Diverse Neighborhoods Could Reduce Police Shootings of Blacks, Hispanics: Study

Researchers studying nearly 1,700 fatal interactions with police between 2013 and 2015 concluded that desegregation dramatically reduces the risks of black males being killed by police officers. Higher levels of segregation increased the odds for Hispanic males.

Desegregation of America’s neighborhoods can save blacks and Hispanics from being killed by police officers, according to a study published in the Social Science & Medicine journal.

The researchers, led by Odis Johnson Jr., a sociology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, analyzed a database that included details on nearly 1,700 fatal interactions with police (FIP) that occurred across the U.S. from May 2013 to January 2015.

The researchers concluded that low levels of racial segregation dramatically reduce the risks of black males being killed by police officers. higher levels of segregation increased the odds for Hispanic males.

“Black males’ odds of a FIP were dramatically lowered in neighborhoods with a relatively low percentage of black residents,” the researchers write. “This suggests that racially mixed neighborhoods to some degree shield black males from police homicides.”

Furthermore, in neighborhoods with high levels of income inequality, such as poor areas undergoing gentrification, males of color face a higher risk of being killed during interactions with police; Hispanic men face the highest risk.

“Our results concerning Hispanic males are perhaps the most important that we offer, since one could argue the majority of media and public attention about FIPs have concerned black males,” the researchers write.

“This analysis in contrast suggest that we should give careful consideration to the geospatial and institutional circumstances in which the odds of having FIPs becomes greatest for particular race-gender classifications, rather than assuming black males are placed at greatest risk in all contexts.”

The findings support the work of historian Richard Rothstein, a distinguished fellow of the Economic Policy Institute.

In his latest book, “The Color of Law,” Rothstein chronicles the history of racial segregation in the U.S., pinpointing President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s as the start of a deliberate government plan to create and enforce residential segregation.

Rothstein contends that systemic residential segregation continues to champion inequality and injustice in all areas.

Although America’s demographics  have been gradually changing, with one study predicting that whites in the U.S. will become a “minority” by 2045, an investigation by the Washington Post shows that neighborhoods are still deeply segregated.

A full copy of the current study can be downloaded here.

J. Gabriel Ware is a contributing writer for The Crime Report.

from https://thecrimereport.org

The Overwhelming Number of Police Shootings Involve Armed Suspects

  Observations The vast majority of police officers have never fired their guns. The overwhelming number of police shootings involve armed suspects. Author Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. Retired federal senior spokesperson. Thirty-five years of award-winning public relations for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist […]

The post The Overwhelming Number of Police Shootings Involve Armed Suspects appeared first on Crime in America.Net.

  Observations The vast majority of police officers have never fired their guns. The overwhelming number of police shootings involve armed suspects. Author Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. Retired federal senior spokesperson. Thirty-five years of award-winning public relations for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist […]

The post The Overwhelming Number of Police Shootings Involve Armed Suspects appeared first on Crime in America.Net.

from https://www.crimeinamerica.net

Telemarketers Got Bulk of Money Donated for Slain Dallas Officers

A Dallas Morning News investigation found that families of the five Dallas cops slain in July, 2016 received only 22 percent of the $3.2 million donated to two charities set up to help them. The rest went to telemarketing firms.

After five police officers were gunned down in Dallas in July, 2016, tens of thousands of people from around the world reached out to help the widows and children of the slain men.

As donations flooded into City Hall, officials struggling to organize and distribute it initially turned to the Assist the Officer Foundation, a long established charity run by the Dallas Police Association, to handle the cash and checks. But in the years since the killings, millions ended up at two other charities — the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation and the Texas Fallen Officer Foundation — run by a charismatic but largely unknown police sergeant named Demetrick Pennie.

Most of that money never made it to fallen officers’ families, according to a Dallas Morning News investigation.

The newspaper found that the bulk of it went to three telemarketing companies, one of which is owned by Pennie’s friend. Tens of thousands of dollars went straight into Pennie’s pocket.

Officers’ families received only 22 percent of the $3.2 million donated to Pennie’s two charities in 2016 and 2017, according to the groups’ most recent IRS filings.

“Pennie’s expenditures run counter to best practices established by the Better Business Bureau that recommend charities spend no more than $35 of every $100 from donors on fundraising costs such as telemarketers,” the newspaper said.

Last year, for every $100 donated to Pennie’s Texas Fallen Officer Foundation, just $5 went to families, while $74 went to telemarketers, $15 to cash reserves and $6 to travel, meals and expenses for Pennie and his team.

