Posts Tagged ‘police’

Prefer to get your crime news in tiny, six-second sound bites? Or, like to capture video snippets of yourself breaking the law? Well, either way, Vine is definitely for you, then.


Even though it’s incredibly stupid to film yourself committing a crime, people do it anyway. Like the woman you’ve probably already seen running onto the field at the college world series. She paid $1500 for the privilege, and for her 15 minutes of fame.

But, hey, in the modern media age, 15 minutes is practically an eternity. Right?

Actually, hers was probably one of the more interesting crime Vines out there that I could find, despite its inherent vanity and inaneness. At least it tells a story, as opposed to most Vines that rapidly descend into chaotic, seizure-inducing jump cuts.

Predictably, Vines have also captured more serious offenses, such as an alleged rape in Chicago that’s still under investigation. Whoever filmed it should absolutely have intervened instead, of course, but at least there’s some evidence for the police to use in their investigation.

What follows, though, are some of the Vines I was able to find that had to do with crime, public safety, or something related. Some are NSFW due to language, but otherwise are pretty tame.



I saw the below video for the first time last week and I have to admit, I had mixed feelings about it.

On the one hand, it’s definitely funny. I guess there’s just something inherently comedic about authority figures fumbling around to corral (or not) errant kids while the Benny Hill sound track plays in the background.

Broadway Bomb – Benny Hill Style – 2013

I wish real life was like that sometimes.

On the other hand, it feels like a cheap shot to laugh at cops who are just doing their jobs and – more importantly – acting with a lot of restraint. I can just imagine what the officers were actually thinking while impotently shifting that barrier from one end of the intersection to the other, while boarders streamed around them with impunity.

To their credit, in this video at least, they maintained their cool and just tried to make sure no one got hurt.

That’s what I like to see cops doing as a matter of routine. Instead of the stereotypical macho, ass-kicking, over-the-top parody of a police officer that some try so very hard to cultivate, I want to see cops being human, owning their frailties and mistakes, and doing whatever they can to serve the community.

Save the tough-guy BS for when, and only when, it’s really and truly necessary.

So, getting a cheap laugh out of the Broadway Bomb vid feels somehow disingenuous. I’m not anti-cop, but I’m also no fan of anything that smacks, even remotely, of a police state either. I want high-quality policing that recognizes the inherent right of citizens to be free from government abuse and tyranny, and that also appropriately bends to the will of the community.

I want to see cops, just like in this video, acting calmly and professionally, even if that makes them look a little foolish at times. 

Have a great weekend!

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I read an excellent blog post over the weekend by Rick Horowitz, “I’m a Prosecutor. This is What We Do,” that lays out a clear argument against the mindless, overzealous enforcement of the law by some prosecutors. His point was that, too often, thoughtless actions on the part of the State’s attorney can result in serious injustices that not only do real harm to individuals, but also erode public confidence in the system’s ability to functional at all.


It’s not just prosecutors, though, who can act like “energizer bunnies,” to use Horowitz’s term for those who too aggressively pursue a barely articulated goal of “justice.” It’s also the police officer who oversteps his authority and injures or kills someone without just cause. It’s the judge who hides behind his robe when handing out sentences he knows are disproportionate to the crimes committed. It’s the correctional officer who uses excessive force just because he can.

We (meaning criminal justice practitioners) can all too easily forget that the justice system is operated by human beings for the purpose of protecting and serving other human beings. Inherent in that is the idea that our humanity should shine through, no matter the situation. Undoubtedly, this is messy work with few clear answers. Pretending, however, that the answer is to simply maximize the vengeful impacts of our limited role as a way to bring predictability and structure to the chaos is wrong-headed.

It will only serve to steer us further away from the goal of seeking justice. On this point, Horowitz concluded:

We, the People — not “the People” as mouthed by prosecutors and judges in the show trials that make up 95% of courthouse trials these days, but we, the actual People — need to wake up. When prosecutors forget that “not merely to convict” is intended to be a brake on vengeance, a reminder that true justice requires looking at the bigger picture, to see how we can make the world a better place, it is not merely the convict who suffers. Our whole society is dragged down by this attitude.

None of this is to say that police officers, prosecutors, judges, or correctional workers are inherently bad. They’re not. They’re essential, in fact, to maintaining public safety. At the same time, though, we need to look more deeply at what we’re doing as a whole, not just at what goes on within the self-enforced vacuum of our own little silos.  We need to look beyond the arbitrary boundaries we’ve established and work together to improve society overall through our actions.

So, how do we do that?

