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Riding With ICE: ‘We’re Trying To Do The Right Thing’

"Under President Trump, ICE agents are told to arrest anyone in the country illegally. Since Trump's executive order in January, calling for more aggressive enforcement of immigration laws, ICE arrests have skyrocketed and the agency plans to hire more agents."

"Immigrants without legal status "should be afraid," according to Thomas Homan, the federal agency's acting director."

"But that tougher stance has put the agency on the hot seat. Immigrant advocates say ICE agents are fearmongering and arresting people who only broke the law to come to the U.S. for a better life. The agents say they're misunderstood and that they simply want to enforce the law."

Baltimore Police Caught Planting Drugs In Body-Cam Footage, Public Defender Says

"On the sidewalk, Pinheiro activates his body-cam — apparently unaware that the device would also preserve his earlier actions. "Police cameras have a feature that saves the 30 seconds of video before activation, but without audio," The Baltimore Sun reports.

"I'm gonna go check here, hold on," the officer tells his colleagues, walking back to the property — and seeming to spark laughter from his fellow officers. After a "search" that lasts around 15 seconds, he picks up the soup can, pulls out the plastic bag, and displays it to the camera, showing that it's holding white capsules.

"Yo," he yells. "Hold up."

The operation resulted in an arrest and months of jail time for the suspect, who wasn't released until the public defender's office sent the body-cam video to the state attorney's office last week. He was held while unable to post $50,000 bail, the Sun reports."

Sworn Police Officers per 1,000 residents

The ratio of law enforcement versus population has grown over the years, from 2.23 sworn law enforcement officers in 1992 to a high of 2.51 sworn law enforcement officers in 2008. The numbers have declined in recent years due to state and local cut backs due to the recent recession. Most likely if newer data was available, another uptick would be seen in the data.

Data Source: National Sources Of Law Enforcement Employment Data. April 2016 Report.

Law Enforcement Officers in America

In the twenty year period between 1992 and 2012, there was a 27% increase in the number of law enforcement (police) officers in America. In recent years, the growth in number of police officers has slowed, in part due to the recession. Much of the growth in law enforcement is due to increased federal financial grants to encourage local government to new police officers, along with a general perception of crime being a problem -- especially in urban areas. Population growth is another reason why there are so many more police officers then 20 years ago.

Data Source: National Sources Of Law Enforcement Employment Data. April 2016 Report.

Is The Justice Department Shying Away From Prosecuting Corporations?

"GROSS: So you think that having, say, investment banks settle for large fines is not an adequate punishment. Why not?"

"EISINGER: I don't think it deters crime. And I think it undermines the sense of equity and justice in this country. I think people see companies paying big checks and the individuals getting away with it. And I think it stokes an enormous amount of anger with the system and undermines the legitimacy of our justice system, especially because we have a justice system which excessively punishes the poor and people of color while allowing top corporate executives, powerful people, off. We talk about inequality in this country, but I argue that the greatest perquisite of being powerful and wealthy in this country is the ability to commit crimes with impunity."

US police shootings: How many die each year?

"At the same time the number of police officers has increased in the US. There are a quarter of a million more police officers working today than there were three decades ago."

"So when you consider the number of officers killed per 100,000, there has been a dramatic decrease. The annual per capita number of officers killed has dropped from 24 per 100,000 in the 10 years to 1980 to 7.3 per 100,000 in the 10 years to 2013 (the last year for which there is good data)."

"This chimes with a bigger trend, which is a steady reduction in crime, including homicides."

I think the City of Minnesota could have handled the negligent shooting death of Philando Castile much better. Rather then criminally charge a hardworking policeman for a rather bad on-duty mistake, the City Attorney should have sought to settle with the family out of court, and provided their estate with prompt justice in the form of a civil settlement payment for the loss of his life.

State Court of Claims are the best agency to remedy a loss of life on behalf of the state. Judges in the court of claims are familiar with the value of a life — both economically and emotionally. They can offer a fair payment that will ensure the estate of person whose life was incorrectly taken on the behalf of state will receive a significant payment. While a large cash payment can not bring back a loved one, it can be used for taking care of the children, providing them housing and food, and pay for their college. It can make sure widow isn’t evicted or goes hungry. Monetary compensation can actually help to remedy the financial harm done.

Now, with any civil suit or out of court settlement, it’s ultimately the taxpayers rather then the incompetent government official that gets socked with the bill. That’s unfortunate, but that’s why any employer in a risky business should have insurance or have a self-insurance reserve, and take steps to minimize future liability. A $5 million payment means that local leaders can no longer afford to repave a road, have as many police officers on the beat, or offer tax relief. This alone should encourage government to improve employee training, and teach their employees not to engage in risky behavior. And certainly, any employee who makes a serious mistake that costs their employers millions of dollars should be fired and forced to reconsider their career options.

That’s my take on the issue. Employee mistakes should be resolved by the employer in civil, not criminal court. 

Should Body Camera Footage Be Controlled By The Police?

"Body cameras are spreading fast through American policing, and they're generating an ocean of video. Axon, a company that provides secure cloud storage for police departments, says it's received more than 4 million hours' worth of video uploads from its clients."

"Almost without exception, those videos are controlled by the law enforcement agencies that created them. Some are now challenging that practice and proposing alternatives."

Police Forces Are Sending A Message To Black Suburban Residents: You’re Not Wanted

"It was a familiar story in Troy — where, over the last six years, at least seven black residents have been acquitted of resisting arrest and then paid by the city over claims of police brutality — and evidence of a nationwide trend driven by demographic shifts shaking the country. As black and brown people leave major cities to raise families in areas that were once predominantly white, they’re encountering police departments that are slow to reflect those population shifts and all too eager to placate longtime white residents who equate change with rising crime. To those white residents, the officers serve as a final line of defense against the outsiders marching onto their land, uniformed allies paid to protect them from the dangers they feel closing in around them."

Murders by County, 1990-2015

This graph shows all the murders that have occurred in New York State from 1990 through 2015, by county. All of New York State has seen murders go down, although in many upstate counties trend in the number of murders has been hidden by the ordinary noise in the data (murders are somewhat random, they don't evenly go up or down by a certain percent every year). When you have 50 murders on a particular year, a handful more murders can totally throw off a long-standing trend. DCJS has more detailed statistics on index crimes, by county and police departments from 1990-2015. There are some reporting differences between these stats and the ones put out for the US Department of Justice, so numbers don't match exactly but are following the same trend.

Data Source: Index Crimes by County and Agency: Beginning 1990. NYSDCJS.