Category Archives: Law Enforcement

Rethinking police education in the United States

Source: Gary Cordner, Police Practice and Research: An International Journal, Volume 20 no. 3, 2019
(subscription required)

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.

Body‐Worn Cameras and Policing: A List Experiment of Citizen Overt and True Support

Source: Daniel E. Bromberg, Étienne Charbonneau, Andrew Smith, Public Administration Review, Volume 78 Issue 6, November/December 2018
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From the abstract:
Police body‐worn cameras (BWCs) have gained popularity in recent years. However, many minimize the complexity of this transparency initiative and elevate the potential benefits. While BWCs can promote police accountability, they may also reduce citizen trust in police organizations. For BWCs to achieve win‐win solutions, police organizations should determine the level of citizen support for specific BWC practices. However, measuring citizen support presents several challenges. Social desirability may impact polling results, as participants underreport responses they perceive to be outside the norm. The authors employ a list experiment design to measure true citizen support for BWC practices. They find statistically significant levels of social desirability for police discretion in the activation of BWCs and for restriction of footage accessibility regarding suspects with mental illness. Decision makers should not rely on public opinion polls as a gauge of true citizen support for BWC use.

Effects of environmental stressors on daily governance

Source: Nick Obradovich, Dustin Tingley, and Iyad Rahwan, Proceedings on the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), August 13, 2018

Significance:
Public servants are often first responders to disasters, and the day-to-day completion of their jobs aids public health and safety. However, with respect to their individual psychological and physiological responses to environmental stressors, public sector workers may be harmed in much the same way as other citizens in society. We find that exposure to hotter temperatures reduces the activity of two groups of regulators—police officers and food safety inspectors—at times that the risks they are tasked with overseeing are highest. Given that we observe these effects in a country with high political institutionalization, our findings may have implications for the impacts of climate change on the functioning of regulatory governance in countries with lower political and economic development.

Abstract:
Human workers ensure the functioning of governments around the world. The efficacy of human workers, in turn, is linked to the climatic conditions they face. Here we show that the same weather that amplifies human health hazards also reduces street-level government workers’ oversight of these hazards. To do so, we employ US data from over 70 million regulatory police stops between 2000 and 2017, from over 500,000 fatal vehicular crashes between 2001 and 2015, and from nearly 13 million food safety violations across over 4 million inspections between 2012 and 2016. We find that cold and hot temperatures increase fatal crash risk and incidence of food safety violations while also decreasing police stops and food safety inspections. Added precipitation increases fatal crash risk while also decreasing police stops. We examine downscaled general circulation model output to highlight the possible day-to-day governance impacts of climate change by 2050 and 2099. Future warming may augment regulatory oversight during cooler seasons. During hotter seasons, however, warming may diminish regulatory oversight while simultaneously amplifying the hazards government workers are tasked with overseeing.

Cameras can catch cars that run red lights, but that doesn’t make streets safer

Source: Justin Gallagher, The Conversation, August 15, 2018

The automobile is a killer. In the U.S., 36,675 people died in traffic accidents in 2014. The year before, 2.3 million people were injured in traffic accidents.

During the past decade, over 438 U.S. municipalities, including 36 of the 50 most populous cities, have employed electronic monitoring programs in order to reduce the number of accidents. Red light camera programs specifically target drivers that run red lights.

In a study I co-authored with economist Paul J. Fisher, we examined all police-recorded traffic accidents for three large Texas cities over a 12-year period – hundreds of thousands of accidents. We found no evidence that red light cameras improve public safety. They don’t reduce the total number of vehicle accidents, the total number of individuals injured in accidents or the total number of incapacitating injuries that involve ambulance transport to a hospital….

Differences in Perceptions of Organizational Fairness Based on Job Characteristics among Police Officers

Source: Paul D. Reynolds, Richard C. Helfers, American Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 43 Issue 2, June 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Profuse research supports that organizational work environments are linked to varying police officers’ work-related attitudes and behaviors. Yet, there remains a lack of information pertaining to how perceptions of organizational fairness may differ among police officers based on job characteristics. To help fill this void, this exploratory research examines differences in fairness perceptions based on officers’ tenure, rank, duty assignment, and department size with their perceptions of organizational fairness. To examine this relationship, an online survey of police officers (n = 1649) in a southern state in the United States that were members of a police officer association was conducted. Findings support that differences in overall fairness perceptions exist for all the aforementioned job characteristics. This study furthers our knowledge and understanding of how job characteristics (e.g., tenure, rank, duty assignment, and department size) may be associated with police officers’ work-related attitudes.