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Criminology assignment

You are a consultant hired by the Chief of Police of a midsize city in Midtown, California.  The police department is situated in the heart of the city that includes commercial businesses, theaters, shopping, and residents.  The department currently consist of 45 sworn members and 20 non-sworn employees (total 65 FTE) which are responsible for 24/7 coverage of patrol and investigation.  The department’s size five years ago was at 80 sworn members and 35 non-sworn (total 115 FTE) and it was already below the mandated 85 sworn officers required for the city.  Crime in the city has been up in all areas, especially in the area of property crimes and robberies by 25%.  The community complains of lack of service, empathy, discrimination, influx of gangs and homelessness as the main concerns.

You research the local newspaper and there are articles about the department’s lack of visibility, diversity and involvement.  In addition to the rise in crime, you learn that the City Council has not improved the police budget in the last 6 years and the relationship between the Mayor and Chief is icy.

The main make-up of the town consists of low socio-economic residents and low-income homes, with mostly blue-collar workers.  There is a mix of nationalities and ethnicities with the primary being Vietnamese, Latinos, African American, and East Indians.  The downtown area consists of large amounts of visitors from all walks of life visiting it for shopping, theater and work.

The Chief tells you that he has two commanders: Jackson, who is a seasoned white male, in his late 50’s, with 25 years in the department who is stuck in his ways; and Smith who is a younger white male in his mid-40’s, who was hired from the outside and has been with the department two years with 16 years of LE experience.  Jackson is in charge of investigations and administration, and Smith of patrol duties.  The department’s make-up consists of 2 Latin males, five Asian males, one Latin female, and the rest are white males with five white females.  The ages of the officers range from 25-60, with the average age in their early 50’s.

You also learn that the investigations bureau complains that patrol is not providing enough information in their reports to conduct proper investigations and that they are lazy.  On the other hand, the patrol division complains about the investigations bureau as being lazy and not following up on their reported cases.

You find that the media is constantly writing criticizing stories about the department, especially regarding a recent controversial officer-involved shooting (OIS) of a young Vietnamese man who was shot at a popular busy restaurant downtown by two white officers.  The subject man was acting erratic and grabbed a large cleaver knife from the open kitchen after striking a cook in the face with a hot pan and refusing to drop the knife after officers arrived.  The incident occurred quickly and the officers arrived within minutes from the 911 call.  The officers shot the subject 17 times.  One young officer emptied his semi-automatic weapon which contained 12 rounds and the other more seasoned officer fired 5 rounds.  A witness account attributes the lives at the restaurant as being saved by the police due to their quick response.  The media has portrayed the subject as a nice man with no criminal record who is a graduate student of UC Berkeley with a master’s degree in chemical engineering.  The subject’s partner who is an aid to the mayor publicly criticizes the police for reacting too quickly in firing their guns.  He also wrote a scaling editorial piece against the Police Dept. on the Sunday paper.  LE has learned that the subject was known to be depressed and was placed various times (as recently as of 3 months ago) in a mental ward on three-day holds (known in LE as a 5150 hold) to be mentally evaluated; however, you are told that this information is confidential.  The investigation of the OIS is ongoing and in its early stages.

You examine the condition of the entire police department and notice that it appears run down, unorganized and chaotic.  Equipment seems old and you notice broken equipment lying throughout desks and rooms. You ask younger officers where they file their reports and they don’t know; they comment, “it just gets done.”  You ask the investigations bureau how they receive patrol reports and they are not sure either.  You also learn that there is a large absenteeism in the department reducing its staffing levels below 50% on any given day.  You interview various officers and investigators about what is expected of them, and they all say “to arrest bad people.”  You ask them what are the duties and responsibilities of others and they are not sure.  You also meet with the union president who provides you with a backlog of use of force decisions not done by the Chief.  The union president tells you that he barely speaks with the Chief and that labor negotiations are forthcoming.  He also tells you that the department does not fairly distribute punishment across the board.

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