Bushwick, Brooklyn 2015

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Bushwick, Brooklyn has changed over the years:

Charlie Hebdo Simulation

Friday, January 16th, 2015

What happens when you run an office-shooting simulation, with two tactical trainers, armed with ARs, as the shooters, and random volunteers as the victims? Watch the (NSFW) video:

In a previous simulation of a school shooting, they found that an armed defender was almost always able to either kill the attacker or to prevent them from entering the classroom and killing more students.

In this case, not so much. Two trained attackers, operating as a team, are more than a match for one untrained defender with a handgun — most of the time:

In one of the early scenarios, a relatively new shooter decided that instead of trying to confront the armed terrorists she would use her gun to cover her retreat and give her co-workers time to escape. This plan worked perfectly, and she was able to escape from the room while returning fire towards the attackers, allowing nearly everyone in the room to escape before she too turned tail and ran.

In the face of overwhelming numbers and firepower, it appears that this tactic using the firearm as a means to give everyone else time to escape is extremely effective. There was only one person who used this tactic, but they used it to great effect.

Protester Running through Police Simulation

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Reverend Jarett Maupin, who led protests against a police shooting of an unarmed man in Phoenix, was invited to participate in a use of force simulation. This is the video from a GoPro camera attached to Maupin’s vest.

The Effect of Police Body-Worn Cameras

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Researchers studied the effect of police body-worn cameras on use of force and citizens’ complaints against the police and the results were stark:

We found that the likelihood of force being used in control conditions [no camera] were roughly twice those in experimental conditions [with a body-worn camera]. Similarly, a pre/post analysis of use-of-force and complaints data also support this result: the number of complaints filed against officers dropped from 0.7 complaints per 1,000 contacts to 0.07 per 1,000 contacts.

An order-of-magnitude drop in complaints sounds good.

Commenter Nicholas Marsh shared two explanations for the drop in complaints:

The first is that the camera wearing police are deterred from abusing their authority. The second is that members of the public are less likely to make false complaints.

If the public believe the former and police the latter there might be wide support for cameras.


Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Chris Hernandez answers some questions about Ferguson and how police handled the shooting:

[Why would Wilson be allowed to wait a week before making a statement?]

My guess, and it’s just a guess, is that Wilson did what most cops do after a shooting: he gave a brief statement to investigators summing up the reason he fired, then gave a full statement after conferring with his attorney. The way I’ve seen it done, the officer says “I fired because he was pointing a gun at me, now I’ll wait for the union lawyer before I make a full statement.” That’s what police union attorneys suggest we do, and that’s what a lot of lawyers who take self-defense cases advise private citizens to do after a shooting. I don’t think Wilson had access to all the statements from witnesses, alleged witnesses and forensic evidence; after only a week, the evidence wouldn’t have been analyzed and witnesses were still coming forward. On its face, the claim “he waited a week to make a statement” sounds bad, but in reality it’s what all people involved in self-defense shootings are told to do: give only the bare facts, then wait until you confer with your lawyer.

[This case was not handled differently because Wilson was a cop?]

There are a couple of important facets to that question. First, you’re right that police shootings are handled differently, because police are a “known quantity”. When the officers arrived on the Wilson shooting scene they knew Wilson’s level of training and experience, knew he was responding to a reported crime, and knew he had identified two suspects and called for backup. So going into it, they wouldn’t have reason to suspect it was a random execution.

Second, an accusation screamed by a crowd is NOT considered credible by itself. Mobs get whipped into a frenzy pretty easily, and people start repeating what they’ve heard others say.

Hernandez gives two examples of mobs behaving badly:

My friend arrived on a rollover accident. A local young man had been ejected and killed. Officers blocked the road and started working the scene. Word spread, and the man’s friends and family started arriving. After the officers had been on the scene several minutes, someone in the crowd started yelling, “He didn’t die in a wreck! The cops killed him!”

The accusation started being repeated through the crowd. Officers had to hold a perimeter to keep people from trying to get the body before it was loaded into a hearse (this was a small town where bodies went straight to a funeral home). When the hearse was loaded and started driving away, people in the crowd ran to their cars and drove after it. Several police cars had to escort the hearse to the funeral home and then block the doors to keep people from forcing their way inside. The spontaneous outburst started with one person screaming a false accusation, which then spread. The fact that numerous people were repeating it did not make it credible.

