Law Enforcement

Parole of Man Charged in 1984 Killing of LAPD Officer Overturned by CA Governor

Police Magazine - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 16:51

California's governor has overturned a parole board's recommendation to release a man convicted of masterminding a 1984 armed robbery that led to a shootout with police and killed a Los Angeles officer, according to a copy of the governor's decision obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Hau Chan, 61, is currently serving a life sentence for murder after being convicted of orchestrating the Dec. 19, 1984 robbery at a jewelry store in the city's Chinatown neighborhood.

Los Angeles Police Officer Duane Johnson was shot and killed during an ensuing gunbattle. A second officer, Archie Nagao was shot in the neck and survived.

Earlier this year, a parole board found Chan was suitable for release after 32 years behind bars because he had showed remorse, accepted responsibility and had participated in several prison programs.

But California Gov. Jerry Brown issued a decision Friday reversing the parole board's recommendation and ordered Chan to remain in state prison.

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

Video: Woman Admits to Shooting Virginia Trooper After Pursuit

Police Magazine - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 16:51

VIDEO: Woman Admits to Shooting Virginia Trooper After Pursuit

The woman charged with shooting a Virginia State Trooper on Tuesday night says she did it.

From inside the Henrico County Jail, Karisa Daniels told 8News reporter, “I was under the influence and I was extremely high and, you know, just sitting in here today I’m like what have I done.".

According to investigators, Senior Trooper C.A. Putnam tried to pull the North Carolina woman over for going 87 miles per hour on Chippenham Parkway. She pulled over but took off when the trooper got out of his car. A pursuit ensued.

The police pursuit ended miles later when Daniels found herself at a dead end in a cul-de-sac. There she says she shot the trooper in an attempt to escape jail.

The trooper was hit in the arm. Daniels, 23, admits she is a convicted felon who was in possession of a firearm and was driving on a suspended license. She now faces a charge of attempted capital murder of a law enforcement officer.

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

California Officer Killed in Motorcycle Crash on Way to Work

Police Magazine - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 16:31

An off-duty California Highway Patrol officer was killed when his motorcycle collided with a pickup truck in San Martin on Tuesday, according to authorities. He was reportedly on his way to work at the time of the crash.

A 47-year-old man driving in a Chevrolet pickup truck was traveling northbound around 5:51 a.m. when he turned into the path of 44-year-old James Branik, who was riding in the opposite direction, according to the CHP. 

Branik, who is from San Jose and was currently working at the commercial scales in Gilroy, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the CHP. Branik previously spent time working at the San Jose CHP office, NBC Bay Area reports.

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

How spectrometers can aid crime scene investigations

Police One - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 14:53

Author: Linda Gilbertson

Science and technology play a major role in the current criminal justice system. From crime scene to investigation to trial, police departments use an array of technology-based scientific processes for evidence collection and handling.

Today’s juries, brought up on a TV diet of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “Law & Order,” expect to see detailed forensic evidence presented during a trial. While forensic technologies have traditionally been expensive and something few law enforcement agencies could include in annual budgets, the good news is that access to forensic tools such as spectrometry technology is improving.

Identifying unknown substances

On a daily basis, police agencies encounter unknown substances that require quick and accurate identification. Current identification methods – such as color change field testing kits – require using a portion of the seized substance, which can be problematic when only small samples are available. Raman spectroscopy – which provides rapid, sensitive, nondestructive analysis of a variety of drug types – can provide accurate identification for a range of unknown substances. A growing number of criminal justice and law enforcement agencies are recognizing the benefits of this technology.

Raman spectroscopy units use a laser to “see” through any evidence containers to analyze liquids, gels or powders. The testing process also helps limit officer exposure to unknown substances. This is especially important as accidental exposure to fentanyl and other opioid agents have recently resulted in police officers exhibiting exposure symptoms, with some requiring treatment with naloxone and transport to hospital.

Ongoing studies by Illinois State University researchers, funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), are determining both the legal implications associated with forensic analysis from spectrometers and the development of smaller, portable units that could assist in evidence collection on scene.

On-scene analysis would mean less reliance on outside laboratories that typically take several weeks to process evidence. In addition, if police investigators are able to analyze forensic evidence at a crime scene, this decreases the need to bag, store and transport such evidence. This adds up to time and money savings, not to mention increasing the quality of the forensic evidence.

How Raman spectrometers can detect narcotics, biological evidence

Advances in technology have led to the development of handheld Raman spectrometers. These user-friendly, low maintenance devices are ideally suited for the law enforcement environment.

Igor Lednev, a professor at the University at Albany, State University of New York (USA), says Raman spectroscopy has “unlimited potential” in drug detection and other forensic applications.

“Within 10 years, Raman spectroscopy will be a universal tool to use at any crime scene,” Lednev said in an article published in SPIE Professional Magazine. “When I started my career, I needed to spend all night in the laboratory to measure a single Raman spectrum, but now you can do this in a millisecond with a portable system.”

Lednev recently released findings on a method to determine the age of bloodstains at crime scenes for up to two years. The method uses Raman spectroscopy and advanced statistics. Lednev’s goal is to develop a “point-and-shoot” Raman spectroscopy instrument that law enforcement could use to analyze crime scene biological stains.

