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Archive for June 27th, 2020

Five myths about policing

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Alex S. Vitale, professor of Sociology and Coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College and author of The End of Policing, writes in the Washington Post:

In the wake of the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Mo., President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommended such reforms as implicit-bias training and an increase in officer diversity — an approach that is now shaping much of the official response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But the public conversation about valuing or “defunding” the police is rife with erroneous assumptions about the institution. Here are five.

Myth No. 1 – Police spend most of their time fighting crime.

Pop culture portrays police largely as elite detectives, intensely focused on tracking down the worst of the worst: drug kingpins, serial killers, child kidnappers. An analysis published in the journal Criminal Justice and Behavior found that 66 percent of the crimes depicted in three popular TV police dramas were murder or attempted murder. And Attorney General William P. Barr claimed in a speech at a Fraternal Order of Police conference last year that, “We are fighting an unrelenting, never-ending fight against criminal predators in our society.”

But police mostly spend their time on noncriminal matters, including patrol, paperwork, noise complaints, traffic infractions and people in distress. An observational study in Criminal Justice Review shows that patrol officers, who make up most of police forces, spend about one-third of their time on random patrol, one-fifth responding to non-crime calls and about 17 percent responding to crime-related calls — the vast majority of which are misdemeanors. About 13 percent of their workday is devoted to administrative tasks and 9 percent to personal activities (such as eating). The remaining 7 percent of the time, officers are dealing with the public, providing assistance or information, problem solving and attending community meetings. A 2019 Vera Institute of Justice report found that fewer than 5 percent of arrests are related to serious violent crimes.

Myth No. 2 – A diverse police force leads to better policing.

After the 2014 killing of Michael Brown, observers commonly noted that the Ferguson police department was substantially whiter than the population it policed. Both the Justice Department’s 2015 report and local activists called on the city to recruit more officers of color. Similar proposals have surfaced in recent weeks: Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has emphasized hiring “more black and brown officers” and “making sure that the police department actually reflects the community at large.”

Yet numerous studies show that the race of officers has no effect on the quality of policing. Having more diverse police forces does not reduce racial disparities in police killingscitizen complaintsvehicle stops or arrests to maintain order. A 2017 Indiana University study did find some modest improvements related to diversity, but only in a very small number of big-city departments; the rest of the departments in the study showed worse outcomes as diversity increased. While some recent research shows minor advantages to having more diverse police departments, the overall trend remains negative, in part because institutional pressures on black officers require that they not show any deference to black citizens. “It’s a blue thing,” writes Michigan State University criminal justice professor Jennifer Cobbina.

Myth No. 3 – Implicit-bias training can root out racism in policing.

This was one of the central planks of the Obama administration’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing: Racial disparities could be addressed by trainings designed to root out unconscious and unintentional bias. The Justice Department and private foundations have disbursed millions of dollars to local police departments to give this training to their officers. This month, Texas announced that it would require every police officer to receive implicit-bias training.

This training assumes that the problems of race in American policing stem from discretionary decisions by individual officers, driven by unconscious prejudice. But law professor Jonathan Kahn has shown that the research basis for this training is flawed. While implicit bias appears when you group large numbers of people together, it doesn’t show up consistently at the individual level, which is how police officers usually interact with the public. More important, advocates of such training have not proved a connection between the scoring on bias tests and actions in the world. They also lack evidence to support the effectiveness of the training to influence officer behavior.

Such training also fails to address American policing’s explicit racism problem. Officers have been associated with white-supremacist organizations, have made racially offensive postings on social media and have exchanged racist texts and emails; they are also represented by union officials who often defend officers’ racist conduct.

Myth No. 4 – Community policing empowers communities.

Advocates of this approach argue that the community should bring concerns to the police, developing joint strategies for resolving those problems, which gives cities and neighborhoods more control over crime-fighting. According to one of the movement’s founders, Robert Trojanowicz, this arrangement “empowers average citizens.”

Research shows that police give up little power in this process. University of Washington professor Steve Herbert, evaluating community policing in Seattle, found that the police were actively involved in deciding who constituted the “community,” systematically excluding voices critical of law enforcement. Similarly, a 2019 study in Los Angeles showed how officers made their own decisions about who was a legitimate community actor: For example, . . .

Continue reading.

This shows why experts and scholars are needed: without their input, people fall prey to common errors, false assumptions, guesses, and bias.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 June 2020 at 5:28 pm

Posted in Law Enforcement

1 in 200 Men Are Direct Descendants of Genghis Khan

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That Genghis! Here’s the article.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 June 2020 at 1:19 pm

Posted in Science

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Tallow + Steel Dark and the Gillette Heritage

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Tallow + Steel makes excellent shaving soaps and aftershaves. They tend to move on with their fragrances without having a stable core of permanent products, so you go with what you can currently get, knowing that it will be good. Thus one ends up recommending the brand rather than any specific product (which will be around only for a little while). I very much like yesterday’s Grog and also today’s Dark, whose fragrance profile is shown on the label in the photo.

Phoenix Artisan’s Starcraft, made a very nice lather. I have three of their synthetic brushes, and in terms of my own preferences, they rank (high to low) Green Ray, Solar Flare, and Starcraft. They also offered the Rocket, a 26mm (!) brush, which I quickly passed on: just too big for me, though the guy who got it likes it a lot. I’ve not tried the Peregrino, but it looks good to me.

Gillette apparently view Edwin Jagger as their Heritage, since they have an Edwin Jagger clone (if not, indeed, an actual Edwin Jagger head that they have OEMed) on a current version of an old Gillette handle (one that, alas, lacks a knob to provide a secure grip in the ATG pass). The result today is an extremely smooth finish — really an excellent shave.

A splash of Dark aftershave, and the weekend gets underway.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 June 2020 at 9:27 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

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