A Spokane County undersheriff received a four-week unpaid suspension in January after he joked to a member of the Spokane Valley Precinct staff that “ex-wives should be killed.”
Policy violations by leadership in law enforcement can often create the precedent that the behavior is acceptable unless swift action is taken by the chief or sheriff, said Richard Bennett, professor of justice at American University who earned his doctoral degree in sociology/criminal justice at Washington State University.
“Leadership sets the tone,” Bennett said.
Bennett researches police organization and procedures along with comparative criminology, and comparative criminal justice. “If the leader shows no regard for abusive language or racial slurs … the consequences are there,” Bennett said.
Increased drugged driving, greater youth access to marijuana and insufficient officer training are a few of the concerns expressed by police officers in the first state to legalize recreational cannabis sales to adults. While the officers did not support recriminalization, they noted several issues with the implementation of Washington state’s 2012 law legalizing cannabis, according to a new study by Washington State University researchers.
“The purpose of our study was to add a key stakeholder’s voice to the conversation—that of police officers,” said Craig Hemmens, WSU professor of criminal justice and criminology who coauthored the study. “Officers in other states may find their thoughts useful as they transition to legalization.”
This project was supported by an award from the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.
In her 2019 edited book Mothering From the Field: The Impact of Motherhood on Site-Based Research, WSU criminal justice associate professor Melanie-Angela Neuilly collected the experiences of academic researchers and mothers conducting their fieldwork while raising children. Neuilly’s own experience of juggling site work and motherhood in Nice, France, in 2014 is also chronicled.
Neuilly said she came to the book somewhat circuitously: In 2013, she obtained a WSU Seed Grant to conduct ethnographic field observations at a medico-legal institute in Nice. However, Neuilly was obtaining her green card then, and in the midst of a somewhat risky pregnancy. She got a no-cost extension on the grant and conducted her research in the summer of 2014, with her 3-month-old daughter and husband.
Neuilly’s book also includes two other WSU voices: Lindsay Marco, a doctoral student in counseling psychology, and Kimberly Garland-Campbell, a geneticist in wheat breeding in the USDA-ARS Wheat Health, Genetics and Quality Research Unit.
An Engineering & Technology investigation finds gaps in research on the benefits of police body-worn cameras, as well as shortcomings in the reporting of complaints against officers wearing them.
David Makin, an associate professor and director of the Complex Social Interactions Lab at Washington State University, argues police forces may have the ability to purchase body-worn cameras yet few have the infrastructure to analyse the footage. If footage is not analysed, its value is limited: “Failure to integrate the technology into organisational practice will relegate it to a cost expenditure and not a cost benefit.”
Makin mentions another area of concern in the United States: the involvement of private companies. “There’s also a move towards having private companies taking over some of the administrative tasks, including providing redaction, transcription, and generally managing the data.” Trusting private companies with sensitive material can backfire, especially if it is not encrypted and held securely.
While the searches occur at five times the rate for white drivers, they are less likely to turn up drugs or other contraband.
Twelve years ago, WSU academic researchers in sociology, political science, and criminal justice and criminology working with the Washington State Patrol raised a warning flag: Troopers were searching drivers from minority communities, particularly Native Americans, at a much higher rate than whites. They recommended additional study.
That was the last time the State Patrol conducted a substantive analysis of the race and ethnicity of drivers searched by troopers. Meanwhile, troopers continued to search Native Americans at a rate much higher — more than five times — than that of whites, an analysis by InvestigateWest shows. The State Patrol also continued conducting searches at an elevated rate for Blacks, Latinos and Pacific Islanders.
And yet when troopers did decide to search white motorists, they were more likely to find drugs or other contraband, records show.