(visit the post at SloshSpot to get the full-sized image in all it’s glory!)
If anyone else sees someone putting our stats or info to good use let us know, I think stuff like this is great! Thanks for making this, rtcrooks!
(visit the post at SloshSpot to get the full-sized image in all it’s glory!)
If anyone else sees someone putting our stats or info to good use let us know, I think stuff like this is great! Thanks for making this, rtcrooks!
UPDATE: For more current statistics, including our 2009 Annual Report that contains all data from 2009, please visit our Police Misconduct Statistical Report menu page.
The National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project utilizes news media reports of police misconduct to generate statistical information in an effort to approximate how prevalent police misconduct may be in the United States.
As part of this project, reported incidents of misconduct are aggregated into a news feed on Twitter and added into an off-line database where duplicate entries and updates are removed and remaining unique stories are categorized for statistical information in monthly, quarterly, and yearly reports here on this site. To view data from other months, refer to the Police Misconduct Statistics menu item located on the top menu bar.
*Note: This report is for incidents in November 2009 only. For more detailed and comprehensive statistics, please visit The NPMSRP 2009 Semi-Annual Police Misconduct Statistics Report which was released on 10/09/09.
The following report was generated from data gathered in the month of November 2009. In this month alone there were:
417 – Alleged incidents of reported police misconduct that were tracked in national news media.
13.9 – Reported incidents that were tracked per day on average.
510 – Law enforcement officers that were cited in those reports.
26- Law enforcement leaders (police chiefs & sheriffs) that were cited in those reports.
1,184 – Alleged victims specifically cited in those recorded reports.
35 – Fatalities reported in connection with alleged instances of misconduct or criminal activity.
$27,228,000 – Reported costs in police misconduct related civil litigation (not counting undisclosed settlements or legal fees).
When examining misconduct reports by type, the top 3 complaints:
18.1% (97) officers were involved in excessive force complaints.
10.1% (54) officers were involved in general uncategorized complaints.
9.9% (53) officers were involved in civil rights complaints.
When examining reports by last reported status:
22.8% resulted in punitive actions taken against the officer involved.
31.3% were prosecuted criminally.
38.1% of criminal cases resulted in convictions.
10 worst cities by total number of officers reported in November alone:
1. Washington DC – 24
2. Chicago IL – 12
3. Phoenix AZ – 10
4. New York NY – 9
4. Pittsburgh PA – 9
6. Baltimore MD – 7
7. Minneapolis MN – 6
7. Salt Lake City UT – 6
9. Oakland CA – 5
9. Atlanta GA – 5
9. Flint MI – 5
10 worst states ranked by projected police misconduct rate (misconduct per 100k officers):
1. Utah (11) – 2804.93 per 100k
2. Wyoming (3) – 2586.21 per 100k
3. Vermont (2) – 2513.09 per 100k
4. Mississippi (10) – 2363.60 per 100k
5. West Virginia (6) – 1894.74 per 100k
6. New Hampshire (4) – 1870.62 per 100k
7. New Mexico (6) – 1747.57 per 100k
8. Arizona (19) – 1767.44 per 100k
9. Indiana (14) – 1606.12 per 100k
10. Connecticut (11) – 1529.19 per 100k
(National average is 834.69 per 100k)
The 10 worst state rankings by sheer number:
1. California – 40 (590.51 per 100k)
2. Texas – 35 (797.34 per 100k)
3. Florida – 31 (836.41 per 100k)
4. Illinois – 23 (740.98 per 100k)
5. Pennsylvania – 22 (1056.51 per 100k)
6. New Jersey – 21 (778.28 per 100k)
7. Ohio – 20 (1098.40 per 100k)
8. Arizona – 19 (1767.44 per 100k)
9. Massachusetts – 18 (1300.50 per 100k)
10. Michigan – 17 (1045.94 per 100k)
By projecting this month’s totals out to one year, the following comparisons can be made between the reported police misconduct allegation rate and the reported general crime rate* as published by the FBI and DOJ for 2008 (*please note that both the police misconduct and general crime rate statistics are allegations, not convictions):
1 out of every 110.8 police officers in the US will be implicated in an act of misconduct or criminality in the news if November’s statistics were the average through the year of 2009.
Accountability – Incidents involving evidence of police misconduct cover-ups, lack of investigations, allegations of lax disciplinary response to sustained allegations, and other activities that involve accountability policies or processes.
Animal Cruelty – Acts of violence resulting in harm to animals both on and off duty that may include unnecessary shooting incidents, inappropriate training of K9 units, or other such activities.
