Monday, December 30, 2013
Monday, December 23, 2013
In the story, Bratton speaks about what this 'collaborative policing' is.
The goal, according to Mr. Bratton's working document on collaborative policing, is to have officers and residents of the areas they serve identifying problems together and addressing people who bring crime into the neighborhoods. The aim is to bring "more sharing of information, better leads" and more trust between police and people, said Lis Smith, the de Blasio transition spokeswoman.Via The Wall Street Journal
Sounds a lot like community policing to me.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
After having rapidly risen to cities large and small across America, citizens and members of local government are starting to ask themselves the same questions that Mayor Marsh is asking: are these cameras actually making our communities safer? And is it a good idea to use speeders’ fines to pay for a system designed to catch them? Plus, are all laws even meant to be perfectly enforced?Via Ars Technica
I am always leery when you introduce any sort of financial incentive into enforcement efforts. It's just way too easy to jettison fairness in enforcement efforts in order to chase the dollar. Automated red light cameras are a lot like asset forfeiture in that respect.
It's also important to note that the best law enforcement occurs as a cooperative effort between the police and the public they serve. The visceral objection to red light cameras may stem from the idea that these devices are akin to playing dirty pool. No one likes getting a traffic ticket but it's really offensive when you feel that the ticket was not given fairly and honestly.
Of course the best way to improve traffic safety is better traffic engineering practices that improve traffic safety without resorting to the dreaded traffic ticket. This is also much less likely to result in an angry tirade from citizens would who have gotten one of those tickets.
Last month, the New York City Department of Transportation released a brief-but-handy guide that uses before-and-after design renderings to illustrate five basic rules for street safety. The report calls its comparisons "the largest examination of the safety effects of innovative roadway engineering conducted in a major American city, or perhaps any city globally." That's a tall claim, but there's no question that the five lessons embedded in these images merit notice from urban communities near and far.Via The Atlantic Cities
Friday, December 13, 2013
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Street Doctors works on the rationale that giving at-risk kids information and survival skills can stop violence as much as prison terms for carrying weapons. The U.K.'s tabloid press likes to run wild with tales of feral Britain, but the truth is that many young people carrying knives are in fact terrified of becoming victims themselves. They also unaware of just how dangerous a stab wound can be.Via The Atlantic Cities
This is a pretty unusual approach. I wonder if it will work?
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Plea offers have been around since the 1800s and are a well-established and necessary part of criminal practice. But the new mandatory minimums and sentencing enhancements have given federal prosecutors new power to coerce pleas and avoid trials. A prosecutor can now give a minor drug dealer this choice: “Plead guilty to a reduced charge, or go to trial and risk sentencing that will put you in jail for decades.” It’s not hard to understand why so many defendants—whether innocent, guilty, or not quite as guilty as charged—are taking the first option.Via The Atlantic
Is a right that is so prohibitively punitive to exercise an actual right?
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Harris County, which includes Houston, has had 11 armored-car robberies since January, roughly a third of the nationwide total this year. The F.B.I. had reports of two holdups of armored vehicles in New York City this year and none in the Boston, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles areas.Via The New York Times
Monday, December 9, 2013
The annual self-evaluation JAG recipients are required to complete measures performance in a way, says the Brennan Center report, that is "roughly analogous to a hospital counting the number of emergency room admissions, instead of considering the number of lives saved." Agencies are asked how many arrests they made, and prosecutors are asked how many cases they won. Not only is that data rather useless in terms of assessing the effectiveness of a given policy, it also says to the person answering the questions that their numbers should be really big.Via The Atlantic Cities
Whenever I look a statistical performance measures for the police department where I work, I am always hesitant to include data for arrests and traffic citations. The reason being is that these can be pretty poor ways for an agency to measure how effective they are being at making the community safer.
These are numbers that are pretty easy to jack up. If your agency is being criticized, then you go out and make a bunch of low level arrests for trivial offences or you go out and write a bunch of tickets for people driving just a few miles an hour over the speed limits. You'll have an impressive chart showing an increase in these activities but you haven't demonstrated that crime has been decreased or that there are fewer traffic accidents.
It will be interesting to see what changes the Justice Assistance Grant program makes in measuring how effective these grants are.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Officially dubbed the K5 Autonomous Data Machine, the 300-pound, 5-foot-tall mobile robot will be equipped with nighttime video cameras, thermal imaging capabilities, and license plate recognition skills. It will be able to function autonomously for select operations, but more significantly, its software will provide crime prediction that's reminiscent, the company claims, of the "precog" plot point of "Minority Report."Via CNET
Of course you can't have any policing/security technology nowadays without the predictive policing buzzword being attached to it.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
...APD is only able to solve eight percent of its property crime cases. That rate has improved, somewhat. Two years ago, the clearance rate was five percent. The national average is 12 percent.Via KUT
I'm not posting this to pick on APD. Even in the sleepy little burg where I work we've had our share of lackluster property crime numbers in the past. In fact, if you look at the clearance rates for Uniform Crime Report Property Crimes nationwide you will see that the numbers are almost as depressing.
These are very difficult crimes to solve. In fact, it's likely more cost effective to prevent them before they occur than it is to solve them after the fact. Of course successful prevention is not just the responsibility of the police.
Getting the public to protect themselves is often difficult. Just this week I was reading a report where someone had their car stolen as they left it running in the driveway to warm up. This is Texas and it was 50F degrees that morning. Really? Just how warm does you car need to be before you leave for work.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Thousands of laptops and cellphones are taken each year in the District, and police readily admit that they are frustrated by the ease with which stolen treasures can be unloaded for fast cash. Some are recycled, others are sold on the streets or from stores that deal in stolen goods. In most cases, the trail becomes too convoluted to follow, and the electronics become lost on the legitimate market.Via The Washington Post
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
But for all the attention they receive, mass killings still accounted for only a tiny fraction — about 1% — of all the Americans who were murdered over those five years. During those five years, more died from migraines and falling out of chairs than were murdered by mass killers, according to death records kept by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three times as many people perished from sunstroke.Via USA Today
All in all your chances of being murdered, whether in a mass killing or just a regular old run of the mill murder are pretty low, much lower than heart disease or cancer.