One place to start is to give more attention to integrated approaches to justice, such as Therapeutic Jurisprudence, a term coined by legal scholar, David Wexler, in the 1980s to describe what he referred to as:

a perspective that regards the law as a social force that produces behaviors and consequences. Sometimes these consequences fall within the realm of what we call therapeutic; other times antitherapeutic consequences are produced. Therapeutic jurisprudence wants us to be aware of this and wants us to see whether the law can be made or applied in a more therapeutic way so long as other values, such as justice and due process, can be fully respected.

While this is most typically applied to the court room, there’s no reason that it needs to be limited to any one part of the justice system. What if all elements of the system focused on increasing therapeutic effects while reducing harm to the maximum extent possible? What if we all operated not from a retributive perspective, but from a rehabilitative one as well?

Would that be more just and more likely to instill confidence in the system as a whole?

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below and share your perspective.

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Labor Day is an opportunity to celebrate the everyday heroes who keep our country moving and growing. That certainly includes the millions of public safety workers who protect our safety and health around the clock. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those numbers include:

  • 1.1 million career and volunteer fire fighters
  • 1 million private security guards
  • 800,000 local, state, and federal law enforcement officers
  • 435,000 correction and detention officers
  • 210,000 paramedics
  • 103,000 Probation officers, parole officers, and treatment specialists

A special thanks to each and every one of you for the work you do!

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We pay a lot of attention when cops get things wrong. Police misconduct is heavily reported in the traditional media, and social media only serves to amplify the negative messages that shape our perceptions of policing in modern America.

And, with the advent of easily accessible portable video, everyone can now get in on the act of catching cops at their very worst.

Even just a cursory search of Youtube turns up thousands of videos of police misbehaving, violating the law, being aggressive, physically violent, or just generally acting like jerks.

Which is unfortunate.

Most cops I personally know are not jerks – far from it, in fact.  Many of them are quiet, everyday heroes doing their best at a really tough job.

So, this week, we’re going to look at a few cops who are caught on film getting it right. They know the law, understand their role, act with restraint and compassion, and just do an awesome job of policing.

So, click, kick back, and enjoy!

The now internet-famous Deputy Lenic defends First Amendment rights

Some New Hampshire troopers defend an individual’s right to film a public meeting

Officer J. Estes from the Albany, Oregon, PD gets it right during an open carry encounter

What positive experiences have you had with the police? Share yours by leaving a comment below!

Have a safe weekend!

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Last week, a Nevada family sued their local police for a variety of civil rights infractions, including violation of their Third Amendment rights. While the facts are only partially in at this point (the police have not yet responded fully to the charges), the story so far is a compelling one.


According to news accounts, the police wanted to use the family’s home as a staging ground during an incident that was occurring in a nearby residence. Not wanting to get involved, the home’s owners refused. That didn’t deter the police, though, who allegedly forced their way in, assaulted the owners, shot one of them with a “pepper ball” gun, took control of the house, and then charged one of the owners with obstructing the police.

Aside from what appears – on its face, at least – to be absolutely outrageous police conduct, the other interesting aspect is how the Third Amendment is being used as a basis for a federal lawsuit in this instance. The wording of the Amendment itself applies primarily to the quartering of soldiers:

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

And, like many of the Amendments in the Bill of Rights, this one appears pretty clear and straightforward. But is it, really?


If you haven’t seen it yet, this week’s video is a fascinating example of police interaction at a DUI checkpoint. I’ve watched it several times now and, frankly, I have to say I’m embarrassed for the officers.  It’s pretty clear they want to do a good job and that they take their role as law enforcers seriously.

Unfortunately, they also appear to be poorly trained, not very well supervised, and more interested in using intimidation tactics than they are in following the letter, spirit and intent of the law.

Fourth of July DUI Checkpoint (click on the banner in the middle of the screen to remove it)

First, know that I’m not anti-police, anti-authority, or anything of the sort. I simply can’t tolerate bad behavior by those who are supposed to be protecting and serving our communities. With that in mind, below are my comments about specifics of the encounter: 


I’m a little late on this one, but Happy Friday to everyone. It was a busy, chaotic week – and I fell behind on most things, including this post.  The videos for this week include raw footage of police and bystanders rescuing a man from a burning car, some youngsters terrorizing a neighborhood with guns, and a moving art installation that baffles the Toronto police.


This one warms your heart (no pun intended).


Toronto Police Officer: “The safety factor is, uh – unsafe.”

Have a great weekend!

This is a guest post by Crystal Schwindt, author of “Shout the Secret: A Survivor’s Guide Through Domestic Violence and How to Thrive In Its Aftermath.” 

