Chicago Police Department To Boost Training Sharply

An ambitious plan laid out by the Police Department calls for the training to expand to 40 hours a year for every officer beginning in 2021. It comes as the department attempts to add nearly 1,000 officers to its force by the end of next year.

Starting next year, every Chicago police officer will undergo 16 hours of training each year, the first regular training for many since graduating from the police academy as new recruits, the Chicago Tribune reports. The ambitious plan laid out by the Police Department  calls for the training to expand to 40 hours a year for every officer beginning in 2021. It comes as the department attempts to add nearly 1,000 officers to its force by the end of next year,  recruits who all must undergo months of training before hitting the street. The department said it expects the vast majority of officers to have completed a four-hour course on its revised use-of-force policy by Oct. 15, when those changes are scheduled to take effect.

The department has moved to beef up its training in the aftermath of the court-ordered release in late 2015 of police dashboard camera video showing a Chicago police officer shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times. A scathing U.S. Department of Justice report in January described the Police Department as a broken institution and singled out negligent training as among its many deficiencies. The department has provided only sporadic in-service training, refresher training through videos or new directives for officers to learn about during their roll calls. The department has already started requiring officers to take classes on Taser use, crisis intervention and training geared toward de-escalating incidents. First Deputy Superintendent Kevin Navarro said that even he had not gone through such a comprehensive regimen since he attended the police academy more than 30 years ago. “That’s something that we definitely need to change,” Navarro said. “It’s a win for Chicago police officers, and it’s a win also for Chicagoans.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Texas Ends Solitary Confinement for Rule-Breaking

“When reviewing solitary confinement as a policy and practice we determined that as a department we can effectively operate without it,” said Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark. The state had only 76 inmates in punitive solitary confinement as of July 31.

Texas prisons have ended the use of solitary confinement for breaking rules, the Houston Chronicle reports. “When reviewing solitary confinement as a policy and practice we determined that as a department we can effectively operate without it,” said Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark. The change took place Sept. 1.
The more commonly used administrative segregation – non-punitive isolation due to perceived security risks or danger to others – is still used, though its prevalence has plummeted over the past decade.

“Restrictive housing has been a topic of discussion across the nation for a number of years and as an agency over the last several we’re really looked at ways to reduce it and in such a way that a priority is placed on safety and security,” Clark said. As July 31, Texas prisons had only 76 inmates in punitive solitary confinement. Now, they’ll rely on other restrictions – such as loss of good time or loss of commissary and phone privileges – to control bad behavior. “There’s never been any factors that show that [solitary confinement] positively rehabilitates the individual,” said Lance Lowry, who heads the Texas Correctional Employees union. The shift won’t affect the nearly 4,000 prisoners in administrative segregation due to gang affiliation, risk of escape, or other evidence of ongoing danger to staff or fellow inmates. “You still need security detention because the Hannibal Lecters of the world are still out there,” Lowry said. “There’s still some bad actors in prison that will hurt people.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

House Plans Votes on Two Firearms Measures

In the first congressional votes on gun issues since President Trump took office, a bill easing regulations on the purchases of gun silencers could reach the House floor as early as next week. Another measure allowing concealed carry permit holders to take their weapons to other states is expected to move through the House Judiciary Committee soon.

House Republican leaders are moving forward with plans to vote on two gun-related measures in the coming weeks. It will be the first time Congress has taken up the controversial issue since Donald Trump became president, Politico reports. A bill easing regulations on the purchases of gun silencers, which are also known as suppressors, could reach the House floor as early as next week. Another measure allowing concealed carry permit holders to take their weapons to other states is expected to move through the House Judiciary Committee and onto the floor possibly next month. Both proposals are almost certain to pass the House, despite opposition from gun-control groups. In the Senate, Democrats will likely block them. Trump would almost certainly sign the bills.

Narly five years after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct., left 20 children dead and prompted an impassioned debate over expanding background checks for gun sales, the GOP-controlled Congress and the Trump administration are moving in the opposite direction. Republican congressional leaders and Trump administration officials — at the urging of the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups — are looking to roll back restrictions on guns imposed during the Obama era.Gu n-control groups  claim that the NRA and its allies on Capitol Hill and inside the Trump administration are looking to help the gun industry, which has seen its sales slump since President Obama left office.

from https://thecrimereport.org

27 States Curb Guns for Domestic Violence Offenders

Rhode Island has become the seventh state this year to pass a law restricting access to guns for people convicted of domestic violence offenses. Gun control advocates argue that federal laws are not strong enough and additional protections must be passed on the state level, in part because state laws are easier for local authorities to enforce.

Rhode Island has become the seventh state this year to pass a law restricting access to guns for people convicted of domestic violence offenses. The state will prohibit the possession of guns by people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes and court-issued final protective orders, and it also will require such people to turn in any guns they already own, reports the Washington Post. Federal law prohibits anyone convicted of a misdemeanor or felony domestic violence charge or who is subject to a domestic violence protective order from possessing a firearm. Gun control advocates argue that federal laws are not strong enough and additional protections must be passed on the state level, in part because state laws are easier for local authorities to enforce.
The biggest issue, they say, is that the federal statute doesn’t provide a mechanism for those convicted of abuse charges to turn in the guns they already own.

