How Minneapolis Trains Cops in ‘Procedural Justice’

Minneapolis is one of the first cities to give officers training in the “procedural just way” of treating suspects, even in serious crimes. The training was recommended by President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

Minneapolis Deputy Police Chief Art Knight remembers the tongue-lashing he and his grandfather got from a white cop for the “crime” of being black and walking into a general store in 1960s Mississippi. “Boy, what’s your ass doing here?” the officer snarled at his grandfather, before booting them out.  In dealing with police or courts, people tend to remember little things. Was the officer polite to them? Were they treated fairly? Did they feel like they were heard? Knight spoke to 22 cadets about “procedural justice,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Officer Alice White, one of five instructors in the police procedural justice unit, said cadets can act in a “procedural just way” in dealing with someone accused of a serious crime. “So, I am going to respect someone who I just arrested for raping someone or for shooting someone?” White asked. No, but they can still remain courteous — even when using force to subdue an unruly suspect.

The training is divided among three days. The second day is scenario-based, while on the last day, officers are taught to recognize and work around hidden biases. In 2014, Minneapolis was among the first cities to offer procedural justice training, recommended by former President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing as one way police departments can reform, joining the likes of Pittsburgh, Fort Worth and Stockton, Ca. The idea of procedural justice is based in part on the writings of Yale law Prof. Tom Tyler, who argued in his 1990 book “Why People Obey the Law” that people follow the law only because they see it as fair, not out of fear of punishment. This, he concluded, was based in large part on how they felt they were treated.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Critics Question Cost of Ferguson Police Monitor

Ferguson, Mo., has paid nearly a half-million dollars to the monitor team overseeing its police and court reforms. City leaders question what they’ve gotten for their money, especially after the departure of the original lead monitor, Clark Kent Ervin.

Ferguson, Mo., has paid nearly a half-million dollars to the monitor team overseeing its police and court reforms, but city leaders question what they’ve gotten for their money, especially after the departure of the original lead monitor, the Associated Press reports. Washington attorney Clark Kent Ervin resigned in September after serving a little over a year overseeing the consent agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the St. Louis suburb where Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer in 2014. Boston attorney Natashia Tidwell.

The money spent on monitoring is costly in Ferguson, paid for entirely with city funds. The community of 20,000 is much smaller, with far less money, than most cities subject to Justice Department consent agreements. Money is so tight that Ferguson voters twice in 2016 approved tax increases to keep the budget balanced. Mayor James Knowles III said Ervin failed to follow through on some projects, including opening an office in Ferguson and surveying residents. City Attorney Apollo Carey said his departure slowed a court audit and other reforms. “It begs the question: What are residents getting out of (monitoring)?” Knowles said. “They’re supposed to be getting transparency. They’re supposed to be getting regular updates and engagement from the monitor. They haven’t gotten any of it.” Ferguson fell under Justice Department scrutiny after Brown was killed by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson during an Aug. 9, 2014, confrontation on a neighborhood street. A St. Louis County grand jury and the Justice Department declined to charge Wilson, who resigned in November 2014.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Chicago Sanctioned For 8th Time In Police Misconduct case

A federal judge ordered Chicago to pay $62,500 for withholding records in a wrongful death lawsuit, marking the eighth time Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration has been sanctioned for failing to turn over potential evidence in a police misconduct case. U.S. District Judge Joan Gottschall said the city acted in “bad faith.”

A federal judge ordered the city of Chicago to pay $62,500 for withholding records in a wrongful death lawsuit, marking the eighth time Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration has been sanctioned for failing to turn over potential evidence in a police misconduct case, the Chicago Tribune reportsU.S. District Judge Joan Gottschall said the city acted in “bad faith” when it ignored a court order and made little effort to provide documents to the lawyer for the family of 20-year-old Divonte Young, who was shot and killed by an officer five years ago. A plainclothes officer fatally shot Young after authorities alleged Young opened fired on two people in 2012. Police never located a gun.“ The city is continuing to waste taxpayers’ money and the court’s time,” said attorney H. Candace Gorman, representing the Young family. “It’s ridiculous. The taxpayers are angry. The judges are angry. And the city just doesn’t get it.”

In the Young case, the judge repeatedly criticized the city for its approach to discovery, the legal process that allows the two sides in a lawsuit to uncover relevant facts through the exchange of documents, the taking of depositions and other disclosures. When the process breaks down, plaintiffs can find themselves at a disadvantage, their lawyers uncertain they are working with all of the evidence. Gorman sought documents from the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), the agency that then investigated all officer-involved shootings and other misconduct allegations. Gorman was initially told by a city Law Department attorney that he could not ask IPRA for the documents because the agency operated separately from the city. An IPRA official then refused to give Gorman the records and said she had to go through the city Law Department.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Suspect Caught in Killing of Texas State Trooper

A manhunt ended late Thursday for a suspect officials say shot and killed a Texas Department of Public Safety officer. Dabrett Black, 32, was captured after he allegedly fired firing multiple shots from a rifle at trooper Damon Allen two-and-a-half hours northwest of Houston.

