Here is a new twist to the moral issues surrounding capital punishment: Should a condemned prisoner be allowed to donate organs after sitting down to his last meal
? This is the question being asked by Ohio Governor John Kasich after postponing an execution yesterday (November 13, 2013).
According to The Columbus Dispatch
, Governor Kasich said he stopped the execution "so that medical experts can assess whether Phillips' non-vital organs or tissues can be donated to his mother or possibly others...I realize this is a bit of uncharted territory for Ohio, but if another life can be saved by his willingness to donate his organs and tissues, then we should allow for that to happen," www.dispatch.com. PHILLIPS' HISTORY
In 1993, Ronald Phillips, 40, was convicted of raping and murdering his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter. He served his term without expressing concern for the life and well-being of others. In fact, he waited until all of his appeals had been exhausted before offering to donate his kidney to his mother who is on dialysis and his heart to his sister who has a heart ailment. Now he is apparently willing to donate organs to others as well.
"Ohio's prison medical policy accommodates organ donations, but prison officials rejected the request, saying it came too late to work out logistics and security concerns," www.abclocal.go.com.
Although a Delaware death row inmate donated a kidney to his mother in 1995, "he was not facing imminent execution like Phillips," www.independent.co.ukSTAY OF EXECUTION
Phillips was eating his last meal when he got word of the reprieve. The Ohio Governor stayed the execution to further explore the possibility of Phillips donating non-vital organs...not his heart. Richard Dieter, of the Death Penalty Information Center, said that this is the first time that a stay of execution was granted based on the request to donate organs, www.bbc.co.uk. NEXT STEPS
If Phillips is a viable donor and the procedure is approved, he would be returned to Death Row afterward to await his new execution date of July 2, 2014. Ohio prison policy dictates that any such surgeries be paid for by Phillips or the recipients. WHAT DO YOU THINK?
I am a big proponent of organ donation, but this adds layers of complicated ethical and technical dilemmas. This might be a last-minute ploy to buy time for a man facing death. We could ignore Phillips' motives and allow for the organs to benefit others. Then again, maybe this request came too late. Resources:
- Associated Press, "Ohio Execution Stay for Ronald Phillips for Possible Organ Donations," www.abclocal.go.com, November 14, 2013.
- BBC, "Ohio Execution Stayed Over Organ Donation Request," www.bbc.co.uk, November 14, 2013.
- Johnson, Alan, "Kasich Postpones Execution of Inmate Who Wants to Donate Organs," www.dispatch.com, November 14, 2013.
- Saul, Heather, "Ronald Phillips Ohio Execution Delayed by Judge after Organ Donation Request," www.independent.co.uk, November 14, 2013.
TASER's Axon Flex body-worn camera.
Now that the media and the public travel everywhere with cameras, it may be time for law enforcement officers and other first responders to have that same capability. Video from cruiser cameras has been used as evidence in traffic court cases and in use of force incidents. However, dash cams can only capture whatever happens in front of the vehicle. In contrast, body cameras go everywhere an officer goes.
They are "designed to be the eyes and ears during police encounters," www.CBSNews.com. Deputies in Orange County California will run a trial with a few body cameras provided free by the manufacturer. "Unlike a dash camera, the body cameras will capture everything that happens once a deputy gets out of his or her vehicle and approaches a suspect or victim with full video and sound," www.WFTV.comTYPES OF BODY CAMS
Sometimes called Point-of-View cameras, these high tech devices give the officer's perspective during use of force incidents and record statements made during drug, DUI, or domestic violence cases.
- Shirts or lapels
Both advantages and concerns have been expressed over the use of body cams in law enforcement.CONCERNS/WATCHING THE COPS
"A federal judge ordered New York city's police department to begin testing the devices after ruling that its stop, question, and frisk policy was unconstitutional," www.PoliceOne.com. Mayor Bloomberg argued that the body cams are not the answer. He asserted that it would provide fodder to further question police actions and motives. He thought that an officer who failed to record something might be accused of intentionally looking a different direction to avoid proof of the incident.
A helmet camera recorded the response to a plane crash in which a fire rig ran over a survivor at San Francisco International Airport on July 6, 2013, www.SFGate.com. Afterwards, the San Francisco fire chief banned firefighters from using personal cameras until a policy on their use is resolved. Chief Joanne Hayes-White stated that a concern for the privacy rights of firefighters and victims drove the decision. Cameras have also been banned in Houston and Baltimore, www.SFGate.com.SUPPORT/DOCUMENTING THE INCIDENTWhile some departments have concerns about officers being forced to wear body cams, others see it as a way to verify the claims of good officers doing good work.
