Bill Aims to Change How Law Enforcement Investigates Officer-Involved Deaths

A Missouri lawmaker is proposing a bill that would change the way law enforcement agencies conduct internal investigations.

Representative Shamed Dogan says House Bill 461 would require law enforcement agencies to have written investigation policies for officer-involved deaths and have an independent agency conduct the investigation.

“People have to have faith in those investigations, and that they’re being done fairly and objectively,” Dogan says.

Dogan says there’s a conflict of interest if the department does the investigation itself.

“You can’t do an investigation fairly and properly on an officer who’s employed by your agency where their colleagues and their friends might be the ones conducting the investigation,” Dogan says.

Christian County Sheriff Brad Cole says his department is more than capable of handling those investigations. Sheriff Cole says the prosecutor’s office already works to oversee them.

“If you have a problem in St. Louis, fix your problem in St. Louis,” Sheriff Cole says. “Don’t bring your problem to southwest Missouri and expect us to have to deal with what your problem is in St. Louis. Take care of the problem where the problem lies, not to the rest of the state.”

Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott says this bill wouldn’t change much for his department. Sheriff Arnott says he already teamed up with the Webster and Lawrence County sheriffs years back to form a sheriff’s critical incident team (SCIT).

“A combination of deputies between all three agencies come together and work on officer-involved shootings, whether it be in our county or Webster or Lawrence County,” Sheriff Arnott says.

Sheriff Arnott says as three counties with elected sheriffs, he thought it was the best way to be transparent within these investigations.

“Even better than the state patrol or SPD where the chief is appointed or the highway patrol is run by the state,” Sheriff Arnott says. “These are three independent office holders that put their people in and they do the investigation altogether.”

If approved, this bill would take effect in August of this year.

 

By Shoshana Stahl | KFVS 12​

What Should Law Enforcement Reform Look Like?

While the national outcry for “police reform” is widely publicized on mainstream media channels, what would such reform actually look like if it were to be realistic and of any value?

​​Before the readership gets upset, this is in NO WAY a criticism or indictment of how law enforcement today does the job. That said, evolution is inevitable and resisting it only results in greater headache, heartache and—all too often—financial distress for the few who end up in the spotlight. While plenty of people who have never worked in law enforcement, both politicians and journalistic pundits alike, like to criticize how law enforcement officers did something, they seldom seem to offer a reasonable suggestion for how that something could be done differently or better. News outlets love to sensationalize an event and several news outlets have been caught carefully editing what they show to make an ugly situation seem even worse, always painting the law enforcement professionals in the worst possible light.
 
Reality is quite different from what we see on the news anymore (unfortunately). Journalistic integrity is challenged (HUGE understatement). But since there seems to be such a large societal conversation going on about “police reform,” we at the Officer Media Group thought it would be a good idea to find out how law enforcement professionals themselves felt reform could happen. What could be done or changed that would actually benefit the community and be within contemporary controls for how we do our job?
 
To that end, we crafted a very short and simple survey to solicit such opinions. In less than one week we received almost 800 replies. Below is a review of the responses and discussion on the options for reform in the order they were ranked by our respondents. Of interest to note is that the number one response we received has nothing to do with reforming police at all (see below). The next six are all changes that would have to be made at the agency level while the next one finally addresses individual officer performance—and even that is dependent on agency empowerment. Let’s take a look at the data.

Just to identify those taking the survey, we asked three questions: type of agency, position within the agency and whether the agency size is over or under 100 sworn officers.

Two-thirds of the respondents work for police departments. One-sixth work for sheriff’s offices and the rest were mixed between federal, military and private or other. This may seem inconsequential but it’s of note for one reason: The difference between police departments and sheriff’s offices.
 
Sheriff’s offices are Constitutionally mandated and sheriffs themselves are elected. They are directly responsible for the deputies under them. Police departments are created by governmental bodies—states, counties or cities. The police chief is an appointee of the chief executive officer of the given government unit (i.e. the governor, the county executive or the mayor). It’s an important difference and there are many examples of sheriffs behaving in the best interest of their constituents/citizens, while police chiefs do as they are directed by the governmental body they serve. To be fair, they have no choice if they want to stay employed.

