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by Peter Moskos

August 30, 2014

"Excited Delirium" is not a real medical condition

Best I can figure, it was invented (or at least inspired by) the Taser corporation (correct me if I'm wrong here).

But it's not a real cause of death. That being said, it's usually used to get cops off the hood when someone dies after being Tased.

But now some high guy dies and the police officer might (but probably will not) get in trouble? If there's any crime here, it sure wasn't committed by the police.

The story from the New York Times.

And I've never heard of this pseudo bullshit medical condition being used in a situation that wasn't Taser related. Again, correct me if I'm wrong.

And since when did the NYC M.E. buy into the concept of "Excited Delirium"?

August 27, 2014

"Unarmed" man not shot by police

One of the things that keeps coming out of the Ferguson shooting is that Michael Brown was "unarmed." As if "unarmed" people cannot be a threat to cop.

That's bullshit.

Now I'm not talking about whether Michael Brown was or was not a threat. I do not know. But the fact that he was "unarmed" does not mean he wasn't a threat.

This is a video (from 5 months ago) of an "unarmed" man on the whom I think the police officer should have shot. But the cop didn't. I guess the officer didn't feel his life was in danger. Kudos to him. Seriously. But I think his life was in imminent danger. And I think I would have shot the guy.

Just based on the description of the video (and the fact that the train isn't leaving and a police officer is involved), let's assume guy threatened to shoot subway passengers. A cop responded. The guy attacks the cop. That's where the video starts.

The cop tries to retreat. Then the cop maces him at 0:15. There's a nice deflection at 0:17. (Shazam! Jujitsu shit.) The asp comes out at 0:21. [Wack.] Little if any effect. The guy keeps coming at the police officer. Notice how few seconds have passed.

The grappling continues. The guy keeps coming. What would you do?

Now when you can use lethal force is not cut and dried. It's up to the police officer. And I can't read this police officer's mind. But he didn't use lethal force. That was the choice he made. Maybe he never felt his life was in danger.

But I'm telling you I think I would shot guy point-blank at 0:45.

Would this have been a "good" (ie: justified) shooting. Abso-fucking-lootly.

I've been in fights. And I haven't shot anybody. For whatever reason (backup, for instance) I never felt my life was in danger. I won't say this cop should have shot the guy. He felt he didn't need to. And he turned out to be right. But had he shot him, I would defend that shooting (as would the law).

But what if there's no video? What if the cop does shoot? What if, as would happen, some "eyewitness" on the subway says "the guy had his hands in the air [which, actually, he kind of did]. And he was surrendering when the cops shot him for no reason!" Then what do you assume?

Because when cops hear of a cop shooting an "armed person," they assume something like this happened. Cop know, based on everything they have done and seen, that police do not shoot people for no reason. Cops think: there but for the grace of God, go I.

Also note there is a train of people, not one of whom helps the cop. (Or you could say it's good nobody helped the other guy, who was asking for help).

So this subway cop showed amazing (and perhaps even unwise) restraint in use of force. But yes, in hindsight, it's clearly better that nobody got shot.

So did this officer receive any kudos for his bravery or his restraint? I don't know. Should he? Yes. Did he? I doubt it.

Bad cops

OK, my cop friends: please tell me what I'm missing here or how any of this (from February) is defensible. It's so rare I can watch a video and not understand or at least empathize with the police.

These Bloomfield, New Jersey cops are going to end up in jail right? And is the salary range really $57K starting up to $100,000. 

Here's an update from July. I don't know the latest.

August 26, 2014

Race and justifiable police homicides (VII): hispanics

Fact 7: What about hispanics? Hard to tell because many police departments don't keep track. Half of all homicides (justifiable police homicides) have no "ethic origin" listed. When it is listed, 1/3 of those killed are hispanic, which strikes me as very high. Overall, including all the missing data, hispanics come out at 16 percent. So the real number of hispanics killed is somewhere between 16 and 33 percent. The census lists 17 percent of Americans as hispanic (which includes all races).

That's all I got for now. If you can think of any other question I can answer with the data I have, leave a comment, and I'll do my best.