The figures for the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation were slightly better. For every $100 donated last year, $10 went to fallen officers’ families, while $48 went to telemarketers, $25 to cash reserves and $17 to travel, salaries and other expenses.

The bureau says at least 65 percent of a nonprofit’s spending should go toward its core mission. Last year, the Texas Fallen Officer Foundation and the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation allocated just 6 percent and 13 percent of their spending, respectively, toward helping families.

In interviews, Pennie defended his salary, saying it allows him to dedicate more than 20 hours per week to his charity work. He also defended his spending on fundraising, saying his nonprofits are only a few years old, so telemarketing is a cost-effective way to bring in money that otherwise wouldn’t be raised. He said the telemarketing companies bear all the cost of the work, and his charities are guaranteed 20 percent of total donations.

And, Pennie said, if donors ask, the telemarketers are required to tell them how much will go to the charity.

Pennie pointed to the impact that he’s had — not just cutting checks, but holding events for families who have lost officers, like taking them to watch movies, going to Medieval Times and throwing a Christmas party.

Experts in nonprofit management agreed that young organizations may have to rely on telemarketing in the beginning to raise money. But two experts who reviewed IRS filings from Pennie’s charities said they were troubled by how little the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation and the Texas Fallen Officer Foundation spent toward their mission of putting money into the hands of police families.

“This is crazy,” Erica Harris, a Villanova University professor who studies nonprofit accounting told the newspaper. “They’re spending all this money to call up people to try and get more money and then they barely use any of the money to do what they say they’re going to do.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Austin PD Addresses Lingering Trauma Officers Can Face

Involvement in traumatic events like shootings can lead to years of anxiety and worse for police officers. Austin Police Chief Brian Manley, acting on an increase in alcohol-related incidents among officers this year, says he has made their mental health a priority.

Police officers often endure years of anguish after they are involved in shootings and other traumatic events. The stress, trauma and burnout from these life-or-death encounters have prompted the Austin Police Department to examine whether it provides the necessary resources to police and civilian staff, reports the city’s American-Statesman. Seeing an increase in alcohol-related incidents among officers this year, Chief Brian Manley has made mental health in the department a priority. He has commissioned a group of experts — including physicians, wellness specialists, peer-support officers and chaplains — to look at how to identify symptoms of post-traumatic stress and how to prevent and treat mental health crises.

“This is an issue that is problematic for police departments across this country,” Manley said. “We recognize that there is probably more that we can and should be doing…We care about them as people, and I think that we have a duty to do everything we can to enhance their health and well-being.” During their career, an officer experiences an average of 188 critical incidents, including being beaten, shot at or threatened with a gun, a 2018 study by the Ruderman Family Foundation found. Law enforcement officers are five times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress in their lifetime than the general population, according to the report. First responders, including police and firefighters, also are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty, it found. “This is a career where you can’t unsee things that you have seen,” Manley said. “Every officer walks around with visions of things that they have experienced during their career. That impacts you.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

No Easy Explanation for U.S. Homicide Rise: Criminologists

Why did homicides increase in 2015 and 2016? Some blame the opioid epidemic and others point to the “Ferguson effect” on police, but criminologists say neither explanation is supported by data.

No one is sure why the homicide total in the US increased in both 2015 and 2016, but experts gathered on Capitol Hill Tuesday to discuss two popular theories: that the change had to do with police withdrawal of services in response to anti-police sentiment after officer-involved shootings—the so-called “Ferguson effect”—or that it was related to the increase in overdose deaths from opoids.

The basic conclusion was that neither theory explains the trend, and that more research is needed on local trends to establish the cause.

The occasion was the third annual “ask a criminologist” session sponsored by the Crime & Justice Research Alliance and the Consortium of Social Science Associations.

The issue of depolicing has been called the “Ferguson effect,” because of anecdotal reports of a reduction in law enforcement activity after the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014 and subsequent anti-police protests.

Criminologist Shytierra Gaston of Indiana University told the briefing that at least some of the homicide rises in 2015 and 2016 might have been related to the idea of “street justice,” that some citizens are “taking matters into our own hands” and not relying on police officers, some of whom reportedly have been acting more cautiously in the aftermath of public criticism over Ferguson and other police shootings.

But it’s not clear how much “depolicing” actually has been occurring, said Howard Spivak, deputy director of the National Institute of Justice, the US Justice Department’s research arm.