Fifty-seven percent of the respondents were of supervisory or command rank with the remainder listing themselves as “line officers.”

The size of agency was a near even split between over 100 officers (54%) and below 100 officers (46%).
 
The fourth question was about what types of “police reform” would be most effective in the respondent’s opinion. Let’s list out the options for response in the order of popularity, top to bottom. They were:
 
  • Increase accountability of mainstream media outlets
  • Increase minimum hours of required annual training
  • Return to heavy focus on Community Oriented Policing
  • Increase training focus on community relations
  • Increase investment in less-lethal tool development/ deployment
  • Increase foot patrols/get officers out of their cruisers more
  • Increase length of basic police academy
  • Increase officer discretion in all misdemeanor criminal cases
  • Increase training in social assistance topics
  • Add certified/trained Social Workers to police & sheriffs agencies
  • Increase training on racial diversity/social morays and customs
  • Increase racial diversity within agencies/departments
  • Increase gender diversity within agencies/departments
  • Increase college requirements prior to hiring
  • Increase funding for education in prisons
  • Redefine “law enforcement” into “peace keeping” for performance expectations
  • Decriminalize streets drugs
  • Change/modify laws concerning/controlling use of force
  • Reduce funding for law enforcement as a whole

Remembering that the largest sampling group response came from police supervisors and command staff with agencies over 100 officers in size, it’s telling that the first most popular response was “Increase accountability of mainstream media outlets.” With over 75% of all respondents having selected that option, it was the number one most selected answer. Keep that in mind as you read through the rest of the commentary on other responses.

The next six most popular responses all deal with agency policy, direction and funding. Increasing training, whether it’s basic, social topics, community relations, etc.—all increases in training require an increase in funding. This is directly opposite of what so many people are demanding: “defund the police.”

When you get to the eighty item on the list—“Increase officer discretion in all misdemeanor criminal cases”—there is finally something impacted by the individual officer. It occurs to us that this is the item the public most needs to understand doesn’t exist as much as it probably should. It’s the item that the mainstream media would have you believe FULLY exists but only as prejudice. Think about it…

When the media says a white officer shot an unarmed black man, there are two implications: one, that the incident was racially motivated, and two that the officer had a choice. The third implication is that the officer made the wrong choice based on prejudice.

Now, let’s not confuse the issue: if an officer (of any race) is under immediate potentially lethal threat and defends himself (or herself) by using lethal force against a suspect (of any race), then the action is justified both legally and morally. Yes, there is discretion used on the part of the officer: he obviously had the option of NOT using defensive lethal force and risking dying. In many cases, the officer uses force to protect an innocent and not using force would sacrifice the innocent in favor of protecting the life / well-being of the violent perpetrator. This really is a dialogue that needs to be had at the national level and with full disclosure from all involved.

Several of the options listed included increasing diversity either by gender or race. Diversity is a laudable goal but the question is this: Should an agency—police or sheriff or other—be MORE diverse than the community served? Further, should the pursuit of diversity be place of greater priority than competence of the people hired? Let’s play Devil’s Advocate and look at two examples:

If a community has a perfect racial balance between two given races (i.e. “black” and “white”), then should the police department also be perfectly balanced? The obvious answer is yes. Neither race should be represented to a greater balance. The same can be said of gender. If the community is perfectly balanced male and female, then the police department should be the same, correct?

So, here’s the second part of that question: should the standards of hiring be sacrificed to insure balanced diversity? What if one race or the other doesn’t have enough qualified applicants to fill the necessary positions and keep the agency balanced? Should the agency then operate at reduced staffing levels to maintain the balance? Or should the qualified applicants be hired even though it will offset the balance?

The answer is one dictated by both federal law, many states’ laws, county personnel policies and the same in cities. The nationwide cry for police reform assumes a few very wrong “facts”: It assumes that all law enforcement are police and will be changed accordingly. It assumes that all departments operate exactly the same and that all budgets are the same. It assumes that all races, genders, sexual orientations and education levels are equally proportioned in every community.