Race and justifiable police homicides (VI): black police shoot white people, too

Fact 6: Black police officers do kill white people. This really isn't surprising, but I mention it because I've seen a few people on twitter doubt this fact. Black officers (about 1 in 7 of all police) kill about 27 blacks and 9.4 whites per year. White police (of whom there are many more) kill an average of 81 blacks and 200 whites each year (both for the past 15 years).

Like the previous fact, this doesn't mean much without greater context. But it's worth pointing out that there aren't too many black officers working in high-crime white neighborhoods.

The next and last fact concerns hispanics. Spoiler: the data isn't good enough.

August 25, 2014

Race and justifiable police homicides (V): black police

Fact 5: Black officers are disproportionately more likely than white police to kill black people. But this should not come as a surprise since black officers are much more likely to work in black areas and in cities where there are more blacks. Again, without a good denominator, this doesn't mean much. 73.5 percent of those killed by black police are black. For white police the percentage is 27.6 percent.

Next question: Do black police shoot and kill white people?

Race and justifiable police homicides (IV): On the increase

Fact 4: Police-involved killings are going up. This one surprised me. Because police-involved shootings are generally correlated with overall homicides. But homicides are more or less steady right now, and down 10,000 since 1998 (14,000 in 1998, 13,000 in 2012).

The trend is about five more killings a year, for the past 15 years.

Meanwhile the trend is for fewer officers to get shot and killed. (If you go back further, like to the 1970s when more than 100 officers were shot and killed each year, the trend is way down.)

So cops may just be quicker on the draw. Or perhaps too quick on the draw. Or some combination of the two.

The next post examines if black police are more or less likely to kill people. What do you think?

As a side note, justifiable killings by civilians have been increasing at an even greater rate over the past 15 years. From 191 in 1998 to 309 in 2012. I would assume (but do not know) that "stand your ground" laws have something to do with this. Also, (surprising to me) the race relationship of those killings have become even more intra-racial (and the greatest increase is seen in justified killings by black).

[Data on police fatal shootings comes from the Officer Down Memorial Page.]

August 24, 2014

Race and justifiable police homicides (III): one a day

Fact 3: Nationwide, police kill about one person a day (426 in 2012, to be exact, 30 percent were black, 63 percent were white). Again, how you want to use or misuse that statistic is up to you. Either one person a day needs to be shot to protect somebody from getting killed or seriously hurt. Well, either that or police are cold blooded murderers who fill a one-body-a-day quota in the murder department. I'm more partial to the former explanation...

But it might be worth mentioning that the combined total for deaths from police shootings in Japan and Britain was... zero. Germany had eight.

Now ask yourself this: are police-involved killings in the US going up or down. That's tomorrow's fact.

And now, for the nerdy set, some numbers:

In 2012, police killed a total of 426 people. Of those:
white men: 267
black men: 128
white women: 6
black women: 4
"Asian or Pacific Islanders": 9
"American Indian or Alaskan Native": 5

The rates of justifiable police homicide, are roughly (per 100,000):
black: 0.33
Indian/Native American: 0.17
white: 0.12
Asian: 0.06

To put these numbers in some perspective, there were 13,063 total homicides in 2012.
white men: 4,332
black men: 5,745
white women: 1,651
black women: 858
Asian men: 160
Asian women: 82
Native/Indian men: 72
Native/Indian women: 22

The 2012 US homicide rates (per 100,000, and again, roughly):
black: 16.5
white: 2.7
Asian: 1.6
Indian/Native: 3.2

One other interesting tidbit, if you're still with me, is if one looks only at murders in which the killer is known to be a "stranger" (which is just 15 percent of all homicides... and this does not include the larger category of "relationship not determined"). Then the numbers plummet:
white men: 912
black men: 812
white women: 112
black women: 90
Asian men: 45
Asian women: 9
Native/Indian men: 15
Native/Indian women: 1

I mention this because fear and public policy is built so much around the concept of people (I'll say it: white women) being killed at home or in a robbery by some stranger (I'll say it again: a black man). And yet there were just 32 such victims in 2012. And 2012 was a high year. 2011 saw just 25 white women killed by black strangers.

The odds of being killed by a stranger, especially if you're a woman, are almost infinitesimally small. Though to be fair, they're still greater than the chance of being killed by lighting or attacked by a shark.

