Police Corruption News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on police corruption
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You call 911, you generally get the police. It's a one-size-fits-all solution to a broad spectrum of problems from homelessness to mental illness to addiction. Protesters are urging cities to redirect some of their police budget to groups that specialize in treating those kinds of problems. Now we're going to look at one model that's been around for more than 30 years. In Eugene, Ore., a program called CAHOOTS is a collaboration between local police and a community service called the White Bird Clinic. Ben Brubaker is the clinic coordinator, and Ebony Morgan is a crisis worker. "The calls that come in to the police non-emergency number and/or through the 911 system, if they have a strong behavioral health component, if there are calls that do not seem to require law enforcement because they don't involve a legal issue or some kind of extreme threat of violence or risk to the person, the individual or others, then they will route those to our team - comprised of a medic and a crisis worker - that can go out and respond to the call," [said Brubaker]. "I think policing may have a place within this system, but I also think that it's over-utilized as an immediate response because it just comes with a risk," [said Morgan]. "It's a risk that crisis response teams that are unarmed don't come with. In 30 years, we've never had a serious injury or a death that our team was responsible for. Models like this can help people have support in their community and feel safer within their community."
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As images of police officers in riot gear clashing with protesters in response to the death of George Floyd proliferated from across the country, a very different theme emerged from several cities. Instead of lining up in opposition to the protesters, some police officers joined them. "I never thought of anything else, to be honest," Camden County Police Chief Joseph Wysocki told ABC News. For Camden, New Jersey, a city that had long been known for high crime rates, the police demonstrating alongside protesters in an ultimately peaceful event was not just a one-day phenomenon, but the continuation of years of efforts to bridge ties with residents since 2013, when the county police department took over public safety from the city's police agency. "We were basically able to start a new beginning," Dan Keashen, communications director for Camden County, told ABC News. That new beginning included an emphasis on everyday community policing. "It's a community, and we're part of the community. It's not us policing the city; it's us, together," Wysocki said. When officials in Camden learned plans for a demonstration were coming together, the police were able to get involved and join in because of the community ties they had made. Following the protests on Saturday, images of Wysocki walking with demonstrators, holding a banner reading, "standing in solidarity," spread across social media. So, too, did images of police officers in Santa Cruz, California, Norfolk, Virginia, and other cities.
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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is ... directing residents to stay home to avoid a larger outbreak of the coronavirus. Authorities have charged at least two people in recent days with violating bans on public gatherings of more than 10 people – an offense that could result in a year in jail, a $5,000 fine, or both. Hogan says arrest for coronavirus offense sends 'great message.' The governor’s declaration mirrors a struggle across the country to enforce a patchwork of new stay-at-home orders, social-distancing directives and quarantines. Some people have found themselves under arrest for violating coronavirus regulations. In Hawaii, violators of the stay-at-home order face some of the stiffest penalties on the books to date: fines of up to $5,000 and a year in jail. Police in Honolulu have issued dozens of citations and made at least two arrests. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has [called] for visitors from heavily-infected states and cities to self-isolate for 14 days or risk 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. [In Florida] checkpoints have been set up on interstate highways. Violators could be fined up to $500, jailed up to 60 days, or both. Washington State ... residents are invited to complete online forms detailing suspected violations by local businesses operating when they should be closed. The state threatens violators with citations, suspension notices, revoked business licenses – even criminal charges. Some states that order out-of-staters to quarantine themselves for 14 days have drawn complaints from the American Civil Liberties Union for violating travelers' rights.
