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by Peter Moskos

April 18, 2014

On jaywalking and giving tickets and 84-year-old men

In a comment Kyle W was kind enough to get me going about the situation in which a Manhattan resident Kang Chun Wong suffered injuries after an officer attempted to give him a jaywalking ticket and Mr. Wong seems to have tried to walk away. Mr. Wong is 84.

I wasn't there, so it's hard for me to talk about this specific incident. But I have plenty to say in general about jaywalking and ticketing old men...

First of all, it is never the fault of an 84-year-old man for getting hurt at the hands of police for something non-criminal and non-violent. Why? Because he's 84.

Yes... I'm saying different rules apply to people who are 84. (Or in a wheelchair. Or mentally ill. Or pregnant to name just a few). This is common sense. This is why officers have discretion. And this is why their bosses should chew them a new one when they abuse such discretionary potential with such absolute stupidity.

So you've got an 84-year-old man jaywalking in NYC. How about not giving him a ticket at all? This might not be understand by non-New Yorkers, but jaywalking is OK in NYC. You do it in front of cops. Cops do it. Everybody does it. With rare exceptions, you will not get a ticket for jaywalking in NYC. Nor should you. Such is the culture of our city. And it's good.

Last year there were 531 jaywalking tickets issued. For the whole city. For the whole year. That's 531 citations out of exactly 8.4 gazillion incidents of jaywalking (By comparison there were roughly 23,000 misdemeanor marijuana arrests.) This year jaywalking tickets were up to 10 a day. So *if* you want to to be one of those 10 lacking-in-common-sense not-living-in-NYC officers who choose to write a jaywalking ticket, don't friggin' pick an 84-year-old man to write up! I guarantee you there were at least dozen other jaywalkers during that light cycle alone.

[Jaywalking may even be good, collectively, for pedestrian safety here. It keeps cars from going too fast because pedestrians walk like the own city, because they do. Individually it can be good for safety to jaywalk when there are no cars coming. If you wait for the walk sign, then cars also get the green light who can and do turn into you. If the choice is between crossing with no cars and waiting for the light and putting myself at great risk, you should always cross when it's safest. But that's for another day...]

If your bosses tell you to write jaywalking tickets, you could as an adult and professional, and as police did when Giuliani "cracked down" on jaywalking in 1998, simply refuse to do so (unless somebody jaywalks while flipping the bird or something). Or, as one real po-lice put it back then: "The only incentive they have to make me is fear, and that ain't gonna work because writing these is up to our discretion.... This is just taking hard-earned money from people who can't afford it, and I'm not going to prostitute myself for the Mayor or anybody else."

But let's say you do choose, for whatever reason, to write a ticket to an old man. Then you, as a young officer, need to remember you're dealing with an old man. He can be restrained, if absolutely necessary. He should not be pushed to the ground. Why? Because he's 84!

Clearly this was bad policing. I just can't be certain if it happened early in the situation (deciding to ticket an old man), in the middle of the situation, at the end, when things got physical, or all of the above.

At some point, if push came to shove, because he's 84, let him go. Why? Because he's 84 and we're talking about the non-offense of jaywalking. Unlike letting some young thug walk away, this old man is not and will not be a permanent threat to your authority. Don't get into a pissing battle with an old man. Why? Because you can't win.

Once, year ago, I almost got into a fight with an old man in Amsterdam. He was dumping wheelbarrows of trash into a canal after Queens Day. I asked him to stop dumping trash into the canal. He told me to fuck off. I informed him he didn't need to dump trash as the was going to clean it all up anyway. He continued to tell me to fuck off. I tried to prevent him from dumping trash in the canal. Words were exchanged. I was in the right. He was ready to fight....

So I walked away. Why? Because I couldn't win. I was like 26. He was like 84. What if, by some happenstance, mano-a-mano, he beat me down. Then I lose. I got beat up by an 84-year-old. What if, on the other hand, I ducked his first punch and then put him down with a strong right. Then I still lose. I beat up an 84-year-old.

Remember this truism when it comes to fighting an 84-year-old men: you cannot win. If he wins; you lose. If you win, you *still* lose. And a smart cop would never put himself into a situation he couldn't win.

April 17, 2014

The Real Peel

One of the reasons I like NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton is that he is prone to quoting Robert Peel, the man who invented police as we know them back in 1829 London.

