Something Really Rotten in LA County: Secret List of Problem Deputies Thwarts Constitutional Justice

Fifty-four years ago the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors must make defendants aware of all evidence that might be favorable to their cases, including information that could undermine the credibility of the government witnesses who, for the most part, are police officers. That constitutional principle is massively violated in LA County, thanks to the way prosecutors here are barred from accessing the personnel records of the Sheriff Department's 9,400 sworn officers—mostly sheriff's … [Read more...]

Chalottesville: When Police Fail

The police are supposed to keep order and let people exercise their Constitutional rights. When they don't, people get hurt and even die. ast summer in Charlottesville, in a clash between neo-Nazis and confederate monument supporters on one side, and “antifa,” or anti-facist, and Black Lives Matter supporters on the other, numerous people were hurt, and one person, Heather Heyer, was killed when a white nationalist supporter drove his car into a crowd. Now an independent report has come out, … [Read more...]

Walter Scott Shooting: Michael Slager, Ex-Officer, Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

More than two years ago, the fatal shooting of Walter Scott, an unarmed black motorist, by a white South Carolina police officer set off a wave of national protests over racially biased policing and the use of lethal force. On Thursday, Michael Slager, who was fired as a North Charleston patrolman days after the shooting, was sentenced to 20 years behind bars after pleading guilty in Scott's death. U.S. District Judge David Norton, in issuing the sentence, said Slager shot Scott with … [Read more...]

Reaching Inside the Jails to Break the Cycle of Homeless Arrests

A door opened, and three men walked out of captivity into a sun-drenched waiting area. It’s a scene repeated hundreds of times a day at Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail. But instead of being greeted by family members and friends, these men were met by Victor Key, a case manager for Project 180, a downtown agency that is on the front line of a homeless strategy called jail in-reach. The three men had been arrested for felonies. A psychiatrist had diagnosed them with mental illnesses … [Read more...]

LA Sheriff’s Antiquated Computer System Hinders Data Collection

t’s hard to ignore the security that surrounds the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's communications center. It sits atop a hill in Monterey Park behind a tall fence and inside a building with thick concrete walls and no windows. Inside, dispatchers don headsets and deploy deputies from the 10,000-strong force across the nearly 5,000 square miles that comprise L.A. County. It's impressive until someone shows you the technological guts of the operation. The room is mostly silent … [Read more...]

How SWAT Team Expos Are Militarizing Police Departments Across the Country

Last week, the Florida SWAT Association hosted the “35th Annual SWAT Round-Up International Competition and Vendor Trade Show” in Orlando. The event brought together law enforcement and military personnel from around the world to compete against each other, train in new tactics and technologies, and buy new weapons from arms dealers. At a time when Florida residents are acutely aware of the need for climate disaster and emergency preparedness, this use of resources to further escalate policing … [Read more...]

Campaign to Prevent Violent Traffic Stops Tells Drivers to Keep Cool

Shaquille O’Neal wants to talk about traffic stops. So does a former New York Giants linebacker, as well as a bishop from Newark, police officers and a detective from local police departments, the president of the New Jersey chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., and the executive director of a local branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. “If you’re stopped by the police, things like staying calm and following the officer’s instructions will make it a safe stop,” Mr. O’Neal, the former basketball … [Read more...]

Los Angeles Is Facing a Willie Horton Moment

With the Los Angeles County Blue Ribbon Commission on Public Safety meeting Monday for the first time, it's appropriate to remember why governments create such bodies. Sometimes it's because elected officials recognize their own inability to get to the bottom of a difficult issue that requires expertise, in-depth investigation and a laser-like focus on facts regardless of the political fallout. Such was the case with the county's well-regarded Citizens Commission on Jail Violence. After its … [Read more...]

Most California Jurisdictions Show Declines in Property Crime During Justice Reform Era

A new research report released today from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice examines local trends in California’s property crime from 2010 through 2016, a period marked by major justice system reform, including Public Safety Realignment, Prop 47, and Prop 57. Despite the relative stability of recent property crime trends, the report finds substantial variation in crime at the local level, which suggests that recent crime patterns may result from local policies rather than state policy … [Read more...]

Black Identity Extremists and the Dark Side of the FBI

Leaked documents remind us of the agency’s history of dirty tricks. ecent political developments have helped put the FBI in a favorable light. The agency and its leadership have been praised for its performance throughout the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Former director James Comey affirmed the agency’s fundamental goodness in a letter to his colleagues after he was relieved of his post President Trump. “I have said to you before that, in … [Read more...]