Highlights from this issue also include:
What Does Your Vehicle Say About You?
Search and Rescue Ohio, formerly Rapid Assistance to Community Emergencies (RACE), created a graphic which asks, “Are you giving free information to criminals?” The image was shared on Facebook more than 30,000 times and led to several news inquiries.
Consider the popular stick figure families often seen in rear vehicle windows. A figure which shows dad or mom in the military may let people know he, or she, may be away. A stick figure of a boy with a football may let people know that they can find Johnny at football practice. A parking pass may reveal where you live or work or go to school.
Search and Rescue Ohio is an all volunteer, nonprofit search and rescue team based in Central Ohio. For more information, visit www.OhioSAR.com.
Felonious Deaths Decrease 44 Percent
Preliminary statistics released by the FBI show that 27 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty in 2013. That’s a decrease of more than 44% compared to the 49 officers killed in 2012.
By circumstance, seven officers were killed as a result of ambushes (four during unprovoked attacks and three due to entrapment/premeditated situations). Five officers died from injuries inflicted as a result of answering disturbance calls (three of which were domestic disturbances) and five officers were engaged in tactical situations. Three officers sustained fatal injuries while they were investigating suspicious persons or circumstances; three were conducting traffic pursuits or stops; and three officers were responding to robberies in progress or pursuing robbery suspects. One officer was killed as a result of an investigative activity.
Nineteen of the slain officers were confirmed to be wearing body armor at the times of the incidents. An additional 49 officers were accidentally killed in the line of duty in 2013. This total represents one officer more than the 48 officers who were accidentally killed in 2012.
Final statistics and complete details will be available in the Uniform Crime Reporting Program’s publication, Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2013, which will be published on the FBI’s Web site (www.fbi.gov) in the fall.
New Orleans Continues to Make Improvements
Back in June, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) announced that New Orleans saw a nearly 30% drop in murders in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same time frame last year, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR). The statistics represent a continued downward trend in murder and show that the number of murders in New Orleans is at a historic nearly 30 year low.
Looking at 2013 statistics, homicides in New Orleans declined for the second year. Of 350 killings, NPR reports 91% of the victims have been black.
To help address the problem, NPR says New Orleans officers are going into schools and talking to students. It’s Up to You is a short documentary the NOPD shows which tells the stories of two men in prison. The film seeks to create a dialogue between police officers and students about making good choices. The video can be seen at http://vimeo.com/85485694.
While there are exceptions, the New Orleans Crime Coalition’s latest survey results – which can be found at www.crimecoalitionnola.com – show a steady or gradually improving performance by the New Orleans Police Department.
Michael Cowan, Chairman of the Crime Coalition, said, “The results indicate that the New Orleans Police Department must build on its commitment to the philosophy of community policing by continuing to strengthen working partnerships with local residents and businesses to make communities safer. The New Orleans Crime Coalition sees the current grave shortage of police officers as the major barrier to taking that step.”
NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas reports that the department is doubling down on its efforts to hire more police officers. This year, the mayor and the city council funded five new recruit classes in the 2014 budget and allocated an additional $300,000 for recruitment efforts.
Predicting Crime Using Twitter
Twitter is used extensively and globally, creating many opportunities to augment decision support systems with Twitter driven predictive analytics. Twitter is an ideal data source for decision support: Its users, who number in the millions, publicly discuss events, emotions and innumerable other topics; its content is authored and distributed in real time at no charge; and individual messages (also known as Tweets) are often tagged with precise spatial and temporal coordinates. Matthew Gerber of the University of Virginia writes about his Twitter research in “Predicting Crime Using Twitter and Kernel Density Estimation.” The article appeared in the May 2014 issue of Decision Support Systems.
For 19 of the 25 crime types they studied, researchers found the addition of Twitter data improves crime prediction performance. Prior to this research, the benefits of Twitter messages for crime prediction were largely unknown.
The article is available at http://tinyurl.com/oejat4e.
Chicago Patrols Gangs in “Virtual Playgrounds”
The Chicago Police Department – like its colleagues in New York – has detailed officers to watch those virtual playgrounds where gangsters get together and boast about who got capped, who fell and who should die, reports Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass.
“For gang members, social media is the new graffiti,” police spokesman Adam Collins told Kass. “It’s a way to communicate, to intimidate, to sound off, to taunt other gangs or to boost their own reputation.”
To read the entire column in the Chicago Tribune, go to http://tinyurl.com/qasd89k.
Indianapolis Considers Charging Event Security Fee
Indianapolis officials could consider a new revenue source to help fill the police department’s depleted coffers: charging a security fee at some of the city’s biggest events, reports the IndyStar.
According to the Web site report, police officials estimate that they could raise as much as $1 million a year by charging for the police protection they have long provided for free for conventions and big events.
The idea of reimbursement is not a new one. IndyStar notes Las Vegas seeks complete reimbursement for most large events, such as concerts and boxing matches.
To read the IndyStar article, go to http://tinyurl.com/kk3bctj.
White, Suburban Drug Users Switch to Heroin
Today’s heroin users are 23 years old on average when they first try the drug. Most got high with prescription drugs acquired illegally before switching to heroin. They tend to live in suburban or rural areas rather than in the inner city and more than 90% of the study subjects who began using heroin in the past decade are white. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis published the survey’s results on May 28, 2014, in the journal, JAMA Psychiatry.
Previous research had reported that, in the 1960s and 1970s, more than 80% of heroin users were young male minorities who lived in inner cities and began using the drug at about age 16.
Principal investigator Theodore J. Cicero, Ph.D., said that it’s surprising that a drug like heroin is becoming more acceptable in suburban and rural settings. But, he believes that more studies of people in treatment programs may shine a light on the problem. “The overdose deaths and hospitalizations are symptoms of a problem that we really need to deal with,” he said. “You can’t effectively treat people or prevent addiction unless you know why they are taking drugs, and we don’t really have a handle on that yet. Unfortunately, the problem with heroin is [that] it’s the most powerful opiate ever created and, even if people think they are being careful, it can kill.”
For more on this story, go to http://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/26982.aspx.