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by Peter Moskos

March 31, 2016

Ouch

Alameda Country deputies beat the crap out of this car thief in San Fransisco. Pesky security camera caught most of it (and with audio).

I haven't seen a police beating like this since God knows when. And now the cops are going to go down. All because they thought somebody deserved a beat down.

Another Consent Decree

Here are the press conference justifications for a consent decree of Newark, NJ, police department:
1) reports don't give cause for stops. Unconstitutional stops. Illegal arrests

2) pattern of excessive force

3) need for more civilian oversight

4) need for better internal affairs

5) there will be a court-ordered monitor

6) will end after two successful years
I don't know enough about Newark to comment on the specifics. I'm against illegal policing and unconstitutional policing, just to be clear. But I'm still like to know the track records of consent decrees. Do they work? Do they improve policing? How do we know? What's the impact on crime?

Newark, NJ, saw 104 homicides in 2015. The 2009-2014 average was 95 homicides per year (UCR data).

Of the 585 murders reported to the UCR 2009-214, 87 percent of the victims are African American 12.6 percent are white (which, as one would expect, roughly reflects the racial breakdown of known offenders).

Newark has 280,000 people and is about half black, 26 percent white (12 percent non-hispanic white), 15 percent "other races." The city is also about one-third hispanic.

March 30, 2016

This city ain't ready for reform!


No, it doesn't.

Wait a second... if you think Baltimore has 73,000 arrests, watch this magic:

[POOF!]

I just reduced arrests by 63 percent!

There were fewer than 28,000 arrests in 2015. That's a pretty big difference.

Can't we expect better facts from a City's Health Commissioner. She's a medical doctor, for crying out loud. How about factual facts?

Reasonable people can and should differ on opinions, but I still have this naïve belief that if people stop believing lies, we'd have a lot more common ground.

Baltimore arrests peaked in 2003 (with 114,000). From 2003 to 2011, homicides steadily declined in Baltimore and so did arrests. Great. 2009 was the last time Baltimore saw more than 70,000 arrests. 2009 was also the only year (since God knows when) that Baltimore has seen fewer than 200 homicides.

This matters because blaming arrests is the false political narrative put out by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's administration in order to deflecting blame for last year's riots. The 2015 "uprising," say those on the left, happened because people are angry about racial injustice and police abuses. (Like being "angry" excuses rioting or makes it inevitable.)

That's right, say "progressive reformers," criminals like Donta Betts helped burn the city because he was angry about er, mass-arrest policies that he isn't even old enough to remember?

Any time ideology trumps common-sense problem-solving, you're in for trouble. And reformers love circular logic. Reforms can't not work, because reform is needed. And reformers never accept responsibility for the unintended (and sometimes intended) consequences of their actions. And when reforms don't work? Then we need more reform. I prefer the old adage: when you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.

And yet the city administration -- I don't know if they're purposeful lying or shamefully ignorant ideologues (though either would be troubling) -- harps back to a false past to deflect blame for the messed-up and deteriorating present.

Things were actually getting better in Baltimore. And then a minor corruption scandal (Dixon) led to the current unqualified reform (SRB) mayor who brought in a certain reformer of police (Batts, whose only proven success seems to have been at career hopping) who done messed everything up! Murder increased from pretty much the moment Batts "reformed" the police department. Things got worse. Well it can never be the fault of reform. So it must O'Malley's fault from 10 years ago.

Here's my litmus test: If you talk about the crime and police without ever once saying the word "criminals," you're a reforming fool.

March 28, 2016

Chicago violence

Maybe killers don't dress with such flair in Chicago as they do in Detroit. But what Chicago murders lack in quality, they make up for in quantity.

Some experts prefer to put their head in the sand and hope it all goes away:
“Trying to read too much into this is a grave mistake,” said Craig B. Futterman, a clinical professor of law at the University of Chicago. “We’re all just guessing.”
Really? A "grave mistake" when homicides are almost doubled compared to the same time last year? No. It's high time for everybody to give their best guess. Here's mine:
Since January, officers have recorded 20,908 times that they stopped, patted down and questioned people for suspicious behavior, compared with 157,346 in the same period last year. Gun seizures are also down: 1,316 guns have been taken off the streets this year compared with 1,413 at this time last year.
And convictions in gun cases are getting hard to win:
In part, that’s because of the public’s concern over police tactics in the wake of high-profile shootings of African-Americans by police officers around the country, according to both prosecutors and defense attorneys.
It's not so much as a "guess" as connecting the dots. That decrease in stops was by design:
...tied to a departmental change that took effect in January, requiring officers to fill out a far more detailed form for each one. The change was imposed after the American Civil Liberties Union raised questions about whether officers were targeting minorities in their stops.
Well, of course they were. How are you going to target homicides in Chicago without a focus on minorities? Of 3,000 people shot and 506 killed in Chicago, 80 percent were black and another 15 percent hispanic. 95 percent of those killed are black or hispanic in a city that is roughly two-thirds black or hispanic.

So yeah, when it comes to preventing gun violence in Chicago, the police would be remiss if they didn't focus on minorities. And men, too (90 percent of victims). Should police stop more Polish-American women in Jefferson Park? Jefferson Park would love more police presence (if that were possible). (To my surprise, there even was a murder in Jefferson Park last year. One.)

Of last year's murder carnage just 123 suspects have been arrested. The clearance rate was 25 percent. So there's room for improvement there, too. Right now literally hundreds of active murderers are walking around the streets of the South and West Sides of Chicago. 142 murders just through March.

Look, maybe an increase in shootings in Chicago isn't related to decreasing interaction between police and criminals. Maybe there is no cause and effect between attempts to limit and control police activity against young black and hispanic men and an increase in violence among some of these same young black and hispanic men. Yes. It's a guess.

But what if aggressive policing -- and inevitably some of that will cross the line to an illegal stop or search -- actually prevents violence? What if there were a cost to a laser-like and exclusive focus on police misconduct? Reducing police stop in general is one way to reduce illegal police stops and citizen complaints. But maybe it's the wrong way. What if one consequence of focusing only on police misconduct were fewer gun convictions? What if it were more murders? (And God forbid you call this relationship something like the Ferguson Effect, because that doesn't exist.)

Hey, on the plus side, police-involved shootings in Chicago were down in 2015. Mission accomplished, I guess.

Here's the most shameful response to more murdered black men:
Some experts... point out that the numbers in recent years have been below those in the early 1990s, when more than 900 murders were reported some years.
Wow. And so effing what?! Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations. Imagine saying we needn't worry about institutional racism because it's so much less today than it was in the 1960s (and 1860s, for that matter). Or check into a hospital where mortality is up and their response is: "Trying to read too much into this is a grave mistake. We’re all just guessing. Besides, mortality was so much greater in the past."