Chief James Brooks of the Laurel, Maryland, Police Department had a video of a traffic stop
at his department go viral. Brooks said, "It shows that these guys were actually doing exactly what they were trained and how they were trained to do it...It was flawless," CNN.com.
Some cameras have a feature in which they capture 10 to 30 seconds of video that took place prior to an officer hitting record
. This helps to document the unexpected. Officers can play the video when writing reports to accurately log statements and actions. "I think the biggest benefit is to be able to record a crime scene and the people and exactly how they're telling you the information," said Lt. Bob Wood of the Bellevue, Nebraska, Police Department, www.KETV.com.
Departments can also use videotaped incidents for training. Some of what is preserved will not be flattering. "The camera doesn't lie - it just shows what happened," said Arin Pace, a lieutenant with the Jacksonville, Florida, Fire Department, www.SFGate.com.MOTORCYCLE OFFICERSIn Salt Lake City, Police Chief Chris Burbank praises the evidentiary value of helmet-mounted cameras for his motorcycle officers. A speeder may claim that obstructions affected the radar or that the officer was
threatening until a video of the violation and interaction is shown in court. "Well, you see very clearly that that car is the only vehicle on the overpass. You now have the radar gun and the digital readout on the radar gun visible in the camera, the car in the background, and you've got a pretty good accounting of what that officer did," www.DeseretNews.com.Chief Jack Baldwin of the Pigeon Forge Police Department in Tennessee also wants personal cameras for his motorcycle officers.
"If you're wearing the camera, you've got your audio and video no matter where you are," www.TheMountainPress.com.DRUG RAIDS
After a series of questionable drug raids, the San Francisco Police Department began equipping plain clothes supervisors with $1,000 chest cams. The allegations of officer misconduct stemmed from security video footage. "We can have a recording of the conversation at the door with regard to consent on consensual entries or the announcement on search warrant entries," Police Chief Greg Suhr said. "The main goal is to capture for purpose of evidence preservation the conversation at the threshold," www.PoliceOne.com.USE OF FORCEChief Burbank of Salt Lake City also argues that video can be crucial in use of force cases.
"You see the proximity of what's going on. You see the interplay that takes place and really what the officer's processing," www.DeseretNews.com. It can also be useful in domestic violence cases. The cameras can capture statements and allow officers to accurately transcribe them into reports. It may be that off
icers conscious of wearing a camera are more disciplined in their use of language and use of force. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that when police wore personal video cameras in Rialto, California, it "led to an 88 percent drop in complaints against officers and a 60 percent drop in the use of force in a one-year period," www.DeseretNews.com. CONCLUSIONMore than 400 police departments across the U.S. use high tech body cams.
Whether worn on a lapel, eyeglasses, or a helmet, body cameras go wherever law enforcement officers go. Those in favor of body cams claim they will protect citizens and law enforcement officers. Others fear they are another means of monitoring officers and raising liability concerns for agencies.
"I think you are going to find out that once this equipment is out there that our officers are performing in a professional manner and have been all along," said Martin Halloran, President of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, www.DeseretNews.com. Like their predecessors, the dash cams, body cams are likely to grow in popularity across the country. RESOURCES:
- Burns, Kenneth, "Pigeon forge police getting new body cameras to wear on shirts/lapels," www.TheMountainPress.com, Feb. 18, 2013.
- CNN video, "Cops Use Eye Cams to Capture Crime," www.CNN.com, August 22,2013.
- Eversley, Melanie and John Bacon, "Judge Rips NYPD Stop-Frisk Policy; City Will Appeal," www.USAToday.com, Aug 12, 2013.
- KETV article, "Bellevue Police Get Another Set of Eyes," www.KETV.com, August 2, 2013.
- Miller, John, "Cop Cams: 400 Police Depts. Use Tiny Devices," www.CBSNews.com, Aug 30, 2013
- Reavy, Pat, "Eye on crime: Police Chief Pushes for Body Cams on Officers," www.DeseretNews.com, Deseret News, Nov. 14, 2012.
- Van Derbeken, Jaxon, "Plainclothes SF Cops Fight Misconduct Allegations with Body Cameras," www.Policeone.com, August 28, 2013.
- Van Derbeken, Jaxon, "SF Fire Chief Bans Helmet Cameras in Wake of Crash," www.SFGate.com, August 19, 2013.
- WFTV, "Orange County Deputies Test Out Body Cameras," www.WFTV.com, Sept. 2, 2013.
