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15 Jan

6 considerations for cops stuck in a hostile workplace

There are many difficulties and risks associated with confronting an adult bully in the workplace When we wrote our column, Bullies in the workplace: Sabotaging police culture, we anticipated substantial commentary – both supportive and critical – and we were not disappointed. In reviewing the feedback from officers across the country who’ve experienced or witnessed workplace bullying firsthand – we’ve validated our belief that it is a real problem within the police culture and needs to be addressed. Low morale is a significant issue for law enforcement, and behaviors easily categorized as bullying – especially from administrators and line supervisors, but in some cases, peer-to-peer – are a primary cause. We need to go deeper into this issue – to not just address the existence of bullying, but to offer real suggestions to combat it at the source. Here are six things to consider when you confront this problem in your department. We fully understand the difficulties and risks associated with confronting an adult bully in the workplace. These are merely options that may provide clarity and guidance in a scary and disorienting situation. 1. Reevaluate your perceptions Several LEOs who responded to the article either disagreed with the assertion that bullying exists within law enforcement, or that it is or should be a concern. More to the point, they were of the mind that anyone claiming to be a victim of such behavior needs to “toughen up, buttercup!” Although we specifically defined bullying in our column – separating it from the inside jokes, affectionate and inclusive “ballbusting,” and inoffensive hazing that routinely go on in law enforcement – many readers missed the distinction. Nonetheless, they do raise a good point: Before determining if what you’re experiencing is, in fact, bullying, step back for a clear-eyed assessment of the intent and context of what’s being said and done.   Seek the counsel of a third party you trust, ideally with knowledge and experience with your agency, the people involved, and how others have been treated and fared. It could be possible you do need to “toughen up” a bit. But what if that’s not the case? 2. Consider leaving (the shift, crew, assignment, or department) Sometimes the simplest solutions still work best and distancing yourself from the source is the most direct way of avoiding further problems. Police departments come in a variety of sizes with different cultures and personalities. In larger departments, you may be able to easily transition to a new supervisor, shift, crew, or job assignment. In the largest departments – in a big city, large county, or state and federal agencies, for example – it may be possible to transition to an entirely new precinct or district while maintaining seniority, rank and position. Of course, the great majority of law enforcement agencies in the US are small – usually fewer than 10 sworn officers – with seniority differentials measured in years instead of months or weeks. If you’re being bullied at one of these, you may do well to simply jump ship and go somewhere better or bigger – most police departments are happy to “lateral in” an experienced, trained officer from another agency. When enough people “vote with their feet” the higher-ups might be forced to take notice. 3. Confront the bully Standing up to an antagonist often takes them by surprise and, if done with resolve and planning, has a high success rate regardless of whether the antagonist is of equal or greater rank. Bullies don’t expect pushback and it makes them wonder what else you are capable of and how hard you’re willing to fight. Remember, bullies want easy marks, not worthy adversaries. 4. Find strength in numbers If you are bothered by the behavior of a peer or supervisor, chances are you are not alone. Describing your experience to colleagues may yield ideas for how to respond. If someone else was once a target but got out from under the crosshairs, it would be good to know how they managed – or create solidarity and a possible coalition to respond en masse. This is especially important when the bully is a boss. Supervisors can and do ascend without requisite leadership and interpersonal skills. When they suddenly find themselves managing people they revert to an “all stick, no carrot” motivational approach – targeting certain individuals for special torment just because they think they can get away with it. It’s easy for them to dismiss a lone voice fighting back. Facing an angry mob should prompt reevaluation of their management decisions. Involving sympathetic supervisors or administrators (they usually know when one of their own is out of line) can be especially helpful when going against a superior officer, if for nothing more than advice and support. Ideally, they can advocate on your behalf. 5. Give it time Flying under the radar and doing your best to ignore the behavior sometimes causes the bully to lose interest or find another target. This is, of course, the advice given by countless parents to countless kids being picked on over millennia, but it does have its merits. Bullies are frequently “all about the reaction” and get bored when they don’t get one, and if they up the ante, it only makes them look worse. 6. Access formal grievance procedures Approaching internal affairs, human resources, or the police union to file a formal grievance is never (or rarely) fun and it involves an investment of effort and even professional risk. It may, however, be necessary. At the very least, it raises awareness and puts the bully on notice. It may also show the continuance of a pattern of behavior you are not even aware of (but others are) if there have been prior complaints or suspicions. Conclusion There are no perfect solutions, and picking wrong can exacerbate the issue. Each of these suggestions comes with benefits, costs and risks. If you find yourself in the sights of a bully, only you can weigh your options for the optimal solution. And there are surely solutions we’ve not included or are modifications of those we have. Please let us know what has succeeded for you or what advice you’d give others. No matter what happens at work, remember to focus as much or more energy on off-duty time. Our whole premise for succeeding on the job is remembering to be “more than a cop” away, and when facing tough times at work, it is especially important to not let it affect your time away. Friends, family, interests and balance can sustain you when workplace stressors try to bring you down.

