PoliceIssues | Crime and Justice

A REASON? OR JUST
AN EXCUSE?

Figuring out why officers kill
persons “armed” with a cell phone

(#309, 4/5/18)


      “As soon as they did the command, they started shooting. They said ‘put your hands up, gun’ and then they just let loose on my nephew.” That’s how Stephon Clark’s aunt  reacted to body-cam footage depicting two Sacramento officers – one white, the other black – as they unleash a barrage of twenty rounds at a 22-year old black man whom they encountered at the rear porch of what turned out to be his grandmother’s house, where he was staying.

     Why did the officers fire? According to an official news release, they thought Clark was threatening them with a gun:

"Officers pursued the suspect and located him in the backyard of the residence. The suspect turned and advanced towards the officers while holding an object which was extended in front of him. The officers believed the suspect was pointing a firearm at them. Fearing for their safety, the officers fired their duty weapons striking the suspect multiple times."

     Clark was struck eight times. According to the medical examiner hired by his family, he was probably first hit on the side. That impact likely spun him around, explaining why he wound up with six entrance wounds in the back and (as he fell) one on the leg.

     Problem is, Clark wasn’t armed. Once officers approached his body and rolled him over they found a cell phone on the ground.

     Police became involved when a resident called 911 to complain that someone was going into back yards and breaking the windows of parked cars. (A series of broken car windows were later found in the area.) Deputies in a helicopter reportedly observed Clark break the rear glass door of a residence. Their video depicts Clark peering into the back of a car parked in a driveway. He then jumped a fence and entered the yard of the home where he was cornered.

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NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED
To avoid anointing Trump, the FBI Director falls into a trap of his own making
(11/2/16)

      “It’s pretty strange to put something like that out with such little information right before an election. In fact, it’s not just strange; it’s unprecedented and it is deeply troubling.” One day after the FBI Director’s startling reveal about a new trove of emails, Hillary took a swing at the very same official who, in an equally “unprecedented” move, had recently exonerated her from criminal liability. We’ll know in a few days whether Comey’s letter to Congress was indeed the equivalent of running over Hillary’s quest for the Presidency with an “18-wheeler” (as DNC chair Donna Brazile put it) or simply another annoying distraction in a most annoying Presidential campaign.

     Still, there’s little doubt that James Comey’s maneuverings created the perfect storm of a dilemma. We’ll get to that in a moment. For now, let’s address the email scandal of which so much hash has been made.

     When Hillary was anointed Secretary of State she turned up her nose at the thought (horrors!) of a State.gov email address. Instead, America’s chief diplomat continued to use her beloved Blackberry and a personal email account that routed messages through a private server installed at her home. Despite her repeated denials, she used this process for conveying and receiving classified information. Here’s an extract from Director Comey’s initial press release that describes the security status of thirty-thousand work-related emails that Hillary’s lawyers reluctantly turned over to the FBI:

“From the group of 30,000 e-mails returned to the State Department, 110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification. Separate from those, about 2,000 additional e-mails were “up-classified” to make them Confidential; the information in those had not been classified at the time the e-mails were sent.”

     Alas, when the scandal erupted Hillary ordered the purge of all “personal” correspondence from the server, so the true extent of the imbroglio will never be known.

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SANCTUARY CITIES, SANCTUARY STATES (I)
What happens when communities turn their backs on immigration enforcement?
(8/23/17)

      By now the term “sanctuary city” has become such a familiar part of the lexicon that defining it might seem superfluous. But for the record let’s recap what it means to the Feds. According to a May 2016 memorandum from the Department of Justice the label applies to jurisdictions that, due to law, regulation or policy, either refuse to accept detainers from ICE or don’t promptly inform ICE of aliens they arrest or intend to release.

     Memoranda do not carry the force of law. A 1996 Federal law, 8 USC 1373, stipulates that “a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.” In plain language, neither Hizzoner the Mayor nor any other official can legally order police to keep quiet about the arrest (or simply the whereabouts) of an illegal immigrant.

     Of course, that doesn’t require that ICE be tipped off. Yet until recently such notifications were routine. Indeed, many police and sheriff’s departments used to have ICE train and deputize their officers under section 287-g of the Immigration and Nationality Act so they could enforce Federal immigration laws on the street. At one point the number of participating agencies exceeded seventy.

     In time, a growing political divide and instances of excessive anti-immigrant zeal (see, for example, the saga of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio) led many communities to abandon the program. In 2016 ICE dropped the street enforcement aspect and now restricts cross-designated officers to making immigration checks only of persons detained for other crimes in local jails. After a recent drive ICE proudly reported that the number of jurisdictions participating in this modified program stands at sixty. However, nearly all are Sheriff’s offices in the South, with a large chunk in Texas.