Spivak said the available data don’t back the idea that the “Ferguson effect” was a causal factor in rising homicide totals, particularly those involving white victims.

The other major crime trend in recent years is the sharp rise in overdose deaths attributed to opioids.

Spivak said it is clearer in that case that homicides involving white people have been “associated with opioid commerce and use,” but association doesn’t necessarily mean causality.

Police Chief Richard Biehl of Dayton, Ohio, whose city is in one of the areas hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, agreed that there is no proof of the opioid-homicide link.

Drug-related murders in Dayton rose markedly both in 2015 and 2016, reflecting the national trend.

Yet both homicides and violent crime generally dropped fairly sharply last year as opioid overdoses continued to increase, Biehl said. He added that opioids were linked only to about seven percent of murders.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University estimated that murders were down 4.4 percent last year in the nation’s 30 largest cities, but an FBI compilation of the national total won’t be available until later this year.

The experts agreed that more analysis is needed of changing homicide rates in localities.

National data may mask the fact that changes in particular city totals may differ from the apparent U.S. trend.

Spivak noted that, as was the case in Dayton, in some cities violent crime is down while opioid overdoses have increased, raising questions about a possible connection.

Speakers lamented the demise of the federally funded Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring program (ADAM), which tested arrestees in many cities for drug use between 1987 and 2004. The testing later was resumed on a limited basis from 2007 to 2014.

Without ADAM, it’s difficult to link drug abuse definitively to criminal activity on a citywide or national basis.

Both Chief Biehl and Nancy La Vigne of the Urban Institute, who moderated the expert discussion, said they would welcome the resumption of ADAM or a program like it.

Spivak, whose agency blamed lack of funding for ending the program in several dozen places, said there is still no money available at NIJ to re-start the drug testing program.

Spivak and Gaston co-authored with criminologist Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri – St.Louis a report on the subjects discussed in Tuesday’s briefing, and Rosenfeld wrote about it in The Crime Report last December.

Ted Gest is president of Criminal Justice Journalists and Washington bureau chief of The Crime Report.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Increase in Police Shootings Linked to High Gun Ownership

Officers “need to be conscious of the fact that literally every single person they come in contact with may be carrying a concealed firearm,” says John Jay College criminologist David Kennedy. According to Vox.com and University of Chicago criminologist John Roman, the stronger the gun control laws, the fewer police killings.

When Sacramento police officers confronted Stephon Clark in his grandmother’s backyard, they believed he was holding a gun; it actually was a cellphone. Officers have shot people after mistaking wrenches and badges for guns. Cops have shot people thinking that they’re reaching for a firearm when they’re pulling up loose-fitting shorts and that a toy gun was a real firearm. Behind these incidents lies what seems to be a constant fear that a gun may be present.

Officers “need to be conscious of and are trained to be conscious of the fact that literally every single person they come in contact with may be carrying a concealed firearm,” says criminologist David Kennedy of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “That’s true for a 911 call. It’s true for a barking dog call. It’s true for a domestic violence incident. It’s true for a traffic stop. It’s true for everything.”

This is one potential reason that the U.S. has far more police shootings than other developed nations. Vox.com and John Roman of NORC at the University of Chicago, studied the data and found that weaker gun laws and higher rates of gun ownership correlate with more killings by police officers. That suggests that it may be prudent to start thinking of police killings as inherently linked to the nation’s gun prevalence.

Vox and Roman used the Washington Post database of police killings to compare incident rates for each state with the state’s population, a composite score for state’s gun control laws (based on a National Rifle Association database), and gun ownership rates (based on a 2013 national survey). There is a correlation between killings by police officers and states’ gun control laws and gun ownership rates. The stronger the gun control laws, the fewer police killings. The higher the gun ownership rates, the more police killings.

According to the Post’s data base, as of April 5, 294 people have been shot and killed so far in 2018, as of April 5.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Why the Prosecutor’s Role in Officer-Involved Deaths Has Become Critical

When police kill unarmed civilians, the path towards accountability begins with prosecutors. Elected to serve their communities as the chief law enforcement official, they have the means and mandate to confront the injustices that arise from systemic racism, writes the director of John Jay’s Institute for Innovation in Prosecution.

As California Attorney General Xavier Becerra begins overseeing the investigation of the killing of Stephon Clark, the 22-year-old African-American father of two shot by police in his grandmother’s backyard in Sacramento, Ca., nearly two weeks ago, an important question should be on the minds of every American.

