Category Archives: Law Enforcement

Urban Regimes and the Policing of Strikes in Two Gilded Age Cities: New York and Chicago

Source: Richard Schneirov, Studies in American Political Development, First View, September 11, 2019
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From the abstract:
Since the 1980s, scholars have argued that during the Gilded Age urban party machines incorporated working people through the use of patronage, informal provision of personal welfare, and limited concessions, thereby eliminating sustained labor and Socialist Party alternatives and keeping workers’ militancy and assertiveness confined to the workplace. That view is challenged by a historical comparison of the policing of labor disputes in New York and Chicago. In New York, organized workers were eliminated from the governing coalition of the Swallowtail-Kelly regime that succeeded the Tweed Ring, and police routinely used coercion to defeat strikes and intimidate Socialists. In Chicago, however, labor and Socialists were part of the governing coalition of the Carter Harrison regime, and the police took a hands-off stance in many strikes. This article explores the contrast in policing and the balance of social forces in the two cities and seeks to explain the differences by examining the political settlements that concluded Reconstruction, the ethnic makeup of each city’s working classes, the different characteristics of each city’s labor movement, and labor’s ability to mount third-party challenges—all in the context of regional variations. It concludes that historians cannot assume that workers were incorporated into machines in this period.

Addicted to Fines

Source: Mike Maciag, Governing, September 2019

Small towns in much of the country are dangerously dependent on punitive fines and fees.

….Throughout the country, smaller cities and towns generate major dollars from different types of fines, sometimes accounting for more than half of their revenues. Some places are known for being speed traps. Others prop up their budgets using traffic cameras, parking citations or code enforcement violations.

To get a picture of just how much cities, towns and counties rely on fines and fees, Governing conducted the largest national analysis to date of fine revenues and the extent to which they fund budgets, compiling data from thousands of annual financial audits and reports filed to state agencies.

What we found is that in hundreds of jurisdictions throughout the country, fines are used to fund a significant portion of the budget. They account for more than 10 percent of general fund revenues in nearly 600 U.S. jurisdictions. In at least 284 of those governments, it’s more than 20 percent. Some other governments allocate the revenues outside the general fund. When fine and forfeiture revenues in all funds are considered, more than 720 localities reported annual revenues exceeding $100 for every adult resident. And those numbers would be even higher if they included communities reporting less than $100,000 in fines; those jurisdictions were excluded from our analysis. In some places, traffic fine revenue actually exceeds limits outlined in state laws…..

….The fact is that fines and fees are a volatile revenue source, and the towns that rely the most on them face an increasingly uncertain fiscal future…..

Blue Solidarity: Police Unions, Race and Authoritarian Populism in North America

Source: Mark P Thomas, Steven Tufts, Work, Employment and Society, OnlineFirst, July 26, 2019
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From the abstract:
With a focus on police unions in the United States and Canada, this article argues that the construction of ‘blue solidarity’, including through recent Blue Lives Matter campaigns, serves to repress racial justice movements that challenge police authority, acts as a counter to broader working class resistance to austerity and contributes to rising right-wing populism. Specifically, the article develops a case study analysis of Blue Lives Matter campaigns in North America to argue that police unions construct forms of ‘blue solidarity’ that produce divisions with other labour and social movements and contribute to a privileged status of their own members vis-a-vis the working class more generally. As part of this process, police unions support tactics that reproduce racialised ‘othering’ and that stigmatise and discriminate against racialised workers and communities. The article concludes by arguing that organised labour should maintain a critical distance from police unions.

Using wastewater‐based analysis to monitor the effects of legalized retail sales on cannabis consumption in Washington State, USA

Source: Daniel A. Burgard, Jason Williams, Danielle Westerman, Rosie Rushing, Riley Carpenter, Addison LaRock, Jane Sadetsky, Jackson Clarke, Heather Fryhle, Melissa Pellman, Caleb J. Banta‐Green, Addiction, Early View, First published: June 18, 2019
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From the abstract:
Aims:
To perform a wastewater‐based analysis to explore the impact of newly legalized retail cannabis sales on its use and to determine if this approach could estimate the size of the legal market place, which began 1 August 2014 in the study area.