None of those “facts” are actually true and trying to reshape law enforcement in compliance with false facts is… well… ludicrous. Let’s start with holding the mainstream media accountable for their misrepresentations and increase funding for training. It would be a great foundation for law enforcement reform moving forward.

By Lt. Frank Borelli (ret) | Officer.com

Photo ID 184954780 © Hanna Tverdokhlib | Dreamstime.com

Take The Officer Media Group Salary Survey

Did you ever wonder what your peers are getting paid?

 Do you wonder what benefits are common for chiefs of police, deputy chiefs, chief deputies (yes, they are different), majors, captains, lieutenants, etc.?

 If you’ll be kind enough to give us about 10 minutes of your time, when our survey closes we’ll give you back a complete report with all the data (minus all names and identifying data). 

The information we collect will identify size of agency, type of agency, rank and the averages of compensation packages. 

To receive a PDF copy of the full report you’ll need to provide your name and email address. Any other information beyond that is optional.

To see an example, the 2020 Salary Survey Report can be downloaded FROM THIS WEB PAGE.

With about half a million visitors to the website each month and over 55K subscribers to our electronic daily newsletter, we ought to be able to gather a fair amount of data to mine. The more responses we have, the more accurate – and therefore valuable – the data. Will you help us out?

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Thanks in advance and stay safe!!!

By Lt. Frank Borelli (ret) | Officer.com

Photo by Josh Appel

A Look Back at Training in ‘Days Gone By’

In December, the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association provided an intensive and detailed two-week training seminar for newly elected sheriffs officially taking office January 1, 2021.

Although the format may have been a little different in previous years, it’s clear that the MSA has long been focused on carrying out it’s mission to “Support the Office of Sheriff and the Constitution through legislative efforts, training and technical assistance, in its efforts to make communities a safer, more enjoyable place to live, to work, and to raise a family.”

An excerpt from ‘Days Gone By,’ appearing in the February 10, 2021 issue of the Daily Journal

40 Years – 1980

Deputy sheriffs Jerry Brenneke and Cheryl Duncan, and Samuel Noel of the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department, successfully completed a three-week training program in Jefferson City for newly elected sheriffs and deputies, jointly conducted by the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association, the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Institute for Public Safety of the University of Missouri.

https://dailyjournalonline.com/

Review: Force on Force Marker Training Rounds Take Realism to the Next Level

​Realistic training, using unmodified duty guns and equipment, has no equal in the maintenance of perishable skills. Force on Force marking cartridges are better products for this training. (Photo/Jeff Rose-Blackhawk)​

 

Training with marking rounds against live opponents is a completely different metric than any other tactical training. Nothing prepares an officer for the rigor of the job like having targets that can shoot back.

Studies demonstrate that scenario-based training using “real-world stress” such as using marking rounds, promotes the memory encoding of critical skills. That is, using this type of training makes perishable skills less perishable.

Officers who have benefited from these sessions know the feeling of being completely exhausted, legs trembling from being crouched over for long periods and fatigued from a prolonged state of alertness.

Most police trainers have experimented with airsoft, laser trainers and converted firearms to accomplish their training goals. The one problem every trainer has faced is that most products don’t let officers use either their duty guns, or their holsters, or both.

To be clear: Anything short of real duty guns, real pain, real hits and real duty equipment is a recipe for training scars, which we cannot afford in this business.

FORCE ON FORCE MARKING CARTRIDGES AND CONVERSIONS

I got to test Force on Force realistic marking cartridges and conversions that fire in unmodified duty firearms. Force on Force marker training rounds can be used in an officer’s own 9mm firearm for realistic training. There is also a 5.56 round, which uses a conversion bolt for the AR-15. There are competitive products out there, but Force on Force is on a level of realism I have not seen before.

Force on Force rounds use a lead-free primer with no powder. The propellant does not smoke or smell, nor does it put anything toxic into the air. This makes it safe to use as close as 1 foot. No ear protection is required, even indoors.

