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The police shooting of a 13-year-old autistic boy adds to cries for reform. On Friday, a mother in Salt Lake City called 911 hoping that first responders would help hospitalize her young son who has Asperger’s syndrome was undergoing a “mental crisis.” A responding officer shot the boy as he ran away, leaving him seriously injured. “He’s a small child. Why didn’t you just tackle him?” she tearfully told a local news station. “Police were called because help was needed but instead more harm was done,” said a local autism nonprofit. One city’s promising alternative: Denver’s Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) pilot program sends unarmed, two-person teams of paramedics and mental health clinicians to handle some nonviolent 911 calls. Program organizers told The Denver Post that none of the 350 calls that STAR has handled since launching have required armed police backup. The city’s police chief hailed the program as the “future of law enforcement” and said it could free up officers to concentrate on violent crime. By the numbers: Recent polling by Arnold Ventures suggests broad bipartisan support for nonpolice responses to emergency calls.
ICYMI: Alarming indictments against two armed agitators. While fresh data puts teeth on experts’ warnings about a rise in paramilitary violence, two cases from last week deserve your attention:
- A pair of Missouri residents were arrested near Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 8 with a cache of weapons that included an AR-15, a shotgun, a homemade silencer, and handguns, the Department of Justice announced. The criminal complaint alleges that the two are members of a group calling itself the 417 Second Amendment Militia and had traveled to Wisconsin to see a speech by President Trump; they reportedly expressed concerns about rioting and calls to defund the police.
- Two “boogaloo” believers were charged with trying to sell silencers to an undercover FBI agent they believed to be a member of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, federal prosecutors alleged in court. The men often carried firearms at protests in Minneapolis over the summer and discussed “committing acts of violence against police officers and other targets.” Prosecutors believe their interest in supporting Hamas stemmed from a shared opposition to the U.S. government.
Black federal prosecutors helped to roll back firearm prosecutions they say fell hard on communities of color. In an internal memo from June that was recently obtained by The Washington Post, 32 members of the U.S Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C. — the nation’s largest — called for wholesale criminal justice reforms, including the revocation of a 2019 anti-gun crackdown that federal prosecutors admitted last month had targeted Black neighborhoods, and not the entire city, as advertised.
Is a hailed Chicago police reform working? Advocates have doubts. After the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald five years ago, the city enacted a policy requiring the release of body cam or dash cam footage of shootings by officers within 60 days. The Chicago Tribune notes that the department has yet to release video of any of the five police shootings that have occurred during the last two months. Since the policy went into force, the CPD has regularly waited the full 60 days before making videos public. “The longer it takes, the more distrust and suspicion a police department is buying itself,” said an expert with the left-leaning Brennan Center.
Since 2015, police officers have shot and killed more than 1,200 people who were listed as having a mental illness. [The Washington Post]