Monday, December 2, 2013
Amid all of that new money, reports of assault and theft have doubled or even tripled, and the police say they are rushing from call to call, grappling with everything from bar brawls and shoplifting to kidnappings and attempted murders. Traffic stops for drunken or reckless driving have skyrocketed; local jails are spilling over with drug suspects.Via The New York Times
Skyrocketing growth in a community often outstrips the community's ability to keep up. It's stories like these that make me thankful for the sleepy little burg where I work.
Friday, November 29, 2013
There was an piece at The Atlantic Wire that had an interesting bit it in.
The New York Times cited Police Commissioner Ray Kelly as saying his team is “trying to determine whether or not this is a real phenomenon.” He adds, “I mean, yes, something like this can happen. But we would like to have people come forward and give us any information they have.” That's actually a pretty reasonable reaction, considering the difficulty in determining criminal trends; especially in the age of 24-hour news coverage, where the copycat effect creates attackers inspired by the ‘trend’ to capitalize on the media’s branding.Via The Atlantic Wire
So was this trend largely driven by the lurid coverage of this trend? Is it even a real trend if the only thing driving it is the media's coverage of it?
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
According to statistics released today by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 5,796 criminal incidents involving 6,718 offenses were reported in 2012 as being motivated by a bias toward a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin, or physical or mental disability.Via The Federal Bureau of Investigation
While I am pretty comfortable with the crime data reported in the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports numbers for UCR Part 1 crimes which are murders, robberies, burglaries and such. I have a whole lot less confidence in the Hate Crime numbers reported.
It's not that I don't trust police departments to dutifully report the numbers of crimes that meet the "hate crimes" definition nor is it that I don't trust the FBI's UCR program to collect and dutifully compile this numbers and issue a report. My problem is that it's much harder to divine the mind of a criminal to determine why they picked their victim.
Yes, there are rare cases when the criminal will report to police "I hate those people and that's why I did it." But if several members of one race commit a crime against someone of another race how do we know if it's "motivated by a bias toward" the victim based on their race? Is there a certain number of racial epithets they must utter? What if they say nothing at all?
In a country with 319 million persons and 10,189,900 UCR Part 1 Crimes reported in 2012 I find it really hard to believe that there were only 6,718 "hate crimes". Keep in mind that those 10 million plus UCR Part 1 Crimes don't include all the Part 2 Crimes and all the crimes that aren't part of the Uniform Crime Reports program at all.
Kind if beggars belief doesn't it?
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
It also improved the city's surveillance system.The video footage is silent, and deaf monitors are both capable of reading lips and less easily distracted than officers who can hear by other things happening in the command center.Via The Atlantic Cities
Monday, November 25, 2013
Every 30 hours, White said, a New Yorker is killed in a traffic crash, and every 2 hours someone suffers a life-changing injury. The majority of the victims are pedestrians. "Is this acceptable?" he asked. "Is this the city we want to live in?"Via The Atlantic Cities
This was from an interesting story that looked at reducing traffic fatalities in New York City by applying the same "Broken Windows Policing" strategy that NYC and other cities used to reduce violent crime. Given NYPD's rather pitiful reputation regarding traffic accidents it seems like this could be a good start.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Now we see a number of stories that while cell phone manufacturers are willing to install these kill-switches, cell phone carriers are balking.
This piece from The New York Times Bits Blog offers this potential explanation:
Mr. Gascón said that, based on e-mails he had reviewed between a Samsung executive and a software developer, it appeared that the carriers were unwilling to allow Samsung to load the antitheft software. The emails, he said, suggest that the carriers are concerned that the software would eat into the profit they make from the insurance programs many consumers buy to cover lost or stolen phones.Via The New York Times
There was also a piece in CNet this week where the New York Attorney General and the San Francisco District Attorney joined forces in ripping the cell phone industry over their reticence to allow manufacturers to install these theft reduction features.
"Since smartphone thefts so often result in violence, we call on manufacturers and carriers alike to make the opt-out kill switch an industrywide standard," the officials said in a joint statement released Tuesday.Via CNet
The refusal by cell phone carriers to implement these common sense anti-theft features is just plain wrong. Even around the sleepy little burg where I work we have adult thieves robbing school children of their smartphones with threats of violence or even with weapons. And all because these devices can be wiped and resold to unsuspecting resellers or purchasers.
Installing features that would "brick" a phone that was reported stolen would reduce their resale value to nothing and would remove the incentive for thieves to target these devices.
Most folks opinions of their cell phone carriers is right up there with congressmen and used car salesman. For the carriers to balk on this so they can up-sell customers overpriced insurance is the height of douche-baggery.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
The task wasn't feasible before because of a lack of resources, but this first-of-its-kind partnership with the FBI will place sought-after information a click away for detectives, who sometimes spend weeks tracking down a file's location. When the database is complete, investigators will be able to search any aspect of a murder book, including license plate numbers and gang monikers.Via The Los Angeles Times
Most people don't realize just how volumes a homicide case file or "murder book" really is. One of my homicide cases from back when I was a detective filled four or five large file boxes. Finding a bit of information or even finding case files themselves can often get to be a problem. An effort like LAPD's is a great thing.
I worked on a cold case murder project a while back to come up with a comprehensive list of all our cold cases and tracking down case files was very labor intensive. There were several different computer systems and multiple paper file locations to check and I still had trouble finding some files. I can only imagine how difficult it must be in a huge organization like LAPD's.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
According to FBI data, 69.3 percent of all homicides involved a gun.Via The Washington Post
I sure am glad we don't need to have a conversation about gun violence in this country.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
"[Victimization] is not simply a function of spatial proximity or of individual risk factors such as age, race, gender or gang affiliation, but also of how people are connected, the structure of the overall network, the types of behaviors occurring in the network and an individual's position in the overall structure,"Via NPR
What I found especially interesting was that your place in these social circles trumped gang membership, drug dealing, etc. for determining how likely you were to be murdered. In essence, the closer your relationship is to a murder victim, the more likely you yourself are to also become a victim.