During one of my scenarios, I had an enactor arm himself with a training knife and rush me. This is my public apology to him for taking my last three shots from 9mm Force on Force rounds at contact distance. They really are safe at the 1-foot standoff distance.

I have played with other marking products. With Force on Force products, I did not have to swab the barrel every few uses. The rounds didn’t require any special packaging or handling. Most noticeably, no one had magazines with broken paint capsules in them either.

Force on Force marking rounds have a maximum training range of 60 ft. They do a good job mimicking the ordinary abilities of the firearm. I made several headshots at the 7-yard mark on a fully kitted enactor same as I would confidently take a hostage rescue shot.

The marking agent itself never dries and has a consistency similar to paint. It comes in blue, green, yellow, white, red and orange. The important thing is the fact that the payloads break when they strike a target, not in the gun. In fact, during our entire training session, I did not witness a single failure.

There was never a moment when anyone asked, “Was I hit? I need to check.” One of the first questions I had was whether an accidental strike on soft tissue would be problematic. I kind of answered my question in the next scenario. Users should wear full face masks, neck protectors and other protective gear.

Pain penalty is important in training. The increased adrenalin is an important component in realism. I am a firm believer in using a HIGH GEAR suit. I advocate for the Shocknife and training guns should shoot actual projectiles for realistic training. The more realistic the training, the more effective the training, when it comes to perishable skills.

9MM MARKING ROUND

The 9mm marking round has a similar form factor to a real cartridge, but it is different enough to make a visual and tactile confirmation. This is a critical safety element in realistic training. The projectiles run 325-425 fps and the plastic projectiles weigh 6 grains.

The 9mm rounds work in unmodified 9mm guns. The concept, however, is akin to what I want to tell some people I see in the local store. Just because you can wear it, doesn’t mean you should wear it. I strongly recommend your agency purchase brightly colored training guns and enforce ammo control in training areas. Every major manufacturer has a firing version of their duty gun in a different color, preferably “training blue.” Use them for this purpose. For the .223/5.56 version, use clearly marked barrel tags.

5.56 CARTRIDGE

The 5.56 cartridge uses a bolt carrier group conversion kit that will convert a carbine in just a few seconds. This conversion is internal only and does not alter the characteristics of the gun. This lets officers use their complete kit without interfering with on-gun accessories. The 5.56 cartridge fires a 4-grain marking projectile at 400-550 fps.

CLOTHING FRIENDLY

I have used marking rounds where the paint had some kind of oil base. It permanently stained my clothing and was hard to wipe off between scenarios. None of us had this problem with Force on Force products. This alone is a great reason to use these products.

Your agency should be using marking rounds for critical incident training. Force on Force products are at the top of the food chain.

By Lindsey Bertomen | Police1.com​

 

About the author

Lindsey Bertomen is a retired police officer and retired military small arms trainer. He teaches criminal justice at Hartnell College in Salinas, California. He has a BS in Criminal Justice and an MS in Online Teaching and Learning. Lindsey has taught shooting techniques for over a decade. His articles on firearms tactics have appeared in print for over a decade. Lindsey enjoys competing in shooting sports, running, and cycling events.​​

FBI Slayings Show Risk Surveillance Cameras Pose to Law Enforcement

FBI agents console each other as they arrive at the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office in Dania, Fla., after two FBI agents were killed and three wounded while trying to serve a search warrant in Broward County on Tuesday Feb. 2, 2021. (Susan Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)​

 

The child pornography suspect who gunned down two South Florida FBI agents this week somehow knew exactly when they were approaching his apartment.

Authorities are investigating whether he may have used his doorbell’s security camera to time his ambush, firing a high-powered rifle through the door as their team neared to search his home and computer.

That’s a danger police nationwide are facing: As outdoor surveillance cameras now protect about half of U.S. homes from criminals, the criminals are using them to get a jump on officers about to raid theirs. Some doorbell cameras even have motion sensors that alert owners when anyone comes within 100 feet (30 meters).

