Posts Tagged ‘Washington’

Crime solving up after MJ legalization

May 18, 2019

Marijuana legalization initiatives went into effect in 2012 in Colorado and Washington. One hypothesized benefit of legalization was that police would have more time to devote to other responsibilities. This column reports a published study that found a post-legalization clearance rate uptick in the two states for several crime categories, plus positive trends compared to national averages. The study does not claim that legalization caused better clearance rates but it “undoubtedly resulted in the opportunity for agencies to reallocate resources.”

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Narcan not everywhere

May 7, 2019

Officers in at least 2,500 law enforcement agencies are equipped with naloxone (Narcan), according to this article, but many others still aren’t. The main hurdle is cost, especially for the newer auto-injector priced at $4,500 before any discounts or rebates. Even that high cost represents a saving compared to hospitalization, though. Most importantly, thousands of lives have been saved, and one official notes the additional psychological benefit for officers when they save a life, coupled with increased public appreciation and support for police.

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.”

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.”

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.

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.”

Showdown looming in Seattle

November 9, 2018

This article reports that 24 community groups and the city’s Community Police Commission are urging the Seattle city council to reject a police union contract negotiated between the union and the mayor. Wage increases retroactive to 2015 are not at issue, but rather mechanisms for police accountability. Opponents argue the pending contract “weakens the Police department’s ability to discipline and fire officers,” while the federal judge presiding over the 2012 consent decree has expressed some concerns. The city’s position is that the contract includes provisions that will increase accountability while also protecting public safety. The city council is expected to vote on Tuesday.

Investigating hate crimes

August 26, 2018

This article reports several examples of successful investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. Reporting and documentation of hate crime is inconsistent around the country and federal prosecution is rare, so local police action is usually the key to success or failure. One reason that bias crimes often get overlooked is the element of the offender’s motivation: “Police officers, for most crimes, are not rigorously trained to look at motive. They apprehend; they take reports; they do some investigation.”

Getting shot isn’t random

August 25, 2018

This post reports an epidemiological study of 763 people injured or killed by gunfire in Seattle between 2010 and 2014. Compared to individuals hurt in crashes, gunshot victims (whether in a crime, accident, suicide, or by police) were more likely to have recent substance abuse, mental disorder, and arrest histories. Looking specifically at those shot by police, they were “seven times more likely to have a prior felony arrest; four times more likely to have a diagnosis involving alcohol and eleven times more likely to have one for cannabis abuse; seven times more likely to have clinical depression, anxiety or psychosis; and 22 times more likely to have a conduct disorder.”

Seattle Public Safety Survey

June 23, 2018

This column announces release of Seattle’s 3rd annual public safety survey. Perceptions of police and crime in the city have changed little over the last 3 years. City-wide, residents think their police are better than elsewhere in the country, and their top concerns are police capacity, property crime, and littering/dumping. Most importantly, citizens’ perceptions and priorities are broken out by 59 specific neighborhoods in conjunction with the police department’s micro-community policing plans. The full surevy report is available here.