Note: Meanwhile in Sweden with no lockdown policies, no one is being arrested and the country has not spiraled out of control as predicted. Is it worth saving thousand of lives with these severe policies at the cost of hundreds of millions being plunged into poverty worldwide? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Protesters mobilizing across the country against racism and excessive force by police have been countered by law enforcement officers more heavily armed than ever. Three federal programs have allowed local and state law enforcement to arm itself with military equipment. Since 1997, the Defense Department has transferred excess or unused equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies. Departments have acquired more than $7 billion worth of guns, helicopters, armored vehicles and ammunition under the program. The transfers were limited under the Obama administration but re-expanded under President Donald Trump in 2017. Now Congress is considering reining it in again. But that effort, if successful, is unlikely to touch an even bigger source of advanced weapons accessible to civilian police. Two Department of Homeland Security initiatives established in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks have given state and local law enforcement agencies billions more to buy equipment without the rules and restrictions of the Defense Department program. Because of the Defense Department program, authorized by Section 1033 of the National Defense Authorization Act, more than 6,500 law enforcement agencies across the country currently possess more than $1.8 billion worth of equipment. Since 2003, states and metro areas have received $24.3 billion from two DHS grant programs, which have little oversight: The State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) and the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI).
Note: Read also this wired.com article revealing how the 1033 program has shipped over $7.4 billion of Defense Department property to more than 8,000 law enforcement agencies and this NPR article detailing the military weaponry gifted to police around the US. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption from reliable major media sources.
Recent reports about the Secret Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement playing fast and loose with rules regarding cellphone tracking and the FBI purchasing phone location data from commercial sources constitute an important wake-up call. They remind us that those handy mobile devices many people tote around are the most cost-effective surveillance system ever invented. "The United States Secret Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI) did not always adhere to Federal statute and cellsite simulator (CSS) policies when using CSS during criminal investigations," the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General reported last month. "Separately, ICE HSI did not adhere to Department privacy policies and the applicable Federal privacy statute when using CSS." The OIG report referred to the use of what is commonly called "stingray" technology–devices that simulate cellphone towers and trick phones within range into connecting and revealing their location. "They also gather information about the phones of countless bystanders who happen to be nearby," the ACLU warns. Even the most precise phone company location data remains available with court approval. The courts are currently mulling multiple cases involving "geofence warrants" whereby law enforcement seeks data not on individuals, but on whoever was carrying a device in a designated area at a specified time.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.
The Social Media Exploitation, or SOMEX, team ... had been set up to help the FBI find informants and intelligence using information gleaned from social sites. The Intercept and Chicago-based transparency groups obtained more than 800 pages of emails and other documents about the team through public records requests. These show that the team's officers were given broad leeway to investigate people across platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, using fake social media accounts furnished by the FBI, in violation of some platforms' policies. The week that followed George Floyd's murder by a white police officer was an intense moment in Chicago's – and U.S. – history. Thousands of people took to the city's streets to peacefully demonstrate against police violence. Despite ample warning, the Office of Inspector General report found, Chicago's police were unprepared. When they did react, their response was chaotic and excessively violent, with officers variously hiding their badge numbers, turning off their body cameras, blasting people with pepper spray at close range ... and telling an arrestee that they would be raped in jail. The SOMEX team's reaction was also troubling. The team's mission was to provide both the FBI and the CPD with useful intelligence. What the SOMEX officers did instead: flag potential damage of police cars, investigate the social media connections of people who had made threats online, and cull videos for the department's YouTube channel.
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In Detroit, Tony Murray was getting ready for bed. He glanced out of his window and saw a half-dozen uniformed police officers with guns drawn. Officers searched Murray's home. One [officer] handed him a copy of the search warrant, which stated they were looking for illegal drugs. Murray noticed something else: The address listed wasn't his. It was his neighbor's. Months after the 2014 raid, Murray, who was not charged with any crimes, sued Detroit police for gross negligence and civil rights violations, naming Officer Lynn Christopher Moore, who filled out the search warrant, and the other five officers who raided his home. The city eventually paid Murray $87,500 to settle his claim, but admitted no error. Between 2010 and 2020, the city settled 10 claims involving Moore's police work, paying more than $665,000 to individuals who alleged the officer used excessive force, made an illegal arrest or wrongfully searched a home. Moore is among the more than 7,600 officers – from Portland, Ore., to Milwaukee to Baltimore – whose alleged misconduct has more than once led to payouts to resolve lawsuits and claims of wrongdoing, according to a Washington Post investigation. The Post collected data on nearly 40,000 payments at 25 of the nation's largest police and sheriff's departments within the past decade, documenting more than $3.2 billion spent to settle claims. More than 1,200 officers in the departments surveyed had been the subject of at least five payments. More than 200 had 10 or more.
