Category Archives: Law Enforcement

‘Giving Help and Not Asking for It’: Inside the Mental Health of First Responders

Source: Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene, Governing, July 7, 2017

Teaching cops, firefighters and prison workers to recognize and know how to handle people with mental illness is a big part of the efforts to reduce suffering and death at the hands of law enforcement. Less talked about is the mental health of the cops, firefighters and prison workers themselves. ….

The Open Policing Project

Source: Stanford University, 2017

Currently, a comprehensive, national repository detailing interactions between police and the public doesn’t exist. That’s why the Stanford Open Policing Project is collecting and standardizing data on vehicle and pedestrian stops from law enforcement departments across the country — and we’re making that information freely available. We’ve already gathered 130 million records from 31 state police agencies and have begun collecting data on stops from law enforcement agencies in major cities, as well.

We, the Stanford Open Policing Project, are an interdisciplinary team of researchers and journalists at Stanford University. We are committed to combining the academic rigor of statistical analysis with the explanatory power of data journalism….

Measures for Justice

Source: Measures for Justice (MFJ), 2017

Measuring justice, one county at a time.
Assessing and comparing the performance of the entire U.S. criminal justice system.

THE PROBLEM
No one really knows how well our entire criminal justice system is working on the county level.

THE SOLUTION
Measures for Justice gathers criminal justice data at the county level and uses them to populate performance Measures that address:
Public Safety, Fair Process, Fiscal Responsibility

The Measures track how criminal cases are being handled at the county level from arrest to post-conviction. They are designed to increase the transparency of local justice systems and enable more informed discussions.

All of our Measures and analyses present data at the county level and are available for free to the public on a web-based Data Portal. The Portal is searchable and can be configured to break down performance data across multiple factors including race/ethnicity, sex, indigent status, age, offense type, offense severity, court type, and attorney type. The Portal also allows for county-to-county comparison within and across states.

The impact of body armor on physical performance of law enforcement personnel: a systematic review

Source: Colin Tomes, Robin Marc Orr, Rodney Pope, Annals of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Vol. 29 no. 14, December 2017, First Online: May 16, 2017

From the abstract:
Background:
The law enforcement officer profession requires performance of arduous occupational tasks while carrying an external load, consisting of, at minimum, a chest rig, a communication system, weaponry, handcuffs, personal protective equipment and a torch. The aim of this systematic review of the literature was to identify and critically appraise the methodological quality of published studies that have investigated the impacts of body armour on task performance and to synthesize and report key findings from these studies to inform law enforcement organizations.

Methods:
Several literature databases (Medline, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus, EMBAS) were searched using key search words and terms to identify appropriate studies. Studies meeting the inclusion criteria were critically evaluated using the Downs and Black protocol with inter-rater agreement determined by Cohen’s Kappa.

Results:
Sixteen articles were retained for evaluation with a mean Downs and Black score of 73.2 ± 6.8% (k = 0.841). Based on the research quality and findings across the included studies, this review determined that while effects of body armour on marksmanship and physiological responses have not yet been adequately ascertained, body armour does have significant physical performance and biomechanical impacts on the wearer, including: a) increased ratings of perceived exertion and increased time to complete functional tasks, b) decreased work capability (indicated by deterioration in fitness test scores), c) decreased balance and stability, and d) increased ground reaction forces.

Conclusions:
Given the physical performance and biomechanical impacts on the wearer, body armour should be carefully selected, with consideration of the physical fitness of the wearers and the degree to which the armour systems can be ergonomically optimized for the specific population in question.

Why big-data analysis of police activity is inherently biased

Source: William Isaac, Andi Dixon, The Conversation, May 9, 2017

….At its core, any predictive model or algorithm is a combination of data and a statistical process that seeks to identify patterns in the numbers. This can include looking at police data in hopes of learning about crime trends or recidivism. But a useful outcome depends not only on good mathematical analysis: It also needs good data. That’s where predictive policing often falls short.

Machine-learning algorithms learn to make predictions by analyzing patterns in an initial training data set and then look for similar patterns in new data as they come in. If they learn the wrong signals from the data, the subsequent analysis will be lacking…..

Related:
Policing
Source: Human Rights Data Analysis Group, 2017

The growing debate about policing in America arises from concern about horrific but extraordinary acts of police violence. These incidents and the clear racial disparities in criminal justice contact raise important questions about the ordinary practice of policing. Should police stop suspicious individuals and frisk them for weapons? Should departments use statistical techniques to predict crime and make decisions about where to deploy officers? Evaluating police practices requires measuring their benefits and their costs. Do police practices reduce crime? How do they affect communities? How do those effects vary within and among communities? However, community groups and municipal leaders outside law enforcement currently lack data and tools to measure the impact of policing strategies. Community stakeholders – including city governments, community groups, and non-governmental organizations – need rigorous tools to independently evaluate the costs and benefits of various policing strategies.

To assess the benefits and costs of policing, we need to know how police actions affect patterns of crime. Both components – police actions and crime – are hard to measure. Most crime is secret and police practices influence variation in recording of crimes. When departments hire more officers, or when they deploy more officers to certain neighborhoods, recorded crime may increase even if actual crime does not change. Additionally, police knowledge about crime is the result of reporting by civilians who trust the police. Many victims are reluctant to report crime to police because they think the police will be unable to help them, because they worry that police may suspect them of being criminals themselves, or because they fear retaliation from perpetrators or neighbors.

