OnPolicing Blog

Welcome to the OnPolicing series.

PF On Policing logo final versionOnPolicing captures the thoughts of some of the country’s most important voices on contemporary policing. It is intended to stimulate debate about the state of policing and the myriad of challenges involved in controlling crime, disorder, and terrorism in a democracy like ours. The opinions are the authors’ own and may not represent the official position of the National Police Foundation. All comments are welcome—especially contrarian ones. We reserve the right to remove hateful or profane posts.

Please refer to the essay entitled “An Introduction to OnPolicing for an in-depth introduction to the series by the National Police Foundation’s former president and founder of the OnPolicing blog, Jim Bueermann. If you would like to contribute to the OnPolicing series, please send your 500-1000 word essay to info@policefoundation.org.

 

 

 

Facial Recognition Technology Deployment and Mass Surveillance in London

Facial Recognition Technology Deployment and Mass Surveillance in London

Photo by Jason Reed/The Daily Dot

By Jim Burch
President, National Police Foundation

Having the authority to do something doesn’t always mean that we should. That’s the thought that came to mind when reading the news of the London Metropolitan Police’s recent deployment of facial recognition technology in east London.

While some may say we should “mind our own business” and not worry about what the Met does in London, there are times when the decisions and actions of one agency impacts all of policing. I believe this is one of them and it’s regrettable and dangerous. Here’s why:

The ongoing debate here in the U.S. about the use of facial recognition by law enforcement has in many ways been substantially influenced by what-if’s that many in U.S. law enforcement have said they don’t want to see. Mass surveillance is one such example. To be fair, the Guardian’s reporting has included a response from the Met that the deployment is an “intelligence-driven operation” which suggests to us that there may be information that prompted the use of the tool in this area at this time, either for deterrence or enforcement or both. Despite this plausible explanation, and despite the Met’s attempts to be transparent and obvious about the use of the technology at that place and time doesn’t make it a better decision.

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“The End of Killing”: A Conversation with Axon CEO and Author, Rick Smith

By Burke Brownfeld
Criminal Justice Writer 

Rick Smith wants to put an end to sanctioned killing. This sounds like an ambitious goal, but the CEO of Axon (previously Taser) and author of the book, “The End of Killing,” has both a vision and a strategy to make this goal a reality. Ultimately, Rick wants police officers and soldiers to have more effective weapons so that they don’t have to kill others in the course of their duties.

Why is this topic so important? For starters, as Rick points out in his book, 40,000 people per year are killed with guns in the United States, and 250,000 are killed with guns worldwide. So the stakes in this subject are quite literally life and death, and it is Rick’s life passion to tackle the challenge.

“The End of Killing” is not an Axon sales pitch aimed at promoting Tasers among police departments. The book is also not a gun control book or a partisan political book. Instead, this book takes the reader down a path of intellectual exploration into the topic of killing and challenges the reader’s preconceived notions on these issues. Rick helps the reader to understand the origin story of the Taser, and explains why humans tend to resist change, even when the change is quite clearly better than the status quo.

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Innovating with Police Recruit Training: How I used the documentary Charm City to teach Baltimore Police

By Burke Brownfeld
Criminal Justice Writer 

Why Make the Film “Charm City?”

Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Black Lives Matter. Blue Lives Matter. In 2014 and 2015 we became familiar with these names, incidents, and hashtags. The news outlets flooded our tv screens with divisive arguments on all sides of the issues related to police and community relations. We all remember the yelling, and the pressure to choose a side. As a former police officer this when I started to feel frustrated. There was plenty of anger to go around, but what was the path forward? What were the actionable next steps to forge ahead and improve the fractured relationship between the police and the community?

I wondered what could be done to contribute to this national conversation. In 2015 I connected with Big Mouth Productions, a documentary production company. We put our heads together and challenged ourselves to create a documentary that could help bridge these divides by showing the viewer the daily lives of people in the City of Baltimore. The result was a film called Charm City, which premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Festival. The film provides the viewer direct access to the challenges faced by a wide range of Baltimore stakeholders ranging from police officers, to community leaders, to politicians. One of the underlying goals of the film was to allow the viewer to feel a sense of empathy for the people whose lives unfolded on the screen.

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Transparency that matters: Releasing the right information at the right time following an OIS incident

By Chief Gordon Ramsay
Wichita (KS) Police Department

Throughout my tenure as Chief of Police, in Duluth as well as Wichita, I’ve taken pride in my strong belief and commitment to working together with the community. In order for our relationship to be and remain effective, it is essential that we work closely together and that we do so on the basis of trust, respect, transparency and a shared commitment to safety.

This is a challenging time for policing – many of my colleagues around the country are facing dire challenges in recruiting officers as well as retaining officers within their departments. A 2017 national survey report by the Pew Research Center found that 8 out of 10 Americans (83%) say they understand the risks and challenges of police work. However, the report found that 86% of officers say that the public does not fully comprehend the challenges that officers face. The report noted that police officers are three times as likely as other workers to say they nearly always or often have serious concerns about their physical safety while on the job, compared to other employed Americans who are four times as likely as officers to say that they hardly ever or never seriously worry about their physical well-being at work. Read More & Share

Co-opting the Police: What can be done about “Profiling by Proxy?”

