Episode 2

Photographer shot by a deputy; Chief outrage reporter; London use of force statistics; Murder Accountability Project; Polk County Sheriff; Detroit Cops capture murderer

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This episode is dedicated to those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 and to those who have since passed from injuries suffered as a result of those attacks.

Notes and Sources: This was a light news week, but there were a couple of goofy stories, none more so than that of photographer Andy Green getting shot by a Clark County Deputy .

In other sillyness, New York Daily News Senior Justice Writer (aka: Chief Outrage Reporter) Shaun King tweeted his displeasure that the Fresno Police Department didn’t shoot Travis Aaron Finlay on September 4, after Finlay stabbed an officer in the chest (the officer was protected by his body armor) and was TASERed by a second officer. Mr. King, apparently, felt that the police would have killed Mr. Finlay had Mr. Finlay been black.

Speaking of statistics, Nick mentioned the Metropolitan Police (London) Use of Force report, which prompted him to file a Freedom of Information request with the Met. Peter warns about trans-national crime rate comparisons, as definitions of crimes can vary greatly. For example, in England and Wales the definition of “burglary” includes what we in America would call “attempted burglary.” So while it seems like there is more burglary in England, since the numbers are higher, there are not more criminals successfully burgling people’s homes. Similarly “knife crimes” in England and Wales can include simple possession. Some data courtesy of the House of Commons Library Research Report, Knife crime in England and Wales, which includes this chart and descriptive data:

We then discuss this in relation to the aggravated assault rate in New York City.

Nick also mentioned the uniquely British crime of glassing, and the Moped Menace: scooter-borne gangs participating in assaults and acid attacks.

Nick’s Freedom of Information Request to the Met included these metrics:

  • Type of call (e.g., assault non-sexual, assault sexual, homicide, etc.)?
  • Use of force by civilian against police officer in UoF incident?
  • Injuries to civilians caused by suspect prior to police arrival?
  • Injuries to civilians caused by suspect after police arrival?
  • Weapons possessed by those against whom force was used?
  • Was the incident phoned in or reported by a civilian, or did the officers self-dispatch?”

The reply was:

…I can confirm that it would take in excess of 18 hours to ascertain whether the details you have requested are recorded anywhere, and then to locate, retrieve and extract any information that is held.

I have assessed the Use of Force form and can confirm that the questions you have asked are not answered by the details input on this form. Therefore, in order to answer your questions, we would be required to view the details on every form, and try to cross reference these (such as names, dates of birth, borough locations etc.) with information that could potentially be recorded on the free text fields in other electronic systems such as CAD, Crimint or NSPIS. Other than a custody number for those arrested, there are no other reference numbers on the form, which makes this even more of an onerous task [Emphasis added].

If you consider the fact that 12,605 use of force incidents were recorded during this time period, it becomes clearer why the cost threshold is exceeded. If it took only a minute to review these figures and compare them against the other systems that more specific details could be recorded upon, this work would take in excess of 210 hours. In reality, it would take much longer than this. Furthermore there is no guarantee that the data about injuries to civilians caused by suspects prior to / after the arrival of police and how the incident was reported would definitely be recorded in all instances.

Given these difficulties, we therefore estimate that the cost of complying with this request would grossly exceed the appropriate limit. The appropriate limit has been specified in regulations and for agencies outside central Government; this is set at £450.00. This represents the estimated cost of one person spending 18 hours [at a rate of £25 per hour] in determining whether the MPS holds the information, and locating, retrieving and extracting the information.

Nick then discussed the blog and book, Wasting Police Time (the name comes from the criminal offence of that name in the UK), in which P.C. David Copperfield describes, in the words of one reviewer, “…[P]olicing in progressive Britain, where the Bobbies spend 90% of their time doing paperwork to CYA senior officers, filing administrative “detections,” and enforcing political correctness, diversity and multiculturalism.”

The astounding part of this is that the use of force forms apparently have the data we seek, but that data is not digiti(s)ed or made available for central analysis – it’s just written down and filed in… paper.

This led to a discussion of the Murder Accountability Project, Thomas Hargrove’s amazing effort to detect patterns of murders that look like serial killings.

Next up was the announcement on Twitter by Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd that law enforcement would be requiring ID of those entering hurricane shelters in the county:

We play a statement from the Sheriff as he discusses his decision.

We wrap up with the chase in Detroit of a 36-year-old suspect wanted for attempted murder of a 33-year-old female (subsequently the victim died). During this dramatic chase, the suspect ran atop a minivan. A police officer followed the suspect on to the top of the minivan (pictured at top of page) and pushed the suspect into the warm embrace of awaiting cops. You can watch the video of this chase to keep up.

Peter then mentions the Detroit Police Department’s new grooming and flair standards, which he supports, and expresses displeasure about a trend away from traditional metal badges, as exemplified by this plastic badge-like object sported by some police officers in Detroit.

We welcome your comments!