Posts Tagged ‘Virginia’

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.

Map of extremist incidents

August 18, 2018

This article reports the availability of an interactive map of hate, extremist, anti-semitic, and terrorist incidents in the U.S. Some categories are mapped over the period 2002-2017 while others represent a shorter, more recent timeframe. The map, released by the Anti-Defamation League on the anniversary of last year’s violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, is available here.

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.

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.

Where killings go unsolved

June 7, 2018

This article analyzes over 50,000 homicides in U.S. cities, mapping neighborhoods with higher and lower clearance rates. There are variations between cities but also within, with fewer murders solved in low-income minority neighborhoods. Factors seem to include the challenge presented by drug- and gang-related cases, reluctant witnesses, lack of trust in police, and the resources devoted to homicide investigation.

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.

Charlottesville protest review

December 4, 2017

A series of events last summer in Charlottesville, including a KKK demonstration and a torch-light march across the University of Virginia campus, culminated in a “Unite the Right” rally on August 12 in which a protester drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one person. This article summarizes the findings of an independent review of the events, which concluded that police were not prepared, police responses were not coordinated, and incident command protocols were not followed.