Police pursuits in New Zealand

New Zealand Police engaged in 4096 vehicle pursuits in 2018, a 75% increase since 2009. Over that time, the proportion of pursuits abandoned as too risky has doubled, reaching 59% last year, as reported here. Police argue the level of pursuing is justified, noting “fleeing drivers are more likely to be active or serious and persistent criminals. Four out of five have a history of family harm and a high proportion have serious convictions, gang connections or have fled Police before.” Analysis suggests improvements in training and communications center technology, along with research into the behavior and decision making of drivers who flee, as reported here.

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Growing danger from right-wing violence

The mosque massacre in New Zealand has focused attention on right-wing and white-nationalist violence, as reported here. Last year in the U.S., 49 of 50 extremist-related killings were tied to far-right perpetrators, and the EU saw a doubling in 2017 of arrests for right-wing extremist offenses. Hate crimes in U.S. cities have increased in each of the last 5 years. One expert observes “white nationalism has emerged into a coalesced and growing socio-political force, with tentacles that extend into the mainstream. That’s something many other extremist movements do not have.”

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Cops & seat belts

In South Africa, more police die in car crashes than are murdered, as reported here. For the period 2012-2015, on-duty police crash deaths exceeded assault fatalities by 117 to 93, while the off-duty gap was even greater at 71% (313 to 183). According to one observer, “I was a reservist for seven years or so and I spent many months following police for research, and only once in my life did I see a policeman use a safety belt.” SAPS says using seat belts is “imperative” but stops short of making it mandatory.

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“Good catch” in New Zealand

This article provides information on the apprehension of the Christchurch, New Zealand mosque attacker. Two officers from an outlying area, who happened to be in the city for a training session, went operational, spotted the fleeing vehicle, made the decision to ram it, and took the shooter into custody. The officers have not been identified by name, but have been praised by the police commissioner and others. Their sergeant commented, “I was surprised how calm and collected they were.”

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Catching up in South Africa

Some 69,000 promotions and grade progressions have been backlogged in the South African Police Service since 2011. This year nearly half have been caught up, ahead of schedule in a 3-year plan, as reported here. In addition, 5000 entry-level SAPS trainees have been enlisted from over 500,000 applicants. The police minister asks for patience and has promised “Police management will embark on a process of a vigorous internal communication to take all members on board in understanding the promotion process and the phases thereof.”

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Effectiveness of stop & search

Over-reliance on stop & frisk in some U.S. cities has been criticized in recent years, while “stop & search” is currently hotly debated in the U.K. as a response to increased violence, especially knife crime. This new paper summarizes existing evidence on whether these practices reduce crime and adds analysis of police and crime data from London. The evidence indicates a marginal effect when stop & search is applied in conjunction with targeted “hot spots” interventions, but little if any impact when it is implemented more widely. Also noted is huge variation in usage of the practice between otherwise comparable forces, suggesting that politics and police culture are driving strategy more than scientific evidence.

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Philippine police to invest in data, technology

Philippines has approved a 6-year, $625 million digital transformation plan for police that “will support all its units nationwide when it comes to building evidence-based, data-driven law enforcement tactics and strategies,” as reported here. The initiative, which aims to prioritize police intelligence, is titled SMART policing, an acronym for “S-ecured, M-obile, A-rtificial Intelligence-Driven, R-eal Time, T-echnology.”

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