The NIJ has funded Lednev’s laboratory for eight consecutive years for a total of about $2.2 million.

Considerations for procurement and deployment of Raman spectroscopy

The purchase of drug detection equipment represents a significant investment for a law enforcement agency. Before acquiring the technology, agencies should:

Determine how portable detection technology fits within their mission; Determine the requirements for detection technology within their department; Determine whether currently available Raman spectrometer systems fit those requirements.

Police agencies can use the results of a thorough analysis to justify external and/or grant funding.

How to get grant funding for a spectrometer

Knowing that the federal government is funding this research illustrates how important spectrometers are to the criminal justice system. As spectrometers are included in FEMA’s Authorized Equipment List, agencies can purchase the devices with grant funding through:

Emergency Management Performance Grants; The Port Security Grant Program; The State Homeland Security Program; Urban Areas Security Initiative Program (UASI), among others.

The Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program (the Coverdell program) awards grants to states and units of local government to help improve the quality and timeliness of forensic science and medical examiner/coroner services.

Contact your State Administering Agency or criminal justice coordinating council to learn more. The National Criminal Justice Association provides advice to state and local agencies in obtaining federal grant funds.

How partnerships help secure grant funding

Since 2015, the NIJ has spent $100 million on forensic science projects, including $69 million for public-funded labs, police department and law enforcement agencies, and another $6 million for training and technical assistance.

Partnering with other local and state agencies, as well as with laboratories, is a great strategy for securing these grant funds, especially considering the large and positive impact a comprehensive, multi-agency project would have. Collaborative efforts are more likely to be funded since their reach extends beyond a single jurisdiction. Build on existing relationships with these agencies now to prepare yourself for opportunities that arise for funding.


Categories: Law Enforcement

California Highway Patrol Officer Killed in Motorcycle Crash While Driving to Work

Officer.com - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 14:19
CHP Officer James Branik died early Tuesday when his motorcycle collided with a truck.
Categories: Law Enforcement

Suspect Arrested in Vehicular Assault on California Police Officers

Officer.com - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 14:10
A theft suspect has been arrested in a vehicle assault on two police officers Sunday night.
Categories: Law Enforcement

Phoenix Police Officer Saved by Ballistic Vest

Officer.com - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 14:10
A Phoenix police officer was saved by his ballistic vest after he was shot during an exchange of gunfire with a suspect Wednesday night.
Categories: Law Enforcement

SP Poughkeepsie - Amenia woman arrested for Forgery, Grand Larceny and Falsifying Business Records

State - NY Police - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 14:07
Washington, New York – On September 19, 2017, Troopers from the Poughkeepsie barracks arrested Abigail M. Murphy, age 26, of Amenia, NY, for nine counts of Forgery in the 2nd Degree, a class D Felony, Grand Larceny 3rd Degree a class D Felony and nine counts of Falsifying Business Records in the 1st Degree, a Class E Felony.
Categories: Law Enforcement

Virtual Case Notes: Apple’s Face ID Faces Scrutiny from Security Experts

Forensic Magazine - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 12:23
NewsThe price tag on the newly-announced iPhone X may have been the most mentioned aspect of the upcoming $1,000 device throughout the last week of social media buzz, but the feature getting the most attention in cybersecurity circles is Apple’s new Face ID authentication system, which will replace Touch ID.Staff Author: Laura FrenchTopics: Biometrics
Categories: Law Enforcement

SP Warsaw- Two vehicle fatal collision

State - NY Police - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 12:17
On September 21, 2017 at 8:36 AM, Troopers responded to a two vehicle collision involving a tractor trailer at the intersection of West Middlebury Road and East Bethany Road in the Town of Middlebury.
Categories: Law Enforcement

Cops weigh in: How police agencies are handling policy and training in the video age

Police One - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 12:15

Author: Cole Zercoe

From body-worn cameras to bystander recordings, there’s arguably nothing that’s having a bigger impact on law enforcement than the rise of video technologies. We asked our Facebook audience to weigh in on a series of questions related to how police departments are handling training and policy in a recorded world. Take a look at the responses and add your thoughts in the comments section.

1. If you have ever been involved in an incident you were required to record, but did not record, why wasn’t the incident recorded?

One of the biggest issues with body-worn cameras is getting officers to turn them on in situations that, per policy, require recording. There are many reasons why officers fail to capture an incident on video, as evidenced in the survey results.

Respondents were pretty evenly split between “operator error,” “device malfunction” and “stress” as the reason for failing to turn on a camera. The majority of those who chose the “other” option cited how quickly the incident occurred and their forgetfulness as the primary factors behind why their camera wasn’t on at the time of the incident. Author David Blake believes the fix to this problem is two-fold. You can find his analysis here.

2. Were your situational awareness and safety ever negatively affected by a bystander recording you?

Nearly 50 percent of those who took our survey have been in a situation where they felt their situational awareness and safety were negatively impacted by a bystander recording them. The reality of policing in the modern age is somebody is always watching, which means it’s important officers receive the training and guidance they need to effectively manage operating in an environment where someone is always going to hit record. Which leads us to our next question…

3. Does your agency offer any training on how to respond to bystanders recording you?

The majority of survey respondents (76 percent) have not received any police department training on how to respond to bystanders who are recording them. Video is not going away, and in an age where the smartphone is ubiquitous, scenario-based training focusing on this issue is a must for police departments. For more information about how video is transforming police training, check out Doug Wyllie’s article on the topic.

