LACP - NEWS of the Week
on some LACP issues of interest
NEWS of the Week
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles is but a small percentage of the info available to the community policing and neighborhood activist. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view. We present this simply as a convenience to our readership.
"News of the Week"  

March 2019 - Week 3
Terri Lanahan
Many thanks to NAASCA's Terri Lanahan, Butte, Montana,
for her research into the news that appears on
the LACP & NAASCA web sites.

from PoliceOne

What makes a real hero in law enforcement?

Every day, police officers commit “upstream” heroic acts – here's why that matters

Sociologists and behaviorists are frequently interested in how we psychologically attribute character traits to one another. One such area of empirical study is the attribution of heroism.

The status of hero is achieved not only through action, but also through the perspective of others. In other words, if one accomplishes the most heroic act, yet nobody knows about it, he or she is not yet a hero (well, perhaps to oneself). It is through the marriage of heroic action, plus the witnessing of it, plus the hero attribution by another, that one "becomes" a hero. So, being a hero is really a very dependent condition.

That's one version, at least. It gets a bit more unwieldy because as far as some are concerned, heroism can be imputed to individuals simply because they belong to a certain sector of society. For people who think this way, they don't need to see a heroic act in order to bestow the title. For example, law enforcement is a career that is frequently linked with the word "hero." Some think that all cops, for the selfless acts they are willing to do, are de facto heroes. The fact that cops are willing to lay down their lives is a selfless condition, and this condition obviates the need for a heroic act.

It's good that a part of society is willing to revere its selfless servants this way. Even so, law enforcement is not lacking for daily heroic acts. Rather, what's lacking is the observation of these acts.


Most day-to-day heroic acts in law enforcement occur without the benefit of observation. While putting a sudden end to a high-profile, sensationalized violent act gets noticed (and attributed), our day-to-day work, when done well, is full of unnoticed heroics that have equal, if not greater, consequence.

This is true not only because of the unheralded crime stopping that you do, but also (and probably more significantly) because of the crime preventing you do.

The cop who focuses on the career criminals on his beat is a life changer. For example, by making "lesser" parole violation busts, you forever change the life histories of many certain-to-be-next victims. A detective who doesn't let a child molester's defenses wear him out and stays in the interview room for those extra hours to get a confession has no doubt prevented more molestations. Like a fig tree naturally bears figs, career criminals, pedophiles and other habitual crooks naturally bear their own fruits. Victims are what they make. It's their nature, and they don't stop by themselves. Putting career criminals, pedophiles and other habitual crooks away means stopping worse crimes before they start, and thereby changing untold lives forever.


This type of police work is some of the most valuable we can do. For what it does for individuals who would have otherwise been victims, and for society as a whole, preventing the next sensational armed robbery or horrific sex crime is even more valuable than ending one in progress. This type of work literally changes history, and it's one of the reasons this job is so great. By doing our daily jobs well, we are unwittingly committing “upstream” heroic acts. Just because they are never noticed or attributed, that doesn't lessen their effect or value. Indeed, the fact that such acts are unattributed makes them even more noble.

Dealing with crisis day after day and year after year can numb us to the value of our role. It can be better appreciated if you personalize it: If somebody's good upstream work, though you never knew about it, directly prevented a life-changing tragedy within your family, what benefit ("value") would that act have to you and your family for the rest of your lives? When you do your job well, you are directly having that effect on untold others. Not knowing the specific “who's" or "what's" has nothing to do with the actual value of these acts. They truly are heroic accomplishments, sans the attribution.

As our careers advance, we tend to downplay the nobility, honor, value and selflessness of our day-to-day work. Or, because of discouragement, becoming comfortable, or because of a loss of purpose, we can even recede from this good and noble fight. But in doing so, we're yielding to the steady decline in cultural values, where there are fewer and fewer moral heroes of any type. By giving in, we're actually adding to that decline.

Hero status may never come your way. Yet you add to your stature and reveal your character when you remain willing to anonymously strive selflessly for the sake of those you'll never know. In doing your best, you are giving real people their best hope for a better destiny. So resolve to do your best and press on.

Believe in your role in society, and work that way.



How an app is bridging the communications gap between first responders and people with disabilities.

The Vitals app and Bluetooth beacon share critical, user-specific information to guide first responders in interactions with vulnerable persons

by Laura Neitzel

Most police officers go into law enforcement out of a sincere desire to help people. Having to use force against any suspect is an unfortunate part of the job that can be traumatic for both the suspect and the officer involved. When a police encounter involves a vulnerable person with a communication disorder or an intellectual disability, the complexity of the situation is compounded.

Conditions like mental illness, intellectual disabilities or an autism spectrum disorder are often invisible, giving no clue to the police officer that the situation may need to be handled in a different way.

Although it may appear that a suspect is refusing to comply with orders, he or she could be deaf and simply not hearing the commands. A teenager who appears to be impaired by illicit drugs may instead be exhibiting common behavior for a person with autism. Someone acting erratically, aggressively or inappropriately may have PTSD, dementia or a traumatic brain injury.

“As a police officer, you can get in a situation where you have to make a life-and-death decision in a split second, and sometimes you don't have all the information you need,” said Chief Janeé Harteau, a retired chief of police and president of Vitals Aware Services. “That decision may not end up being the right one, but it's based on the information you have at the time. It can be life-altering, not only to the individual involved, but to the first responder.”

Recent high-profile incidents of police using force against individuals with disabilities have brought a new level of awareness of this issue to police departments. But even with specialized training, it can be impossible for a police officer to know the best way to de-escalate a situation involving a vulnerable person.

The range and nature of disabilities and strategies for communicating with them are as varied as the individuals.

“If you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism,” said Harteau, adding that this makes it extremely difficult for even a well-trained police officer to know how best to approach an encounter involving a person with an intellectual disability or communication disorder.

This is exactly the problem that the founders of Vitals Aware Services aimed to solve.


Steve Mase and G. L. Hoffman each knew they wanted to spend their retirement years doing something meaningful, so they put their executive experience to work helping nonprofits solve issues in their communities. In the course of working with the Autism Society of Minnesota, they learned that people with autism and other communication disorders and disabilities are at risk of getting harmed because they can't communicate effectively with first responders.

This was a problem Mase and Hoffman felt they could solve through technology. Mace and Hoffman worked closely with Rob Zink, a Saint Paul police officer and parent with two autistic children, to develop an app that would help bridge this communications gap. The Vitals mobile app promotes safer interactions by allowing individuals with visible and invisible conditions and disabilities to share a personalized digital profile with authorized first responders.

To get the broadest perspective on the issue, the development team held numerous focus groups and meetings with parents, caregivers, educators and other members of the community. When they met with Harteau, the potential of the app became real. Along with a 31-year career in law enforcement, Harteau brought a passion for fostering positive relationships between police and the communities they serve.

Harteau instantly recognized that the communication gap was not just a law enforcement problem, but a community problem that could best be addressed by bringing the whole community together to keep citizens with visible and invisible disabilities safe.


“The information on the app is very specific to that individual, and that's where the power comes from,” said Harteau. “It's often been referred to as an 80-foot safety bubble.”

The Vitals app pairs with a Bluetooth beacon worn by an individual that shares the person's customized profile with any officer in close proximity who has the mobile app. Families and caregivers create the digital profile that lists the vulnerable individual's name, contact information and condition, plus known triggers and de-escalation techniques. The app even allows a family member or caregiver to upload a video message directed to the individual letting them know that the first responder is there to help.

“One of the greatest benefits is that nobody has to search for the information – it automatically comes to them,” said Harteau. “Oftentimes, they can't speak for themselves, so it's important that we have a mechanism that provides the data and the information to the person who needs it, whether it's the first responders, the school teacher or whoever it may be.”


When the team started piloting the Vitals app, a specific incident happened right in their own community that made them realize they were in the right place with the right solution, says Stan Alleyne, Vitals Aware Services' chief of communications.

In 2015, Marcus Abrams, a legally blind 17-year-old with Asperger's syndrome, was spotted with two friends on the tracks at a Metro Transit Station in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Transit police asked the young men to return to the platform. After Abrams did not respond appropriately to a request for identification, the transit officers attempted to restrain him.