My experience: I was at a murder scene at a huge club. When we arrived there were over a thousand people in the parking lot, and it was a near-riot. A man had been killed in the parking lot and was still there. We cleared the area around him, called for EMS and checked him for vital signs. He was DOA. A large and aggressive crowd surrounded us and tried to break through to the body. People started yelling “Why haven’t you called an ambulance?” and “They aren’t calling an ambulance because he’s black!” In the meantime, an ambulance had arrived but couldn’t get through the crowd. This was one of the most frustrating, ridiculous experiences of my career: being screamed at by enraged people for refusing to call an ambulance, and no matter how loud I screamed back, “Turn around, the ambulance is behind you!”, I couldn’t even get them to turn and look. As far as they were concerned we didn’t care enough about a dead black man to even call an ambulance, and weren’t interested in hearing or even seeing anything to the contrary. Their loud and repeated accusations weren’t credible.

Tyranny of the Minority

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

Theodore Dalrymple discusses the potential tyranny of the minority in France:

The shots in the Paris street that were seen and heard around the world killed Ahmed Merabet, a Muslim policeman going to the defense of Charlie Hebdo: a reminder that by no means all Muslims in France, far from it, are France-hating, Allahu-akbar-shouting fanatics, and that many are well-integrated. I go to a Muslim boulanger in Paris whose French bread and pastries are as good as any in the vicinity; and, if anything, I have a prejudice in favor of patronizing his shop precisely to encourage and reward his successful integration. And he is only one of many cases that I know.

Unfortunately, this is not as reassuring as it sounds, because a handful of fanatics can easily have a much more significant social effect than a large number of peaceful citizens. There is more to fear in one terrorist than to celebrate in 99 well-integrated immigrants. And if only 1 percent of French Muslims were inclined to terrorism, this would still be more than 50,000 people, more than enough to create havoc in a society. The jihadists now have a large pool from which to draw, and there are good reasons to think that more than 1 percent of young Muslims in France are distinctly anti-French. The number of young French jihadists fighting in Syria is estimated to be 1,200, equal to 1 percent in numbers of the French army, and probably not many fewer than the number of Algerian guerrillas fighting during much of the Algerian War of Independence.

Air France Flight 8969 GIGN Raid

Friday, January 9th, 2015

If you’re suddenly interested in France’s elite GIGN force, this video of their raid in response to the 1994 Air France Flight 8969 hijacking should more than meet your approval:

Never Allowed out of the Hood

Friday, January 9th, 2015

A promising “Black Ivy” football star got shot in a home-invasion robbery — he and his friends were doing the invading — and the Z man blames racial solidarity:

The explanation for this that jumps out to me is the extreme racial solidarity in black America. In white America, keeping the good kids away from the bad kids is the focus of everyone. Even back in the paleolithic when I was coming along adults had no trouble culling the defects from the herd. Somewhere around puberty, the stupid and uncontrollable ended up in “special” classes, away from the rest of us. That is not permitted in black culture.

The result is Terrance gets to hang with Jakobi as an equal, but they are not equals. Jakobi, I’m guessing, is high status in the hood. His ghetto name is what I’m going on here. In the white world, Dakota is not allowed anywhere near Dwayne and that was the case from about the fifth grade. By the time Dakota is at college, Dwayne is long gone. In black America. Terrence is never allowed out of the hood. He has to “keeps it real.” Otherwise, he runs the risk of being a “Tom” or acting white.

Until blacks drop the racial solidarity, this story will be a common one.

(Hat tip to our Slovenian Guest.)

The End of Gangs

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Los Angeles gave America the modern street gang — yeah, thanks, LA! — but now it’s witnessing the end of gangs:

In 2014, the Los Angeles Police Department announced that gang crime had dropped by nearly half since 2008. In 2012, L.A. had fewer total homicides (299) citywide than it had gang homicides alone in 2002 (350) and in 1992 (430). For the most part, Latino gang members no longer attack blacks in ways reminiscent of the Jim Crow South. Nor are gangs carjacking, assaulting, robbing, or in a dozen other ways blighting their own neighborhoods. Between 2003 and 2013, gang-related robberies in the city fell from 3,274 to 1,021; gang assaults from 3,063 to 1,611; and carjackings, a classic L.A. gang crime born during the heyday of crack, from 211 to 33.