Also, from the fun info at heyjackass.com, Chicago saw but 7 days in 2015 without a reported shooting or homicide. Seven.


Also, on the subject of the CPD, I'm happy an insider seems to have been tapped to be the next chief of police in Chicago. I have no idea who the person is. But I'm happy it's not another outsider with no real clue coming in to save the day.

March 27, 2016

I wanna be a cowboy...

In some ways this is just another shooting in the hood.

But I post it because, well, look at her Jessie getup!

Also, she packs her gun in her panties.

And there's high quality video.

Does there have to be more?

I wanna be a cowboy... and she can my cowgirl.

This is the violence problem in America. Have an argument? Upset? Feel bad? Get a gun, holster it in your undies, and then use as needed at the gas station.

On the plus side, no police officer got in trouble for confronting, frisking, or even having to shoot this juvenile.



I'm assuming she's just a "girl" since her name wasn't released. I also feel sorry for any youngsters who watched this and say, "That's mom!"

[Also, notice the cross around her neck. Here's yet another example of radical Christian terrorism. And yet nobody but me has noticed this clear sign of Christian jihad.]

"What messy justice looks like: After Peter Liang's killing of Akai Gurley, DA Ken Thompson does the right thing twice"

Harry Siegel's excellent column in the Daily News:
The progressive prosecutor — elected on a promise to salvage Brooklyn justice from the oxymoronic state his predecessor had reduced it to — did the right thing first in holding the cop to account and convicting him before a jury of his New York City peers, and again in recommending that he be let off the hook of incarceration.

The whole system failed here: in the screening that let Liang join the force in the first place and the Academy “training” that left him certified in but never actually taught CPR; in the lousy NYCHA buildings where stairwells are blacked out and elevators broken down, where the good people who live there sometimes need police to help keep common areas safe.

By recommending no jail time for Liang, Thompson made plain that he wouldn’t make one cop the scapegoat for all that, and for a national conversation about killer cops, too. But by prosecuting him, Thompson made plain that what Liang did, letting off a fatal shot in the dark, was a crime, cop or no cop.
...
“A lot of people have trouble getting their heads around this case, because they think it’s like other police shootings and it’s not,” explains John Jay Professor Eugene O’Donnell, a former cop and prosecutor in New York City. “The others are shoot-don’t shoot events, about decisions cops make in one second.

“That is the obstacle to charging the police, those ‘fear of my life’ shootings. The law of self-defense is extremely favorable to the police — to everybody, actually, as we found with George Zimmerman — but especially the police."

None of that, he notes, applies to Liang, and — with no legal leg to stand on — he became the rare cop to ask for a jury rather than a bench trial, perhaps in the hopes that at least one juror would overlook the law and cut him a break.

One bitter irony: Thompson’s choice not to punish Liang for going to trial highlighted how often other defendants are effectively punished for pleading their innocence. A pound of flesh frequently gets taken in sentencing after a guilty verdict, in part to account for the turmoil a trial puts a victim’s family through but mostly to “pay” for the resources trials demand of prosecutors and police.

Which is outright un-American, but also at the heart of our justice system as it normally functions. ...

Bottom line: In a complex case fraught with racial politics, Thompson did his job as a minister of justice, holding a cop to account for the fatal consequences of his actions, and trying to find the right measure of justice. ...

And that’s how our justice system should work, for everyone.

Who is this man?

Does anybody recognize this guy from Humans of New York? More than 13,000 shares and 147,000 likes on facebook.



He says he was a Baltimore cop for 21 years and a heroin addict the entire time. It's not inconceivable, but it doesn't ring true. I see a guy sitting on a bench in NYC with a story. I don't believe him. I prefer my facts verified.

And I'm naturally suspicious. He says he took two-weeks' leave and quit cold turkey. But he also says he was an addict the entire time? Which one is it? And how did he pass random drug tests?

Update: It's hard to prove a negative, but I'm called BS since nobody I know recognizes this guy (and that includes people who came on the job in the since the 1960s). It just doesn't ring true. From various Baltimore cops, past and present:
If he was addicted his whole time on the force, somebody on the street would have outed him to get a better deal from another officer. He'd have been too high to be as afraid as he claims. Who walks in on their junkie side partner and just says "well, as long as it doesn't affect your work"? How many junkies would YOU trust YOUR life to? So he gets clean and doesn't force his WIFE into rehab? She's using every day and spending his money?????
Nah. Good reading,though. I'll wait for the movie.
And this:
Let's say this fool retired 20 or even 25 years ago, it still would have been during the time when mandatory "random" urinalysis was conducted. From what I understand, when the program was started, within the first two years, everyone had been tested at least once.

That long ago, to use heroin in a powder form it would have had to have been "smoked" as the purity of the powder back then, I do not believe was high enough to snort. And there is no way he was doing it while working and getting away with it because he would have immediately went "on the nod" and not been able to work until he came off of his high.

Locking himself in a hotel room, alone, for two weeks while he kicked it is another pile of manure. He would have needed at least one other person there to even try to pull it off to help him keep hydrated, etc. And the hotel staff after a few days of the do not disturb sign on the door know would have checked in some form to see if he was in there and did not skip out on the bill.

The only thing this story is good for is fertilizer.
The heroin purity argument is persuasive. Heroin, best I know, needs to approach 40 percent purity to make it snortable. It was nothing close to that in the 1980s. From the DEA:



The only real chance nobody would recognize this guy is if were already retired in the 1990s.
I know that there were some steroid users in the mid 80s, a couple of cocaine resignations, and a couple of positive test results where the addicted claimed addiction as a medical disability.
And of course, why this matters:
We have enough issues, now everyone will think half of us get high.
Impersonating a former cop. But why did he have to pick Baltimore?

2nd Update: I've heard back from more old-time former Baltimore Cops. Nobody has ever seen this guy before.

March 26, 2016

Bratton on Cruz

Bill Bratton in the Daily News:
There seems to be a widespread belief among certain members of the political class that protecting the country against terrorism is a matter of ideology. According to them, the strong leaders in this area are the ones who are willing to insult Muslims, advocate torture, and engage in various other provocations. They claim that other leaders are paralyzed by political correctness and that they alone have the ideological fortitude to guard against the terrorist threat.
...
Recently, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz called for police to “patrol and secure Muslim communities before they become radicalized.” We already patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods, the same way we patrol and secure other neighborhoods.
...
In New York City, we protect all communities from crime and terrorism — yes, Muslim communities too — because like us, they are Americans who own businesses, work hard, pay taxes and dream of a better life for their children. Over 900 of them work in my police department as police officers, many of them in counterterrorism and intelligence. Many of them have served in the military and fought for their country.
For what it's worth, I wrote this a few years ago about the problems of "Demographics Unit" 2006 report.