4. Does your agency allow you to review footage of an incident before giving an initial statement or written report?

Another common challenge in crafting policy for police video is whether officers should be allowed to view footage before giving an initial statement or written report. Almost 73 percent of respondents said their agency does allow them to watch video of an incident before giving a statement or writing a report. For those who selected "No, with some exceptions", most said their agency barred the viewing of footage in the case of an officer-involved shooting, but allowed it in all other incidents.

5. When are you required to turn on your body camera?

Determining when an officer should activate the camera and audio is arguably one of the most vital components of a BWC policy. Based on the majority of answers to this question, most police departments appear to lean toward policies that require the recording of the majority of an officer’s shift, including traffic enforcement stops, emergency calls, before exiting the cruiser and any initiation of contact with a citizen. For an in-depth analysis of this complex issue, check out Terry Dwyer’s article on the topic.

6. Does your department require officers to inform individuals that they are being recorded?

Some studies on BWCs suggest that behavior changes when people know they are being recorded, potentially aiding officers in de-escalating a situation. But the majority of our survey respondents work at police agencies that do not require them to inform individuals that they’re on camera.

7. How many hours of training did your agency provide to you on the use of your BWC?

As tempting as it is to implement a video technology solution like body-worn cameras as quickly as possible, crafting good policy and training on the use of the technology beforehand is vital for a successful rollout. Nearly 84 percent of people who took our survey said they received zero to two hours of training on the use of their BWC. Thirteen percent received three to five hours of training.

8. Did you find your BWC training to be sufficient?

The majority of respondents (60 percent) found their training to be insufficient. For a look at how new research involving body-camera footage is exploring situational and dynamic factors associated with decision-making and efficacy of police training, click here.

9. What is your agency’s policy for the public release of dash cam and body cam footage?

As an increasing number of police departments adopt body-worn cameras, a thorny issue agencies are grappling with is the release of video footage to the public.

Because of differences in state laws, there isn’t a consistent national policy for the release of body-worn camera and other video footage, and police department policy isn’t necessarily one-size-fits all.

Given this, the range of responses to this question was no surprise. Some PDs only release video upon receiving a court order. Others will release video upon request only after the case is closed. Protecting evidence and privacy while addressing the public’s desire to view these videos is a complex issue, but no matter what jurisdiction you’re in, this remains true: In the video age, the public expects to see footage of police activity and PDs need to construct their BWC policy accordingly.

For more information on this issue, take a look at our article on the topic.


Categories: Law Enforcement

Firearms Algorithm Attempts to Clarify Match Pictures

Forensic Magazine - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 12:14
NewsAn algorithm developed by a team of scientists from Malaysia attempts to clear up pictures for quantitative comparisons of firearms and toolmark evidence, as described in an open-access study published online today.Staff Author: Seth AugensteinTopics: Firearms
Categories: Law Enforcement

2 under-discussed issues with body-worn cameras

Police One - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 12:13

Author: David Blake

Over the last several years, law enforcement has experienced unprecedented critiques from the public, media and politicians. The criticism ranges from speculation about rampant excessive force to implicit bias, with body-worn cameras originally introduced as being the solution for all. While BWCs have not solved all perceived problems, they have helped mitigate many of them. Yet with all the positives, there are two BWC problems that are under-discussed and worthy of attention.

The first problem involves the failure of officers to turn the cameras on during critical incidents. A quick Google search provides a long list of negative press on this topic and there is consistency coast to coast. The second problem is how BWC footage is interpreted (bias) both by the public and internally within the criminal justice system. Early mistakes with video evidence can have dire long-term consequences.

Deceit versus proficiency issues

There is typically very little hands-on training with using BWCs that is street transferrable. Many agencies purchase cameras, perform some preliminary testing, set up the software, write a policy and deploy.

These rollout actions are similar to the recommendations from the Department of Justice, which are the most inclusive I’ve seen. Yet the DOJ and other BWC experts provide little guidance on training officers to proficiency in order to comply with “shall turn on” policies.

The BWC is a tool like any other an officer can deploy. One cannot expect a human to fully comply with a “shall turn on” BWC policy if the officer has not been provided sufficient training. For those thinking this is as simple as pushing a button or sliding a mechanism and requires no training, I’d say you probably don’t think of shooting as just a simple pull of the index finger, right? The law enforcement motto, “train like you fight” applies here as well.

In reality, human beings tend to focus their attention on the most important aspect of the environment. Attention is driven both consciously and unconsciously, is impacted by stress and may narrow (mentally and visually) based upon the situation.

A “shall turn on” policy, especially one that is not trained to street level proficiency, fails to account for human attention during stressful incidents. For example, do we focus on our BWC as we arrive on scene at volatile situations or do we focus on the potential threats and exiting the vehicle quickly? San Diego Police Department Chief Shelley Zimmerman clearly understands this concept when she defended her officers in this context:

“Things happened so very quickly I think everyone will understand it’s reasonable that officer safety and public safety will take precedence over an officer’s ability to record.”