Assault – Unwarranted violence occurring while off-duty
Brutality – Unwarranted or excessive physical violence occurring while on-duty
Civil Rights – Violations of general civil liberties that would be ruled unconstitutional yet not covered by other categories. For example, excessive force would be a violation of constitutionally protected rights, but is already covered in the Brutality class. However, complaints of warrantless eavesdropping or illegal disruptions of lawful protests would be deemed civil rights violations.
Sexual – Sex related incidents including rape, sexual assault, harassment, coercion, prostitution, sex on duty, incest, and molestation.
Theft – includes robbery, theft, shoplifting, fraud, extortion, and bribery
Shooting – gun-related incidents both on and off-duty, including self-harm
Color of Law – incidents that involve misuse of authority such as bribery or extortion by threat of arrest
Murder – non-negligent homicides occurring outside of the line of duty.
Perjury – includes false testimony, dishonesty during investigations, falsified charging papers, and falsified warrants.
Allegation – First stage of a misconduct complaint, can be from victim, witnesses, relatives of the victim, and other sources. Simply an allegation of misconduct.
Investigation – Second stage of a misconduct complaint, can be an internal investigation, criminal investigation, external investigation, or a DOJ/FBI civil rights investigation.
Lawsuits – Civil complaints filed in court, generally requires more evidence than a simple allegation, but still within the realm of allegations.
Charges – Criminal complaints filed in court, generally requires more evidence than a simple allegation, but still within the realm of allegations.
Trials – Criminal trials in court, requires enough evidence to establish probable cause, higher threshold than civil litigation or criminal charges, but still allegations.
Judgments – These are rulings that support a civil litigation complaint but also include settlement agreements that are typically, officially, said to not be admissions of guilt. Should be considered a confirmed case of misconduct.
Disciplinary – Results of investigations that confirm misconduct complaints but do not result in termination of employment.
Firings – Results of investigations that confirm misconduct severe enough to warrant termination of employment.
Convictions – Results of criminal trials that confirm allegations serious enough to warrant criminal charges. These include both rulings and guilty pleas.
Data is gathered from various media outlets by manual searches and review of daily news stories several times a day. There are no sufficient key terms that work well enough to automate this data gathering tasks, the results must be vetted by human intervention.
Confirmed stories about police misconduct that have been vetted to ensure that the story is about a case of misconduct or allegation of misconduct are published to a Twitter-based National Police Misconduct NewsFeed. From there, the stories are copied to a spreadsheet where they can later be sorted and analyzed.
At the first day of the month, data from the previous month is sorted and analyzed in the spreadsheet. All duplicate stories, stories that are informational, stories involving policy, and legislative issues are purged from the spreadsheet. Any items involving a status change about a specific incident are culled so that only the latest status story remains to avoid duplicate data.
After all data has been analyzed it is presented on this site by General, Geographical, Type, and Status datasets.
The data collected and presented here should only be used to provide a very basic and general view of the extent of police misconduct within the US. It is, by no means, an accurate gauge that truly represents the exact extent of police misconduct since it relies on the information voluntarily gathered and/or released to the media, not from information gathered first-hand by independent monitors who investigate complaints of misconduct since no such agency exists nationally.
This information has been gathered here because nobody else is gathering it and the national government has not gathered it for several years. Keep in mind that geographical distribution of misconduct reports can be representative of concentrations of corruption or permissive attitudes towards abusive police policies or can be indications of more open information sharing between police agencies and local media along with departmental efforts to reduce misconduct by actively engaging problematic officers. There is no real way to determine which is the case since there is no independent monitoring and investigation into allegations of police misconduct.
In generally, monthly reports do not provide as accurate a depiction of the overall extent of police misconduct in the US as do quarterly and yearly reports as there is a fair amount of fluctuation between incident types and rates month by month. Therefore, monthly reports should only be considered as the state of police misconduct in that month itself while the longer-term reports paint a more comprehensive and accurate picture of police misconduct in the US.
As always, I appreciate any recommendations, advice, requests, and general comments.
*Updated 12/3/2009 – Fixed state ranking problem caused by data offset for Vermont.
It’s terribly frustrating and depressing that I have to write about something like this again. Four police officers were fatally shot in a Tacoma Washington area coffee shop today in what is being described as a targeted attack. While no other information is currently available, it comes on the heels of similar attacks on Seattle police officers recently and is being described as an ambush attack with no other apparent motive but to kill the police officers who were simply sitting around drinking coffee and using their computers.
While there hasn’t been any word on possible motives or suspects, given the similarity and proximity of the attacks on Seattle police officers that was done in the name of fighting against police brutality, I want to be clear about this. I do not believe that the use of violence in response to police misconduct is a reasonable course of action. In fact, it only serves to make the problem worse, not better.