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The indictment was damning enough: A former police chief of Biscayne Park and two officers charged with falsely pinning four burglaries on a teenager. But the accusations revealed in federal court last month left out far uglier details of past policing practices in tranquil Biscayne Park, a [suburb] of Miami. Records obtained by the Miami Herald suggest that during the tenure of former chief Raimundo Atesiano, the command staff pressured some officers into targeting random black people to clear cases. “If they have burglaries that are open cases that are not solved yet, if you see anybody black walking through our streets and they have somewhat of a record, arrest them so we can pin them for all the burglaries,” one cop, Anthony De La Torre, said in an internal probe ordered in 2014. “They were basically doing this to have a 100% clearance rate for the city.” In a report from that probe, four officers — a third of the small force — told an outside investigator they were under marching orders to file the bogus charges to improve the department’s crime stats. Only De La Torre specifically mentioned targeting blacks, but former Biscayne Park village manager Heidi Shafran, who ordered the investigation after receiving a string of letters from disgruntled officers, said the message seemed clear for cops on the street. The federal case doesn’t raise allegations of racial profiling, but records show the false charges were filed against a black Haitian-American teen identified only as T.D. in the indictment.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
The Supreme Court on Monday shielded a police officer from being sued for shooting an Arizona woman in her front yard, once again making it harder to bring legal action against officers who use excessive force, even against an innocent person. With two dissents, the high court tossed out a lawsuit by a Tucson woman who was shot four times outside her home because she was seen carrying a large knife. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in dissent the victim did not threaten the police or a friend who was standing nearby. This "decision is not just wrong on the law; it also sends an alarming signal to law enforcement officers and the public," Sotomayor wrote. Since the Civil War, federal law has allowed people to sue government officials, including the police, for violating their constitutional rights. But in recent years, the Supreme Court has erected a shield of immunity for police and said officers may not be sued unless victims can point to a nearly identical shooting that had been deemed unconstitutionally excessive in a previous decision. The justices did not rule on whether officer Andrew Kisela acted reasonably when he used potentially deadly force against Amy Hughes. The court instead ruled [that Kisela] could not be sued because the victim could not cite a similar case. Sotomayor said the majority had revised the facts to favor the officer. "Hughes was nowhere near the officers, had committed no illegal act, was suspected of no crime, and did not raise the knife," she wrote.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in policing and in the court system.
She was driving in a park with two male friends when a pair of plainclothes New York City police detectives drove up in an unmarked van. The officers, from the Brooklyn South precinct ... arrested her, put her in the back of the van in handcuffs and ordered her friends not to follow. According to prosecutors, the detectives proceeded to force the 18-year-old woman to perform oral sex on one of them, who then raped her. The 50-count indictment also alleges that the officers, who are facing charges of rape, kidnapping and official misconduct, threatened her with criminal charges if she didn’t cooperate. This young woman’s experience ... is representative of national patterns of sexual violence by officers during traffic stops and handling of minor offenses, drug arrests and police interactions with teenagers. Research on “police sexual misconduct” ... overwhelmingly concludes that it is a systemic problem. A 2015 investigation ... concluded that an officer is accused of an act of sexual misconduct at least every five days. The vast majority of incidents ... involve motorists, young people in job-shadowing programs, students, victims of violence and informants. In more than 60 percent of the cases reviewed, an officer was convicted of a crime or faced other consequences. [Another] study, funded by the National Institute of Justice ... found that half of arrests for sexual misconduct were for incidents involving minors. Sexual misconduct is the second-most-frequently reported form of police misconduct, after excessive force.