Design:
Laboratory study of raw wastewater samples collected and analyzed over the 3‐year period from 2014 to 2016.

Setting and Participants:
Samples obtained from the two wastewater treatment plants that serviced a municipality of 200 000 people in the state of Washington, USA.

Measurements:
Quantitative analysis of 24‐hour composite influent samples for the metabolite of the active ingredient in cannabis, 11‐nor‐9‐Carboxy‐Δ9‐tetrahydrocannabinol (THC‐COOH) were performed by liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry.

Findings:
Wastewater estimates for THC‐COOH increased by 9% per quarter, suggesting a doubling in cannabis consumption from 1 December 2013 to 31 December 2016. State‐sold THC increased at nearly 70% per quarter, while stores operated from 1 August 2014 to 31 December 2016. Estimating the proportion of the total cannabis market supplied by state‐regulated cannabis from these data is not currently achievable.

Conclusion:
A wastewater‐based measure of cannabis consumption suggests a significant increase in consumption in Washington, USA following legalization, and that legal sales appear to have displaced a large portion of the illicit market.

Related:
Shift to Legal Pot Shows Up In Wastewater
Source: Futurity, June 24, 2019

Cannabis use has both increased and substantially shifted from the illicit market since retail sales began in 2014 in Washington state, report researchers.

Rethinking police education in the United States

Source: Gary Cordner, Police Practice and Research: An International Journal, Volume 20 no. 3, 2019
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From the abstract:
Higher education for police in the United States began as police science and police administration in the early-to-middle 1900s but morphed into criminal justice starting in the 1960s, continuing in that mold to the present. This paper examines curricula at a handful of universities to provide a snapshot of U.S. police education today, illustrating that modern criminal justice programs do not focus very much on police at either the undergraduate or graduate level. The paper then considers alternative models that could provide students a more in-depth encounter with the now-robust policing body of knowledge, something that barely existed 50 years ago but could, at this point, serve as the foundation for a respectable and relevant academic and professional education.

Work-related musculoskeletal symptoms among Traffic police: A Review

Source: Leela Paudel, Naresh Manandhar, Sunil Kumar Joshi, International Journal of Occupational Safety and Health, Vol. 8 no. 2, 2019
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From the abstract:
Workplace environment plays an important role in the health of the working population. The risk of adverse effects on health becomes high with the increase in duration of exposure to occupational hazards. Traffic police personnel are vulnerable to such situations. They undergo various hazards ranging from road injuries, physical hazards, biological hazards, chemical hazards, ergonomic hazards and psychological stress while they are at work. They have to keep on standing on same place throughout the duty hours, which also increases the risk of musculoskeletal problem. There have been very few researches to explore the situation of work-related musculoskeletal symptoms in traffic police. Recently, work-related musculoskeletal symptoms were the main cause of sickness absenteeism, reduction in productivity, and chronic occupational disabilities in traffic police have received much attention. Thus, this review has been designed to help the health care professional and occupational health and safety professionals to know the most prone body areas for Musculoskeletal Disorders so as to plan for ergonomic modification and improve quality of life of Traffic Police Personnel. It will also help in uplifting musculoskeletal health for Traffic Police Personnel.

Patrolling Public Schools: The Impact of Funding for School Police on Student Discipline and Long‐term Education Outcomes

Source: Emily K. Weisburst, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Volume 38, Issue 2, Spring 2019
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From the abstract:
As police officers have become increasingly common in U.S. public schools, their role in school discipline has often expanded. While there is growing public debate about the consequences of police presence in schools, there is scant evidence of the impact of police on student discipline and academic outcomes. This paper provides the first quasi‐experimental estimate of funding for school police on student outcomes, leveraging variation in federal Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants. Exploiting detailed data on over 2.5 million students in Texas, I find that federal grants for police in schools increase middle school discipline rates by 6 percent. The rise in discipline is driven by sanctions for low‐level offenses or school code of conduct violations. Further, I find that Black students experience the largest increases in discipline. I also find that exposure to a three‐year federal grant for school police is associated with a 2.5 percent decrease in high school graduation rates and a 4 percent decrease in college enrollment rates.