The cameras, combined with the military-style weaponry many criminals possess, leave law enforcement offers particularly vulnerable. In such situations, the house’s doors and walls offer no protection, noted Ed Davis, Boston’s police commissioner from 2006 to 2013.

“You take a military assault rifle and you add to that a surveillance system that allows (the suspect) to identify where officers are as they approach the house — you are a sitting duck,” Davis said.

The FBI says David Huber, a 55-year-old computer technician with no criminal record, gunned down agents Laura Schwartzenberger and Daniel Alfin and wounded three others. He then killed himself. The agency hasn’t said whether Huber’s camera had a motion detector, but that could explain why he was awaiting the agents Tuesday before dawn — an hour officers often pick for raids because the suspect is likely asleep.

“A child exploitation suspect, he is going to be on his toes all day long — he doesn’t want to get caught because he is going away for a long time,” said New York City Detective Robert Garland.

In the 1980s and ’90s, a home with outdoor surveillance cameras was often a sign the resident was a drug dealer or otherwise a criminal, according to Davis and retired SWAT officer David Thomas, now a criminal justice professor at Florida Gulf Coast University. A good system could cost thousands.

“They were the only ones who could afford it,” said Thomas, who worked for the Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Gainesville, Florida, police departments.

Davis said such cameras were so often an indication of criminality, some judges considered their presence when approving officers’ warrant requests.

The cameras were also large and hard to hide — officers could spot them during pre-raid surveillance and approached accordingly.

But today, a technically savvy person can install security cameras for a few hundred dollars and a good doorbell camera can be purchased for less than $200. Many cameras are small and easy to hide.

Thomas said police tactics often trail new technology and will need to be adjusted to deal with doorbell cameras and other home surveillance systems. He said departments may start having more warrants served by heavily armed tactical units and use diversions, such as breaking a side window before going to the door, to distract the suspect.

Departments might also ask judges to issue more “no-knock” warrants, which allow officers to break down the door immediately and without warning. That would fly in the face of growing calls in some cities to do away with such warrants after they have resulted in the deaths of innocent people.

It was while exercising a no-knock warrant that Louisville, Kentucky, police killed Breonna Taylor in her apartment 11 months ago, sparking nationwide protests.

“The issue is very complex, but the reality is there has to be something” for officers to protect themselves, Thomas said.

Davis said there are some countermeasures officers can take against surveillance cameras but they carry the risk of tipping off suspects, particularly when they believe a raid is imminent. Some police departments have devices that can jam the Bluetooth or other radio-wave systems some cameras use to send images to their monitor. And they can cut the home’s power, although many camera systems have battery backups.

Serving warrants has always been one of law enforcement’s most dangerous jobs, even before sophisticated home security cameras were commonplace. On the Grand Rapids SWAT team, Thomas was the door kicker — the officer who is directly in the line of fire if the suspect is waiting in ambush. He said the door is a particularly dangerous spot.

“You never know what is waiting on the other side,” he said.

Davis said the FBI will do a comprehensive report on the shooting. When other agencies receive it, they will pore over it so they can protect their own officers from gunmen with security cameras.

“It has to be reviewed — there are lessons to be learned from this terrible tragedy,” Davis said.

By Terry Spencer | Associated Press | Police1.com

U.S. Marshals Arrest Fugitive in Laclede County

Lonnie G. Richardson, age 50, was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service-Midwest Violent Fugitive Task Force in Laclede County, Missouri on Monday, February 8. Richardson was charged in Wright County, Missouri with two counts of Tampering with a Judicial Officer, and 2nd Degree Terrorist Threat—both felonies under Missouri law. 

Richardson was charged after a February 4th incident in which he threatened to kill a Wright County judge, the ​sheriff and their families—prompting a multi-agency law enforcement effort to protect them. 

U.S. Marshals Service investigators tracked Richardson to a rural area near Lebanon. There, U.S. Marshals along with deputies from the Laclede County Sheriff’s Office found Richardson hiding in a small camping trailer. After a brief standoff, Richardson was arrested and taken to the Laclede County Jail pending his return to Wright County. 