I also found it encouraging that Chicago PD was using this theory to try and intervene with those at risk for becoming the next murder victim. Given Chicago's reputation regarding murders, this is worth trying.
Monday, November 18, 2013
More than 600 households pay $20 a month for unarmed patrols in clearly marked cars to run 12 hours a day, Monday through Saturday.
Lower Rockridge is just one of several Oakland neighborhoods where residents have either hired private security patrols or are actively debating taking that step. In some neighborhoods, the patrols are armed.Via NPR
My concern with an effort like this is that if residents are feeling so unsafe in their own neighborhoods that they are willing to pool their resources and pony up money to hire these patrols it's probably a sign that the police department is failing in it's job to make the community safer.
Maybe this should be a wake up call for their police department.
Friday, November 15, 2013
A 2007 summary of available research, published in the journal Violence Against Women, found that in the dozen or so shelters in the country that collect data on the issue, between 18 and 48 percent of women said they had delayed leaving their abusers because it meant leaving their pets. In one study conducted in upstate New York, researchers found that among women who had seen their pets abused, 65 percent had put off seeking help. Presumably, many others with pets never leave home at all.Via The Pacific Standard
This quote brings up a conundrum on how best to assist victims of domestic violence. If you are going to get victims of domestic violence to go to a shelter, you are going to have to be seen as a welcoming place. For many, that means welcoming their cherished pet.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Large-scale destruction is well known in Detroit, but it is also underway in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Buffalo and others at a total cost of more than $250 million. Officials are tearing down tens of thousands of vacant buildings, many habitable, as they seek to stimulate economic growth, reduce crime and blight, and increase environmental sustainability.Via The New York Times
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
“While the Texas prison system is often criticized, I believe they should be recognized for keeping the cemetery open to the public and away from the prison,” said Franklin Wilson, an assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice at Indiana State University who is writing a book on the history of the cemetery.Via The Texas Tribune
The story is worth a read.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
The announcement of reward money can capture headlines and draw out witnesses, as it did when Aurora police offered up to $20,000 last month in the chilling kidnapping of an 8-year-old girl, the highest reward in the department's history.
But everything that follows can be complicated.Via The Denver Post
We've been pretty successful with the Crime Stoppers program in the sleepy little burg where I work. I'm also always surprised how many people submit tips and refuse the rewards.
Monday, November 11, 2013
Here's the text of this year's Presidential Veteran's Day Proclamation.
On Veterans Day, America pauses to honor every service member who has ever worn one of our Nation’s uniforms. Each time our country has come under attack, they have risen in her defense. Each time our freedoms have come under assault, they have responded with resolve. Through the generations, their courage and sacrifice have allowed our Republic to flourish. And today, a Nation acknowledges its profound debt of gratitude to the patriots who have kept it whole.
As we pay tribute to our veterans, we are mindful that no ceremony or parade can fully repay that debt. We remember that our obligations endure long after the battle ends, and we make it our mission to give them the respect and care they have earned. When America’s veterans return home, they continue to serve our country in new ways, bringing tremendous skills to their communities and to the workforce— leadership honed while guiding platoons through unbelievable danger, the talent to master cutting- edge technologies, the ability to adapt to unpredictable situations. These men and women should have the chance to power our economic engine, both because their talents demand it and because no one who fights for our country should ever have to fight for a job.
This year, in marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, we resolved that in the United States of America, no war should be forgotten, and no veteran should be overlooked. Let us always remember our wounded, our missing, our fallen, and their families. And as we continue our respon- sible drawdown from the war in Afghanistan, let us welcome our returning heroes with the support and opportunities they deserve.
Under the most demanding of circumstances and in the most dangerous corners of the earth, America’s veterans have served with distinction. With courage, self-sacrifice, and devotion to our Nation and to one another, they represent the American character at its best. On Veterans Day and every day, we celebrate their immeasurable contributions, draw inspiration from their example, and renew our com- mitment to showing them the fullest support of a grateful Nation.
With respect for and in recognition of the contributions our service members have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided (5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor our Nation’s veterans.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby pro- claim November 11, 2013, as Veterans Day. I encourage all Americans to recognize the valor and sacrifice of our veterans through appropriate public ceremonies and private prayers. I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I call on all Americans, including civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, and communities to support this day with commemorative expressions and programs.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.
Friday, November 8, 2013
Yejin Lee, an associate at the Anti-Violence Program in New York City, said that the assumption of heterosexuality has been a huge stumbling block for gays and lesbians seeking refuge from an abuser. "One problem is the way domestic violence has been framed for the past 30 years," she said. Since the entire movement against domestic abuse started as a battered women's movement, Lee said, we are ingrained to think that victims are all are married, straight women.Via The Atlantic
What always gets me is the levels of violence in LGBT domestic violence incidents that manage to get reported to police. Some of them are particularly brutal. If I had to guess I would say that it's not because domestic violence is worse in the LGBT community, but that given the historical reticence to report, they rise to more violent levels before actually they do get reported.
Either way, it's sad. Police agencies and organizations that work with domestic violence victims need to ensure that they are welcoming to all victims of domestic violence regardless of sexual orientation.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
"I'm Chief Wade Ingram. I'm the police chief. I want to say that I'm sorry about what happened to your son," the chief says.Via NPR
There was a story over at NPR that really touched me. The story looked at a practice by Gary, Indiana Police Chief Wade Ingram's practice of meeting with the families of all the city's murder victims. Given Gary's murder rate, this practice has likely kept the Chief quite busy.
In my years in law enforcement, I've seen that unfortunately, murder victims aren't always pillars of the community. Engaging in criminal behavior such as prostitution, drug dealing, gangs or robbery often seem to increase your chances of becoming a murder victim. In spite of this fact, these victims leave families behind.
