Articles on Policing

Last year, protesters marched once again through the streets of Portland, sending a message that putting a Democrat in the White House would not resolve problems with a system of policing and corporate wealth that they saw as fundamentally unfair. "No cops, no prisons, total abolition," they chanted. Some activists, dressed in solid black clothing and masks that may signal a readiness to cause trouble without being readily identifiable, smashed windows at the local Democratic Party headquarters. The event included anarchists, antifascists, communists and racial justice activists. There were others mingling in the crowd that day: plainclothes FBI agents, the New York Times reports.

The FBI set up extensive surveillance operations inside Portland's protest movement, with agents...

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Philadelphia police are creating a unit devoted to solving non-fatal shootings. With the number of people shot in Philadelphia approaching 2,200 for the year, Channel 3 Eyewitness News has learned police officials are close to announcing the launch of a 40-detective unit. It's unclear when the unit will go live, but sources say it will be a significant allocation of resources at a time when shootings and homicides have spiraled into record territory. District Attorney Larry Krasner said witnesses to shootings must cooperate with investigators, an element he explains is driving a dismal solution rate.

"We need the help of the public, the solve rate for shootings at this time is around 17%," Krasner said. "We can't...

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Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Agents with a Department of Homeland Security investigative unit will wear body cameras for the first time as part of a six-month pilot program testing the costs and benefits of using the technology in federal law enforcement, the Associated Press reports. The cameras will be used by 55 members of the SWAT-like special response teams at Homeland Security Investigations in Houston, Newark, and New York. Homeland Security Investigations, which focuses on transnational federal crimes such as drug and human trafficking and fraud, is a component of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, (ICE). A senior ICE official said the agency expects to expand the pilot to include officers who conduct immigration enforcement arrests.

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A Minnesota jury is deliberating manslaughter charges against former Brooklyn Center, Mn., police officer Kim Potter in the April 11 killing of Daunte Wright, 20, who was pulled over for having expired license tags and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror, the Associated Press reports. Potter was training a newer officer, Anthony Luckey. She testified that if she had been alone, she “most likely” wouldn’t have pulled over Wright. Potter said Luckey wanted to make the stop. Policing experts agree that it’s good for trainees to interact often with the public, but using traffic violations as a way to check for more serious lawbreaking — criticized by some as "pretext stops" — has come under scrutiny, especially...

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This spring, Black leaders and civil rights activists delivered a message to Asian Americans: We stand with you. Asian American activists and political leaders responded in kind, publicly acknowledging racism faced by Black people. The two groups were reacting to violence aimed at their communities, including the police killing of George Floyd and a spree of anti-Asian attacks. The two groups, which historically have been divided by racial tensions and socioeconomic inequality, promised to cooperate to reduce violence and discrimination against people of color. Nine months later, the results of that pledge are hard to find, reports the New York Times. In interviews, nearly two dozen activists, historians and community leaders said that for the most part, no...

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A new crop of reformist Black chiefs have had some success changing police departments from within. Others have found it difficult to advocate for both racial equality and the law enforcement community, the Intercept reports. As of June 2020, 21 of the largest 50 police departments in the U.S. were helmed by Black chiefs. A 2016 survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found the overall national figure was just 4 percent. In Portsmouth, Va., two Black chiefs have resigned in 15 years over what they allege was racially motivated interference from the police union. Reform-oriented Black chiefs have resigned or been forced out after backlashes in Dallas, Denver, and most recently in Lafayette, La., Black officers said...

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The appointment of Keechant Sewell, the Nassau County, N.Y., chief of detectives, to lead the huge New York City Police Department calls attention to the scarcity of women in top law enforcement positions, CNN reports . Women make up about 12 percent of sworn law enforcement positions nationwide, and only three percent of executive level positions, says Kym Craven of the National Association of Law Enforcement Executives (NAWLEE). The association was established in 1996 by six female police leaders to support women in the field. NAWLEE takes part in the 30x30 initiative , a coalition of police leaders, researchers, and professional organizations aiming to increase the representation of women in police recruit classes to 30 percent...
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A Texas county has agreed to pay $5 million to settle wrongful death claims brought by the family of Javier Ambler, a Black motorist who was shot fatally with a stun gun during a traffic stop while cameras with reality TV show “Live PD” rolled, Courthouse News Service reports. The Williamson County Commissioners Court voted to pay $1.6 million dollars with the remaining $3.4 million to be paid by Travelers Insurance. Each of Ambler’s parents will receive $1 million and each of his two children will get $1.5 million. County sheriff’s deputies tried to pull over Ambler, 40, on March 28, 2019, for failure to dim his headlights to oncoming traffic. He allegedly refused to stop and led...