March 25, 2016

"Queens Man Accused of Making Over 30 False Calls to 911"

This doesn't happen enough (the prosecution, not the BS calls to 911):
In all, the authorities said, more than 30 calls were made over a month, none for actual emergencies. On Friday, prosecutors in Queens said that they had all been traced to one man.

He told the fire marshal investigating the case that he made the calls. “My uncle is verbally abusive to me,” he told the investigator, referring to a relative with whom he lives, “and the sound of sirens calms him down.”

The man, Kenneth Campbell, 47, of the Briarwood neighborhood, has been charged with five counts of making a terroristic threat and more than two dozen counts of false reporting of an incident, prosecutors said.

Arrest of Postal Worker in Crown Heights

Unless there's more to this story that hasn't come out -- and there may be (though I wouldn't bet on it) -- this is inexcusably shitty.

The video:


So is this unrelated incident in 2013 when a cop made a left turn into and killed a teacher crossing the street. It's all too common for drivers in error to get away with killing pedestrians in New York City without serious consequences. Add police into the mix, and this isn't even a surprise.

But the egregious and shameless part here is the city arguing that the victim "knew or should have known in the exercise of due/reasonable care of the risks and dangers incident to engaging in the activity alleged." That's lawyer talk for it's the pedestrian's fault for crossing the street, in the crosswalk, with the walk sign.

Update:
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Monday that he reviewed multiple videos of the incident and was "not pleased" with what he saw, and that the officers were supposed to be in uniform as part of their detail.

"All four of these people, including the lieutenant, were in street clothes, not in uniform," Bratton said during an unrelated press conference Monday. "That’s in direct violation of our patrol guide. So we will be investigating that element of it.”

Grays said he hopes the officers involved will be disciplined, but not fired.

“I don’t want them to be jobless because they might have family, kids they need to support,” he said.

“It’s sad. I thought when I put on a uniform that I’d be treated a little different, but there’s no difference. I’m just another brother with a uniform.”
Follow-up post.

Who should you vote for?

Somebody got it all figured out:


Legalize It All

Dan Baum has written a bunch of good books about a variety of subjects, and I've mentioned him many times on this blog (search for his name, if you want). I first met Dan and his wife, Margaret, in New Orleans in 2007. The title of my book, "In Defense of Flogging," was coined the night I met them, at dinner.


Dan is the dandy is the middle with the peach jacket and straw hat.

His latest piece in Harpers Magazine is about legalizing drugs. He's been at this for a while. Smoke and Mirrors came out in 1997. If I remember correctly, this was in Smoke and Mirrors. But maybe the time is more ripe now:
I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. “You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
It's worth reading the whole thing for an idea about how we might be able to move forward on this whole drug and this prohibition problem.
In other words, our real drug problem — debilitating addiction — is relatively small. One longtime drug-policy researcher, Peter Reuter of the University of Maryland, puts the number of people addicted to hard drugs at fewer than 4 million, out of a population of 319 million. Addiction is a chronic illness during which relapses or flare-ups can occur, as with diabetes, gout, and high blood pressure. And drug dependence can be as hard on friends and family as it is on the afflicted. But dealing with addiction shouldn’t require spending $40 billion a year on enforcement, incarcerating half a million, and quashing the civil liberties of everybody, whether drug user or not.
...
So consider Portugal, which in 2001 took the radical step of decriminalizing not only pot but cocaine, heroin, and the rest of the drug spectrum. ... No other country has gone so far, and the results have been astounding.
...
When applying the lessons of Portugal to the United States, it’s important to note that the Portuguese didn’t just throw open access to dangerous drugs without planning for people who couldn’t handle them.
...
Decriminalization has been a success in Portugal. Nobody there argues seriously for abandoning the policy, and being identified with the law is good politics.
...
As successful as Portugal’s experiment has been, the Lisbon government still has no control over drug purity or dosage, and it doesn’t make a dime in tax revenue from the sale of drugs. Organized crime still controls Portugal’s supply and distribution, and drug-related violence, corruption, and gunned-up law enforcement continue. For these reasons, the effect of drug decriminalization on crime in Portugal is murky.
...
Portuguese-style decriminalization also wouldn’t work in the United States because Portugal is a small country with national laws and a national police force, whereas the United States is a patchwork of jurisdictions — thousands of overlapping law-enforcement agencies and prosecutors at the local, county, state, and federal levels.... We cannot begin to enjoy the benefits of managing drugs as a matter of health and safety, instead of as a matter of law enforcement, until the drugs are legalized at every level of American jurisprudence, just as alcohol was re-legalized when the United States repealed the Eighteenth Amendment in 1933.

March 24, 2016

Good news: Baltimore Homicides in 2016 only up a little...

Baltimore homicides, year to date, are only up a bit compared to last year. Through March 24th, 50 this year compared to 47 in 2015.

Rarely is more murder good news. But it's certainly an improvement from last year, post riot. From May through December 2015, there were 269 murders in 244 days. So 50 murders in 84 days in 2016 is strangely good news. Yes I know it's low season. But it's still a good sign. We'll see if it lasts.

March 22, 2016

A Toddlin' Town

From AP:
In all, Chicago has paid a staggering sum — about $662 million — on police misconduct since 2004, including judgments, settlements and outside legal fees, according to city records. The payouts, for everything from petty harassment to police torture, have brought more financial misery to a city already drowning in billions of dollars of pension debt.
...
The Chicago police said there were 45 firings and 28 suspensions from 2011 through 2015 in a department of about 12,000. Some cases remain open.
...
The city's top lawyer, Stephen Patton, says his office has reduced costs with new strategies: It has cut the number of outside lawyers by more than 80 percent, taken more cases to trial (the corporation counsel's office won 21 of 28 last year), whittled down a backlog and spread the word it will no longer settle small cases routinely.
...
Burge cases — including settlements and outside lawyers — have cost the city more than $92 million (about $109 million, if county and state expenses are included), according to Taylor, who keeps his own tally.
And I'm just going to beat Pirate to the punch.

Taser Use

Great story in the Baltimore Sun about taser use:
• Nearly 60 percent of those hit by Tasers in Maryland were described by police as "non-compliant and non-threatening," according to data from 2012 when the state began collecting data through 2014.

• In one out of every 10 incidents, police discharged the weapon for longer than 15 seconds — a duration that exceeds recommendations from Taser International, the U.S. Department of Justice and policing experts. The data downloaded directly from the devices often shows more activations than officers document in police reports.

• Officers fired the weapons at the chest in 119 incidents in 2014 — even though Taser has warned since 2009 that doing so could cause cardiac arrest.
And why?

From 02:20 of the video in the story:
The Taser is a great tool because if you go out on a call or something... and he's fighting... before, if you hit him was a asp [baton] he's going to get a lot of contusion marks and maybe break some bones. A Taser is not going to do that.
See contusions look bad. But Tasers sometimes kill. To me the issue has always been whether the Taser is used for a threat (OK) or compliance (bad).