Much as an oil spill in the midst of a giant ocean begins as a drop and spreads quickly, slowly sucking the life out of every living thing it touches, so it is with domestic violence.  It contaminates generation after generation of a family, seeping into the cores of those exposed to it.

chained heart

It even expands to engulf our schools and our churches – affecting teachers and students, worshippers and clerics alike.  And, of course, it overwhelms our court systems, police forces, and other legal entities to the brink of potential victimization of the victim.  All of these cycles continue, much as the oil slick flows and grows on the current of the sea.

From a survivor’s standpoint, overcoming domestic violence is a challenge in its own right.  Recovery from the effects of violence and trauma is difficult to rise above in the best of circumstances.  It becomes even moreso when the person being victimized is forced – by nature of “due process”, bureaucracy, and red tape – to not only deal with their own challenges but also the external factors of a seemingly insensitive, uncaring, and self-justifying criminal justice system.

Ambulance Light

For example, historically, some of the men and women sworn to “protect and serve” within our police forces have been quite uninterested in dealing with “domestic matters.” They have, at times, even been restricted by laws that dictated the limits of what could be done when called to a domestic disturbance.  Fortunately, some states are now passing “mandatory arrest” laws that require officers to make an arrest if probable cause for an assault is established.  The only downside being that it’s not uncommon for the victim to be the one arrested.  Afterall, abusers are master manipulators of many things and perspectives — lying and making up stories being one of the biggest.

Also, police in most states, if not all, are now required to give victims in a domestic dispute a pamphlet about domestic violence with numbers to call for counseling, shelter, and other services.  This is something of an improvement, but it’s far from a total solution.

From a survivor’s viewpoint, I can tell you that the mere thought of engaging with the criminal justice process is daunting.  And, for some, this alone can become a reason not to call the police and to instead stay in an otherwise dangerous and violent relationship.  The confusion and the fear are simply too much.

What happens after the police intervene, the perpetrator is arrested, and then released on bail or bond, and comes back home? Mandatory arrest, pamphlets, and programs are not going to stop him from assaulting again. They may even make things worse.

This is difficult for people, including the police, to understand.

What you need to know is that “I” may be a victim of violence, but “I’m” not helpless and, although I may be ignorant, “I’m” not stupid. “I” make decisions every day about how to survive the challenges of living with a violent partner. Sometimes that means being quiet and staying put, and sometimes it does mean calling the police. It also sometimes means taking him back after an assault — not because “I” want to, but because there is no real, definitive protection (so to speak), and there may be other issues that “you” may not see or know that prevent me from feeling or being capable of rising to the challenges that await “me”, should “I” try to stand my ground.

And, even if none of this makes sense to you, it makes sense to me. It’s about navigating that oil spill – the sticky, unruly, and deadly waters of violence. It’s about survival.

Although Crystal is a DV survivor, she isn’t defined by that. Her experience spans 13+ years, two venues, and a multitude of courtrooms, judges, attorneys, and other legal resources, as well as representing herself on several occasions. Her book “Shout the Secret:  A Survivor’s Guide Through Domestic Violence and How to Thrive In Its Aftermath” is her fulfillment of a commitment to use these experiences for good — to help others so they may not have to endure as long.

Learn more, read about her book, and get connected to other resources at

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I just wrapped up teaching a course called Technology in Criminal Justice, and it was a real eye-opener for both me and my students. One theme that became absolutely clear was that technology cannot replace human intervention, no matter how much we’d like that to be the case. At least not yet, it can’t. It also can’t save us from our inherent human fallibility.

system error

Everywhere we look, though, we see governments and vendors touting technologies as a primary way to thwart crime. The downsides of any of these technologies are rarely discussed, except when something goes wrong. For example, ARS Technica recently reported on thousands of paroled sex offenders easily disabling the GPS tracking devices they were ordered to wear. Ugh.

But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Debacles such as the Department of Homeland Security’s failed multi-million dollar program to use technology to secure the US-Mexican border highlight the sometimes overwhelming management challenges of developing such complex technologies.

Smaller failures, such as have occurred with  facial recognition technology, emergency dispatch systems, tasers, drones even police radio systems – highlight the many ways that an over-reliance on technology can cause as many problems as it solves.

In fact, the false sense of security these technologies engender is making society less safe, not more.

We trust that any technology the criminal justice system employs is not only going to work, it’s going to be an improvement over what came before. In other words, more technology equals more safety in many people’s minds. The fact that technology is so fallible and can fail at the worst possible time puts us at increased risk.

I’m no Luddite, but I am a proponent of thoughtful and careful implementation of new technologies. I’m also a staunch proponent of accounting for the human component of any new endeavor, be it a technology or any other innovation.

So, what are your thoughts on technology in criminal justice: boon or boondoggle?