Parkland Students Finish Summer Political Tour

Survivors of the Feb. 14 Florida school massacre visited 80 cities and towns in two dozen states, working to register young new voters who might help defeat political leaders supported by the National Rifle Association. “It’s going to take a cultural shift” to change U.S. gun laws, says a student leader.

Six months after the school shooting in Parkland, Fa., some surviving students are becoming more organized and more ambitious — what Axios calls “ringleaders of a vocal, demanding, tech-savvy strata of their generation. Axios traveled with a group of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School alumni who finished a summer-long bus tour on Sunday in Newtown, Ct., home of Sandy Hook Elementary School. The Parkland activists are aware that many baby boomers and millennial adults are throwing up their hands over gun laws and placing their hope for change in high school students. An anti-establishment strain runs through it, a trend that could be decisive in both local and national races in midterm elections.

When 17 of their classmates and teachers were killed on Feb. 14, the Parkland students shouted: “Never again.” A dozen more school killings occurred later. On Wednesday, classes resume at Stoneman Douglas and at other U.S. schools in the subsequent days and weeks. “It’s going to take a cultural shift” before U.S. gun laws change significantly, Jaclyn Corin, president of the incoming senior class at Stoneman Douglas, said in Newtown. “And a cultural shift always takes a generation or two.” Parkland classmates ran a 59-day summer bus campaign. They hit 80 cities and towns in two dozen states, working to register young new voters who might help defeat political leaders supported by the National Rifle Association. This fall, the students plan a get-out-the-vote drive that will leverage their vaunted influence on social media, especially Twitter. At event after event there appeared to be far more adults than their 18-and-older intended audience. Registration of voters 18-29 this year has barely budged from the pre-Parkland average, the Washington Post found. The young organizers are pursuing a strategy of not changing votes, but turning non-voters into voters.

from https://thecrimereport.org

The Public Is Responsible for Crime-Not Cops

Observations Cops take the heat for rising crime, but that emphasis is misplaced. It’s communities that control crime. This is criminology 101. But if you want to see the power of law enforcement, remove them or criticize them to the point of inaction and see what happens. Author Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. Retired federal senior […]

The post The Public Is Responsible for Crime-Not Cops appeared first on Crime in America.Net.

Observations Cops take the heat for rising crime, but that emphasis is misplaced. It’s communities that control crime. This is criminology 101. But if you want to see the power of law enforcement, remove them or criticize them to the point of inaction and see what happens. Author Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. Retired federal senior […]

The post The Public Is Responsible for Crime-Not Cops appeared first on Crime in America.Net.

from https://www.crimeinamerica.net

Emergency Declared Before Charlottesville Anniversary

Charlottesville, Va., officials were criticized for their handling of a white supremacist rally that turned deadly. This year, they have declared a state of emergency before the event’s first anniversary.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and the city of Charlottesville declared states of emergency ahead of the first anniversary of last summer’s white supremacist rally that turned deadly, the Washington Post reports. The declaration, which took effect Wednesday afternoon and could run through Sunday, will increase state and local law enforcement’s capacity to respond to civil unrest that may occur as white nationalists and neo-Nazis and counterdemonstrators mark the rally’s anniversary this weekend. The declaration earmarks $2 million of state money to pay for the response efforts.

The city expects a large crowd for its planned commemoration of the three people who died Aug. 12. Officials are preparing in case other violent clashes break out. “It’s hard to believe it’s been a year ago that we had the tragic events in Charlottesville,” said Col. Gary Settle, superintendent of the Virginia State Police. “And it’s unfortunate we’re here this year planning for potential violence and potential civil unrest again.” The violence at last year’s rally seemingly caught the city flat-footed, raising questions about its preparedness. A scathing independent review criticized the city’s response, and the fallout led to the police chief’s resignation. In downtown Charlottesville this weekend, several streets will be closed to vehicles and police will set up a tightly patrolled security area with just two entry points. It will be illegal for those over 16 to wear masks or other ­identity-obscuring apparel, and the city has published a lengthy list of items that will be prohibit, ranging from ice picks and swords to catapults and nunchucks. Paintball guns, BB guns and pellet guns are banned, but firearms are not.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Will Police Respond When Your Burglar Alarm Goes Off?