The fix to this known problem is two-fold. The first is to utilize a system that removes the human factor from the equation. A camera system that automatically turns on mitigates the possibility of human error. Absent this option, officers need to be trained to create muscle memory (unconscious habit). This means lots of repetition in turning the device on in various situations, much like we train our other tools.

One way to ensure proficiency is having officers wear inert BWCs in stress-based training while expecting them to follow the “shall turn on” policy. In my own experience, telling officers to turn on the camera prior to a stress-based simulation (e.g. Force Options Simulator) results in about a 50/50 chance of activation under stress.

Prevalence of video bias

The DOJ quotes Dr. Bill Lewinski of the Force Science Institute in regard to 10 limitations of BWC video. These limitations range from a BWC’s fixed point of view to the two-dimensional images they provide. I have also written on the limitations of BWCs and come to understand how the video can create a bias for investigators, executives and the public.

Law enforcement should make a pre-emptive effort to close this gap with the public through education. It is not difficult to demonstrate that what is seen on video is not necessarily what an officer sees. The Force Options Simulator is an underappreciated tool in regard to understanding and demonstrating differences between video, the human experience and subsequent memory of events. Having citizens, community groups and even the media participate in scenarios and then recount what occurred will open eyes as to the deficits between their experience or memory and the facts.

Releasing BWC video

Another recommendation involves the release of BWC footage for high-profile events. The video should not stand alone. Consider a press conference that provides both the pros and cons of interpreting video, as well as what can reasonably be stated about the event in comparison. Real world examples, such as multiple video angles in sports required to confirm or dispute a referee’s call, are essential. Dr. Lewinski’s presentation at the President’s Task Force for 21st Century Policing is a good breakdown of the differences between the human experience and the camera (time stamp 20:50 – 29:10).

Finally, it's important to consider that investigators and others within the criminal justice system are not immune to bias based on video. Those who sit in judgment of performance must have some understanding of how a human being receives, processes and remembers information.

Humans do not work like cameras and what is experienced or remembered during rapidly evolving, tense, uncertain situations can vary from what is recorded. Investigations involving any video should be broken down frame by frame to see and understand more of what occurred as the human eye is not capable of picking up all the details at full speed.

My personal experience includes a video I’ve shown to hundreds of law enforcement officers and civilians that is initially determined to be excessive force. Once a frame by frame is shown a new vote is taken and the exact opposite occurs, with almost 100 percent of these groups reversing their original opinion.

Street level operator proficiency and video-created bias are rarely mentioned in regard to BWC rollout or training. There is also little research on the direct effect of BWCs in this regard, although there is associated video-based research to rely upon. These two areas have caused significant internal and external problems that can be reduced.

The solutions presented are topical and recommendations are provided for consideration but are not all inclusive. Investigators seeking to understand human vs. camera may consider downloading the peer-reviewed journal article, Body Worn Cameras: Comparing Human and Device to Ensure Unbiased Investigations.


Categories: Law Enforcement

Preble teen facing rape charges following incident in Tully

State - NY Police - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 12:13

State Police charged Gavin S. Maloney, age 16, from Preble, NY with Rape 1st degree, a class "B" felony

Categories: Law Enforcement

To record or not to record: When should cops turn on their body cameras?

Police One - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 12:12

Author: Terrence P. Dwyer, Esq.

There is a consensus of opinion that prior to a police agency implementing a body-worn camera program, police executives must ensure a well-defined use policy is in place. Agreeing on the need for a policy is easy, but determining what that policy should entail is where the “rubber meets the road” and the consensus of opinion can drift apart.

There are four main areas of concern regarding the use of body-worn cameras by police officers:

1. Activation;

2. Recording;

3. Retention;

4. Preservation.

A comprehensive policy should address each of these areas. However, one of the most critical is determining when an officer should activate the camera and audio.

What do model policies say?

A review of model policies from the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) provides some common policy points and suggestions for implementation.

Similarly, a review of model policy suggestions from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Brennan Justice Center at New York University School of Law and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights provides nearly identical policy statements with slight variations from those of PERF, IACP, COPS and BJA.

I can almost sense the reaction from readers ready to run to the comments section below and fire off indignant missives that the latter groups are expected to “differ” since they are traditionally antagonistic to law enforcement interests. But before pounding down on your keyboard, hang around for the rest of the points I have to make.

Let me begin by citing section 1(b) of the ACLU Model Act for Regulating the Use of Wearable Body Cameras by Law Enforcement: “Both the video and audio recording function of the body camera shall be activated whenever a law enforcement officer is responding to a call for service or at the initiation of any other law enforcement or investigative encounter between a law enforcement officer and a member of the public, except that when an immediate threat to the officer’s life or safety makes activating the camera impossible or dangerous, the officer shall activate the camera at the first reasonable opportunity to do so.”

Compare this with the IACP Body Worn Cameras Model Policy III (B)(1): “Officers shall activate the BWC to record all contacts with citizens in the performance of official duties.”

Now compare it to Protocol #7 in the joint COPS and PERF publication Implementing a Body-Worn Camera Program: “As a general recording policy, officers should be required to activate their body-worn cameras when responding to all calls for service and during all law enforcement-related encounters and activities that occur while the officer is on duty.”