Our team specializes in collecting and analyzing data on events that are hard to measure. In the last year, the Human Rights Data Analysis Group has begun studying issues in U.S. police practice, focusing on three topics: homicides by police, predictive policing, cost-benefit analysis of policing. We have already created multiple new analyses of available data on crime and policing, assessing the accuracy of the number of killings by police and the effects of Predictive Policing. We propose to build on our work to create a scalable, sustainable, community-driven, technically rigorous assessment of the costs and benefits of various policing strategies….

The effects of occupational stress on cognitive performance in police officers

Source: Charles L. Gutshall, David P. Hampton Jr., Ismail M. Sebetan, Paul C. Stein & Thomas J. Broxtermann, Police Practice and Research: An International Journal, Vol. 18, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The occupational stress of police officers, and its’ effect on working memory and other psychological and behavioral factors over a two-week work period have been investigated. Cognitive performance and stress levels were examined at pre and post work cycles by using a memory test and several self-reporting surveys, each designed for a specific purpose and to gauge a particular set of behaviors and personality traits. The police officers were assigned to patrol duties at the time of the investigation and placed into three groups based on years of service (1–20 years). The results of the investigation identified a deficit in working memory in Junior, Veteran, and Senior Officers, based on the Ray Osterreith Complex Figure Scores at Baseline (pre-stress) vs. Test Day (post-stress). The other survey tools measuring stress impact on personality and behavior, did not demonstrate any statistical differences in the responding groups of officers in their survey performances.

Why Terminate? Exploring the End of Interlocal Contracts for Police Service in California Cities

Source: Eric S. Zeemering, The American Review of Public Administration, OnlineFirst, Published April 3, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
With the recent growth in interlocal contracts for municipal service delivery, insufficient attention has been given to city governments that choose to terminate interlocal contracts. The termination of interlocal contracts deserves scrutiny because theory points to multiple possible explanations for service change. This research examines the termination of interlocal contracts for police service delivery by California cities between 2001 and 2010. Public documents from the nine cities that terminated interlocal contracts are analyzed to assess rationale for termination. The stated reasons for termination include problems related to community responsiveness, the contract relationship, local control, service cost, service levels, and staffing. Grounded theory is advanced through analysis of the nine cities. The research refines our understanding of how cities weigh the costs and benefits of in-house production versus production through interlocal contract. While contract failure is evident in some cities, termination may also be explained as a process of vertical integration and service expansion. The research refines theories about local government service delivery and informs the practice of interlocal contract management.

Critical Perspectives on Police, Policing, and Mass Incarceration

Source: Richard Delgado, Jean Stefancic, University of Alabama – School of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2876702, November 28, 2016

From the abstract:
Shows that aggressive policing is only one of a number of measures that society uses to control minority groups with whom it is displeased for some reason, and that failing to see how the authorities deploy the different measures separately, serially, or in coordinated fashion is a serious mistake. Sketches a new form of policing that is respectful of minority residents and values, and provides a framework for reducing excessive incarceration and mitigating some of the cruelties associated with it.

Why Courts Fail to Protect Privacy: Race, Age, Bias, and Technology

Source: Bernard Chao, Catherine S. Durso, Ian P. Farrell, Christopher T. Robertson, University of Denver – Sturm College of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-03, February 23, 2017

From the abstract:
The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable “searches and seizures,” but in the digital age of stingray devices and IP tracking, what constitutes a search or seizure? The Supreme Court has held that the threshold question is supposed to depend on and reflect the “reasonable expectations” of ordinary members of the public concerning their own privacy. For example, the police now exploit the “third party” doctrine to access data held by email and cell phone providers, without securing a warrant, on the Supreme Court’s intuition that the public has no expectation of privacy in that information. Is that assumption correct? If judges’ intuitions about privacy do not reflect actual public expectations, it may undermine the legitimacy of the criminal justice system and exacerbate social unrest.

Although prior research has shown that the police disproportionately target younger people and minority communities, judges tend to be male, white, educated, affluent, and older than the general population. Their intuitions may thus be systematically different. Even worse, cognitive science suggests that judges may have difficulty putting themselves into the shoes of the searched person or considering the reasonableness of the police tactics from an ex ante perspective, without knowledge about the fruits of the search.

With 1200 respondents, we conducted a large-scale survey experiment to test whether, and if so, why, contemporary Fourth Amendment jurisprudence diverges from the societal norms it purports to protect and reflect. We identify a range of privacy expectations for 18 different police practices. We use oversampling, reweighting, and randomization to investigate particular causes of this disparity between judicial and public expectations. We conclude by suggesting better ways forward, so that social science evidence can replace judicial speculation.

States Perform

Source: Council of State Governments, 2017

States Perform provides users with access to interactive, customizable and up-to-date comparative performance measurement data for 50 states in six key areas: fiscal and economic, public safety and justice, energy and environment, transportation, health and human services, and education. Compare performance across a few or all states, profile one state, view trends over time, and customize your results with graphs and maps.