A study by a home security startup argues they may not. The firm, which advertises its own “artificial intelligence” alternative, says a nationwide survey of law enforcement agencies found that in cities with populations of 50,000 or more, police won’t answer alarm alerts from 40 percent of residents.

Unless you plan to take on burglars and trespassers yourself, a home alarm system might not always be a worthwhile investment, according to the home security startup Deep Sentinel Labs.

The firm, which markets what it says is a more effective alternative to security alarms, released a study Wednesday claiming that for more than 40 percent of residents living in U.S. cities with populations of 50,000 or more, police will not respond or do not guarantee a response to residential alarm calls.

Basing the study on interviews with police in cities across America, the firm claimed that “most police officers believe that 95 percent of audible alarms are false.”

“As a result, many cities and/or law enforcement agencies across America are adopting policies of not responding or not guaranteeing a response to alarms,” the study added.

Deep Sentinel said it found that 78 percent of those living in cities with populations of more than one million will not receive a response, or are not guaranteed a response to alarm calls by local law enforcement.

For cities with populations between 50,000 and one million, the proportion of inhabitants where a home alarm alert will not bring a police response drops to around 30 percent.

The unsigned study said its conclusions were based on an analysis of all city and local laws and policies governing how law enforcement responds to residential home alarm calls, and were “further validated by contacting local police departments by phone.”

The startup’s analysis makes clear that it believes its own home security product, using artificial intelligence, is a more effective and reliable form of home protection because it offers “real time prediction and prevention”—a claim for which it does not offer any statistical support.

The website suggests that the product has still not been marketed to the public.

The top 10 “no-alarm response” cities of the 765 cities analyzed were San Jose, Ca. ; San Francisco; Seattle; Detroit; Las Vegas, Nevada; Milwaukee; Fremont, Ca.; Modesto, Ca.; Fontana, Ca.; and Salt Lake City.

Some of the study’s assertions have been validated by earlier data. According to 2002 data from the Center for Problem Oriented Policing, police respond to over 36 million alarm activations every year, costing an estimated $1.8 billion, 95 percent of which turn out to be false alarms.

Still, the center added, “studies from both the United States and the United Kingdom have shown burglar alarms to be among the most effective burglary-deterrence measures.”

But it went on to say, “a number of other measures that do not impose a substantial burden on police are also effective at preventing burglary.

“Occupancy, or signs of occupancy, is the biggest deterrent.”

The center concluded that while burglar alarms provide a “modest” amount of security burglaries have steadily “and substantially” declined in the U.S. since the early 1980s.

“During the same time, the number of premises with alarms rose, but there is no evidence of a link between the two,” said the center. “During the 1990s through 2004, when alarm ownership experienced a steep rise, other types of crime declined just as sharply as burglary, suggesting that factors other than an increase in the number of alarm systems fueled the burglary decline.”

According to the 2002 study by the Center, some 32 million security alarms have been installed across the United States.

The Deep Sentinel analysis argued that the high number of false alarms has become a major factor in law enforcement policies governing how and when to respond to burglar arms.

Since false alarms “drain resources that would otherwise be used to address real offenses,” many police agencies around the country have “adopted policies of not responding or not guaranteeing a response to alarms,” the study said.

The complete study can be downloaded here.

This summary was prepared by TCR news intern Elena Schwartz. Readers’ comments are welcome.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Criminal Justice Programs Get National Awards

The National Criminal Justice Association honors programs nationwide that deal with imprisoned fathers, opioid overdoses, domestic violence victims and diversion of low-level drug suspects.

