Tag Archives: Officers

Car drives on train tracks to escape police in horror chase – two officers injured – VIDEO

In alarming footage, a black Range Rover drives along train tracks at Cheshunt Station in Hertfordshire. The driver was involved in a scuffle with police officers before getting away and heading for that station.

Two police officers have been injured during the incident and the driver of the Range Rover has currently not been found but the abandoned vehicle has been recovered.

Police officers tried to speak to the driver as the vehicle was stolen.

After being stopped the man drove away with one officer initially trapped in the door, before hurtling down the open train tracks.

A spokesperson for the force has said: “The vehicle made off, injuring two officers and damaging several vehicles in the process.

“Officers from Hertfordshire also attended to assist with the search and the vehicle was found abandoned on nearby train tracks, in Windmill Lane.

“A search of the area is currently being carried out to locate the driver and officers are working alongside British Transport Police to recover the vehicle.

“It was not struck by a train at any point.

“Anyone who witnessed the incident, or saw the vehicle driving in the area, is asked to contact police on 101.”

The car was not hit by a train.

All trains into Cheshunt station were cancelled as a result of the incident.

Services through the station will experience, cancellations, delays and alternations. 

More to follow…

Adblock test (Why?)

Read more
This post originally posted here Daily Express :: UK Feed

The plot to kill Haiti’s president allegedly spanned multiple countries and involved experienced ex-military officers and months of planning, local officials say

CNN has obtained exclusive information about the hunt for the killers of Jovenel Moise, a banana exporter-turned-politician who was killed in a hail of gunfire in the bedroom of his private residence in the leafy Port-au-Prince district of Petion-Ville at around 1 a.m. last Wednesday, according to government statements.
The Haitian President’s body was found riddled with bullet holes, according to a local official tasked with documenting the crime scene, who also said Moise had suffered a broken leg and serious facial injuries. Multiple government officials described the injuries to CNN as signs of torture. Moise’s wife, Martine, was wounded. She is being treated in a Miami hospital.
“In the blink of an eye, the mercenaries ran into my house and killed my husband,” Haiti’s first lady said in an audio recording released over the weekend. CNN cannot independently confirm the authenticity of the recording.
But despite the abundance of bullet holes documented inside the President’s home, not one member of the President’s security detail or residential staff was hurt, according to authorities.
Exactly what happened inside the president’s home and who masterminded the attack remain the key unsolved questions at the heart of multiple investigations involving senior agents from the United States and Colombia, in addition to local authorities. Top foreign officials, including members of the US National Security Council and Colombia’s chief of national intelligence, have visited Haiti in the wake of Moise’s death.
In a country bitterly divided over its political direction, unease over the mystery surrounding the president’s murder has become a rare unifying sentiment. No one — whether members of the deceased president’s cabinet, his most outspoken critics, or ordinary residents of capital city Port-au-Prince — is satisfied with the limited explanations available so far.
“Where did (the attackers) get the cars that they were driving? How did they get in the country?” Haitian Elections Minister Mathias Pierre asked CNN, adding that he would expect his own security to take a bullet for him.
CNN can now shed light on a small piece of the puzzle: How Haitian security forces first responded to the assassination.
A source with knowledge of the operation has described to CNN a bloody siege and the multi-day pursuit through the President’s affluent neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, the impoverished quartier populaire next door, an abandoned roadside storefront, and the Taiwanese Embassy.

