Denver, Colorado Police Department – changing use force policy

Denver Colorado Police-crimeshop.jpg

Denver, Colorado

In a move that I don’t often make, I am going to praise the efforts of the Denver, Colorado Police Department, in fact, I commend them for taking this very huge step forward.

They announced this week that they plan to rewrite the department’s use of force policy. I’ve said this so many times before, in all reality police departments across the US don’t really need the DOJ to step in and fix everything if a police department is willing and ready for change.

As it turns out, one of the departments that I often praise has paid attention to what has been happening with other police departments across the nation and has taken it upon themselves to change the way they react.

police-use-of-force-crimeshop

Instead of telling officers what is legally allowed in terms of using force, they will now be encouraged and allowed to use the minimum amount of force necessary.
That translates to not shooting first and asking questions later, which DPD never really had an issue with but why wait until one surfaces?

They will be provided special training and models to help guide them on how to better react to different situations, according to DPD Chief Robert White.  

“I’m of the opinion it’s just not good enough for officers to take legal actions, but they also need to make sure those actions are absolutely necessary that’s where we are going.”

What citizens don’t often see or realize is that some police departments across the country have been watching the violence, the actions of both officers and citizens and they have listened to how citizens feel and they are now taking steps to change different aspects of policing.

That’s pretty important.

The Denver police department has already included a section to its operations manual that requires officers to de-escalate situations when reasonable and of course practical.

They included a section that says that officers now have a duty to render aid after they have shot a suspect or if they used physical force on a suspect if the situation is deemed safe to do so.

Chief White has also vowed to listen to input and idea’s which shows. What’s more is that the department did not take this process lightly. They consulted with something like 14 other departments, some of which were, Seattle, San Diego, Kansas City, Mo, a board of directors.

They even looked at input from from the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and the Police Executive Research Forum.

The Denver Police Department is proving that they can lead by example. They watch, listen and actually choose to hear what is said by citizens, not just in Denver but nationwide and step forward to make the changes that are needed.

I commend them for the dedication they have for the community that they serve.

Success is not about being the best. It’s about always getting better.

Clearly the Denver Police Department gets that.

Cristal M Clark

IOS users can find The Crime Shop on Apple News

@thecrimeshop

FBI Director James Comey – takes on the police shooting epidemic

jc say what

If we even have one

So I have been saying for over a year now that I personally do not feel that we have this widespread, full blown issue with police who are racially bias or just shooting unarmed black men.

The news stories that we have seen represent a relatively smaller number, much smaller than everyone realizes.

And finally, it would seem that the director of the FBI has actually admitted to a group of police chiefs that we really don’t know if we have an issue or not.

United-States-Police-the-crime-shop

Do we have issues in some communities? Absolutely, we do. We have seen the issues but, what we see on the news does not represent police nationwide in every single city or town.

Do police need to improve the relationship that they have with the communities they serve? Yes, even if the relationships are deemed good, they need to work to make them better. As people grow and change so do the communities police serve because people and communities are always changing. 

The one disagreement that I would have with James and the Department of Justice is that, it wouldn’t take a year or longer to gather the data needed and back track specifically just police shootings by race.

I detest when the government tells us how long, tedious, expensive and drawn out that gathering the intel would be. Most of us have to gather information including historical information on a daily basis.

All we use out here in the real world is this neat thing called a spreadsheet, maybe the FBI and the DOJ have heard of it, you can add things like pivot tables, graphs, charts and the like, and even better is that you have add a tab at the bottom that can be used for each state, city, municipality and through the use of formula’s the spreadsheets will actually do the math for you.spreadsheetsample-crimeshop

It’s amazing all of the data that you can put into something as simple as a spreadsheet.

The best part is, it’s not encrypted by Apple so the FBI shouldn’t have an issue accessing it or using it yet.

Then all the DOJ would need is the ability to make a phone call and request each city, town, municipality and state fill out his or her tab on the spreadsheet that they emailed them and well it’s cake from then on.

They don’t even need to hire additional staff for this task,  we’ve all seen the news reports about how cities, towns, states and the Federal Government employees are overpaid and waste time.

I mean at the end of the day, I worked for a city once and well the stories are sort of true. We even had a guy searching for his internet bride while at work, so it’s not like the government doesn’t already have an employee or two or a few who can gather the information and pop it into a spreadsheet.

You could purchase or have software made for this but to begin, everyone is really just looking for numbers by race here and maybe whether or not the police felt the suspect posed a threat. Maybe.

At any rate, the director made a statement with regards to police shootings that went something like “people who think there’s an epidemic of police shootings of black people aren’t well-informed.”

My response to that is, why wait to inform us. The history is in front of us now, put your money where your mouth is because it’s different when I tell people that I do not believe in this epidemic, I am a private citizen who does not work for the government, I do not have the authority to start pulling all of the needed data from police departments nationwide.

Trust me, if I had my hands on it, you would be seeing the numbers for the last 5 years today along with stats which tell you if the suspect was armed, running, appeared to be armed but wasn’t, drunk, high whatever,  instead of reading that if you think there’s an epidemic of police shootings of black people, you are not well informed.

The director of the FBI however does have access to the data now and he has the authority to get it now. Instead of working to gather the information over the last year he’s been working to try to convince police departments it is a good thing to track and share officer involved shootings and use of force with the DOJ…

This really is not rocket science so I am not sure why the DOJ has sold it that way…if they want to add fuel to the idea that maybe we are not looking at an epidemic, they should be backing that idea up with numbers instead of saying things like people are not well informed and “A small group of videos serve as an epidemic.”

Then again in the wake of agents who came out with issues regarding how the FBI handled the Hillary Clinton email scandal…

The FBI and the DOJ will be heading into this with an already badly tarnished reputation and more trust issues than they had before where the public is concerned.