Because Abrams's condition makes him extremely sensitive regarding his personal space, he struggled against the officers, pleading with the officers not to touch him. The situation escalated and Abrams was injured and hospitalized. Only hours later did the agency realize that Abrams was not acting out of defiance, but that he was autistic.

Realizing this was the exact type of misunderstanding the Vitals app was designed to avoid, after a second incident happened, the Vitals team reached out to Abrams' mother to include him in the test pilot group.

Abrams was involved in a third incident the following year, but because police were equipped with the Vitals app, they were able to de-escalate the situation in a matter of minutes.


The Vitals app can completely change the tone of an introduction between a police officer and a vulnerable person, whose relationship with law enforcement can be forever shaped by an initial encounter, Harteau says.

“Even something as simple as calling someone by their name can change an outcome,” said Harteau. “Because my phone gives me a notification, now I know that Jimmy, who's standing in front of me or in a park nearby, I know his name, I know his condition, and I can go up and talk to him and have a conversation. I can start to build a relationship or a rapport in a way that we couldn't do before.”

The Vitals app is getting a welcome reception from law enforcement agencies in Minnesota and neighboring states. Families and caregivers want others to have access to this potentially life-saving information, and the Vitals team wants to ensure that they equip everyone in the community.

“It's an opportunity to shift the ‘us-versus-them' mindset and build the foundation on which we can come together because we share this common concern for our most vulnerable,” said Harteau.


Show Buisness

Are cops being harmed by Hollywood depictions of Law Enforcement?

Nowadays it is difficult to find an inspiring portrayal of police officers in many movies

As a boy I grew up watching Adam 12 and Dragnet. These positive portrayals of police not only encouraged me to respect officers, but also reinforced my dream of becoming a great cop just like Reed and Malloy.

This makes me wonder if the opposite might be possible. That is, can bad-cop movie images lead to viewers distrusting real police officers?

Nowadays it is difficult to find an inspiring portrayal of police officers in many movies. “Hollywood movie cops” can be seen to:

Slap, even beat confessions out of suspects;

While lacking probable cause to arrest, throat-lock submissive suspects as they graphically describe how the suspect will be sexually molested while they rot in prison for the crimes they are suspected of, for which there is as of yet no proof;

Drive through a city in pursuit, crashing into innocent drivers without even pausing to see if they may have injured someone;

Use racist and hateful dialog while engaging in oppressive/unjustifiable activities;

Shoot suspects and then, instead of rendering aid, inflict pain to their wounded limbs to elicit information;

Line their pockets with money stolen from drug dealers, sometimes killing other cops who try to end their depredations;

Abuse drugs and alcohol on duty;

Have sexual relations with prostitutes on duty;

Be connected with mob bosses from the “old neighborhood” who are depicted in movies to be more honorable than the officers;

Try to convince troubled individuals to jump from ledges;

Shoot many people with guns that launch bodies without suffering any legal, civil, or emotional consequences;

Make lousy spouses, parents, neighbors and even human beings.

To give an example, in all three seasons of HBO's True Detective, the writers decided to have the featured fictional investigators in the fictional drama commit murder as police officers. In fact, the suspect in many “Who done it?” movies is no longer the butler and more likely to be a cop.

Even the makers of the movie Patriot's Day threw me a head fake when they chose to take what should have been a slam dunk positive story of law enforcement and turn it into a fictional-composite-character-hero cop story played by Mark Wahlberg as a department problem child riding out a disciplinary beef. This story line did not even seem to fit comfortably into the otherwise well told story of the Boston Marathon bombing. For me it was like finding a piece of spoiled broccoli in a box of fine chocolates. I knew it didn't belong there but now that it was there, it was impossible for me to swallow.


I have to wonder if it is entertainment or propaganda that is the end game of people who create such ludicrous caricatures of police officers. You might also wonder if the constant portrayals of police officers as badge-heavy, racist, uncaring, psychopathic brutes have encouraged some people to believe these are accurate portrayals. I have to ask:

How much community policing in neighborhoods depicted in movies like Training Day does it take to counter the mistrust of police created by these movies?

How many Americans believe the depictions of these despicable cops are realistic?

Is it easier for a person raised on cops-as-villains movies to resist, fight with, or even shoot at a police officer?

How much do these movies impact on the tendency for jurors to believe, or not believe, an honest police officer's testimony?

Have these portrayals hamstrung police recruiting efforts?

These negative portrayals, coupled with the false narrative forwarded by the national media after Ferguson, have most certainly not made policing easier for officers working the streets of this nation.


However, all you officers out there can take heart in the fact that these negative portrayals have not had a universally negative impact on the way most people view their police departments. A recent Gallup Poll revealed that in spite of the best efforts of Hollywood and the national media, 85 percent of the general public reported they still have confidence in their police. In fact, in the survey police were ranked third in trustworthiness behind only the military and small businesses.

The vast majority of the public you protect and serve trust you and value your service.


As a lifelong moviegoer, I would like to make this one request of Hollywood producers.

You folks love making movies about invincible superheroes rushing to the aid of people in distress. How about making just one movie about real police officers who, unlike Hollywood superheroes, commit heroic acts every day in spite of having neither super powers nor invincibility? It is even the case that sometimes in risking all for others, they sacrifice all for others.

Now they are the real superheroes.


from PoliceOne

Here's what keeps rank and file officers up at night.

Do law enforcement leaders really understand what their line officers deal with on a daily basis?

In August 2017, the US Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) convened a forum of 40 rank-and-file officers to understand their perspectives of emerging trends and concerns in law enforcement. The result was a thoughtful list of ideas from a variety of individuals from different agencies that hold meaning today and for the near future. The 38-page publication of findings of the forum can be read in full below.

Although only a small sample size, the forum was a great venue to hear from officers who do the work in the field on a daily basis.

The following key topics were addressed:

Positive image of policing;

Recruitment and retention;

Identifying strategies to support line officers;

Crime trends and their influence on policing strategies;

Officer safety, wellness and morale;

Community and police relations.

The goals of the forum were to elicit “experiences, opinions and ideas from the participating officers.” An underlying goal was to discover and understand whether line staff and agency leaders were “on the same page” in regard to priorities and concerns.

As could be anticipated, several of the issues and concerns were not new. Topics blended and overlapped. If forums were held each decade, the same issues would be common, with variance due to the influence of technology and social media. Several of the issues focused on how misinformation or miscommunication between the police and the public create problems for line officers.


The sentiment that the public is unaware of what policing truly involves was common among forum participants, with the belief that social media, mainstream media, film and television contribute to common misconceptions about policing.

Some officers noted that counter messages should be conveyed to the public by agency leaders. The lack of outreach to the public after a critical incident or enforcement operation may contribute to a lack of trust and confidence from the community. Some mused that department fear of the public's perception of actions may affect decision-making and department policy.

Poor police-community relations may jeopardize officer safety on the street. Officers at the forum identified two separate behaviors that may lead to a disconnect between police officers and the communities they serve:

Community members operate from a place of fear and discontent when interacting with police officers;

Members of departmental leadership are often influenced by and make decisions based on external perceptions.

Possible solutions

Law enforcement leaders need to meet with the communities they serve and with the officers who work for their agency. Gaps in information between the two may be addressed by taking line officers to community meetings to hear and possibly address concerns. After these meetings, leaders need to include line officers in decision-making that affects their job in the field.

Most supported the idea that evidence-based policing practices are necessary to both support tactics, strategies and policies and help communities understand the complexities of modern policing. The evidence-based strategies would be available to help the public understand why some tactics are necessary. This would be helpful in situations where appropriate use of force is necessary but may be criticized as unnecessary. Research and statistics may be used to help the community understand how and why officers do what they do. Current areas where this could apply include community concerns about the “militarization” of the police and changes in field stops and searches.