[Rates are based on these population numbers (which are not cut and dried): white 224 million; black 40 million; Asian 15 million; Native/Indian 3 million. Homicides from the 2012 UCR homicide supplement.]

August 23, 2014

Race and justifiable police homicides (II): white and black

Fact 2: Blacks are more likely than whites to be shot and killed by police, but probably less so than you'd suspect. 34 percent of those killed by police are African American. But put another way, 62 percent of those killed by police are white. (Actual numbers provided in next post.)

What you want to make of these data probably depends on your ideological persuasion. While the percentage of blacks killed by police (1/3) is disproportionately high compared to the percentage of Americans who are black (about 13%), one-third is low compared to other indicators of violence, such as the percentage of homicide victims and offenders who are African American (about 50 percent, give or take).

Since police-involved shootings correlate with gun violence in the population -- and many black communities receive a disproportionate amount of police attention -- one might expect the percentage of those killed by police to be closer to (or more than) 50 percent.

Based on the data, it does not seem that police are particularly trigger-happy around blacks compared to whites. (Though once could still argue that police are too trigger-happy overall.)

And keep in mind I make mistakes. If something seems fishy about my facts, let me know and I can double check.

Question for tomorrow's fact (#3): how many people (per year or per day) do police kill in the US?

[The source for all police-involved homicides is self-compiled UCR homicide supplements from 1998 to 2012. I've selected the value of 81 ("felon killed by police") for V29 ("Offender 1: circumstance"). I know that not all police departments report to the UCR, so the real numbers may be a bit more. But most police departments -- certainly all the big ones -- do report to the UCR. And the UCR covers "93.4 percent of the total population as established by the Bureau of Census."]

Race and justifiable police homicides (I): Over time

Back in 2008 I posted about what I called the "Al Sharpton effect": cops shooting white people doesn't generally make the news. That post has gotten a lot of hits recently (roughly 2,000 page views a day, when normally my whole blog gets about 700).

So I've re-crunched these numbers, both to make them more current and to look at the past 15 years, from 1998 to 2012. This is fact 1 of 7 (give or take).

Fact 1: The racial percentage of those killed by police hasn't changed. In other words, police are not more (or less) likely to shoot and kill blacks than they were 15 years ago. (In more academic terms, there is no correlation between year and race, from 1998 to 2012, selecting for whites and blacks).

Before I post the next fact, ask yourself this: what percentage of those killed by police do you think are black?

I ask because because it's good to know if your "facts" are actually based on reality And if the actual facts don't coincide with what you think is true, then you need to reconsider your opinions based on lies. Too many people don't do that.

August 13, 2014

Is the silence deafening?

That's because I'm out of town, in New Mexico ("not really new and not really Mexico"), and only have my phone to type on.

I'll be back home and posting in about two weeks.

August 5, 2014

How to arrest a very large man who doesn't want to go

Telling officers what not to do doesn't tell them what they should do. And it's never going to look pretty. That doesn't make it wrong.

Here's my op-ed in today's New York Daily News:
If you’re a cop, how do you cuff a 6-foot-tall, 350-pound man who doesn’t want to go to jail?

Most arrests happen without a problem. Police order a guy to put his hands behind his back. The cuffs click or zip, and that’s that. But sometimes people make it clear that they don’t want to go. Then what?
Read the whole thing here.

August 1, 2014

I stand corrected

The medical examiner's office says Eric Garner was murdered. To wit: "compression of neck (chokehold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police."

Asthma, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity were contributing factors.

His death has been ruled a homicide, and presumably we're going to be in for a Staten Island trial with Daniel Pantaleo and perhaps other police officers as defendants.

July 28, 2014

Gun Rights

This recent decision in DC saying there is right to carry is actually bigger news than you'd think. Why? Because up till now you did not have that right.

This decision asserts constitutional rights beyond what the Supreme Court has ever ruled. The Court said that the government cannot prevent you from having a gun in your home for protections. But that's it. Now this was a huge decision because, for the first time ever, the Court, in Heller and McDonald, ruled that the 2nd Amendment indeed does give an individual a right to bear arms.