More than 100 law enforcement officers have died in the U.S. each year since 1944. It is time to stop that trend."If we could just slow down, wear our seatbelts and clear intersections, we could get our line of duty deaths to Below 100 a year." That statement made in 2010 by Captain Travis Yates of the Tulsa Police Department helped initiate the BELOW 100 Challenge (www.below100.com).The program has five tenets to try to reduce line of duty deaths:
Most of these goals emerged from the leading causes of on-duty deaths: gunshot wounds and vehicle crashes. According to the National Law Enforcement
- Wear Your Belt
- Wear Your Vest
- Watch Your Speed
- WIN--What's Important Now?
- Remember: Complacency Kills!
Officers Memorial Fund site, 1,540 law officers died in the line of duty in the last decade. Of that number, 564 died from gunshot wounds, 457 died in auto crashes, 77 in motorcycle crashes, and another 138 died after being struck by a vehicle (www.nleomf.org)
. Reducing deaths from gun violence and traffic accidents would substantially improve the number of officers who make it home at the end of each shift. Causes of Law Enforcement Deaths in the Last 10 Years (2003-2012)From the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Fund Site
To date in 2013, 63 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty (www.odmp.org)
- Gunshot Wound--564
- Auto Crash--457
- Job-Related Illness--177
- Struck by Vehicle--138
- Motorcycle Crash--77
- Aircraft Accident--25
- Stab Wound--13
- Terrorist Attack--9
- Bomb-Related Incident--5
- Struck by Train--5
- Struck by Falling Object--4
- Bicycle Accident--3
- Boating Accident--3
- Horse-Related Accident--1
. Gunfire and traffic accidents lead the way again. Thankfully more and more departments are issuing and requiring personnel to wear soft body armour. However, not all vests are equally effective. If you are heading into a known active shooter situation, it could be life saving to have an external vest in the vehicle that was capable of stopping a rifle round, such as those fired by an AK47. See "Hard Body Armor for Patrol"
for more details (www.officer.com).
Officers can wear vests and seatbelts, but what else can they do?One situation that takes all the self-restraint that an individual officer can muster, is an officer needs assistance call. When you hear another officer radio for help, your adrenalin races and you do everything possible to get there NOW. It is tough to
drive safely and avoid tunnel vision under such charged circumstances. But the only way responding units can aid their brother or sister is to get to the scene safely.After loosing two Georgia officers this summer while responding to two separate assistance calls, Lt. Dennis Valone of the Alpharetta GA Police Department
provided suggestions for law enforcement officers related to officer needs assistance calls (www.lawofficer.com). If you need assistance: Be careful of the message you send. If you want back up but do not require an emergency response, make that clear. Once the situation is under control, advise the dispatcher so that other units know that they do not need to speed to the location.If you are responding to the request for assistance:
Use caution. "Very simply, we need to get there if we are going to be any help" (www.lawofficer.com). Officers who get in accidents on the way to a call for assistance, can't help the officer in need and will divert other emergency responders away from the original incident.
Likewise, you must use extreme self-control during a pursuit. It is too easy to lose site of everything but the suspect vehicle. "When you're pursuing someone, consciously take the time to think about where you are and where you're going, and continually evaluate the risks associated with the pursuit versus the reward of nabbing the perp." (www.policeone.com). Part of a law enforcement officer's job is to do everything in his or her power to be alive to do the job again tomorrow.
The BELOW 100 initiative provides training to give officers information and promote the value of safety throughout departments. It and similar programs preach about effective use of safety equipment and sound decision-making. Law enforcement officers can't avoid danger, but they can respond to dangerous situations with caution. Sources:
- Below 100 Initiative, "Our History & Mission," www.below100.com, (accessed August 24, 2013).
- Davis, Kevin, "Hard Body Armor for Patrol," www.officer.com, July 31, 2013.
- National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, "Causes of Law Enforcement Deaths," www.nleomf.org, April 2013.
- Officer Down Memorial Page, "Honoring Officers Killed in 2013," www.odmp.org, (accessed August 25, 2013).
- Stockton, Dale, "Below 100 - Introduction," www.lawofficer.com, October 20, 2010.
- Valone, Dennis, "Start Me Another Unit!" www.lawofficer.com, August 16, 2013.
- Wyllie, Doug, "Tip: Stay Alert to Your Surrounds During Pursuit," www.policeone.com, October 17, 2012.
"Below 100 is not about statistics. It's about each and every officer, trainer and supervisor taking individual and collective responsibility for the decisions and actions that contribute to safety."