“You’re prohibited from buying firearms, but you can go home and access the firearms you already have,” said Sarah Tofte of Everytown for Gun Safety. Of the seven states that passed laws curtailing the ability of those convicted of domestic violence to obtain firearms, at least three — New Jersey, North Dakota and Rhode Island — require those who are convicted to turn their guns over to police. Nationwide, 27 states have passed laws curtailing access to guns by people convicted of domestic violence offenses or subject to protective orders. Of those, 17 states have laws in place requiring them to relinquish their guns. Michael Siegel, a Boston University professor of community health sciences, published a study this week showing that states that require people with restraining orders to relinquish the firearms they already own have a 14 percent lower rate of intimate-partner gun-related homicides than states that don’t. Siegel said there are about 1,800 intimate-partner homicides in the U.S. each year; about half of those homicides involve guns.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Black Detectives to Sue NYPD In Bias Complaint

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that the promotions process in the Intelligence Division stymied black detectives. The U.S. Justice Department declined to sue based on the EEOC report.

In the New York Police Department’s Intelligence Division, one unit was filled almost exclusively by black detectives. The “rap unit,” as it was called, had a peripheral role in a division focused on recruiting Muslim informants and building terrorism cases. Black detectives went undercover at hip-hop concerts, protected artists from scammers and stickup men and warned venues of potential feuds, reports the New York Times. The “rap unit” was known to stall careers: Black detectives did not get promoted for years, no matter how good their recommendations, charged a complaint filed by three black detectives with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. For years, the complaint says, there was only one promotion in the unit, and it was given to a white detective, one of a very few assigned there. Current and retired detectives said a patronage system promoted detectives based more on connections to powerful bosses, and less on their work, fueling bitterness and accusations of nepotism.

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found last year that the promotions process systematically stymied black detectives, leaving them with less pay, power and prestige than their white counterparts. The commission ruled that a “wholly subjective and secret process” caused black detectives to receive “lesser and later opportunities for promotion consistent with their qualifications.” Those findings failed to prompt fixes in a promotions process some police officials have conceded is opaque and frustrating. The Justice Department said it would not sue the department over the findings. That averted a confrontation with the nation’s largest police force for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has said federal interventions in local policing are bad for morale. The detectives plan to sue the department. The deputy police commissioner for legal matters, Lawrence Byrne, disputed the EEOC findings, calling it “a largely incompetent agency.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Mobile Phone Case Tops High Court Criminal Docket

On the docket for the Supreme Court term beginning Oct. 2 is Carpenter v. United States, which tests whether law enforcement can obtain any digital information without a warrant. Major “crimmigration” and habeas corpus cases also are scheduled.

A relatively calm U.S. Supreme Court term will soon give way to what court watchers say could be a stormy one when the justices take the bench Oct. 2. Among the pivotal criminal law issues in the 2017 term are the balance between surveillance and privacy in the mobile phone era, the treatment of immigrants who break the nation’s laws, and whether death-row inmates can challenge legal errors they claim are grave enough to save them, reports Bloomberg BNA. Carpenter v. United States headlines the criminal cases so far. There, the high court “will likely decide whether the government can obtain any digital information exposed to a third party service provider without a warrant,” says University of Utah law Prof. Matthew Tokson. The issue is whether the Fourth Amendment demands a warrant for historical mobile phone location records, which placed Timothy Carpenter near the scene of several armed robberies. Law enforcement got the data from Carpenter’s wireless carrier with a court order under the Stored Communications Act, rather than with a probable cause warrant, which would have required more proof.

Carpenter isn’t scheduled for argument yet. The term’s first two days feature re-arguments in two important “crimmigration” cases—at the intersection of criminal and immigration law. Both cases involve people facing deportation. Sessions v. Dimaya deals with scrutinizing the vagueness of a law whose violation leads to removal, while Jennings v. Rodriguez involves with the right to bond hearings for non-citizens facing removal. the justices also will hear two “hugely important” habeas corpus issues, says University of California Irvine law Prof. Leahh Litman. She cied Avestas v. Davis and Wilson v. Sellers, cases brought by death row inmates seeking to clear procedural hurdles to challenge their convictions.

from https://thecrimereport.org

OK Chief to Meet With Deaf Advocates After Shooting

Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty plans to meet with advocates for the deaf and speech impaired to discuss the fatal shooting of Magdiel Sanchez by a police officer this week. Sanchez, 35, was deaf and developmentally disabled.

Incidents like the one that left a deaf, developmentally disabled man dead Tuesday night in Oklahoma City unfurl quickly, and no amount of training can guarantee perfect results, says Oklahoma City police Chief Bill Citty. “These situations are dynamic,” Citty said. “It’s emotional.” Citty spoke on Thursday about the fatal shooting of Magdiel Sanchez, 35, who was shot and killed by Sgt. Christopher Barnes outside his home, The Oklahoman reports.