The U.S. Marshals Service-Midwest Violent Fugitive Task Force in Springfield led the multiagency search for Richardson. “Richardson threatened to kill public officials and their families,” said U.S. Marshal Mark James of the Western District of Missouri, “His reckless behavior threatened to tear the fabric of our criminal justice system. If you act in this lawless way, the U.S. Marshals will find you and bring you to justice.” 

The U.S. Marshals Midwest Violent Fugitive Task Force—Springfield Division, partners with members of the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, the Christian County Sheriff’s Office, the Springfield Police Department, and the Joplin Police Department. 

The mission of the U.S. Marshals Service fugitive programs is to seek out and arrest fugitives charged with violent crimes, drug offenses, sex offenders, and other serious felonies. To accomplish this mission, the U.S. Marshals Service partners with local law enforcement agencies in 94 district offices, 85 local fugitive task forces, 8 regional task forces, as well as many foreign countries. 

Submit tips on fugitives directly and anonymously to the U.S. Marshals Service by downloading the USMS Tips app to your Apple or Android device, or online at: https://www.usmarshals.gov/tips/index.html

For more information about the U.S. Marshals Service, visit: www.usmarshals.gov

FMCSA Clearinghouse Records More Than 56,000 Truck Driver Violations in 2020

More than 56,000 drug and alcohol violations were recorded last year in a database intended to track truck drivers’ compliance history and prevent them from job-hopping in the event of a failed drug test.

The number of driver violations reported rose by roughly 10,000 over the final two months of 2020, the first full year of operation for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

According to a new summary report, just 1,203 of the total driver violations were alcohol-related. Of those, most were for drivers who tested with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater.

Click Clearinghouse Report by Transport Topics on Scribd to see the data.

Of the 45,000 driver violators who lost their jobs due to the violations, 34,000 have not yet completed the return-to-work program — a statistic that has some in the industry concerned that those drivers may be leaving their jobs for good.

The violations overwhelmingly included drivers who tested positive for drug use, but also included those who declined to take a drug test or were suspected of cheating on a test.

“The good news is that the system is working in capturing violations by drivers and allowing employers and enforcement personnel to verify a driver’s status prior to permitting him/her [to drive],” said Duane DeBruyne, an FMCSA spokesman. “Any violation reported is a bad thing; blocking prohibited drivers from endangering themselves and the lives of the motoring public is a good thing.”

DeBruyne said the Clearinghouse is making it more difficult for prohibited drivers to circumvent the required return-to-duty process, thereby preventing them from continuing to operate large commercial motor vehicles and potentially, “endanger themselves and the lives of everyone traveling our nation’s roadways.”

Carriers, state driver licensing agencies and law enforcement officials use the Clearinghouse to check a driver’s violations.

“I believe the 56,000 drivers with violations reiterates the importance of this Clearinghouse, and shines a spotlight on a rather large loophole in the drug and alcohol testing process that has existed for many years,” said Dan Horvath, vice president of safety policy for American Trucking Associations.

Dave Osiecki, president of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting, said the return-to-work number is low. “It’s concerning, and it bears watching and tracking,” Osiecki said. “The percentage of drivers with violations who are getting evaluated, and completing the treatment process, has risen slowly over the past several months. This is a good sign, but it’s also clear that many drivers are not entering treatment, which suggests they’ve left the industry.”

Osiecki said that when FMCSA published the final Clearinghouse rule in 2016, the agency used historical industry data to provide an annual violation estimate. “FMCSA’s estimate was 53,500 drug and alcohol violations annually. Their estimate was remarkably close,” he said.

“According to our interpretation of Motor Carrier Management Information System data, there are 5,174,170 truck drivers under the authority of FMCSA,” said Norita Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “Fifty-six thousand drivers represents 1.1% of the available driver pool.” Other trucking groups have differing estimates of the size of the driver pool.

The leading number of drug test failures — 29,500 — was for marijuana, according to the report, which summarized violations recorded since Jan. 6, 2020, when the Clearinghouse officially went into effect.

