Chicago: A City in Crisis

What is going on in Chicago with its crime rate and violence? Sixty-five people were shot in Chicago over the Labor Day weekend, resulting in 13 fatalities, as the city reached its 500th homicide of the year. One thing for sure, it is definitely a city in crisis.

This year over the Fourth of July weekend Chicago recorded 66 people shot with 5 fatalities. The Memorial Day weekend saw 69 people shot with six fatalities.

Reports indicate the police attribute many of these violent incidents to guns, gangs, acts of retaliation, weekend parties, and tense encounters and disputes. Many point to the overall decrease of arrests by law enforcement and the lack of any effective narcotics enforcement as contributing factors.

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At the time of this writing, Chicago has one person shot every 2 hours with a murder occurring every 11 hours and 42 minutes. Approximately 91% are the result of gunshots. Approximately 78% of the victims and suspects are Black, with 17% Hispanic. The total number of shooting victims for the year currently stands at 3,033, while 2015 resulted in 2,988 shooting victims. The homicide total for the year stands at 512 according to the Chicago Tribune. There were 491 total homicides last year.

Homicides in Chicago for this year have risen to levels not seen since the 1990’s when killings topped out at more than 900. The 90 homicides in August tied for the most the city had endured for a single month since June of 1996.

Shootings and homicides in Chicago continue to far outpace those in New York and Los Angeles, which are both larger cities. These two cities combined had 409 homicides during this same approximate time period, far below Chicago’s total.

Chicago is so far out of control that recently a 71 year old man was watering his front lawn in broad daylight and was shot in the stomach and robbed by two young African-American men who rode up on bicycles. Who would want to visit, attend a convention, corporate conference, or sporting event in Chicago under these conditions?

Why is this violence not under control after several years of extremely high rates of deadly violence and shootings? Are the police taking appropriate measures? Are they lacking leadership, resources and manpower? What are the political leaders and establishment doing? Why aren’t more people protesting and demanding change? Where are the special interest groups? For those who live in Chicago and know the situation better than I, tell us what needs to be done?

Where is the mutual aid of the surrounding law enforcement agencies if there is a shortage of resources and manpower? Should Martial Law be implemented and the National Guard deployed? Is there any assistance coming from the Federal Government? It appears to me, from my perspective, whatever is being done is not working nor is it very effective? #chicagocrimerate, #chicagohomicides, #chicagoviolence

To follow me and or purchase my book, “Never Again”, please go to my website- http://www.billcweiss.com.

 

As a retired Lieutenant and 32-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Bill Weiss worked various patrol, custody, administrative, investigative, and special assignments. He has been an Incident Commander for several major tactical incidents. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California, with a Master’s degree in Public Administration.

HOW DO WE IMPROVE POLICE-COMMUNITY RELATIONS?

I think it’s fair to say that one of the biggest issues facing our country today is the issue of police-community relations. Many experts in the field have recently expressed concern that the racial conflict and tensions between the police and the public are the highest since the outbreak of the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

There have been many recent discussions in the press and on social media regarding how do we improve and solve the racial tensions and conflict between law enforcement and the public. This has especially come to light since the disturbances in Ferguson, Missouri (2014) and in Baltimore, Maryland (2015).

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Experts and critics analyze and discuss the need for more community based policing, more dialogue, more restraint by law enforcement, more de-escalation of force, more training, more accountability, more transparency, and a host of other issues that law enforcement needs to do to improve these relationships.

A COMMON TREND

As I analyze the facts of the various officer involved shootings and other tragic events that have unfolded, I see several common denominators that no one talks about, yet they explain the causal factor for a huge majority of these incidents.

After examining the facts and peeling back the rhetoric, I see the following trends:

  • The majority of these encounters start with a call for service (not self-initiated contact by the officer) that involves a victim of a crime, someone who has been threatened, or suspicious actions by the suspect/party in question.
  • Once law enforcement arrives on scene or conducts a traffic stop they are met with non-compliance (not obeying lawful orders and commands), verbal abuse, and physical resistance by the suspect.
  • The suspect is usually armed (gun, knife, etc.) or attempts to disarm the officer of his or her weapon.
  • The suspect attempts to flee or initiates an attack on the officer, which usually dictates how the encounter and incident will progress.