To be even more blunt… in my mind, there is no difference between a police officer who kills an innocent person in an act of misconduct and a person who kills police officers in cold blood in response to acts of police misconduct.
None of us has the right to act as judge, jury, and executioner… be that a police officer or not. While I certainly would hope that people who read this site appreciate the ethical problems involved with responding to police misconduct with arbitrary violence, I do know that for some victims, it’s a difficult point to accept.
So, if an appeal to ethical sense doesn’t reach you then look at it this way. Anecdotal evidence indicates that when police officers are attacked like this that it always results in a more aggressive response by police officers within that region, and sometimes nationally. In other words, a violent response like this never reduces police misconduct, it only increases it and makes the public and media more receptive to it.
Of course, there’s no indication yet that this had anything to do with police brutality or was anything like the attacks in Seattle. But… in the very remote chance that it was and that the person who performed this attack happens to be reading. Please stop, you’re not doing anyone any justice by doing this… in fact, by doing it, you may have made the problem worse.
UPDATE: Apparently, a “person of interest” has been named in the case and, if this person were to end up being the person responsible in this case, it would appear it had nothing at all to do with police misconduct.
In case you didn’t know, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Florida received a “Flagship Agency” certification from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies during one of their “tri-annual re-accreditation ceremonies in Salt Lake City, Utah this month. The Lake Wales News reports that this is the sixth time the agency was re-accredited and that this accolade demonstrates the agency is “the best of the best”.
For those who might scratching their heads right now… yes, this is the same Polk County Sheriff’s department that brought the world this video just two months ago:
The above video played on news reports around the world and shows several Polk County deputies playing Wii Sports while they were supposed to be conducting a thorough search of a suspected drug dealer’s residence. The seven officers involved received a disciplinary sentence of about 2-4 hours worth of “retraining”.
For those curious about what kind of professional standards body would consider this as a sign of excellence, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Incorporated (CALEA) was created in 1979 as a credentialing authority by a joint effort of several law enforcement organizations and lobbyists like the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Sheriff’s Association. Today, a CALEA accreditation is one of the most sought-after credentials for police departments in the US and one of the most frequently cited as well.
CALEA’s stated goals purport to improve the delivery of public service by maintaining a body of standards and administering accreditation in recognition of professional excellence. But, with awards like those for Polk County, some might wonder what this means in terms of police accountability and police misconduct?
Well, among CALEA’s selling points is that an accreditation through their company can strengthen an agency’s accountability and limit an agency’s liability and risk exposure, which in turn would improve community relations and trust towards an agency that held this accreditation.
As offered proof of this, the CALEA Web site has a list of testimonials from participating agencies in which some claim that, because of this accreditation, they were able to head off costly civil rights litigation, reduce the insurance premiums they pay to cover civil rights complaints, and reduce the number of complaints made against that agency’s officers.
It certainly sounds like a reasonable claim since an adopted standardized set of policies and procedures that dictate proper behavior for employees and a set of acknowledged consequences for violations along with a set standard for investigating allegations of policy violations should accomplish improved accountability and professionalism.
But does it work in practice, especially when accreditation is a voluntary process and one which an agency apparently only need follow the letter of the recommended process and not the spirit of the process and one which we, the people, aren’t really made privy to what these actual recommendations detail?
In order to try and make a determination on how a CALEA accreditation might affect participating law enforcement agencies in the real world we took a look at what agencies currently hold a CALEA accreditation and compared that list with our National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project (NPMSRP) statistics for agencies of similar size to see how CALEA agencies stack up against the norm.
By using the 6 month aggregate NPMSRP report issued in October and sorting a list of CALEA accredited agencies of at least 300 sworn employees with a total list of all agencies that number at least 300 employees as well as the total aggregate police misconduct rate nationally we find that CALEA agencies have more misconduct issues reported than the average.
So, at first glance, it would appear that CALEA accredited agencies don’t fare any better than average when compared to other similarly-sized agencies nationally or to the national average itself. In fact, they appear to have higher police misconduct rates than the norm in both cases.
When we look at how likely it is that the difference is caused by more transparency about misconduct in CALEA agencies we can turn to the numbers again and look at the deviations between agencies to see if there are any wide variation between agencies or if the numbers for each agency are similar.
For CALEA agencies the median police misconduct rate of the 121 agencies listed is 785.24, which indicates that there is a pretty wide variation in range with more than half of the agencies reporting lower than average misconduct rates with a misconduct rate range between 0 and 10,000. If the higher average were a matter of more transparency in CALEA accredited agencies, we would see the median more aligned with the average and less variations between agencies.