The story quotes Chief Ingram with this:
"It's not a strategy. It's just something that I humanly do," he says. "Even though I'm the police chief, I am part of the community and what I see is, I see a family ... that's in grief. They have questions."What a humane gesture. The critics be damned.
"Teachers and administrators are so excited about the tech that it's very easy to overlook the security implications until it's too late," said Ken Trump, a school safety expert in Cleveland who has consulted with campuses in every state. "It's not just an issue of protecting the devices in the school itself. It's also an issue, even more importantly, of protecting the children coming to and from school."
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
The gunfire logged by ShotSpotter overshadows the number of officially reported felony gun crimes by more than 2 to 1. More than one-half of the incidents detected by the network have involved multiple rounds of gunfire. In 2009 alone, ShotSpotter captured more than 9,000 incidents of gunfire. That number has fallen by 40 percent in recent years as gun homicides have declined sharply.Via The Washington Post
The story is an interesting read. I'm not sure which is more surprising, that there are so many shooting incidents or that so many go unreported by citizens.
If you ask the officers or dispatchers at your local police department, they can probably list them by name and the nature of their complaints.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
USA Today had a piece recently that looked at the unusual fact that there were four mass killings in the US in the span of four days. These killings took the lives of nineteen people.
"Murders don't distribute themselves evenly over a 12-month period," Levin said. "Just because we see four occurring in proximity to each other doesn't mean we are suffering through an epidemic of mass murders but that's what people will think."
Via USA Today
I'm not sure that there is ever a "normal" number of mass killings since they are such extraordinary events.
Monday, November 4, 2013
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals struck down a section of a 2005 law that banned adults from sexually explicit online communication with children. That means soliciting a person under the age of 17 for sex remains illegal, but talking dirty with a child is protected by the U.S. Constitution.Via The Houston Chronicle
Sometimes law is just weird.
Friday, November 1, 2013
You can view the report here.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Jill Levenson, an associate professor at Lynn University, said that the greatest risk to trick-or-treaters is getting hit by a car. Researchers at the Florida school determined that there was no change in sexual assaults during Halloween, or even in the weeks that followed, in comparison to the rest of the year.Via The Dallas Morning News
“The laws restricting sex offenders make parents and communities feel safer, but there’s no proof that they reduce the risk of sexual abuse,” Levenson said. “Law enforcement should be directing their efforts towards crimes that are more commonly seen on Halloween, like vandalism.”
Sometimes law enforcement efforts are to combat the public's perception of a problem and not an actual problem.
Here's one typical grievance from 1931, filed under "Late-Night Piano-Playing Neighbor," from a gentleman named Warren who stayed near 240 East 31st Street: "Warren wrote to Commissioner Wynne to thank him for sending an officer to see his 'annoying musical neighbor,' who now ceased his musicking, 'with an emphasised cord,' promptly at eleven o'clock each night."Via The Atlantic Cities
If you've worked in law enforcement very long, you've seen that some of the most vocal complaints from citizens is not usually about major crimes. In the sleepy little burg where I work we almost never get complaints forwarded from City Hall about murders, robberies or other assorted misdeeds. People most often and most loudly complain about quality of life issues.
I'm glad to see that some things never change.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
"Between 2000 and 2008, the United States experienced an average of approximately five active shooter incidents every year. Alarmingly, since 2009, this annual average has tripled. We’ve seen at least 12 active shooter situations so far in 2013. Even more troubling, these incidents seem to be getting more and more deadly.
Over the last four years, America has witnessed an increase of nearly 150 percent in the number of people shot and killed in connection with active shooter incidents."Via The Atlantic Wire
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
The most common crime is still the "straight theft" of trailers left unattended in parking lots or at truck stops. But CargoNet says the new trucking scams are growing at a rapid 6 percent each quarter. Of the average three to five truckloads stolen each day in the United States, at least one involves what are known in the industry as fraudulent or fictitious pickups.Via SFGate.com
These sophisticated cargo thieves are often times stealing loads worth $100K or more with one truck. I don't get to see these types of thefts where I work. We don't have any truck stops or major freight terminals in the sleepy little burg where I work. So this piece was worth a read.
Monday, October 28, 2013
The 2012 National Crime Victimization Survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 26 of every 1,000 people experienced violent crime, a 15% increase in how many people reported being victims of rape, robbery or assault. Property crime — burglary, theft and car theft — rose 12%.
"We've plateaued. At this point, I don't think we're going to see any more decreases in crime," said criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University in Boston. "The challenge will be making sure crime rates don't go back up."Via USA Today
There are two main sources of crime statistics. One is the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) program. UCR collects statistics of crimes that have been reported to police.
The National Crime Victimization Survey questions people about their victimization regardless of whether or not the crime has been reported to police.
Both these sources taken together are important as while the numbers from UCR may be more accurate as every police agency in the US is required to report them, there are quite a number of crimes that go unreported.
I'm not surprised that the decline would eventually end. I didn't think the numbers would drop forever. However, I was hoping we'd see them drop for at least a few more years.
Friday, October 25, 2013
At a time when police officers and prosecutors can often tap an array of forensic evidence — DNA, phone records and surveillance footage — the anonymous tip seems like a throwback to an earlier era of crime solving, a relic from the days when a New Yorker could still find a working pay phone and place a call for 10 cents. (The expression “drop a dime” became slang for informing on someone to the police.)Via The New York Times
At the agency where I work, we have a Crime Stoppers program that allows people to submit tips anonymously. They can call, text or submit tips online anonymously. If these tips lead to an arrest, persons can receive a cash reward. Many times, people don't want the reward. We've had really good success with our program.
In the bit I quoted above they alluded to how archaic a tips line seems compared to high tech evidence such as DNA or video. But the reality is, most crimes are solved the old fashioned way with gumshoe police work. DNA can help you get a conviction but it often does little good without a name to go with it.
Does your agency have a crime tips line? Has it been successful?