Unfortunately, the officer must take drastic action to protect himself against the suspect. Although the above mentioned issues, such as more dialogue, more training, more restraint etc., are important and necessary considerations, none of them will correct or eliminate the violent behavior and aggressive actions taken by the suspect. More times than not what is in question is the officer’s response to this challenge, not the actions or behavior of the suspect.

Some treat these incidents as if the officer arbitrarily engaged the suspect without cause or did not have a valid reason to defend himself. This is absolutely mind boggling! Where are the morals, values, and common sense of society, and most importantly of our leaders and public figures who comment publicly about these incidents?

REALITY

We need to be careful regarding our expectations of police officers and be aware of reality when dealing with human beings who are asked to do one of the hardest jobs on a daily basis. No other occupation is so heavily scrutinized and asked to be as transparent that deals with one’s life and liberty in a civilian setting. Dealing with people on one of their worst days of their lives, who exhibit unpredictable behavior in deadly situations, is an inexact science.

We must not forget this no matter how great the political or public pressure. Especially, if we want to attract and retain people to the profession who have the ability, desire, ethics, judgment, and common sense to be a first rate law enforcement professional.

Cops are not perfect. When an officer or agency is out of line they need to be held accountable and criticized. To the contrary, when we criticize an officer for defending themselves against someone who is trying to take their duty weapon from them and they are trying to stay alive during the attack, then we have a major problem as a society. Should we not be holding those individuals who fail to comply and exhibit violent behavior and aggressive action, accountable too? #policecommunityrelations, #useofdeadlyforce, #lawenforcement,

 

To follow me and or purchase my book, “Never Again”, please go to my website- http://www.billcweiss.com.

 

As a retired Lieutenant and 32-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Bill Weiss worked various patrol, custody, administrative, investigative, and special assignments. He has been an Incident Commander for several major tactical incidents. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California, with a Master’s degree in Public Administration.

The Ferguson Effect: Fact or Fiction?

There have been numerous recent reports regarding a significant increase in crime, especially violent crime, in major cities throughout America. For anyone who has been following the debate around police-community relations, specifically the war on police and the “Ferguson effect”, this should not be much of a surprise. Is this fact or fiction?

The Ferguson Effect is basically the idea that increased scrutiny of police has led to an increased crime or murder rate in major U.S. cities. It is regarded as the theory or thought that protests against police shootings and use of force incidents have made police afraid of doing their job and what they need to do to keep communities safe, which has led to a rise in violent and other crime. The belief is that officers are backing off proactive policing and criminals are emboldened, while activists and politicians denounce pedestrian stops and public safety enforcement as racist.

The demand for more transparency and accountability in law enforcement and the constant challenge to officers’ credibility while performing their daily functions, especially concerning incidents involving the use of force, continues to bring this topic to the forefront.

As I discussed in an earlier blog, when public figures make initial comments due to public and political pressure, without having all of the facts, they create unreasonable and unfounded expectations by the public. When the completed investigation and evidence concludes otherwise, many are in disbelief, and protests and disturbances occur. Many can’t handle the truth and react in anger. This has occurred numerous times, most recently in the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, and the Freddie Gray incident in Baltimore, Maryland. To read the article “Do Public Figures Prematurely Shape Public Opinion”, please click on my website and see “Recent Posts” or “Blog”- http://www.billcweiss.com

I believe that police across the nation are still actively doing their jobs, but they may be doing it in a different manner, with different techniques, and with less aggressiveness. These methods may be less effective in the long run, which may be affecting the crime rate increase that has been recently reported. Crime may be going up in different parts of the country for different reasons, but there is definitely a link to some of this increase to the theory of the Ferguson Effect. To what extent is still being debated by many experts. This crime increase is also connected to how the public interacts with law enforcement.

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Cops are not perfect. When an officer or department is out of line and violates the law they need to be held accountable and criticized. To the contrary, when we criticize an officer for defending himself against someone who is trying to take his duty weapon from him and he is attempting to stay alive during the attack, then we have a major problem as a society.

Let us not forget the importance of holding these individuals accountable, especially those who fail to follow lawful orders, and exhibit unpredictable and violent behavior. This should also include our leadership and public figures, and those in positions of power, influence, and authority, to say and do the right things.

