Community-based solutions for crime.

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Most conversations around defunding the police will inevitably produce someone saying that without cops, violent crime will overwhelm everything. But, as it turns out, there are lots of ways to control violence that don’t involve the police. Here, I’m taking a look at a program that is designed to interrupt violence before it begins.

Before I get going, I want to make something very clear. Activists who are calling for defunding or even abolishing the police are not saying they want a lawless, Mad Max-style of living. We’re saying that there are better (i.e. …

A traffic safety example.

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We’re in the middle of a national conversation about policing, and there are a lot of calls to defund or abolish the traditional police model altogether. This raises some important questions, especially around how we can maintain public safety. Luckily, there are many examples from around the world that we can look to. If properly implemented, we could have greater safety and security than ever before.

I want to look at a few different examples that focus on specific issues of public safety. For this article, I’m going to be talking about a traffic safety program called Vision Zero that…

We’ve got to start somewhere.

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You can hear people talking about defunding the police or abolishing the police or reforming the police, but the real-world implications of these strategies are often hidden. What does it really mean to defund the police?

Part of the problem is that the public often has a very hazy picture of what the police actually do, and what the risks of crime or harm actually are. This isn’t the fault of the public — we’re constantly fed a stream of inaccurate information regarding the police and crime, both from news media and entertainment. …

Police departments keep convincing me that they have no business in public safety.

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I’m a proponent of defunding the police. As it turns out, a lot of people are (even if they don’t understand the term). It’s a practical, straight-forward, very doable process, which would lead to better public safety outcomes for literally every single person in the country.

Defunding the police can be done immediately by cities. In large cities, once or twice a year, police departments hire new recruits and put them through a training academy. …

The beatings will continue until morale improves.

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Imagine a husband who beats his wife. He physically assaults her, manipulates her, isolates her from friends and family, controls her. She tells herself that it’s okay, because he puts food on the table. She tells herself that maybe she deserves it when he hits her, and that she just needs to be a little better.

Now imagine that this abused woman is given help from someone else. Someone tells her that she can get away from this man. This person gives her money to start a new life. But instead of doing any of that, the woman gives the…

It’s time for city leadership to step up.

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I recently wrote about a study that found that White or male police officers are more likely to use force or arrest someone than Black or female police officers. The study suggested that departments should hire more Black and female police officers in order to promote de-escalation.

While it’s true that there should definitely be more diversity in hiring for police departments, a new article in The Crime Report adds a horrible wrinkle to this problem.

It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, but the police culture that results in White officers disproportionately arresting, searching, and using force…

We’re left walking on eggshells.

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I’ve written before about how policing contributes to racial inequities by its very nature. A new piece of research out of Chicago is showing how racial inequities occur based on the responding officer. In this study, researchers were able to analyze a massive dataset to identify differences in police actions based on the race and gender of the officer involved, as well as the citizen.

The short version is that the authors found that Black officers and female officers were significantly less likely to arrest or use force against citizens than White officers or male officers. The effect was especially…

How stress is undermining our public safety system.

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Police officers get called on to do a lot of different things. They direct traffic, act as family mediators, take reports for stolen lawn gnomes, and occasionally get shot at. It is absurd that we collectively decided that a single level of government employee should take on the myriad situations that police officers respond to. This situation is dangerous for the public and for the police.

In Rochester, NY, police officer body-cameras captured officers pepper-spraying a handcuffed nine-year old girl in order to get her into the back of a police car. The girl was hysterical, crying for her father…

Militarizing the police doesn’t just happen by accident.

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I was recently sent a news story about Harvard University canceling a class that focused on a policing strategy. The class was an evaluation of a policing technique called C3 Policing; a technique that the Springfield, MA police department is currently utilizing. This technique was developed based off of military counter-insurgency (COIN) techniques used Iraq and Afghanistan.

The short-short version is that a letter, signed by over a dozen groups and 800 individuals, was sent to the school that raised concerns about the ethics of the course, as well as the qualifications of the instructor. …

Living in the surveillance state.

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In the 1780s, an English philosopher devised an idea for a prison — the Panopticon. A circular design with the prisoner cells on the outside and a guard post in the center. The prisoners are unable to know if they are being observed by the guard post, but they know that it is possible at any moment. Because of the uncertainty, the prisoners will behave properly, acting as though they were under surveillance, even if it wasn’t the case. In this way, a single guard can effectively control hundreds of prisoners.

Davin Hall

Formerly a law enforcement data analyst. Currently testing the notion of whether quitting your job to follow your dream is really a good idea. Twitter: @geogeng

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