Thursday, October 24, 2013
The issues officers shared with Archbold ranged from a dramatic increase in alcohol-related violence ("Ninety percent of the problems we deal with involve alcohol," one officer said), to an inability to balance emergency calls with proactive community policing ("I used to know people. I used to know their vehicles. I no longer know people or their vehicles," said another officer.) Here are some of the biggest problems police shared with Archbold.Via The Atlantic Cities
These agencies are having the opposite problem that rust belt cities like Detroit have. Cops in rust belt cities are struggling because the population (and tax base) has moved away leaving no money for resources. In the towns around the Bakken oil fields, the increased work has outstripped their resources.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Last year about this time, Eugene Palmer, a 73-year-old retired truck driver with a love of the craggy backwoods, shot and killed his tempestuous daughter-in-law, Tammy Palmer, the police said, and vanished into the vast wilderness of Harriman State Park.Via The New York Times
The suspect, hasn't been seen since.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
The Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort noticed this week that it was missing some of its 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle, one of the rarest and most sought after bourbons in the world.
"It's highly coveted," said Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton, the man leading the investigation. "It's the best of the best."
I bet there are quite a few Kentucky cops volunteering to work this case.
Monday, October 21, 2013
Part of the reason I decided to use a Google+ Page for this instead of my Google+ profile was that while there are scheduling tools out there that will let you schedule posts for Google+, they only work with Pages and not profiles.
This lead to me having a somewhat fragmented presence on Google+. I would have to post in two places as well as deal with separate groups of followers. This got a bit tedious after a bit so I decided to consolidate my Google+ presence by killing The Crime Analyst's Blog Page and pointing everything over to my personal Google+ profile.
I also decided to move my long form blogging back over to Blogger and then use Google+ to tie that with shorter form link sharing and commenting.
This gets me down to these outlets:
The Crime Analyst's Blog for my professional blogging
ScottDickson.net for my personal blog
Twitter and Google+ to tie them all together and for shorter posts.
Clear as mud right?
While I am at it, let me share a couple of things I've learned in the two months I blogged exclusively on Google+.
One, Google+ has some real potential. In the two months I blogged on Google+ exclusively, my followers jumped from about 500 to about 6,500. I was talking with my teen daughter about it recently and she said that means I'm "Internet famous".
But seriously, that's a heck of a lot of followers in a short period of time. Yes, it helps to put in a lot of effort and some good content but still, 6,000 additional followers in two months?!
If Google is serious about promoting Pages for business, they have to make it easier to switch between a personal profile and a Page in their iOS app. Right now to switch you have to log out, then log back in. Really, Google? You can't do better than this?
While they are at it, how about introducing a way to schedule posts on personal profiles or at least open up an API so Buffer or some other developer can do it? Tools like Buffer or Hootsuite are important for people who manage professional social media outlets.
I also think the ability to format posts could be improved. Right now you can bold, underline or strikeout text in a Google+ post. But you can't do things that you can do on other blogging platforms such as block quotes, headlines, etc. Google+ adding support for a full range of HTML formatting using Markdown would be epic!
I want to thank you for your patience with all the blog changes in the past couple of months. I think I'm about done for now, I promise.
Friday, October 18, 2013
"Some gang members are using online tools to plan crimes, recruit members or challenge and threaten rivals, said Bruce Ferrell, the president of the Nebraska-based Midwest Gang Investigators Association. Many of those kinds of back-and-forth "dissing" between rival gang members come in the form of rap lyrics that are recorded and posted online, he said."Via Governing
Are you surprised?
This piece over at The Atlantic Cities was an interesting read.
Could Stiffer Penalties for Illegally Carrying a Gun Reduce Violence in Chicago?
And did we mention Mayor Bloomberg is in on the hunt? "You running up to somebody’s property or public property and defacing it is not my definition of art," he said yesterday. But his police force's inability to track down a world-famous artist installing new street art literally every day of the month is starting to make his heavy, invasive policing strategies look goofily ineffectual.Via The Atlantic Wire
"Much of the carnage comes from developing nations, where road fatalities are set to become the fifth-leading cause of death above scourges like malaria, AIDS, and tuberculosis. Vehicle accidents remain the leading way that people aged 15 to 29 continue to die worldwide."Via The Atlantic Cities
This makes me feel much better about my morning commute.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
These trust funds, which most long-term care providers are required to maintain for residents who request that the facility handle their money, are supposed to work like conventional bank accounts, with accrued interest, regular statements and reliable oversight. But USA TODAY found more than 1,500 recent cases in which nursing homes have been cited by state and federal regulators for mishandling the funds.Via USA Today
The story is worth the read as they cover a number of scenarios on how the thefts were perpetrated and how these thefts were uncovered.
It also highlights the fact that these types of thefts likely require forensic accounting skills to investigate. If a case like this was reported to your agency, do you detectives have the skills to conduct an investigation like this, or do you know where to get the assistance you need?
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
The privacy concerns on both sides are complicated enough that the American Civil Liberties Union—which ardently supports police accountability measures—recently released recommendations for wearable police cameras to "ensure they protect the public without becoming yet another system for routine surveillance of the public."Via The Atlantic Cities
The story and it's discussion of the ACLU guidelines is worth a look. For the most part, they are pretty good even if they lean more towards the protection of citizens and less about protecting cops or the capturing of evidence.
Even with concerns about government surveillance body worn police video cameras are a good thing, both for the public and for cops. The story asked "When should cops be required to wear cameras?" The answer is: all the time.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
For law enforcement, data mining is a big step toward more complete intelligence gathering. The police have traditionally made arrests based on small bits of data — witness testimony, logs of license plate readers, footage from a surveillance camera perched above a bank machine. The new capacity to collect and sift through all that information gives the authorities a much broader view of the people they are investigating.Via The New York Times
The second article is an opinion piece over at Wired magazine by tech guru Richard Stallman that asks the question How much surveillance can democracy withstand?
In the opening paragraph Stallman states:
The current level of general surveillance in society is incompatible with human rights. To recover our freedom and restore democracy, we must reduce surveillance to the point where it is possible for whistleblowers of all kinds to talk with journalists without being spotted. To do this reliably, we must reduce the surveillance capacity of the systems we use.Via Wired
So just how much surveillance is too much?