--Dale Stockton, Editor of Law Officer Magazine
Over the weekend of July 12 and 13, 2013, jurors in the George Zimmerman trial deliberated for more than 16 hours before delivering a not guilty verdict (Washingtonpost.com). They had considered evidence and weighed whether or not Zimmerman had committed second degree murder or manslaughter, while Zimmerman insisted that he killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense.
Halfway through their deliberations, the jury asked the judge, "May we please have clarification on the instructions regarding manslaughter?" (CBSnews.com). The judge consulted with counsel from both sides and responded that the court could not answer general questions but invited the jury to submit a more specific question. They never did.I don't know what confusion existed in that Florida jury room, but
let's look at what constitutes manslaughter.While statutes and wording on homicides vary by state, the main difference between first degree murder and other acts that result in a person's death is premeditation.
Second degree murder lacks premeditation and intent. It is caused by extreme recklessness. Manslaughter is "the unlawful killing of another person without premeditation or so-called 'malice aforethought' (an evil intent prior to the killing)" (Dictionary.law.com). Manslaughter is generally divided into voluntary and involuntary. Homicides
- First degree murder: intentional and premeditated
- Second degree murder: non-premeditated, caused by extreme recklessness or during a fight
- Voluntary manslaughter: intentional, non-premeditated killing which occurs during the "heat of passion"
- Involuntary manslaughter: no intent to kill; death caused by negligence or with intent to behave in a reckless, violent manner which causes death
"Voluntary manslaughter includes killing in [the] heat of passion or while committing a felony" (Dictionary.law.com). It is the intentional but unplanned killing of another. It is when someone kills when provoked by current circumstances.For example, the person who returns home to find
his/her spouse in bed with a lover might respond right away with deadly violence. That would generally be considered voluntary manslaughter...intentional but not premeditated, in the heat of an emotionally-charged moment (NOLO.com). If that same person who witnessed the affair waits a week before ambushing and killing either party involved, the scorned killer would most likely be charged with first degree, premeditated murder.INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER
"Involuntary manslaughter occurs when a death is caused by a violation of a non-felony" (Dictionary.law.com). It is caused by recklessness or criminal negligence. It differs from second degree murder by having a lesser degree of recklessness. (See a YouTube example of the difference from Law Bound Prep - Labs at this link).
If two people were in an argument that escalated until one pushed the other who stumbled and then fell down a flight of stairs to his death,
the unintentional recklessness might be considered involuntary manslaughter (NOLO.com). Randomly shooting a weapon into the air that results in someone's death would most likely be classified as involuntary manslaughter.VEHICULAR MANSLAUGHTERKilling a person with a car is often in its own class of involuntary manslaughter.
"In response to the increasing number of homicides caused by drunk drivers, some states have created a distinct offense for deaths caused by drunk driving. These are commonly referred to as, inter alia, 'vehicular manslaughter', 'manslaughter with a vehicle,' 'negligent homicide manslaughter,' or 'DUI manslaughter' (Alanformanlaw.com). The possible prison time for someone found guilty of vehicular manslaughter ranges from 8 to 30 years in Tennessee up to life imprisonment in Washington state.THE ZIMMERMAN TRIAL
"[This was] a case that many legal analysts said was doomed by Florida prosecutors' decision to pursue a hard-to-prove second-degree murder conviction against Zimmerman," LAtimes.com. Near the end of the trial prosecutors encouraged jurors to consider the lesser offence of involuntary manslaughter, but the case had not been developed in that direction.
Did Zimmerman commit a crime when he shot and killed Trayvon Martin? The jury in this trial said no. I can't help but wonder whether or not further direction on the definition of manslaughter would have affected the jury's decision.
"The frustration that many Americans have felt over the verdict was reflected in 'Justice For Trayvon' rallies that were held in numerous cities over the weekend," (NPR.org). This case and this verdict will continue to raise questions about state laws, judicial procedures, and justice.Resources:
- Berman, Sara J., "Murder vs. Manslaughter," www.NOLO.com, (accessed July 13, 2013).
- Cobb, Branden, "George Zimmerman Trial: Jurors Ask for Clarification About Manslaughter Charge," www.CBSnews.com, July 13, 2013.
- Forman, Alan S. "Penalties for DUI Manslaughter," www.Alanformanlaw.com, (accessed July 14, 2013).
- Law Bound Prep - Labs, "Involuntary Manslaughter vs 2nd Degree Murder," YouTube.com, November 8, 2011.
- Law.com, "Manslaughter," www.Dictionary.law.com, (accessed July 13, 2013).