New York City police commissioner Bill Bratton became chief of the LAPD, and he brought along CompStat and the “broken window” emphasis on addressing even small problems, because they tend to beget bigger ones.

The LAPD also began to use the gang injunctions, essentially bans on gang members hanging out together in public, and RICO prosecutions against gang leaders and their foot soldiers:

To my eye, the effects of most RICO prosecutions against Southern California gangs have been dramatic, as if a series of anthills had been not just disturbed but dug up whole. Hawaiian Gardens has seen a 50 percent in drop in violent crime since the prosecutions of 2009. The neighborhoods that spawned Azusa 13 and Florencia 13 seem completely changed. I’ve seen similar post-RICO transformations across Southern California.

Gentrification has also done its part:

This has created the only-in-L.A. phenomenon of commuter gangs: guys who drive a long way to be with their homies at the corner where the gang began. (In the 204th Street neighborhood in the Harbor Gateway, I met gang members who drove in from Carson, the San Gabriel Valley, and even Palm Springs.)

Meanwhile, Latino home-buyers have been replacing black populations in Inglewood, Compton, and South Central Los Angeles. Like many other migrant groups, blacks have moved out, to the Inland Empire, 50 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, or to Las Vegas, or to the South. Compton, the birthplace of gangster rap, was once 73 percent black and is now nearly 70 percent Latino. This has often meant that Latino gangs replaced black gangs, and, while that might seem like nothing more than one violent group displacing another, the central role of the Mexican Mafia has often made these newer gangs easier to prosecute.

104 Yards, Strong Hand Only

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

A few weeks ago an active shooter shot up downtown Austin, but that’s not the interesting part, Chris Hernandez explains:

Sergeant Johnson shot him from 104 yards away, with one shot from a pistol, firing one handed, while holding the reins of two horses.

A few comments I’ve read online suggested the 104-yard pistol shot was an Austin PD conspiracy, because such a shot is impossible. I’ve also heard people say Johnson must be lying or exaggerating. You just can’t shoot someone with one shot, one handed with a pistol from over a hundred yards away.

My own experience and training leads me to a different conclusion. That shot would be amazingly difficult, but not impossible.

Most police officers never train to shoot past twenty five yards. I’ve worked for three departments, plus served as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo, and I can’t recall ever shooting a pistol at long range during police training. But I’ve taken a few pistol courses from private training companies. One of them was at Tiger Valley, near Waco, Texas.

The owner/instructor, TJ Pilling, lined us up on the pistol range one day and said we were going to have a competition. He told us to fire one shot at our targets, which were half-size steel silhouettes. We were at twenty-five yards, and we all hit. He backed us up to thirty-five yards and told us to fire again. We all hit. Forty-five yards. A few missed. Fifty-five yards. Only I and one other officer hit. Sixty-five. I was firing a .40 Glock 22, and aimed just over the top of the target’s head. I missed. The other officer hit.

TJ asked me if I aimed high. I told him I did. He said, “Aim center mass.” I did, and shocked the hell out of myself by hitting the target.

TJ walked us to a bay with a full-size silhouette target at 110 yards, and said, “If you have a 9mm, aim center mass. If it’s a .40, aim at the neck.”

The guys with 9mms started pinging the crap out of the target. I fired several shots standing and couldn’t get a hit, so I went prone and tried again. Eventually, after a spotter helped me walk the rounds in like a mortar, I made repeated hits.

I was, to put it mildly, surprised. I’d been a cop for twelve years at that point, and all my training had focused on shooting twenty-five yards and closer. I’d been in the military seventeen years but received almost no pistol training from either the Marines or Army. Conventional wisdom taught me pistols were last-ditch, close-in weapons, and shooting at someone even twenty-five yards away was stretching it. I had struggled to make accurate hits at twenty-five, had missed a target at that range more than once, and had seen cops and soldiers miss numerous shots even closer than that.