Setting a trap

Social media footage from the night of Moise’s murder showed unidentified men shooting into the air and shouting “DEA operation! Everybody back up!” in English as they marched down the street near the presidential mansion. Haitian security forces who had learned of the attack raced to the house not long after that. But they were too late.
According to a source familiar with the operation, law enforcement teams arriving on the scene in the dark hours of the morning observed a suspicious five-car convoy near the President’s home. Fearing that Moise or others may be being held hostage inside, they avoided a confrontation and allowed the convoy to leave. But there was a trap down the road.
At a sharp bend in Route de Kenscoff, the main road leading downtown, the convoy suddenly encountered a police blockade, where hundreds of security personnel had been mustered in the darkness.
Unable to turn their cars around in the narrow road between a walled-off ravine and a steep green hillside, the convoy’s occupants fled, abandoning firearms inside their vehicles. Desperate for cover, some leaped into the polluted muck of a deep roadside drainage canal; others scattered the surrounding buildings on foot, according to the source.
The majority found shelter in an empty two-story storefront, where a banner quoting Psalm 27:1 still proclaims: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
The store — and its location — offered a refuge of sorts. The overgrown hillside behind the store would slow any possible attacks from the rear. And the storefront’s thick concrete walls could serve as a shield from gunfire. Still, some would not make it out alive.
Before the sun rose on Wednesday in the Caribbean nation, Haitian security forces learned that the President was dead, and that the suspects trapped by their roadblock had at least two hostages with them, both members of the President’s guard, the National Palace General Security Unit (USGPN).
They were also growing certain that they were facing foreign adversaries — perhaps hired mercenaries. “We could hear them talking and shouting in Spanish,” the source said. “They were talking, and they knew exactly what they were facing.”
Haitian security forces opted to wait the fugitives out, knowing that the night’s intense humidity, windless summer heat, and a lack of drinking water would weaken their defenses. Supplies of water bottles had been found in their abandoned cars.
A little later, around 7 a.m. (8 a.m. in Haiti), a woman in rural Colombia received a phone call from her brother, a man she describes as a “hero.”
Jenny Capador told CNN that her brother Duberney called from Haiti, where he had been working in a private security role; she said he told her that something had gone wrong and he was “under siege and under fire, fighting.”
“But he told me not to worry, and not to tell our mother, that everything was going to be alright,” she said. Capador said her brother was hired to protect, not to kill; she does not believe he was responsible for the assassination of President Moise.
Hours went by and the temperature rose, with no movement from either side, CNN’s source said. Finally, at 3 p.m., Haitian forces threw three tear gas canisters into the road in front of the shop, allowing plumes of the acrid gas to spread inside. Negotiating began via one of the USGPN hostages’ phones soon after that.
The first of the suspected attackers to emerge from the building were Haitian-Americans — one man, followed by another. The pair identified themselves as translators, according to the source. Next down the hill came the two USGPN hostages, who told Haitian security forces that dozens of people — armed with 5.56 mm assault rifles — were still inside the concrete building.
“In the beginning, we didn’t know how many people there were until the hostages were released. Then the hostages said there were about 25, and I said, ‘Oh, OK, we’re dealing with a platoon,'” the source said.
A small vanguard of Haitian forces began an assault to seize the occupied storefront. According to CNN’s source, the alleged mercenaries were well-armed, and even threw a grenade at the Haitian security forces, though it did not detonate.
“They were shooting at us from the second floor,” the source said. “And they had a grenade, but it didn’t work. Can you imagine, the grenade just rolling like a ball — tak, tak, tak — down the hill?” they added, miming the imaginary grenade’s path.
At least three suspected mercenaries died in the battle. Traces of the two-hour shootout are clearly visible in the building itself, which remains littered with bullet casings and broken glass. In one narrow open-air passageway at the back of the building, a pool of blood and a dense constellation of bullet holes in the wall reveal the spot where someone died.
But most of the group that Haitian security forces had expected to apprehend had already vanished.

Escape to the Taiwan Embassy

Security forces now know the suspects had been quietly escaping up the hill, according to CNN’s source.
Just how a group of foreigners knew that the embassy of Taiwan was a short distance away is unclear, but a number of fugitives climbed the hill and crossed two stone alleyways to breach its high white walls. They could not do it unseen — at least one of the onlookers notified law enforcement.
To shelter in the embassy was either a clever choice or an extremely lucky one, since diplomatic spaces cannot simply be accessed by law enforcement. It remains unknown if the group was being advised by someone local who knew the area well.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou told CNN security guards reported that “a group of armed suspects” entered the embassy grounds without permission. Embassy staffers had been working from home “for safety reasons” that day, following the President’s assassination the previous day, she also said.
“After our embassy in Haiti received a request from Haiti authorities, we immediately agreed to let Haiti police enter our embassy to cooperate in the hunt for the suspects, so that justice can prevail, and the truth can come to light,” Ou said.
On Thursday, 11 of the suspected mercenaries were found and arrested without incident inside the embassy. More were eventually found in the surrounding area; social media video shows at least two suspects being escorted by a crowd of Haitians in the impoverished neighborhood of Jalousie.
But some suspects remain on the run, and Haitian police have called on residents to remain vigilant.
Aerial view of Jalousie, a poor neighborhood near the site of the standoff.