In fact, it’s notable is that 25 of the CALEA agencies reported 0 cases in the last 6 months, including two agencies that have over 1,000 employees. Now, given that the average would be for there to be at least 8 officers out of 1,000 reported for misconduct, this is more indicative of under-reporting for those agencies than it is that these 0 report agencies are doing better than average for police misconduct.
In other words, the data does not indicate that CALEA agencies, as a whole, do any better with police transparency than average.
Of course, in CALEA’s defense, sometimes police departments can try to do everything right to deal with police misconduct but end up stymied by state legislation or a local government’s collective bargaining agreement with police unions that override a department’s disciplinary capabilities.
Also, the results of a standardized set of accountability and disciplinary protocols will largely depend on why a department’s leadership adopts those policies, after all, it’s still up to management to follow through or ignore their own policies.
But, regardless of the reasons, the results do appear to show that voluntary accreditation in and of itself does not make a police department more accountable to the people it serves.
Police Misconduct Rates for CALEA Agencies with over 300 employees
Note: PMR is the police misconduct rate per 100,ooo sworn law enforcement officers based on the number of officers cited in cases of misconduct within the specified reporting period.
|Anne Arundel County||MD||626.96|
|El Paso County||TX||843.88|
|El Paso County||CO||440.53|
|Indian River County||FL||2970.30|
|New Castle County||DE||0.00|
|Prince George’s County||MD||1329.79|
|Prince William County||VA||1084.99|
|St. Johns County||FL||1459.85|
|St. Louis County||MO||0.00|
|West Palm Beach||FL||3960.40|
|National Average 300+||963.30|
Here’s a brief pre-Thanksgiving Smorgasbord of police misconduct from the National Police Misconduct News Feed… (as if there wasn’t already enough to make us sick)
In Portland Oregon, about 600 police officers, their families, and pals held a protest march against the city and police chief for… well… giving an officer a paid vacation while they investigate whether he violated policy when he shot a 12-year-old girl with a beanbag round from a shotgun at point-blank range. At least some media outlets are calling it like it is, a bunch of thugs protesting against accountability.
After all, the cop isn’t even being punished, just investigated. Which means they are protesting against the city being able to investigate them for allegations of misconduct apparently.
In Chicago Illinois, the police chief and media are raising the alarm about a potential police retirement wave next year and claiming that the department needs to hire at least 2000 more officers… Heck, Chicago can’t even keep the cops they already have under control, and now they want more?
Oddly missing from all these reports is the fact that, according to 2008 FBI/DOJ UCR numbers, the Chicago Police employ more officers per capita than any of the other top 20 most populated cities. In fact, only one other city employs more cops than Chicago, that’s New York… and they still have less cops per capita with 1 cop for every 233 people while Chicago has 1 cop for every 212.
Don’t believe me? Here’s the numbers:
|City||State||LEO Pop||Population||Citizens per Officer|
Speaking of Chicago, a Chicago PD department chief and a police commander have been given wrist-slaps… er, I mean “official reprimands” for their role in the highly publicized “G-20 Trophy Photo” that was filmed during the G-20 police actions in Pittsburgh PA.
What? You expected real accountability in Chicago? They probably got nice CPD engraved picture frames with the letter of reprimand so they can hang that photo on their mantles.
Oh… and yet again from Chicago. The leader of the Chicago Police Sergeant’s Association, a police union for sergeants apparently, has been arrested for allegedly stealing quite a large sum of money from that organization for things like trips to Vegas and a new home. While estimates of what he took were initially pegged at $600,000 that number has now been raised to a cool million.
He’s now out on bail after posting $35k in bail. Wonder if the police union will hold a benefit to support this suspect like they did for the Chicago police officer facing trial for killing two people while driving drunk?
In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently ruled that, when considering a charge of battery to a law enforcement officer, that the officer need not be acting lawfully for the charge to stand. In other words, even if a police officer is harming you by acting illegally while on-duty within his or her jurisdiction, that you have no right to self-defense.
The case was spurred by an officer who ignored a homeowner who denied that officer the right to search the home but entered anyway, which resulted in a struggle between the officer and a suspect who was convicted of battery on an officer even though the officer was not in the home legally.
In what’s turning out to be a running theme here on the site, I figured it was a good time to look at how law enforcement leadership is doing so far this month. (previously I’ve examined the problem here, here, and here) After all, when law enforcement leaders are behaving badly, we are all left to wonder at how badly those who follow that leader are behaving as well.
Thus far, there have been 215 police chiefs and sheriffs cited in 231 unique incidents within the last 7 months, April through October. This means there’s just a bit over one law enforcement leader cited in the news in relation to an act of misconduct per day. This is still on track for what I cited when examining police leadership issues near the end of October.