125 Overdose Deaths a Day

It makes homicide -- which kills "just" 40 Americans a day -- look positively benign.

47,000 Americas died from drug overdose in 2014. That's a shocking figure. 47,000 is the number of US soldiers who died in Vietnam combat. And that was over 20 years.

Heroin deaths have shot up since 2010:



From the Times:
The death rate from drug overdoses is climbing at a much faster pace than other causes of death, jumping to an average of 15 per 100,000 in 2014 from nine per 100,000 in 2003.
...
Nationally, opioids were involved in more than 61 percent of deaths from overdoses in 2014. [Only 61%? I'm actually surprised it's that low.] Deaths from heroin overdoses have more than tripled since 2010 and are double the rate of deaths from cocaine.

From CNN:
The biggest increase in deaths was from from synthetic opioids, which went up 80%. According to the CDC, the increase in synthetic opioid deaths coincided with increased reports by law enforcement of illicitly manufactured fentanyl.
...
The states with the highest rates of overdose were West Virginia, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Ohio.

Since 2000, opioid drug overdose deaths rose 200%. Nearly half a million lives have been lost to opioid drug overdoses since then.
Maybe we could look at a country that has come very close (knock on wood) to solving this problem? There are about 100 overdose deaths in the Netherlands. 16.8 million people. That's a rate of 0.6. Yeah: zero-point-six. Put another way, if the Netherlands were the size of the US, there would be about 2,000 overdose deaths. So what do they do in the Netherlands? Give that shit away for free, literally.

Or maybe we should just take out another kingpin or two. That always seems to work.

March 21, 2016

RIP Detective Colson

“The shot that struck and killed Detective Colson was deliberately aimed at him by another police officer,” Stawinski said. “It’s another tragic dimension to this unfolding story.”



Ouch.

A black cop in civilian clothes being killed by other cop? This is not exactly frequent... but it is all too regular.

In 170 years of US policing, you know how many white cops have been killed in similar cases of mistaken identity? Best I know, four. (Jenkins, Skagen, Stamp, and Breitkopf)

Here's my previous post.

March 19, 2016

Broken Windows case study

Here's how Broken Windows works in real life. A "subway swiper" -- a minor crime -- causes disorder, and then swiper gets into a fight and is murdered.

Herbert Burgess, the Metrocard swiper -- "58 prior arrests and sent to prison in 1993 for 18 years after confessing to fatally strangling his roommate" -- was stabbed and killed:
Neighborhood residents said Mr. Burgess was a familiar presence in the subway station, where he subtly approached people and asked them to give him a dollar or two in exchange for a swipe of his MetroCard. (Selling swipes is illegal in New York City.) Many people described him as disheveled.
From the Daily News:
Burgess saw Velazquez’s daughter trying to add money onto her MetroCard at a machine.

He offered to swipe her through the turnstile for $1.

She refused and tried again to add cash at the machine, which scammers have been known to disable to force straphangers to buy from them.

Burgess grabbed the cash out of her hand and taunted her, sources said. As he walked off, she accused him of robbing her, followed him to street level and called 911 to report him.

She then called her dad, Velazquez, 48, sources said.

Burgess tried to return the cash but she refused and said it was too late, sources said. An irate Burgess dropped the money and punched her in the face.

Velazquez showed up and the daughter pointed to Burgess, sources said.

Velazquez chased Burgess back into the station and grabbed him just as Burgess was about to jump the turnstile.

Velazquez stabbed the victim in the back but Burgess still made it over the turnstile and onto a downtown No. 2 train, according to cops.

Burgess made it just one stop before medics rushed him to Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital, where he died.
Not entirely surprisingly:
Police released a mug shot of Velazquez from a 2013 Harlem arrest for weapon possession and asked for the public’s help tracking him down Thursday.

He has 12 prior arrests, mostly on drug charges, police said. He has one weapons possession arrest.
And yet another non-gun murder in New York City.

Beware of the Risen People



The ATF released a version of this photo taken during the April 27 riots. The guy ("repeatedly captured in photographs and other images on the day of the rioting") was later identified as Donta Betts:
He confessed to creating the explosion to ward off the cops "so people could finish ... stealing whatever they was going to steal."

"I figured I did all this because that was my period of time to go wild on the police.... I figured I did all this because that was my period of time to go wild on the police."
The image above became a symbol.

It's pretty easy to find people defending looting, riots, militancy, and destroying police cars. "All that rage is justified." At the time (and still today) some insist they were no "riots." Just an "uprising." Beware of the risen people, oppressed, angry at (among other things) arrest-based policing that under Mayor O'Malley (who left office when Betts was 11, presumably before even his first arrest). People living in the hood in Baltimore have reason to be angry. That doesn't mean they're burning down drug stores and old-folk homes.

So it's with a bit of schadenfreude that I read Kevin Rector's story in the Sun today in which Betts pleaded guilty to a bunch of stuff:
Donta Betts participated in the looting of the CVS pharmacy at the intersection of Pennsylvania and North avenues on April 27 — which became a symbol of the unrest when it burned to the ground — and lighted a roll of toilet paper, placed in on top of propane cylinders and then squirted lighter fluid onto both in an attempt to prevent police from responding to looting at the pharmacy.
But wait, there's more:
Then on July 2, Betts shot a woman after she only paid him $20 for $40 worth of heroin, according to Rosenstein's office and the plea deal. He was later captured on a recorded call by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services admitting to the shooting but asking an associate to get the woman to sign an affidavit saying he did not shoot her, according to Rosenstein's office.
In summary:
"Donta Betts engaged in arson, looting, assault and other mayhem during the Baltimore riots. He threw rocks at the police near Mondawmin Mall; tried to destroy police cars; stole from a pharmacy, a liquor store and a shoe store; and set off a homemade bomb. Ten weeks later, he tried to murder a woman over a $20 drug dispute, then he conspired to get her to sign a false affidavit. We caught him only because police and prosecutors spent many hours reviewing video and audio recordings. It may sound like a story arc from a TV series, but it is real life in Baltimore."
You know what pains me about the picture? The line of cops "holding the line." It was the tactics of April 2015, and not the oppression of centuries, that allowed parts of Baltimore to explode. Bad leadership has consequences. The mayor and police commissioner were not up for the job. Of course there's always been oppression. Luckily riots happen less often.

March 18, 2016

"Not on my post, you don't"

Thinking about lobbies and public housing and policing....

Take the Jackie Robinson Homes, "an 8-story building with 189 apartments housing some 440 residents." Last year there was an issue with kids raising hell. Residents were scared.