As a statement of policy, I prefer the ACLU model which, within one paragraph, provides the officer a more comprehensive guideline that takes into account the fact that officers operate in an imperfect world under stressful conditions not always conducive to immediately activating a body-worn camera.

Neither the IACP nor COPS/PERF models have any statement regarding officer discretion relating to the reasonableness of activation in light of the situation confronting an officer. This is just one example of how the approach to crafting and implementing a body-worn camera policy can differ and why it is useful to gather a broad range of perspectives when considering the use of this technology.

THE JUSTINE DAMOND SHOOTING

After the shooting and killing of Justine Damond by Minneapolis Officer Mohamed Noor earlier this year, the Minneapolis Police Department changed its policy and required officers to turn on their body-worn cameras when responding to a 911 call. A subsequent story in MPR News noted that prior to the Damond shooting, most Minnesota agencies left camera activation to the discretion of the officer, citing a PERF-recommended policy of activation upon an officer’s arrival at the scene as not being adopted by the majority of Minnesota agencies.

In March 2017, a local ABC affiliate conducted an analysis of Minneapolis police officer recording hours and found an average recording time of 20 minutes during an 8-hour shift. Criminal justice experts said this seemed very low. A fair assessment would require more data since the MPD program has only been in place since June 2016.

Nonetheless, in the aftermath of the Damond shooting the discretionary policies of other agencies are being reconsidered. The Minneapolis Police Department’s policy regarding the use of body-worn cameras will certainly, among other matters, be a topic of litigation in the case since the prevailing question post-incident has been, “Why were the officers’ cameras not activated?” Despite a policy with the stated purpose of “[E]nhancing accountability and public trust by preserving evidence of officer interaction with citizens” the Minneapolis Police Department’s body-worn camera policy failed to accomplish that goal in the Damond shooting. Policy changes need to address this failure with reasonable and practical requirements for officer activation of body-worn cameras.

Recording guidelines

Another important policy consideration is providing guidelines on actual recording. This is closely associated with activation guidelines since it covers specific instances when a camera can be activated to record events. However, this part of the policy should also provide examples of situations where recording would not be appropriate, such as with crime victims or in consensual encounters where an individual has an expectation of privacy. Recording guidelines place limits on officer discretion to record and generally require an officer to provide a justification for failing to record mandatory events.

Policies must maintain balance

Lessons learned from past experiences are the source of future practices, but not all corrective measures are necessarily an improvement. A draconian policy that removes the ability for officers to make reasonable discretionary judgments is not the answer either. The balance between public transparency, officer safety, citizen privacy rights and officer privacy rights has to be maintained when drafting a comprehensive body-worn camera policy.


Categories: Law Enforcement

When should police departments release BWC footage to the public?

Police One - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 12:11

Author: Cole Zercoe

As an increasing number of police departments adopt body-worn cameras, a thorny issue agencies are grappling with is the release of video footage to the public. As the technology has become more widespread, departments that previously criticized the cameras have come to understand and embrace the utility of the tech from an evidentiary standpoint, as well as from a public relations perspective. At the same time, some states and police departments have made moves that limit the amount of access the public has to these videos. All of this leads to the question of who, exactly, the technology is intended to serve.

The answer, of course, is that body cameras should serve both civilians and law enforcement. Given that the public’s call to outfit police departments with the technology increased in the wake of Ferguson, it is important to remember that civilians view the technology primarily as a tool for transparency, regardless of evidentiary or other benefits the cameras offer law enforcement agencies. If police departments withhold footage, the public is likely to interpret this as betraying the point of the cameras.

LEARNING FROM THE LAQUAN MCDONALD SHOOTING VIDEO

The uproar over the delay in the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video, which spurred the city of Chicago to implement a 90-day policy for the release of shooting footage, underscores the importance of timely release of video – particularly in the case of officer-involved shootings.

“What you saw in Chicago with the Laquan McDonald case is this extended period of time when they didn’t release the video and I think that simply worked against them,” said Chuck Wexler, Executive Director of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). “It eroded public trust. It’s as though you have evidence that you don’t want anyone to know about – that’s how it comes off.”

Given differences in state laws, there isn’t a consistent national policy for the release of body-worn camera footage, and police department policy isn’t necessarily one-size-fits all. What is true, no matter what jurisdiction you’re in, is this: In the video age, the public expects to see footage of police activity and PDs need to construct their BWC policy accordingly.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the NYPD recently made headlines for releasing footage of a fatal officer-involved shooting captured on its body cameras for the first time since the agency rolled out its program earlier this year. Police Commissioner James O'Neill made this decision despite some opposition from the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark.

“By adopting body worn cameras, a police department is saying: we believe the incident that happened is a matter of public record and we’re gonna share that video,” Wexler said. “New York simply said, ‘Transparency is more important than the prosecution or disagreements.’ New York’s decision will have an enormous impact on American policing. You’re going to see more of this where the objective will be, ‘You know what? It is what it is, we need to get it out.’”

A NUMBER OF APPROACHES TO PUBLIC RELEASE OF FOOTAGE

While it’s unclear how the NYPD proceeds from here, the move was just the latest high-profile example of larger law enforcement agencies embracing a model of transparency while trying to manage the balance between protecting evidence and privacy and addressing the public’s desire to view these videos.

