• Optimizing the Police Shotgun
• Precision Guided Firearms Are Here
• Critical Space: How to Effectively Shoot at Close Range
• Selecting a Police Sniper
• Transportation on Patrol (TOP)
• How to Motivate the People That You Supervise
• Police Security Expo 2013 – Official Trade Show Guide
• And Much More!
Five Things Law Enforcement Executives Can Do to Make a Difference
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) announced the results of years of research, distilling evidence-based practices which can make a difference into a single list, “Five Things Law Enforcement Executives Can Do to Make a Difference.”
Former NIJ Director John Laub, and current Police Foundation President (and former NIJ visiting fellow) Jim Bueermann, have developed this list, defined as follows:
1. Crime is rarely random; patrols shouldn’t be, either. Focusing on small geographic locations and times when crimes occur and targeting specific, high impact repeat offenders can decrease crime.
2. Quality is more important than speed. In most cases, thorough investigations, problem solving and careful forensic evidence collection contribute more to arresting suspects than shaving a few seconds off initial response times.
3. DNA works for property crimes, too. Collecting and using DNA evidence substantially increases the likelihood of solving property crimes – leading to twice as many arrests and twice as many cases being accepted for prosecution than in non-DNA investigations.
4. In police work, perception matters. When people see the police as fair, lawful and respectful, officers are safer and citizens are more likely to obey the law and comply with police orders.
5. Officer safety and wellness should be a priority. Safety training, certain shift lengths and using body armor prevent injuries and save lives. Resources on the Web page include topic pages, publications and multimedia, tools, training, standards and funding.
To learn more, visit http://nij.gov/five-things
No Absolute Defense Against IEDs
Americans accustomed to rigorous security procedures since the 9/11 attacks may have to endure new measures after the Boston Marathon bombings, but experts told McClatchy Newspapers that no amount of extra precautions can guarantee absolute safety from a determined terrorist.
Among those quoted by McClatchy Newspapers is Dennis Pluchinsky, a former senior State Department terrorism analyst: “There is no way that people who run in marathons or people who go to baseball stadiums can be assured that they will be protected from IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) 100 percent of the time. Terrorists will always find some holes, some gap (in security) to take advantage of.”
The complete article can be found at http://tinyurl.com/cx2c9tf.
NYPD Smartphone App Allows Officers to Check Criminal Histories
The New York Police Department has distributed about 400 dedicated Android smartphones to its officers, part of a pilot program begun quietly last summer, reports The New York Times. According to the news article shared on the NYPD Facebook page, the phones, which cannot make or receive calls, enable officers on foot patrol, for the first time, to look up a person’s criminal history and verify their identification by quickly gaining access to computerized arrest files, police photographs, and state Department of Motor Vehicles databases.
The technology offers extraordinary levels of detail about an individual, including whether the person has ever been “a passenger in a motor vehicle accident,” a victim of a crime or in one instance, a drug suspect who has been known by the police to hide crack cocaine “in his left sock,” according to an officer who is quoted in the article.
To read the complete report in The New York Times, go to http://tinyurl.com/cq7xuw4.
FSI’s Latest Study Pinpoints Vehicle Stop Vulnerabilities
Important officer safety findings from a groundbreaking study of vehicle stop performance have been reported by the Force Science® Institute (FSI), Ltd.
An analysis of various positions officers typically assume when talking to a driver of a stopped car and their immediate reaction to a sudden crisis reveals that:
• No position proximate to the suspect’s vehicle can fully protect an officer from shots fired by a determined driver;
• Positioning on the passenger side seems to offer the fastest access to a “mitigation zone” where the danger of incoming rounds is lessened;
• In a surprise attack, officers who are trained to perform gun grabs or other disarming techniques tend to ignore that training in their desperation to escape the kill zone;
• Trying to draw and return fire during a dash to safety slows down an officer’s flight;
• Many officers, particularly those who backpedal away from the threat, move at an angle which prevents them from ever reaching a zone of reduced danger.
“Some positions and movements are better than others,” says Dr. Bill Lewinski, FSI’s executive director who led the study team. “But you can’t depend solely on positioning to save your life on a traffic stop.
“If you decide to approach a vehicle you’ve pulled over, probably the most important elements for your safety will be your ability to control the suspect’s hands as soon as possible after beginning your approach and to verbally and psychologically dominate the interaction through effective communication and tactical maneuvers.”
Fieldwork for the study, which FSI says is the first to systematically evaluate police officer responses to a sudden lethal threat during what appeared to be a “routine” traffic stop, was conducted last April in Hillsboro, OR, with the help of the training staff of Hillsboro Police Department. The goal, in part, was to determine if certain positioning during contact with a violator would work best to an officer’s advantage and to analyze officers’ immediate reactions to an unexpected, life threatening crisis.
