PoliceIssues | Crime and Justice

RED FLAG AT HALF MAST (PART II)
Preventing more than suicide may carry serious risks
(#325, 12/5/18)



     For Police Issues by Julius (Jay) Wachtel. State and Federal laws generally prohibit gun possession by the adjudicated  mentally ill and by subjects of a domestic violence restraining order. According to a nationally-representative survey of 5,653 persons 18 and older, about 10˝ percent of the adult population self-reports substantial “anger traits” and keeps guns at home, while about 1.6 percent self-reports such traits and carries a gun (those required to do so by their job were excluded.) However, only a very small slice of this problematic group – 13.2 percent of the angry, gun-at-home cohort and only 16.3 percent of the angry gun-packers – has been hospitalized for a mental health problem, thus automatically denying them the right to have guns. It’s their far greater number of non-adjudicated, gun-possessing peers that “Red Flag” laws are meant to address.

     Unlike Red Flag laws that simply command alleged possessors to give up their guns (if needed, search warrants must be separately obtained), Connecticut’s statute, which was first out of the gate in 1999, directs officers to conduct a search and seize the guns they find. It was at first applied sparsely, generating about 20 seizure orders a year. But its use jumped after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, with 100 warrants in 2011, 139 in 2012, 183 for the full year 2013, and 150 or more during each subsequent year through 2017.

     A study published in La w and Contemporary Problems examined the statute’s effects between its enactment and June, 2013. During this period judges issued 762 Red Flag warrants. Twenty-one of the named defendants subsequently committed suicide, six by gun and fifteen by other means (e.g., pills).

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ROUTINELY CHAOTIC
Rule #1: Don’t let chaos distort the police response. Rule #2:
see Rule #1.
(3/6/18)

     For Police Issues by Julius (Jay) Wachtel. “She was too fast for me.” Taking the stand at his trial for murder, manslaughter and negligent homicide, that’s how NYPD Sgt. Hugh Barry explained winding up in a situation that ultimately forced him to pull the trigger, mortally wounding Deborah Danner, 66, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. Only a day later Mayor DeBlasio declared the officer at fault: “The shooting of Deborah Danner is tragic and it is unacceptable. It should never have happened.” Police Commissioner James O’Neill agreed: “That’s not how we trained. We failed.”

     On October 18, 2016 officers were dispatched to the apartment building where Ms. Danner lived and occasionally lost control. Sgt. Barry testified that when he arrived Ms. Danner was ensconced in her bedroom, a pair of scissors in hand. He said he convinced her to put the scissors down and come out, but she soon became recalcitrant. Fearing she’d go back for the scissors, he tried to grab her, but the panicked woman slipped away. So he chased her back into the bedroom, and got confronted with a baseball bat. Sgt. Barry testified that Ms. Danner ignored repeated commands to drop the object, then aggressively stepped towards him and began her swing.

     In our earlier comments about the case (A Stitch in Time and Are Civilians Too Easy on the Police?) we referred to NYPD’s lengthy and, in our opinion, confusingly written protocols. In all, these rules apparently prescribe that unless a mentally ill person’s actions “constitute [an] immediate threat of serious physical injury or death to himself or others” officers should limit their response to establishing a “zone of safety” and await the arrival of their supervisor and an emergency services unit.

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A STITCH IN TIME
Could early intervention save officer and citizen lives?
(11/25/16)

     For Police Issues by Julius (Jay) Wachtel. Consider a well-known, chronic offender who habitually gathered with other like-minded souls to sell contraband. Then take into account the reprobate’s criminal record, which included three open criminal cases and about thirty arrests in as many years for offenses including assault, resisting arrest, grand larceny and, most recently, selling contraband cigarettes.

     We’re referring, of course, to Eric Garner. During the first six months of 2014 his favorite place for selling loosies was the site of 98 arrests, 100 summonses and hundreds of complaints from citizens, merchants and the landlord of the apartment building where he and his buds gathered to peddle their wares. Two of those arrests were of Garner himself. When, in July, the cops moved in for a third time he tried to fight them off. At six-feet three and 350 pounds, the 43-year old scoundrel suffered from obesity, asthma and circulatory problems, so when an overexcited cop applied a chokehold the outcome seemed all too predictable.

     Our second story, also from the Big Apple, reached its equally lethal conclusion last month. On October 18 officers were called to the apartment of Deborah Danner, a 66-year old schizophrenic. Over the years police had repeatedly responded to complaints from other tenants about Danner’s behavior. Although Danner was estranged from her family and lived alone, her sister would usually show up and accompany everyone to the E.R.

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Red Flag at Half Mast California’s Guv nixes expanded authority to seize guns from their owners (#324, 11/21/18)


Preventing Mass Murder With gun control a no-go, early intervention is key. Might artificial intelligence help? (#323, 11/4/18)

Notching a "Win" A self-professed “sleeper agent” is (legally) flimflammed by the FBI
(#322, 10/21/18)


Is it Ever OK to Shoot Someone in the Back? Laws, policies and politics clash with the messiness of policing (#321, 10/8/18)


Speed Kills Acting swiftly can save lives. And take them, too. (#320, 9/23/18)

The Bail Conundrum Bail obviously disadvantages the poor. What are the alternatives? (#319, 9/4/18)

Make-Believe Surprise! A well-known terrorist winds up in the U.S. as a refugee (#318, 8/18/18)


Police Slowdowns (Part II) Cops can’t fix what ails America’s inner cities – and shouldn’t try (#317, 8/4/18)

Police Slowdowns (Part I) Bedeviled by scolding, cops hold back. What happens then? (#316, 7/22/18)

Should Every Town Field Its Own Cops? Recent tragedies bring into question the wisdom of small agencies (#315, 7/6/18)

No One Wants Ex-cons to Have Guns The New York Times affirms its liberal creds. And falls into a rabbit hole. (#314, 6/24/18)

Fewer Can Be Better Murder clearances have declined. Should we worry? (#313, 6/9/18)



The Blame Game Inmates are “realigned” from state to county supervision. Then a cop gets killed. (#312, 5/21/18)

Is Your Uncle a Serial Killer? Police scour DNA databanks for the kin of unidentified suspects (#311, 5/6/18)

There's no "Pretending" a Gun Sometimes split-second decisions are right, even when they're wrong (#310, 4/18/18)



A Reason? Or Just an Excuse? Figuring out why officers kill persons “armed” with a cell phone (#309, 4/5/18)

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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