19th-Century Terrorism

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

To understand the terrorists of today, we can look at their forgotten forebears from the 19th century:

I discovered the secret through reading about 19th-century history, particularly the years from the 1848 revolutions to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. The key was Bismarck, the Prussian minister-president who unified Germany. If you want to learn about Bismarck, you will probably pick up a book by some historian of international relations, such as A.J.P. Taylor. That’s the right place to start. But it means you can read a lot about Bismarck before finding out about the time in May 1866 when a guy shot him.

Ferdinand Cohen-Blind, a Badenese student of pan-German sentiments, waylaid Bismarck with a pistol on the Unter den Linden. He fired five rounds. None missed. Three merely grazed his midsection, and two ricocheted off his ribs. He went home and ate a big lunch before letting himself be examined by a doctor.

But even the books that condescend to mention this triviality may not tell you about the other time a guy shot Bismarck: A young Catholic tried to kill him in July 1874, during the anti-Catholic Kulturkampf Bismarck had engineered, but only managed to score his right hand with a bullet.

The point is not that Bismarck was particularly hated, although he was. The point is that this period of European (and American) history was crawling with young, often solitary male terrorists, most of whom showed signs of mental disorder when caught and tried, and most of whom were attached to some prevailing utopian cause. They tended to be anarchists, nationalists or socialists, but the distinctions are not always clear, and were not thought particularly important. The 19th-century mind identified these young men as congenital conspirators. It emphasized what they had in common: social maladjustment, mania, an overwhelming sense of mission and, usually, a prior record of minor crimes.

It has become a pastime of mine to pick major royal or ministerial figures from 19th-century continental Europe and look up the little-known assassination attempts against them. Even in peaceful, isolated England, there were no fewer than seven attempts to shoot Queen Victoria. Russian czars, French presidents and Bulgarian prime ministers make particularly fertile ground.

Just try, for example, either Napoleon. A bomb designed to kill the first on his way to the opera injured or killed roughly 30 people around Christmas 1800; the conspirators were pro-Bourbon legitimists. Exactly the same thing happened to the third in 1858: A bomb planted by Italian revolutionaries killed eight and injured 142, while barely stopping the emperor’s carriage.

Biographies will often omit these events totally, much less note the astonishing Napoleonic parallel. Yet all this bombing and gunfire must have had a profound psychological effect on the leaders who were targeted, along with peers elsewhere. The prevalence of assassination obviously influenced the gory histories of the emerging Balkan states and, once you unlock the secret, you can see the imprint of terror on the history of Germany, with its countless princelings and kinglets — all of them frightened all the time, and thus predisposed to political overreaction.

No one sees the murders of three U.S. presidents between 1865 and 1900 as part of the same phenomenon, but it was. And the bad news is that the First World War, which began with a famous assassination, was in some ways a culmination of this tendency to desperate, violent action.

Use of Force

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Back when Todd G. was in law school, he had a wonderful opportunity to teach his classmates about use of force:

For a project in one of my criminal law classes I was invited by the DEA tactical training cadre to bring half my class (and professor) down to the FBI/DEA “Hogan’s Alley” force on force training village in Quantico, Virginia. This was during the time that Waco & Ruby Ridge were being investigated by DOJ and federal law enforcement UOF rules were under severe scrutiny.

Our group was put through a number of exercises ranging from the classic Tueller drill (attacker 21 feet away charges at you with a knife) to team room-clearing.

A few days later I had to present my paper to the entire class. The half that attended the force on force (FOF) exercises sat on the left side of the room and the other students sat on the right.

Just a few minutes into my presentation I brought up the danger of a knife wielding attacker. The right side of the room grew indignant immediately and argued that someone twenty-one feet away — the length of an entire room — simply couldn’t be a deadly threat to someone with a gun. Before I could even reply, the left side of the room erupted in angry shouts: “You’ve never been there!”

Next we discussed opening a closet door to find a stranger holding a pistol that was pointed down toward the ground. Again the students on the right side of the room insisted he couldn’t be threat because he wasn’t pointing the gun at anyone. And again the left side of the room lost its collective mind: “Do you have any idea how fast someone can point a gun at you from that position? It’s faster than you can see it and respond before you get shot!”

It was the easiest presentation I’ve ever given.