Bratton has reprinted "Peel's" principles online. Those nine principles are an excellent philosophical base for policing, they're just not Robert Peel's. And now the New York Times -- the Grey Lady, the paper of record -- has perpetuated this error. Not once but twice. (They don't even seem to "regret the error.")

What are known as "Peel's Nine Principles of Policing" do not come from Robert Peel. They come from a 1948 book on British Policing. Does this matter? I don't know, but I do like to get my facts straight. Mind you, Peel might not disagree with the nine principles attributed to him, they're just not his. (I've written about this before). And if you want a handy one-page easy-to-print pdf that I give to my students, here you go.

So what are Peel's actual principles? Based on the original 1829 Patrol Guide, I see five:
1) The purpose of police is to prevent crime.
2) Know your beat; patrol your beat.
3) Maintain order.
4) Use common sense and discretion.
5) Be polite and control your temper (it may save your ass).
Those aren't bad rules to live by

Common Sense from the NYPD (X2!)

I love any memo that instructs police officers to "use discretion and common sense" and the arrest "as a last resort."

This is the type of common sense one would expect from Bratton because jaywalking in NYC is not a "broken window."

The second bit of common sense to come out of the NYPD is the decision to give 200 cops in Staten Island naloxone (aka: narcan). This saves the lives of people ODing on heroine. From the Times: "the initiative went straight to the heart of 'what we want to do, save lives.'"

According to the Times, paramedics have saved 42 people on Staten Island this year, and police in one precinct 3 people.

Administering a life-saving drug to people about to die should be a no-brainer, but not much about the war on drugs involves brains. So unless you're a paramedic, saving the life of a addict is considered controversial, even when the alternative is certain death.

When I was a cop, this was an injection (and cops didn't give it). Now it's a nasal spray. From my experience, watching somebody get this drug come back to life is a great spectator sport... but not for the reason you'd think. He or she whose life was saved wakes up really pissed off! It's ha-larious, in a you-had-to-be-there kind of way.

April 16, 2014

Laments of the Qualitative Researcher

I don't apply for many grants, in part because they're so hard for a qualitative researcher to get. Ethnographic work and qualitative research isn't taken seriously in a generally quantitative field. My research doesn't follow the standard "theory, hypothesis, experiment, verify" model of hard science. Nor should it. But it's hard to get grants or get published in Criminology if you don't. (The quantitative/qualitative ratio leading journals is roughly a depressing 90%/10%.) So why is this work not valued in research grants and journal publications? I do my research the old-fashioned way: I talk to people. Perhaps it's worthless research, but professors do assign my books to students. But why is the worth of qualitative research only recognized after the fact?

[If you look at Amazon's list of "best sociology," you have to get to number seventy-six before you find one written by an actual sociologist! I would see this is a crisis of the field (even given issues with how Amazon classifies sociology).]

So here's my next book idea: I'm going to research and write an oral history of the Great New York City Crime Drop. Why? Because crime went down more than anybody thought possible, and there is still no academic consensus about what actually happened. It's one thing to talk about Broken Windows and Compstat in theory. But I want to explain the crime drop from the perspective of the NYPD officers who were actually there. What police have to say may be profound. And nobody ever talks to the lowly beat cop. At least what they have to say will be revealing. And if nothing else, it should be a very good read.

The grant rejections (I wanted money to pay for transcribers) were check-the-box, so I don't want to read too much into specifics. And the single most important reason may be: "Proposal needs stronger organization or writing." Had they just left it at that, I would said, gosh, maybe they're right. That's a good reason for rejection. I could have spent more time writing it. (But then, in a catch-22, I didn't want to waste more than a few days writing a grant application that would probably be rejected...)

It's the other specific reasons that I have issues with, such as:
• Proposal does not clearly state a testable hypothesis, goal or aesthetic vision
Well of course there's no clearly stated testable hypothesis because I'm not testing a hypothesis. It's called Grounded Theory, if you want to get fancy (I don't). I'm going to talk to people to listen to them and try and understand what they have to say. There's no shame in that (nor, apparently, grant money).
• Research methodology is underdeveloped
I'm going to interview a lot of cops who worked the streets from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s. And then I'm going to write a book about it. Just because you don't like that plan doesn't mean it's underdeveloped.
• Proposal fails to convince reviewers of scholarly significance
Murders in NYC decreased eighty-some percent and we, the so-called "experts" in the field, still can't agree on a theory that has any practical use. If explaining the crime drop doesn't have scholarly significance, I don't know what does!
• Proposal does not demonstrate sufficient understanding of the state of the discipline or field
Really? This is my field, and I don't think I'm an idiot. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

I've done some pretty good research in my day. I've written good books and social science. But because I choose not to follow the hard-science model of methods and writing, I still feel like an idiot when my grant applications are rejected. It's not so much the rejection that hurts (don't "poor baby" me; I have thick skin). This wasn't a large grant. And I'm good at research on the cheap. Still, it's the stated reasons for rejection that make me throw up my hands in frustration.