The community may feel that officers in military-style gear and equipment connote military-style policing. Invitations to community members and the media may help them understand the benefits of military-type training to deal with critical incidents, including active shooter scenarios. Regarding field stops and searches, there may be misconceptions that New York's “stop and frisk” policy is a violation of an individual's constitutional rights. An agency that uses a similar tactic may take the opportunity to invite the public and media to a forum and explain that Terry v Ohio has been upheld by the US Supreme Court and makes communities safer when properly conducted.

The majority of officers at the forum expressed support for body-worn cameras (BWC) to help validate officer activity and verify their veracity at otherwise questionable encounters with the public. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department study of BWCs was mentioned to “reduce complaints and use of force reports…de-escalat[ing] aggression or hav[ing] a ‘civilizing' effect.”


The issue of disconnected leadership weaved in and out of several of the forum discussions, including the impact by leaders on officer wellness. Contributors to the discussion noted that some agency leaders do not understand the demands made on officers without support to accompany extra effort. Officers cited working long hours due to personnel shortages that can be especially magnified in smaller organizations, with officers asked to “do more with less.”

Wellness was defined to include mental as well as physical health and well-being. Mental health support is far improved over recent decades. Still some spoke of a reluctance by officers to seek help for mental health issues due to stigmatization and threats to their livelihood. Officers who do not seek help relate their experiences to their peers and tend to normalize the traumas witnessed and experienced in the field. Repeated exposure to trauma and violence is not normal and takes a toll. Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) was discussed as affecting officers who commonly refuse to seek treatment.

Training issues were cited as a contributing factor to officer safety and wellness. The COPs report cites that, “Participants agreed that proper training is the backbone of practical and comprehensive community policing.” Many forum participants stated that a lack of funding contributed to a lack of training opportunities and to training that was effective and relevant. The value of adequate appropriate training may be lost on agency leaders who may not know what is being taught to rank and file officers.

Possible solutions

Funding and research are necessary to improve officer wellness programs and treatments for those who may experience PTSD symptoms. “Inadequate funding also limits officer's access to potentially critical mental, emotional and physical health services,” notes the report.

A call was made for regular recurring training on leadership, use of force, de-escalation, crisis intervention and mental health safety for all officers, including command staff: “Law enforcement leadership should participate in the same training sessions as rank-and-file officers to equalize experience, bolster camaraderie, and ensure a shared understanding of policies and job expectations.”

Although most states require updates in the form of Continuing Professional Training (CPT) for rank and file officers, agency leaders may not be required to attend. Instead, law enforcement management executives may attend administrative training, widening the gap in field activity acumen.

Scenario-based training should be given parity to the current emphasis departments place on computer skills training. That is, equal time should be given to hands-on, scenario-based training as to training done on computers. Federal funding should be available to enable departments to train on officer safety and wellness as well as community and cultural awareness. Since the forum was made up of members from a variety of agencies, the idea that cultural awareness and officer safety and wellness are universal issues that affected almost all law enforcement agencies.


The emerging crime trends priorities include current issues involving prolonged social media exposure, the opioid epidemic and human trafficking. Agency leaders should meet with local area agencies and stakeholders to determine which have the most impact on their jurisdiction.

The Rank and File forum was productive in as far as revealing and confirming topics that have incredible impact on the officers who work with the public daily. Many of the topics and issues overlap and influence one another. In addition to the immediate impact on communities, issues that are left unattended may have significant future impact on your agencies most precious resource, your line officers. Government and public safety leaders should take the opportunity to meet with their officers regularly to listen, understand and support the rank and file.



'If you could see what I see'

A police chief offers a glimpse into the tragedies officers see every day that strengthen their resolve to serve their communities

Calling all police poets! PoliceOne's new column highlights some of the inspirational, moving and funny poems authored by our readers.

After 17 years working in a municipal service, Chief Michael Cloutier, MPA, transitioned into campus law enforcement. He wrote this poem a few years back, during the height of anti-police sentiment in our country.


If you could see what I have seen, maybe you'd understand,

It takes a special kind of person, who opts to make a stand.

If you could see what I have seen, you'd have a ringside seat to life,

It is not always full of sugar and roses, often there is strife.

If you could see what I have seen, the holidays aren't always merry,

We labor day in and day out, always to protect your family.

If you could see what I have seen, you'd understand the cost,

That consumes a loving mother, when her 2 year old is lost.

If you could see what I have seen, you'd understand their pain,

When you tell his parents in the middle of the night that his death was not in vain.

If you could see what I have seen, you'd understand the grief,

The entire family suffers from what he injects underneath.

If you could see what I have seen, you'd opt to go in,

Because you know that someone is trapped from within.

If you could see what I have seen, you'd know a family's care,

Reading the last message on her cell phone, knowing she is not there.

If you could see what I have seen, you'd recognize it in her eyes,

When that child speaks, you're the only one not surprised.

If you could see what I have seen, you'd chase him near and far,

For what he did to that little boy, left a huge emotional scar.

If you could see what I have seen, you'd understand the truth,

The media paints a picture that is erroneous and uncouth.

If you could see what I have seen, you might choose other work,

Because you'd feel that this one takes much more than it is worth.

If you could see what I have seen, you'd experience the uncertainty,

While my family waits to hear from me, knowing it's often dirty.

If you could see what I have seen, you'd help to lead the way,

Hoping to ensure that everyone goes home that day.

If you could see what I have seen, you'd know there are miracles all around,

And realize your daily sacrifice, helps communities abound.

If you could see what I have seen, you'd understand his will,

When a 9 year old loses his father, the impact is forever still.

If you could see what I have seen, the stories are all true,

But the scars are not always visible, not even to you.

If you could see what I have seen, you'd understand what I do,

It's not in vain, the reason is simple; I do it all for you.

Dedicated to the modern-day guardians dressed in blue.


from PoliceOne

Understanding bias and power in community policing.

Police-community relationship often fail because the law enforcement officer is unaware of a fact the community constituency knows all too well

Effective law enforcement leaders constantly find themselves searching for opportunities to improve police-community relationships. Although leaders develop and implement strategies to achieve this goal, it is a difficult task.

The primary reason strategies fail to improve the police-community relationship is that law enforcement officers may be unaware of a fact the community constituency knows all too well: both leaders and their officers always bring their tacit bias and power to every call for service.

An officer is often the only person on-scene to carry multiple lethal weapons. An officer has a certain bias based on his or her previous experiences. An officer has the legal authority to vastly change the lives of all persons on a service call. Thus, the on-scene position of power is definitely one-sided, of which the public can be angrily aware. However, there are strategies officers can deploy to vastly improve this dynamic and subsequently improve community policing.


The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) defines community policing by three components: relationships, organizational transformation and problem solving. Each component expresses the importance of building a community both internally and externally.

In order for community members to feel their police department cares about them and their communities, leaders should build and sustain an effective internal community first. This is accomplished through leaders involving their officers in every part of the decision-making process. Even though final decisions are made by the executives of an organization, involving officers enables them to feel connected to the overall mission of the organization and empowers them to be a stakeholder rather than an employee.

Police leader tip
: When police officers accept leadership positions, their priority is their subordinates. If police officers are expected to serve their community, leaders should also serve their subordinates by embracing the practice of servant leadership.


The concept of positionality, which is supported by the reticular activating system of the brain, attempts to explain how humans, consciously or unconsciously, connect with people with whom they share commonalities and interests. Our reticular activating system plays the role of gatekeeper of the information that travels into our conscious mind and how we perceive sensory information every day.

Although police officers, like all humans, have biases based on their background, experiences and what interests them, they must not apply those biases during their decision-making process.

Police leader tip: In order for decisions to be made without bias, leaders must constantly remind officers to focus on the facts and circumstances before them and make decisions as a result of that information.


Sworn law enforcement officials have a certain degree of power and influence. It is essential for a sworn officer to understand a power dynamic always exists when he or she responds to a call for service. Knowing that, officers should not focus on exercising that authority as a tool, but rather use facts and circumstances to guide their use of power.

Police leader tip: Leaders may want to consider training strategies that encourage influence to be used proactively and not reactively. For example, letting a person know why they are stopped or why you are at their home encourages transparency. Although the officer has the authority to conduct the vehicle stop or be in someone's home, being transparent invites cooperation and can show the officer is not abusing their power, thus potentially improving both officer and civilian safety.


from PoliceOne

Why collaborative leadership improves decision-making.

