Category Archives: Law Enforcement

#MeToo Movement May Impact Law Enforcement Operations In Key Ways

Source: Michael Levin Epstein, Esq., Employment Alert, Volume 35, Issue 10, May 15, 2018
(subscription required)

Two words have become a rallying cry for victims of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault—and have been incorporated into a social media hashtag to help promote awareness of the problems.

#MeToo came into national attention last October after accusations of sexual harassment and assault were directed against the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

Other complaints have alleged misconduct by individuals in the news media, business, and politics—including members of Congress.

The impact on law enforcement

Police and law enforcement operations may be affected in several ways by the “Me Too” movement, including increased complaints by individuals against alleged offenders—and complaints aimed at police officers.

Complaints often involve allegations of use of excessive force, but published reports note state records of police license revocations indicate that sexual misconduct by officers appears to be a problem as well. ….

Flawed Judgment in Use of Force Against Students?

Source: Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, Inside Higher Ed, April 19, 2018

Only some college and university police officers are being trained to handle students’ mental health crises, experts say.

….Ideally, university police forces would be trained with a deep 40-hour program called the Memphis model, in which they’re taught how to ease the stress of a student experiencing a mental health break, James said. Developed by the University of Memphis’s Crisis Intervention Team Center, the training introduces cops to victims of mental health crises. The Atlantic reported that officers trained in this method are much less likely to use force when dealing with people with mental health problems…..

The Effect of Collective Bargaining Rights on Law Enforcement: Evidence from Florida

Source: Dhammika Dharmapala, Richard H. McAdams, John Rappaport, University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 831, Last revised: January 27, 2018

From the abstract:
Growing controversy surrounds the impact of labor unions on law enforcement behavior. Critics allege that unions impede organizational reform and insulate officers from discipline for misconduct. The only evidence of these effects, however, is anecdotal. We exploit a quasi-experiment in Florida to estimate the effects of collective bargaining rights on law enforcement misconduct and other outcomes of public concern. In 2003, the Florida Supreme Court’s Williams decision extended to county deputy sheriffs collective bargaining rights that municipal police officers had possessed for decades. We construct a comprehensive panel dataset of Florida law enforcement agencies starting in 1997, and employ a difference-in-difference approach that compares sheriffs’ offices and police departments before and after Williams. Our primary result is that collective bargaining rights lead to about a 27% increase in complaints of officer misconduct for the typical sheriff’s office. This result is robust to the inclusion of a variety of controls. The time pattern of the estimated effect, along with an analysis using agency-specific trends, suggests that it is not attributable to preexisting trends. The estimated effect of Williams is not robustly significant for other potential outcomes of interest, however, including the racial and gender composition of agencies and training and educational requirements.

America’s Growing ‘Guard Labor’ Force

Source: Richard Florida, City Lab, March 13, 2018

Many large urban areas in the U.S. now have more “guard labor” than teachers. ….

…. Our definition of guard labor is narrower than that of Bowles and Jayadev, limited to what they call “protective guard labor”—that is, police officers and detectives, prison guards, private security guards, transportation security screeners, and other protective service workers. Our definition of teachers includes pre-school, elementary, middle-school, and high-school teachers, as well as special-education teachers.

For each metro, we looked at the change in guard labor over time, the number of guards per 10,000 people, the location quotient for guard labor, and—most importantly for our purposes—the ratio of guards to teachers. ….

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
(subscription required)

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
(subscription required)

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
(subscription required)

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.