So lets say there are 600 people living there in the Jackie Robinson Home (since many live off lease). Put a cop there. What else are police doing that is more important? To hell with whatever patrol structure currently exists. To hell with the desk jobs and even specialized units. Three cops can work 14-hours, six-days a week. One officer working less than 40 hours a week can still be responsible for one building. And you've still got the entire NYPD as backup. A police officer out of car -- with a name and face, a human being -- this is how you build relationships and solve crimes while practicing aggressive order-maintenance community policing.

From DNAinfo:
A tenant of the Jackie Robinson Houses provided DNAinfo with video Tuesday showing the indoor bicycle riding and other rowdy conduct that residents said has been routine at 111 E. 128th St. since October 2014.
...
The commanding officer of the building’s police service area only found out about the teens’ behavior Tuesday [December 2015, a year later] and no residents had previously filed any formal complaints, an NYPD source told the Daily News.
Presumably, three months later, this has been resolved by now. But why should it take a formal complaint for a housing cop to know about a year-long problem in a building they patrol? Why isn't there a cop who can say, "this is my building and I know what is going on and who is doing it"?

Police officers need -- and for the most part want to assume -- geographic ownership. I was happy one night to be "Sheriff of Orangeville" (thanks for that term, D.W.). Oh, yes, there was a new sheriff in town, and Orangeville was quite that night. (The rest of 334 post was OK, too.) Mostly I had to be happy with the area around Hopkins hospital. But whichever post I policed, it was "my" post that night. I cared. And also... I didn't want the hassle and paperwork and hospital details that come with serious crime.

Progress and "sector policing" put the nail in the coffin of Baltimore post integrity (@ThanksBatts). Basically, instead of one cop patrolling one post you have five cops patrolling five posts. A cop can't care or take ownership of a whole police sector of ten or twenty thousand people. But a cop can almost handle two square miles and 3,000 people. So now crime is up and there isn't a single officer who says, "This is my corner and you drinking and selling drugs here is disrespectful to me, personally."

Well, back in NYC, there's a housing bureau cop for every 200 residents in public housing. About 500,000 residents in 328 developments and 2,553 buildings buildings. You don't need a NYPD mobile command post with loud generator and overly-bright lighting after somebody gets killed. If there are 2,700 police officers in the Housing Bureau, then there are more officers than buildings.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

Why not just assign one officer to each building? Now many of the buildings are small and don't need anybody. So you don't put a cop there. Queensbridge is the largest public housing project remaining in America. Six cops on visible patrol 14 hours a day, six days a week. That takes about 18 cops in total. But it's still just cop for each 450 residents. Is that too much to ask?

Were it up to me, I'd give each patrol officer a very small chuck of the city. Of course you'd have to patrol a larger area. But you and only you are responsible for everything that happens in that for that small chunk. Everything. We're talking an area of roughly 500 people or 1/3 of a mile of street. Those are your people. Know them. Treat them well. And when residents have a problem, they could still call 911 and a cop will show up. But they might prefer to wait till you're on duty to talk to you, whom they know. It's really not that crazy. And for some reason it will never happen.

A Cloak of Silence After a South Bronx Killing

Benjamin Mueller and Al Baker in the New York Times describe one homicide in the Bronx. "To understand why killings persist in an era of historically low crime, The New York Times is reporting this year on each murder in the 40th Precinct." This is the kind of in-depth story that informs.

If we're going to improve things, where do we start? Sure, the Collazos need help. But then so do my students who grow up as his neighbors. While Fredo is selling drugs and smoking weed in the lobby -- and non-residents complain that "non-violent drug offenders" like Fredo are being harassed by police -- my students have to get by him and his crew to get to my class. Some people manage to make better life decisions and finish high school and get jobs and graduate college and get better jobs. In a world of limited resources, who do we help? And how many red flags do there need to be?

A "broken window" in action. Cause nothing says respect to your neighbors like "RIP Fredo" burned into the ceiling of the hallway.


Here's a name and a face and a life. 20-year-old Freddy Collazo:
Mr. Collazo’s father, who was addicted to heroin, served nearly two years in state prison for drug sales. His parents separated when he was in his early teens.
...
Mr. Collazo’s ... slashing in May 2012; his wounds — including cuts to his head, ear, left elbow and right middle finger — were recorded by the police, despite his refusing to talk to officers at a hospital.
...
He got a .32-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver after the 2012 slashing — a requisite precaution, friends and relatives said.
...
But Mr. Collazo was coy, even with close friends, about why people wanted to hurt him. When Ms. Soto asked how she could help, her son acknowledged being in trouble but insisted, “No questions.”

When he was sent to jail on Rikers Island, his father, whose name is also Alfredo Collazo, was already there, having been locked up four days earlier on drug charges.
...
He had expensive tastes in clothes, favoring name-brand polo shirts.

He popped prescription pills, including Percocet, smoked marijuana in the lobby of his apartment building and sold drugs, sometimes under the banner of Forest Over Everything but just as often on his own.
...
Mr. Collazo dropped out of Herbert H. Lehman High School in the 11th grade.
...
Mr. Collazo was arrested again in April 2014, this time for marijuana, but he only had to pay a fine. He walked around as if he were invincible, friends said, relying on his crew for protection as his street feuds piled up.

His ability to keep avoiding prison time created suspicions among his crew.

Last May, Mr. Collazo entered a residential drug-treatment program in Brooklyn.

His anxiety ran so deep that Mr. Collazo once badgered a new student who he thought had been looking at him too much.
...
In late February a hooded gunman crept up behind Mr. Collazo. The first bullet severed Mr. Collazo’s spine and blew through his heart, killing him before he hit the pavement. His cousin, Luis Cruz, ran.

Then the gunman stood over Mr. Collazo, 58 days past his 20th birthday, and with a .45-caliber pistol pumped at least six more bullets into his body, leaving a total of 10 entry and exit wounds.

Sgt. Michael J. LoPuzzo, the commander of the 40th Precinct detective squad, said Mr. Collazo was “assassinated.”

But Mr. Cruz has told Mr. Collazo’s mother that he will not say who the killer is.

“I told him, ‘Please, you was there, go to the cops and tell them what you know,’” Mr. Collazo’s mother, Glenda Lee Soto, said. “He told me he’s not going to do it. He’s not going to go down for a snitch. He’s not going to rat nobody.”

Chief Boyce said people’s reluctance to speak with investigators “doesn’t mean we stop — it just means our task is all the more difficult.”
...
At his funeral the next Sunday, two young men were handcuffed by the police as they entered the funeral home parking lot; the police said they had arrested one person, for having stolen license plates.
...
Friends scrawled tributes on the wall — “F.O.E.,” “For you we gon bang bang,” “Ima put them under dirt” — and raised their lighters to the ceiling to burn “RIP FREDO” into the beige paint.

