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By February 7, 2014 Read More →

Weekly News – Feb. 7, 2014

Judge says police are profiling

Former police commission president and Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David Cunningham III has alleged that two UCLA campus police officers used unreasonable force on him in an incident on November 23. He also alleges that their motivation was racially based. He was handcuffed and then released with a citation for failing to wear a seatbelt. From the description, it sounds as though it is a classic case of letting tempers escalate until someone crosses a line. (Maybe President Obama will invite them all to the White House for a beer? It seemed to work last time.)

Are early prison releases driving up crime?
Sometimes there are studies and statistics that will surprise you – but this isn’t one of those times. In Manhattan Beach, crime is up after the local prisons have started letting prisoners out early due to overcrowding. In addition to actual crime increases, local perception of crime is even worse than it really is, due to 21st-century communications methods making it ever easier to hear about every single crime, minor or major, that occurs in the area. This perception problem is an issue all over the country as police departments take to social media in an attempt to improve communications with the citizenry.

Wide gap between U.S. and Canadian gun laws
An ex-military man from Kentucky found out the hard way recently that Canada takes guns very, very seriously. After forgetting that he had a handgun – legal, of course – in the center console of his car when he drove across the border, he ended up spending four days in jail before making bail, and could be facing several years behind bars if convicted. His lawyer, Bruce Engel, claims that the Canadian government is trying to use his case to send a message. (We’re not sure what message was being sent by that Canadian airport security officer who tried to return a pipe bomb to an airline passenger in Edmonton a few weeks ago. It seems a little contradictory…)

Oakland police put the brakes on high-speed chases
The Oakland Police Department is making important changes to its pursuit policy. Under the new policy, officers can only initiate a chase if the suspect is believed to have committed a violent crime or is in possession of a firearm. After looking at statistics showing that half of chases were due to traffic violations, and that a full third of stolen car chases resulted in crashes, the new policy seemed like an obvious adjustment to ensure officer and civilian safety as well as minimizing property damage.

FDLE chemist may have stolen evidence
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating over two thousand cases handled by an agency chemist after discovering that prescription painkillers seized as evidence had been swapped out for over-the-counter medication. It’s not clear at this point how many cases may be affected, but the evidence tampering could result in a number of convicted criminals being let out of jail. FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said, “The quantities are large … We don’t know if the individual is a user or a trafficker.” Hopefully this case will not turn out to be too widespread, as it could nullify the work of many hard-working officers and prosecutors as well as potentially letting a lot of drug dealers back on the streets.

Chicago P.D. gets new ballistics lab
Chicago Police Commander Joseph Murphy says that the new ballistics lab will allow the Chicago Police Department to run tests in two or three days that might have taken up to a year when they were sending their evidence to outside agencies. The lab has already eliminated a backlog of 2,500 firearms that were in need of testing. With results like these, putting together a ballistics lab seems like a no-brainer for any good-sized city, but of course these days getting the funding and training in place for anything new is a huge challenge. Kudos to the hard-working folks at CPD for getting it done.

More security has no impact on school shootings
In spite of many schools implementing safety plans, surveillance cameras, fences, metal detectors and so on, it does not appear to be having an impact on the number of school shootings in the United States. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, thinks more emphasis needs to be placed on the culture in schools – making sure that there are counselors, social workers and after-school programs. Budget cuts in recent years have caused these to be scaled back in many communities.

Marijuana-laced snacks?
In Colorado, some retailers are now selling recreational marijuana. But they’re not just selling smokable material – they’re selling cookies, candy, brownies, and even sweet drinks packed with THC. Many people are worried that the prevalence of drug-laced foods with lots of kid appeal will likely result in a lot of small children accidentally ingesting significant quantities of the drug. There have already been a number of these cases reported, such as two-year-old Evelyn Hernandez, who ate part of a cookie that she found in the grass before her mother could take it away.

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