What To Know Today

The White House touts its crime prevention strategy by highlighting localities that have used stimulus funds. Following the release last month of the administration’s five-point crime prevention strategy, President Joe Biden’s domestic policy adviser, Susan Rice — who is running point on community violence prevention — released a new memo pitching the Biden plan. It focuses on the impact that federal funding is already starting to have for localities as they finance traditional policing and community-led safety approaches amid still-elevated violence. The document was released ahead of a meeting the president and his attorney general hosted with leaders from cities using stimulus money from the American Rescue Plan to enact public safety agendas. Attendees included Eric Adams, who is all but certain to be New York City’s next mayor; the mayors of Washington, D.C., and San Jose, California; and the police chiefs of cities including Chicago, Memphis, and Newark.

An encouraging sign for the country’s still-elevated gun violence rates. Crime analyst Jeff Asher observes that while homicide rates are higher than the years preceding 2020s large increase, year-to-date numbers in recent weeks have slowly declined compared to last year in cities with available data. He writes, “A few weeks ago it [the homicide rate] was +22 percent, last week it was +18 percent, now it’s +16 percent.” You can see his data here. Caveat: These numbers are still new, and it will take more research to fully contextualize and draw conclusions from them.

New evidence that body-worn cameras bolster citizen complaints. Writing for the National Bureau of Economic Research, four scholars assessed the efficacy of the reform in Chicago between 2012 and 2020 and found that police use of body cameras:

  • significantly decreased the chance that investigations into officer misconduct would be dismissed for lack of evidence
  • markedly increased disciplinary actions against officers based on sufficient evidence
  • eliminated the inequity of complaints being tossed out for a lack of evidence, which happened more often for Black complainants that white ones 

“The employment of BWC footage for investigating misconduct allegations and disciplining wrongdoers could help agencies address citizen expectations of impartial and accountable policing and improve confidence in the motivations and performance of police as impartial societal guardians,” the authors write. A mixed track record: In April, the bipartisan Council on Criminal Justice Task Force on Policing said the effectiveness of body-worn cameras — which one major meta-study found lacking — was undermined by a lack of local mandates for their use and called on agencies to penalize police officers who don’t turn them on.

Protester alleges Minneapolis Police left her permanently injured from “less-lethal” projectile. Ana Maria Gelhaye sustained eye damage last May during a demonstration two days after the murder of George Floyd, where she says in a federal lawsuit an officer shot her with a 40-millimeter less-lethal round. Her suit says the police violated her constitutional rights. The action comes months after a Department of Justice civil rights investigation into practices by the Minneapolis Police. There have also been protester lawsuits over less-lethal rounds in places like Austin, Texas

What they’re saying about The Trace. In a column on five trends in journalism that gave him hope, The New York Times’s Ben Smith mentioned us and the reporting of Mike Spies for his investigative work on financial malfeasance and self-dealing by the National Rifle Association’s top executives. “It’s a hard target, and being part of a small start-up newsroom and trying to cover an organization like the NRA is tough,” said Trace editor-in-chief Tali Woodward. “He just kept at it.” Smith’s column also mentions the work of Outlier Media, a Detroit-based, text-message journalism service with whom we’ve previously partnered.

Listen: Our reporter Champe Barton appeared on WUWM radio’s Lake Effect to discuss his recent story “To Shed a Cage” — a profile of two Milwaukee friends, Hamid Abd-Al-Jabbar and David Thompson, struggling to find their way after incarceration. ICMYI: To discuss her new series “Aftershocks,” Lakeidra Chavis joined The 21st on WILL public radio in Illinois to talk about survivors of gun violence and the ripple effects they experience in the aftermath of a shooting.

Data Point

$1.55 billion — the FY2022 target budget for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, an increase of $70.6 million over the previous year. In the funding bill making its way through the House, appropriators are seeking large outlays for a slew of gun violence and public safety initiatives, including $210 million for community violence intervention and youth mentoring grants, and $100 million for states to improve reporting to the FBI’s background check system. [House Appropriations Committee]