April 15, 2014

Is the sky falling?

Not yet. But the sky did get a little lower in NYC last month. Over the 28-day period ending 4/6/14, compared to 2013, the number of people shot increased 40 percent (101 vs 72). The increases were found, not surprisingly, in the Bronx (27 vs 18), Brooklyn North (28 vs 17) and Queens South (12 vs 6).

Cause for alarm? I don't know. But my eyebrow is raised...

Still, for the year, shooting and murders are a bit lower than last year.

Speak like a Baltimoron

One of my life's great regrets is that I can't for the life of me imitate the Baltimore accent. And I love the Baltimore accent. Well, I'm not the only one who has trouble with those sounds that go from DC to Philly. This is actually about the Philly accent, but a lot of it applies to Baltimore, too.

Plus, the author, Arika Okrent, I went to high school with her. And she's as cool as any Klingon speaker you've ever met!

April 10, 2014

Life in Federal Minimum-Security Prison... Free Kariakou!

Not too long ago I sent my Greek Americans book to John Kiriakou. He's a proud Greek American and about as close to a political prisoners as we have. In his own words:
I'm one of the people the Obama administration charged with criminal espionage, one of those whose lives were torn apart by being accused, essentially, of betraying his country. The president and the attorney general have used the Espionage Act against more people than all other administrations combined, but not against real traitors and spies. The law has been applied selectively, often against whistle-blowers and others who expose illegal, corrupt government actions.

After I blew the whistle on the CIA's waterboarding torture program in 2007, I was the subject of a years-long FBI investigation. In 2012, the Justice Department charged me with "disclosing classified information to journalists, including the name of a covert CIA officer and information revealing the role of another CIA employee in classified activities." I had revealed no more than others who were never charged, about activities — that the CIA had a program to kill or capture Al Qaeda members — that were hardly secret.

Eventually the espionage charges were dropped and I pleaded guilty to a lesser charge: confirming the name of a former CIA colleague, a name that was never made public. I am serving a 30-month sentence.
After getting my book, Kiriakou wrote me back a nice thank-you note (hand-written, of course) so I then sent him another book of mine, In Defense of Flogging. I figured he has plenty of time on his hands to think about incarceration. Kiriakou mentions me in his his latest missive from Loretto Minimum Security Federal Prison. It's a good read, if for nothing else his concise summary of prison religions and having to deal with pedophiles in prisons. The latter includes this:
Loretto’s “Education” Department scheduled a prisoner-led class last fall called “Quantum Physics.” Nobody bothered to check whether the prisoner-teacher was qualified to teach a course on quantum physics, nor did anyone request a lesson plan. As it turned out, the gay prisoner-teacher’s only degree was from the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Clown College. The course had nothing to do with quantum physics. It was a self-help pity party for pedophiles, and it sought to help them expand their rationale of denial, with the theme from “Rocky” playing in the background all the while. The teacher began the course by chanting, “We’re homos and we’re chomos! We’re homos and we’re chomos!” (“Chomo” is short for “child molester.”) One African-American prisoner, who expected to learn something about quantum physics, got up, shouted, “This is fucked up!” and walked out. Otherwise, it was a very popular class among a certain demographic. I’m not kidding.
The Dissenter has been publishing Kirikou's letters under the heading: Letter From Loretto. They are worth reading in their entirety.
Here is a brief summary of one:
[Kiriakou] has learned "how to cook methamphetamine." He has learned how best to steal food from a cafeteria to cook food "using only a live electrical wire and a garbage can full of water." He has learned how to smoke "spitarettes," which cost $10 each and are cigarettes made with chewing tobacco spit out by prison guards and dried and rolled up with toilet paper.

He concludes, "The country already is home to an increasingly large population of uneducated, untrained, unreformed, pissed-off ex-felons who are not going to just sit around hoping to win the lottery. Lacking prospects for employment, they’ll do what they do best—commit crimes."