Officers’ Physical and Mental Health and Safety: Emerging Issues and Recommendations

Source: Strategic Applications International, COPS-W0862, released: November 2018

From the abstract:  
The OSW Group’s April 2018 meeting expanded on previous discussions of ways to support officers’ emotional health and organizational wellness. This meeting focused particularly on line-of-duty deaths in felonious assaults as well as in accidents, mental health and suicide, and crisis hotlines and other programs. Families, community members, and others can contribute to the important work that is needed in this area by supporting officer safety and wellness, participating in conversations and programming, and working to reduce the negative stigma surrounding mental health issues.

Dirty Data, Bad Predictions: How Civil Rights Violations Impact Police Data, Predictive Policing Systems, and Justice

Source: Rashida Richardson, Jason Schultz, Kate Crawford, New York University Law Review Online, Forthcoming, February 13, 2019

From the abstract:
Law enforcement agencies are increasingly using algorithmic predictive policing systems to forecast criminal activity and allocate police resources. Yet in numerous jurisdictions, these systems are built on data produced within the context of flawed, racially fraught and sometimes unlawful practices (‘dirty policing’). This can include systemic data manipulation, falsifying police reports, unlawful use of force, planted evidence, and unconstitutional searches. These policing practices shape the environment and the methodology by which data is created, which leads to inaccuracies, skews, and forms of systemic bias embedded in the data (‘dirty data’). Predictive policing systems informed by such data cannot escape the legacy of unlawful or biased policing practices that they are built on. Nor do claims by predictive policing vendors that these systems provide greater objectivity, transparency, or accountability hold up. While some systems offer the ability to see the algorithms used and even occasionally access to the data itself, there is no evidence to suggest that vendors independently or adequately assess the impact that unlawful and bias policing practices have on their systems, or otherwise assess how broader societal biases may affect their systems.

In our research, we examine the implications of using dirty data with predictive policing, and look at jurisdictions that (1) have utilized predictive policing systems and (2) have done so while under government commission investigations or federal court monitored settlements, consent decrees, or memoranda of agreement stemming from corrupt, racially biased, or otherwise illegal policing practices. In particular, we examine the link between unlawful and biased police practices and the data used to train or implement these systems across thirteen case studies. We highlight three of these: (1) Chicago, an example of where dirty data was ingested directly into the city’s predictive system; (2) New Orleans, an example where the extensive evidence of dirty policing practices suggests an extremely high risk that dirty data was or will be used in any predictive policing application, and (3) Maricopa County where despite extensive evidence of dirty policing practices, lack of transparency and public accountability surrounding predictive policing inhibits the public from assessing the risks of dirty data within such systems. The implications of these findings have widespread ramifications for predictive policing writ large. Deploying predictive policing systems in jurisdictions with extensive histories of unlawful police practices presents elevated risks that dirty data will lead to flawed, biased, and unlawful predictions which in turn risk perpetuating additional harm via feedback loops throughout the criminal justice system. Thus, for any jurisdiction where police have been found to engage in such practices, the use of predictive policing in any context must be treated with skepticism and mechanisms for the public to examine and reject such systems are imperative.

Safety in Police Numbers: Evidence of Police Effectiveness from Federal COPS Grant Applications

Source: Emily K Weisburst, American Law and Economics Review, Advance Articles, Published: November 27, 2018
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From the abstract:
Understanding the impact of police on crime is critical to designing policies that maximize safety. In this article, I use a novel estimation approach to measure the impact of police hiring, which exploits variation in federal Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) hiring grants, while also controlling for the endogenous decisions of police departments to apply for these grants. Using data from nearly 7,000 U.S. municipalities, I find that a 10% increase in police employment rates reduces violent crime rates by 13% and property crime rates by 7%. The results also provide suggestive evidence that law enforcement leaders are forward-looking.