Just as the public needs law enforcement, the police need the support and trust of the public. It’s a two-way street. One way to improve in this area is to decrease the number of public figures who selfishly speak with no knowledge, no experience, limited information and facts, and do nothing but create hysteria and unreasonable expectations. Should we be holding these individuals accountable too? #fergusoneffect, #policecommunityrelations, #fergusonmissouri, #baltimoremaryland, #michaelbrown, #freddiegray

As a retired Lieutenant and 32-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Bill Weiss worked various patrol, custody, administrative, investigative, and special assignments. He has been an Incident Commander for several major tactical incidents. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California, with a Master’s degree in Public Administration.

To follow me and or purchase my book please go to- http://www.billcweiss.com

SHOULD POLICE OFFICERS BE SHOOTING AT MOVING VEHICLES

Recently, two undercover California Highway Patrol officers fired their weapons on a moving vehicle, killing the driver and wounding the passenger. This incident has re-kindled the debate regarding when and if police officers should use this dangerous tactic of shooting at moving vehicles. What do you think?

In this particular incident the two CHP officers were in an unmarked car at night and part of a detail focusing on street racing. They were monitoring a “sideshow” where truck drivers were performing burnouts outside a swap meet. As officers closed in a 19 year-old male fled the area in a pickup at a high rate of speed.

The officers, driving in an unmarked car, followed the vehicle for several miles and tried to stop the driver as he drove into a residential cul-de-sac. The suspect driver made a U-turn and drove toward the officers, who opened fire. The driver died on scene. A passenger was shot in the arm and his injury was not life threatening.

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Some law enforcement agencies consider this option too dangerous and have banned the tactic from their policy. The California Highway Patrol’s use of force policy allows officers to use deadly force to stop the commission of an assault with a deadly weapon, including situations where a moving vehicle is considered the weapon.

Under California state law, officers are allowed to use deadly force if they believe and fear their lives, or the lives of other, are under imminent threat.

Questions can be raised, when reviewing the law, tactics, and their department policy, if pursuing in an unmarked vehicle is appropriate, especially for this type of offense and at night.  Also, was the suspect driver even aware he was being pursued by law enforcement officers?  Were the officers able to identify themselves?  Is it normal for the CHP to have unmarked vehicles pursue instead of having marked patrol vehicles designated during this type of operation to conduct these traffic stops?

More recently, a fatal shooting occurred in Chicago after an 18-year old male, who was driving a stolen Jaguar and was part of a group involved in a series of car thefts, crashed into police vehicles after driving toward the officers. Departmental policy for Chicago Police Department specifically bans shooting at a vehicle when it is the lone threat to officers.

This particular incident also brought up several tactical issues such as taking proper cover, placing oneself in harm’s way, shooting at a vehicle once it has past the threshold of posing an immediate threat and is driving away from the officers, and background and cross fire considerations. The use of the body camera, which was instituted approximately one week prior to this Chicago incident, is also in question as the suspect was later chased into a backyard and shot either during the foot pursuit or while being handcuffed. The body camera of the officer who fired his weapon in the backyard was turned off until after the shooting.

Some agencies allow for shooting at moving vehicles as a last resort when the officer fears for his safety and his life is endangered. A key issue to evaluate is if the tactics used were proper considering the specific circumstances? Did the officer place himself in harm’s way and could the officer avoid the encounter by taking cover and or moving out of the way to safety?

Shooting at the driver of a moving vehicle is often not very effective and can be extremely dangerous as missed shots can hit bystanders or others in the vehicle, as was the case in the CHP incident. If the driver is injured and shot, the vehicle may become out of control and even more dangerous.

After weighing all of these issues, I believe that officers should have the option to use deadly force against the driver of a moving vehicle who is using that vehicle as a weapon against them or is firing a weapon from the vehicle or posing some other real threat. Especially, when they are legitimately in fear of their life, they used sound tactics, good judgment, and common sense. Each situation presents a unique set of factors that must be weighed on its own merit. I base this belief on my patrol experience and several years of analyzing, reviewing, and presenting significant use of force cases for the Executive Force Review Committee for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. #policeofficersshootingatmovingvehicles, #useofdeadlyforce, #lawenforcement, #californiahighwaypatrol, #chicagopolicedepartment

 

To follow me and or purchase my book, “Never Again”, please go to my website- http://www.billcweiss.com.

