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Does legal weed make police more effective?

Marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington state has “produced some demonstrable and persistent benefit” to police departments’ ability to solve other types of crime, according to researchers in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University.

“Our models show no negative effects of legalization and, instead, indicate that crime clearance rates for at least some types of crime are increasing faster in states that legalized than in those that did not,” the authors write in a study published in the journal Police Quarterly.

A crime is typically considered “cleared” if authorities have identified and arrested a suspect and referred him to the judicial system for prosecution. The Washington State study examined clearance rates for crimes in Colorado and Washington from 2010 through 2015, using monthly FBI data.

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Forced court appearances make cops more tired, generate more citizen complaints

Results from a new study conducted by researchers at Washington State University and Central Queensland University suggest that complaints against U.S. police officers increase when they work consecutive night shifts. The odds of citizen complaints increase even more when night shift officers are required to make daytime court appearances in-between night shifts when they would otherwise be resting up for their next shift.

Results from the study indicate that citizen complaints were most prevalent on night shifts. The researchers also found that going to court during the day between night shifts further increased the odds of citizen complaints. This supports the idea that sleep restriction and fatigue, which increase when night shift officers must attend court, contribute to the likelihood that they will receive complaints from the public.

Samantha Riedy.
Samantha Riedy

“Our results suggest that consecutive night shifts, particularly when worked with daytime court hours, increase fatigue, limit sleep, and increase the odds of citizen complaints against police officers,” said lead author Samantha Riedy, MS, RPSGT, a doctoral student in the Experimental Psychology Graduate Program and the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University. “Citizen complaints are an important indicator of citizen dissatisfaction with how they are treated by officers, their perceptions about justice, and their willingness to cooperate with the police and help maintain public order. Our findings indicate that duty schedules and sleep opportunities need to be considered when scheduling officers in court.”

The study included data from 379 officers and 32,712 work shifts from a seminal study led by Bryan Vila, former professor of criminal justice and criminology, that examined whether fatigue was prevalent in policing (Vila et al., 2000).

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Brinkwire

The Science Behind Where Police Should Place Their Body Cameras

As law enforcement increasingly uses body-worn cameras, researchers are studying the roles of camera design and perspective.

Approaching police body cameras from a design and ergonomics perspective is just one example of the ways researchers are starting to delve into the bigger questions associated with body cameras, from artificial intelligence analysis to perspective bias.

David Makin
Makin

David Makin, a criminologist at Washington State University in Pullman, co-founded the Complex Social Interactions (CSI) Lab. Makin is designing algorithms and software to analyze body-worn camera footage. One of the main issues, he says, is that body cam footage is just that — footage. “So you have thousands or tens of thousands of hours that doesn’t get looked at. It gets looked at when there’s an issue, and that’s it.”

Makin sees potential in that raw video. “If we think of it as data, we can deconstruct it and analyze it,” he said. “Then we can approach it as improving training, and improving risk management. Once you see it as data, there is no limit to how beneficial this can be to law enforcement organizations.”

Makin’s CSI Lab has analyzed thousands of police-community interactions on video and numerous records from law enforcement incidents to identify, code and catalog key variables associated with a range of outcomes, positive to negative. Location, lighting, time of day, number of people present, gender, race, verbal and physical stress, and intensity of the interaction are among the contextual factors assessed.

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Inside Science

Opinion: What we need to talk about when we talk about mass shooters

A day after the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida, President Donald Trump blamed the incident that left 17 dead on shooter Nikolas Cruz’s mental health.

Melanie-Angela Neuilly
Neuilly

Dr. Melanie-Angela Neuilly, an associate professor at the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University, told the Daily Dot, “While mental health should always be taken into consideration, the emphasis on mental health as a source of violence is misleading as individuals suffering with mental health issues are actually less likely to be violent (overall) than individuals without mental health issues.”

What we really ought to question, Neuilly said, are the cultural values that could contribute to deadly shootings. Near the top of that list is toxic masculinity.

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The Daily Dot

Yakima Valley families cope with pain as loved ones’ murders remain unsolved

Amelie PedneaultParents of a man murdered in March 2017 expressed frustration with what they called a lack of communication with detectives on how the case is progressing.

That’s a common complaint with families of those killed in unsolved crimes, said Amelie Pedneault, an assistant professor of criminology at Washington State University. The lack of communication makes people think the case is not progressing or lacks importance to law enforcement, Pedneault said.

That leads to some families trying to investigate the crime on their own, she said.

She said researchers found a good solution is to have regular contact between police and the families, and even allowing them to see a case file so they know where the case stands.

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Yakima Herald