The lobby became choked with marijuana smoke. Mr. Collazo’s raps blared from his friends’ cellphones and echoed off the walls. The group scattered when two officers arrived, responding to a neighbor’s complaint.

But slowly they returned.
And some people? Out of all this? Of all they could criticize? They would find fault with police for maintaining order in the lobby of a public housing building. Nothing but police harassing innocent children of color as they mourn the untimely death of their friend.

"Looking for female homicide detective for potential TV show"

This came in over the transom from a Kimmie Lucas at Discovery Studios. Somebody out there may be interested. I know nothing else about it:
We are a production company seeking Female Homicide Detectives for a potential new series. Detective can be working currently or retired. We want to tell your story! If interested, please email me at kimmiecastinglosangeles@gmail.com or call at 323-308-3751. Thank you!

Compstat 1.0 and a half

Kudos to the NYPD for moving up Compstat publication by about 10 days. Now, on March 18 (who knows, maybe it was even there yesterday), I can learn crime data up to March 13! That's like, just last week! In the past, because Kelly didn't release data on principle, you could see on Monday what was going on two weeks ago. Things are getting better under Bratton. Now, if only they would archive the data (even just the PDFs). But hopefully Compstat 2.0 will be as good as Baltimore Open Data. Or maybe, gasp, even better! A man can dream...

But while we're still in 1.0, can anybody tell me what the hell "32" means to the right of "Transit." There have been 452 this year, an increase of 16 percent compared to last. But 452 units of friggin' what?! It doesn't say.

March 16, 2016

Blue-on-blue shootings

An emotional story in the Baltimore Sun -- related to the "friendly-fire" death of Officer Jacai Colson -- about another P.G. County officer who shot and killed his partner and best friend in 1988:
"You're not alone," Sommers said he told the officer, who has not been identified publicly. "You can't beat yourself up over it so bad that you lose all your self-esteem and want to swallow your [gun] barrel."
Right now it is unclear if the shooting of Colson was inadvertent or a case of mistaken identity. Colson was black, armed, in civilian clothes, and actively engaged with the gunman. According to Prince George’s County Police Chief Stawinski:
[The criminal gunman] fired some shots at officers and the door of the police station to draw a response from officers and lure them out.

Colson arrived while the shooting was underway. He immediately joined the gun battle. Colson ran down Barlowe Road east toward Landover Road. Michael Ford followed, and remaining officers chased them. It is in this confusion we believe the errant round struck Detective Colson.
Meanwhile the gunman's brothers filmed the whole thing on the cell phones.

March 15, 2016

The "Gray Effect"

Stephen Morgan, my grad-school colleague, released his Baltimore report (co-authored with Joel Pally) that looks at crime and arrests pre- and post-riot.

[The Harvard sociology cohort of 1995 always turned to Morgan as the quant guy when we needed help with stats class, which was often. So rather than blame my own limitations and laziness, I prefer to entirely and falsely blame Steve for the fact that I still can't really tell you what a poisson regression is and why you would want to use one.]

I had some input in the drafts. One of my points was that the take-away would be an idiotic headlines like this one: "Study: There Has Been No 'Ferguson Effect' in Baltimore."

Citilab never talked to Morgan, which seems odd.

Of course that headline isn't the point of the study. I think the narrative focus of the study should have been centered around April 26, 2015 (the riot) and not early events half a country away (Ferguson). All policing is local. Buried halfway down that Citilab story is a mention of the "Gray Effect." It is a better term. Perhaps because of the double meaning of gray, it can be applied elsewhere in a generic sense.

I'm baffled by many people's attempt to disaggregate a so-called "Ferguson Effect" from local police issues, since I've been arguing this is the same thing. But shorthand terms are only helpful if they have an accepted meaning. And clearly the Ferguson Effect does not. I'm not willing to waste time in a semantic debate or defend a term -- the Ferguson Effect -- that I never liked. So let's call it the Gray Effect. My point is that police matter and that society influences policing, sometimes for the good and -- as last year's spike in homicides portends -- sometimes for the bad. Call it what you will, the effect is real.

Better reporting is done by Baynard Woods and NBC. From the latter:
"I do think we provide some pretty compelling evidence that it is possible for the police to use discretion, to use alternatives to arrest, in a place like Baltimore without influencing the pattern of crime," Morgan said.

That is why Morgan says the eight months before Gray's death could represent a "sweet spot."
...
The next part of Morgan's analysis, the Gray period, was much less surprising.

"Everything fell apart," Morgan said.

Crimes of all types, violent and non-violent, spiked, for an overall increase of more than 11 percent. [Ed note: In reported crime.... Homicides doubled, and there is good reason to believe more crime was non-reported. And decreasing arrests will also serve to reduce crime stats without a corresponding reduction in actual crime.] The drop in arrests became much more pronounced, from 19 percent to 30 percent, "consistent with the widely discussed conjecture that the Baltimore police pulled back from some routine policing in response to a perceived lack of support from the city's leadership," the researchers wrote.
[Maybe it's minor, but I'll take credit for the subtle addition of "lack of support from the city's leadership," thank you very much. Correction: Steve, ruining my fun as only a quant guy can, says that phrase was in the earliest drafts and had nothing to do with me. --eye roll-- ]

From Woods in the Guardian:
“One reasonable interpretation of these entangled effects is that the crime spike in the Gray period could be a Ferguson effect that would have remained dormant had it not been ignited by a localized Gray effect,” the report states. “However, the size and duration of the crime spike is almost certainly attributable to particular features of the unrest.
...
The study found a decrease in crime in the period after the new police commissioner, Kevin Davis took office, which they dub the “Davis effect.” Davis replaced then-commissioner Anthony Batts, who was fired just after a Fraternal Order of Police report criticizing his handling of the riot came.
The whole point of the Gray Effect (née Ferguson Effect) is that it is not necessarily centered around the events of Ferguson. Let's the just accept that and move on. It is about media focus and changing political pressures of the past few years.

The substantive issue is that anti-police movements and protests can affect policing and policing impacts criminals and crime. The events around the riots in Baltimore -- specifically the failure of political leadership and the politically motivated prosecutions of police officer -- were Baltimore's Ferguson Gray Effect.

Public events, media reporting, and political leadership all matter to police officers. And when this process is happening in many different cities, a shorthand label can be useful. When the factors combine to change policing in a negative way -- when police are less proactive and more young black men are killed as a result -- we need to recognize the facts and react accordingly.

March 14, 2016

Thoughts on Trump's appeal

From some facebook musings of mine:

[Update: I'd also look at this by Scott Winship, which goes against my main theme, and is quite convincing.]
You just hear the racism and xenophobia, but Trump's main themes are actually about trade and jobs.

Blue-collar white voters feel abandoned by both major political parties... because they have been abandoned. Shouldn't working-class white men have the right to be heard and even say stupid things as much as, say, the Black Panther Party?