How do you play the game when you’ve already lost the trust of the public?

Right now all people want to see are the numbers, not the excuse for why that follow.

Cristal M Clark

IOS users can find The Crime Shop on Apple News

@thecrimeshop

Police nationwide are ill-equipped to handle the mentally ill

mentally-ill-the-crime-shop

Or are our expectations of officers becoming unrealistic?

The El Cajon shooting just sparked a debate that has been brought up several times in recent history, is law enforcement nationwide ill-equipped to handle the mentally ill?

The El Cajon police were dispatched on a 5150 call, which is a request for an involuntary psychiatric hold because Alfred Olango’s sister had called them.

She told dispatch that he was not himself and that he was sick and needed help.  

Officers found Alfred Olango behind a downtown restaurant in a parking lot and within moments police killed him.

Alfred Olango was a 38-year old African American male. He pointed a vape smoking device at officers in such a way that it appeared to them he had a weapon. It is unclear if his sister told dispatch if he was armed or not, didn’t know or if dispatch passed that information onto the responding officers.

This shooting has set off yet another wave of debate, sparking protests in the San Diego suburb. It has become a new hot button in the ongoing saga with regards to deadly encounters between police and people with mental illnesses.

stephen-king-mental-the-crime-shop

This shooting like the last two are leaving many wondering if law enforcement is too quick to respond with a bullet, are they ill trained, or do they just not care?

One question I usually ask people who are quick to condemn the police for a shooting is “have you ever been in a live shooter situation?” It’s a simple yes or no answer right? Wrong, I always get the “Well if it were me…” answer.

The problem is, the answer is not so simple. Police literally have a split second to size the situation up and to react. Police are not usually called to any situation where they can offer a more “proactive” approach.

They get called when a situation has become one that warrants a reactive response.

A month or so ago I saw a story I want to say out of a small town in Florida. A man was sitting outside of a local Walgreen’s with a gun or rifle. The police were able to successfully talk him down. What was later revealed was that the weapon was not loaded and the man was in fact, mentally ill.

So at first glance we all read the story and think “wow, those cops are amazing, they did not shoot first” but…I later learned that they somehow found out the weapon was not loaded so they negotiated with the man instead of shooting him when he failed to put the weapon down.

The headline made it seem that the situation was something that it was not and it was delivered that way to make the local cops look like heroes, which they are for getting the man help but had they not known the gun was not loaded, the situation may have played out way differently.

Are we expecting too much from law enforcement?

I always try to answer this with two answers, yes and no.

Police can’t read minds or know what the person in front of them is truly thinking. They have a split second to think about it. They are trained to react.

Many people say and to an extent I agree with them, we have gone too far in terms of training cops to react to situations, they need to learn better to react to individuals rather than to a situation because that might change the outcome of some situations.

Yet we as a society, well we do expect police to just know when to shoot and when not to shoot, regardless of whether or not the suspect has a weapon, acts like or pretends to have a weapon.

A bigger issue is, are they getting enough details from dispatch? Do they always know when they are responding to a situation where someone might be experiencing a mental illness? Do they know if the individual is armed or not?

We also have to look at our own expectations and the world that we currently live in.

We need to take into account that it is impossible to expect police to not react to situations that they deem dangerous. We live in a world with too many variables and quite frankly police don’t always know what they are walking into.

Anyone suffering from any type of mental illness may or may not be on medication or worse self medicating. He or she may be on medication but mixing it with alcohol or illegal drugs. He or she may mixing medication with other prescribed medications, they have have taken too much or too little medication.

He or she may be a lone wolf extremist who is hell bent on killing. They may end up facing someone who is unwilling to go to jail so they’d rather get into a shootout with police, it could also be a young teen who has a problem with authority in general.

It’s not feasible to expect police to know all of this when rolling into a situation and not react. It’s not like on TV or in the movies, they really do only get a split second.

None of that means that police don’t need better training, they need to learn to react less quickly, learn to use non-lethal force when needed, police nationwide are getting training to better equip them to deal with the mentally ill but are they using that training enough?

Yet even that training will not cover all of the different scenarios they encounter.

Each side has a story, but society isn’t really hearing the story.

When protesters resort to looting, shooting, rioting, killing, violence and screaming in the face of police, we see and hear you but we don’t hear or see your cause, story or what you hope to accomplish.

The media, parents and loved ones who have lost someone to an officer involved shooting have sometimes not been entirely truthful about who the deceased really was, too reluctant to face reality, they are too quick to condemn the police long before they have even part of the facts let alone half of them. Even after that they still call the shooting unjustified.

For law enforcement, far too often they are too quick to defend the actions of officers and are not being transparent enough. Too many times problem officers are allowed to continually slide and keep jobs when they shouldn’t.

Law enforcement does not have a standard in terms of making sure the police they have are still good cops after years on the job. Nor do they have a standard to ensure they are not bias against anyone and/or desensitized to crimes or victims.

The point is, in general many in society no longer trust police to have their backs. Many see them as militant, abusive, ruthless, unkind, they let the job go to their heads, they put themselves on a pedestal, they feel that they can do no wrong, cover for each other, departments cover for bad cops and they are too eager to shoot black individuals, suspects or not. 

So while no one is being heard, we still face the same issues and we are getting nowhere.

No more hiding behind the badge…

and

No more hiding behind excusing criminal behavior because of race or past mistreatment.

It is time for law enforcement and the communities they serve to come together and just hear each other, compromise and solve the issues that they each face.

Until then, let’s hope for more peaceful meaningful protests throughout the U.S.

Cristal M Clark

IOS users can find The Crime Shop on Apple News

@thecrimeshop