The Las Vegas Metro PD allows the public and those in media to view footage in a private room at the department while a law enforcement employee is present. A fee of $50 per hour is charged for any footage that needs to be redacted. Video that is part of a criminal or internal investigation isn’t released until the matter is resolved. Requests can be mailed or filled out online. Different rules for viewing video apply depending on which group a requester falls under: media, involved citizens, or the public.

In San Diego County, the policy for the release of officer-involved shooting videos requires the district attorney to first review the shooting and present its findings to the police agency involved before releasing the footage. If criminal charges are filed, the video is not released. Privacy, due process and public safety concerns are also taken into account before the footage goes out to the public. The policy also requires that any release be accompanied by a news conference and the results of the DA’s review of the incident.

The Seattle Police Department, which made headlines in 2015 for setting up a YouTube channel featuring heavily redacted video of all activity captured on the agency’s BWCs, has a 72-hour policy for the release of “representative and relevant” samples of officer-involved shooting videos, with an exception for evidence that may compromise an investigation. The department does not release the subject’s criminal history along with the video unless required by law or if it was relevant to the incident and known to the involved officers at the time of the shooting.

TAKE IT SLOW

No matter what model an agency uses to develop its public release policy, the most important step is to have a policy in place before body-worn cameras are deployed.

“You need to sit down with all the stakeholders, whether it’s prosecutors, the community or the unions,” Wexler said. “That’s what we did in terms of developing the [PERF] policy – it was a collaborative effort. Our recommendation was for a broad disclosure policy. What makes it complicated is you do have different states and different union agreements, and different prosecutorial relationships. It is best to deal with these variables before as opposed to after. Some cities are so enthusiastic about getting those cameras out there that they don’t really take the time to bring in all of the stakeholders to talk things through.”

In addition to looking at other agency models, PERF’s guide to body-worn cameras and IACP's model policy continue to be one of the best starting points for a police department crafting a policy on the public release of video.

“As we said when we wrote the guidelines, any police department that implements body-worn cameras should do it with the realization that the statement they’re making is: what the police are doing is a matter of public record,” Wexler said. “By videotaping it, the department is de facto giving out the message that they will release that information. Because, otherwise, why have body-worn cameras if you’re not going to release the video?”


Categories: Law Enforcement

How video simulators are changing use-of-force training

Police One - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 12:10

Author: Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Editor at Large

Law enforcement trainers have been using video for decades. Trainers regularly stand before a room full of recruits or in-service trainees and show footage of officers engaged in deadly confrontations. We have learned many lessons from videos of incidents such as Laurens County (Ga.) Sheriff’s Deputy Kyle Dinkheller being gunned down by a motorist at a traffic stop and the assassination of two West Memphis (Ark.) police officers by two so-called “Sovereign Citizens.”

Using video in this way is not about “Monday Morning Quarterbacking.” By using videos of these tragedies, trainers aim to help officers be better prepared to face similar threats – to “honor the dead by teaching the living.”

Trainers are also putting mobile phones into the hands of role players in scenario-based training so officers can get used to operating with video cameras focused on their every move. That mobile phone footage is then used during debriefs to help officers reinforce what they’ve learned.

But perhaps the most cutting-edge use of video in law enforcement training is use-of-force simulators. Gone are the days when grainy, two-dimensional videos are the only resource. Today’s video simulators offer HD-quality with multiple possible outcomes built into software depending on what the officer does in a scenario. Top-of-the-line simulators are highly customizable, allowing agencies with the right equipment to shoot video of hot spots in their jurisdictions in order to replicate conditions officers may actually face.

Taking training to the next level with video simulation

In July 2017, the St. Louis County and Municipal Police Academy installed a VirTra V-300, which utilizes five 10-foot screens in a contiguous wraparound scenario-based video simulator – that’s approximately 300 degrees of video once the trainee is inside the simulator.

“It’s a great tool for us to use to enhance the training we already do because it allows us to practice all of levels of force, from verbal de-escalation to lethal or deadly force,” said Lieutenant Steve Hampton, Director of the Saint Louis Police Academy. “It is great practice for us to replicate real-life scenarios to prepare us to respond when faced with the real situation.”

The agency has trained almost 100 officers in as many as five scenarios each, and aims to have trained all 850 of its sworn officers by September. The department will then have the opportunity to build new scenarios and prepare for the next round of training.

“We really want to get into a partnership with VirTra to film scenarios for us next year that they can also put in their library, but it will also show a lot of the things that we do here in the Saint Louis County area,” Hampton said. “One of the things we like about this system is that we’ll be able to add onto it as the V-Author program allows you to create your own scenarios.”

Hampton and his cadre of trainers can even take existing scenarios – all the out-of-the-box videos that come with the system – and overlay those onto video scenes filmed in the Saint Louis County area. This is because VirTra filmed its actors in the scenarios against a green screen and filmed the locations separately. This basically means that as long as you have reasonably good video cameras, you can take advantage of myriad permutations of any scenario.

Deep tech and top talent behind the scenes

Even the best script in the world cannot save a video featuring people who cannot act. This is one of the reasons live reality-based training can fall flat. If the role players are not believable, trainees “tune out” and may not get much (if anything) out of the training. The same is true of video simulators.