This wasn't the intention of the Founding Fathers and has never been the case in US history, but what is good for the (liberal) goose is good for the (conservative) gander. I have no problem with the Court expanding our rights (or more correctly: limited the rights of the government). The 9th Amendment says this explicitly (though this Amendment, for reasons I do not understand, is rarely invoked in Court opinions).

Still, given those Supreme Court decision, the government could regulate ammo, the kinds of gun, and everything about guns in public. But even with those restrictions, Heller and McDonald were landmark cases that re-interpreted and expanded the 2nd Amendment. But all they said is that regulations could not prevent, again, you from having a handgun in your home for protection. That's it. But it was huge.

But now a lower court has said you, my fellow American, have a constitutional right to carry a gun in public. That is a huge expansion of the the core rights of the 2nd Amendment. We'll see if it stands.

July 23, 2014

Looking up to police officers

I just learned that cops in Greece have to be at least 5'7" (170 cm) tall. Male and female. That's crazy. Hell, I'm just barely over the cutoff.
...which is the highest minimum in Europe, along with Malta, Romania and Serbia. At 152cm, Belgium has the lowest height requirement. Female applicants in Greece must also be 170cm tall, making them the highest in Europe.

Is Selling Untaxed Cigarettes Now A Capital Offense?

So asks W. James Antle III in the Daily Caller. The answer is no, even with death of Eric Garner. But it is an arrestable offense. And that's a problem for police. It should be a problem for society. But people love passing stupid laws and then getting upset with police for enforcing them.

July 21, 2014

How to change occupational culture

New York City just paid $2.75 million to settle a lawsuit from a prisoner who killed in Rikers. As a taxpayer, I worry about a million here and a million there. Pretty soon, as they say, we're talking about real money. To the tune of $100 million each year for New York City. And indeed it does not grow on trees.

Everybody who has ever been a jail -- guard, police officer, prisoner, lawyer -- knows some bad stuff happens in there. If you want to find brutality, stop looking at police and start looking at C.O.s. (Of course, it's a lot easier to film police than to film what goes on in jails and prisons.)

But those big settlements don't cost the agencies where it happened one penny. The Department of Corrections or NYPD budget doesn't pay for the lawsuits they brought about. The city pays. It's a lot easier to be irresponsible when somebody else picks up the tab. It's like you're playing baseball and break a neighbor's window. You'll probably break fewer windows if you have to pay for the replacement. But as long as mom and dad pick up the tab, play on.

If some or all of that money came from the agencies that were responsible, I guarantee you those agencies would find a way to change the behavior and working culture that leads to lawsuits. Instead, the culture stays the same, and every now and then an officer gets thrown under the bus.

[Update: Jim Dwyer has a July 22 story with a similar theme in the NYT.]

The chokehold that wasn't?

Not surprisingly, the preliminary autopsy report in the death of Eric Garner shows, shows that the "deadly encounter Thursday did not damage his windpipe or neck bones."

Why is the not surprising? Because I'm still not convinced there was any chokehold at all. It certainly did not happen when Mr. Garner was taken down. There may have been a chokehold later, but as I have said, and without 100 percent certainly, I don't think there was. But seeing how Garner apparently didn't suffer any damage from a chokehold, can we at least stop saying a chokehold killed him?

The Daily News, which has been the most harsh of all the NYC newspapers, has repeated mentioned "chokehold" as a matter of fact, even though it may not be. "Chokehold" is mentioned around eight times in a webpage that ends with, "Sources told the Daily News that a preliminary report found no signs of neck trauma, such as a crushed windpipe."

There's something very strange about people who are screaming about "police killing a man with an illegal chokehold" who then don't care that there perhaps there wasn't a chokehold. Don't facts matter? Of course it doesn't help that Commissioner Bratton himself has called it a chokehold, which seems to sort of settle the matter, at least in the media.

Of course Garner is dead, so it's fair to ask, "does it matter?" Well, yes. It does. Because (as I've said before) there's a big difference between police killing a man and having a man die of a heart attack in the course of resisting arrest. It matters because the former is a crime and the latter is a tragedy. The guy seems to have died from physical exertion while resisting arrest. Is that the fault of police?

Meanwhile a police officer has been tried in the court of public opinion and found guilty. He very well may be tried in a criminal court -- and then there will be further shock and uproar when he is acquitted.