Decisive action imposed on subordinates is needed in the chaotic tactical environment, but there are good reasons for engaging in collaborative decision-making when time allows

The military model of leadership still prevails in policing. Commands are made and policy is followed. Quick action can mean life or death and there is no time to call a committee meeting.

Or is there?


We call it a police force for a reason. The government monopoly on the use of force to get compliance with the law is an essential principle in a democracy. Law enforcement agents are given the tools, training and authority to engage in coercive behavior to ensure that citizens conduct themselves lawfully. Police training is centered on the psychological and physical means of gaining compliance and overcoming resistance. This is part of the police officer's DNA and a primary characteristic of police leadership.

Decisive action imposed on subordinates is needed in the chaotic tactical environment that is the center of our training. But there are good reasons for engaging in collaborative decision-making when time allows.


In my research on community policing it became clear that police trainees were not taught skills necessary to effectively engage with citizens in problem solving. A core component of community policing is working with stakeholders to use the perspectives and knowledge they bring to the table to arrive at decisions that meet everyone's goals. Because of the coercive culture of police work, these goals of community policing are not met as decisions are imposed rather than composed.

Leaders often continue in the coercive, rather than cooperative, mindset. The fear of giving away power and authority can restrict police leaders' thinking. Control of situations is second nature, and taking time to hear other opinions can feel like a waste of time or worse – a tacit admission that the leader doesn't know enough to make the call. Developing collaborative decision-making skills can be beneficial in several ways:

Exploring options: Engaging subordinates and peers in exploring options and action steps helps them to be invested in the outcome. When colleagues are involved in making policy and procedure they are more likely to adhere to the resulting decisions.

Listening skills: Modeling listening skills will enhance community policing efforts by developing in officers the attitudes and practices conducive to working with civilian stakeholders to solve problems. Learning to withhold judgement while others participate in discussion must be practiced.

Decision-making: Engaging in dialogue with subordinates that provides constructive feedback when exploring a problem helps develop critical thinking skills that can transfer to decision-making in chaotic field environments. Police training is usually linear with specific processes to address specific challenges, but the reality of rapidly developing violent events is that non-linear and creative decisions are often called for.


Sharing decision-making does not diminish the final authority of the decision-maker if a good solution fails to arise from consultation with others. Not every decision is made in a huddle, but when a unilateral call is made by a leader who is willing to collaborate when possible, their authority and respect in a critical situation will shine even brighter.


On the Ground Policing

Why agencies should keep mounted, bike and foot patrols

Walking the beat is a fundamental element to community policing

Walking the beat is a fundamental element to community policing. Other forms of patrol aimed principally at community engagement have officers mounted atop equine partners, and rolling around town on tricked-out mountain bikes. In all these cases, officers on foot create opportunities for the public to connect with their police (and vice versa).

Conversely, when officers are wrapped in two tons of metal and plastic, that opportunity for real connection is essentially lost. In this podcast segment, Jim and Doug discuss the need for agencies to keep these types of patrol efforts well-staffed and supported.



Ill. police set to start camera program with public.

Residents in Ill. cities can join a voluntary program which registers their private cameras to help out police

by Crystal Thomas

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Springfield will soon join several Illinois cities that have a voluntary program in which residents can register their private cameras to help out police.

Police Chief Kenny Winslow told the City Council this past week that the registration will be available through the Springfield Police Department's website in February.

Residents who own private exterior cameras would enter information, like their address and a way to contact them, into a portal on the website. That information would be uploaded into a spreadsheet, which would plot all of the registered private security cameras on a map. Police officers would have access to this information and would be able to contact camera owners afterward if a crime occurred nearby.

"We can send an alert via email or have detectives just call," Winslow said.

Winslow said the camera owners would be able to send in the footage through, which is an encrypted hosting site that the city already uses. Or, a police officer could review the footage with the homeowner.

Winslow said police are more likely to apprehend a suspect if they get information quickly after a crime. Plus, Winslow said the camera network could act as a deterrent to crime happening in the first place.

"It will hopefully lead to more investigatory leads on crimes, or hopefully a better apprehension rate or maybe even a reduction (in crime)," Winslow said. "We just have to figure it out how to better market it to have good participation."

Unlike some cities, Winslow said the department decided that going through a third-party vendor to host the registration was not cost-effective. The portal was made in-house by the city's information systems division.

Several Illinois cities like Chicago, Belleville, O'Fallon, Bloomington and Edwardsville have registrations.

Bloomington has had the program since 2016. It takes two to five minutes to fill out the form on its website, according to its police department's spokesman, Officer John Fermon.

Fermon said he couldn't say exactly how many cameras are registered, but he said it was a small percentage of Bloomington's 80,000 residents.

The registration is used as a "supplementary" tool to ongoing investigations.

In more serious crimes, police will have already committed to a door-to-door neighborhood canvass, Fermon said. Participation from the public when they hear about homicides can already be high, he added.

"Usually if a crime occurs, especially in Bloomington, a lot of people will call and say, 'Hey, do you guys need video?'" Fermon said.

The registration comes in handy in crimes like burglary and battery, where not as many resources may be available.

A registration was rolled out through the Edwardsville Police Department in June. So far, 35 people with cameras have signed up, according to Lt. Mike Lybarger. Every time the department posts about the program on social media like Facebook, a few more people sign up, he said.

"We stress it's a voluntary program," Lybarger said. "We don't want to log into your system. We just want to know you have a system."

The registration was part of a presentation to city council this week about the police department's proposed budget. Aldermen seemed receptive to the idea.

"This is something that's being widely asked for by our neighborhood associations and will be a positive for the city," said Ward 7 Ald. Joe McMenamin.

In an interview, McMenamin said a few neighborhood associations in his ward have already created lists of home security cameras and shared them with their neighborhood police officer. A citywide effort would be more helpful, McMenamin said.

He, too, has noticed more exterior cameras. He said he has encountered cameras that doubled as doorbells while dropping off meals on Meals on Wheels.

McMenamin cited a December shooting, in which a man got out of his car and opened fire on a car near Leland and Wiggins avenues, wounding a 26-year-old man. A camera capturing a license plate of the shooter's car in that instance would have helped, McMenamin said.

Winslow said no one incident prompted the need for a registration. Rather, it is a reaction to the higher number of private security cameras in the city.

"We've seen a proliferation of private security cameras throughout our city," Winslow said. "We know that more and more, as the price comes down, people are installing them."



How to police from the heart in your community.

Every day cops see people who need a helping hand beyond traditional policing services

by Nick Borges,

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Seaside, California, is located on the central coast of the Monterey Peninsula. The peninsula is known for its beautiful beach fronts, world-renowned golf courses and being home to legendary actor, producer and director Clint Eastwood. However, the Monterey Peninsula is not all glamour and swank. At the center of the peninsula is a small town with a population of about 34,000 called Seaside.

The City of Seaside was incorporated in 1954. Through the years, this diverse community has had a history of gang violence and drug activity. There is no other area in Seaside more infamous for contributing to the city's reputation during the late 1960s and well into the 1990s than the Del Monte Manor, the largest low-income housing development on the peninsula.

In the early 2000s, veteran Seaside police officers would share stories about the violence and tension between residents of the Del Monte Manor and police. One police sergeant would say, “We could not go into that complex without at least three cops. Residents would throw bottles at us and sometimes even shoot at us.”

The Del Monte Manor has been featured in numerous local gangster rap videos as a legendary landmark showcasing Seaside's dangerous history and reputation.


A police officer who patrols the area of the Del Monte Manor each day stops alongside the roadway and observes young children playing on a rundown playground surrounded by sand. The officer has his window down and hears a mother shout out to her young son, “Don't play in there too long, I don't want to get fleas in the house again.”

This could have been the end of the cop's observation. Fortunately, it was the beginning of something remarkable.