If the investigation finds evidence of misconduct, how likely is there to be a charge, let alone a conviction?

The track record of officer-involved fatalities in the United States suggests the answer: Not likely.

Approximately 1,000 lives are lost at the hands of U.S. law enforcement every year, a number that has remained remarkably consistent. Every week, there are new reports of officer-involved fatalities from across the country. Earlier this week, the New York Police Department shot and killed a man in Brooklyn.

And still, over the course of a decade, from 2005 to 2015, only 54 officers nationwide were criminally charged, with nearly half of these cases resulting in acquittals or dismissals.

How can that be when, in most of these cases, there is ample evidence—hard data, and even live video—of the extent of force used?

This paradox was addressed recently by 35 experts participating in the launch of a new working group on officer-involved fatalities at the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution (IIP) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Comprised of prosecutors, directly impacted individuals, police, academics, and activists from around the nation, the group was formed to address the prosecutor’s role in dealing with these incidents—and in particular to devise and implement mechanisms of accountability.

Such an effort couldn’t be more crucial.

Prosecutors wield significant power in the criminal justice system. They have discretion over charging, pre-trial recommendations and plea conditions, and their decisions affect a case at nearly every stage of the criminal justice process. Yet, as the figures cited above demonstrate, even with this significant power, prosecutors have found it challenging to charge and convict police officers for excessive use of force.

The working group identified various obstacles to accountability. For example, most state statutes require a “standard of reasonableness” when evaluating the use of force by law enforcement. Another example: the public, the media and, often, jury pools are inclined to offer the benefit of the doubt to law enforcement while criminalizing those killed. Moreover, the process is stymied by systemically racist policies and practices, and a culture that impedes transparency.

The working group—including the prosecutors and police who participated—took these challenges as opportunities for reform, rather than as excuses.

There was widespread consensus that, as communities demand justice for the victims and families of police violence, prosecutors—as democratically elected officials directly accountable to the communities they serve—have the opportunity and the mandate to use their platform to demand accountability, both within the legal system and beyond it.

To do this, prosecutors must partner with those whose deep awareness of the absence of accountability can show the path forward. In other words, those who have lost loved ones to police violence.

As one directly impacted family member said during the working group discussions, “We become the experts unwillingly …We study this because we can’t sleep at night.”

That tragic “expertise” has motivated the victims of police violence to address the systemic inequities of the criminal justice system. We should join them.

Communities, particularly communities of color, that are disproportionately affected by excessive police use-of-force tend also to be those bearing the brunt of policies and practices that contribute to mass incarceration. The over-criminalization of communities of color cannot be separated from the disproportionately high rate of force that these communities experience at the hands of law enforcement.

Philando Castile was stopped in his car nearly 50 times before July 6, 2016. Eric Garner was reported to have been selling individual cigarettes when the police were called on July 17, 2014, though the cigarettes were never found.

According to Baltimore Police Department (BPD) data from January 2010 to May 2015 that the U.S. Department of Justice examined, BPD officers stopped 410 pedestrians at least 10 times. Some 95 percent of these pedestrians were black, although just 60 percent of the city’s population is black.

If officers did not routinely stop—and if prosecutors did not routinely charge—people of color for crimes that arguably pose no significant risk to public safety, perhaps we could expect fewer fateful encounters.

And if law enforcement did not routinely stop and prosecute people of color, perhaps they would stop feeding the myth of the “inherent danger” that people of color pose to public safety.

The belief in this inherent danger is tied to an implicit bias that is manifested in a variety of ways.

“Black male, maybe 20,” is how the Cleveland officer referred to Tamir Rice after he arrived at the playground and shot the 12-year-old within seconds of seeing him brandish what later proved to be a toy gun.

Stephon Clark

Stephon Clark/Facebook Photo via Wikipedia

The two Sacramento officers who shot Stephon Clark explained afterwards that they “fear[ed] for their safety.” Responding to reports of someone breaking into parked cars with a toolbar, they described Clark as advancing towards them with an “object” in his hand. The officers fired ten rounds each at him. The object was a cell phone.

The racial stereotyping that leads police to automatically assume the worst when they are involved in a tense confrontation with individuals of color surprised none of the members of the working group.

As a directly impacted family member observed during the working group discussion, “We have to say Black Lives Matter today because of this country’s history … The legacy of the Three-Fifths rule is [evident] in how we are [criminalized, and how no one is held accountable] when our lives are taken.”