 

As a retired Lieutenant and 32-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Bill Weiss worked various patrol, custody, administrative, investigative, and special assignments. He has been an Incident Commander for several major tactical incidents. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California, with a Master’s degree in Public Administration.

A LETHAL YEAR FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT

The number of police officers killed in the line of duty is up 70% over this time last year in America. Although the rates fluctuate from year to year for various reasons, what is quite telling is the dramatic increase in the number of ambushes and surprise attacks on law enforcement officers. 

As I review the events and incidents over the last few years since the events in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, to the recent developments in the Baltimore, Maryland trial (where all six police officers were acquitted or had charges dropped in the death of Freddie Gray), I guess one should not be too surprised. With the anti-police stance and rhetoric taken by the Black Lives Matter movement, the lack of genuine and heartfelt support seen by some leaders during the current presidential campaigns, and the rush to judgment and premature shaping of public opinion created by several public figures when discussing violent encounters between police and the community, once again one should not be surprised of the current situation.

A lack of respect, dignity, and basic values has also been displayed repeatedly across America in many ways, such as in the form of flag burning, violent protests, and home grown and lone wolf acts of terrorism. Just recently at the Democratic National Convention a female police officer at the podium asked for a moment of silence for the police officers who have been recently killed and her request was met with several voices in the crowd yelling “black lives matter”. One could wonder if some of these egregious acts could be contributed to a decline in the home and parental skills, a decline in our educational system, a lack of public support for law enforcement and public safety from several key public figures and institutions, and or a break down in the criminal justice system, just to name a few.

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The deadly ambushes of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge and the police slayings in Kansas City, and recently in San Diego, have raised the fears of violence against law enforcement. This does not include officers from Georgia to Michigan who have been shot in incidents that have drawn less attention, but they have added to the growing sense that it is a dangerous time to be a cop. A heightened level of anxiety definitely exists, especially in light of the manner that police officers have been slain in the line of duty.

The FBI study and statistics on police offices slain over the time period of 2005-2014, show the following areas in order were the most lethal situations: arrests, traffic stops, investigating suspicious persons, disturbance calls, unprovoked attacks, tactical situations such as barricaded suspects, and ambushes.

This year to date, according to FBI (at the time of this writing), 34 officers have been slain. If the killings continue at the same pace, the total for the year would be 59. This is approximately 44% more than last year, which was one of the safest for officers in decades. Year to year, the number of officers intentionally killed changes drastically. From 1990-2014, the yearly average for officers killed was 64. What makes 2016 stand out is the manner (surprise pre-planned attacks targeting cops with more sophistication) in which the officers have been attacked.

Public figures who knowingly speak of violent encounters with law enforcement without the facts, either due to public pressure, or who try to capitalize on a situation for their own interest, create an environment of false expectations and anger. This develops into situation where the public, who was made initially to believe something otherwise, can’t handle the truth when the final investigations conclude differently.

Could we change this trend of violence against law enforcement if we held public figures in positions of authority, power, and influence, specifically those who dangerously speak without the facts in incidents such as officer involved shootings, accountable for their actions just as we hold those in law enforcement accountable for their actions? #policeofficersslain, #violenceonlawenforcement, policecommunityrelations

 

To follow me and or purchase my book, “Never Again”, please go to my website- http://www.billcweiss.com.

As a retired Lieutenant and 32-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Bill Weiss worked various patrol, custody, administrative, investigative, and special assignments. He has been an Incident Commander for several major tactical incidents. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California, with a Master’s degree in Public Administration.

 

The Debate on the De-escalation of Force

There have been recent discussions and movements to create a new national standard for when police officers can use deadly force and how de-escalation of force techniques should be taught. This debate also includes a review process to determine whether an officer could have done more to avoid violent encounters. Are we recreating the wheel here?

In May of 2016, a bill called the Preventing Tragedies Between Police and Communities Act of 2016, was proposed by Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.). Moore indicated she wanted officers to use force that is proportional to the situation and to give police officers additional training assets with regard to encounters that don’t necessarily have to end up with a deadly use of force. This legislation is the one of the latest measures that has been introduced since the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.