There were more than 7,940 failed tests for cocaine use, and 4,953 for amphetamines. Also included in the total were about 1,120 tests described as reasonable suspicion of attempts to cheat on a drug test, the report said.

In 2020, about 1.6 million drivers and 197,000 employers registered in the Clearinghouse. Slightly more than 67,000 of the employers registered have identified themselves as owner-operators, according to FMCSA.

During 2020, there were 136,806 full queries on the Clearinghouse, 1.4 million pre-employment queries and 2.7 million limited queries, according to the report.

Besides making pre-employment checks, employers are required by regulation to make checks on the database annually to ensure none of their employees have any drug violations.

“It’s important to note that having a drug or alcohol testing violation is not an automatic end to a driver’s career,” said ATA’s Horvath. “While there is a significant number of drivers who have not yet completed the return-to-duty testing process, that number continues to grow. With continued education about the drug and alcohol testing program, and consequences for noncompliance, we hope to see violations decrease and the number of drivers who have completed the return-to-duty process increase.”

By Eric Miller | Transport Topics https://www.ttnews.com/

Photo courtneyk/Getty Images

After a Tumultuous 2020, How Tech Can Help LE With the Challenges Ahead

The impact of 2020 was felt across the globe, by every individual, in every industry, across ​​every country. However, no profession was impacted by the events of last year in quite the same way as American law enforcement.

Between the COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest and responding to “standard” emergencies on a daily basis, law enforcement has been forced to take on more responsibility while addressing evolving public needs and ways of communicating and responding within communities across the country.

While a challenging year, 2020 brought with it the opportunity to rethink approaches to many pressing issues. Like other professions, public safety and law enforcement can learn from the events of 2020 and re-evaluate operations, communications and interactions with each other and the public going forward to create a more connected and safer community for everyone.

Here are a few changes that will take place in 2021 that will help law enforcement respond to ongoing challenges.

MORE INFORMED FIRST RESPONSE

One of the biggest conversations of 2020 revolved around law enforcement response to mental health crises in the community. Important questions have been raised to ensure that first responders who arrive on scene have the context and training needed to deliver the appropriate response.

Having critical background information – such as if the subject is an autistic person or has a mental health condition that may impact their reaction to responders – can lead to a response that results in successful outcomes for all involved.

Innovative communities in Suffolk County, Chicago and Seattle are leveraging technology to allow residents to create safety profiles that allow the public to opt in and share personal information – such as medical history – in case of an emergency. Through innovation and rethinking public safety response, these communities and law enforcement have more real-time context and information about the situation they are walking into and how they should best approach a person in crisis.

No matter who ultimately ends up responding to these types of incidents – be it police, mental health professionals, EMTs or a combination – this critical information can help any first responder provide a well-informed, appropriate response that keeps everyone involved as safe as possible.

COLLABORATING WITH KEY STAKEHOLDERS

Police are typically first on the scene in an emergency, but in many cases other departments or agencies need to get involved quickly – whether that’s emergency management, fire or, as we have seen with COVID-19, public health. These different entities need to be on the same page when it comes to coordinating the best and fastest response possible.

Emergencies unravel quickly and can be chaotic – especially when multiple players or stakeholders are involved, so the ability to know the role every department plays in a response can save time and lead to better outcomes. By using technology to collaborate, share data and communicate effectively and in a streamlined manner, departments can better manage major crises, like the pandemic, but also be ready for daily emergencies that are shorter in duration, such as fires, medical incidents or acts of violence.

The right technology not only coordinates incident response with task management, activity status, reminders and reference resources, but also dramatically accelerates the response, allowing for those involved to return to safety quicker.

Solutions that allow law enforcement to better coordinate incident response, share real-time data and communications among multiple responder teams or departments, ensure compliance with task lists and protocols, and record all actions taken for audits and reporting will become critical to our emergency responses.

This allows law enforcement and other emergency personnel to do their jobs to their greatest ability, knowing that there is one source of data that can guide actions, support on-the-fly changes and escalate past due tasks to the appropriate personnel.