"For the pedophiles, they will leave prison emboldened by the fact that they spent their entire sentence among like-minded sickos without once being challenged about their perversions."
This the type of prison disparaged as Club Fed. I wouldn't want to take a vacation there.

Here's a copy of one of his thoughtful thank-you letters to me. John Kiriakou will probably be getting a copy of Cop in the Hood for Easter.

April 7, 2014

(Former) Narc in Vice

Neill Franklin, once my commanding officer and now my friend (and coauthor) featured in Vice Magazine. I love Vice Magazine. And just because I've also been featured in it.

The non-coming of the super-predictor

A nice New York Times video piece about the coming of the "superpredators" who never came. File under C for crack babies?

From the Times:
What happened with the superpredator jeremiads is that they proved to be nonsense. They were based on a notion that there would be hordes upon hordes of depraved teenagers resorting to unspeakable brutality, not tethered by conscience. No one in the mid-1990s promoted this theory with greater zeal, or with broader acceptance, than John J. DiIulio Jr., then a political scientist at Princeton.
DiIulio was also a very good professor, by the way. I got an A in his Politics 240 class.





As John DiIulio says, “Demography is not fate, and criminology is not pure science."

Crime in NYC is going to go up, unless it doesn't

I've never heard such uniformity in belief from police officers that crime is going to go up in New York City. Why with stop, question, and frisks down and a liberal mayor in charge, it's almost like they want crime to go up just so they can say, "we told you so" and reminisce about the good ol' days of Giuliani (when crime was, by the way -- though going down rapidly -- much higher).

Perhaps a level of fear and oppression is lifting from parts of the city... I don't know. Perhaps that is good. Perhaps it will lead to wilding and chaos. I don't know. But until crime does go up... when the next Compstat report is publicly released it will show it was a bad week in NYC, with 9 murders. This will negate much of the year's improvement over last year. And winter was indeed very cold.

So it would be nice to get through a long hot summer before stating with confidence that crime isn't going up. And if crime does go up in New York, let's keep the focus on police tactics and police citizen interaction and not blame the usual gobbledygook of liberal "root causes." (If the crime drop in the 1990s showed anything, it's that crime can plummet independently of improved social and economic conditions. Poverty can make you miserable; it does not turn you into a mugger.).

Regardless, right now crime is not going up. So until it does, it seems silly to run around like Chicken Little saying the sky is falling.

Ghetto Culture, Hockey Fights, or Stuff White People Like

This may be the best argument for a residency requirement I've ever seen.

You know what "ghetto" is? When two groups who are oh-so similar -- really with everything in common, objectively, and perhaps a bit misunderstood by society -- forgot their brotherhood and trade blows with each other because of some perceived slight.

Or maybe it's just in "their" nature to like a good scrap. And the spectators in said ghetto? Brother, sisters, wives, baby's mommas and the like? They cheer on the fighters because they're, I don't know, "animals."

This was in Nassau County, but I haven't seen such a good brawl since I was on 700 N. Port. Or the 1700 block of Crystal.



Look, I love a hockey fight as much as the next guy. But this embarrassment was at a f*cking-charity-hockey-game! I only point this out because if this event were a basketball game with black folk fighting, countless people and The Blaze would be filled with racist comments about "their" culture.

Idiots do in fact come in all races. But this hits home because I actually live on Long Island (geographically, at least) and these guys police my city.

Oh well, fools fighting does make a great spectator sport! Too bad my taxes pay for their dental plan.

Hell, the Finest and Bravest haven't had such a good slug-fest since they were on the pile of the WTC together after Set 11th.

April 4, 2014

The black-market pot trade in Colorado

One would expect to see illegal weed sales diminish in states with legalized marijuana. It hasn't happened overnight. But I suspect it will. From USA Today.

April 2, 2014

Bratton says morale was low in the NYPD under Kelly...

...And Bratton is right. Should be the end of the story, despite what you'll read in the Post and the Daily News.

More interesting is what is buried in the Daily News story:
Police made 12,495 stops between October and December — down a staggering 86% from 89,620 during the same time period in 2012. And of the stops during the last quarter of 2013, 16% resulted in an arrest. That’s up from 6% over the same period in 2012.
Raising the hit-rate of stops is a great indicator that more stops are based on actual real articulatable reasonable suspicion (you know, what is legally required) and not just quota pressure (er, productivity goals). 2,000 arrests from 12,500 stops is better than 5,400 arrests from 90,000 stops. Of course if these data simply mean more stops are unrecorded, this "improvement" could mean nothing...