South African Burglaries

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

American expat Patrick McGroarty was covering the Oscar Pistorius trial in Pretoria when his home in Johannesburg got burgled. They came back for more the next month. Around the same time, robbers killed the South African national team’s goalie — leading the nation to wonder “why South Africans take from each other, and why these desperate assailants are so quick to kill.”

In this discussion of “South Africans,” McGroarty brings up the touchy subject of race exactly once:

Though the murder rate has fallen by more than half since the end of white minority rule in 1994, the number of people killed in South Africa each year still ranks among the highest in the world.

McGroarty’s family moved into an apartment complex with 24-hour security.

Outside Marksmen

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

One of the prison assets Carl from Chicago went to audit turned out to be a sniper rifle:

These guns were kept in storage at the armory, and they brought out the sniper to show me the weapon himself because they didn’t let other people touch it after he had calibrated the scope. The sniper asked me a question:

Do you know why they pick snipers out of the staff in the prison?

No, I said.

Because in Attica there was an uprising and the prisoners took over the yard and then the prison brought in outside marksmen to ensure they could not escape. During the melee the marksmen shot many prisoners but it turns out that the prisoners had changed clothes with the civilian hostages, so some of the individuals gunned down were actual guards or workers. Thus the snipers were prison guards from that facility because they could pick out the inmates from the guards and workers.

I said that if he ever saw me in his scope wearing an orange outfit, please don’t shoot. It wasn’t a joke.

Colombia’s Data-Driven Fight Against Crime

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Before becoming mayor of Cali, Colombia, Rodrigo Guerrero was a Harvard-trained epidemiologist. Once in office, he led a data-driven fight against crime:

When Guerrero became mayor in 1992, the conventional wisdom was that the vast bulk of Cali’s murders stemmed from disputes over cocaine trafficking — at the time, the Cali Cartel was overtaking the Medellín Cartel in control of the cocaine trade.

But Guerrero didn’t assume, he measured. The police, courts and every other institution that counted murders all came up with different figures. Guerrero had weekly meetings with these groups and academic researchers to find more accurate figures. Then they mapped homicides by time and neighborhood.

That took about a year — and his term was only two and a half years — but he found something important: deaths were concentrated on weekends, especially payday weekends. (On his first New Year’s Eve as mayor, there were 22 homicides in one night.) The same was true in Medellín, which was why El Mundo’s crime reporters needed dozens of ways to describe violent death, as the Eskimo people are said to have for snow.

“Things that happen on the weekend in our country are often associated with alcohol,” Guerrero said. So Cali started to look at alcohol in the blood of victims (few perpetrators were caught) — and found a large percentage of victims had very high levels. “My initial hypothesis was that this was drug trafficking,” he said. “But the traffickers were not going to wait for weekends to resolve their conflicts — and get their victims drunk.”

The astronomical murder rate was related to the cocaine trade, Guerrero concluded — but only indirectly. Cocaine created social disruption and intensified an already-violent culture. “Drug trafficking was like H.I.V.,” Guerrero said. “It interferes with the defense mechanisms — in this case police and justice.” Those institutions were corrupted and degraded to the point where practically no one paid a penalty for murder — a suspect was identified in only 3 percent of homicides and convicted in a small percentage of those.

Guerrero banned the sale of alcohol after 1 a.m. on weeknights and 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. (That 2 a.m. is considered early closing says a lot about the problem.) As he expected, bar owners — and bar patrons — objected. Guerrero asked bars to try it for three months, but success was obvious nearly instantly. The effects were big enough to overcome the objections.

The other decree banned the carrying of guns — enforced by checkpoints and pat-downs — on payday weekends and holidays. The army, which held a monopoly on the manufacture and sale of guns, fought the law. But again, success was persuasive. Researchers compared gun ban days to similar days with no ban in Cali and in Bogotá, which replicated the program. They found that neighborhoods with the ban saw 14 percent fewer homicides in Cali and 13 percent fewer in Bogotá than neighborhoods without restrictions.

Together, those two decrees cut the homicide rate where they were instituted by 35 percent.

There was more: Since the data showed that a large majority of offenders were under 24, Guerrero instituted a curfew for young people in high crime neighborhoods between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weekends.