Technology and the tenets of American law do not always seamlessly intermesh. As several former and upcoming court cases show, the intersection between the two leads to inconsistent judicial interpretations and opinions. Getting the forces in lockstep will require patience, practice, and precedent. Considering that several emerging technologies currently operate in a gray area of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, the need to align the two is growing.
The structures we spend our lives in are protected by carefully designed fire codes and improved alarm systems, but the materials comprising them (and the contents therein) are thinner and quicker to burn than ever. Alongside structural damage and the immediate injury concerns it causes, the toxic smoke these smoldering materials emit can cause long-term illness, the chances of which increase with every second a victim or first responder is exposed. For firefighters, this makes tracking exposure to toxic materials a way of life, whether presumptive illness laws are in place to protect them or not.
Like body cameras, civilian review and oversight organizations have been viewed as a quick fix in the ongoing battle to improve relations between police and the public. The reality, however, leaves several unanswered questions, and little in the way of hard data to back up the practice’s effectiveness.
In some areas of policing, the line between a training program and its outcome is as clear as it is reproducible. This cause-effect that is easily measured can make it easier for departmental decision-makers to choose the training their officers receive, and it gives those developing and presenting courses a top-of-the-list selling point. Other outcomes are more difficult to measure through the lens of training. Such is the case with police-community relations.
Failure to manage training records correctly cannot only upend a department's ability to defend itself from criminal and civil claims, but can subject it to claims of spoliation. As the definition and consequences of spoliation continue to broaden, departments must ensure that their records management policies and systems are capable of providing them with the necessary layer of legal defensibility.
As public support and grant funding continue to drive body cam adoption across the nation, departments must recognize both the challenges and limitations of implementing this technology. By investing time in policies at the outset, however, departments can effectively use body cams to manage their interactions and communications with the public.
The national opioid epidemic is a public health crisis that inflicts unprecedented damage. Few see the communitywide impact of a drug epidemic like the people who play a key role in most of the criminal, civil, and health events connected to it. This unique relationship with the epidemic naturally carries a number of responsibilities.
With information easier to share than ever before – whether through e-mail, text messaging, social media, or otherwise – recent cheating incidents involving public safety professionals serve as a grim reminder that high stakes testing procedures have not kept pace with advances in technology.
Police have long struggled with effective ways to tailor standard training, skills, and protocol to mental health situations. And though no one individual solution for such a varied problem exists, specialized training—applied, at times, with alterations to department culture—is one way to ensure public safety officers are more prepared to respond to incidents in which mental health plays a role.
Common sense, empathy, and knowing when to use force are keys to understanding the art of Verbal Judo. Explore key issues in this overview of Verbal Judo methodology and how it is used as a tool for de-escalation and a measurement when use of force becomes a necessary course of action.