Minor Crimes, Major Challenges

Responding to minor crimes is arguably one of the most critical activities of any police department. Given that low-level arrests also clog the nation’s courts and jails, it is remarkable that this police function has received so little public attention.The resource demands are certainly substantial.  These enforcement actions also provide opportunities to reduce crime and enhance public trust.  In addition, they pose considerable safety risks to the responding officers. By any measure, … [Read more...]

Sanctuary Cities in Name Only

President Trump’s plan to deport millions of people appears to be underway. Last week, federal immigration officials arrested more than 600 people at their homes and workplaces in at least 11 states, sending terror through immigrant communities. The abruptness of the raids provoked criticism from local officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, who vowed to “stand with” immigrant communities. But mass deportation under President Trump will also happen through a more routine policy … [Read more...]

California’s Urban Crime Steady Through Policy Reform Era

A new fact sheet from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice finds that, despite the implementation of large-scale criminal justice reforms, California’s urban crime rates remained stable from 2010 through early 2016. The report uses recently released FBI crime data from the first six months of 2016 to compare rates of property and violent crime across cities and over time. Sources: FBI (2017); DOF (2017). Note: Violent crime rates exclude rape because the definition was broadened in … [Read more...]

The LAPD’s biggest conundrum: How to suppress crime without alienating South L.A.’s black residents

On a chilly night in South Los Angeles, a young black man stood on the sidewalk watching police officers rummage through his car. Their reason for stopping him: the tinted front windows on his Nissan Maxima. Because he was on probation, the officers could legally conduct a search. It was the first of four times that Rio Cater would be stopped by police that night. When an officer praised his cooperative attitude, Cater, 28, replied that he was trying to avoid being ha— … “Don’t say the … [Read more...]

In Criminal Justice, “Simple” Solutions Are Usually Wrong

Sometimes, traditions in journalistic coverage can wrench a public discussion down the wrong path. A recent Washington Post series on the District of Columbia’s criminal justice system targeted flaws in the Youth Rehabilitation Act (YRA), detailing horrific acts of violence and frightening statistics neatly juxtaposed with anodyne responses from criminal justice spokespeople. The articles raised serious questions about the operation of the criminal justice system in the District of … [Read more...]

LA Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission Comes Onboard

After scandals, a group of civilians ushers in a new era of oversight for the L.A. County Sheriff's Department Alicia Michel pleaded in front of the audience, asking for an inquiry into a sheriff’s deputy she said was corrupt. The Compton resident said she didn’t feel comfortable lodging a grievance at her local Los Angeles County sheriff’s station, so instead she spoke into a microphone at a public forum Thursday, hoping her complaint would be heard by those all the way at the top of the … [Read more...]

White Silence Equals Violence: Awaiting a Verdict

This morning, here in Minneapolis, six jurors decided beyond a reasonable doubt that I am guilty as charged and my co-defendant, Dan Wilson, was found innocent.  The court case stems from an action protesting the execution of Jamar Clark, age 24, who died in the early morning of November 15, 2015 outside a north Minneapolis apartment complex. Two Minneapolis police officers, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, were involved in the shooting. Jamar Clark died after a bullet was fired directly … [Read more...]

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...]