By Sergeant Jeremiah P. Johnson
Darien Police Department, CT

More than 50 years ago, James Q. Wilson noted that, “As the urban poor and the big-city police increasingly come into conflict, it is the patrolman who is on the grinding edge1.” Wilson’s imagery brings to bear an uncomfortable reality that is neither pleasant for police or the community. If police are on the grinding edge, the metaphor begs the question as to whom is pulling the lever.  Police and “the urban poor” (a euphemism for racial and ethnic minorities) are brought into contact through different avenues, not all of which are initiated by the police. It is imperative for police executives to recognize and mitigate the perils of 911-driven complaints that can entangle their officers in the biases of others. Read More & Share

Utilizing Data and Science to Reduce Serious Injury and Fatality Crashes on Rural Roadways

By Captain Ken Clary
Iowa State Patrol

This article was reprinted from Translational Criminology Magazine (Fall, 2018), with the permission of the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy.

As commanders within state police and patrol organizations, we are charged with protecting the citizenry traveling on our roadways. Although some might view violations of traffic laws as lesser offenses, those infractions can often lead to death and/ or serious injury if not corrected. In 2016, a total of 37,461 people lost their lives on U.S. roadways,1 while, in comparison, 16,250 people were reported by the FBI’s Uniformed Crime Report as murdered that same year. Traffic crashes result in an enormous loss of life annually and are consistently a leading cause of nonhealth related deaths in the United States. Read More & Share

Enhanced Interviewing Techniques to Improve Memory Recall

By Lieutenant Jason Potts
Vallejo Police Department, CA

What Happened? Who did it? And, where are they now – simple enough, right? Typical questions that police officers and investigators want answered. But all too often, we attempt to rush and control an interview by asking close-ended questions. This drive for expediency can unintentionally reinforce the victim’s sense of inadequacy, frustrate and confuse them, give off the perception they are not believed, and even re-victimize. Research shows that stress and fear can cause memory alterations and limitations 4. However, cognitive interviewing techniques can mitigate these effects, thus providing a more thorough account of the traumatic event. Cognitive interviewing frames questions to obtain more accurate information and details while simultaneously increasing law enforcement legitimacy in the eyes of the victim. According to several studies, cognitive interviewing elicited between 25% and 40% more statements in the cognitive interviewing groups (intervention) than the traditional methods or business as usual groups (control)8, 4. Read More & Share

“Peace Officers” Are The Guardians of Our Society

By Chief David G. Dominguez (Ret.)
City of Palm Springs, CA

In 2016, our colleague, Executive Director, Sue Rahr of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission wrote on the Police Foundation blog about how law enforcement has become very good at fighting crime; yet, as a profession, we are struggling; I would agree, law enforcement in the United States is at a crossroads with continuous challenges. Since that time, Police Chiefs and law enforcement executives around the country have examined how training and development occurs so recruits and officers are steeped in community and cohesion—and understand they are guardians in addition to warriors. There will always be an element of warrior, it is the part of the profession. One just needs to look at the recent increase in line of duty deaths, the mass shootings and the dangerous life-threatening situations police officers face daily.

To many this Guardian and Warrior discussion poses the question: Guardians of what? I submit that police officers are guardians of the fabric of society, not just the people. Recently, I was introduced to a new organization which was formed to address this same issue. They are called “Police2Peace” and their mission is unique and straightforward—to include the designation “Peace Officer” on law enforcement vehicles. You might ask, why would a charitable initiative be formed to distribute this message? Read More & Share

Getting Ready for the NIBRS Transition

By Sheriff Anthony Wickersham (Macomb County, Michigan) and Chief Edwin Roessler (Fairfax County, Virginia)

On January 1, 2021, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will retire the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s Summary Reporting System (SRS). After then, the FBI will only collect crime statistics through the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). We should understand why this is an important move and prepare for it.

As local law enforcement executives, we face the same challenges you do when it comes to federal systems and changes, but the switch from UCR SRS to NIBRS is one that is necessary. While some may see it as an added cost, we’ve found the change to be both manageable and effective. Our agencies have seen many benefits after switching to NIBRS, including the ability to better track and analyze drug-related crimes and better data on location types, among others outlined below. We recommend all law enforcement executives to continue reading for more information about this important transition and opportunity for our profession.

Why NIBRS matters

NIBRS is more comprehensive and detailed than SRS.  Although SRS has served our nation for many decades, NIBRS is a more modern system with a number of advantages: Read More & Share

Community Policing and Public Transportation

By Lieutenant Allen Schubert
Los Angeles Police Department

On July 1, 2017, the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) newly-formed Transit Services Bureau (TSB) and Transit Services Division (TSD) entered into a five-year contract with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO) with the promise to provide safe and effective conveyance for all 1.5 million Angelenos who commute daily along the 95 miles of rail lines and 1,700 bus routes. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has made it very clear that there are no caveats when it states, “all Angelenos.” In the past, several entities have tried to fulfill this commitment, but fell just short of METRO’s expectations. The biggest problem: they were using traditional policing models to handle radio calls. Specifically, calls for service on the rails and buses were just added onto the heavy call load of an already-established division. Officers would respond by patrol vehicle from their normally-patrolled jurisdiction, handle the issue, and quickly dart back to their field duties. This resulted in poor response times and a disconnect between the rail/bus commuters and officers. In addition, officers never gained a fundamental working knowledge of the quality-of-life issues plaguing the transportation riders. Read More & Share