TARGETING COMMUNICATIONS TO RESIDENTS

Public safety and law enforcement are often leading the charge when it comes to communicating to residents about new protocols and guidelines around COVID-19. This can be especially challenging when living in a large city or town where some areas are more affected by the coronavirus than others. Communication to residents must be customized based on their unique population and experience with the spread of the virus.

However, despite the need to communicate and inform the public, many are getting weary of notifications and reminders about the pandemic. Up against this challenge in particular, public safety will need to get creative in how they communicate with their residents in 2021, taking both geography and channel – like phone calls, emails, apps, and text alerts – into consideration.

As public safety and law enforcement consider their go-forward strategy, officials should consider the modes and tone of various communications. For example, reminders for mask wearing, social distancing and the like could be kept to social media channels or digital signage around town while direct communications, like calls and text messages, should carry some weight of urgency and be used only for the most important information. Otherwise, residents may begin to tune out mass notifications – a potential risk to a community’s public safety.

Like many others, I’m excited to turn the page on 2020 and look forward to seeing how our communities become stronger from lessons learned. Public safety and law enforcement have always been resilient, despite the many challenges they have faced over the years. By learning from events of 2020, law enforcement can prepare for future emergencies and focus on what matters most: protecting their communities. And while 2021 may ultimately be as unpredictable as 2020, it is certain that law enforcement will be ready to adapt and serve.

By Todd Miller | Police1.com

About the author

Todd Miller is the SVP of Strategic Programs at Rave Mobile Safety. Prior to joining Rave, Todd managed the self-service consulting practice at Oracle where he was responsible for the delivery of customized software solutions for clients in North America, supporting millions of users. At Oracle he was awarded recognition as a member of Oracle’s top 10% in consulting. Todd’s previous experience includes leading consulting teams for Siebel and eDOCS in North America, Europe and Australia.

Photo by Jakayla Toney

Missouri Bill Would Ban Enforcement of Federal Gun Laws

Missouri’s GOP-led state House on Wednesday advanced a bill to ban local police officers from enforcing federal gun laws, including using federal laws to take away people’s guns.

Bill sponsor Republican Rep. Jered Taylor, of Republic, cited the possibility of new federal gun restrictions under Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration and the Democratic-led U.S. House as the reason why the bill is needed.

He said it’s state lawmakers’ job to protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Missourians.

“We are here to defend those rights against an out-of-control federal government,” Taylor said. “And that’s exactly what this bill does.”

The legislation would apply to the enforcement of federal gun crimes that are not state gun crimes. Federal officers still would be able to enforce those laws, but Missouri law enforcement would be banned from helping.

The bill has gotten pushback from some law enforcement in the state, particularly over a now-stripped provision that would have disqualified law enforcement officers from working as Missouri cops if they served on federal taskforces related to firearm crimes. Police also would have been subject to lawsuits under the previous bill version.

House lawmakers removed those penalties Wednesday, but the measure still would subject police departments to lawsuits and $50,000 fines if they employ officers who enforce federal gun laws.

Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott in a letter to Missouri state and federal lawmakers last week called the legislation “well-intended but misguided.” He said it would hamstring law enforcement officers who often partner with federal agents over state gun crimes that face stiffer penalties under federal law.

Arnott cautioned that the measure has unintended consequences that would “severely hinder the prosecution of some of our most dangerous offenders.”

Democrats slammed the bill’s progress at a time when both St. Louis and Kansas City are struggling with a surge in violent crime.

“As violence at the highest its ever been, I implore you not to pass a bill that further emphasizes the leading tool of these crimes,” Democratic Kansas City Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove said.

The measure needs another vote of approval in the House before it can go to the Republican-led Senate for debate.

House members gave the bill initial approval in a voice vote Wednesday, but an earlier vote to amend the bill passed 107-43. That signals it likely has enough support to get final approval in the House.

 

Story by Associated Press | Molawyersmedia.com

Photo by Jay Rembert