The hunt for answers continues

At least 28 people are now suspected in the killing, according to Haitian police, of which 26 have been identified as Colombian. Twenty have been detained, including the two US citizens who said they were translators.
Several of the men believed to be involved in the operation previously worked as informants for the US Drug Enforcement Agency and the FBI, according to people briefed on the matter.
“At times, one of the suspects in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise was a confidential source to the DEA,” the DEA said in a statement.
“Following the assassination of President Moise, the suspect reached out to his contacts at the DEA. A DEA official assigned to Haiti urged the suspect to surrender to local authorities and, along with a US State Department official, provided information to the Haitian government that assisted in the surrender and arrest of the suspect and one other individual.”
The FBI said in response to CNN’s reporting that it doesn’t comment on informants, except to say that it uses “lawful sources to collect intelligence” as part of its investigations.
No comment from the detainees has been released to the public.
Jenny Capador learned that her brother had been killed on Thursday. By Friday, Duberney Capador’s mugshot had been shown at a press conference by the Colombian National Police where he was named as one of the alleged assassins, according to preliminary investigations by the Colombian and Haitian police.
At a press conference on Sunday, Haitian authorities added a new name to their investigation, announcing that they arrested a Haitian-born man, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, whom they suspected of helping to orchestrate the assassination. They said he used a Florida-based Venezuelan security firm to recruit the group. CNN has not been able to reach Sanon or his representatives for comment since his arrest.
But as the intrigue around the Haitian President’s assassination widens across the region, there are still more questions than answers, including — most crucially — the mystery of what went on in the moments before Moise’s death.
The answer to that should be right here in Port-au-Prince, in surveillance footage from the residence and in the testimony of security personnel and residential staff, who by multiple accounts were there when it happened.

Development by Sean O’Key. Graphics by Sarah-Grace Mankarious. Video production by Matthew Gannon, Jeffrey Hsu and Nick Scott.

Capitol Police officers have quit, morale is low and the sweeping reforms seen as necessary to prevent another attack remain elusive

The mere shock of the event, and the criticism that followed, has pushed the US Capitol Police Department to make some quick changes — rank-and-file officers now get daily intelligence alerts on their cell phones. New tactical gear like helmets, batons and goggles have been purchased. And two former department leaders have been hired as security consultants to streamline improvements.
But the sweeping reforms that are widely seen as necessary to prevent a similar attack remain elusive, especially an operational and cultural overhaul of the department that some believe will take years to achieve, if it can happen at all.
“They need a radical restructure. They need to decouple it from any political structure whatsoever,” said Rep. John Katko, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee who negotiated the bipartisan agreement for an independent commission that was blocked by Republican leaders.
“They’ve definitely made strides in the right direction,” Katko said. “But they’re nowhere near where they should be.”
Morale remains low among Capitol Police officers, who say they’re stuck working longer hours amid dwindling ranks. More than 75 officers have left since January 6, at a rate of about three per week, according to union leaders.
“We’re losing guys left and right,” said one officer, who like others interviewed for this story requested anonymity to speak candidly about the state of the US Capitol Police. “The young guys don’t want to be here and the old guys who are eligible are just rolling out.”
As a result, the department has already exceeded its overtime projections for the fiscal year, which doesn’t end for another three months, according to a Senate aide.
Capitol Police still lacks a permanent leader following Chief Steve Sund’s resignation after January 6. And political fighting in Congress has stymied efforts to give the department millions of dollars in new funding — and establish an independent commission to investigate what led to the attack.
Last week House Democrats voted over the objections of all but two House Republicans to create a new Select Committee, which will examine Capitol security failures in addition to the circumstances leading up to the attack. It’s unclear though what, if any changes that will lead to.
Meanwhile, threats against lawmakers are up significantly in 2021, and over the past few weeks, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have issued warnings of the potential for summer violence tied to conspiracy theories that Trump will return to the presidency in August. There have also been reports that the fencing surrounding the Capitol may come down as early as July 8.
At a recent roll call meeting for rank-and-file officers, the department’s new intelligence director was asked what preparations were being made in response to the conspiracy theories being shared online — and whether they could prompt pro-Trump supporters to once again descend on the Capitol. According to one source who described the meeting, the response was that nothing was being done yet, but the situation was being monitored — which the person said felt like status quo.
“What are we going to do different once the fence comes down?” said another officer. “We haven’t made any changes to prepare for it — zero — that’s what I’m worried about.”
A Capitol Police spokesperson declined to grant interviews with Capitol Police leadership for this article and did not answer specific questions submitted by CNN. Instead, the department pointed to a statement released Tuesday morning about the changes that have been made following January 6.
Capitol Police said it has beefed up training for riots and other scenarios, provided additional protections for lawmakers outside of Washington and is in the process of setting up field offices in California and Florida. It also says it’s ramped up critical incident response planning, purchased new equipment for officers and improved communication with rank-and-file officers related to intelligence.
“Throughout the last six months, the United States Capitol Police has been working around the clock with our congressional stakeholders to support our officers, enhance security around the Capitol Complex, and pivot towards an intelligence-based protective agency,” wrote acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman.

