Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Future of Police Work is a Return to the Old Days - Reactionary not Proactive Policing

I've been reading about the police shooting and subsequent rioting in Milwaukee and all I can think to myself is "Why?"

Why is any cop, in any jurisdiction being proactive these days?

It was a traffic stop and two occupants ran from the vehicle. Screw it, let them run. Hell, why are we even enforcing traffic rules at this point anyway?

The news is not on the cop's side. They never were and certainly aren't now

Here's a link to the AP's ongoing thread on the incident in Milwaulkee. I'd like to point something out that is repeated throughout the thread:
The unrest broke out hours after an officer shot a man who police say fled a traffic stop. Police say the man was armed, but it wasn't clear if he pointed a gun at or shot at the officer. The races of the man and officer haven't been released.
Are cops supposed to be shot at before stopping the threat of someone armed with a gun? Is that where we are now as a society?

He was told to drop the firearm. He didn't. He was killed. Another black man killed by a cop. A black cop.

Doesn't matter the circumstance anymore. As a cop, you're guilty until proven innocent in a court of media sensationalism that is fanning the flames of social injustice, even when there is no injustice to be found.

If I were active, I'd be telling my officers to only respond to calls received from central. The majority of these shooting incidents are because active cops are following their instincts and interacting with a criminal element. These are the encounters most likely to go sideways, and the perp suspects you know what he did (or is going to do) and the cop most likely does not. Traffic stops are the most dangerous part of the job for the reasons I just stated. The advantage always goes to the perp.

So, stop trying to prevent crime. It's dangerous and thankless, and more likely than any other part of the job to cost one your employment, your liberty or your life.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

DC Metro Police Officer charged with aiding ISIS

Put this in in both the WTF? and I'm not Surprised categories (link to story at the Washington Post):
A Metro Transit police officer has been arrested and charged with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State. 
Nicholas Young, 36, of Fairfax, was arrested Wednesday morning at Metropolitan Police Headquarters. Last week, according to an indictment filed in Alexandria federal court, a law enforcement source convinced Young to send him codes for mobile messaging cards that Young believed would be used by Islamic State fighters overseas to communicate. 
Authorities said there was never any credible or specific threat to the Metro system. 
According to authorities, Young has been with the Metro police since 2003. He has been monitored by the FBI since September 2010.
First thing that really catches my attention is that the FBI has been watching this cop for nearly 6 years. For those 6 years, he was apparently full duty - firearms and authority. Mind boggling.

I'm going to guess that his social media had flagged somewhere 6 years ago.

It's not just ISIS sympathizers. I know for a fact that we've had gang members and drug dealers become cops in the NYPD. And I personally knew (he worked directly for me for a time) a cop that was arrested by the feds for the sexual molestation of his martial arts students. He's dead now, cancer took him, so there is justice on a higher level.

We really need to do a better job at vetting cops.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Some Thoughts on Body Cameras for Police Officers

Let me start out by saying when I first heard of them, I was against them with all my being. The idea that every interaction with the public (and possibly even the usual banter between police officers on patrol) would be recorded was simply too much Big Brother for me.

I held that thought for a long time. Even as the NYPD was experimenting with it with a handful of cops in a half dozen patrol commands I thought no good could come of it.

I was so wrong.

It wasn't until I was knee deep in watching complaints made against police officers come in realtime did I see the value that I had missed. Overwhelmingly, complaints made against officers wearing body cameras were found to simply not be true. Maybe the complainant misremembered the incident or maybe they figured a complaint against a cop was a great way to get back at the cop that gave them a ticket or arrested them. Doesn't matter. Body cameras show what happened and let you hear what was actually said. It also keeps cops on their best behavior.

Maybe that's why the coalition that comprises Black Lives Matter wants to do away with body cameras (see demand #7 on the linked list). I would think that the truth would be an important thing to capture, but without a video and audio reference, reality isn't nearly as real as we would like to think.

It's true with cops too. We misremember things all the time, which is why we have to constantly update our activity log / memo book so that there is a written record of every job and interaction of note with the public.

When I came on the job and hit my first command, the 42 Precinct in the South Bronx, an old timer looked over my first week of activity in my memo book and told me "Kid, less is more. You write too much. You're gonna get yourself in trouble with all these details. Stop killing paper."

Body cameras make it obvious as to what went on. Good, bad, warts and all. Not just the cops' warts either. The public's too.

Body cameras. Keeping reality real.