Note: A yearlong Associated Press investigation found that the "broken system which lets problem officers jump from job to job" fosters and abets sexual abuse. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing police corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Reform in policing is being blocked by members of the Freemasons, and their influence in the service is thwarting the progress of women and people from black and minority ethnic communities, the leader of rank-and-file officers has said. Steve White, who steps down on Monday after three years as chair of the Police Federation, told the Guardian he was concerned about the continued influence of Freemasons. White took charge with the government threatening to take over the federation if it did not reform after a string of scandals and controversies. One previous Metropolitan police commissioner, the late Sir Kenneth Newman, opposed the presence of Masons in the police. White would not name names, but did not deny that some key figures in local Police Federation branches were Masons. Masons in the police have been accused of covering up for fellow members and favouring them for promotion over more talented, non-Mason officers. White said: “Some female representatives were concerned about Freemason influence in the Fed. The culture is something that can either discourage or encourage people from the ethnic minorities or women from being part of an organisation.” The federation has passed new rules on how it runs itself, aimed at ending the fact that its key senior officials are all white, and predominantly male.
Note: In response to these accusations, the Freemasons placed a series of full page ads defending themselves in several of the UK's top newspapers, as reported in this BBC News article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and secret societies.
Body camera video produced Wednesday appears to show a Baltimore police officer plant drugs in late January, an act that later resulted in a criminal arrest. The 90-second Baltimore police body camera video, which was made public by the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, belongs to Officer Richard Pinheiro, who appears to hide and later "find" drugs among trash strewn on a plot next to a Baltimore residence. Two other officers appear to be with the Pinheiro as he hides the drugs. "This is a serious allegation of police misconduct," Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said. "There is nothing that deteriorates the trust of any community more than thinking for one second that police officers ... would plant evidence of crimes on citizens." One of the officers has been suspended, and two others have been placed on "nonpublic contact" administrative duty, Davis told reporters. Pinheiro is a witness in about 53 active cases, and he was even called to testify in a case earlier this week, the Public Defender's Office said. The new video has led to that case's dismissal after an assistant public defender forwarded it to the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office. Debbie Katz Levi, head of the Baltimore Public Defender's Special Litigation Section, said that Baltimore police have long had a problem with officer misconduct but that the city does not hold individuals accountable. "We have long supported the use of police body cameras to help identify police misconduct, but such footage is meaningless if prosecutors continue to rely on these officers, especially if they do so without disclosing their bad acts," Levi said.
Note: And how many thousands of times over the years has this been done and not recorded on video? Watch this video at the NBC link above. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing police corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
British journalist Julia Breen's scoop about racism at her local police force didn't just get her on the front page, it got her put under surveillance. Investigators logged her calls, those of her colleague Graeme Hetherington and even their modest-sized newspaper's busy switchboard in an effort to unmask their sources. The [Northern Echo newspaper] has often provided painful reading for Cleveland Police, a department responsible for a Chicago-sized patch of England's industrial northeast. The small force has weathered a series of scandals. A minority officer, Sultan Alam, was awarded 800,000 pounds ... after allegedly being framed by colleagues in retaliation for a discrimination lawsuit. The judgment made national headlines. Cleveland Police issued a statement insisting the force wasn't racist. The next day, an anonymous caller told Breen an internal police report suggested otherwise. The following morning her byline was across the front page beneath the words: "Institutional racism uncovered within Cleveland Police." Breen ... eventually forgot the episode. Cleveland Police didn't. The force secretly began logging calls to and from Breen, Hetherington and a third journalist from another newspaper. It was later calculated that the surveillance covered over 1 million minutes of calling time. The Echo isn't unique. Britain's wiretapping watchdog ... revealed in 2015 that 82 journalists' communications records had been seized as part of leak investigations across the country over a three-year period.