Politics has held up funding

The same political debate that has tainted most discussions of the January 6 attack has also mired down additional funding for Capitol Police. House Democrats passed a $ 2 billion supplemental funding bill for Capitol security over the objections of Republicans — who raised issues with some of the line items, like a rapid response force coming from the National Guard.
In the Senate, the bill has languished, and lawmakers may slide it into the annual congressional spending process, where new spending decisions can often be kicked months into a fiscal year before a deal is reached.
Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, who chairs the House Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee that funds Capitol Police, released a fiscal 2022 spending bill that would give Capitol Police an $ 88 million funding boost compared to the current budget, though it’s $ 15 million below the administration’s budget request, which would allow for the hiring of new officers and civilian officials for Capitol Police.
But that funding could still be months from being approved.
“There’s so much we need to do comprehensively, and it takes time, but most of it starts in the bill,” Ryan said in an interview. “I’m not happy about where we are. We’ve got to be moving a lot quicker.”

Changes on the margins

Meanwhile, Capitol Police leaders have tried to implement operational and cultural changes. For example, one Capitol security official said there’s been an effort to better use intelligence to drive operations.
The department has also increased communication with law enforcement partners, according to a congressional source familiar with the USCP, and it is now working with private vendors to obtain open-source social media information to track threats, the source said.
Officers who spoke to CNN say they now receive daily email updates on their cell phones, for instance, including about demonstrations planned and intelligence. Some, however, have questioned how useful the updates have been.
“We’re inundated with updates now,” one officer said.
There have also been some extra training sessions, officers say, including how to hand-cuff people hit by a taser. One officer told CNN most of his training occurs online. Another officer described walk-throughs for Senate and House chamber evacuations.
Capitol Police said Tuesday that its Civil Disturbance Unit, which was on the frontlines on January 6, has increased training for riots and less-than-lethal exercises, conducted a joint exercise with the National Guard, and sent CDU officials to train in Seattle and Virginia Beach.
Terry Gainer, a former US Capitol Police chief and Senate sergeant at arms, said that while intelligence sharing with rank-and-file officers is a positive sign, there’s a lot more that needs to be done to help a police force still struggling with the physical and psychological trauma of January 6.
“When you’re still working long hours and there’s a lot of change going on and people are wondering ‘When are we going to get a new chief? Is there going to be some independent commission? Are some of the members going to stop pretending this didn’t happen?’ All of that weighs heavy,” said Gainer, who is also a CNN contributor.