This isn't in defense of Trump. God, no. But don't we have some responsibility to listen to and even have empathy for a large segment of fellow Americans? Instead, we mock and discount their experiences as false and unworthy.

Not to discount the ugliness and horribleness of this all, but this isn't just a racist backlash (though that's certain a part of it); for the average Trump supporter it's a "where did our jobs go?" backlash. They've been abandoned and mocked by mainstream America. There is no voice speaking for the blue-collar former union man or woman who is anything but "entitled." I think we ignore that at our own peril.

Don't get me wrong. Trump is scary. He is a demagogue preaching dangerous racist proto-fascist bullshit. But asking why his supporters aren't more vocal in opposition to hate is akin to those on the right saying, "Why don't all Muslims denounce terrorism?" A) Many do, B) Why should they?

[There's a difference, of course, in that Muslims aren't going to terrorist rallies while Trump is actively encouraging the hate. So it's hardly a perfect comparison.]

But my point is less about Trump, whom I loathe, then about tens of millions of blue-collar American who have been sold an economic woof ticket by both political parties for the past 35 years. They thought the system was on the level (if not biased in their favor). Well, it's not.

They played by the rules, only to find the game changed.

And for decades nobody, certainly not either political party, listened or cared. They wanted somebody to follow. Trump stepped into that void. (It could have been Biden, or maybe Edwards, but it wasn't.)

And if we don't have empathy for the Trump supporters who aren't racist, what are we going to do? Deport them?

...

Oh, I do think Trump supporters are being sold a bill of goods once again. But Trump is offering, I think, Protectionism. That is the appeal. Protectionism is now a four-letter word, but should it be? Trump is the first major political candidate (it pains me to write that) to speak against free trade since Ross Perot and the "great sucking sound." That's the key.

So no, it's not primarily about race. (Though I think it is more about race than Trump supporters are willing to admit.)

Fuck fair trade and NAFTA. Fuck non-union wages in Mexico. I mean, thousands of Americans did actually lose their union jobs because of NAFTA. Was it good for America? I don't know. It probably was good for me. But it sure as hell wasn't good for Maytag factory workers in Illinois!


So yeah, what you and I see as xenophobia? To an unemployed American worker, it's his livelihood. His experience has been dismissed by both parties and most economists as irrelevant. (And economists do not have a great track record, it is worth mentioning.)

The right wants to bust unions and Obama dismissed tens of millions of Americans as "clinging to their guns and religion." That did great harm.

Republicans want to reduce wages. Democrats want to help illegal immigrants. Liberals (myself included) want to help criminals reintegrate into society. And the racism that you and I hate? It barely registers if you love Trump and don't watch MSNBC or listen to NPR. The racism is there, but it's media spin. Trump hammers home this message: jobs jobs jobs. We're ignoring that.

The non-criminal white guy in the midwest who played by the rules and still lost his union factory job to NAFTA?! He's not an immigrant; he's not a minority; he's not transgendered; he's not a criminal. Who the hell speaks for him? Nobody but Donald effing Trump.

March 13, 2016

Why did New Yorkers stop shooting each other?

In New York City not only has the number of homicides being going down, but the percentage of homicides committed with a gun has been decreasing.

Put another way, there were about 309 people shot and killed in 2011 in NYC (for UCR reasons we're talking incidents, so this is a bit of an undercount). In 2013: 188. That's a huge decrease. (2014 saw 184.)

If you look at all other city homicides (ie: non-gun), they're down a little. But the decrease in NYC is all about fewer people shot. Did New Yorkers get together in 2011 and decide to stop shooting each other? I missed that meeting. Was it because of Occupy? Or because Occupy was broken up? Did anti-police protests somehow reduce gun violence? I doubt it. But something happened, and I don't know what it is.

Oddly, the NYPD didn't take credit for this crime drop because it coincided with anti-police protests and the end of stop and frisk. Cops and Kelly and those on the right were certain -- hoping even -- that crime was going to skyrocket. They've been saying that since at least 2012. Well, it's 2016.

Here is some UCR homicide data from 2014 (if you hold your breath for 2015, you'll turn blue and pass out):

New York City: 56 percent of homicides are by gun, 26 percent by knife ("or cutting instrument"). Nationwide is 68% gun, 13% knife.

A few other cities:
Baltimore: 75% gun, 18% knife.

Chicago: 87% gun, 7%knife.

Los Angeles: 73% gun, 13% knife.
Here's the percentage of NYC homicides that were gun-related at various years (UCR data):
1990: 74% of homicides by gun
1997: 61%
1998: 60%
1999: 59%
2000: 66%
2002: 61%
2005: 61%
2009: 63%
2010: 61%
2011: 61%
2012: 57%
2013: 59%
2014: 56%
So maybe that's not the issue. Honestly? A five-percent decrease since 1997 ain't such a big deal. But my gut tells me a 5-percent slow but steady drop since 2011 does mean something.

Of course it *is* related to gun control. But as any 2nd-Amendment-loving Trump-loving patriot will tell you (often in all caps) "CHICAGO HAS GUN CONTROL!!!!" And Chicago, if this is too subtle for you, has a lot of killings.

So maybe, at least this is what I think, gun control isn't about gun laws as much as actual prosecution and deterrence. New York is the only city where people believe -- mostly correctly I might add -- that illegal gun possession will bring you real time.

What if it were that simple?

Things cops watch

I don't post a lot of these videos, but this one is revealing. I honestly didn't know which way this was going to go. Indian River Country, Florida, December, 2015. 3AM. A man has just gone to the convenience store to buy cigarettes. He's riding a scooter without tags (that's southern for "license plate").

Stop the video right at 00:15. Don't go a second further.

The video:



Ask yourself what you would do or do differently as the police officer. As a non-police officer, what would your reaction be if the cop aggressively brought this guy to the ground right there and then? Police brutality? White cop attacking unarmed black man? It's easy to imagine the officer being criticized for excessive use of force.

Most non-police will probably see a seemingly compliant black suspect asking a white officer, "What's the problem, sir?... No, no, no, no, I don't want no problem." Just a minor traffic violation.

Of course nobody knows if the suspect is armed or what he is thinking. And that's the problem.

The man's son said:
It’s crazy how it happened.... I don’t understand how it happened, from you going to the store on a scooter. What was the point of stopping him?... When I left him, he didn’t have no gun.... He doesn’t carry weapons at all. He doesn’t have any enemies. He doesn’t feel threatened by anyone.
Who do you believe?

Now watch the rest of the video.

After being shot in the leg, the cop manages to shoot and hit the suspect twice. Impressive. The suspect was later found by a dog. Both men lived.

Here are the warning signs (AKA things you should watch for as cop and not do if you're not a cop):

0:04: "Don't go reaching into anything," says the cop. Fair enough.