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15 Jan

Va. governor declares state of emergency ahead of gun rally

Gov. Ralph Northam plans to ban all weapons, including guns, from the state capitol's grounds ahead of a planned rally over gun rights RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday that he was declaring a state of emergency over threats of “armed militia groups storming our Capitol” ahead of a gun-rights rally next week. Northam's emergency order will ban weapons of all kinds, including firearms, from the Capitol grounds starting Friday through Tuesday. He said the order was necessary to protect public safety because of potential violence from out-of-state groups at a gun-rights rally scheduled for Monday that's expected to draw thousands. Northam said intelligence analysts have noticed that some of the rhetoric used by groups planning to attend Monday's rally is similar to what was said in the lead-up to a deadly 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. A new Democratic majority at the statehouse is advancing a number of gun-control bills that gun-rights advocates are fiercely opposing.

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15 Jan

Prosecutors allege members of the department's Metro Division wrongly portrayed people as gang members or associates LOS ANGELES — The investigation into allegations that members of the elite Los Angeles Police Department Metro Division falsified information they gathered during stops and wrongly portrayed people as gang members or associates has expanded to include 20 officers, with prosecutors already reviewing one case. The widening probe is becoming a major scandal at the LAPD, raising questions about the criminal cases brought by the officers now under scrutiny. The officers, assigned to special patrols in South Los Angeles, are suspected of falsifying field interview cards during stops and entering incorrect information about those questioned in an effort to boost stop statistics. "This definitely has a criminal aspect. Falsifying information on a department report is a crime," Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday. "I must look straight at these allegations. It does give me concern." Los Angeles Police Commission members expressed alarm. "These allegations are extremely troubling," said commission President Eileen Decker. Decker asked LAPD Inspector General Mark Smith to monitor the department's investigation and to conduct a separate inquiry. Moore said the investigation initially focused on three officers and moved to others who worked with them. It then expanded to more who worked with the second group, the police chief said. Moore said 10 officers had been assigned to home and had their police powers suspended. "I believe there is sufficient cause to assign them to home," he said. Another 10 have been removed from the street because investigators have reviewed some of their work and "don't know if it's inaccuracies or falsehoods," Moore said. "We have found inconsistencies that are in direct contrast with the physical evidence," he said. To add a protective measure, the department now requires a gang lieutenant to review body-worn video to make sure it matches the field interview cards when adding someone to the database, Moore added. In at least one case, body camera and car recordings did not match the accounts in the field interview cards, law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times last week. A Times investigation published last January showed that Metro officers stopped African American drivers at a rate more than five times their share of the city's population. To combat a surge in violent crime, the LAPD doubled the size of its Metropolitan Division in 2015, creating special units to swarm crime hot spots. In response, the LAPD announced last fall it would drastically cut back on pulling over random vehicles. At the time, Moore said Metro's vehicle stops had not proved effective, netting about one arrest for every 100 cars stopped, while coming at a tremendous cost to innocent drivers who felt they were being racially profiled. Officials said Metro crime suppression officers, who number about 200, would instead track down suspects wanted in violent offenses and use strategies other than vehicle stops to address flare-ups in crimes such as burglaries and shootings.