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The 30 largest U.S. cities saw a double-digit increase in their murder rate in 2016, according to a new year-end report, even as crime nationwide remains near all-time lows. Chicago again accounts for almost half of the total murder increase nationwide. New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice projects that the 2016 murder rate for the largest U.S. cities is up 14% from 2015 while the violent crime rate rose by 3.3%. The overall crime rate, however, increased by just 0.3%, thanks in large part to historically low levels of property crime. Two cities are largely driving the spike in violent crime: Chicago and Charlotte. Violent crime in Chicago is up 17.7% ... this year, and the city accounts for almost 44% of the total increase in murders. Charlotte has experienced a number of drug-related murders as well as homicides related to domestic violence and is projected to see a 13.4% increase in violent crime this year. While the murder rate has increased, overall crime across the U.S. is near all-time lows. Of the 30 cities studied, just eight showed an increase in their crime rates from 2015.
Note: The media has given lots of attention to Chicago's major increase in murders in 2016, yet virtually no attention to the fact, as reported in this Wall Street Journal article, that the rate of major crimes in New York City dropped to the lowest levels yet recorded. Read more on the dramatic drop in violent crime rates over the past two decades in this informative essay.
The problem of racial bias among police [has] been a concern of the FBI for at least a decade. 10 years ago ... the FBI warned of the potential consequences - including bias - of white supremacist groups infiltrating local and state law enforcement, indicating it was a significant threat to national security. In the 2006 bulletin, the FBI detailed the threat of white nationalists and skinheads infiltrating police in order to disrupt investigations against fellow members and recruit other supremacists. The bulletin was released during a period of scandal for many law enforcement agencies throughout the country, including a neo-Nazi gang formed by members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Similar investigations revealed officers and entire agencies with hate group ties in Illinois, Ohio and Texas. Much of the bulletin has been redacted, but in it, the FBI ... warned of “ghost skins,” hate group members who don’t overtly display their beliefs. “At least one white supremacist group has reportedly encouraged ghost skins to seek positions in law enforcement for the capability of alerting skinhead crews of pending investigative action against them,” the report read. Neither the FBI nor state and local law enforcement agencies have established systems for vetting personnel for potential supremacist links. That task is left primarily to everyday citizens and nonprofit organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of few that tracks the growing number of hate groups in America.
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I was 29 and mowing the lawn at my mother’s house in Birmingham, Alabama, on a hot day in July 1985 when I looked up and saw two police officers. I asked the detective 50 times why I was being arrested. Eventually, he told me I was being arrested for a robbery. I told him, “You have the wrong man.” He said, “I don’t care whether you did it or not. You will be convicted.” At the station, it became clear I’d been at work when the robbery occurred. The detective verified this with my supervisor, but then told me they were going to charge me with two counts of first-degree murder from two other robberies. When I met my appointed lawyer, I told him I was innocent. He said, “All of y’all always say you didn’t do something.” I might have seen him three times in the two years I waited for trial. The only evidence linking me to the crime was the testimony of a ballistics expert who said the bullets from the murder weapon could be a match to my mother’s gun. They found me guilty. [In] 1986 I went to death row. Eventually, [in] 2015, the State of Alabama dropped all charges. I was released that same day. When you’ve been locked up for nearly 30 years, nothing is the same. It was like walking out on to another planet at the age of 58. Every night, I go outside and look up at the stars and moon, because for years I could not see either. Now, I am determined to go wherever I am asked to help end the death penalty. I am so thankful that I get to travel with Lifelines and [the Equal Justice Initiative], and share my story.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in police departments and in the judicial system.
Between 2005 and 2015, 6,913 people died while in legal custody in Texas. Many died of natural causes while serving long prison sentences. Others ended their own lives. A few died at the hands of another inmate, or, in some cases, police or correctional officers. Together, these deaths form revealing patterns about Texas-style justice and the state of corrections in an increasingly carceral country. This information used to be hard to access, but it’s now readily available in an online database called the Texas Justice Initiative. The final product was culled from thousands of internal reports and includes names, time and place of death, cause of death, time in custody, and a description of the circumstances. “These deaths occurred in local jail cells, in the backs of police cars, and on prison sidewalks,” [project creator Amanda] Woog wrote in the summary report of her findings. Among the “suicide” listings is one for Sandra Bland, who died in police custody after a traffic stop. Like Bland, more than 1,900 of those who died, or 28 percent, had not been convicted of or even charged with a crime. Pre-booking deaths reported by law enforcement have been on the rise since 2005. The data gathered on Texas reflects a markedly high number of deaths in custody compared to national trends.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in police departments and in the prison system.