The call for a de-escalation of force by police agencies is really nothing new from what has been previously taught or discussed. For decades, new policy and procedures have been implemented with the goal of de-escalating force and improving the safety of the public and police officers. The recent terminology may have changed from less lethal to de-escalation of force, but the idea and concepts are the same.

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The use of mace, OC spray, tasers, verbal judo, the Arwen, batons, saps, long poles with nets for PCP suspects, stun-bag/bean-bag shotguns, team takedowns, weaponless defense training, crisis intervention training, crisis negotiating teams etc., are some of the tools, tactics, and techniques used for decades and modified as time has passed. All of these involved the idea of de-escalating force for the mentally ill, drug crazed suspects, or the resistive and violent suspect alluding capture.

The demand for more transparency in law enforcement and the constant challenge to officers’ credibility while performing their daily functions, especially concerning incidents involving the use of force, are of course extremely important and vital. New tools and additional training is great. The emphasis on the preservation of life is a must.

Do we need to create more legislation, more committees and more commissions, that already are in place, to review and regulate force used by police officers?  Do we need to create more avenues of second guessing officers who face deadly threats with split-seconds to act? How do we judge the mindset and not just the tactics of an officer to determine if he or she properly attempted to exhaust all efforts to defuse a situation before using force?

We need to be careful regarding our expectations and be aware of reality when dealing with human beings who are asked to do one of the hardest, if not the hardest job there is on a daily basis. No other occupation is so heavily scrutinized and asked to be as transparent that deals with one’s life and liberty in a civilian setting. Dealing with people on one of the worst days of their lives, who exhibit unpredictable behavior in deadly situations, is an inexact science. We must not forget this no matter how great the political or public pressure. Especially, if we want to attract and retain people to this profession who have the ability, desire, ethics, and judgment to be a first rate law enforcement professional.

As I mentioned in an earlier article, when an officer or agency is out of line they need to be held accountable and criticized.  To the contrary, when we criticize an officer for defending himself against someone who is trying to take his duty weapon from him and he is attempting to stay alive during the attack, then we have a major problem as a society. Should we not be holding these individuals accountable too? #deescalationofforce, #policecommunityrelations,#lawenforcement, #useofforce

For another must read article on the De-escalation of force see the following article by Dr. Ron Martinelli. “WHO REALLY NEEDS DE-ESCALATION TRAINING?”

https://drronmartinelli.com/2016/07/16/who-really-needs-de-escalation-training/

 

As a retired Lieutenant and 32-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Bill Weiss worked various patrol, custody, administrative, investigative, and special assignments. He has been an Incident Commander for several major tactical incidents. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California, with a Master’s degree in Public Administration.

To follow me please go to my website- http://www.billcweiss.com.

Author Bill Weiss Reveals Shocking Details 25 Years After the Los Angeles Riots

Author Bill Weiss Reveals Shocking Details 25 Years After The Los Angeles Riots

I recently had the honor of interviewing author Bill Weiss, a 32-year veteran of the LASD. Bill had incredible experiences over those years and shares some of them in his soon to be released book, Never Again. The book chronicles his experience behind the scenes of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots – also referred to as The Rodney King Riots.

As the 25th anniversary of the events of the Los Angeles Riots that impacted our country’s history approaches (April 29th, 2017), Rodney King, the central figure, won’t be around for interviews or special reports. He passed away four years ago, on June 17th, 2012. Rodney King’s death by accidental drowning was later reported to involve alcohol and drugs. Whether or not his death was accidental, he will forever be associated with the incident that set off a week of death and destruction from which many innocent people never recovered.

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Here are the details of my interview with Bill Weiss:

Judith: Thank you for your time today, Bill. Having been privileged to read the draft of your new book, Never Again, I’m excited to share your story with my blog followers.
What was your role behind the scenes during the historical Los Angeles Riots in 1992?

Bill: I was the watch commander for Lennox Sheriff’s Station in South LA. I was in charge of the station. Our northern boundary was one mile and thirteen city blocks from the intersection of Florence and Normandie (the flash point of the riots). I developed a response team of 15 deputies with 10 radio cars ready to go into LAPD’s area when Reginald Denny was being beaten in the intersection.