One conclusion seems inescapable: The path towards accountability for officer-involved fatalities and excessive police use of force must move beyond body cameras and de-escalation training to confront the injustices that arise from systematic racism, both past and present.

As the chief local law enforcement and democratically elected official, a prosecutor has both the means and the mandate to do just that.

There already are instructive examples around the nation:

  • In Washington State and California, prosecutors are using their platforms to support calls for reform of the “standard of reasonableness” statutes.
  • Campaign Zero, whose website describes it as a “research collaborative collecting comprehensive data on police killings nationwide to quantify the impact of police violence in communities,” harnesses the power of data science to develop new policies and practices in partnership with police departments.
  • Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, in Baltimore, offers useful suggestions for exploring alternative paths to accountability by using independent community-centered tools.

And lessons are being learned even in those cases where justice has yet to be found.

John Choi

John Choi

The jury in the Philando Castile case did not convict the officer who was charged with killing him. But the investigation and prosecution, led by County Attorney John Choi of Minnesota’s Ramsey County, provided vital lessons for the field.

Choi, who participated in the working group discussion, was asked by the mother of a victim of police violence about his continuing relationship with Castile’s family. He responded with an anecdote.

After the trial, Castile’s mother presented Choi with her son’s “Certificate of Class Completion” for a driving-diversion program established to help those whose licenses had been suspended due to unpaid fines and fees drive legally again. The program was launched when Choi had been Saint Paul’s City Attorney.

Meg Reiss

Meg Reiss

Showing the group a picture of the driving certificate, Choi said he lamented the fact that, while he had been able to help Castile in one aspect of the justice system, he was ultimately unable to achieve justice for him, his family, and his community in his death.

It’s the kind of humility and compassion that can help prosecutors build–and fight for–means of accountability that recognize the humanity and dignity of victims, families, and communities directly affected by police violence.

Prosecutors have the platform. And they are starting to use it.

Meg Reiss is executive director of the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She welcomes comments from readers.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Why Police Shootings No Longer Are Media’s Top Story

Police officers still are killing U.S. civilians at about the same rate as they did in 2015, but attention to the Trump administration has forced police violence and criminal justice reform more broadly out of the headlines.

Edward Minguela, 32, is standing on the sidewalk, his hands in the air. Three Camden County, N.J., police officers approach with their weapons drawn. They’d received an anonymous tip about a man with a gun. Minguela, who fit the description, is unarmed. The first officer to reach Minguela grabs him from behind and slams him to the ground.

The officer then curls a fist and starts punching — landing a dozen rapid blows to Minguela’s head as two other officers help pin the man to the ground. A surveillance camera mounted to a nearby liquor store captured the Feb. 22 beating frame by frame, but it has had little publicity, writes the Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery.

Police violence and criminal justice reform more broadly were a leading domestic news story line in the final two years of the Obama administration.  Now the issue has all but vanished from the national political conversation.

It’s not because police violence has stopped. As of last Thursday, 212 people had been shot and killed by U.S. police officers so far this year, according to the Post’s police shooting database, about the same pace of three fatal shootings per day that The Post has recorded since 2015. It’s not because reporters have abandoned police accountability:

Recent months have seen intensive investigations from BuzzFeed, the Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Tampa Bay Times and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, among others.

The Trump administration now is the drama at center stage.

“The nation has a short attention span, and frankly, is interested in what the major networks tell the nation it should be interested in,” says Devon Jacob, the civil rights attorney representing New Jersey’s Minguela.

from https://thecrimereport.org

How ‘Patient Courage’ Can Reduce Police Shootings 

A noted criminologist finds a useful lesson for law enforcement agencies trying to address use-of-force incidents in a speech half a century ago by former President Dwight Eisenhower.

The US Park Police killing of Bijan Ghaisar last November can now be seen on line, thanks to another police agency that recorded the shooting on a Dash-Cam.

No one can decide whether this shooting was legal, based only on the video and press accounts. But everyone can decide that the police lacked what President Dwight D. Eisenhower once asked our entire nation to display: patient courage.

On Dec.2 1954, at the height of the Cold War, Eisenhower was under political pressure to authorize military action. His response was that every other means had not yet been exhausted:

Eisenhower

Dwight Eisenhower, official portrait 1959 via Flickr

“The hard way,” he said, “is to have the courage to be patient, tirelessly to seek out every single avenue open to us” before using violence.