Guarding the “Pumpkin Festival and other dangerous situations"

The Economist's take on the militarization of police. Or, why does Keene, New Hampshire, need a $286,000 armored personnel-carrier?

April 1, 2014

Can We Trust Crime Numbers?

The need for better crime stats, from David J. Krajicek at the Justice Report.
“I don’t think we know if we’re in the midst of a heroin epidemic. I do know there are localities where the numbers are up. But to use numbers from four years ago as evidence of an urgent national problem today is pointless and silly. It just shows you how primitive the crime information infrastructure remains in this country.”
...
BJS touts its role as a source of statistical evidence for new “smart-on-crime” policies. Yet the relevance of its dated evidence is in question: BJS has not produced a new report on recidivism since 1994.
...
To be fair, no one blames the overtaxed statisticians who work at BJS.

James Lynch, BJS director from 2010 through 2012, says the bureau has been hollowed out by funding cuts as a result of the 2013 federal budget sequestration, a hiring freeze and animosity toward the Department of Justice on Capitol Hill.

“BJS has been under-resourced for many years,” Lynch, now a criminal justice professor and department chair at the University of Maryland, tells The Crime Report. “If you want timely statistics, then bang on the door of your damned congressman.”

BJS has been subject to a Justice Department hiring freeze since 2011, and its 2014 budget of $45 million is unchanged from 2009, according to a bureau spokeswoman.

That budget is miniscule by federal standards. Its Department of Labor equivalent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, has a 2014 budget of $592 million.

Rich folk don't "fare well" behind bars


A du Pont family heir plead guilty to raping his 3-year-old daughter in 2008.

From The Daily News:
Superior Judge Jan Jurden sentenced Richards to eight years in prison, but suspended the time for probation that requires monthly visits with a case officer. “Defendant will not fare well in [a prison] setting,” Jurden wrote in her sentencing order.

Well that's very sweet. Money does have its privileges. But as much as I'd love to go off on trust-fund babies, a large part of me says this judge did exactly the right thing: not send this guy to prison. Why? Because he will be killed in prison. The problem is that the state cannot protect its prisoners from being murdered. How could you, as a judge, knowing sentence someone to prison knowing they will be killed? Now were he killed, I wouldn't shed a tear, but still... if we as society want this guy to be executed, then we as society should have the balls to kill the guy. Legally. By the book. But to gleefully put a guy in locked cage knowing that convicts will do our murderous dirty work for us? For shame.

[The definition of "rape" has come to mean too things; here's the definition of 4th degree rape in Delaware.]

[hat tip to Jay Ackroyd]

March 31, 2014

ABQ Police Protests

"Check it out, esse.... shit's going dowwwn." (That's an Albuqueque accent, just FYI, as dictated to me by my Albuquerquean wife).

There are some anti-police protests in the Duke City.

A police-involved shooting, caught on police video, sparked the protests.

If you're right wing, watch this version:



If you're left wing, watch this version (if you're in the middle, watch the right-wing version because it provides more dialogue.):



It's also good to watch both versions and see the political convergence of right and left come together in the face of what is a pretty morally indefensible police-involved killing.

Perhaps how this is how police are now trained, but I hope not. I do not like what I see.

These are not effective tactics (though it worries me that the officers seem well trained). This shooting also demonstrates why we should not provide police with military weapons willy nilly. The police use almost every toy at their disposal. What's the point of having less-lethal weaponry if you never get to use it? The desire to use less-lethal weaponry -- flash grenade, dog, "bean bag"  -- contributes to a bad death. When police shoot a guy with a knife (or two), I'm generally pretty sympathetic to police. But not in this case. I know the 15-foot rule, but this guy wasn't about to go billy-goat ninja on the side of a mountain.
 
First of all, the guy was complying. At least until police fired a less-lethal round near here. But regardless, one the guy is down, you can go up to the guy with a night stick and wack him if he moves. You don't need to fire three less-lethal rounds at his ass and sick the dog on him. Sure, he might be playing possum, but I think you can assume he won't be fighting at 100%, if you know what I mean. You've already shot him and you've got lethal cover.

There's something particularly morbid about shooting a dying guy with a bean bag and letting a dog bite him because he failed to comply... after you done shot him.

I've written about this "hands-off" movement in police training, and I do not like it. When did cops become such wimps?