Judith: That’s a scene not too many of us will ever forget. We learn by reading the hour-by-hour story in your book that as the circumstances surrounding the riot unfolded, you created a plan by which the LA Sheriff’s Department, Lennox Station would intervene. We also know that plan was squashed by unavoidable last minute decisions outside of your control.
How did it feel to watch the events unfold with your hands tied behind your back?

Bill: I felt as if I had been stabbed in the chest. I wanted to argue and challenge authority (the captain). It made me mentally withdraw for a few moments as I was shocked, numb, and felt helpless, but so close. I felt like a failure and knew that we lost a golden opportunity to stop the madness. That thought obsessed me for quite awhile. We were in a war zone for days and I carried a sense of guilt with me that still hurts to this day.

Judith: It’s been almost 25 years since the momentous events on April 29th, 1992. How do you think the country was impacted by the Los Angeles riots, both positively and negatively?

Bill: In 1992 many elected and community leaders, including those in law enforcement, recognized a need to do things differently and treat problems and people differently. ie: more community-based policing was developed, having officers of the same race patrol certain neighborhoods started to increase, more youth programs were developed, additional resources (economic, jobs, businesses etc.) were brought in to certain deprived areas of LA.
There was also a negative impact on the country. I believe many took notice and it may have hindered the progress of race relations in the south for example, which may have been improving prior to the LA riots. A step back definitely occurred in LA and from what I can remember in many parts of the country. As I mentioned in my book several other cities throughout the country experienced rioting due to LA. Some people came together, but I believe those who didn’t took a major step backward; regressing for quite awhile due to a lack of trust, revisiting old wounds, etc.

Judith: Bill, Do you think that something of the magnitude of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots could happen again? If so, are we at risk presently?

Bill: Unfortunately, yes it could happen again and the risk is there now. What we have experienced with Ferguson, Missouri (2014) and Baltimore, Maryland (2015) and more recently the disturbances we have witnessed during the current presidential campaigns, I see some disturbing similarities and elements.

Judith: In light of what you experienced during the LA riots along with your perspective on the recent contemporary unrest our country has seen (mentioned above) what advice would you give new law enforcement agents?

Bill: Public pressure, concern with image over safety, and the issue of political correctness should never again interfere with law enforcement performing its functions. Passive response to these initial disturbances allowed disorder to develop into major riots. Treating people with respect and allowing them to vent their frustrations is one thing, but standing by and allowing people to kill, assault, rob, steal, and destroy property should never be acceptable.

Judith: Thank you, Bill. When will your book, Never Again, be available?

Bill: Pre-order on my website, http://www.billcweiss.com. Orders will ship in August of 2016.

*Note- This interview was conducted prior to the tragic police killings in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

Judith Cassis is a New York Times Bestselling ghostwriter, blogger and book coach. She is the founder of The Golden Pen Writers Guild and Writers Mastermind Alliance and publisher of the Writer to Writer series. Follow her blog: www.judithcassis.com and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/judith.cassis. Private and group sessions are available for scheduling. Judith offers free group lectures and teleseminars based upon availability.

She has been leading writers workshops, retreats and events since 1999. Her company, Success Made Simple, provides guidance and resources for writers planning to publish books, blogs and articles.

 

As a retired Lieutenant and 32-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Bill Weiss worked various patrol, custody, administrative, investigative, and special assignments. He has been an Incident Commander for several major tactical incidents. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California, with a Master’s degree in Public Administration.

To follow Bill and or purchase his book, “Never Again”, please go to his website- http://www.billcweiss.com.

What is Happening to Police and Community Relations?

As I look at what is happening to police and community relations in the last two years since the Michael Brown shooting in August of 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, to the recent tragedy in Dallas last week and the several other attacks on law enforcement since, several factors and issues play out. While police-community relations will always remain a controversial and hot topic, as they have been for decades, it is important for both law enforcement and the community to be equally accountable for their actions.

People analyze and discuss the need for more community based policing, more dialogue, more restraint by law enforcement, more de-escalation of force, more training, more accountability, more transparency, and a host of other issues that law enforcement needs to do to improve these relationships.

As I analyze the facts of the various deadly officer involved shootings and other tragic events that have unfolded, I see some common denominators that no one talks about, yet it explains an overwhelming majority of these issues and problems.