Details of what the testing involved were described in Force Science News Transmission No. 202 which can be found at www.forcescience.org/fsnews/202.html.
California Looks to Crack Down on “Swatting” Hoaxes
“Swatting” recently has grown to near epidemic proportions in California – particularly throughout Los Angeles County. Swatting is when an individual makes prank calls and/or false reports of violent crimes to law enforcement in an attempt to solicit a tactical police response which often includes a SWAT team (thus the term “swatting”).
These hoax 911 calls have become increasingly common in the past few months as they involve entertainers, celebrities and other public officials. Swatting victims include Simon Cowell, Ashton Kutcher, Tom Cruise, Chris Brown, Charlie Sheen, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Clint Eastwood and others. But celebrities are not the only ones who have been targeted; many private individuals and local law enforcement officials have also fallen victim to the swatting hoax.
Swatting incidents have already resulted in injuries for several responding officers and many law enforcement officials fear that it is only a matter of time before events take a deadly turn. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck acknowledged in the Los Angeles Times that swatting has stretched the LAPD’s emergency response capacity while also endangering victims by placing them in potential confrontation with police. Swatting not only is an inconvenience to the victims, but also a costly waste of precious law enforcement resources. Law enforcement takes every emergency reported and uses its resources to maximize public safety. But, at the time a false report is given, law enforcement is unaware that it is a hoax – until they get to the scene of the alleged crime.
Given recent tragedies involving gun violence nationwide, pranks which divert public safety resources are far from harmless and, in fact, are the last thing needed; they must be deterred. California Senate Bill 333 seeks to create a greater deterrent and provide law enforcement with the ability to help recoup expenses which reportedly can run as high as $10,000 per incident.
Deficiency in Current Law
Current law allows for either misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the judge’s discretion, for those convicted of making false emergency reports. But, the law is so burdensome that no one ever has been charged with a felony. Additionally, current law does not assign any liability for the violating individual to pay back the cost associated with responding to the bogus emergency.
The bill sponsored by Sen. Ted W. Lieu would crack down on swatting and help provide law enforcement the ability to recoup expenses for responding to prank reports.
Under Lieu’s bill, which would apply to any cases of false 911 reports, a person convicted of making a false emergency report would be held liable for all costs associated with the response by law enforcement.
The bill has the support of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (a sponsor), the California Police Chiefs Association and the California State Sheriffs’ Association.
California Attorneys for Criminal Justice oppose the bill. The measure passed its initial policy hearing by the Senate Public Safety Committee in April and next will face a fiscal review.
According to The Associated Press, Los Angeles police said they will no longer routinely issue news releases or offer immediate confirmation on hoax emergency services calls targeting the homes of celebrities.
BJA Offers Guidance for Developing a Social Media Policy for Investigations
“Social media sites have become useful tools for the public and law enforcement entities, but criminals are also using these sites for wrongful purposes,” according to an abstract Developing a Policy on the Use of Social Media in Intelligence and Investigative Activities: Guidance and Recommendations, a Bureau of Justice Assistance sponsored report.
“Social media sites may be used to coordinate a criminal-related flash mob or plan a robbery, or terrorist groups may use social media sites to recruit new members and espouse their criminal intentions. Social media sites are increasingly being used to instigate or conduct criminal activity, and law enforcement personnel should understand the concept and function of these sites, as well as know how social media tools and resources can be used to prevent, mitigate, respond to, and investigate criminal activity. To ensure that information obtained from social media sites for investigative and criminal intelligence-related activity is used lawfully while also ensuring that individuals’ and groups’ privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties are protected, law enforcement agencies should have a social media policy (or include the use of social media sites in other information-related policies).”
The report provides law enforcement and justice agencies with guidance and recommendations on issues to consider when developing a social media policy (or updating other relevant policies), focusing on access, use, storage, and dissemination of information obtained from social media sites for investigative and criminal intelligence purposes. The document includes recommended elements of the related policy, focusing on potential privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties implications.
The February 2013 report was authored by the Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative.
To access the report online, go to www.it.ojp.gov/gist/Document/132.
Supreme Court: Police Usually Must Seek Warrant in DUI Blood Tests
“A police officer out on patrol who stops a driver who seems to be drunk may not have read through four new Supreme Court opinions and counted the Justices’ votes accurately, but that officer would probably do the sensible thing by getting a warrant before having the driver’s blood tested without consent,” Lyle Denniston, a SCOTUSblog reporter, writes in “Opinion recap: Limit on DUI blood testing.”