Anticrime efforts in the nation’s four regions won awards this week from the National Criminal Justice Association, which met in Fort Worth, Tx., for its annual forum. The awards went to projects that addressed an important issue, involved collaboration among agencies, provided evidence of effectiveness and can be replicated easily elsewhere. In the Northeast, the award went to the Hope House Father-to-Child effort, which aims to improve relationships between children and their incarcerated fathers. One part of the program involves fathers recording videos of themselves reading stories that are sent to their children. Honored in the Midwest was the Heroin Partnership Project in Ross County, Ohio, which works to deal with opioid overdoses. Elements include the use of Narcan by first responders and treatment services provided in jails. Overdose deaths dropped 25 percent in the county last year while they rose elsewhere in the state.

The award for the Southern region went to the Tennessee-based Jean Crowe Advocacy Center, which helps ensure that domestic violence victims are safe while they go through the court process. The center helps 8,000 victims annually, with the collaboration of the police department, the district attorney’s office, the legal aid society and private organizations. Success of the program has prompted Nashville to build a Family Justice Center that will open next year. Winning the Western award was the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program in Seattle’s King County. Its goal is to provide law enforcement “a credible alternative to booking people into jail” in low-level drug cases. An evaluation found that people who enter LEAD are 58 percent less likely than non-participants to be re-arrested, and the cost averaged $532 monthly, compared with up to $5,000 for incarceration. LEAD-type programs are operating in 17 places in the U.S., with eight other sites in the process of launching.

from https://thecrimereport.org

NYC Will Send ‘Mobile Trauma Units’ to Crime Scenes

New York City will spend $1.8 million this year to roll out “mobile trauma units” — buses filled with counselors and peacekeepers known as violence interrupters — to crime scenes throughout the city in an effort to ease tensions in communities after acts of gun violence.

New York City will spend $1.8 million this year to roll out “mobile trauma units” — buses filled with counselors and peacekeepers — to crime scenes throughout the city in an effort to ease tensions in communities after acts of gun violence, the Wall Street Journal reports. The buses will be deployed in January 2019 to each borough. Some team members have prior criminal records and former gang affiliations. Known as “violence interrupters,” they use their credibility and connections to resolve disputes before they escalate. “A lot of people don’t realize once the funeral is over, once the candles stop burning, once the media is gone, people are still suffering, people are still afraid,” said Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson, former chair of the City Council’s public safety committee, who pushed for the initiative.

Eric Cumberbatch of the Mayor’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence said the program will likely cost $875,000 annually following the roll out. He said the program would help community members heal while allowing anti-violence advocates to take responsibility in ensuring public safety. Like the New York Police Department’s mobile-command posts, the advocates’ units will stay at crime scenes up to a week after crimes are committed. Eugene O’Donnell, a professor of law and police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said it would be hard to justify the use of such a program. “They’re going to try to stop retaliation. The claim will be since they intervened, there was no retaliation action,” O’Donnell said. “As with any preventive strategy, it’s going to be hard in this case to prove if they’ve actually had any success.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Roca Brings Antiviolence Campaign to Baltimore

City pays $17M to Massachusetts group Roca to hound dangerous young men out of the cycle of violence. Roca claims a good success rate with high-risk young men.

A new team decked out in purple shirts hit the streets of Baltimore this week in pursuit of some of the most troubled and potentially dangerous young men in the city. The outreach workers are knocking on doors, but not to investigate or arrest the men. The team aims to do something more radical: hound them in the hopes of creating relationships that will disrupt the city’s cycle of violence, reports the Baltimore Sun. “If the young person slams the door in my face, I will be back the next day and the next day, and finally he will be so annoyed that he will at least listen to what I have to say,” said Kurtis Palermo, one of a dozen workers with Roca, an anti-violence nonprofit that has come to the city after 30 years of operation in Massachusetts.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, local advocates and business leaders recruited Roca with a $17-million package to work for the next four years. Despite threats, slammed doors or complete opposition, Roca founder Molly Baldwin said her workers will invite 100 young men to join educational, life skills and transitional employment services. The men, ages 16 to 24, have serious charges on their records and are selected by probation and patrol agents, juvenile justice officials and police as being unwilling to give up street crime or gang involvement. Roca has a record of connecting high-risk young men to jobs and keeping them out of jail. The men typically take 15 to 18 months before they show up consistently. Last year, Roca worked with 854 high-risk young men in Massachusetts. Of those, 283 completed the first two years of intensive outreach and programming, with 84 percent avoiding new arrests and 76 percent holding jobs for at least three months. Roca means “rock” in Spanish.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Does Watching TV Sports Lower Crime Rates?