Sanchez, who was deaf and developmentally disabled, was wielding a length of pipe when he was killed. Citty expressed his sympathies for the family. He said that he plans to meet with advocates for the deaf and speech impaired soon. Citty said the impact of the hit-and-run crash that led up to the shooting was strong enough to roll Sanchez’s father’s pickup. He then left the scene and drove home. Citty also said that he would release a picture of the makeshift weapon once Barnes had been interviewed by homicide detectives.

from https://thecrimereport.org

‘Smart Policing’ Praised by The Heritage Foundation

A report on a model supported by the Justice Department in 48 sites concludes that it benefits communities “not only through cost savings, higher clearance rates, and crime prevention, but also through the promotion of collaboration, a sense of community, and economic development.”

The “smart policing” program promoted by the U.S. Justice Department was given a boost this week in a new report from the Heritage Foundation. In a study written by former Attorney General Edwin Meese and John Malcolm, Heritage describes “smart policing” as “a strategic management approach that brings more science into police operations by leveraging innovative applications of research, analysis, technology, and evidence-based best practices.” Since it was launched in 2009, the model has been tested in 48 sites and has been reviewed in 59 independent assessments.

Heritage concludes that smart policing benefits communities “not only through cost savings, higher clearance rates, and crime prevention, but also through the promotion of collaboration, a sense of community, and economic development. Stable communities with low crime and high community-police teamwork attract economic investment and employment opportunities.” The report offers specifics from several cities, including Los Angeles, Kansas City,  Boston, New Haven, Ct., and Rochester, N.Y. In Philadelphia, the report says, new foot patrol and problem-solving strategies in ten test police districts are outperforming the traditional style of policing that focuses on offenders. The changes resulted in a 22 percent reduction in violent crimes and a 31 percent reduction in violent street felonies.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Federal Court Allows Sibling Lawsuits Over Police Shootings

Judge allows sisters and brothers of a man killed by Sacramento police to pursue a damage suit against the city under the First Amendment’s right of association. The case involves a man who was shot 14 times by two officers last year.

The sisters and brothers of a man killed by Sacramento police won a pivotal federal court ruling that potentially expands who can win lawsuits in the aftermath of police shootings, the Sacramento Bee reports. Joseph Mann was shot 14 times in July 2016 by two Sacramento police officers, John Tennis and Randy Lozoya. Mann’s father had sued the city and settled for $719,000. Mann’s five siblings were unhappy with the outcome of their father’s suit because they wanted it to include public tracking of police reforms in Sacramento and information on whether the two officers who fired shots had been disciplined by the department.

So the siblings filed an unusual lawsuit, citing the First Amendment right of association, which usually is invoked for social or political groups. The Supreme Court has limited suits over police shootings to parents and children of the deceased. In the Mann case, Sacramento lawyer Mark Merin argued that the killing deprived Joseph Mann’s sisters and brothers of the right to associate with him. U.S. District Judge William Shubb ruled that nothing in the language of the Constitution or case law around the two amendments clearly excludes siblings from suing under the First Amendment, making it legal for the Mann siblings to make their claim. Merin said the ruling means that claims in police shooting cases “are not limited to the parents and the children of the persons who are killed but extend at least to the nuclear family because its recognized that the intimate relationships, the family relationships, are severed, and that damages the people in those categories.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Federal Judge Refuses to Restore NJ Cash Bail

U.S. District Judge Jerome Simandle declines the bail bond industry’s request to suspend New Jersey’s bail reform policies while constitutional challenges are pending.

A federal judge on Thursday declined to put the brakes on New Jersey’s sweeping bail system overhaul, ruling it did not serve the public interest to roll back the changes in the midst of a constitutional dispute, reports NJ.com. Judge Jerome Simandle dismissed a request for an injunction from lawyers for the bail bond industry and a Camden County man forced to wear an ankle monitor while awaiting trial. Their motion requested the judge restore cash bail as an option, which would have effectively turned back the clock on the changes to New Jersey’s justice system that took effect on Jan. 1.

The overhaul largely replaced cash bail with an arrangement where judges, guided by a risk assessment algorithm, can order defendants locked up or subjected to varying degrees of monitoring based on their risk of flight or danger to the community. Paul Clement, a former U.S. solicitor general hired by the bail bonds company Lexington National Insurance Corporation, took up the case of Brittan Holland, who was charged with second-degree aggravated assault after a bar fight. Under the new system, Holland was ordered to wear a GPS ankle bracelet and submit to weekly check-ins as he awaited trial. Clement argued Holland should have also had the option of posting bail. The new system was supported by Gov. Chris Christie as well as members of the state Legislature, the New Jersey Supreme Court and civil liberties groups. This month, police in Newark sharply criticized the system after a man released into pretrial monitoring was accused of killing two people. Reformers say such cases were also common under the old system, where defendants who posted bail were rearrested for new crimes.

from https://thecrimereport.org