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Prior posts

Loose Lips Enable Terrorists Safeguard sources and methods. Or wish that you had. (#308, 3/27/18)

Again, Kids Die. Again, our "Leaders" Pretend. Like the Dem’s, the GOP addresses gun lethality with make-believe (#307, 3/17/18)



Routinely Chaotic Rule #1: Don’t let chaos distort the police response. Rule #2: See Rule #1. (#306, 3/6/18)

Ban the Damned Things! There’s no “regulating” the threat posed by highly lethal firearms (#305, 2/21/18)

Why do Cops Lie? Often, for the same reasons as their superiors (#304, 2/10/18)

Be Careful What You Brag About (Part II) Citywide crime statistics are ripe for misuse (#303, 1/25/18)

Be Careful What You Brag About (Part I) Is the Big Apple's extended crime drop all it seems to be? (#302, 1/15/18)

Accidentally on Purpose A remarkable registry challenges conventional wisdom about the causes of wrongful conviction (#301, 12/24/17)

Massacre Control What can be done to prevent mass shootings? (#300, 11/19/17)

"Bump Stocks" Aren't the (Real) Problem Outlawing them is a good idea. But it’s hardly the solution. (#299, 10/8/17)

Sanctuary Cities, Sanctuary States (Part II) Should states legalize recreational pot? (#298, 9/5/17)

Sanctuary Cities, Sanctuary States (Part I) What happens when communities turn their backs on immigration enforcement? (#297, 8/23/17)

Three (In?)explicable Shootings Grievous police blunders keep costing citizen lives. Why? (#296, 8/1/17)

Silence Isn't Always Golden A proposal to deregulate firearms silencers ignores the hazards of policing (#295, 7/14/17)

A Lost Cause Legislators are ambushed. And a gun-numbed land shrugs and moves on. (#294, 6/24/17)

Are Civilians Too Easy on the Police? When attempts are made to sanction cops, citizens often get in the way (#293, 6/3/17)

Ideology Trumps Reason Clashing belief systems challenge criminal justice policymaking (#292, 5/16/17)

People do Forensics Conflicts about oversight neglect a fundamental issue (#291, 4/30/17)

Why Do Cops Succeed? Shifting resources from finding fault to studying success (#290, 4/13/17)

Guilty Until Proven Innocent Pressures to solve notorious crimes can lead to tragic miscarriages of justice (#289, 3/19/17)

Is Crime Up or Down? Well, it Depends It depends on where one sits, when we compare, and on who counts (#288, 2/27/17)

An Illusory Consensus (Part II) Good intentions don't always translate into good policy (#287, 2/10/17)

An Illusory Consensus America's police leaders agree on the use of force. Or do they? (#286, 1/29/17)

Do Gun Laws Work? Are they doing any good? We crunch the numbers to find out (#285, 1/11/17)

Is Trump Right About the Nation's Inner Cities? America's low-income communities desperately need a New Deal (#284, 12/17/16)

A Stitch in Time Could early intervention save officer and citizen lives? (#283, 11/26/16)

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished To avoid anointing Trump, the FBI Director falls into a trap of his own making (#282, 11/2/16)

A Matter of Life and Death In an era of highly lethal firearms, keeping patrol informed is job #1 (#281, 10/20/16)

Is it Always About Race? Unruly citizens and streets brimming with guns make risk-tolerance a very hard sell (#280, 10/5/16)

Words Matter In a conflicted, gun-saturated land, heated rhetoric threatens cops’ effectiveness - and their lives (#279, 9/17/16)

Where Should Cops Live? Officer-citizen conflicts stir renewed interest in residency requirements (#278, 9/2/16)

Getting Out of Dodge For families caught in dangerous neighborhoods, there is one option (#277, 8/19/16)

Better Late Than Never (Part II) DOJ proposes rules for forensic testimony. Do they go far enough? (#276, 8/3/16)

Good Guy/Bad Guy/Black Guy (Part II) Aggressive crime-fighting strategies can exact an unintended toll (#275, 7/18/16)

Good Guy/Bad Guy/Black Guy (Part I) Do cops use race to decide who poses a threat? (#274, 7/18/16)

Intended or not, a Very Rough Ride A hung jury and two acquittals mar Baltimore's crusade against police violence (#273, 7/3/16)

A Ban in Name Only Pretending to regulate only makes things worse (#272, 6/21/16)

Better Late Than Never (Part I) A "hair-raising" forensic debacle forces DOJ's hand (#271, 6/10/16)

Location, Location, Location Crime happens. To find out why, look to where (#270, 5/25/16)

Orange is the New Brown L.A.'s past sheriff and undersheriff pack their bags for Hotel Fed. (#269, 5/7/16)

Role Reversal Chicago's falling apart. Who can make the violence stop? (#268, 4/25/16)

Is a Case Ever too Cold? Citing factual errors, an Illinois prosecutor successfully moves to free a convicted killer (#267, 4/16/16)

After the Fact Ordinary policing strategies can't prevent terrorism (#266, 3/31/16)

More Rules, Less Force? PERF promotes written guidelines to reduce the use of force. Cops aren't happy (#265, 3/18/16)

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