The officer got out of his patrol car and began asking questions. “How long has this park been here? Why isn't there a nicer playground for the kids to play in?” The answers were shocking. The City of Seaside had donated second-hand equipment over 35 years ago. While the City's gesture was commendable, the equipment was inadequate from the start. Generations of kids grew up playing on the same subpar playground equipment. The big metal slide haf seen its share of crying kids falling off the uneven slide.

Perhaps the most important thing the officer discovered was that a playground committee had just been formed by Del Monte Manor residents.


The police officer wanted the entire Seaside Police Department to get behind the residents and help them acquire a new playground. The residents were hesitant. There was still a sense of distrust toward the police. It was not common to have the police at the Del Monte Manor for anything short of a service call pertaining to a tense or negative situation.

However, the residents knew a new playground would be a budgetary challenge so they were looking for a helping hand in order to proceed with their plans. From that moment, the group of residents and police officers would be known as the Del Monte Manor Coalition.

In 2017, the Seaside Police Department partnered with the Seaside Fire Department to organize a fundraising event at the Del Monte Manor. Although the event only raised about $1000, the barriers broken proved priceless.

Since the event Seaside officers attended weekly meetings, assisted in grant writing, collected donations and helped make the right connections to keep the project alive. Earlier this year, the Del Monte Manor Coalition raised more than $60,000 to fund the entire playground renovation. The City of Seaside Public Works Department lent a hand and contracted services to have all the old equipment removed at no cost.

Today, the playground is fully installed and landscaped. At its grand opening in January, officers played basketball with the kids, barbecued hotdogs and honored the community for coming together for the project. The playground signifies much more than just an area where kids will play and make memories; it is a symbol for the community that anything is possible when we unite. The relationship developed between the residents and the Seaside Police Department is perhaps one of the most significant side effects that no one could have anticipated two years earlier.

Police officers spend hours patrolling neighborhoods all across the United States. They see people every day who need a helping hand beyond the traditional policing services. When a community unites, great things can happen.


New York City

A New Patrol Paradigm

The cornerstone of today's NYPD is Neighborhood Policing, a comprehensive crime-fighting strategy built on improved communication and collaboration between local police officers and community residents. Neighborhood Policing greatly increases connectivity and engagement with the community without diminishing, and, in fact, improving the NYPD's crime-fighting capabilities.

The NYPD has long encouraged officers to strengthen bonds with the communities they patrol, but past practice in precincts left little time or opportunity for true community engagement. In recent years, the Patrol Services Bureau has systematically reorganized its patrol methods to achieve the goal of establishing Neighborhood Policing in every precinct, citywide, by 2019.

What's in a Sector?

Neighborhood Policing divides precincts into four or five fully-staffed sectors that correspond, as much as possible, to the boundaries of actual established neighborhoods. The same officers work in the same neighborhoods on the same shifts, increasing their familiarity with local residents and local problems. The radio dispatchers, supervisors, and sector officers work together to maintain "sector integrity," meaning that the sector officers and sector cars do not leave the boundaries of their assigned sectors, except in precinct-wide emergencies.

Neighborhood Policing is sufficiently staffed to permit off-radio time for the sector officers, so they are not exclusively assigned to answering calls for service. Their off-radio time is used to engage with neighborhood residents, identify local problems, and work toward solutions. The sector officer plays the role of a generalist cop who knows and feels responsible for the sector, and who provides the full range of policing services there.

Neighborhood Police

Supporting the sector officers and filling out each sector's team are two officers designated as the neighborhood coordination officers (NCOs). The NCOs serve as liaisons between the police and the community, but also as key crime-fighters and problem-solvers in the sector. They familiarize themselves with residents and their problems by attending community meetings with neighborhood leaders and clergy, visiting schools, following up on previous incidents, and using creative techniques and adaptive skills.

NCOs are adding a new dimension to the NYPD's crime-fighting capabilities. They function as adjuncts to the local detective squads, responding swiftly to breaking incidents and developing leads and evidence that might have been missed under the old patrol model. Most importantly, they feel a sense of belonging and responsibility that fosters a willingness to do whatever it takes to keep the neighborhood safe and secure.


Urban Policing

There's No Such Thing as a Dangerous Neighborhood

Most serious urban violence is concentrated among less than 1 percent of a city's population. So why are we still criminalizing whole areas?


n 1982, George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson told a story about a window, a story that changed the fates of entire neighborhoods for decades. Writing in the March issue of The Atlantic, Kelling and Wilson proposed that American policing needed to get back to the project of maintaining order if America wanted communities be safe from harm. “Disorder and crime are usually inextricably linked, in a kind of developmental sequence,” they argued. One broken window leads to scores of broken windows; broken windows signal the breakdown of neighborhood social control; neighborhoods become “vulnerable to criminal invasion,” communities ridden with destruction, drug dealing, prostitution, robbery, and ultimately, serious violence.

In essence, Kelling and Wilson argued that latent danger loomed everywhere, and everywhere people's disorderly impulses needed to be repressed, or else. Their “broken windows theory” didn't stay theoretical: Also known as order maintenance policing, this tactic propelled an entire generation of policing practice that sought to crack down on minor “quality-of-life” infractions as a way to stem violence.

As taken up by police in New York City, Los Angeles, and across the country, broken windows policing led to the aggressive use of stops, summons, and misdemeanor arrests in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods. More than 30 years later, the evidence demonstrates that the broken windows paradigm does little to nothing to reduce serious crime but does tend to make people feel more unsafe, reduce trust in and cooperation with police, and could contribute to, in fact, producing and facilitating more violence.

While police departments often recognize that “we can't arrest our way out of the problem,” the broken windows paradigm remains active throughout policing. Perhaps most significantly, it still colors how the public views violence and demands responses to it: both as a danger that characterizes entire poor communities of color, and as a menace that poses a constant threat.

This long-held view is, simply, wrong.

The knowledge that we've gained since 1982 unequivocally tells us something else: Serious violence is extremely concentrated in very particular places and, most importantly, among very particular people. Dispelling the notion of “dangerous neighborhoods,” extensive research on geographic concentration has consistently found that around half of all crime complaints or incidents of gun violence concentrated at about 5 percent of street segments or blocks in a given city. Moving past “violent communities,” sophisticated analysis of social networks have demonstrated that homicides and shootings are strongly concentrated within small social networks within cities—and that there is even further concentration of violence within these social networks.

For example: In Chicago, a city often used in the media and elsewhere as an example of the worst of American urban violence, researchers found that a social network with only 6 percent of the city's population accounted for 70 percent of nonfatal gunshot victimizations. Violent crime isn't waiting to happen on any given block of a poorer neighborhood, nor is it likely to arise from just anyone who happens to live in one.

While violence is concentrated in very particular places, it's not the places themselves that are committing homicides.

And, despite claims to the contrary about upticks in violence associated with the “Ferguson Effect” or “ACLU Effect”—reductions in street stops when police have opted to, or have been forced to, change enforcement practices—massive levels of low-level enforcement does not produce public safety. In fact, such policing can make communities less safe by pushing people away from formal means of resolving disputes and towards private forms of violence. So how can we explain the nature of serious urban violence?

At the American Society of Criminology's annual conference, my colleagues and I at the National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College recently presented evidence of what many in the violence prevention field have known for a long time, but has yet to become the public common sense. In our forthcoming study of serious violence in over 20 cities, we found that less than 1 percent of a city's population—the share involved in what we call “street groups” (gangs, sets, and crews)—is generally connected to over 50 percent of the city's shootings and homicides. We use “group” as a term inclusive of any social network involved in violence, whether they are hierarchical, formal gangs, or loose neighborhood crews. In city after city, the very small number of people involved in these groups consistently perpetrated and were victimized by the most serious violence.

This held true even in areas considered chronically “dangerous,” like parts of East Baltimore. There, the group member population totaled only three quarters of a percentage point, even as they were connected to 58.43 percent of homicides. Shootings tend to be even more concentrated than homicides. In Minneapolis, we found that 0.15 percent of the population was determined to be involved in groups, but this population was connected to 53.96 percent of shootings—a proportion over 350 times higher than their population representation.