Yes, there are some law enforcement benefits to some surveillance technology. But surveillance technologies are not a panacea. Throwing up video cameras won't make crime go away.
If you want proof of this, let's look at the crime of bank robbery. Banks were probably the first industry to widely embrace video surveillance technology. However, if you visit the innovative website Bandittracker.com you can see that this technology hasn't exactly made bank robbers extinct.
This website is chock full of surveillance images of people robbing banks. Some in disguise, but also a surprising number wearing no disguises at all. Why is this? Why would a bank robber not be deterred by the presence of surveillance technology?
This example can likely be extrapolated to understand the potential effectiveness of other surveillance technologies. Some of them may help deter a criminal who isn't highly motivated. Some of them may help catch some criminals who are motivated but aren't sophisticated enough to evade the technology. But none of them will be totally effective despite what the proponents of these technologies will try to tell you.
This brings us back to my original question: How much surveillance is enough?
The answer probably lies in the idea that the least amount possible, backed up by some good old fashioned gumshoe police work.
Monday, October 14, 2013
Why does it take 30 people to arrest solo strangers knocking on the front door? It's a labor-intensive operation, involving drumming up suspects, performing "open source intelligence," installing hidden cameras, filling out police paperwork, cuffing suspects, dealing with suspects' vehicles, and executing search warrants on suspects' homes after arrest. Each operation requires:
House commanderVia Ars Technica
Investigative support team
Prisoner transport/takedown team
Audio-visual and IT support
A "house scribe" to handle documentation
That seems like a heck of a lot of police resources to make a single bust. It seems to me that there has to be an easier, less resource intensive way to police to discourage this kind of activity.
The Problem Oriented Policing Center has excellent publication in their Response Guide series that looks at police sting operations that is worth reading. The guide looks at both the positive and negatives of police sting operations.
Does your agency conduct sting operations? If so, for what types of crimes?
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Friday, August 16, 2013
Monday, July 29, 2013
Google has made a number of improvements to its Google+ social media service. One major improvement is adding the ability to have a stand alone Google+ Page along with your personal Google+ profile. In fact, much of the functionality of a blog is available on a Google+ Page.
Most of my posts here on the blog consist of a link to a news article and a few comments about the article and how it applies to crime analysis. This style of blogging is perfect for Google+. For this reason, I am going to be moving The Crime Analyst’s Blog to it’s own Google+ Page.
I will leave the Blogger version up with all the previous posts but any new posts will take place on Google+. I’ll even been pointing the CrimeAnalystsBlog.net domain to resolve to the Google+ Page over the next week or so.
You don’t have to have a Google+ account to read a post on a Google+ Page but if you do, it is real easy to join the conversation by commenting or sharing. I’ll also continue to send links to these Google+ posts via Twitter.
This move will make it much easier for me to continue posting on crime analysis and related topics.
Friday, July 26, 2013
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Only a tiny portion of alleged crimes on cruise ships is ever publicly disclosed, according to a report by the Senate Commerce Committee.Clery Act required of colleges.
Of 959 crimes reported to the FBI since 2011, only 31 were disclosed on a web site maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.
"Many longtime and retired law-enforcement officers have told me of their worry that the trend toward militarization is too far gone. Those who think there is still a chance at reform tend to embrace the idea of community policing, an approach that depends more on civil society than on brute force." Via The Wall Street JournalThe over reliance on this type of law enforcement erodes the primary mission of law enforcement; to partner with the community to reduce crime and make the community safer.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
"Everyone agrees that street fighting among thoughtless teens can't be tolerated. The question is, what’s the best strategy for keeping the peace? Is it to, in effect, tell young black people that they are automatically suspect? Or is it to continue to build a place where more people of all ages and races can come together?" Via The Atlantic CitiesThe Center for Problem Oriented Policing has one of their excellent POP Guides that looks at different responses to The Problem of Disorderly Youth in Public Places. If you are dealing with the same kind of problem that Greensboro is, this guide would be worth reading.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Detroit's staggering fiscal problems have led to layoffs and an exodus of police officers. The story touches on how Detroiters have tried to fill the public safety void with volunteer patrols and if a neighborhood can afford it, private security.
But to argue that this is the "bleak future" for police in general is complete balderdash. Very few other cities have fiscal problems on Detroit's scale and those that do arguably have less managerial dysfunction than Detroit.
I've seen very few cities trying to replace police officers with volunteer patrols or private security guards. There are cities that organize folks into Neighborhood Watch programs but these are outreach and crime prevention programs for police departments rather than a replacement.
If you saw the scary looking headline and wondered if this is where law enforcement was heading, don't. We're not being outsourced.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Mother Jones magazine recently published a piece where they interviewed documentary filmmaker Alexander Perlman on his documentary "Lot Lizards" that provides a candid look at truck stop prostitution. The film's title comes from trucker slang for these prostitutes.
You can find more information about the film here.
Hopefully this film will help publicize the problem of truck stop related prostitution. Earlier this year, Mother Jones detailed an innovative program by Dallas, TX Police to help truck stop prostitutes leave business by helping them with counseling and rehab.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
If you are interested in helping, you can dontate to:
KPD Law Enforcement Assistance Fund
c/o Killeen Police Department
3304 Community Blvd.
Killeen, TX 76542
Attn: Ofc. Robert Hornsby Fund
or Ofc. Juan Obregon Fund
This story caught my eye last week. There was a piece over at the Urban Institute's Metro Trends Blog that argues that changes to how DNA evidence is used could increase it's effectiveness.
We’d nab more bad guys if we tested DNA from burglaries rather than murders, making the threat from DNA collection and retention much more real— and thus we would deter more future offending.
The piece makes a pretty good argument for using DNA evidence to combat burglaries and is worth reading.