However, so far this month, there have been 16 police leaders directly associated with allegations of misconduct. So the trend might be declining slightly in this month, but we’ll see what happens by month’s end since there was a large influx of stories about law enforcement leaders at the end of last month that kept the trend steady for the year to date.
The law enforcement leaders cited so far this month include:
The new police chief of Hinton West Virginia is off to a bad start with several citizens complaining of rough treatment and harassment. The town shouldn’t be surprised since he resigned from his previous job as a state trooper while under investigation for allegations of sexual assault.
The police chief of Humboldt Iowa has been suspended while under investigation by state police for allegedly misusing police and driving records for his own gain.
The former sheriff of Coosa County Alabama has been arrested for ethics violations and theft on allegations he used his office for personal gain.
The sheriff of Dewey County Arkansas has been charged with embezzlement after selling a gun seized during investigation for personal gain.
The sheriff of Woodson County Kansas, who already announced his pending resignation while facing reimbursement fraud charges, has been arrested in an unspecified domestic incident.
The former police chief of Washington DC, who is the current Philadelpia police commissioner, has been accused of perjury over his testimony denying that he personally gave the order to mass arrest protesters, bystanders, and journalists during the 2002 IMF protest.
The police chief of Sarasota Florida was suspended for 2 weeks without pay for failing to intervene in a ill-concieved effort to pay off an injured detainee with a few hundred dollars who was kicked after falling out of a cruiser window face-first while cuffed in order to keep him from suing.
The police chief of Chicago Illinois and IRPA (review board) head have been subpoenaed for refusing to releasing their records of a questionable car chase shooting case to the lawyers representing the victim’s family in a lawsuit.
The now-former police chief of Morningside Maryland has been indicted for the possession and sale of a stolen firearm after he was fired while under investigation.
The Lincoln County North Carolina county commissioners had filed a petition in an effort to have their indicted sheriff removed from office. (A judge recently ruled against them though).
The police chief of New Castle New Hampshire has been indicted for felony theft after admitting to stealing over $8,000 from a food drive charity fundraiser.
The police chief of Hackensack New Jersey has been sued by 10 of his own police officers who are claiming that he pressures officers to support his preferred political and union candidates and retaliates against cops who don’t vote the way he tells them to.
The police chief of Prospect Park New Jersey faces an excessive force lawsuit and a whistleblower retaliation suit in the same case where he’s accused of beating a teenager in custody and then retaliating against the police officer who reported him for it.
The soon-to-be former sheriff of Rio Arriba County New Mexico has appointed a new sheriff to replace him after leaving in a cloud of misconduct allegations. Making sure that legacy continues, his replacement had his police certification is suspended for theft allegations and cannot cary a firearm because of it.
The former police commissioner of New York City took advantage of a plea deal and will supposedly get anywhere from a 27 to 33 month sentence for pleading guilty in all 3 federal trials currently pending against him.
The sheriff in Richmond Virginia is under investigation by a special prosecutor over allegations of sexual battery made by one of his female deputies.
This is the second week in a row that there were enough videos involving police misconduct that I could make a whole post out of them… if this keeps up, it might become a regular feature… though I wish there weren’t any cases to report at all.
(Older “The Week In Video” pieces are here and here)
|Portland Police officer shoots 12-year-old with beanbag gun.|
In Portland Oregon, a police officer who is already facing disciplinary action for the 2006 death-in-custody of a mentally ill man who suffered numerous broken ribs when tackled by police is now under investigation again for firing a beanbag round from a shotgun at point-blank range into a 12-year-old girl’s leg while she was being arrested for using a train she was allegedly banned from. While the young girl does appear resistant, there are questions as to what the department’s policy is in regards to firing beanbag rounds from shotguns at such close ranges.
In San Jose California, The San Jose Mercury News has hired a video expert to enhance the audio portion of a cellphone video showing San Jose police beating and tasering SJ State student Phoung Ho. The student was hit about 13 times with a baton and tasered once for trying to find his glasses while sprawled out on the floor underneath two cops.
In the transcribed audio the student can be heard pleading for his glasses 7 times as well as saying please and sorry about 8 times… between cries and sobs. The officers, meanwhile, are apparently heard saying things like “I wanted to punch the fucker in the mouth” “That’s hurting ya?” and “Go back home to your mom.”