According to a study of Chicago sports viewing habits by researchers at the University of California-Davis, crime rates drop during major televised athletic events. But it’s not clear whether the impact of “entertainment diversion” lasts after the game ends.

If Americans spent more time watching televised sports, there might be a decrease in crime, according to a study by the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program.

In “Entertainment as Crime Prevention: Evidence from Chicago Sports Games,” published in the Journal of Sports Economics last month, researchers Ryan Copus and Hannah Laqueur observed consistent decreases in crime during the times that games aired in Chicago.

Copus and Laqueur found that overall crime during the Bears “Monday Night Football” is roughly 15 percent lower than the same time on Monday nights when the Bears are not playing, and noted similar but smaller effects for Chicago’s basketball and baseball teams.

More popular games showed a stronger effect, with the Super Bowl producing the most dramatic reduction: a decrease of approximately 25 percent during game coverage, amounting to roughly 60 fewer crimes.

While violence in the media has provoked concerns about increasing aggressive behavior among viewers, little exploration has been made of television’s power to divert people from criminal activity. The study’s results bear out the “incapacitation hypothesis”: If people are entertained, they are not committing crimes.

The authors believe that the diversionary power of movies, television, and video games may compensate for their potential short-term aggression-inducing effects.

To conduct their study, Copus and Laqueur compared crime reports from January 2001 to December 2013 by the half hour when Chicago’s major professional sports teams were playing to crime reports from the same time, day, and month when the teams were not playing. The researchers repeated this analysis for the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, and the World Series.

The study’s results do not exclude the possibility that those who forgo criminal activity while watching a game will commit crime in the days or weeks before or after the game takes place instead.

Still, Copus and Laqueur’s analysis could be significant to the study of crime control given what it suggests about criminal behavior—namely, that “some share of crime may be best understood not as a predetermined and calculated activity but rather as itself recreation.”

“There is not a set ‘demand’ for criminal activity,” the study’s authors write. “Rather, some amount of crime is opportunistic and situational – if prevented today, it does not inevitably occur tomorrow.”

The implication: some additional game nights might prove a useful tool for crime prevention.

This summary was prepared by TCR news intern Elena Schwartz.  Readers’ comments are welcome.

Does Watching TV Sports Lower Crime Rates?

According to a study of Chicago sports viewing habits by researchers at the University of California-Davis, crime rates drop during major televised athletic events. But it’s not clear whether the impact of “entertainment diversion” lasts after the game ends.

If Americans spent more time watching televised sports, there might be a decrease in crime, according to a study by the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program.

In “Entertainment as Crime Prevention: Evidence from Chicago Sports Games,” published in the Journal of Sports Economics last month, researchers Ryan Copus and Hannah Laqueur observed consistent decreases in crime during the times that games aired in Chicago.

Copus and Laqueur found that overall crime during the Bears “Monday Night Football” is roughly 15 percent lower than the same time on Monday nights when the Bears are not playing, and noted similar but smaller effects for Chicago’s basketball and baseball teams.

More popular games showed a stronger effect, with the Super Bowl producing the most dramatic reduction: a decrease of approximately 25 percent during game coverage, amounting to roughly 60 fewer crimes.

While violence in the media has provoked concerns about increasing aggressive behavior among viewers, little exploration has been made of television’s power to divert people from criminal activity. The study’s results bear out the “incapacitation hypothesis”: If people are entertained, they are not committing crimes.