Monday, July 15, 2013
Causality is slippery, especially when it comes to crime. The L.A.P.D.’s decision to deploy 30 additional officers to Watts’s three largest housing projects has undoubtedly contributed to the area’s improvement. Research has shown that “hot-spot policing” — flooding high-crime areas with police officers — effectively reduces crime without simply displacing it. But the department’s efforts in Watts go beyond “cops on dots.” In recent years, the L.A.P.D. has been conducting an unusual experiment in community policing in Watts. Its centerpiece, the Community Safety Partnership, is the department’s collaboration with a group of residents known as the Watts Gang Task Force. Every Monday morning, community leaders meet with top police commanders to discuss what’s happening in the Watts gang world — who’s feuding with whom, where criminal investigations stand, which are the issues residents are worried about. What makes the initiative unusual is that many of the task force’s participants have close ties to street gangs. Some, like Mendenhall, are former gang leaders. Others are the mothers and grandmothers of notorious gang leaders past and present.It's a long piece but definitely worth the time to read it. The big take away from the story is that it is not possible for traditionally reactive policing methods to tackle persistent crime problems. If they police are viewed as an 'occupying army' and do not have the trust of the community they serve they will fail in their mission.
Via The New York Times
A community policing mindset is critical to solving these endemic crime problems.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Monday, July 8, 2013
While praising the department on the considerable resources devoted to auditing crime statistics, the committee noted that most of those efforts were directed at identifying “human error” — that is, unintentional mistakes in a police officer’s paperwork. But for “an officer who wishes to manipulate crime reporting,” the report said there were “few other procedures in place that control the various avenues of potential manipulation.”
The second and more important reasons is, if you fudge your numbers then you do not have an accurate assessment of what is actually going on in your community. You will be unable to identify crime problems, and you will be unable to identify if your crime reduction efforts are actually working. While you are driving around in the dark hoping that your crime reduction efforts are working you could be unaware that a nearly insurmountable crime problem is developing.
Don't fudge your crime numbers. It's stupid and you are only hurting your agency in the long run.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Police in the city of 19,000 recently posted large yellow signs along Interstate 271 that warned drivers that there was a drug checkpoint ahead, to be prepared to stop and that there was a drug-sniffing police dog in use.
There was no such checkpoint, just police officers waiting to see if any drivers would react suspiciously after seeing the signs.
While this tactic isn't illegal since there was no actual checkpoint I have some misgivings about this police tactic. I'm not so sure that such blatant dishonesty is really conducive to building trust with the community you are supposed to be serving.
It's similar to the public vitriol regarding traffic enforcement cameras. While no one likes to get a ticket from a cop who caught you speeding, using unmanned traffic cameras seem like playing dirty pool. That really ticks off the public.
Just because something is legal, doesn't always mean it's right. Given how hard it is to build community trust and just how easy it is to lose it, we should probably err on the side of honesty and integrity.
Monday, July 1, 2013
“Where technology has caught up is to allow police to ask questions about what’s happening in their jurisdictions and to be able to understand temporal patterns, spatial patterns,” said Joel M. Caplan, assistant professor of criminal justice at Rutgers University in New Jersey, who has developed a crime forecasting program with his colleagues and is testing it at a half-dozen police agencies.I recently had a conversation with a journalist who asked me what I thought was the biggest promise predictive policing had for law enforcement. I responded that I thought it was the improved efficiency for police agencies. This efficiency will lead to agencies making better use of the resources they have in making their communities safe. I also believe that agencies must tread carefully with these types of technologies given the public's sensitivity to perceived government surveillance in light of the recent NSA intelligence scandals.
Via The New York Times Bits Blog
What do you think will be the greatest implication of the rise of predictive policing?
Monday, June 24, 2013
Police work is a weird profession. There are cops who like working murders and those who like working robberies. Each type crime is different with their own unique challenges. There are not a lot of police officers or detectives that would say rape cases are their favorite cases to work.
There are so many issues that come up when investigating sexual assaults. One major issue that puts cops off is the issue of victim credibility. You don't often have to investigate a victim's credibility in a murder. You do end up having to look at a victim's credibility in sexual assault cases. If you don't have this thoroughly nailed down before you seek a prosecution, the defense will certainly bring the issue up at trial.
There was an interesting piece over a Slate magazine that looked at why some victims of sexual assault act in inexplicable ways, ways that may make the victim seem less than credible.
In the past decade, neurobiology has evolved to explain why victims respond in ways that make it seem like they could be lying, even when they’re not. Using imaging technology, scientists can identify which parts of the brain are activated when a person contemplates a traumatic memory such as sexual assault. The brain’s prefrontal cortex—which is key to decision-making and memory—often becomes temporarily impaired. The amygdala, known to encode emotional experiences, begins to dominate, triggering the release of stress hormones and helping to record particular fragments of sensory information. Victims can also experience tonic immobility—a sensation of being frozen in place—or a dissociative state. These types of withdrawal result from extreme fear yet often make it appear as if the victim did not resist the assault.
The whole piece is worth the read. Hit the link to read it.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
The Legislature in 2007 changed misdemeanor laws, allowing officers to give tickets for such crimes as shoplifting and low-quantity drug possession and have offenders show up later to court.
One thing that the article didn't touch on is does the cost savings by not having officers make a custodial arrest for minor non-violent offenses outweigh the increase in costs caused by defendants failing to appear who then are subject to arrest warrants.Such “cite and release” programs were designed to ease crowding at county jails and free officers from spending hours arresting and booking suspects.
But the Austin American-Statesman reported Sunday that a “cite and release” program being run by some law enforcement agencies in Travis County has resulted in more than 40 percent of defendants never returning for their assigned court dates.
Via The Killeen Daily Herald
It may be that even with a large number of these offenders skipping out on their court dates, the cost savings are such that the idea may still make sense. The flipside of 40% not showing up for court is that 60% actually did show up. Of that 40% that didn't, I wonder how many got arrested on a Failure To Appear warrant later in the year?