I'm also not at all clear why police fired a flash grenade at a complying individual. In all seriousness, could somebody please explain to me what is the S.O.P. now in training and the use of flash grenades? Is compliance no longer enough to prevent use of force?

Since 2010, ABQ police officers have been involved in 37 shootings, 23 of them fatal. By comparison, the NYPD has been involved in perhaps about 70 shootings since 2010. But, just to remind you, New York City has far more than 10 times the population of fair Albuquerque. In terms of police-involved shootings, Albuquerque is roughly on par with Baltimore, but Baltimore has much more crime.

I think this was a bad shooting.

But what really worries me is that perhaps the officers performed exactly as trained. If so, we need to change police training (and not make scapegoats of the officers).

March 26, 2014

Like David Hasselhoff, but in Australia. And with a whip.

Not too long ago I was kindly very politely by a woman at the Australian Police Journal to restate my argument in defense of flogging. This goes back to my Festival of Dangerous Ideas talk last November. I am generally happy to oblige anything with "police" in the name, even if they don't pay. So I dusted something off and thought that was that.

Well perhaps I, er, mis-underestimated the APJ. S allow me to plug them:
The Australian Police Journal (APJ) is Australasia's pre-eminent non-fiction publication about policing.

The APJ is published quarterly on behalf of all the Police Commissioners of Australia in order to educate and inform police and interested members of the community, in policing and related topics - both contemporary and historical. From its humble beginning in 1946, the journal now has over 25,000 subscribers throughout Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Region and beyond.

The APJ is administered by a not-for-profit company representing all the Australian police services. Its articles are written by police and related professionals, and have a direct relevance to Australian policing.

Admittedly, that description is a bit dry, but that's actually just the kind of publication I love publishing in.

Anyway, it turns out that more than just flatfoot cops read the APJ. And it turns out my flogging story was their cover story. After the APJ article appeared, it was picked up by the mainstream Australian media. In the past few weeks, me or my argument against prisons and In Defense of Flogging has appeared down under here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. G'day, mate! (Best of all, because of the 15-hour time difference, even the morning-drive radio interview was at a civilized 3pm.)

And of Friday I'll be on "The Project." (Pronounced down-under with a long-O and, as my friend put it, "It's like the Jon Stewart of Australia, but more serious." Though actually my friend used the words, "...not as funny," but let's not quibble about his comedic taste.) Here was my first appearance on the Prooooject (though last time I checked you couldn't view from the US).

Anyway, all this is to say it's nice the flogging is still alive in Oz. Better yet that they're actually talking about alternatives to incarceration that are politically more feasible. I don't know if this will sell books or improve the criminal justice system in Australia... but a man can dream. Regardless, it's a bit odd to be a very minor academic celebrity in a land that is 10,000 miles away.

March 22, 2014

It just don't make sense...

Angel Rojas came to the US four years ago from the Dominican Republic with his wife, Maria Lopez and their two kids, now 12 and 8. Rojas was on a break between two jobs, riding the bus home to, (from the New York Times):
...hug his children and grab a quick bite. When three young adults stepped aboard the bus, he most likely thought nothing of it.

Several rows back, the police say, a 14-year-old boy, a member of a street gang called the Stack Money Goons, had a visceral reaction. At least one of the three young adults belonged to a warring crew; there was a shared flash of recognition, and then, the police say, the 14-year-old pulled out a .357 revolver and fired one shot inside the bus.

The bullet missed the intended target but struck Mr. Rojas in the back of the head. Mr. Rojas had no time to react; there were few if any words exchanged, and police officials said a video of the encounter showed Mr. Rojas’s head simply slumping forward after sustaining the mortal wound.
...
After Kathon fired the shot aboard the bus, he and the three young adults ran off the bus; five more shots were fired outside.... None of those bullets struck anyone; the police recovered the revolver, and all six rounds had been fired.
The age of this killer made me think of the youngest armed kids I arrested, I searched my notes and found it on Christmas Day, December 25, 2000:
Busy night at work. Merry Christmas. People getting their last minute Christmas robbing in. And lot’s more Christmas Fussing.
...
A guy was robbed by 2 kids at Monument and Port. The kids were caught under a car at Patterson Park. 13 years old and really young looking. About 4 feet tall. I found the knife at Montford and Patterson Park. A small cheap steak knife. Turns out both of these kids have quite a record, going back about 2 years. Selling coke. Attempt 1st degree sex offense. 2nd degree sex offense.
Back in New York, says the Times:
One young man would not answer questions and pointed at the windows of the housing project beside him, to indicate crew members might be watching. "One thing I’m going to tell you, those little kids, they ain’t to be messed with," he said.
Well... those gun-toting kids are to be messed with. And the police are those who are paid to do the messing.

