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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

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

Circadian rhythms dictate lunchtime surgeries have better outcomes for cardiac patients

The time of day of surgery may have long-term impacts on the health of patients. Sleep deprivation is worryingly common among healthcare providers. Working tired leaves more room for mistakes – and mistakes in medicine are often dangerous.

Bryan Vila“The basic take-home is that fatigue decreases safety,” said Bryan Vila, a sleep expert and emeritus professor of criminal justice and criminology at Washington State University Spokane.

Learning healthy sleeping practices is “just as important as occupational training,” Vila said.

Looking at how the circadian rhythm affects the outcomes of surgery, researchers in France are claiming that patients who undergo major heart surgery in the afternoon may walk away with reduced perioperative myocardial injury and postoperative morbidity compared to patients who were operated on earlier in the morning1.

While the study focuses on heart surgeries only, a separate Canadian study found that the risk of mortality was doubled in patients who were operated on during the night. It attributes this to healthcare provider fatigue during later times of the day. The same study put forth that not operating at all may be better than performing emergency procedures while fatigued.

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MIMS Today

How body camera footage can enhance officer training

In spite of the potential benefits of using body-worn camera footage to improve community interaction, increase officer safety, and evaluate training, police departments are only minimally using the information available at their fingertips. The crux of the problem comes down to time: It is impossible for agencies to dedicate the manpower required to review hundreds of thousands of hours of footage generated by body-worn cameras.

David Makin

Criminal justice experts at Washington State University (WSU) are hoping to solve this problem by using advanced scientific tools and techniques—such as data analytics, biometrics and machine learning—to examine the complex factors that shape interactions between police and community members.

Researchers in the new Complex Social Interaction (CSI) laboratory at WSU, led by David Makin, assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology, are designing algorithms and software that analyzes body-worn camera footage.

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Until Proven Guilty

The people and the algorithm behind Spokane County’s efforts to reform the pretrial criminal justice system

Spokane County is combating jail overcrowding with a statistical-risk assessment tool that factors in several variables about people accused of crimes, including age, criminal history, housing situation, and substance abuse issues.

Zachary Hamilton

The tool, known as SAFER, or “Spokane Assessment for Evaluation of Risk,” was developed by Washington State University criminal justice and criminology professor Zachary Hamilton specifically for Spokane’s population using data from about 14,000 criminal cases.

The SAFER tool has been “validated to predict equally for all races,” Hamilton says. It’ll take a year’s worth of data to determine whether he needs to make any tweaks in that regard.

“To a certain extent, risk assessment tools help diminish racial and ethnic bias by removing the human bias inherent in prosecution or judicial discretion,” he says. “There’s inherent racial bias within all measures of the criminal justice system, and risk assessment tools can only be as good as the data that’s provided.”

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The Inlander