Remember the scene of Boston area police surrounding the backyard boat where a bloodied Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lay in hiding? The Boston Globe has published an interview with the people who own the boat, the backyard, and the house. And it doesn’t inspire confidence in law enforcement’s response to terrorism.
Let’s return to the scene. Tamerlan Tsarnaev is dead. Metro Boston is shut down and a whole neighborhood of people confined to their homes to catch one young man. Unbeknownst to police, Dzhokar is hiding inside the perimeter they set up — they somehow failed to look in the boat during their yard-to-yard search, and finally lifted the order on residents to stay indoors. Enter David Henneberry.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
The recent Capitol Hill shooting of an unarmed woman by police officers, and the uncertainty surrounding her mental state at the time she drove her car into a White House barricade, is a stark reminder of the uncomfortable interplay between mental illness and law enforcement in times of crisis.
Without the appropriate amount of mental health training for police, experts say, rash stigmatization and misinterpretation of the intentions of the mentally ill can cause vital errors and ultimately make the difference between life and death.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) strives to increase awareness and understanding of the mentally ill through its partnership with the University of Memphis Crisis Intervention Training Program, but within the law enforcement population, much is still to be done.
Read more. [Image: Evan Vucci/AP]
Last week, a 56 year-old farmer named Deng Zhengjie and his wife arrived in the town of Linwu, Hunan Province, in order to sell watermelon they had grown on their farm. Within a few hours, the municipal police approached them and asked them to move to a designated vendor area. The couple complied. But later, according to eyewitnesses, a scuffle broke out between Deng, his wife, and the police. Multiple policemen began beating the couple, eventually leaving them for dead. Deng’s wife survived the attack. Deng did not.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
This weekend, a state-sponsored cash-for-guns program in Camden County, New Jersey, saw the return of 1,137 firearms — the most successful buyback in state history, and not the only record-breaking return haul since Friday’s massacre.
Read more. [Images: AP]
[Images: Julie Dermansky]
According to Germany’s Der Spiegel, German police shot only 85 bullets in all of 2011, a stark reminder that not every country is as gun-crazy as the U.S. of A. As Boing Boing translates, most of those shots weren’t even aimed anyone: “49 warning shots, 36 shots on suspects. 15 persons were injured, 6 were killed.” […]
Meanwhile, in the U.S., where the population is little less than four times the size of Germany’s, well, we can get to 85 in just one sitting, thank you very much. 84 shots fired at one murder suspect in Harlem, another 90 shot at one fleeing unarmed man in Los Angeles. And that was just April.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
In late March, three civil rights groups filed a class action lawsuit against the New York City police department, alleging that a little-known crime-fighting program violated the constitutional rights of tens of thousands of New Yorkers.
The program, called Operation Clean Halls, permits police to conduct vertical patrols inside and around private residences, seeking out trespassers and drug crime. The lawsuit, which was filed by the NYCLU, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and the Bronx Defenders, questions whether the police have overstepped their Fourth Amendment boundaries while implementing the program. The suit alleges that officers have used Clean Halls to make baseless stops and trespassing arrests in primarily black and Latino neighborhoods, cuffing residents in their own hallways as they stepped out to buy a bottle of ketchup, or while they waited outside a girlfriend or sister’s building.
The suit is part of a larger public outcry against the NYPD, which is also under fire for its surveillance of American Muslims, its dealings with Occupy Wall Street protesters, and its increasingly frequent practice of stopping and frisking black and Latino men. But few have pointed to the thick information wall surrounding Operation Clean Halls, which has been in existence, in some form, since 1991.
Read more. [Image: Julie Turkewitz]
A stable neighborhood of families who care for their homes, mind each other’s children, and confidently frown on unwanted intruders can change, in a few years or even a few months, to an inhospitable and frightening jungle. A piece of property is abandoned, weeds grow up, a window is smashed. Adults stop scolding rowdy children; the children, emboldened, become more rowdy. Families move out, unattached adults move in. Teenagers gather in front of the corner store. The merchant asks them to move; they refuse. Fights occur. Litter accumulates. People start drinking in front of the grocery; in time, an inebriate slumps to the sidewalk and is allowed to sleep it off. Pedestrians are approached by panhandlers.
At this point it is not inevitable that serious crime will flourish or violent attacks on strangers will occur. But many residents will think that crime, especially violent crime, is on the rise, and they will modify their behavior accordingly. They will use the streets less often, and when on the streets will stay apart from their fellows, moving with averted eyes, silent lips, and hurried steps. “Don’t get involved.” For some residents, this growing atomization will matter little, because the neighborhood is not their “home” but “the place where they live.” Their interests are elsewhere; they are cosmopolitans. But it will matter greatly to other people, whose lives derive meaning and satisfaction from local attachments rather than worldly involvement; for them, the neighborhood will cease to exist except for a few reliable friends whom they arrange to meet.
— Spiking in the archives today: “Broken Windows,” George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson’s excellent treatise on neighborhoods and policing. (The Atlantic, March 1984)