After examining the facts of these incidents, and peeling back the rhetoric and innuendo, I see the following trends:

  1. The majority of these encounters start with a call for service involving a victim of a crime, someone who has been threatened, or suspicious actions by the party/suspect in question. This also includes traffic stops.
  2. Once law enforcement arrives on scene or conducts the traffic stop they are met with non-compliance, verbal abuse, and resistance by the suspect.
  3. The suspect is usually armed (gun, knife etc.) or attempts to disarm the officer of his or her weapon.
  4. The suspect attempts to flee or initiates an attack on the officer, which usually dictates how the encounter and incident will progress.

Unfortunately, the officer must take drastic action to protect himself and others against the suspect. Although the above mentioned items (more dialogue, restraint, and de-escalation of force etc.), have some benefits and are continually heard by law enforcement as areas it needs to address in order to improve police-community relations, none of them will correct or eliminate the violent behavior and aggressive actions taken by the suspect.

We continuously hear people allege racism and harassment during traffic stops and detentions. If this is the case then the smart person would follow the orders of the officer and later present their facts and file a formal complaint instead of resorting to violence.

Also, do we as a society, through our various past acts, rights and laws, allow people to believe they have a false sense of entitlement? When we immediately cite out and release demonstrators and protesters within hours of being arrested for blocking traffic resulting in the closure of freeways and highways, what message does that send? Should we be surprised that we have so many protests turning into violence and chaos? Should these same demonstrators be allowed to throw rocks and bottles at police, pull people from their vehicles, throw concrete and rocks through vehicle and business windows, and destroy and steal property? Is this a peaceful demonstration displaying a desire to improve police-community relations while endangering lives?

 

As a retired Lieutenant and 32-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Bill Weiss worked various patrol, custody, administrative, investigative, and special assignments. He has been an Incident Commander for several major tactical incidents. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California, with a Master’s degree in Public Administration.

To follow me and or purchase my book, “Never Again”, please go to my website- http://www.billcweiss.com.

Do Public Figures Prematurely Shape Public Opinion?

Do initial public comments by public figures prematurely shape public opinion, specifically incidents involving the deadly use-of-force by law enforcement? The recent and still ongoing trials of six police officers indicted in the in-custody death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland, is a great case in point.

On June 23, 2016, a Baltimore judge overseeing the trials acquitted Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., who was driving the transport van in which Gray allegedly sustained fatal injuries to his spinal cord. Gray died one week after being arrested on April 19, 2015. Goodson became the second officer in the case to be cleared. Officer Edward Nero was previously found not guilty of reckless endangerment and assault during a second trial. This was on the heels of the first trial ending in a hung jury.

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The judge indicated there was not enough evidence to prove that Officer Goodson provided a “rough ride” for Gray who was not seat belted in while handcuffed inside the van. Witnesses testified that Gray began screaming and kicking so violently that he shook the van prior to being transported.

These acquittals throw the rest of the cases into question since the remaining officers are charged with similar but lesser accusations. Demonstrations have occurred outside the courthouse as many expressed frustration at the not-guilty verdicts. Others are calling for the remaining officers to have all charges dropped.

Ironically, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby drew widespread praise and condemnation after charging the six officers in May 2015, with murder and manslaughter charges within weeks of Gray’s death. Civil rights activists praised the prosecutor for swift and comprehensive action. This action was after demonstrations had occurred in Baltimore against police brutality, which were violent at times, and included rioting, looting, and arson after Gray’s funeral.

This is one of several recent incidents, including the shooting death of 18-year old Michael Brown in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, where activists cheered the quick action of state officials. As you may recall, that incident in Ferguson resulted in violent protests that included vandalism and looting for more than a week and ended the career of Officer Darren Wilson, even after he was cleared of civil rights violations and credible witnesses and forensic evidence corroborated his account. Now in this particular case involving Gray, some activists and legal experts are suggesting that Mosby acted too quickly and did not leave enough time for a thorough investigation.

Also, at the time of this writing at least two reports, which have not been confirmed to my knowledge, have surfaced indicating that Mosby had made some incriminating public statements regarding her true intentions for filing charges so quickly against the six officers and revealing some personal prejudices. She is also being accused of a rush to judgment, making false statements, withholding evidence from the defense that was exculpatory, and is possibly the subject of disbarment charges filed against her.