Except for some of the more extreme cops, who believe everybody resisting police should die, most decent people can agree that something went wrong. A man shouldn't be dead after a minor police encounter over a non-violent crime. That should be a starting point for discussion. But if you start by saying police killed a man -- even if it's not true -- it's hard to have any sort of reasonable or productive discussion.

This ideological anti-police bias is a left-wing lie similar to the right-wing lies I prefer to write about. It's like Larmondo "Flair" Allen, the drug dealer who, according to a right-wing email being sent around, was receiving $13,500 a month in welfare before he was murdered. "An outrage!" people scream while blaming Obama ("Flair" died in 2004). When I corrected this fact -- the real figure would have been more like $550 a month -- most people who so outraged by the $13,500 figure didn't seem to give a damn that it wasn't true. They want to be outraged! Facts be damned! "Well," they say, "maybe those numbers are wrong, but that doesn't change my opinion." Well... then you're a fool. If your opinion is based on beliefs that are not true, shouldn't you perhaps change your opinion? Or at least get your facts right?

Maybe in my next post I'll try and break down the Garner encounter situation and point out various points where something could have been done differently. Choices, had they been taken, where Mr. Garner wouldn't end up dead. Certainly things went wrong; a man is dead. But that doesn't mean the officers on scene killed a man.

[Update: I defer to the medical examiner, who says otherwise.]

July 20, 2014

Meanwhile, in the land of Greek Americans

I'm featured in The National Herald, the largest Greek-American newspaper. Front page story, no less (below the fold). Must have been a slow news week. Read all about it.

July 19, 2014

The sound of the drug war slowly crumbling...

...now includes police chiefs saying we should decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. It's not that bold of a statement, but it is coming from an active chief of police!

From Mlive:
[Petersburg, Virginia, Police Chief John] Dixon said drug use and addiction ought to be addressed by public health officials, not police. He said that police often view drug arrests as signs of success, and as a way to help the user.

“Why do I have to lock you up for that? What benefit am I giving you, then? We have to get out of the business. That should be the focus of the medical field.”

The war on drugs has affected minority communities the most, he said.

“It’s insanity. We know. The results haven’t changed.”

Still of the Day

Direct predecessor to DEA agents proudly displaying their prohibition victory. After another decade of trying to make alcohol go away, Americans would wise up and regulate alcohol. Guys like these would then continue the prohibition fight against other drugs. It's 92 years later and more than two million Americans are behind bars. Keep on keeping on!

[Enlarged version here. Taken from Shorpy.com]

July 18, 2014

If you can say, "I can't breath"...

The first thing that jumps to mind in the death of Eric Garner is that somebody who is repeatedly saying "I can't breath" is, in fact, breathing. It's a basic rules of chocking, first aid, and well, the way we speak.

Also, I'm no expert in chokeholds (because most departments forbid them), but what I do know is that a chokehold can either block the windpipe (which won't kill you, since suffocation takes a while after you pass out) or block the carotid(?) arteries in the neck (which technically isn't a chokehold but a strangle-hold). The former is done with the arm flat on the windpipe. The latter is more a vice grip, and you'll go out pretty quickly. It's pretty lethal. If you're on the giving end, you have to let go as soon as the person drops if you don't want the person on the receiving end to die.

I don't see either of those being a factor here... though it doesn't look good for the officer in green, Agent 99, who did grab Mr. Garner's neck, since chokeholds are forbidden. That officer also may have rushed the decision to put Mr. Garner in custody. Generally I'm for a hand-on approach to physically controlling a guy. And it's not easy to control a man as large as Mr. Garner. I'd be more critical if Mr. Garner died after being Tased.

But this is not a chokehold (though it's possible one was used later).

And yet the Daily News caption in an article about chokeholds says "Eric Garner was put in a chokehold as Staten Island police tried to subdue him Thursday." The officer (Agent 99) is using a half nelson and pulling on the guy's neck for leverage to bring him down and to the right, which he does. He's not near the windpipe, and this does not seem to be an attempt to choke the guy. So it's not a chokehold. Does that distinction matter if the guy is dead? Well, yes. Because chokeholds are forbidden, and the guy is dead.