In Milford Connecticut, police officer Jason Anderson has been charged with two counts of 2nd degree manslaughter for the above accident where he was recorded going 94mph at 100% throtle when he hit the car driven by David Servin, killing both him and his passenger Ashlie Krakowski, both age 19. The officers were rumored to have been drag racing even before this video was released and both were accelerating fast when the accident occurred. The teens never stood a chance since they couldn’t gauge the speed of the rapidly accelerating officers and, if the officer who hit them had been going 84 instead of 94 in that 45mph zone, they never would have collided. Both officers were not responding to a call at the time.
Finally, via email, I received this message from someone who is working on documentaries for various innocence projects. While most innocence projects will only take cases where DNA evidence is available, the ones this man his highlighting take on the more challenging cases where no DNA evidence is available.
In his words…
My name John Maki. I do new media work for midwest innocence projects, including the Center on Wrongful Convictions, the Wisconsin Innocence Project, the Ohio Innocence Project, and the Michigan Innocence Clinic.
As part of my work, I make short youtube documentaries about wrongful convictions. Some of these documentaries focus on exonerations, and include exclusive footage of people walking out of prison and interviews with their lawyers, while others focus on pending actual innocence cases, case histories, and issues related to wrongful conviction reform.
The goal of my work is to raise public awareness of wrongful conviction reform and the work of my innocence project partners. Given the focus of your blog, I was wondering if I could send you links to my work. Also, if you have any suggestions about videos you’d like to see and feature, as well as other bloggers who might be interested in this work, please let me know.
Here are two videos I just published this week:
“No DNA to Test: The Wrongful Conviction of Dwayne Provience”
This is a recent Michigan Innocence Clinic case. Provience, a native of Detroit, was given a new trial a couple weeks ago, and his official exoneration is imminent. This case is an incredible example of police and prosecutorial misconduct. Provience spent almost 10 years in prison for murder, even though the Detroit police department possessed evidence at the time of his conviction that proved he was innocent.
“It Could Happen to Anyone: The Wrongful Conviction of Alan Beaman”
This is a Center on Wrongful Conviction case. Alan was a college student from a conservative Republican, Christian family in Rockford, IL, when he was wrongfully convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend. This was an egregious example of prosecutorial overreaching. There was no direct evidence that linked Alan to the crime, while there was powerful evidence that he was in fact 140 miles from the crime when it took place. In 2008, the Supreme Court of Illinois reversed and vacated his conviction, finding that the conviction rested on “tenuous circumstances,” and that the prosecutor had failed to disclose exculpatory evidence. The video focuses on Alan’s parents and how they dealt with their son’s wrongful conviction. Here’s more on Alan’s case: http://www.law.northwestern.edu/cwc/exonerations/ilBeamanSummary.html
There’s a lot going on this week, so I figure it’s a good time to do a quick review of what’s been in the news recently. (and drag out the ugly old police misconduct news eye I used to use on the old site for news watch posts) Anyway, here’s a few of the stories that are getting some attention this week.
Let’s start in Jericho Arkansas… again… er, ok, maybe we should start with a review because this place is a mess:
Well, now it seems like residents are fed up with the corruption and have asked a county judge what they can do about it… the solution? Either vote in a new mayor or get 51% of residents to sign a petition to revoke the town charter, effectively dissolving the town and reincorporating it into the county, which would effectively rid the town of all the leeches in one swift kick.
Residents appear to be trying for the quicker approach with the petition.
Elsewhere in Arkansas, Ozark to be exact, the now-infamous police officer who tasered a 10-year-old girl in the back after the girl’s sadistic mother goaded him to for the girl’s refusal to take a shower before bed has been given a paid vacation while the mayor tries to find someone… anyone… Bueller?.. from outside the department who would investigate the incident.
So far the feds and the state have refused to investigate because, well, they say there’s nothing to investigate because the officer followed the department’s policy which permits officers to taser anyone of any age for any act of resistance. God help any toddlers that cross paths with that officer.
While the latest news suggests the officer could face charges, nothing can come of it since he followed departmental policy and, since he followed policy, he gets qualified immunity. The worst he gets is a paid vacation.
Over at the always-great Simple Justice, a debate is brewing with some defending the officer in comments by suggesting that maybe the 10-yr-old deserved a good tasering, maybe she was “the debil”… perhaps missing the finer point that even the manufacturers of the taser, who’s once voiciferous cries that electrocuting people with a taser was as safe as throwing kittens at them have grown ever more quiet, recommend against tasing children. No matter how bad an unarmed 10 year old girl can thrash about, could she really have been that much of a threat to the officer that risking her life with a contramanded electrocution could have been justified?
…or are those defending the officer really just arguing that “street justice” via a taser to the backs of small children is alrighty by them?