In an earlier article I addressed the subject of accountability by law enforcement and the public, including public figures, leaders, activists, and celebrities. I made the following general statement in the article, which was titled, “What’s Wrong with this Picture?”

Initial public comments call in to question and assume the officer did something wrong, but the final results of the investigations, even when there are grand jury reviews and a coroner’s report, usually conclude in a finding to the contrary. This displeases many who can’t accept the facts of what actually occurred. Many people are outraged and want to hear the officer was wrong, since they have been told from the beginning to believe he or she was wrong.  Much of this comes from our leaders, activists, and politicians when they are interviewed in the media.” To see this entire article please go to my blog/recent posts on my website-http://www.billcweiss.com.

Public figures who knowingly speak without the facts, either due to public pressure, or who try to capitalize on a situation for their own interest, create an environment of false expectations and anger. This develops into situation where the public, who was made initially to believe something otherwise, can’t handle the truth when the final investigations conclude differently. This is extremely dangerous.

Why not hold these public figures accountable? #freddiegray, #baltimoremaryland, #lawenforcement, #publicaccountability, #policecommunityrelations, #deadlyuseofforce

 

As a retired Lieutenant and 32-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Bill Weiss worked various patrol, custody, administrative, investigative, and special assignments. He has been an Incident Commander for several major tactical incidents. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California, with a Master’s degree in Public Administration.

To follow me and or purchase my book, “Never Again”, please go to my website- http://www.billcweiss.com.

WHEN SHOULD BODY CAMERA VIDEO FOOTAGE BE MADE PUBLIC?

There are several legal and privacy issues that need to be determined when examining whether or not all or some of the body camera recordings by law enforcement should be shared with the public and if so, when this should occur.

In a previous post I indicated the necessity for law enforcement to embrace the use of body cameras by officers. I also discussed treating the video footage like all other forms of evidence submitted by officers and the need for all officers to review the footage before writing their incident reports. To read the article, please click on my website and see “Recent Posts” on the left column or under “Blog”: http://www.billcweiss.com

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The demand for more transparency in law enforcement and the constant challenge to the credibility of police officers while performing their daily functions, especially concerning incidents involving the use of force, continues to bring this topic to the forefront.

Recently, the District Attorney in San Diego released video of three San Diego police officer involved shootings, a reversal of her previous decisions that all video footage would be treated as evidence to be seen only in court. Faced with this difficult decision, she indicated that the legal rights of all the parties involved must be protected and balanced against the public’s desire to view such video.

She also stated that she will release video, if it exists, from every officer-involved shooting unless the officer is to be charged with a crime. The video would be withheld until it is produced as evidence in a courtroom.

In Seattle, it is reported that the Seattle Police Department apparently releases all body camera video and posts them online.

In Chicago, officials plan to release videos, (dashboard cameras, body cameras, police surveillance cameras, and private surveillance cameras), police reports, and other materials of police-related incidents within 60 days to the public.

Debate continues if video footage should be released only in cases of officer-involved shootings or high profile use of force cases, or if a delay of a few weeks or a month or two should occur. Should police chiefs, district attorneys, or independent commissions decide? These are difficult issues when balancing the needs of law enforcement, the right to privacy, the call for accountability and transparency, the right of the public to know, and the rights of police officers.

Video footage should be treated as all other forms of evidence submitted by officers with their police/arrest (incident) reports. They collect it, observe it, tag it, record and document it, and submit it with their report. The evidence is secured and goes through a chain of command and control before the court process is played out. Body camera video footage should be no different.

Evidence is not routinely or normally released for public review before the adjudication of a criminal or civil court case. Only under exigent or rare circumstances, should the police chief, sheriff, and/or district attorney make the decision if and when the release of video footage should occur before any court case. There should be no need for additional layers of review, commissions, or committees. Let those elected or appointed to these positions of authority, and who are being held accountable in these positions, handle their business and make these decisions. #bodycameras, #lawenforcement, #transparency

 

As a retired Lieutenant and 32-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Bill Weiss worked various patrol, custody, administrative, investigative, and special assignments. He has been an Incident Commander for several major tactical incidents. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California, with a Master’s degree in Public Administration.

To follow me and or purchase my book go to- http://www.billcweiss.com

Author, Retired Law Enforcement