Thursday, June 07, 2018

Choker!, (Mis)Understanding Probable Cause, and other stories

Let's clear a few browser tabs and pass along some interesting tidbits that merit Grits readers attention:

TFW you find a box of guns and bloody money at the courthouse
Keri Blakinger did a wonderful job attempting to fill in the backstory on this amazing discovery.

They're all isolated incidents, we promise
A small-town Texas police chief (Olney) forced two men to perform a sex act at gun point and attempted to coerce the wife of a sex offender into becoming his "slave." That's quite a sense of entitlement this gentleman felt, don't you think?

No TCLE credit for Tom Green County sheriff training on jihadi threat
The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement retracted accreditation for a police training in San Angelo focused on the "jihadi threat," preaching to law enforcement that Muslims harbor secret aims to colonize America and impose Sharia law. Good for Kim Vickers, doing his job.

Bad things happening in jail
Grits can find no related press coverage, but a petition on alleges that a woman in the McLennan County Jail on a detention hold was sexually assaulted while being held on an immigration detainer for more than two years. She's a 30-year county resident and local businesswoman with four US-citizen children. I hate these stories. Heart wrenching.

A fired Waco cop who'd choked a handcuffed defendant and claimed he'd acted in self defense is on trial for two misdemeanor counts - assault and official oppression - reported the Tribune-Herald. A police trainer told jurors the officer had been specifically trained not to grab a defendant by the throat in that manner. Further, "Trial testimony showed that while the other officers there that night said they were shocked by Neville’s actions, they did not report it to their supervisors or note the incident in their reports." At least he's off the force.

Needless death thanks to outdated force policy
In Austin, a mentally disturbed 18-year old woman wielding a knife was shot dead by police. As Grits has described before, American cops are too quick to shoot knife wielding suspects. Both the Police Executive Research Forum and best practices from other countries have identified much better ways to handle these situations.

Analyzing unsolved murders
The Washington Post compiled clearance rates for murders over the last decade in the 50 largest US cities. Above 50 percent looks pretty good. Further, unsolved murders tend to be geographically clustered, they found.

Traffic stops are a crappy investigative tool
Frank Baumgartner, who authored a book analyzing racial profiling data from millions of traffic stops in North Carolina, told CityLab interviewer Tanvi Misra that "using the traffic code and the vehicle code as a way to investigate people more broadly has not given very great benefits in terms of crime reduction, but it's had an unintended and unnoticed consequence: It has made people feel like they don't have full citizenship. They walk down the street and they're suspects."

(Mis)Understanding probable cause
This analysis found that the public doesn't understand "probable cause" the same way lawyers and the government do, and the confusion causes community distrust. The authors "discuss the implications of these findings for the perceived fairness of police procedures and its impact on police–community relations."


Anonymous said...

Poor Reyna, he can't even get his grand jurors to indict. How embarrassing...

Kuato said...

Never ceases to amaze me how our Constitution has been re-written from the obvious meaning and intent of the plain language by Judges and Attorneys. This paper by California professors assert:

Existing case law stipulates that probable cause requires less than 50% certainty in a suspect’s involvement in a crime.

DUH ! That is NOT the definition of "probable". Not today and not in 1787 when it was established as the supreme Law of the Land.

Here is the definition from a dictionary published in 1828. Oldest online.

Likely; having more evidence than the contrary, or evidence which inclines the mind to belief, but leaves some room for doubt.

KBCraig said...

Details withheld to protect the incompetent: circa 2000, a federal prison in Texas received a load of scrap from one of the large police departments within the DFW Metro area, to be dismantled and recycled. This included the usual old computers, televisions, fax machines, and other office equipment. Also included were some metal lockers.

One of those lockers turned out to be an evidence locker, and inside it were drugs, knives, ammunition, and at least one gun.

Good thing this was discovered at the minimum-security camp outside the fences.

Buddy said...

TCOLE is getting to be somewhat silly with their rulings lately. I hear a lot about how their determinations are “...the final word on the matter” implying they have some supreme authority that is unchallengeable. When will these state agencies learn about the basic tenets of the US Constitution and basic case law? As far as the story it doesn’t surprise me they’re rescinding training. If the SPLC, a known shady organization holding a treasure trove of donations in offshore accounts, can manipulate them in this manner it says a lot about their motivation.