in the glove box, in the center console or under a seat.” On Twitter, the department says “come on Richmond, when you know better, do better.”

2019 POP Conference agenda

July 25, 2019

The 2019 POP Conference will be held November 11-13 in Santa Cruz, California. The preliminary agenda and registration information are here. The 5 finalist agencies for the Herman Goldstein award will present their problem-oriented policing initiatives and there will be 18 other sessions, some repeated twice. The range of topics includes domestic violence, opioids, chronic nuisances, auto burglaries, reducing alcohol-related harm, and much more, including introductions to POP, problem analysis, and situational crime prevention.

Younger shooters in Norfolk

July 16, 2019

Homicides and the number of people shot have decreased in Norfolk, Virginia over the last few years, but shootings are up nearly 50% this year, as reported here. According to the chief, “gang members are getting younger than even a few years ago; that’s made them more unpredictable and harder to track.” The department has found that “Almost all of the more than 1,350 guns seized by police in the past two years were originally bought legally” but “by the time police came across them, more than 80% of those guns were in the hands of someone other than the original buyer.” Often the guns had been stolen; the agency is also looking harder at straw purchasers.

Transporting people for mental health treatment

May 14, 2019

Virginia will begin contracting with a private company to transport people who are being involuntarily hospitalized for mental health treatment, as reported here. The arrangement is expected to free up substantial law enforcement time and also be less traumatic and stigmatizing for patients. A recent national study, reported here, documented the burden on police and sheriffs, noting that “the unpredictability of psychiatric crises meant it was almost impossible to rationally allocate time and money in advance to cope with the challenge, particularly in small communities who are often left, as a result, without adequate law enforcement coverage.”

Ask for Angela

March 11, 2019

Safer nightlife is the objective of “Ask for Angela,” a code-phrase for patrons to alert bar staff that they need assistance getting out of a situation or away from a person making them uncomfortable or afraid. The program was established several years ago in the UK and is described here. Police in Arlington, Virginia have adopted it as part of the “Arlington Restaurant Initiative,” intended to “raise the standards of restaurants that serve alcohol” making the county “a safe destination for nightlife and entertainment.”

No answers from U.S. Park Police

November 18, 2018

This article reviews a year-old police shooting case just outside Washington, DC. The family of the deceased has gotten no information from the U.S. Park Police, who shot their son, or from the FBI, which took over the investigation. The Fairfax County police, who were on-scene, released their dashcam video two months after the shooting, frustrated by the lack of transparency in the federal investigation. The case illustrates the dramatic difference between local and federal law enforcement agencies in accountability to the public.

Missing fingerprints in Virginia

October 29, 2018

This article reports 750,000 fingerprints missing from Virginia’s criminal database of 11 million convictions since 2000 “including more than 300 murder convictions, 1,300 rape convictions and 4,600 felony assault convictions.” Reasons vary, including citation and release, amended charges, and personnel mistakenly assuming that other staff had completed the process. Holes in the database can affect background checks, gun purchases, sex offender registries, bail and sentencing determinations, and latent print searches in subsequent investigations.