In Chicago Illinois, good old Anthony Abbate, the guy who savagely beat up a bartender on camera and got probation for it, is still a cop. Well, at least until the civil review board there makes a descision on whether or not to fire him for his felony conviction in that case. During the hearing it appears that he “plead the fifth” against self-incrimination nearly 100 times by refusing to answer apparently incriminating questions like “can you please state your name?”
Hard to have faith in a police disciplinary system that takes months to fire a cop with a felony conviction… huh?
I’m sure most of you recall Dolton Illinois police officer Christopher Lloyd? You know, the one shown on video beating up a child with learning disabilities for not tucking in a shirt in the middle of school? The one who was later found in an Indiana jail charged with sexually assaulting a woman when that school story broke?
Well, if you remember that, you might also recall that before he was Dolton’s problem, he was Robbins Illinois problem when he gunned down his ex-wife’s husband with 17 rounds but wasn’t charged because Chicago police didn’t investigate on Lloyd’s word it was self-defense?
Ah, well, seems that the Cook County state’s attorney is finally opening up an investigation into the shooting years after that incident while the cities of Chicago and Robbins both face down a civil suit filed by the man’s widow. But, in the meantime, watch out because this guy was recently released on bail.
Stay safe out there, people.
As I mentioned previously, I’ve been working on a new way to analyze the data the NPMSRP gathers in order to create some sort of metric that would help predict where police misconduct is likely to trend upwards or downward in the future and give some indication as to why police misconduct rates might trend as certain way in one area but not another.
Of course, such an metric will take quite a while to develop, test, and refine before it’s finalized. A case in point is that I’ve already changed it a bit since I introduced the effort a few days ago, hence the new post… but I still want to share what I’ve developed so far and plan to test if the NPMSRP is able to continue past the end of this year. Mostly to see if there is any good feedback about the idea or any interest in it.
The Police Misconduct Index is an experimental measurement that analyzes NPMSRP statistics to determine where police misconduct rates are more or less likely to increase by determining how often police misconduct complaints result in disciplinary action, criminal charges, and criminal convictions under the assumption that the less often police misconduct is acted upon the more likely it is that police misconduct rates will increase.
For example, the following chart ranks states by projected Police Misconduct Rates as published in the NPMSRP Semi-Annual Statistical Report and further breaks down those statistics to determine how many, as a percentage, were followed by disciplinary action, criminal prosecution, and convictions. These statistics are then weighted and results in a PMI ranging from 0-10 which indicates how likely it is that misconduct rates will increase. (0 being least likely, 10 being most likely).
The PMI chart is color coded to indicate which areas have higher misconduct rates (red), lower misconduct rates (green), and average rate (white) as well as which areas discipline or prosecute misconduct less often (red), more often (green), or near the average (white).
PMR p100k indicates the projected police misconduct rate per 100k officers. In other words, if that area had 100,000 police officers, this is how many would be involved in a reported incident of misconduct within a year.
PMDPR indicates how many officers, as a percentage, out of those reported will end up being disciplined or criminally charged in relation to that incident.
PMCPR indicates how many officers, as a percentage, out of those reported will be criminally prosecuted in relation to that incident.
PMConR1 indicates how many officers, as a percentage, out of those prosecuted will be convicted on the charges made in relation to that incident.
PMConR2 indicates how many officers, as a percentage, out of those reported who will be convicted in response to the reported incident.
Since it is assumed that not all incidents reported are true, these rates are calculated on an average within each category which helps reduce the likelihood of false charges affecting the PMI.
The PMI charts not only give us a picture of how often misconduct is acted upon by disciplinary action or criminal charges to help determine where police get away with misconduct more or less often, but also helps determine where misconduct rates may be more or less affected by under-reporting. When PMR rates are low along with a corresponding low disciplinary rate this would indicate that there is a potential under-reporting issue due to state laws that restrict oversight or freedom of information releases for misconduct information.
For example, California has a low PMR, but also has low disciplinary rates. California also has a restrictive LEO Bill of Rights law that prevents police departments from releasing information about officers involved with alleged acts of misconduct and what happens as a result of that misconduct. This causes a problem with under-reporting and increases the likelihood that misconduct rates will increase and that currently reported misconduct rates are artificially low in that state.
The PMI can be used at a local level so long as the number of officers employed by a given law enforcement agency are significant enough to allow for accurate comparisons. Calculations for departments with fewer than 100 employees would be more susceptible to error due to a small sample size. However, when examining large departments, such as those with over 1000 sworn employees, the PMI can be used similarly as shown below when applied to the 10 worst departments with 1000+ sworn officers by PMR as ranked in the NPMSRP Semi-Annual report.
