Category Archives: Law Enforcement

Determinants of citizen support for community-oriented policing

Source: Heeuk D. Lee, David Kim, Youngki Woo & Bradford W. Reyns, Police Practice and Research: An International Journal, Latest Articles, Published online: October 30, 2017
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From the abstract:
The extent to which community members are willing to cooperate with the police and become involved with various community crime prevention programs depends on citizen perceptions of the police and of the community in which they reside. The purpose of the present study is to explore factors that affect support for community policing in a small rural city. Findings revealed that the majority of respondents supported community policing. Using community survey data collected from over 400 citizens in a small metropolitan area in the intermountain West, this study also explored the importance of demographic factors, community characteristics, and public perceptions and experiences with police in predicting citizens’ support for community policing. Citizen support for community-oriented policing varied somewhat by demographic factors (i.e., gender, education), and by community characteristics (i.e., disorder, social cohesion).

Governing Through Police? Housing Market Reliance, Welfare Retrenchment, and Police Budgeting in an Era of Declining Crime

Source: Brenden Beck, Adam Goldstein, Social Forces, Advance articles, Published: October 31, 2017
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From the abstract:
The United States witnessed a dramatic expansion of the penal state from the 1970s to the Great Recession of 2008. One key puzzle is why penal state growth continued unabated long after crime levels peaked in the early 1990s. We focus on local policing and consider the relationship between growing city-level law enforcement expenditures and two shifts: first, the move toward an economy increasingly organized around residential real estate; and second, city-level welfare retrenchment. We argue that increasing economic reliance on housing price appreciation during the late 1990s and the 2000s heightened demand for expanded law enforcement even as actual risks of crime victimization fell. At the same time, cities increasingly addressed social problems through criminal justice—rather than social service—capacities. We assess these arguments using a dataset of 171 cities’ police expenditures between 1992 and 2010. Results of a dynamic panel model indicate that places with more pronounced reliance on housing price growth and mortgage investment exhibited correspondingly greater growth of local law enforcement, as did places with decreased social service spending.

Police bodycam test results don’t meet expectations

Source: Mike Cummings, Futurity, October 30, 2017

Police departments have embraced body-worn cameras as a tool for reducing police misconduct and building trust between law-enforcement officers and the communities they serve, but do they work?

A randomized-controlled trial conducted within the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department by The Lab @ DC, involving about 2,200 officers, shows they don’t notably change officer behavior.

Alexander Coppock, a Yale University political science professor and coauthor of the study, talks about the findings and what they say about the abilities of body cameras to prevent abuse….

Related:
Evaluating the Effects of Police Body-Worn Cameras: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Source: David Yokum, Anita Ravishankar, Alexander Coppock, Lab @ DC, Working Paper, October 20, 2017

About the Results

Protesting the police: anti-police brutality claims as a predictor of police repression of protest

Source: Heidi Reynolds-Stenson, Social Movement Studies, Published online: September 22, 2017
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From the abstract:
Police face a unique dilemma when policing protests that explicitly target them, such as the anti-police brutality protests that have swept the United States recently. Because extant research finds that police response to protests is largely a function of the threat – and especially the threat to police – posed by a protest, police may repress these protests more than other protests, as they may constitute a challenge to their legitimacy as a profession. Other research suggests police agencies are strongly motivated by reputational concerns, suggesting they may treat these protests with special caution to avoid further public scrutiny. Using data on over 7,000 protests events in New York over a 35-year period from 1960 to 1995, I test these competing hypotheses and find that police respond to protests making anti-police brutality claims much more aggressively than other protests, after controlling for indicators of threat and weakness used in previous studies. Police are about twice as likely to show up to anti-police brutality protests compared with otherwise similar protests making other claims and, once there, they intervene (either make arrests, use force or violence against protesters, or both) at nearly half of these protests, compared to about one in three protests making other claims.

The President’s House Is Empty: Losing and Gaining Public Goods

Source: Boston Review, Forum III, 2017
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Many of the critical issues of our time—from clean water to health care to schools—are about public goods, things that are owed to the members of a democratic society. In the United States, these goods are endangered and access to them is constricted by class and race. Against this background, Trump’s nearly empty White House stands as a symbol of the crisis our democracy faces. In this Forum we consider public goods: what they are, how to provide them, how to ensure equitable access. The debate about public goods is at heart a debate about what it means to be an American. What is at stake is not only what we owe to each other but who we are.

Articles include:
Losing and Gaining Public Goods
K. Sabeel Rahman

To build a tangible, inclusive, meaningful, and durable community, we must begin with public goods….

Free College for All
Marshall Steinbaum

The movement for free college has gained considerable momentum in the past year, in no small part thanks to the sad state in which many college graduates currently find themselves. …. The United States has never had free, high-quality college education. But that does not mean we can’t. In the past, we have included world-class public education in our understanding of public goods, and we have successfully expanded public education on the premise that society as a whole benefits from a well-educated population. Previous generations and social movements fought hard to create good educational institutions at public expense. The current generation is discovering why that matters. ….