0:05: Why does the suspect hold his hand up like he can tell the cop to stop? That's not allowed. But as a cop I would probably let that slide. What can you do? But it's a sign.

0:09: The suspect gets off the hood, like he was a choice to disobey an officer's order. I don't know what I would have done, but I'll tell what the cop should have done: take the guy down without hesitation. Or create space. But that's easy to say in hindsight.

It happened so fast. It often does. I'd like to think otherwise, but I probably would have been shot.

My sergeant's words come to mind: "Never arrest alone." Words to live by.

March 7, 2016

Remain Calm!

Apparently there's still no need to worry.

Here is what I think matters: 2015 will almost assuredly see (we don't the numbers for sure yet) a double digit in increase in homicide. See this Washington Post piece for a clue.

And yet, if you listen to Ames Grawert and James Cullen, there's no need to worry:
Rather than stoking unfounded fears of a new crime wave, always just beyond the horizon, we should take this opportunity to ask how we can expand on the public safety gains of the past 25 years.
...
While there were 471 more murders in large cities in 2015 than 2014, more than half (260) of that increase occurred in just three cities: Baltimore, Washington and Chicago.
My favorite ideological statistical shenanigans: if you ignore places where crime is up, crime isn't up!

America has not seen a double digit increase in homicide since 1971. (1986 and 1990 came close.) Since 1971 is my entire lifetime. So, yeah, we probably saw the biggest annual increase in murder in my lifetime and perhaps ever. Seems like something to worry about.

But no. We who care about these dead people are just stoking public fear, as if police have anything to do with confronting murderers, and perhaps even preventing a few shootings.

In Baltimore, mayoral candidates are talking about how best to reform police. Very little on how to prevent shootings. They should be talking about how to get back to how they were exactly one year ago, before police were seen as the problem and violent crime doubled.

Just remember, no matter what happens, if it's not ideologically expedient to worry about rising homicide, just repeat this mantra: Remain Calm. All is well.

Related, at this is an interesting piece of the jigsaw puzzel. Homicides are down thirty-some percent in NYC this year, which seems to negate last year's increase in NYC. At least here in New York, the sky is not falling.
Mac Donald predicted in 2013 that if New York City ended its controversial stop-and-frisk program, crime would skyrocket back to pre-1990 levels.

Well, stop-and-frisk formally ended in 2014, and the lights still haven’t gone out on Broadway. In fact, as the number of stops by police tapered off, so did the city’s murder rate, hitting a historic low the same year the program ended. Despite a small increase, the murder rate remained low in 2015, while shootings, major crime and arrests all fell in tandem.
NYC is OK. But elsewhere, I'm not so sure.



[Thanks to EyeRishPirate for bringing this to my attention.]

March 6, 2016

When the police reform issue is actually a "law reform" issue

My once (and probably future) co-author Nick Selby has this piece in the Washington Post:
But a closer look at some statistics shows that the problem is not necessarily an issue of racist cops, and that means fixing the criminal justice system isn’t just an issue of addressing racism in uniform.
...
Some racial disparities in treatment by authorities actually appear to be the result of state laws intended to crack down on offenses like drunk driving and scofflaws that have, instead, had the effect of ensnaring poor people in a revolving door of debt, courts, collections firms and police.
...
Suspended-license or no-license tickets are expensive. Why were so many blacks and Latinos driving on suspended or missing licenses?

Poverty.
...
But the way Texas tracks stops obscures the broader unfair effects of the law on poor people, and makes it look, instead, like police are the problem. In our subject city, less than 7 percent of the population is black, but in 2015, 11 percent of the people pulled over there were.
...
That’s as far as Texas’ racial profiling laws want police chiefs to take their analysis.
...
We wanted to compare the traffic stop data to the population of the entire area where drivers came from.... and we compared that model against the race and ethnicity of the drivers who got pulled over.
...
Chiefs often do not conduct [more detailed] analyses (which are required to recognize these patterns) because they spend their scarce resources complying with well-intentioned but ill-informed and often underfunded racial reporting requirements.

March 2, 2016

RIP Ashley Guidon

On 26 Feb, 2016, on her very first shift and just 1 day after being sworn in, Ashley Guidon of the Prince William County (VA) Police Department was killed. R.I.P.

In honor of Ashley, police are posting their rookie photo.



Ashley and two other officers were shot while responding to a domestic-related call. The killed murdered his wife and shot the officers as they approached his home. The suspect was arrested and uninjured.

Ashley is the 12th officer to be shot and killed this year. It is March 1st. Last year 39 officers where shot in killed.


I lived to tell the tale. Here are my notes from April 16, 2000, my first day of field training:
Not too nervous about starting, strangely enough. But there are not many jobs where your mortality come to mind before starting. I assume I will live, though I didn't like the palm reading I got last night from J., A's friend, telling me I wouldn’t live too long and would die in some sort of event.

I was told at one of the first calls we were backing up, "Let me tell you something, junior, you don’t have to carry your stick to every call. You have to, well, prioritize. Big fight on the corner, bring the stick..." I still want to carry it with me all the time so it's habit. Let's see if I can resist the peer pressure. [Ed note: I did. I loved my stick stick. Still do, in fact. And I think because of that, I never had to hit anybody with it.]

In Sector Three, they all had their sticks and hats. We [Sector 2 day work] had neither.

My FTO [who was kind of a dick to me] wasn't there. Went out with [C.S.].

"If you go out looking for arrests, you’ll get complaints."

"Man, I think they should just build a fucking wall around the Eastern District and let them fight it out."

Q: Did you think that coming in here or is that me in three years?

A: "I think a little differently than some. You get to murder and nobody sees anything. I think if I were shot, I'd like somebody to say something. If they don't want to be policed, fuck 'em."

I do feel a lot safer having gone through the academy as opposed to just doing ride-alongs as a researcher. These streets aren't Disneyland.

Interesting twist of racial profiling: a lot of it happens in our district, but it's only of white people. White folks looking for drugs (we assume) being told, "you got no business here. Get out of this neighborhood!"

[C.S.] is a good example of some problems. He's a bit burnt out, and knows he's not accomplishing much at all. But he doesn't think there is a solution.

Two dumb looking white guys, but more in a dumpy intellectual rather than mutant way, were arrested for coke possession, driving without a license. Both Chris and I were asked, "do you want a summons?" No, I said.

After work: ate with T., W., S., and W. [all from my academy class]

S. said his gun was drawn and he really was hoping there was somebody behind the door they were searching: "I had my finger on the trigger, and I was just praying there was somebody there with a gun!" Why does he want to shoot people? I was talking with W. about it on the way home. W. said, "No, he wasn’t joking."
Soon after I left, S. transferred to a department in New Jersey. Last I heard, and I might be wrong, but I think he stuck a fork or something in an electrical socket and hurt himself.