Fixing the command structure

The Capitol Police Board has spent the past few months searching for a new chief. A selection could come as soon as this month, said the congressional source. Until then, the department will continue to be led by Pittman, who replaced Sund as acting chief after he resigned January 7.
Not long after Pittman took over, officers’ frustrations spilled into public view as members of the Capitol Police force issued an overwhelming vote of no confidence in their leadership in February.
Capitol Police union leader Gus Papathanasiou told CNN he was hopeful that a new police chief will “change things around,” but he echoed the frustrations of officers that not enough has been done.
“I think it’s just the same as it was on January 5, if not worse,” he said.
Katko, the Republican congressman, said he wants to see the structure of Capitol Police leadership changed altogether. The Capitol Police chief reports to a police board that includes Congressionally appointed House and Senate sergeants at arms and the Architect of the Capitol.
The police board’s response as the January 6 riot unfolded fell under particular scrutiny, as the Capitol Police chief could not unilaterally request assistance from the National Guard.
“If it’s a police force, you’ve got to have a command structure that’s commensurate with law enforcement and security,” Katko said. “I think it’s as bad as I’ve ever seen at any law enforcement agency anywhere. We’re asking them to do extraordinary things with zero guidance.”
Senate Rules Committee leaders Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, and Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, introduced legislation in June to expand the chief’s authority to request National Guard assistance in an emergency and to compel the Capitol Police Board to appear together in front of Congress — something that hasn’t happened since 1945.

Dealing with online threats

Capitol security officials say that even with additional threats toward lawmakers, the notion Capitol Police would be surprised again on the scale of January 6 remains remote. However, officers said they’d like to see more credence given to the threats that have swirled on far-right channels online.
One Capitol security official stressed that a rise in Internet threats — which can ebb and flow in a single afternoon based on a media interaction or a viral trigger — shouldn’t prompt Capitol Police to leap into overdrive.
The official said Capitol security leaders are watching August closely to see if anything builds into any kind of activity, though cutting through the noise remains a challenge.
“We have to be careful about assuming a tremendous rise of threats communicated via internet equates to a comparable rise in the threat,” the official said. “It’s hard for me to imagine being taken by surprise by another mob the size of the one January 6.”

Author: Whitney Wild, Jeremy Herb, Zachary Cohen, Jamie Gangel and Katie Bo Williams, CNN
Read more here >>> CNN.com – RSS Channel – HP Hero

Woke row: Council officers warn replacing ‘offensive’ street names may cost taxpayers

A review was launched across the country after the Black Lives Matter protests, looking at whether street names had links to slavery and colonialism. But changing the names would force residents to alter their address information for their bills, banking and insurance cover.

According to the Telegraph, council officers in Maidenhead have said the accumulated charges for the changes could come to “several hundred pounds per household and potentially considerably more”.

The council officers were examining the expense of renaming “Blackamoor Lane”.

They warned that the local authority, funded by the taxpayer, would likely have to compensate the costs placed on residents for changing street names.

The officers at Windsor and Maidenhead council added how the residents and businesses would face a process similar to “moving to a new house or business premises”.

READ MORE: ‘Race and the cosmos’ University starts woke space course

Cecil Rhodes House is home to 72 households and is being changed to Park View House.

The block was identified as problematic because Cecil Rhodes was a central figure in the growth of the British Empire.

Camden Council promised to foot the bill of any costs placed on residents who need to “update their address with any organisations or on documents”.

The Council said: “The block was named in 1957 by St Pancras Borough Council, which was the local authority at the time. The original plan was to call it Grangefield and signs were made.

“However the Council made a last minute decision to call the block Cecil Rhodes House, despite objections by some councillors.”

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

Mother and daughter killed, officers shoot live-in boyfriend at West Houston apartment

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — A mother and daughter were shot to death Sunday morning at a west Houston apartment complex, and the man believed to be responsible was wounded by officers, according to Houston police.

It happened around 9:15 a.m. in the 1000 block of East Tri Oaks Lane near the Katy Freeway feeder road.

Officers were responding to a call about an assault in progress when they saw a woman arrive and knock on the apartment door, according to Houston assistant police chief Yasar Bashir. She was shot point-blank when the door opened before the gunman began firing at police, Bashir said.