This is why VirTra interviews as many as 10 different actors, and puts them through different situations that will occur in filming – it’s more like a Hollywood casting process than a job interview.

“You want to have it believable when the officer is in training,” said VirTra CEO Bob Ferris. “You want them to suspend disbelief and enter into the training as if the situation was actually happening and learn from the results without anyone getting hurt.”

In addition to the quality of the human aspect of the simulation, the scenarios themselves need to be believable. All of VirTra’s pre-built scenarios are based on real-life incidents.

The V-300 system is capable of simulating hundreds of scenarios that can convey body language and other non-verbal threat cues that are a crucial part of progressive judgmental use-of-force training. Scenarios are built in such a way as to make an officer’s peripheral vision as important in the simulator as it is on the streets, where stuff can come at you from anywhere – the system is quick to remind a trainee of that fact.

Each scenario is professionally produced with content vetted by subject matter experts to test a trainee’s critical thinking skills, weapons skills under pressure and psychological responses to the stresses of life-like situations.

“I truly believe that the more opportunities we have to train with real-life scenarios, whether it’s a video or not, is just going to enhance our service to the community we’re sworn to protect,” said Hampton.

One of the most interesting things about the simulator in use at the St. Louis County and Municipal Police Academy is the sophistication of the software. In order to achieve the level of realism and the multitude of outcomes in any given scenario, each screen is run by its own computer, with a master computer that puts everything together for the system operator.

“We have one master computer and then we have multiple cluster computers,” said Ferris. “The operator only deals with the master computer, but the system uses one computer per screen to make sure everything stays in sync, and the interaction is quick.”

“It’s phenomenal what they can do with technology,” Hampton said. “It is also invaluable to be able to watch videos of real-life scenarios as we do not have the time for real actors to role-play with us at the academy. It saves a lot of time, effort and manpower.”

It’s abundantly clear that video simulation will play an increasingly important role in law enforcement training in the future.


Categories: Law Enforcement

How body camera footage can enhance officer training

Police One - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 12:09

Author: Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Editor at Large

By Nancy Perry, PoliceOne Editor in Chief

In spite of the potential benefits of using body-worn camera footage to improve community interaction, increase officer safety and evaluate training, police departments are only minimally using the information available at their fingertips. The crux of the problem comes down to time: It is impossible for agencies to dedicate the manpower required to review hundreds of thousands of hours of footage generated by body-worn cameras.

Criminal justice experts at Washington State University (WSU) are hoping to solve this problem by using advanced scientific tools and techniques – such as data analytics, biometrics and machine learning – to examine the complex factors that shape interactions between police and community members.

Researchers in the new Complex Social Interaction (CSI) laboratory at WSU are designing algorithms and software that analyzes body-worn camera footage. Led by Dr. David Makin, the research team includes Dr. Dale Willits within the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Dr. Rachel Baily within the Murrow College of Communication, and Dr. Bryce Dietrich from the University of Iowa, Iowa Informatics Initiative (UI3). Since its launch early this year, the lab has analyzed more than 2,000 police–community interactions and numerous records from law enforcement incidents to identify, code and catalog key variables associated with a range of outcomes, positive to negative. Location, lighting, time of day, number of people present, gender, race, verbal and physical stress, and intensity of the interaction are among the myriad of contextual factors assessed.

PoliceOne recently spoke with lead researcher David A. Makin, PhD, an Assistant Professor at the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at WSU and a member of research faculty for the Washington State Institute for Criminal Justice about the research his team is doing to turn body-worn camera footage into actionable data.

How did you become involved with this research?

As a technologist, I adamantly believe we can reduce risk, enhance officer performance, and improve officer health and safety by converting body-worn camera footage into actionable data.

I have spent several years working on how to analyze this footage and convert it into data. Currently, we have instruments and algorithms in the lab for the study of use of force, intensity/emotional states and behavior, and detection of key performance indicators for risk management and evaluating training effectiveness.

In policing, you can do everything by the book and still have a poor outcome. You can do everything badly and somehow have a good outcome. If we can study or analyze what takes place in interactions and then develop training around it, we can use that as part of risk management.

We forget that police interactions can be inherently complex. Many departments wait for something bad to happen and then they go back and hope they have footage of the incident to figure out what transpired. The CSI lab facilitates the study of policing beyond merely the outcome to understanding what took place in an interaction. We are trying to give agencies the technology they need so they can use this footage to identify if officer training is working, when training needs to occur and when officers need refresher training, all while improving the overall state of police community interaction and officer health and safety.

What was the genesis behind the CSI lab?

The CSI lab came about as an interdisciplinary, intercollegiate commitment by all the core researchers to help agencies make use of body-worn camera data.

We have been using machine learning and artificial intelligence to help agencies make the leap from having footage to having data.

For example, we are developing a classifier that allows agencies to scan footage for specific types of incidents. Let’s say we have an intensity classifier, so if you wanted to know which incidents are really intense, you could run a scan on thousands of hours of footage and pull up the incidents that are outliers among hours of benign incidents. Then when you view those calls, you can see problems developing early on during the response. This allows agencies to ask, “Why is this becoming more intense? What could we do to reduce the intensity? Does verbal de-escalation training work? Does CIT work? Does having police officers go through implicit bias training change their behavior in the field?”