But there's an important difference between saying "the cops killed him with a forbidden chokehold for resisting" (as I've heard people say) and "he died while resisting." Once you decide the guy is under arrest, what would you do? Mayor DiBlasio said he watched the video like family. Well, I watched it like a cop. And it's not easy to get cuffs and a large resisting man. Just because he died, which is a tragedy, doesn't mean he was killed, which is homicide. Certainly it will matter what the autopsy shows.

What you have is a very large and presumably out-of-shape asthmatic man resisting arrest, perhaps because he didn't deserve to be arrested. (I don't know, I wasn't there.) There do seem to be multiple witnesses (actually at the scene, I might add, which isn't a given when it comes to "witnesses") saying the same thing: Mr. Garner was a peacemaker trying to break up a fight. [But the officers seem to be arresting Mr. Garner for something else entirely: selling a cigarette.]

Mr. Garner, apparently, has been arrested 30-some times. And that very well may be why police focused on him.

But best I can tell (and again, I may be wrong), Mr. Garner seems to be little more than a repeat offender for the criminal offense of... selling loosie cigarettes! Now of all the idiot war-on-drugs nonsense... illegal cigarette selling should be low on the list of law-enforcement priorities. The guy died for selling loosies? And if he was selling them for 75 cents each (I don't know the going price for loosies), then they're cheaper than buying them legally by the pack. If he's selling them for a dollar, then he's making a good profit!

Why are about half of all the cigarettes sold in New York illegal? Because the tax is too high, and that has created a very large black market. The thing about legal regulated drug selling is it needs to make sense.

High taxes on cigarettes -- $5.85 a pack ($4.35 New York State plus another $1.50 for New York City -- were politically popular under Bloomberg, but probably do more harm than good in New York. That, just as much as any chokehold, contributed to the death of Eric Garner.

Selling loosies shouldn't be a crime.

[the post has been updated]

July 16, 2014

Reporter fired for politically incorrect editorializing

With regards to the killing of Jersey City Police Officer Melvin Santiago, Fox News TV reporter Sean Bergin no longer has a job after editorializing on-air:
It's important to shine a light on this racist mentality that has so contaminated policing and America's inner-cities. ... The underlying cause for all of this, of course, is America's racist criminal justice system that makes it impossible for young black men to succeed. It's nearly impossible to cover the issue in-depth and accurately when surrounded by stark raving conservatives who masquerade as journalists.
Just kidding.

Bergin didn't say that. And he didn't work for Fox. The truth is, if he had said that, it's very unlikely he would have been fired. He was fired for editorializing in a conservative manner, based on his what he's seen as a reporter.

What Bergin actually said on-air was:
We were besieged, flooded with calls from police officers furious that we would give media coverage to the life of a cop killer. It's understandable. We decided to air it because it's important to shine a light on the anti-cop mentality that has so contaminated America's inner cities. This same, sick, perverse line of thinking is evident from Jersey City, to Newark and Patterson to Trenton.

It has made the police officer's job impossible, and it has got to stop. The underlying cause for all of this, of course: young black men growing up without fathers. Unfortunately, no one in the news media has the courage to touch that subject.

Do I agree with this? Not one-hundred percent, but he certainly brings up a fair issue. Is what he said overly simplistic? Of course. But let's not set the bar too high for local TV news. This sure beats another cute animal video. And don't give me that "reporters shouldn't have an opinion" bit. Or "there's a time a place for everything." This was a great time and place to express his opinion on a major problem.

Bergin later told The Blaze (and then it was picked up by the AP and other news sites):
I broke the rules, but I broke the rules because I was doing the right thing. You can't fix a problem if you don't talk about the problem. The truth is, 73 percent of African-American children grow up without fathers. It's a topic that needs to be handled delicately — and really, this situation could have been used as a way to explore that.
Now that 73 percent figure isn't true and a reporter should know better than to throw around misleading statistics. (There's a big difference between not having legally married parents living together at time of birth and "growing up without a father." Regardless, the comparable figure for whites is 29 percent.) But still, Bergin's greater point is valid: there's a problem here; we need to talk about it and get to the bottom of it.

