Behind the Badge

Police work has always been hard. Today police say it is even harder. In a new Pew Research Center national survey conducted by the National Police Research Platform, majorities of police officers say that recent high-profile fatal encounters between black citizens and police officers have made their jobs riskier, aggravated tensions between police and blacks, and left many officers reluctant to fully carry out some of their duties. The wide-ranging survey, one of the largest ever conducted … [Read more...]

Big Police Diversity Gaps Found for Blacks, Hispanics

In at least 50 cities with more than 100,000 residents, the percentage of black police is less than half of what blacks represent in the population, reports USA Today based on an analysis of Census estimates. Although attention has focused on under-representation of blacks on police forces, large gaps exist for Hispanics in even more cities. Hispanic representation among police is less than half of their share of the population in at least 100 cities. “You’ve got to have a diverse police … [Read more...]

Drug War Slurs Will Never Justify Police Killings

Trayvon Martin. Sandra Bland. Keith Lamont Scott. Terence Crutcher. And now Philando Castile. Recently, Minnesota media reported that charges against the Minnesota police officer who killed Castile could be dropped because attorneys claim Castile was high on marijuana when police stopped him, and didn’t listen to officer instructions. Castile is the latest victim of an oft-used tactic by law enforcement and their defenders – point to drugs to justify the killings of people of color. As the … [Read more...]

LAPD Leads Nation in Fatal Shootings—Again

This is the second straight year that Los Angeles has outpaced all other cities in the country for the number of officer-involved killings. As of Dec. 16 of this year, Los Angeles Police Department officers have killed 19 civilians, according to data compiled by the Guardian. Phoenix is second on the list with 14 civilians killed by police officers so far this year; Chicago and Houston have 11 each and San Antonio has 10. Last year, L.A. topped the list with 19. Its dubious first-place … [Read more...]

Let’s Listen to Cops—If We Want Real Policing Reform

Lately, I’ve been thinking about why only a small fraction of America’s 18,000 police agencies—and particularly their rank-and-file officers—are defiantly hostile to progressive police reform. It’s a critical issue made especially urgent this past year by the stunning, caught-on-camera police killings of unarmed black men and the explosive retaliatory assassinations of random cops. Then November brought us “tough-on-crime” Donald Trump as America’s president-elect. Supported during his … [Read more...]

‘They Can’t Kill Us All’ Tallies the Unarmed Black Men Shot by Police

The reporters who covered the civil-rights struggle in America in the 1950s and ’60s were said to be working the race beat. A new generation of reporters has risen to cover a grim and new-seeming iteration of that beat: police shootings of unarmed black men. In his new book, “They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement,” the Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery describes traveling from shooting to shooting during 2014 and 2015. He’d see … [Read more...]

Supervisors Approve Civilian Oversight for LA County Sheriff’s Department

A long-awaited civilian oversight commission to push reforms within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was approved by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, two years after it was formally proposed. The nine-member panel, which includes one retired officer from the Sheriff’s Department, will operate in an advisory role as it works to hold the largest sheriff’s department in the nation accountable in the jails and within the community. Members include community and faith leaders, a … [Read more...]

Can a Public Health Approach Prevent Gun Violence?

Two people have been arrested in connection with a house party shooting in LA's West Adams area that left three people dead and 12 others wounded, authorities from the Los Angeles Police Department said Sunday—another unacceptable event in an American public health epidemic. Gun violence is one of the leading causes of preventable death in our country, resulting in more than 33,000 deaths and 60,000 injuries each year, and billions of dollars in annual health expenditures. For too long, we as a … [Read more...]

Do LA Gang Injunctions Violate Due Process Rights?

Gang injunctions that subject thousands of Los Angeles residents to probation-like conditions without a hearing violate due process rights under the United States and California constitutions and should be immediately suspended, according to a complaint filed last week by the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU SoCal), the Urban Peace Institute, and the law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP. The complaint against Los Angeles police and city officials was filed in U.S. District Court for the … [Read more...]

International Association of Chiefs of Police President Apologizes for Historic Mistreatment of Blacks

On Monday, the president of one of the nation’s largest police organizations apologized for the historical racial abuse and mistreatment of African-Americans, deeming it a “dark side of our shared history” that needed to be acknowledged. For some, the apology was spot on. But for many Black activists, the police chief’s words just didn’t go far enough. Terrence Cunningham, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, took the stage at the group’s yearly conference to … [Read more...]