Police have to deal with these kids, not just after they kill an innocent person, but before, when they're hanging on the corner acting tough, and maybe not carrying a gun. But faced with a potentially armed person, no matter the age, police do not put on kids' gloves.

Some 14-year-old kids carry gun and use them to kill people on the bus. Keep that in mind next time you blame police for harassing kids. Had young Kathon been shot and killed by the cops before his murder, the Times would print a picture of cute 13-years-old Kathon "graduating" from 8th grade. Kathon's mother would be found, crying, saying how her lil' angel may have been involved in a little trouble, but he was a good kid. Sure a gun was recovered, but a "witness" would come forward saying Kathon wasn't armed: "Police just shot the kid for no reason!" You, dear liberal reader, would think the truth was somewhere in between and blame the police. It doesn't make sense.

March 21, 2014

Reducing 911 calls

A reduction in 911 calls in unheard of. The number of people calling for police goes up and up (because the system would have one believe there is an unlimited supply of cops). Right now about half your police department is dedicated to being ready to answer your call for service. And being ready ("in service") too often means sitting around doing nothing.

That's why this, coming out of Nashville, is interesting:
But in the struggle to run an efficient 911 system, Nashville officials have seen recent success. A 13-month streak of declining 911 calls allowed 2013 to wrap with the fewest since 2009. That helped responders spend more time on real emergencies.
But if calls are simply diverted to 311, the actual gains may be minimal. The public needs a way to reach and talk to an actual police officer (and not just the police agency in general).

March 18, 2014

"Never again"

This is truly amazing. I cannot believe this is not an Onion video.

WKRN, Nashville News, Nashville Weather and Sports

“As the buses left, the only way to get those students back to school was to walk.” It too nearly 15 minutes.

One student noted with disdain: "It was sunny and windy. It was not fun."

(This walk of 0.7 miles, just happened to be the same distance as the walk from the subway at 57th & 7th to my school.)

[hat tip to Streetsblog]

This is (not) only a test

I'm going to present a scenario. I want you decide who if anybody is right. And who if anybody should be criminally charged. But you have make a decision before you hear about the race of the people involved. Just imagine that everybody is white.

A guy lives in northwest Albuquerque. He may may not have been wondering around his neighborhood armed (I'm going to guess he was, but I don't know. I wasn't there). No matter, at some point somebody is this suburban-looking neighborhood sees an armed man near her house and gets worried.

The man of the house gets involved. He's got a permit to carry. So he gets in his SUV and goes looking for the suspicious man with a gun. He brought along his 15-year-old son for the hunt, as you do.

He approaches a house, slowly, armed. In the driveway of this house is the guy lives there. He's an Iraqi veteran. So this guy in his driveway sees a suspicious SUV approach and gets scared. He shoots... and misses. The man in the SUV returns fire. The man in his driveway is hit: "He dies from loss of blood, only a few feet from his own back door, dying in his own garage on his own property."

Do you charge the killer? Was the veteran who fired first defending his castle from an armed invader? Or was the man who killed a hero, killing a crazy armed man?

Was a crime committed? After all, a guy was killed standing on his own property.

Now what if I told you the guy killed was white and on his own property and the killer was a black. What if I told told you the killer was charged with homicide. Not hard to imagine. But what if I told you no charges were filed against the killer of the Iraqi veteran killed defending his home? Would you be outraged?

[pause to think now]

But what if I told you that the guy killed was black and the shooter was a white veteran? Would that change anything? Seriously... would it?

Try and play with the race and veteran status. But the question is: is it fair to charge the killer with the killing?

The answer in the comments.

Not according to this story (also the source of the above quote).

Another story with some more details.

Hell, there's even helicopter footage.

March 17, 2014

"Ambassadors of the NYPD"

"OK, academy class, pay attention. Today we are going to learn the 'seven steps to positive community interactions.' OK? And, um, even though Number Seven says 'end on a positive note' -- stop snickering in the back -- you should not say 'have a nice day' after cuffing somebody."

March 15, 2014

Officer Down

Yesterday an Eastern District sergeant, Keith McNeill, was shot and very seriously wounded. My thoughts go out to him, his family, and all those who know and work with him.