Officers returned fire, striking the man multiple times before he retreated inside the apartment where he remained for some time before voluntarily giving up.

He was taken into custody and transported to Ben Taub Hospital where he was stable.

The woman died at the scene.

SWAT officers found the body of another shooting victim during a sweep of the apartment, according to Bashir.

The victim inside the home, described as a woman in her 30s, was the accused shooter’s live-in girlfriend, Bashir said. The woman who was shot outside, believed to be in her 60s, was the woman’s mother, Bashir said.

It wasn’t immediately clear when the woman found inside the apartment was shot.

No officers were hurt during the incident, but their police cruiser was damaged by the gunfire.

Initial reports that the incident was a home invasion call were inaccurate, police said.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Author: KTRK

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

5 Police Officers Are Fired After a Man in Custody Hangs Himself

Five police officers in Savannah, Ga., have been fired after a Black man hanged himself while in custody in April, a death that three of them mocked in a text message exchange that contained a crude GIF, officials said this week.

The officers’ dismissal was announced by the Savannah Police Department on Monday. That same day the city’s police chief and mayor met with the family of William Harvey, who officers said hanged himself with his shoelaces on April 3 after officers questioned him at police headquarters as part of an investigation into an aggravated assault.

Mr. Harvey, 60, was found unresponsive in an interview room where he had been left alone. His death was ruled a suicide by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

But his family has faulted the police over the actions of officers leading up to and after his death. They said the police had neglected the warning signs that Mr. Harvey had been in distress, failed to activate all of the cameras that were in the room and later made light of the tragedy in a group text message exchange.

Roy W. Minter Jr., the Savannah police chief, said at a media briefing on Tuesday that Mr. Harvey’s death could have been prevented if not for missteps of officers.

“I don’t think any of these officers had any malicious intent in what they did, but they made some poor decisions and didn’t follow department policy and procedure,” Chief Minter said.

The punishment of the officers, who have not been charged with any crimes, came as police departments across the nation are facing intense scrutiny over misconduct and complaints of institutional racism after the death of George Floyd while in custody in Minneapolis.

“When you’re in the care custody of the police, you should be able to enter an interrogation room and emerge alive,” Francys Johnson, a lawyer for the Harvey family, said at a news conference on Monday.

Mr. Harvey’s relatives said they would not rest until there was full transparency about what happened in the interview room and until justice was served.

“We’re not going to stop until we get all our questions answered,” Mr. Harvey’s son Michael Harvey said at the news conference. “Because we just want to know the truth.”

Two of the officers — Cpl. Silver Leuschner and Sgt. Michael Kerr — were fired over their response to the situation, the Savannah Police Department said. A third officer was suspended.

Officials said that Ms. Leuschner had breached the department’s conduct policy and had failed to turn on cameras during the encounter. They said that Mr. Kerr had breached his responsibilities as a supervisor. The officials did not elaborate.

Ms. Leuschner said in an email on Tuesday night that at the time of Mr. Harvey’s death she was 15 minutes from headquarters at a hospital checking on a victim and that Mr. Kerr was also not in the building. She said that two patrol officers who had been sitting outside the interview room for 40 minutes and did not check on Mr. Harvey kept their jobs. A camera system in the interview room, she said, was not working properly.

“I was told, ‘This is political, so someone has to go,’” said Ms. Leuschner, who called herself a scapegoat.

Mr. Kerr could not be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday night.

It was not immediately clear if he and the other officers had lawyers. The Southern States Police Benevolent Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday night.

The three officers fired over the text message exchange mocking Mr. Harvey’s death were identified by the Savannah Police Department as Sgt. Christopher Hewett, Cpl. Erica Tremblay and Officer David Curtis.

In the text message exchange, obtained by the television station WSAV, one of the officers shared a GIF that showed a Black man hanging himself from a noose.

A person responding from an email address listed for Mr. Curtis declined to comment on Tuesday night. Mr. Hewett and Ms. Tremblay could not be immediately reached for comment.