Bergin went on:
"I'm in these housing projects all the time, and it's all for the same thing: black men slaughtering each other in the streets. Why is this happening?" he continued, adding that it's nearly impossible to cover the issue in-depth and accurately when surrounded by "stark raving liberals who masquerade as journalists."
OK, strike two again Bergin for using the phrase "stark-raving liberal." But I'll give him credit for this: his opinions come from actually visiting the homes and neighborhoods where the violence happens. He sees bad things happening and actually cares. Before you criticize him, ask yourself if you care. Think about the last time you've done anything in a high-crime neighborhood other than lock your car doors.

As I wrote in Cop in the Hood:
If you really want to learn about the ghetto, go there. There’s probably one near you. Visit a church; walk down the street; buy something from the corner store; have a beer; eat. But most importantly, talk to people. That’s how you learn. When the subject turns to drugs and crime, you’ll hear a common refrain: “It just don’t make sense.”
Bergin did all this. Reality, as cops well know, isn't always politically correct. And you don't have to like what what he says to defend his right to say it.

D.A. Rickman on Jonathan Ayers

I received the following email today from D.A. Brian Rickman in regards to this post on the 2009 killing of Rev. Jonathan Ayers (you can read all I've written about the horrible killing of Ayers).
Professor Moskos,

Someone sent me a link to the February article you posted regarding the Ayers case. There were a couple of things I wanted to mention. I don't make a huge habit of responding to many articles or blogs, but I feel like I should as some of what you wrote is important to the integrity of the system.

In our criminal review of the GBI file, and subsequent Grand Jury presentation, two outside prosecutors were brought in to also review the investigation, and appear at the Grand Jury proceedings to offer their opinions of the law and evidence. These two outside prosecutors were District Attorney Danny Porter of Gwinnett County, GA, and District Attorney Emeritus Mike Crawford, who was my predecessor in office. In addition, an outside use of force expert was brought in from another State. Both prosecutors appeared before the Grand Jury, and did so outside of the presence of myself or members of my office staff.

There are many aspects of the tragedy that was the Ayers case that lend themselves to a healthy discuss ion in a democracy about the use of force and about law enforcement without question. My particular job, pursuant to my oath, was to ensure a fair review was had for violations of the criminal law in Georgia, which is of course different from the standard in a civil action for damages.

I take my job, and my responsibilities very seriously. While it is not possible for there to be universal agreement about what we do or how we do it, I did want to mention these facts, which were not in the article, because they go to the heart of whether the process was fair insofar as the criminal review. As it appears from your writing, I was the only prosecutor involved in the proceedings. As mentioned above, two outside prosecutors conducted legal analysis and appeared aside from myself or anyone from my office. I do think that was important for the very reason that those steps were taken, that is to ensure a multiple level and independent review as far as the criminal process.

I appreciate your time. I am not asking for, nor urging you to write any sort of correction or make any sort of posting. It is simply important to me that when a writing goes to my integrity, I respond to it.


Brian M. Rickman
District Attorney
Mountain Judicial Circuit
P.O. Box 2138
Clarkesville, Georgia 30523

Detroit police chief gives credit to armed citizens for drop in crime

From the Detroit News:
The incident was the latest in a string of homeowners opening fire to defend themselves, although after a flurry of such shootings early this year, before Monday there hadn’t been a reported incident since May 4 — an indication that criminals are thinking twice about breaking into people’s houses, Craig said.

Detroit has experienced 37 percent fewer robberies in 2014 than during the same period last year, 22 percent fewer break-ins of businesses and homes, and 30 percent fewer carjackings. Craig attributed the drop to better police work and criminals being reluctant to prey on citizens who may be carrying guns.

“Criminals are getting the message that good Detroiters are armed and will use that weapon,” said Craig, who has repeatedly said he believes armed citizens deter crime. “I don’t want to take away from the good work our investigators are doing, but I think part of the drop in crime, and robberies in particular, is because criminals are thinking twice that citizens could be armed.

“I can’t say what specific percentage is caused by this, but there’s no question in my mind it has had an effect,” Craig said.
A 2013 study by the American Journal of Public Health found that the states with the loosest restrictions on gun ownership had the highest gun death rates. But a 2007 Harvard University study found that banning guns would not have an effect on murder rates.
I don't know why it says "but" instead of "and." Those lat two conclusions are not at all mutually exclusive.