What To Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: Ryan Busse was a gun industry star. Then he changed his tune. Next week, the onetime firearms executive is publishing a memoir about how the gun industry’s rigidity and movement politics led the country astray. In a new profile, published in partnership with Slate, Ann Givens looks at how the gun rights stalwart slowly began to question his beliefs, eventually turned his back on conservative gun rights, and ended up as a senior adviser to the gun violence prevention group Giffords. “For a certain part of the population, guns are symbols,” Busse said. “I think a lot of people don’t understand that. They are symbols of things that you wish were true, things that once were true, and things you want to be true again.”

Snacks, not badges: Another take on alternative responses to 911 calls. A growing movement to reduce interactions between law enforcement and people in crisis — which have in the past led to fatal police shootings — has cities across the country testing alternative approaches. The Washington Post has a report on Albuquerque’s version, which launched last month and is unique for creating a standalone department with a multimillion-dollar budget. “We can take these calls and give people the assistance they need much faster” than the city’s two more traditional emergency response agencies, said the director of the Albuquerque Department of Community Safety. “And that gives police the space to do other things.” A staff member added, “We don’t have a badge and a gun. We have water and snacks.” In its first month of operations, the department fielded nine calls a day on average, the city said this week.

Armed or violent protesters increase public fears, sympathy for contentious police tactics. In October 2020, in the wake of broad nationwide protests ranging in focus from racial injustice to pandemic restrictions, two criminal justice professors surveyed 1,000 American adults about protests and policing. Their results, published this week in the journal Criminology, show that about two-thirds of people generally oppose officers responding to demonstrations with arrests, tear gas, or rubber bullets, or using riot gear. But violence by protesters, or armed demonstrators, increased respondents’ fears about unchecked protests, and led them to express more support for some harsher police control tactics. The race factor: “Racial resentment is not significantly associated with fear of protesters, but is one of the strongest predictors of support for police control,” co-author Justin Pickett tweeted. “Additionally, the effect of protest goal/type (e.g., BLM) on support for police control depends on racial resentment.”

The overlap between Oath Keepers member lists and New Jersey public servants. An WNYC/Gothamist investigation analyzed the recent leak of alleged private members’ rolls for the far-right militia group and found names that appeared to match those of more than a dozen active police officers in the state. That follows a similar report from last month connecting at least two active NYPD officers to the group. The New Jersey attorney general’s office said it was alarmed by the latest findings and would determine “what reforms are necessary to root out extremism among law enforcement ranks.” Numerous current and former public servants — including EMTs, firefighters, and corrections officers — were also among the more than 500 people in the leak that listed New Jersey as their home state. 

Data Point

$9.5 million — the total Baltimore County has spent on settlement payouts  since August in two cases of civilians fatally shot by police officers. This week, officials said they would pay $6.5 million to the family of Eric Sopp, who was unarmed when he was killed in 2019. [The Washington Post]