More than geography or social networks, this evidence offers the most focused lens yet in to what violence really looks like in American cities. Crucially, focusing on groups offers an explanation for homicides and shootings in ways that other theories have not. Broken windows theory posits that public disorder encourages lawlessness of all sorts. But it's not clear why exactly someone who has started breaking the windows of abandoned cars—or someone simply observing petty acts of vandalism—would conclude from this that it's also acceptable to shoot other human beings. While violence is concentrated in very particular places, it's not the places themselves that are committing homicides.

Rather, to understand violence, our research points again to the context, norms, and dynamics of street groups. Street groups involved in violence are generally composed of young men of color living in communities with long histories of structural discrimination and alienation from state institutions, particularly law enforcement. These areas have generally suffered from both over-enforcement and under-protection. Intrusive, broken-windows-style policing means mass stop-and-frisk interactions, along with tickets and arrests for minor offenses—but it doesn't come with an equivalent investment in preventing or solving offenses like homicide. Indeed, it often makes it harder to do so, thanks to the cycle of mistrust between police and community members. The near-total impunity for homicides and shootings in distressed communities signals that the state can't or won't actually protect people from the most significant harm.

Where that's true, people feel the need to protect themselves and settle disputes through other means, including private violence. Street groups offer the perception of safety, but tend to embed norms and behaviors that produce violence and put group members at even more risk. Those norms include the use of violence to defend status and solve disputes, the presence of gun carrying, and cycles of retaliation. Being involved with a street group makes people more likely to be both a perpetrator and a victim of serious violence. It's not a surprise that groups are disproportionately connected to the total violence in a city—violence is acted out by people within a context of alienation from formal public safety systems and who face a very real fear of victimization.

If we recognize how violence actually transpires in our cities, we can reorient how we try to stop it. Less than 1 percent of the population is involved in groups connected to half of homicides and shootings—but there is, in fact, a far smaller number of people within those groups directly involved in committing that violence. We should direct public safety approaches at this tiny subset of the population, and recognize the concentration of trauma and violence around them. For example, hospital intervention, street outreach, and focused deterrence strategies all focus resources on the people at highest risk of being involved in violence. The strategies that focus specifically on groups offer a more effective, and less damaging, approach to preventing violence than surveilling a vast number of unknown perpetrators across entire areas of a city.

A changing public consciousness about the nature of violent crime is crucial to undermining the appeal of the broken windows paradigm. The notion that public disorder drives criminality can seem an intuitive approach to public safety. But if people understand that most serious violence circles specific interpersonal group dynamics in structurally disadvantaged communities, order maintenance policing seems more like what study after study shows it is: an unnecessary evil.

That doesn't mean there's no connection between the condition of the built environment and crime: Some kinds of place-based interventions, such as cleaning and converting vacant land, for example, do appear to increase public safety. But those projects don't use arrests or stops to fix broken windows. Stopping violent crime means addressing the risks and needs of those most likely to be involved in it. Now that we have clear evidence of the extraordinary concentration of that risk in American cities, we can and should follow those facts, not a theory that's only ever been just that.



NYPD unveils five-point plan to combat city's rising rape, murder rates

by Anna Hopkins

Faced with rising rape and murder rates, New York City officials this week unveiled a plan to surge cops into trouble spots within the five boroughs in a bid to quash the burgeoning violence at its source.

Police Commissioner James O'Neill said during a press conference Monday the department would be increasing patrols in particular Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods where murder rates have gone up. Cops also plan to expand programs designed to reduce gang violence and help ex-cons transition back to life outside of prison, and the district attorney's office vowed "extra strong prosecutions" for weapons possession violations.

The new initiatives come in light of a February report detailing a 50 percent murder increase so far in 2019 compared to the same time period in 2018. In the month of February alone, there were 24 murders, compared to 16 the previous year, NYPD statistics showed. In addition, the department recorded 285 reports of rape in the first two months of 2019 -- an 18.6 percent increase from 2018, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The number of shootings not resulting in death rose, too, with 22 people shot compared to 13 in 2018 -- a 69 percent jump.

"An increase in murders, shootings and rapes is always concerning," NYPD Chief Lori Pollack said on Monday. "One murder, one shooting, one rape is too many. But it is too early to say that this increase is indicative of a lasting trend."

The rise in rapes and murders this year comes, ironically, among a decrease in overall crime in the city, with reported instances of robbery, felony assault, grand larceny and other crimes all coming in below the 2018 numbers.

A select few precincts, specifically in Brooklyn, are said to be where a majority of the shootings and homicides have taken place this year. Through "precision deployment," additional officers will be sent to patrol the 34th, 43rd, 79th, and 113th precincts, in the Bronx, the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn, and Jamaica, Queens, respectively.

A few precincts, mostly in Brooklyn, account for a majority of the shootings and homicides this year. Through "precision deployment," additional officers will be sent to patrol the 34th, 43rd, 79th and 113th precincts in the Bronx, the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn, and Jamaica, Queens, respectively. In Brooklyn, the NYPD said it plans to work with the District Attorney Eric Gonzalez to ensure strong prosecution of gun-related charges.

O'Neill said Monday he's looking forward to a collaborative effort between agencies to make New York safer.

“New York City has seen massive overall crime reductions over the years and I'm proud of the work our members on the ground do to continually focus – very precisely – on the real drivers of crime,” O'Neill said. “Through the next iteration of Neighborhood Policing, we are bringing together fellow city agencies, elected officials and neighborhood leaders to build trust, strengthen relationships and take action together to further drive down crime and violence



Protests continue in Pittsburgh after officer acquitted in fatal shooting of Antwon Rose II

Protests over the jury's verdict to acquit the officer who killed Antwon Rose II last year were described as peaceful.

by Phil Helsel and Associated Press

Shots were fired into the Pennsylvania office of the attorney for a white police officer who was acquitted in the fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Antwon Rose II, and protests over the verdict continued Saturday.

No one was hurt in the drive-by shooting apparently directed at the office of attorney Pat Thomassey in Monroeville late Friday, said Monroeville Police Chief Doug Cole.

Michael Rosfeld, 30, a former officer in East Pittsburgh, was found not guilty of homicide Friday in the 2018 shooting of Rose.

Protesters on Saturday gathered at an intersection called Freedom Corner in the city's Hill District neighborhood, the historic center of black cultural life in Pittsburgh, the Associated Press reported.

One man held a sign with the names of black men killed by police around the U.S.

"It's very painful to see what happened, to sit there and deal with it," Rose's father, Antwon Rose Sr., told the crowd. "I just don't want it to happen to our city no more. It's happening like every other day. We've got to do more in our community so they have more stuff to do."

The front of Thomassey's office and a front window were damaged by the gunfire, and Cole said investigators believe five to eight shots were fired.

"Certainly we believe that this is in response to the Rosfeld trial, and certainly it's not something that's warranted here in any community," Cole said.

The police chief said “many homes” were occupied within 50 feet of the office in a residential area.

Rose, a 17-year-old high school student, was in the front seat of an unlicensed taxicab when the back-seat passenger rolled down a window and shot at two men on the streets of North Braddock.

Rose was shot as he and another teen ran away during a traffic stop from a vehicle matching the description of the one involved in the shooting, police said. Rose was unarmed. Two guns were found inside the vehicle.

A police affidavit said Rosfeld gave conflicting statements to investigators, including that he saw something in Rose's hand that he thought was a gun.

Investigators said Rosfeld subsequently told them he did not see a gun when the passenger ran.

Video of the incident captured by a bystander and posted online triggered a series of protests in the Pittsburgh area last year that included a late-night march that shut down a major highway.

The Pittsburgh Public Safety Department said on Twitter that demonstrations Saturday were peaceful.

Protesters held signs, including one that read "Justice for Antwon" and "Black Lives Matter," and during demonstrations chanted: "No justice, no peace. No racist police."

The 12-person jury — including three black members — saw video of the fatal confrontation. The acquittal came after less than four hours of deliberations on the fourth day of the trial.

Rose family attorney S. Lee Merritt said after the verdict that “unfortunately, we have come to expect this kind of outcome all throughout the country." He said the family is "devastated."

Rosfeld had been with the East Pittsburgh Police Department for just a few weeks after working for other departments over seven years.