A Public Good Gone Bad: On Policing
Tracey Meares

….However, the best way to solve the epidemic of police violence against black Americans is far from obvious, and it should not be surprising that the solutions advanced by communities of color often run counter to conventional solutions. In some communities marked by extreme levels of violent crime—those one would think most in need of police—residents are calling for a complete and total end to policing….

Draining the Swamp: On Mar-a-Lago
Julian C. Chambliss

….Mar-a-Lago is the apotheosis of the Florida Dream in which wealthy interests degrade the environment and hollow out prospects for the poor. But as Hurricane Irma shows, this dream was never sustainable….

The Third Rail
Elaine Kamarck

….Although we are a long way from the pioneer era, a nation’s DNA dies hard. A substantial number of Americans still glorify the individual and believe that it is everyone’s responsibility to work hard and take care of their own. It’s why, for instance, America has never had a successful socialist party while Europe has. Progressive or liberal policy that ignores this strain in the public consciousness will always be vulnerable to the argument that government that takes from those who work and gives to those who do not is illegitimate. Fortunately policy that is constructed with an understanding of this tension can stand the test of time…..

Saving the Commons from the Public
Michael Hardt

Sabeel Rahman’s argument against the privatization of public goods and services contributes to a rich stream of contemporary critiques of neoliberalism that rightly focuses on how privatization creates and maintains forms of exclusion and hierarchy. In response to privatization, Rahman calls to make public goods public again—that is, to design and bolster government programs that foster social inclusion and equality, broadening both our conception of public goods and the populations whose membership grants them access to those goods. Rahman’s argument, however, rests on a notion of the opposition between public and private that obscures the full range of political possibilities. …. Fortunately the private and the public are not our only options. The common—defined by open access to, and shared democratic management of, social wealth—provides an alternative. ….

All Good Things
Jacob T. Levy

….What do we want in the provision of a good? Is it sufficiency, equality, progress, or simply more? Different answers to these questions call for genuinely different kinds of responses. If we want sufficiency, as we do with dignity goods and necessities, very often we should not pay much attention to the provision of the goods themselves; we should pay attention to the problem of poverty, and worry about economic growth, barriers to entering the labor market, redistribution and poverty relief, or some combination of these. (Direct public provision of food, or indirect provision through food stamps, is certainly not better for recipients’ dignified membership in the community than their having enough money to be able to simply afford food.)….

Naming the Villain
Lauren Jacobs

Sabeel Rahman’s essay is a call to action. Progressives should take seriously the coming political struggle over public goods generally and infrastructure specifically. They should also be better skilled in the administration of government and learn how to use the tools available to incrementally transform the material conditions of our current system. But as a lifelong organizer, dedicated to the dignity and economic security of all workers, I know that this is not enough. It is also critical that we see the big picture: the corporate power and its accompanying dogma of the supremacy of profit that brought us to this brink. They are the enemies we face. And they must be named. From fairy tales such as Rumpelstiltskin, to J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, many of the stories of our childhood teach us the same lesson: we must name the villain before we stand any chance of defeating it. Any discussion of public goods is ultimately a discussion of values. How we define who is included in the notion of a “public”—and what we think is in the best interest of that public—are inherently political and therefore always contested. Those definitions live at the intersection of race, wealth, gender, and work….

A Beautiful Public Good
Joshua Cohen

Sabeel Rahman’s democratic conception of public goods is founded on the idea of a public responsibility for ensuring the essentials of a democratic society. Public goods are among those essentials. They answer to the basic needs of persons, conceived of as free and equal members of a democratic society. What those public goods are and the best methods for providing them vary across time and circumstance. In our time and circumstance, public goods should include clean water and air, good schools, broadband Internet access, and quality health care. Discharging the responsibility to provide those goods is not only a core public responsibility, Rahman says. It will also help to foster a sense of commonality—of a we with a common fate. Rahman calls this dimension of public provision the “constitutive” aspect of public goods.
I agree with much of Rahman’s view, but found his account of this constitutive aspect surprisingly thin. In a collaborative spirit, I propose to thicken this aspect of the democratic conception with a story about how the ambition to foster democracy and democratic sensibilities helped to shape the design of Central Park, one of the country’s truly great public goods…..

The Last Word
K. Sabeel Rahman

Throughout this forum, the idea of public goods has been linked to water, housing, parks, and more. Taken together, the thoughtful responses highlight two crucial questions about our understanding of public goods. First, what types of goods qualify as “public” in a democratic conception? Or, more precisely, what makes a good “public,” as opposed to merely ordinary? And second, what kinds of policy tools—including but not limited to direct state provision—can we employ to ensure more equitable and inclusive access to these goods?….

‘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….