Yet many police agencies fail to teach that message. Instead, their systems allow officers to put themselves in harm’s way, where there can be no patience if they reasonably believe there is a risk to life.

At the time Ghaisar was shot, he was apparently not wanted for any violent crime, nor for a hit-and-run, nor for a serious offense. His crime was refusing to stop for a police officer.

That is not a legal basis to shoot or kill, by any US law or firearms policy I have seen in a half-century of educating police. Yet somehow, at least one officer decided that it was. What kind of police system can produce that kind of decision?

The US Park Police have been here before. In 1994, a disturbed man with a knife taped to his hand chased a police officer around Lafayette Park in front of the White House. The officer called for backup, and a small group of officers formed a semicircle with guns pointed at the man.

While he ignored police orders to drop the knife, the man stood very still, staring at police from well beyond reach of his knife. Other police cleared bystanders away, and the standoff continued for several minutes. Then a siren was heard as another police car drove up near he scene.

A US Park Police officer emerged, ran over to the other officers already dealing with the man, and immediately shot him twice, fatally.

The shooting police officer was not prosecuted, but none of the other officers present had not deemed it necessary to shoot the man. Different reactions to the situation by different officers reveal a system problem of excessive decentralization, in which no one is in command at the scene of a life-or-death standoff.

For decades, some police agencies have required supervisory approval by radio even to engage in a hot pursuit, usually limited to a clear risk of serious harm (which seems to have been lacking in the Ghaisar case). The late Yale police scholar Albert Reiss proposed in 1980 that the same should be done for “permission to shoot,” without which police should follow the UK police practice of avoiding direct engagement with armed persons.

That is just what Camden, NJ police officers did in their celebrated, non-lethal arrest of a knife-wielding man in late 2015, as recently noted in the Washington Post. Under their philosophy of “Hippocratic Policing” that first does no (unnecessary) harm, they had the courage to be patient. But their action was not the heroic courage of individuals. It was the systemic courage of training, procedures, review and management.

Even in a police agency supporting systemic courage, individual officers may need the courage of self-control. When a car stops for police and drives off, not once but repeatedly, there is a natural fear of humiliation of the officers in the eyes of their peers.

By shooting, they may save face—but not lives.

It takes a very strong system to support the first officer on the scene in Camden, who did not use his legal powers to shoot the man with the knife. Instead, he took the lead for what grew to some 15 officers who were all holding fire together.

Lawrence Sherman

Lawrence W. Sherman

Police agencies can build patient courage without risking injury to police officers. Some have opposed patient courage as more dangerous to police. But that argument misses the point: that officers have no duty to put themselves in harm’s way when there is no direct threat to anyone.

It is only when they lack the courage to be patient that they create a threat to themselves. Patient courage is not only wise. It also brings more police officers home from work each day, alive and well.

See also: Can Police Change Their Mindset From Warriors to Guardians?

Lawrence W. Sherman is Chair of the Police Executive Programme at Cambridge University and Distinguished University Professor of Criminology at the University of Maryland. He welcomes readers’ comments.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Can Police Change Their Mindset from Warriors to Guardians?

Even small changes in police procedures, like requiring officers to carry hemostatic bandages in patrol cars to help shooting victims—including those they shoot—can have a large impact on how cops are seen by communities, and how they see themselves, a Fordham Law School panel was told Wednesday.

If cops provided first aid to individuals they shoot, regardless of the reason for the shooting, would that change the festering hostility towards law enforcement in America’s at-risk communities?

Soon after the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man in Tulsa last September, a Los Angeles officer told criminologist Lawrence Sherman that SWAT teams in his city were trained to provide immediate medical help to anyone injured during police actions—even those shot by police themselves.

“Didn’t they get that memo in Tulsa?” he said, half-jokingly.

Sherman recounted the story at a panel at Fordham Law School Wednesday to argue that the recurring tragedies of police-caused homicides in the U.S. should be addressed by “reengineering” police procedures and training in ways that encouraged them to save lives, not take them.

“Little changes can cause huge impacts,” Sherman said, suggesting for example requiring all patrol cars to carry hemostatic bandages, often used by the military on the battlefield, that can prevent shooting victims from bleeding to death before they get medical help.

In another example, Philadelphia cops drive victims—including those they have shot—to hospital emergency rooms, added Sherman, who is director of the Jerry Lee Centre for Experimental Criminology and Chair of the Cambridge Police Executive Program at Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology in the UK.

