Seattle uses micro community policing plans to engage its residents in 57 neighborhoods throughout the city, resulting in an 8-fold increase in proactive problem solving, according to the latest episode of “What’s New in Blue” from the COPS Office, available here as a 6-minute video. The emphasis is on addressing residents’ top 3 priorities in each neighborhood, recognizing that “one size doesn’t fit all.”
Police selection systems tend to emphasize screening out candidates for various reasons, rather than screening in new employees who have specific desirable skills and traits. Baltimore and Washington have recently begun testing for interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence, with less emphasis on “reading comprehension, writing and arithmetic — cognitive skills,” as reported here. For example, one new test “poses questions to candidates based on videos of officers interacting with the public in situations they might face, such as a driver who is hostile when pulled over or ticketed.”
Police executives are sometimes frustrated when their disciplinary actions are overturned in arbitration. In Minnesota since 2014, 46% of 37 law enforcement officers who were fired and elected arbitration had their dismissals reversed and replaced with lesser punishment, as reported here. That rate compares to 43% for non-LE employees eligible for discipline arbitration. Union attorneys and municipal officials have different perspectives on the situation, while arbitrators say each case is decided on its merits.
Portland (OR) PD will allow tattoos above the collar and beards beginning July 1, and will lower its education requirement from 60 college credits to high school or GED, as reported here. The changes are aimed at increasing the recruitment pool, as the agency currently has 128 vacancies and growing. Ironically, Portland was a pioneer in requiring a 4-year college degree back in 1996. Previous efforts to lower the education standard to a high school degree were resisted internally and by the community, but, according to one official, the agency is “facing a staffing crisis that he couldn’t have imagined back then.”
Hong Kong experienced mass protests last week, resulting in riot police deployment and extensive use of tear gas. When an estimated 2 million people returned to the streets on Sunday, however, they were met by “lightly-armed officers, many of them in baseball caps or in plain clothes” including “a marked increase in the presence of female cops,” as reported here. The switch in tactics seemed to be “an acknowledgement from the police that they had been overly aggressive and sparked public fury over what was deemed a heavy-handed and an excessive use of force.”
This new report from the ACLU describes how recent advances in artificial intelligence and video analytics are greatly increasing surveillance capability. The result is “to allow
computers not just to record but also to understand the objects and actions that a camera is capturing” which will “usher in something entirely new in the history of humanity: a society where everyone’s public movements and behavior are subject to constant and comprehensive evaluation and judgment by agents of authority — in short, a society where everyone is watched.” Older systems had a much more limited impact because people were needed to watch camera feeds, but machines are erasing that limitation.
A recent study by the federal HHS inspector general found widespread under-reporting of elder abuse, according to this NPR story. Nursing homes “failed to report nearly 1 in 5 of these potential cases to the state inspection agencies charged with investigating them,” while “in five states where nursing home inspectors did investigate and substantiate cases of abuse,” 97% were not reported to law enforcement as required. Another estimate is that “health care providers failed to report nearly a third” of elder abuse incidents to police or protective services.
Washington State revised its statute on police use of deadly force last year, which previously was “impossibly narrow,” prohibiting only force based on evil intent or malice. The state’s minority racial and ethnic groups worked together on the initiative and police, seeing that some legislative action was inevitable, also collaborated “to take a leadership role in negotiations to change the negative narrative surrounding policing and add clarity to proposals that may not be practical.” As reported here, police in several other states have similarly engaged with activists and political leaders instead of merely resisting any and all changes.
A new state-wide “scorecard” in California rated only one police department an “A” grade while 88 cities got an “F” as reported here. Criteria included violent crime clearance rates, sustaining of citizen complaints, and use of force. Critics note several flaws in the data and rating system, but also “When you see really, really large discrepancies, which is not a scientific term, but where the difference in the use of force between one jurisdiction and the next is three or four to one, it really tells you that they should look at what they’re doing.”
This column, excerpted from a new book, describes how the advent of the automobile transformed society and dramatically changed the nature of policing. Regulation of traffic brought police into an adversarial and enforcement relationship with a much wider segment of society than in the past. “Before cars, police mainly dealt with those on the margins of society,” but as the 20th century progressed, “Officers now required discretion to administer the massive traffic enforcement regime and deal with the sensitivities of ‘law-abiding’ citizens who kept violating traffic laws. The law’s accommodation of discretionary policing profoundly altered what it meant to live free from state intrusion in the automotive age.”