A manhunt ended late Thursday for a suspect officials say shot and killed a Texas Department of Public Safety officer. Dabrett Black, 32, was captured around 8:45 p.m. in Prairie View, Tx., after allegedly firing multiple shots from a rifle at trooper Damon Allen in Fairfield, roughly two-and-a-half hours northwest of Houston, the Houston Chronicle reports. Allen was a married father of three.

“Our DPS family is heartbroken tonight after one of Texas’ finest law enforcement officers was killed in the line of duty,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. The suspect  fled the shooting, and authorities caught up with him in Waller County, where they fired shots at him. The suspect fled on foot and authorities followed him for more than an hour. Using night goggles, authorities found the suspect on top of some hay bales. They approached the suspect with help from SWAT teams and Harris County Sheriff’s officials.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Why The Long Area Lockdown After MD Officer’s Killing?

The ACLU protests the long restrictions on Baltimore’s Harlem Park neighborhood after a police officer was killed. Now, it becomes clear that the late Sean Suiter was to testify against fellow officers accused of racketeering.

Last Wednesday, Baltimore Police Detective Sean Suiter confronted a man who shot him in the head after the detective tried to speak, according to police. Suiter, an 18-year police veteran and a 43-year-old married father of five, died a day later, becoming the city’s 309th murder victim of 2017, The Intercept reports. Police Commissioner Kevin Davis condemned the killing as “ridiculous, absurd, unnecessary loss of life,” and the killer as “heartless, ruthless, soulless.” The neighborhood was put on lockdown. Over the course of the week, the reward fund to find Suiter’s killer climbed to $215,000, a possible state record. The Harlem Park neighborhood lockdown was justified as a way for cops to preserve the crime scene and collect evidence.

Davis defended the measures, emphasizing the unique role of police. “In America, in this free society, our democracy, police – and I don’t mean to sound like I’m teaching a civics class here, but policing in America is special,” said Davis. As police cars lined the perimeter of Harlem Park for days, residents were unable to enter without showing IDs. Some complained about helicopters flying above their homes, flashing  police cars, and being subject to harassment and pat-down searches. Non-residents were barred from entering. The American Civil Liberties Union said residents “deserve a clear explanation from the city as to why this unprecedented action has been taken, what rules are being enforced, and why it is lawful.” The rumor had been circulating that Suiter was preparing to testify against some of the nine officers who have been indicted on racketeering charges. On Wednesday, Davis confirmed that Suiter was set to testify before a grand jury a day after he was shot. He said Suiter appeared to have been killed by his own weapon after a struggle.

from https://thecrimereport.org

FBI Starts Civil-Rights Probe of St. Louis Police Conduct

Critics had called for an investigation into police behavior during protests after the acquittal of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley. A federal judge last week restricted police use of chemical agents and dispersal orders.

The FBI and federal prosecutors are investigating police conduct during protests after September’s acquittal of the St. Louis officer for a fatal 2011 shooting, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The investigation centers on “allegations of potential civil rights violations by law enforcement officers” starting on Sept. 15, said U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Jensen. The move follows at least three calls for an investigation into police behavior during protests after the acquittal of former officer Jason Stockley. A federal judge last week restricted police use of chemical agents and dispersal orders.

In an unusual move, U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry ordered the police and the American Civil Liberties Union to mediation after a preliminary ruling. Mayor Lyda Krewson said, “Chief (Lawrence) O’Toole and I believe that an independent, third-party review makes sense” and they were pleased to hear about the federal probe. O’Toole has defended police and said dozens of officers have been injured during protests. A Justice Department “pattern and practice” investigation into Ferguson police after the death of Michael Brown led to a critical 2015 report, but DOJ said this year that it was moving away from those types of investigations.

from https://thecrimereport.org

TX Border Patrol Agent May Have Fallen to Death

Investigators believe a border patrol agent who died in Texas after suffering extensive injuries to his head and body may have fallen down a 14-foot culvert. President Trump called it an attack, but there is no evidence of that so far.

Investigators believe a border patrol agent who died in Texas after suffering extensive injuries to his head and body may have fallen down a 14-foot culvert. His partner, who radioed for help, has no memory of what happened, the Associated Press reports. FBI spokeswoman Jeanette Harper said both agents were found late Saturday night in a culvert near Van Horn, Tx., and that both had traumatic head injuries. Harper said Rogelio Martinez died early Sunday. An official said it happened after dark in an area known for drug activity and where agents often look for drugs in culverts.