The person in the back seat of the car who shot at two people on the street, hitting one in the abdomen, pleaded guilty last week to aggravated assault and firearms violations, the AP reported.

Zaijuan Hester, 18, told the judge that he, not Rose, did the shooting, according to the AP.

Thomassey said after the verdict Friday that the jury “listened to the facts, they listened to the law, and in my opinion, they rendered the correct verdict."

He said "this case had nothing to do with race" and that Rosfeld was doing his job.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said in a statement Friday that although he disagreed with the verdict, the jury had spoken.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said in a statement after the verdict that he grieves with Rose's family, friends and the community.

"Words cannot heal the pain so many are feeling," Peduto said. "Only action can begin the process, a process that will take work and understanding. An understanding that inequality exists and we have a moral obligation to address it."



‘It's police brutality, and it scars you': Black residents tell stories of excessive police use of force

by Carla Astudillo

It was early morning about three years ago, and Patience Roberts was dragged out of her apartment half-naked by police in front of her crying and screaming children.

All because she had an unpaid New Jersey Transit ticket from five years before, she said.

“I was traumatized and I'm sure my kids were traumatized as well,” Roberts said as she fought back tears. “It's police brutality, and it scars you.”

Roberts' story was one of many told about police use of force against the black community on Thursday night at the Bethany Baptist Church in Newark.

It's one of the first of a series of public hearings organized by the Rev. Charles Boyer, a pastor and founder of the civil rights group Salvation and Social Justice, to collect stories from residents about police brutality.

The hearings are the result of The Force Report, a 16-month NJ Advance Media investigation published at the end of 2018, which found that black N.J. residents were three times more likely to be the subjects of police use of force than whites.

The investigation also spurred the New Jersey attorney general into hosting a series of public forums on police use of force — the first of which was held in Bridgeton in January. Boyer said the attorney general asked him to join the listening sessions, but he refused.

“I'm not that kind of black pastor,” he said. “I'm not gonna go and put my arm around you and your officers, open the doors and ask my clergy folk and the communities to embrace you.”

Among those in the crowd Thursday night was Thomas Eicher, who is leading police reform efforts as head of the attorney general's newly formed Office of Public Integrity and Accountability. He was among the 80 or so gathered to hear the stories of several black residents, who talked in detail about their multiple, harrowing experiences with police over the course of their lives.

Thomas “Afrika” Ibiang still has the scars from when he was a teenager and a police officer grabbed his head, put it against the wall and stomped on his leg.

“When he did that, in the back of my mind, I was thinking how can he do this?” Ibiang said. “How can he do this? Where is his humanity?”

Some of the most compelling testimonies came from two black mothers whose sons were killed after interactions with police.

“They just didn't just take my son. They took a part of me. Not just my heart, but a part of my life,” said Tawanna Graham, the mother of Jacqui Graham, who was found dead in East Orange police headquarters in 2009.

When police let her see her son's body almost 20 days after his death, Graham found he “had bruises from head to toe.”

Sheila Reid, the mother of Jerame Reid, who was shot seven times by two Bridgeton police officers in 2014, urged everyone to join her to protest outside the Newark federal building every Monday to demand justice for all victims of police brutality.

“Because talking don't get you nowhere,” Reid said. “We gotta have action. And when I say action, I mean action now.”

In 2016, federal investigators decided not to press charges against the Bridgeton police officers who shot Jerame Reid.

Both black mothers also talked about how losing their sons to police brutality has negatively impacted their health. Tawanna Graham now uses a wheelchair, and Sheila Reid said she has suffered from blood pressure problems and diabetes bad enough to need a kidney transplant.

After the hearings were done, several activists then stressed the importance of a strong civilian complaint review board for every town in order to keep police departments accountable. Civilian review boards would allow community members additional oversight of police operations so that police department would not entirely police themselves.

“If we do not have control of the police, then we don't have democracy,” said Zayid Muhammad of Newark Communities for Accountable Policing.

In 2018, a Superior Court judge took away the subpoena and investigatory powers from Newark's civilian complaint review board. There are other such review boards in the state, but none were formed with any subpoena power.

Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said that his department was “not made aware of the meeting" but encouraged residents to reach out to the department with complaints.

“Any questionable actions by a police officer can be reported to any police precinct or to police headquarters at 480 Clinton Avenue," Ambrose said in a statement.

The Rev. Boyer said during the hearing that he wanted to make it a “safe space” to all those who told their stories and ended the night with a call to action to fight injustice.

“Change never comes from the power structure,” Boyer said. “It always comes from the people to the power structure."



Chicago's troubled police force gets federal oversight

How much difference will this make to the way officers behave?

“FOR ME, NOTHING'S gonna change,” says a police sergeant, hands on hips, huddled with colleagues in a station in a scruffy, violent district on Chicago's West Side. He sounds relaxed as the city begins its term under a “consent decree”, a court-ordered process that imposes federal monitors to oversee police reforms. “If you're a good officer, it won't change anything,” agrees another man in uniform.

As they will soon discover, much in fact will have to be done differently if a history of often unconstitutional policing in the Windy City is to end. Even as Los Angeles and New York have cut murder rates to historic lows over the past three decades, Chicago's remain three times higher. Officers have long proved trigger-happy and quick to cover up colleagues' wrongdoing. One calculation in 2016 found that they fired at a member of the public every five days, and had killed 92 people in the previous six years. And young black men are overwhelmingly the victims of police abuse.

Reform in Chicago has been hampered by strong police unions and politicians who dared not make enemies by confronting the 13,000 men in blue. Chicago long failed, for example, to train its officers properly. Eddie Johnson, the superintendent, recalls he was educated in use-of-force rules as a novice at the police academy in 1988 but not retrained for 28 years, until he became the top cop in 2016.

Mr Johnson's appointment came after protests over an egregious killing, in which a white officer was filmed shooting a disoriented black teenager, Laquan McDonald, 16 times in 2014. (The officer was convicted of murder, a rarity in Chicago, last October.) Since then a new “pointing policy” discourages quick draws, though it has caused consternation in the force. Mr Johnson said recently that officers grumbled so much, “it is the bane of my life.”

Though he talks of other recent improvements, such as officers' use of body cameras, he admits that difficulties linger. These include ongoing use of “racist techniques” and the fact “we treat part of the city inappropriately”. He means his police are most likely to abuse Latino or black residents. This, Mr Johnson reckons, is the fault of a few rotten apples. “We need to identify the bad actors and get them out.”

In reality, the problems are structural. The compensation doled out for wrongdoing by his force provides an illustration. Since 2010, such settlements plus interest have amounted to over $930m (not far off the $1.5bn annual budget for the police). In 2015 the city agreed to pay reparations of $5.5m to victims of a detective, Jon Burge, who led a team known as the “Midnight Crew”. For much of the 1970s and 1980s they beat, burned, raped, electrocuted or subjected to mock executions 118 suspects, probably many more, to get confessions.

Such systemic failings explain why the mayor, Rahm Emanuel, at last agreed to a consent decree. He says that after “seven attempts in 100 years to reform”, he is proud that bigger changes will come. The decree was in the works for two years, as first the Justice Department and then Illinois's attorney-general demanded it. It allows federal monitors to insist on openness and accountability across many departments, not only the police, says Walter Katz, who negotiated for the city. The experiences of other cities which have had decrees, such as Los Angeles, suggest it will last a decade or more.

Consent decrees were made possible by legislation from 1994 (passed after riots in 1992 in Los Angeles, sparked by the acquittal of police officers who had beat a black motorist, Rodney King.) The Justice Department each year has typically picked two or three targets for reform from 18,000 police departments. It usually responds to a prominent case of police malpractice. According to a Justice Department review of two decades' use of decrees, there have been 69 formal investigations and 40 decrees covering police departments.

Do they work? Because they apply to only a few of America's 18,000 police departments, it is hard to prove that consent decrees lead to fewer police shootings. (America's police killed 998 people in 2018, on a par with recent years.) But Stephen Rushin of Loyola University in Chicago, author of a book on consent decrees, says their benefits far outweigh costs. He says police use less “categorical force” when being monitored, meaning acts that send members of the public to hospital rather than a morgue. Surveys also often show that public support for the police rises when decrees are in place. And Mr Rushin argues that cities can expect to pay less in civil suits after decrees take effect.