The authors believe that the diversionary power of movies, television, and video games may compensate for their potential short-term aggression-inducing effects.

To conduct their study, Copus and Laqueur compared crime reports from January 2001 to December 2013 by the half hour when Chicago’s major professional sports teams were playing to crime reports from the same time, day, and month when the teams were not playing. The researchers repeated this analysis for the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, and the World Series.

The study’s results do not exclude the possibility that those who forgo criminal activity while watching a game will commit crime in the days or weeks before or after the game takes place instead.

Still, Copus and Laqueur’s analysis could be significant to the study of crime control given what it suggests about criminal behavior—namely, that “some share of crime may be best understood not as a predetermined and calculated activity but rather as itself recreation.”

“There is not a set ‘demand’ for criminal activity,” the study’s authors write. “Rather, some amount of crime is opportunistic and situational – if prevented today, it does not inevitably occur tomorrow.”

The implication: some additional game nights might prove a useful tool for crime prevention.

This summary was prepared by TCR news intern Elena Schwartz.  Readers’ comments are welcome.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Homeless ‘Need Protection’ from Crime: Advocates

Concerns about security at New York City hotels used to shelter homeless families are rising after a report documents criminal activity at more than half the hotels last year. The city now houses more than 30 percent of the nation’s homeless families.

A rise in crime in New York City hotels over the past three years has had an unexpected victim: the city’s homeless population.

Crime in New York hotels and motels has increased by almost 20 percent since 2015, according to statistics compiled by STR, Inc., an industry research group, using New York Police Department (NYPD) data, the New York Post reported last week.

This surge comes despite a significant decline in the citywide crime rate in recent years.

While law enforcement officials and industry experts are unsure of the cause, the increase coincides with data showing a disturbing pattern of arrests in hotels that the city has been using to house homeless families since 2014.

In interviews with The Crime Report, homeless advocates say the figures suggest a lack of security at those hotels which has put an already-vulnerable—and growing─population at risk.

“We know that there are a lot of people who do prey on vulnerable homeless folks,” Megan Hustings, director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, told The Crime Report. “And when you start to talk about Skid Row, the issue of drug use and drug peddlers always comes up.”

Although homelessness rates have eased across the US, the number of homeless has increased in New York: the city now holds an estimated 30 percent of the country’s homeless families.

According to a report issued by the New York’s Department of Investigation (DOI) found that since January 2017, criminal activity has been recorded at 34 of the 57 hotels used by the city to house homeless families with children.

New York is among only three places in the country, the others being Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., with a “right to shelter,” or a legal obligation to house homeless people. The right was established by a 1979 New York State Supreme Court ruling that compels the city to provide shelter to all New Yorkers who are homeless by “reason of physical, mental, or social dysfunction.”

The high homeless population in New York─roughly 76,000 people─makes this a challenge. The law does not specify exactly what form shelter must take and, particularly when demand is high, crowding can force people into spaces that are uncomfortable and sometimes unsafe.

New York City’s homeless population increased by 115 percent between 1994 and 2016. Since the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) began using hotel vouchers in 2014 to address the resulting strain on the city’s shelters, some 11,000 people are now housed in hotels around the city, from the Bronx Super 8 Hotel to the Manhattan in Times Square.

According to DHS spokesman Isaac McGinn, the NYPD Management Team at DHS oversees and manages shelter security citywide, including overseeing the 24/7 contracted shelter security at commercial hotel locations. As part of that oversight and management, NYPD reviews security at all new locations.

According to the DOI report, incidents recorded at the hotels used to shelter homeless included 59 prostitution and sex trafficking-related arrests, 34 assault-related arrests and 112 arrests related to the sale or use of drugs.