Authorities haven’t offered an official explanation of what happened to Martinez and his partner. A border patrol supervisor said reports that the agents were attacked are “speculation.” Several officials, including President Trump, called Martinez’s death an attack. Rush Carter, a supervisor for the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol region that includes the area where Martinez died, said all the agency can confirm is that the two “were injured while performing their regular duties.” Harper told the San Antonio Express-News that Martinez and his partner were “not fired upon.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Police Hiring Begins to Increase Again

Police departments recorded an aggregate uptick in personnel of 1 percent when staffing totals for all agencies reporting data to the FBI in both 2015 and 2016 are compared. While that’s not much, it does represent a slight increase from recent years.

Many local police departments across the U.S. have also been staffing up for the first time in several years, reports Governing, citing the latest FBI statistics. Among big-city departments, Detroit, Newark, and Philadelphia all experienced large increases in total personnel between 2015 and 2016. Of larger departments with at least 500 personnel, the top 10 reported year-over-year increases between 6 and 37 percent. Like other areas of government, many police departments incurred cutbacks during and after the recession. Some are still feeling the downturn’s effects, which has impeded hiring efforts. In addition to lingering tight budgets, departments are also facing accelerating retirements or recruiting shortages.

Police departments recorded an aggregate uptick in personnel of 1 percent when staffing totals for all agencies reporting data to the FBI in both 2015 and 2016 are compared. While that’s not much, it does represent a slight increase from recent years. Departments may be able to boost their ranks for a number of reasons. Darrel Stephens, former director of the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, says recovering finances is likely one reason. “It probably has more to do with growth in cities than anything,” he says. Cities experiencing spikes in crime may have allocated additional funds for police as well. Where additional hiring has occurred, many of the new employees are likely filling civilian positions cut during the recession. The Census Bureau’s annual survey of employment and payroll suggests non-sworn police employees were among the hardest hit of any area of local government.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Are Police Dogs Really Effective in Subduing Suspects?

Police dog handlers say dogs are a valuable method for subduing dangerous suspects while protecting officers from harm. Critics say they can inflict serious injuries and are not good “pain compliance tools.”

The proliferation of smart phones and body cameras may make it easier for Los Angeles lawyer Donald Cook to win lawsuits over police dog bites, NPR reports. Cook has mainly lost so far, which he blames on “The Rin Tin Tin Effect.” Juries think of police dogs as noble, and have trouble visualizing how violent they can be during an arrest. In fact, the dogs can inflict a lot of bloody violence, Cook says. Videos of serious incidents should provide more evidence for Cook’s cases.

Police dog handlers say dogs are a valuable method for subduing dangerous suspects while protecting officers from harm. They point out that a dog can be called back after it’s been unleashed, unlike the deployment of a Taser or the firing of a gun. One argument for the dogs is that they’re a “pain compliance” tool: the bite is supposed to convince a suspect to hold still. Frank Baker, who was bitten by a police dog last year in St. Paul, said that as the dog tore into his leg, following police commands was the last thing on his mind. “I didn’t hear what they were saying,” he says. “My mind just went blank.” Seth Stoughton, a former officer who teaches law at the University of South Carolina, says, “You just look at the dog as the source of pain and you do everything you can to address that pain. Those shouted commands — you’ll deal with that later, when the pain stops.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Houston’s Controversial Move to End High-Speed Chases

Houston police will begin using the Precision Immobilization Technique, or PIT maneuver, which was developed in Germany as an anti-terrorist tactic. Last year, 13 people in the city died in high-speech chases in 13 weeks.

In an effort to end deadly high-speed chases, the Houston Police Department will allow officers to use a controversial driving maneuver that they hope will stop fleeing motorists before they threaten others on the road, the Houston Chronicle reports. Chief Art Acevedo announced that officers would begin using the Precision Immobilization Technique, or PIT maneuver, which was developed decades ago in Germany as an anti-terrorist tactic. “We’re doing this because the safety of our officers matters to us — the safety of our community really matters to us,” Acevedo said, “And then the safety of the suspects matter as well.” Houston police have engaged in more than 4,000 vehicle pursuits since 2012, leading to injuries for 32 officers, about 1,000 innocent victims and 6,000 fleeing suspects. On average, five people died every year in pursuits. Last year, 13 people — including a police sergeant — died in high-speed chases over a 13-week stretch.

To execute the maneuver, officers drive next to a fleeing suspect, match the car’s speed and then nudge the rear corner of the vehicle behind the back wheel. If done properly, the maneuver forces the fleeing vehicle to spin out safely and stop, causing little damage to either vehicle. When used at high speeds or with narrow vehicles that have a high center of gravity, however, the maneuver can cause vehicles to roll over, leading to injuries and fatalities, experts said. “PIT maneuvers are really important tools for police, but they’ve got to be done right and in the right conditions,” said Geoffrey Alpert, a professor at the University of South Carolina who has studied police pursuits.

from https://thecrimereport.org