Chief Minter said on Tuesday that he had reviewed some of the officers’ body camera footage from the encounter with Mr. Harvey and that it was tough to watch.

“It’s been extremely heartbreaking to see the impact this particular situation has had on the Harvey family,” he said. “I hope and pray that they find some type of comfort knowing that the Savannah Police Department did what we had to do to hold members of our organization accountable.”

Author: Neil Vigdor
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Departures of Police Officers Accelerated During a Year of Protests

Police departments face severe challenges in retaining and recruiting officers, according to new data outlining the steady exodus from an occupation that was the target of protests last year after several high-profile police killings.

“We have lost about one-third of our staff to resignation and retirement,” said Chief David Zack of the Asheville Police Department in North Carolina — more than 80 officers out of a full complement of 238. “Certainly with the way that police have been portrayed and vilified in some cases, they have decided that it is not the life for them.”

Those reductions in Ashville echo a nationwide trend. A survey of about 200 police departments indicates that retirements were up by 45 percent and resignations by 18 percent in the period between April 2020 and April 2021, when compared with the preceding 12 months. The percentage of officers who left tended to be larger for departments in big or medium-size cities, according to the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington policy institute that will release full data next week.

“It is an evolving crisis,” said Chuck Wexler, the organization’s executive director.

Last year’s departures came against the backdrop of protests that erupted nationwide when George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer, along with the police killings of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., and Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. The aggressive tactics some officers used against protesters often compounded the vitriol against the police.

The future of policing was called into question, with demands to defund departments or to assign some of their tasks to civilian agencies. The coronavirus pandemic also took a toll, with cities slashing budgets and some officers deciding that risking their health through potential exposure to the virus was endangering their families. The pandemic also brought a surge in the most violent crimes.

“It is an extremely difficult time to be a police officer,” said Maria Haberfeld, a professor of political science who trains police officers at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

Cities where demonstrations were robust last year experienced substantial departures from their police forces.

In New York, 2,600 officers retired in 2020, according to police statistics, after 1,509 retirements the year before. In Portland, Ore., 69 officers resigned and 75 retired from April 2020 to April 2021, versus 27 and 14 the previous year. In Seattle, resignations increased to 123 from 34 and retirements to 96 from 43.

Seattle ended up with 150 fewer patrol officers than expected, and for months, only slightly more than half of the highest-priority 911 calls have drawn responses within the targeted time of seven minutes, according to police statistics.

Many cities are also finding it harder to attract recruits, with the number of new hires in Portland falling to 30 from 69, and in Seattle to 44 from 119.

After skipping any police training last year for budgetary reasons, St. Paul, Minn., received 178 applications this year, down about half from the 366 received in 2016, said Sgt. Natalie Davis, a police spokeswoman.

While the city is authorized to have 620 police officers, it has about 580 at the moment. That means the department has moved officers onto patrol duties from specialized units like those that track drugs, gangs and guns, Sergeant Davis said.

There is widespread consensus that another reason retention has suffered is that police officers are asked to do too much. In addition to confronting crime, they also deal with mental health problems, addiction and homelessness, as well as the occasional lost dog. Body cameras and bystanders’ cellphones, which increase the likelihood that officers will be held responsible for misconduct, put them under high levels of scrutiny.

“We have asked too much from police, and it has caught up with us nationally,” Chief Zack in Asheville said.

He and others noted that the police had gone through similar periods of crisis and low morale before but that the challenges of the past year had been more sustained.

Some police agencies are responding by trying to widen the pool of applicants, in some cases using federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan to buttress their efforts.

The New York Police Department recently waived its $ 40 registration fee for people who want to take the police test, officials said. In April, applications jumped by about a quarter, with 14,502 people signing up.

Some cities lowered the amount of college education recruits needed, while Allentown, Pa., proposed that a ban on recruits who had used marijuana up to three years before be reduced to one year.

Police officials and experts said the changes could present an opportunity for departments to focus on what kind of men and women become officers at a time when there is widespread public support for change.

“It is not necessarily a bad thing to have to rethink who you want to be a police officer,” said Philip M. Stinson, a former officer who is now a professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

Author: Neil MacFarquhar
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News