Thursday, June 13, 2013
One criminologist and professor of sociology, Dr. Mark Warr at the University of Texas, has said that, every time a new report on national crime is released, his phone rings off the hook, with reporters asking him to comment on “rising crime,” even though that’s not what the reports actually show.The piece quotes several criminologists who make a connection between these mistaken perceptions and media coverage of violence.
Via The Pacific Standard
So why do we want to believe violent crime is worse than it really is?
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Now the company that gave the crime its name is taking a step to stop it, with a "kill switch"-style update aimed at making the mobile gadgets less valuable to thieves.Activation Lock will be part of iOS 7, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system expected to roll out in the fall. The feature will require an Apple ID and password before the phone's "Find My iPhone" feature can be turned off or any data can be erased.via CNN
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
HPD created a Chronic Consumer Stabilization Unit that focuses on finding alternative ways to deal with the mentally ill rather than the traditional arrest / hospitalization / release / arrest again cycle.
After intense intervention by the two case managers, the same 30 individuals were reported to have been involuntarily committed by officers 39 times in the following six months — a decrease of 76.4%. They were involved in 65 police offense reports — a 66.5% decrease.It's along article but worth the read. How does your agency handle the mentally ill?
Via Journal Sentinel Online
Friday, June 7, 2013
Wired Magazine had an opinion piece worth reading on combating sex-trafficking. The piece by Danah Boyd, a senior researcher at Microsoft discusses the role technology plays in this type of crime. In it, Danah as this worthy bit:
Lately, there’s been a tide shift. There’s a movement afoot where technologists, social scientists, government agencies, advocates, and NGOs have started coming together to imagine and build technology-based innovations that would disrupt the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Because creating meaningful technical — and social — interventions to combat human trafficking (and other forms of exploitation) requires moving beyond fears and dreams. Beyond dystopian and utopian rhetoric.When Craigslist became infamous for this type of activity, they were pressured into making changes that forced much of this activity off Craigslist. The problem was that Backpage popped up to fill the slack and most of these sex traffickers were right back in business.
Danah's right. You're not going to solve a difficult crime problem with a simplistic solution like shuttering a website. It's going to take a lot of smart people getting together and devoting time, talent and energy to come up with creative solutions if these problems are going to be solved.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
By itself, this might not be too troubling. But this follows last year’s announcement from the Bureau of Justice Statistics that national survey data showed an even bigger jump in violence—17 percent. (It should be noted that violence is very rare, so while it’s a large increase percentage-wise, in real numbers, the increase was from 3.3 violent victimizations per 1,000 to 4.3 per 1,000. Those numbers are very similar to the FBI data, which shows 3.8 violent victimizations per 1,000).So what do you think, should we be worried that we're headed back to the bad old days?
Via Metro Trends
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Colorado police departments send crime reports to the Colorado Bureau of Investigations, which then submits them to the federal government. Certain errors, such as minor problems with an officer's report, can cause CBI to reject the entire report, Murray said.Let me get this right, Denver PD sends their crime data to the state of Colorado CBI, which then in turn sends it on to the FBI, but somewhere along the way the FBI data became inaccurate? If, as they claim, an officer's report has problems that cause it to be rejected, is their data really that accurate (even if they "require that") if it contained these erroneous reports that will later be rejected by CBI?
A CBI spokeswoman did not return a call Monday night.
"There is no accountability for the data. It's uniform, but it's uniformly wrong . ... Our data is much more accurate because we require that," Murray said.
Via The Denver Post
What I really find unusual about this story is that DPD is asserting that Denver crime is worse than the FBI makes it out to be. Usually when an agency complains that the FBI's data is wrong it's the other way around, the FBI's data showing their city to be worse off than the local agency says it is.
This whole story is just weird.
Monday, June 3, 2013
The new preliminary Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) statistics for 2012 indicate that when compared to data for 2011, the number of violent crimes reported by law enforcement agencies around the country increased 1.2 percent during 2012, while the number of property crimes decreased 0.8 percent.If you follow this link to the 2012 Crime In The United States page, you can view the number for your city, provided it has a population of 100,000 or greater. The FBI will release the rest of the 2012 UCR data later this year.
It won't be long now before we start seeing news stories that quote a press release indicating that some city has been declared "the most dangerous" in America. This happens despite the fact that the groups that conduct these "analyses" often employ a pretty sketchy methodology to come up with these lists and that the FBI and others warn against such simplistic analysis.
Such is the bloodsport that is crime statistics.
Friday, May 31, 2013
There was a piece over at The Atlantic Cities that brings up an interesting topic, that of "Commuter-adjusted populations". This refers to cities whose populations grow during the workday when people who live outside a city commute in to work inside the city. As an example in the story, they state that the population of Manhattan which is normally about 1.5 million people undergoes a significant transformation during the workday when its population increases drastically.
This latter number – 3,083,102, to be precise, according to American Community Survey data collected between 2006 and 2010 – is in some ways an even more important one than the population figure we typically affix to places. If Manhattan ever needs to evacuate by day during a disaster, the city has to figure out what to do with all 3 million of those people. The city's transportation planners are responsible for every one of them, whether they live in New York or not.
This week I have been working on looking at historical crime data at the agency where I work. I managed to compile 40 years of UCR Part 1 crime numbers for the sleepy little burg where I work. In order to put those numbers into context, I also dug up 40 years worth of population estimates in order to calculate accurate crime rates and put those Part 1 crime numbers into proper context. There's a big difference between a population of 35,000 and one of 134,000.
If you work in a city with a significant "commuter-adjusted population" it's probably worth keeping these major population fluctuations in mind when you are looking at your crime rates.
Does your agency see major cyclical population changes? If so, how do you take this into account when calculating crime rates or allocating police resources?
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
At present rates, an American’s chance of being killed by a terrorist is about one in 3.5 million per year—compared, for example, to a yearly chance of dying in an automobile crash of one in 8,200. That could change, of course, if terrorists suddenly become vastly more capable of inflicting damage—as much commentary on terrorism has predicted over the past decade. But we’re not hearing much of that anymore.Via The National Interest
Our fears aren't always based on reality.