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A federal appeals court ruled that four Dallas police officers can be held liable in the 2016 death of Tony Timpa, a mentally ill man who died after police knelt on his back and shoulders for more than 14 minutes in an encounter captured on body-camera footage. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed last year's ruling by a federal judge who dismissed a civil suit brought by Timpa's family, reports the Wall Street Journal. Prosecutors had decided not to pursue criminal charges. The case on appeal emerged as the first major test of the lawfulness of facedown prone restraints since former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering...

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Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pleaded guilty to a federal charge that he deprived George Floyd of his rights during the 2020, arrest that led to the Black man’s death. He also pleaded guilty to an unrelated but similar count stemming from the use of force in 2017 against a then-14-year-old boy, who is also Black, the Associated Press reports. Chauvin admitted he knew what he did to Floyd was wrong and that he had a “callous and wanton disregard” for Floyd’s life, the plea agreement said. It said Chauvin “was aware that Mr. Floyd not only stopped resisting, but also stopped talking, stopped moving, stopped breathing,...

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More than a year after moving to cut and redistribute police funding amid racial justice protests, two city leaders in Northern California now are pushing to hire more officers, crack down on crime and expand police surveillance powers, reports Courthouse News Service. The mayors of San Francisco and its neighbor Oakland have proposed to increase police presence in their cities and broaden law enforcement's ability to use surveillance tools, such as license plate readers and access to private security camera networks. The proposals come as both cities struggle with an increase in homicides and violent crime and a spike in robberies targeting high-end retailers and cannabis dispensaries. San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced a plan to flood the...

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The Los Angeles police department worked with a Polish "strategic communications" firm to monitor social media and collect millions of tweets last year, including thousands related to Black Lives Matter and "defund the police," The Guardian reports. LAPD documents obtained by the Brennan Center for Justice through public records requests show that the department conducted a one-month trial of social media monitoring software from Edge NPD, a company that typically worked in advertising and marketing, had no experience contracting with law enforcement and was based in Warsaw, Poland. In fall 2020, Edge NPD tracked tweets on roughly 200 keywords. Its data set included tens of thousands of tweets related to Black Lives Matter and racial justice protests, some of...

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Wednesday, December 15, 2021

New York City's Mayor-elect Eric Adams made a historic choice to lead the city's police force, the nation's largest. Adams tapped Nassau County, N.Y., Chief of Detectives Keechant Sewell to be the first female commissioner in the New York Police Department's 176-year history, NPR reports. She will be the city's third Black commissioner. Sewell told The New York Post, "I'm here to meet the moment." Shootings and incidences of violent crime have gone up in 2021 compared with last year. Adams and Sewell's new leadership will be a reset for the city's police force of more than 36,000 officers, and their union leaders, who were used to a tense relationship with Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Patrick Lynch,...

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Derek Chauvin appears on the verge of switching to a guilty plea in the charges that he violated George Floyd's civil rights, the Associated Press reports . This change would avoid a federal trial and could increase the amount of time he spends imprisoned significantly. Chauvin was convicted on state murder and manslaughter charges for kneeling on the neck of George Floyd. He was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison. Chauvin and three other officers were indicted. Chauvin's plea change may help the others separate their trials. They believe that not featuring Chauvin so prominently will help alleviate some of the pressure to convict.

If Chauvin pleads guilty, he could be compelled to testify in the other...

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As New York City Ma yor-elect Eric Adams prepares to dictate policy for the nation's largest police department, he has kept a romantic vision at the heart of his plans for the 35,000-officer-strong force. Adams, who spent 22 years as a reform-focused police officer before climbing to the mayoralty on a public-safety message, believes a crucial step to healing the NYPD's deep rifts with some communities is to return beat cops to the streets. "The goal is to rebuild trust," Adams told the New York Daily News. "We can show people that these officers are human beings just like them. They have children. They have families. They have spouses. They...

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