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Identifying the Culprit: Assessing Eyewitness Identification (2014)

October 17, 2014 Comments off

Identifying the Culprit: Assessing Eyewitness Identification (2014)
Source: National Research Council

Eyewitnesses play an important role in criminal cases when they can identify culprits. Estimates suggest that tens of thousands of eyewitnesses make identifications in criminal investigations each year. Research on factors that affect the accuracy of eyewitness identification procedures has given us an increasingly clear picture of how identifications are made, and more importantly, an improved understanding of the principled limits on vision and memory that can lead to failure of identification. Factors such as viewing conditions, duress, elevated emotions, and biases influence the visual perception experience. Perceptual experiences are stored by a system of memory that is highly malleable and continuously evolving, neither retaining nor divulging content in an informational vacuum. As such, the fidelity of our memories to actual events may be compromised by many factors at all stages of processing, from encoding to storage and retrieval. Unknown to the individual, memories are forgotten, reconstructed, updated, and distorted. Complicating the process further, policies governing law enforcement procedures for conducting and recording identifications are not standard, and policies and practices to address the issue of misidentification vary widely. These limitations can produce mistaken identifications with significant consequences. What can we do to make certain that eyewitness identification convicts the guilty and exonerates the innocent?

Identifying the Culprit makes the case that better data collection and research on eyewitness identification, new law enforcement training protocols, standardized procedures for administering line-ups, and improvements in the handling of eyewitness identification in court can increase the chances that accurate identifications are made. This report explains the science that has emerged during the past 30 years on eyewitness identifications and identifies best practices in eyewitness procedures for the law enforcement community and in the presentation of eyewitness evidence in the courtroom. In order to continue the advancement of eyewitness identification research, the report recommends a focused research agenda.

Identifying the Culprit will be an essential resource to assist the law enforcement and legal communities as they seek to understand the value and the limitations of eyewitness identification and make improvements to procedures.

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Police Weapons in Selected Jurisdictions

October 15, 2014 Comments off

Police Weapons in Selected Jurisdictions
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report examines the weapons and equipment generally at the disposal of law enforcement officers in several countries around the world. It also provides, for each of these countries, a brief overview of the rules governing the use of weapons by law enforcement officers. Precise and reliable information on the weapons and equipment of some countries’ police forces was often difficult to find.

Suicide by Cop (2014)

October 10, 2014 Comments off

Suicide by Cop (2014) (PDF)
Source: American Association of Suicidology

Facts:

  • Often occurs because the individual has the intent to die, but doesn’t want to kill him/herself.
  • There are two victims of SbC: the suicidal subject, and the firing officer. Officers involved in SbC often suffer from emotional difficulties, and sometimes Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), following the incident.
  • When facing an armed individual, officers often do not know if the individual’s firearm is loaded or not, and must defend themselves in case it is.
  • A study using data from 1998 to 2006, found that among 707 officer involved shootings, 36% were attempted /completed suicide by cop; 51% of subjects were killed.

Police Department Investments in Information Technology Systems

October 6, 2014 Comments off

Police Department Investments in Information Technology Systems
Source: RAND Corporation

In the wake of the economic downturn that began in 2007 and 2008, public service providers, including police departments, have been asked to tighten their financial belts and, in some instances, do more with less. Whereas some departments have cut their information technology (IT) investments and staffing as a way to avoid cutting sworn officers, others have increased their investments in IT, believing it can serve as a force multiplier, increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the department. IT has become increasingly integrated into modern police organizations, particularly for systems related to records management, dispatch, crime investigation, personnel records, information sharing, fleet management, automated booking, and resource allocation. But the trade-offs among personnel, technology, and costs are not straightforward. With this report, the authors explored the rationale and evidence supporting the idea that IT investments can increase efficiency in policing, and do so cost-effectively. The correlation modeling suggested both expected and unexpected relationships between IT and efficiency. For various reasons, the efforts to carry out a full statistical analysis of police IT use matched with activity types using existing survey data did not succeed. However, they did yield insights that are relevant to the design of future efforts to assess the effects of IT systems on law enforcement performance.

ComputerCOP: The Dubious ‘Internet Safety Software’ That Hundreds of Police Agencies Have Distributed to Families

October 2, 2014 Comments off

ComputerCOP: The Dubious ‘Internet Safety Software’ That Hundreds of Police Agencies Have Distributed to Families
Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation

For years, local law enforcement agencies around the country have told parents that installing ComputerCOP software is the “first step” in protecting their children online.

Police chiefs, sheriffs, and district attorneys have handed out hundreds of thousands of copies of the disc to families for free at schools, libraries, and community events, usually as a part of an “Internet Safety” outreach initiative. The packaging typically features the agency’s official seal and the chief’s portrait, with a signed message warning of the “dark and dangerous off-ramps” of the Internet.

As official as it looks, ComputerCOP is actually just spyware, generally bought in bulk from a New York company that appears to do nothing but market this software to local government agencies.

FBI Releases Study on Active Shooter Incidents – Covers 2000-2013 Time Frame

September 26, 2014 Comments off

FBI Releases Study on Active Shooter Incidents – Covers 2000-2013 Time Frame
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

Today the FBI is releasing a study of 160 active shooter incidents that occurred between 2000 and 2013 throughout the U.S. The primary purpose of the study? To provide our law enforcement partners—normally the first responders on the scene of these dangerous and fast-moving events—with data that will help them to better prepare for and respond to these incidents, saving more lives and keeping themselves safer in the process.

But we believe the information contained in this study can benefit anyone who could potentially be in an active shooter situation—like emergency personnel, employees of retail corporations and other businesses, educators and students, government and military personnel, members of the general public, etc.—by giving them a better understanding of how these incidents play out.

Young people of color mistrust police and legal system, report finds

September 24, 2014 Comments off

Young people of color mistrust police and legal system, report finds
Source: University of Chicago (Black Youth Project)

Black youth are far more likely than other young people to have negative experiences with the police, and believe overwhelmingly that the American legal system does not treat all groups equally, according to a new report from the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago.

The report by the Black Youth Project, a national collaboration based at UChicago’s Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture, considers youth survey data from 2014 and 2009 in light of recent cases of racial tension, including the deaths of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin.

The data in the report came from the 2009 Mobilization and Change survey, which included 3,202 respondents, and the 2014 Black Youth Project study, which surveyed 1,527 people between the ages of 18 and 29. The main findings include:

  • Black youth report the highest rate of harassment by the police (54.5 percent), nearly twice the rates of other young people.
  • Less than half of black youth (44.2 percent) trust the police, compared with 71.5 percent of white youth, 59.6 percent of Latino youth, and 76.1 percent of Asian American youth.
  • Substantially fewer black youth believe the police in their neighborhood are there to protect them (66.1 percent) compared to young people from other racial and ethnic groups.
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