Police officers arrest more than 1.2 million people a year in the United States on charges of illegal drug possession. Field tests ... help them move quickly from suspicion to conviction. But the kits - which cost about $2 each and have changed little since 1973 - are far from reliable. Some tests ... use a single tube of a chemical called cobalt thiocyanate, which turns blue when it is exposed to cocaine. But cobalt thiocyanate also turns blue when it is exposed to more than 80 other compounds, including methadone, certain acne medications and several common household cleaners. Other tests use three tubes, which the officer can break in a specific order to rule out everything but the drug in question - but if the officer breaks the tubes in the wrong order, that, too, can invalidate the results. There are no established error rates for the field tests, in part because their accuracy varies so widely depending on who is using them and how. In Las Vegas, authorities re-examined a sampling of cocaine field tests conducted between 2010 and 2013 and found that 33 percent of them were false positives. By 1978, the Department of Justice had determined that field tests “should not be used for evidential purposes,” and the field tests in use today remain inadmissible at trial in nearly every jurisdiction. But this has proved to be a meaningless prohibition. Most drug cases in the United States are decided well before they reach trial, by the far more informal process of plea bargaining.
Note: Drug test field kits sometimes produce wildly inaccurate results. And recently the FBI was found to have faked an entire branch of forensic science. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing judicial corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
There are more than 20 states in the U.S. where growing small amounts of marijuana is legal. North Carolina isn’t one of them. Those caught cultivating cannabis in the Tar Heel State are usually slapped with a felony, prison time, and anywhere from a $200 to $200,000 fine. Unless, apparently, that person is a police officer. Take the case of Thomas Daniel Gaskins. Police arrested the 33-year-old on June 13 in connection to 11 marijuana plants found in a forest. At the time of his arrest, Gaskins ... worked as a police officer. Local news confirmed the arrest and initially reported that he had been charged both with “manufacturing” and possession of marijuana. But later reports began reflecting that he had only been charged with possession, a misdemeanor. His story is a perfect representation of the war on drugs’ biggest problem - racial bias. Minorities are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for pot than whites. While 11 marijuana plants may not seem like a large offense, it dwarfs many marijuana crimes that minorities are serving life sentences for today. Take the case of Fate Vincent Winslow, who was sentenced to life in prison ... for selling $20 worth of weed to an undercover officer. Winslow was accompanied by a white man in the sale, who - despite receiving $15 of the $20 - was never even arrested. That’s not to say that white men haven’t fallen victim to the drug war, just that they’re far less likely to serve the kind of hard time that minorities are often slapped with.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in police departments and in the court system.
There are no good national numbers on police conduct. Even the government's most basic statistic - the number of people killed by police - [is] way off. The White House says it wants to change that with the Police Data Initiative ... whose final report called for greater data transparency as a means to build trust between police and communities. The Police Data Initiative encourages departments to anticipate the kind of numbers their communities want to see, and provide them, preferably in database format. As an example, the White House cites the online data portal on police shootings set up by the Dallas Police Department. But there's a caveat, here: This is all voluntary. The White House says 53 jurisdictions so far have pledged to share this kind of data. But an additional 17,000 or so law enforcement agencies have not yet signed on, and they account for about 85 percent of the country's population. Openness to providing data seems to be most prevalent in police departments that are already in cooperative relationships with the federal government. Many of them receive federal grants, observes David L. Carter, a professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University. "In many cases, progressive police executives feel it's 'the right thing to do,' and will volunteer," says Carter in an email. But he thinks others may take a pass. The result? There may be good stats on places like LA and Dallas, while thousands of smaller communities ... will continue to be white spaces on the statistical map.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and civil liberties.
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