What of objections that constrained police are less able to get on with arresting criminals? Heather MacDonald, author of “The War on Cops”, has argued that violent crime rises when police pull back from “proactive” measures such as stop-and-frisks of potential suspects. In 2016 she said that increases in violence in cities like Chicago or Baltimore could be because police felt hamstrung.

Mr Rushin, aided by evidence from the past couple of years in which crime began to fall again, rejects that. He agrees that consent decrees hurt police morale and could make officers leave. His study of “depolicing” did suggest a short-lived but “significant” uptick in some crime rates, when police complain of “growing pains” from external oversight. But he suggests this involves property crime, not the violent sort. In the case of gun violence police typically reacted to shootings, and did not act proactively to prevent them. Nor does he see arrest rates generally falling.

Beyond Chicago, the chance for new research on decrees will be limited. Under Barack Obama the Justice Department was keen on decrees, but Donald Trump's administration has frozen them, saying state or local authorities, not federal ones, should take charge. That stance won Mr Trump support from police unions, just as it infuriated civil-rights activists.

That need not mean the end of reforms, however. Individual cities can study the Justice Departments's 69 investigations of police departments and find ideas for change. The best processes are often the most open. In Chicago the first draft of the consent decree was made public, passed round 13 focus groups (including police officers) and took hundreds of hours to negotiate. Mr Rushin thinks more open-minded police departments, state and local governments can find lessons to apply for themselves, even without federal pressure.



Are arrests the answer to homelessness? Seattle Police chief says no.

Addressing service providers, Chief Best talks the intersection of law enforcement and homelessness.

by David Kroman

Speaking to a room full of homeless service providers and advocates Thursday morning, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best called the revolving door between homelessness and jail for people living on the streets the result of a “failed process."

“I do believe that we have to make arrests in some cases and people are going to engage in criminal behavior, but an arrest is not going to help with homelessness,” she said. “I don't want people to conflate the two things, which we continue to do. If we arrest a person and they have a problem, whatever it is, and they get out in one day, ten days, 100 days, 8 months, they still have a problem.”

As Seattle and cities up and down the West Coast continue to struggle with increasingly large homeless populations, law enforcement officials are often the first responders to the crisis. While homelessness and the criminal justice system have long overlapped, the sheer number of interactions police are having with people on the street or in shelters is steadily on the rise.

In 2016, Seattle police booked people considered homeless into jail on 1,929 occasions, according to SPD data; in 2018, that number was 3,211.

How those interactions between law enforcement and people struggling with homelessness should play out have been the focus of an increasingly fierce debate. For some, arrests of homeless people have exacerbated the problem, making it harder for people to get out of their current situations. Others perceive a police force rendered “impotent” in the face of the growing problem, as was portrayed in Seattle Is Dying, a recent hour-long reported commentary from KOMO 4 TV.

Best's comments on Thursday were the first since the airing of that story and a widespread, but false rumor about an at-large homeless murderer stoked impassioned conversation online. Asked Thursday about the large numbers of homeless people booked into jail — 1 out of every 5 bookings last year — Best highlighted that split within the city.

“We have to step up and we have to take some action,” she told attendees of the monthly meeting of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness. “Sometimes that does end up in arrest; sometimes that does end up in deferral, often more times than you think. On the other side, I'll go to a meeting and there's a whole other segment who really can't understand why we don't arrest every single person. And I've actually heard that.”

For the last six years, much of the scrutiny on the Seattle Police Department has centered on the 2012 agreement with the Department of Justice to reform use of force policies. But with the end of that agreement in sight and homelessness topping Seattle voters' list of concerns, attention has shifted toward the intersection of law enforcement, homelessness and the broader criminal justice system.

Best described the position in which the crisis has placed officers as regrettable.

“The fact of the matter is I feel like we're working with a lot of systems that really haven't reached their full potential, so that officers end up on the front lines of all of this stuff that we don't need to be at the front lines of,” she said. “A lot of times we have to be mental health providers or work on drug addiction issues, but that is the state of the city.”

The problem, she said, is made worse by the fact of SPD's struggles to retain and attract officers.

SPD has made strides toward adjusting to the new reality of how often it interacts with the homeless population. A team of officers makes up part of the Navigation Team, which pairs with outreach workers to carry out encampment cleanups and outreach. The department also participates in the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program, to divert people away from the criminal justice system before they're even arrested. The department also employs one mental health professional and has a Crisis Response Team for incidents involving someone in a mental health crisis.

But while Best said the police department is increasingly aware of its role in the homelessness crisis, she maintained that the solutions must come from elsewhere.

“One of the things I tell people all the time is that these issues, particularly the societal issues, while we're a part of it … this is not a police issue,” she said. “This is an issue that's going to take multi-faceted folks to approach and deal with.” Among the issues that need addressing, Best named more affordable housing, a robust mental health system outside of incarceration and addiction treatment.

Best has only occasionally spoken at length about homelessness; even Thursday, she was surprised to be doing more than just listening. But as a kind of preamble to upcoming city council elections, recent events have inflamed pre-existing tensions.

If Best had any one takeaway, it was this: “I really don't think the criminal justice system is the place to put [homeless people]. But so far, no one [system] has stepped in to do the work that needs to be done.



Ind. teachers say active shooter training went too far.

The Teachers Association has called for additional consideration regarding educator and student safety amid active shooter drills following a training session

by Jessica Schladebeck

MONTICELLO, Ind. — Teachers at an Indiana elementary school said they were left bloody and bruised after local officers shot them with plastic pellets during an active shooter drill earlier this year.

The Indiana State Teachers Association has called for additional consideration regarding educator and student safety amid active shooter drills following the January training session, highlighted in testimony before state lawmakers this week, that rattled school staff.

"During the active shooter drill, four teachers at a time were taken into a room, told to crouch down and were shot execution style with some sort of projectiles – resulting in injuries to the extent that welts appeared, and blood was drawn,” the ISTA tweeted Wednesday evening.

“The teachers were terrified, but were told not to tell anyone what happened. Teachers waiting outside that heard the screaming were brought into a room four at a time and the shooting process was repeated.”

Two anonymous teachers in Monticello confirmed the incident, recalling how they were told kneel against a wall with no warning of what would come next.

“They told us, ‘this is what happens if you just cower and do nothing,” one the two teachers told the Indy Star.

“They shot all of us across our backs. I was hit four times. It hurt so bad.”

The Indiana State Teacher's Association has since been lobbying lawmakers to add to bill winding its way through the statehouse that would prevent similar training sessions from unfolding at other schools in the state.

“What we're looking for is just a simple statement in this bill that would prohibit the shooting of some type of projectile at staff in an active shooter drill,” said Gail Zeheralis, director of government relations for ISTA.

White County sheriff Bill Brooks, whose department headed the January drill, told the Indy Star teachers were aware they could be shot during the session. He added that as soon they learned a teacher was upset by the practice, they stopped using the airsoft guns.

"No one in education takes these drills lightly. The risk of harming someone far outweighs whatever added realism one is trying to convey

The bill, HB 1004, mandates Indiana schools have at least one active shooter drill a year, though it provides no rules on what such training would entail. The State Senate's Education Committee is slated to consider amendments for bill sometime next week.


Gun Legislation Enforcemement

Should police be allowed to seize guns from the mentally ill?

More than a dozen states have laws on the books that allow local law enforcement to seize firearms from people diagnosed as mentally ill.

Following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a great deal of attention was paid to the fact that the gunman had exhibited myriad signs of mental instability—hurting animals, threatening and/or fighting with other students, previous mental health treatment—that may have been enough for relatives or school authorities to ask law enforcement to keep him from possessing firearms.

As of February 2019, more than a dozen states have laws on the books that allow local law enforcement to seize firearms from people diagnosed as mentally ill. In this podcast episode, Jim and Doug discuss the Constitutionality of such laws, and what they might mean in the larger context of the gun-control debate.