His point was expanded by Phillip Atiba Goff, Director of the Center for Policing Equity at John Jay College, who said such changes needed to be incorporated into a larger “political ecosystem” that recognized the racial biases built into the history of US policing and that rewarded police for perceiving their jobs as protecting the most vulnerable members of the community, rather than just catching “bad guys.”

“It’s about the difference between ‘warriors’ or ‘guardians,’” he said. “First responders or first line of defense.”

Sherman said addressing the factors that lead police officers to use their firearms in the first place—ranging from a perception that they needed to act quickly to save their own lives to the fear that a suspect’s refusal to follow their commands would “humiliate” them before their peers—was critical to achieving changes in officer behavior.

A lot of shootings can also be explained by officers feeling the urgency to resolve a confrontation quickly so they can be somewhere else where they are needed, Sherman said.

“The solution is to slow things down, create space…so there’s an option to be patient,” he said.

He added later, “Sometimes it’s not just when to shoot, but when to stop shooting.”

Sherman, who also holds the post of Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, was elaborating on a paper he published last month in the Annual Review of Criminology.

The paper argues that the failure of recent attempts around the U.S. to convict officers for shootings of unarmed civilians underlines the difficulty of using legal strategies to punish officers for their actions, and would have little long-term effect on changing behavior or police culture—especially in the smaller cities where most of police shootings occur.

Tulsa police officer Betty White, for example, was acquitted in the September, 2017 shooting of Terry Crutcher after a jury decided that White acted according to departmental procedures and training.

Sherman noted that while larger cities had witnessed a great deal of progress in reducing officer-use-of-force incidents, in cities with populations of less than 10,000 some 18 percent of homicides were caused by police.

“This isn’t a New York City problem; it’s a Ferguson problem,” he said.

See also: Slow Down, Officer: How to Build a Better Cop

Goff, whose center works with police agencies across North America, countered that while measures like placing hemostatic bandages in police cars or training police to slow their responses are helpful, fundamental change requires police managers and their political masters to acknowledge the systemic biases that pervade American society, of which policing is only one part.

“Neighborhoods that suffer from this problem have a color,” said Goff, noting that the majority of police shooting fatalities were African-American or Hispanic men.

“You can’t use training to shift culture unless the culture is ready to receive training,” Goff said.

But both speakers agreed that looking at police misconduct as evidence of flaws in the systems and procedures established by law enforcement managers to monitor and control police behavior was critical.

Goff cited work his center had done with police in Toronto, Canada to reduce the high number of police stops, mostly affecting individuals of color, as an example. When that city’s police authorities admitted that the criteria they used in promoting officers included the number of street stops they made, Goff’s researchers suggested they eliminate that metric for judging police performance—and let all officers know it.

At the same time, officers were required to give their badge numbers and hand out cards to anyone they stopped and questioned on the street.

Within two months of instituting the new policy, the number of stops recorded plunged from 7,000 to 26, Goff said.

Neither speaker suggested such measures were the ultimate answer to the problem of police misbehavior, but Sherman said that many U.S. cities which had made an effort to reform police procedures had experienced drops in officer-involved shootings.

A “Tactical Operations Procedure” first established by the New York Police Department (NYPD) in the 1970s that required all officers involved in a shooting to go before an internal board to justify their actions sharply reduced the incidence of police shootings in the 1970s. But a 1989 Supreme Court ruling in Graham vs Connor, which allowed police involved in a shooting incident to defend their actions by claiming a “reasonable” fear of danger, undermined its effect, Sherman said.

Similarly, police-involved shootings as well as overall crime rates were sharply reduced in Camden, NJ, once ranked as one of America’s deadliest cities, after the entire police force was restructured in 2015 following a financial crisis.

Sherman conceded that many officers would continue to resist advice from academics, community activists and even their police bosses to use patience when dealing with potentially dangerous confrontations because they felt their lives were on the line.

But a coordinated strategy that used some of the same principles of avoiding system “crashes” employed by the aviation and healthcare industries could be effective in smaller cities where police agencies were often understaffed and under financial pressure—with little ability to vet and monitor new officers.

“There would be fewer police killed, and fewer civilians would die,” Sherman said.

Wednesday’s Fordham panel was moderated by Tracey Meares, Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law and Founding Director of The Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School.

Stephen Handelman is executive editor of The Crime Report. He welcomes readers’ comments.

from https://thecrimereport.org