“That would be the best thing to do because the bottom line of the court’s April decision in Missouri v. McNeely (11-1425) was that every case will be judged on its own facts, so the officer can never know whether failure to get a warrant will scuttle a drunk driving case altogether.”
The opinion recap can be found at http://tinyurl.com/d23jbhe.
Study Explores Gang Activity on the Internet
Gangs are not using the Internet to recruit new members or commit complex cybercrimes, according to a new study. “What they are doing online is typically what they are doing on the street,” said David Pyrooz, an Assistant Professor at Sam Houston State University, College of Criminal Justice and coauthor of the study. “For the most part, gang members are using the Internet for self-promotion and braggadocio, but that also involves some forms of criminal and deviant behaviors.”
“Criminal and Routine Activities in Online Settings: Gangs, Offenders, and the Internet,” coauthored by Scott Decker, Director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and doctoral student Richard Moule of Arizona State University, was recently published online by Justice Quarterly. The study looks at the use of the Internet and social networking sites by gang members and other young adults for online crime and deviance.
The study was based on interviews the authors conducted with 585 young adults from five cities, including Cleveland, OH; Fresno, CA.; Los Angeles, CA; Phoenix, AZ; and St. Louis, MO. It was funded by Google Ideas, a think/do tank which explores the role technology can play in tackling human challenges, such as violent extremism, illicit networks and fragile states.
The study found that much of the online activities of gang members are typical of their age group; they spend time on the Internet, use social networking sites like Facebook, and watch YouTube videos. Much like what studies find in offline or street settings, their rate of committing crimes or deviant acts online is 70% greater than those not in gangs. Gang members illegally download media; sell drugs; coordinate assaults; search social network sites to steal and rob; and upload deviant videos at a higher rate than former or nongang members, the study found.
However, gang members are not engaging in intricate cybercrimes, such as phishing schemes, identity theft or hacking into commercial enterprises. “We observe that neither gang members nor their peers have the technological competency to engage in complex forms of cybercrime,” the study found. “In short, while the Internet has reached inner city populations, access alone is not translating into sophisticated technological know-how.”
Gangs do not use the Internet for purposes instrumental to the group, such as recruiting new members, drug distribution, meetings or other organizational activities. Gang members recognized that law enforcement monitored their online behaviors, so they limited their discussion of gang activities on the Internet or social media sites. Only 20% of gang members surveyed said that their gang had a Web site or social media page and one third of those were password protected.
Gang members recognized the importance of the Internet, but sites were used mainly as status symbols. Instead of exploiting the Internet for criminal opportunities, YouTube, Facebook, or other social media is used much like an “electronic graffiti wall,” according to the study.
One quarter of gang members said they used the Internet to search out information on other gangs and more than half watch gang-related videos online, such as fights.
“Many respondents were simply interested in gang-related fights and threats in general, finding them as entertaining as a boxing or UFC match,” Pyrooz said, referring to gang-related videos on YouTube.
Law enforcement should continue to monitor and address gangs and crime online by working closely with different Web sites and ISPs, as well as investigating other forms of telecommunication, like cell phones and E-mails. In addition, they can request service providers remove images which glorify gangs or violence, or use Twitter for citizens to report crime in the community.
“Technology is part of the problem, but it is just as likely part of the solution,” said Pyrooz, with regard to documenting the “digital trail” left behind, as well as prosocial opportunities.
To view the full study, visit http://tinyurl.com/dyvc6sk.
James City County, VA, Police Department Releases New Crime Mapping App for Citizens
James City County citizens can download the free RAIDS Online mobile app from the App StoreSM for the iPhone®, iPad® or iPod touch®.
The James City County Police Department and BAIR Analytics Inc. have partnered to provide a new way for the public to stay informed about crime in James City County. The app includes all of the key features of James City County’s online crime map and allows citizens to see recent crime activity based on an address or on a citizen’s current location.
RAIDS Online Mobile empowers citizens to better understand crime trends and lower crime in their area. Recent crime incidents are displayed on a map or listed on a grid. Users can click on an incident for more information or display a hot spot map based on the crimes which are currently on display. Users can also sign up for neighborhood watch reports which automatically E-mail any recent crime activity on a daily, weekly or monthly schedule. The app makes all of this information accessible anywhere from a user’s mobile device.
Typically, agencies can spend thousands of dollars annually through other crime mapping providers, the James City County news release points out. BAIR Analytics offers RAIDS Online and the RAIDS Online mobile app as a free service to any law enforcement agency which wishes to participate. RAIDS Online is ad-free and BAIR does not sell the data to third-party vendors; thus, the agency remains in complete control over its data.
To learn more about this mobile app, visit the Web site at www.raidsonline.com.