When we look at the results in this localized PMI table and compare this with recent events documented in the media, we can see the two corroborate each other surprisingly well. For example, it’s well documented that a problem in Dallas Texas is that, while the police chief there has been aggressive about responding to police misconduct, state laws and local union contracts have stifled his ability to effectively act against misconduct, as reflected in a high PMDPR but low PMCPR and low conviction rates.
Conversely, Denver Colorado has been in the news for having a stunning 0% disciplinary rate for brutality complaints and a similar 0% conviction rate for officers criminally charged with serious acts of misconduct, but a high payout rate for misconduct civil suits. In Atlanta Georgia, we can see how the department there is under a lot of fire, but how a particularly high-profile incident has pushed them to begin addressing misconduct issues… though it’s still uncertain whether those efforts will ultimately be successful.
So, even though it’s still under development, the PMI and the data analysis used to generate the PMI, appears to be a pretty useful way to look at the data the NPMSRP has gathered so far. Not only because it shows misconduct rates in comparison to disciplinary rates, but also because it can act as an indicator as to how misconduct might trend in the future for a given agency or region.
As always, especially since the PMI is under development, I am interested in any feedback about how useful you think this information is in comparison to the current NPMSRP statistics made available on this site and if it should be included in our future reports as part of the NPMSRP statistical reports.
Let me know what you think in the comments below or send me an email at email@example.com
The NPMSRP has certainly come a long way from when I first started an alpha version in May of this year… but, while the NPMSRP statistics we currently generate might help identify which states have a higher rate of misconduct, they don’t help us figure out WHY some states have higher misconduct rates than other states. After all, it’s far more useful to have an idea as to why a problem occurs than it is to just know where it’s occurring…
In response to this need, I’ve decided that I need to come up with some sort of metric that could help identify why misconduct rates are different… and I think I’m close to doing so.
I call it the Police Misconduct Predictive Composite Chart:
Right now, the composite metric I’ve developed is complicated, but so far it’s giving me some promising indications that I’m onto a solution to the problem. To see why, let me first explain what you’re looking at by first explaining what each column means.
PMR p100k – This is the Police Misconduct Rate per 100k officers. The number is the rate of misconduct as determined by the number of officers cited in reports of misconduct as a per capita rate of the total number of officers employed in that state.
PMDPR % – This is the Police Misconduct Disciplinary and Prosecution Rate percentage. It is a combination of all disciplinary and criminal prosecution out of all reported misconduct cases. It’s basically how often some sort of action results from a police misconduct report.
PMCPR % – This is the Police Misconduct Criminal Prosecution Rate percentage. It is the percentage of misconduct cases that result in a criminal prosecution attempt.
PMCon1R % – This is the Police Misconduct Conviction Rate percentage. This is the percentage of times that a police misconduct prosecution attempt results in a conviction. It is not the percentage of prosecutions per misconduct reports.
So, what could this tell us? A number of things actually… For example:
There are a few other things the chart can tell us, but as I said, it’s a work in progress and the more data I get then the more accurate of an indicator it may become. But, if we look at the patterns it presents visually even now, it appears as though the tool might work.
Why? Well, the chart is organized from highest PMR states up top to lowest PMR states at bottom and color coded such that high PMRs are red but other fields are red when low since the lower the percentage in those categories are indicative of less effective responses to misconduct.
With that in mind, note how most higher-ranking PMR states also have a higher concentration of the red PMDPR, PMCPR, and PMCon1R rates while green rankings for PMDPR, PMCPR, and PMCon1R appear to be concentrated towards the bottom with the low PMR states.
So, there does appear to be somewhat of a correlation between an active response to reports of misconduct to a lower overall misconduct rate.
Conversely, since the high PMR states seems to have a less effecive response to misconduct reports, this seems to indicate a correlation between that ineffective response to a higher incident rate. After all, the more a person feels they can get away with an act of misconduct, the more likely it is that they will try it.
As I said, this is just a trial effort towards using the statistical data we’re generating to not only tell us where misconduct may be a problem, but why. I plan on refining the chart into an actual PMI ratio or some other sort of numeric formula that will make it easier to explain and read while also making it a bit more accurate about what it tells us about each state’s police misconduct rate and why those rates are what they are.
I might also work on a way to do the same for individual police departments, at least those that are large enough to give us a good amount of data to work with. There shouldn’t be any reason why this approach wouldn’t work just as well at a more local area except when department size is so small that there isn’t enough data to make a useful metric with.
Anyway… If there are any questions or suggestions, I’m interested in hearing from you either via comments below or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep in mind this is an experimental indicator, so don’t put too much stock into the results it’s showing yet. Thanks!
Updated: 11/16/09 17:13
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