Overall, the number of hotel crimes reported annually rose to 2,656 in 2017, compared to 2,223 in 2015. Felony assaults, third-degree assaults, and second-degree harassment all exhibited particularly dramatic spikes of 51.9 percent, 38 percent, and 62.7 percent, respectively. Grand larceny was the most commonly reported crime, with 531 reported incidents, which marks a 12 percent increase since 2015. (The research group’s analysis on hotel crime did not provide details on locations.)

But the DOI report on arrests in hotels where homeless are housed suggest growing levels of insecurity for an already vulnerable class of people.

Homeless individuals currently being housed in hotels told New York Times reporters, for instance, of being propositioned to work as prostitutes.

It is unclear whether the criminal activity uncovered by the DOI preceded the placement of homeless individuals in the hotels, or whether criminal actors are drawn to locations which house the homeless.

Hustings of the National Coalition for the Homeless made clear that homelessness itself does not correlate with crime or violence in the areas where it is prevalent, citing a study by the Guardian focused on Seattle and Portland that uncovered no link between the homeless and crime rates in those cities.

Although Massachusetts and D.C. also use hotel vouchers when faced with crowding in shelters, both cities have significantly smaller homeless populations than New York, and Hustings said he was unaware of similar security issues in those places.

McGinn confirmed that DHS has no evidence indicating that any of its clients have participated in any illicit activity at these locations.

City investigators found that prior to the release of their report, the DHS did not consider criminal activity when evaluating the suitability of commercial hotels for housing homeless families, focusing instead on location, rates, number of available units, and the outcome of a site inspection.

The DOI recommended that safety should be included in the DHS’s assessment of prospective hotels, and that in the cases of hotels that might harbor criminal activity, the department should either withdraw its clients from the hotel entirely or occupy the entire facility to ensure that rooms are not used for criminal activities.

The January report claims that the DHS has accepted these recommendations and is working to solve the problem. McGinn confirmed that city officials took immediate action to relocate clients or occupy locations entirely following the report’s release.

McGinn told The Crime Report that after the DOI investigation, the NYPD enhanced its vetting procedures to perform vetting in the same way the NYPD Vice Unit does, including evaluating complaints, previous arrests, and any existing cases related to the location.

“We continue to work closely with our NYPD partners to protect the safety of all homeless New Yorkers, including providing 24/7 dedicated security at commercial hotel locations,” he said.

McGinn called commercial hotels “bridges” to be utilized while DHS phases out the use of all cluster sites and commercial hotels citywide and replaces them with a smaller number of high-quality borough-based facilities.

“Until we are able to fully implement our plan, and since the city is under court order to provide shelter under emergency circumstances at all times, there will be some cases in which we need to provide emergency shelter and place families and individuals in hotels if we have reached capacity,” he said.

This phase-out will take time. Despite the issues raised by the DOI, the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio formalized the hotel voucher practice into three-year contracts costing nearly $1.1 billion in total this March.

While Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn) told the Post that “we should under no circumstances place families and children in situations where their safety is compromised,” he added that “unfortunately, with the shelter census being so high and the vacancy rate in shelters so low, we continue to rely on hotels, which are often not providing the level of security and wraparound services that families deserve.”

Shelters are not always a safer option for the city’s homeless, however.

The General Welfare Committee, of which Levin is the chair, will hold an oversight hearing later this month to investigate how DHS contracts are granted, including examining safety within hotels used by the DHS and allegations of abuse and violence inside homeless shelters around the city. The investigation was prompted in part by a video recently released by the Daily News that captures several guards beating and kicking a resident of a Brooklyn shelter.

In a statement on June 1, Levin confirmed that since 2015, shelter residents or staff have filed a combined 21 lawsuits against FJC Security Services and Sera, two security firms contracted by shelters, for violent incidents.

“Our communities deserve high quality shelter care and services,” said Levin, “and yet it is incidents like this that have made some New Yorkers concerned about entering a shelter, choosing instead to sleep on the street.”

Elena Schwartz is a TCR news intern. She welcomes readers’ comments.

from https://thecrimereport.org