From an officer’s perspective, we know that early intervention is key, but if you use your body-worn camera footage as a risk management tool only after something bad happens, then you miss all the steps that lead to “bad outcomes” that could be used as predictors ahead of time.

How did you make the decision to analyze use-of-force incidents?

We started with use-of-force projects as most of the research out there merely looks at whether use of force occurred and does not consider how it occurred.

If you think about force and the sequence of events, you can measure the time of events: How quickly use of force occurred during the interaction, how long the force was applied and the severity of the force applied. This changes how we think about force.

You could look at an agency’s data to see if officers are disproportionately using force against a particular group, but when you analyze how the use of force happens, you see all of those instances were legitimate uses of force. That is an entirely new story for an agency to be able to tell: We are doing everything in a legitimate, open and transparent way.

The other side of this is you can look at an agency’s data where it appears they are not using use of force disproportionately, but when you analyze their footage at this microsocial level, you identify they are vastly quicker to deploy force with certain groups.

You can also show an officer is using force in a way counter to how they have been trained. If we can intervene in that and say to a department, “This officer is incorrectly applying an LVNR and is using a dangerous technique,” it offers opportunities for training interventions.

We are currently finalizing a series of studies associated with use of force. We published the first early this year in the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency. The second explores intensity states and use of force. The third examines situational, environmental and behavioral factors associated with police and suspect emotional states. The final study examines severity and timing of use of force.

What has surprised you most about your findings?

Using our intensive coding process, we analyzed over 5000 hours of police interactions and are starting to ascertain officers have qualities we want to learn more about.

In some situations, based on our data, everything would suggest that use of force would occur, but we have been able to identify officers who are effective de-escalators with remarkable interpersonal skills. If we have years’ worth of their footage analyzed, we can see whether we developed these skills during training programs, whether it is based on experience or whether they are just innately effective verbal communicators.

We code over 100 time permit variables. We look at how long the officer spoke, how long the suspect spoke, any community conversation and how often there were interruptions. We can look at the totality of the interaction, which opens up entirely new approaches for a risk management program. This is no different from what we have done for decades with an FTO program, where field training officers supervise new recruits.

You will be generating your own research footage via cadets enrolled in WSU's Police Corps program this fall. Can you tell us about that initiative?

Policing is about protocols. We train officers and cadets to do very specific things every single time. When we train, we have key performance indicators for any given interaction. For example, there are five things that must occur on every high-risk traffic stop or three things you must do when you conduct a search and seizure. These things vary based on state law and how agencies interpret it, but all agencies have these KPIs.

We are developing KPIs associated with police training that we will field this fall in a police cadet training program. KPIs are dichotomies – they are either the officer did this or they didn’t – so working with the cadet training officers, we can develop a series of classifiers that look for specific KPIs to show training progress.

Axon provided me with access to 60 body-worn cameras and storage to outfit the cadet program and generate footage. We use machine learning and artificial intelligence to teach computers how to look for things in video. One of the problems you run into when you develop a classifier is you need a massive amount of data as you need iteration upon iteration of different objects and viewpoints.

Working with agencies, use of force in the field is rare, so trying to develop a classifier around use of force to automatically detect it in body-worn camera footage can be challenging, as you do not have enough data to teach the computer.

With the cadet program, they go through use-of-force training and have mock exercises and drills that allow us to generate footage from multiple perspectives with different camera settings, viewpoints and mounting options. This allows us to speed up the development of tools agencies can use to automate analysis of the footage.

What we hope to do is deploy these KPIs at the agency level. From a risk management perspective, you would be able to automate the analysis of, for example, high-risk traffic stops, and hopefully, 95% of the time officers are meeting the KPIs for these stops. The cadet program will allow us to automate analysis of body-worn camera footage so it becomes actionable data from a risk management perspective.

When I ask police chiefs if they would want to know that 40% of the time during high-risk traffic stops their officers are making mistakes that put themselves and others at risk, they all nod their heads. Our research is about creating a baseline so we know how an agency is performing by its own benchmarks. If we know certain interactions can escalate into situations where use of force is required, we can develop training that enables police officers to handle these calls. Right now if you look at the research in policing, we do not know if this is the case. We assume all our training works, but if it doesn’t change behavior in the field, then why are we doing it? If it is “check-the-box” training, we are wasting money and time and police officers will view training as just perfunctory. At the end of the day, training has to impart new skills and, with this research, we can validate if training is working.

How do you see this research being practically implemented?

It is one thing to have video footage; it is something entirely different to help agencies automate the analysis. Even something as basic as answering the question of, “What type of videos should I look at?” would be extremely valuable to a patrol sergeant. Being able to automate the analysis so at the end of the week a sergeant receives a notification that there are 20 videos to review instead of 400 is how we will move policing into the 21st century.

For more information, contact Dr. Makin at dmakin@wsu.edu.


Categories: Law Enforcement

Troopers arrest 2 subjects following vehicle pursuit

State - NY Police - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 12:07
State Police arrest 2 subjects after vehicle pursuit that began on I-390 near exit 10.

 

Categories: Law Enforcement

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