What To Know Today

De-escalation training finds support in a study of Louisville’s police. While coaching officers on de-escalation tactics is one of the more popular ideas for police reform, there has been a dearth of research on its effectiveness at things like reducing officer use of force. Collaborating with the police in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2019, four researchers from the University of Cincinnati tested the effects of de-escalation training developed by the Police Executive Research Forum. Their final study was just published in the journal Criminology and Public Policy. Accounting for other changes in Louisville policing and violence patterns, they found that de-escalation could be linked to a reduction in use of force incidents (-28 percent), officer injuries (-36 percent), and civilian injuries (-26 percent). “To facilitate long-term changes in police behavior, a holistic approach is recommended that supports training tenets with complementary policies, supervisory oversight, managerial support, and community involvement in reform efforts,” the researchers wrote, adding that the study also showed the importance of researchers engaging with police agencies to push for outside oversight and evaluation. 

Police are inclined to support arming teachers. But it depends on training — and school officers are more skeptical. Proposals to arm teachers to defend against school shootings gained steam after the 2018 attack in Parkland, Florida, though there is still scant evidence on the effect of policies. While polls have found overall that Americans are more likely to oppose than support such policies, a new survey attempts to gauge the opinion of police on the matter. In that nationally representative survey, researchers from Texas State University and SUNY Oswego found that 82 percent of law enforcement officers held favorable views toward arming teachers — at least under certain conditions. Support from law enforcement respondents was generally contingent on other factors, the most common of which was the level of training teachers had. Moreover, among police officers, those stationed at schools were less likely to support arming teachers, as were officers in supervisory positions.

“No greater threat to our well-being”: The perils of urban violence and a call for community action. In an op-ed for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Dorothy Johnson-Speight — who founded the violence prevention group Mothers in Charge after her son was fatally shot in 2001 — writes about the urgent need to invest in communities with elevated violence. Crucially, she says that cities must have patience to let these investments work in the long term, rather than offering startup funding without a guarantee of ongoing support. “The instability in our cities that has created violence is generations in the making and will need sustained support to be undone,” she writes. “A single dose of insulin won’t cure a diabetic, and so won’t a single grant to a community organization.”

Three Pennsylvania officers charged in the 2021 shooting death of an 8-year-old girl. The three were charged with manslaughter and reckless endangerment for the shooting at a high school football game in August that left three other people injured in addition to the deceased, Fanta Bility. The officers opened fire in the direction of the football field after two teens got into an altercation and shot at each other. Local prosecutors initially charged the teens with murder for initiating the encounter, but withdrew those charges after the full investigation showed the shots that killed Bility and injured other bystanders came from the officers, according to a statement from the District Attorney’s Office.

Federal investigators say FBI agents shot the Texas synagogue gunman. The exact circumstances of the hostage-taker’s death remained unclear until yesterday evening, when officials said members of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team fatally shot the man right after the last hostages fled to safety after Saturday’s lengthy stand-off. Meanwhile, the gunman, a British national, was reportedly previously known to British security officials and had been placed on a watchlist in 2020, but was eventually deemed not a threat.

Data Point

2,604 — the number of police reports filed over guns stolen from cars in Houston in 2021, according to police data. The total is slightly up from 2020, when police recorded 2,368 stolen gun reports. The uptick echoes a trend seen in other major cities last year. [ABC 13]