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15 Jan

Student fatally shot at Texas high school; suspect arrested

Authorities have not released if the suspect was a student or what led to the arrest BELLAIRE, Texas— A minor has been charged with manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old student at a Texas high school, prosecutors said. The minor and another person were arrested about 3 1/2 hours after the Tuesday afternoon shooting at a high school in Bellaire, a suburb southwest of Houston. A spokesman for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday that the minor could not be identified because of privacy laws and did not immediately answer other questions. Authorities also haven't released basic non-identifying information about the alleged shooter, including the person's age or sex. Police said they received a call about the shooting at around 4 p.m. and that the victim died later at a hospital. There have been conflicting media reports about whether the shooting happened inside or outside the school. Grenita Lathan, the interim superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, confirmed that a student was killed. The district canceled classes Wednesday, after Latham originally said they were going on as scheduled.

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15 Jan

The devices use signals from drones to identify their location, altitude and flight information TOKYO, Japan — The Metropolitan Police Department is planning to deploy drone detecting devices at all Tokyo venues for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games for the prevention of terrorism and other acts of sabotage. There are a total of 24 Olympic venues in Tokyo, with the new National Stadium in Shinjuku Ward serving as the main arena. Operating drones in and around the venues is prohibited under a law regulating the use of drones. During the Games, about 10 million people from Japan and abroad are expected to visit Tokyo, with foreign VIPs among them. It is said that urgent measures should be taken to counter possibilities such as a drone laden with hazardous materials or a vehicle-ramming terror attack. The drone detecting device is capable of receiving signals emitted from a drone so as to identify its location and altitude and other flight information. The detector can cover a wider area — a radius of more than one kilometer around the venue — than commercial drone detectors provided by a major domestic security company, which are capable of detecting an object up to about 150 meters away. Some of these detectors that cover a wider area have already been introduced into security operations in Tokyo, and they helped the police detect the illegal use of a drone and lay charges in the case. The police will deploy at least 20 such additional devices for the Games. If a suspicious flying object is detected, a counter-drone squad will prevent its approach to a Games venue by using a jamming gun, which disables the drone by blocking its communication system or capturing it with a large drone outfitted with a big net. The police are also considering deploying similar detectors and jamming guns at venues outside Tokyo.

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15 Jan

The police departments and sheriff's offices can have access restored if they certify the records they access won't be turned over to federal immigration agencies NEW YORK — Nearly 60 police departments and sheriff’s offices in New York state don’t have access to important records from the state Department of Motor Vehicles because they haven’t agreed the records won’t be turned over to federal immigration, state officials said. The interruption in the flow of the records — including photos used for identification and photo arrays — comes in response to a newly passed state Green Light Law, which allows people who came to the United States illegally to get driver’s licenses. As of Tuesday afternoon, 59 agencies hadn’t certified that they would honor the agreement, according to officials at the state Department of Criminal Justice Services and the DMV. Those agencies missed the Jan. 11 deadline to sign the agreement, though they can still have their access restored if they agree to not share the records, officials said. The Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office signed the agreement, according to spokesman Sgt. Jon Seeber. The office uses DMV photos primarily for criminal cases and photo arrays, he said. Syracuse police did not respond to questions about whether the department signed the agreement. The law, signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in June, allows state residents who entered the U.S. illegally to obtain a driver’s license without a Social Security number beginning Dec. 14. The law states that the information those residents hand over to the state for the driver’s license shall not be used by the federal government as a means to identify or deport them. Local police agencies have access to the DMV database, though local agencies cannot tell based on the DMV records alone whether a license-holder came to the United States illegally, officials said. The agreement with local police agencies is meant to ensure that they “do not disclose that information to ICE, Customs & Border Protection and Citizenship and Immigration Services as stipulated in law,” said Janine Kava, a spokeswoman for DCJS. The existence of the agreement was first reported by CNHI News Service, which reported Tuesday morning that 78 agencies had not signed the agreement. By Tuesday afternoon, the number fell to 59, state officials said. Kava would not release a list of the 59 agencies that had not signed the agreement. It’s not clear whether the police agencies are refusing the sign the agreement in protest or whether they were unaware of the requirement. The state sheriff’s association executive director told CNHI that the agreement deadline was likely “just not coming to the attention of the right person," and not ideological.

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