- Levinson, Alana, "Polls Show Wide Racial Gap on Trayvon Martin Case," NPR.org, July 22, 2013
- Roig-Franzia, Manuel, "Zimmerman Found Not Guilty in Killing of Trayvon Martin," www.Washingtonpost.com, July 13, 2013.
- Savage, David G. and Michael Muskal, "Zimmerman Verdict: Legal Experts Say Prosecutors Overreached," LAtimes.com, July 14, 2013
A month after the surprising rescue of three women abducted long ago and one girl born into captivity in a Cleveland home, we can reflect on the courage of that day.
First, a standing ovation for Amanda Berry who found some way to get to the front door and gain the attention of neighbors on May 6, 2013. Despite the ever-present danger to her life, she saved her daughter, Gina DeJesus, Michele Knight, and herself.A tribute
to Amanda and her co-captives. While facing terror and deprivation, these young women garnered enough resiliency and courage to survive a ten- to twelve-year ordeal. "Three women found alive after a decade in captivity endured lonely, dark lives inside a dingy home where they were raped and allowed outside only a handful of times in disguises while walking to a garage steps away," www.officer.com.A hug to Jocelyn (age 6), Amanda Berry's daughter born in captivity, who never knew any other life until last month.
May she know the pleasures of freedom and childhood that were kept from her for her first six years.Cheers to the families of the missing girls turned women who suffered for so long and yet, as much as circumstances allowed, dared to hope for a miracle. Thankfully that miracle came.A huge high-five to neighbor Charles Ramsey, and possibly other neighbors, who responded to things that didn't look or sound right at 2207 Seymour Avenue.
Thank you for taking action.A salute to the officers who first responded to the scene:
Anthony Espada, Barbara Johnson, Michael Tracy, Michael Simon, John Graves, Matt Cavanaugh, and the rest of the Cleveland Police Department. Three of the officers described finding the missing women and the impact on themselves in the video, "Cleveland Patrol Officers Recount Finding Missing Women."
When Michelle Knight ran from Officer Espada to Officer Johnson, she grabbed hold of Johnson and said, "Please don't let me go. Please don't let me go." They didn't.An apology to the family of the accused in this abduction and torture case. If only the accusations and blame could be washed away and directed only where they belong.
..only toward the one man accused of these crimes, Ariel Castro.Kudos to the Cleveland community which is doing what it can for these crime survivors in the wake
of the tragedy. They have initiated the Cleveland Courage Fund for the four victims of this series of crimes. It will provide financial support now and into the future. An Ohio lawmaker has proposed a bill that would provide abduction survivors with a lifetime of medical care, a college education, and $25,000 annually, (www.abcnews.go.com). I hope the community will also help protect the privacy of these four survivors. Elizabeth Smart, who had been held captive for nine months as a teenager, told Good Morning America,
"I think it’s so important to respect their privacy to try to help give them every chance they can to find their own way, to find their own pathway back to some sense of well-being," www.latimes.comJaycee Dugard, a woman who had been abducted as a child and then held captive for 18 years,
made this statement to the LA Times: "These individuals need the opportunity to heal and connect back into the world...This isn't who they are. It is only what happened to them. The human spirit is incredibly resilient. More then ever this reaffirms we should never give up hope."May the survivors begin their life-long recovery while the justice system continues the process of investigating and prosecuting the accused for his unconscionable acts.Two ways you can act:
- Cleveland Courage Fund: Make a direct contribution to the four who suffered most from this series of crimes. One-hundred percent of the funds will go to the three women and one child allegedly held captive by Castro. The fund had $850,000 as of June 7, 2013. Donate here: http://www.clevelandfoundation.org/about/cleveland-courage-fund/
- The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: Support the NCMEC in its ongoing efforts to locate missing children in the United States. You can help in many ways. Donate funds, stay informed, and/or spread the word about missing children in your area. Learn more here: http://www.missingkids.com/home
Andolsen, Rita, "Cleveland Courage Fund Continues to Grow,"
Barr, Meghan, "More Details Come to Light in Ohio Kidnappings,"
www.officer.com, 5/9/2013.Kiska, Paul, "Cleveland Courage Fund for Gina, Michelle, Amanda Climbs to $750,000 With More Ways to Help,"
www.newsnet5.com, 5/28/2013.National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, "Statement from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children on Recent Ohio Recovery,"
www.missingkids.com, 5/7/2013.Ng, Christina, "Abducted Cleveland Women Bill Would Provide Them an Income, Education and Health Care,"
www.abcnews.go.com, 6/5/2013.Pearce, Matt, "Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard React to Cleveland Kidnapping,"
Plain Dealer staff, "Cleveland Police Video Interviews Officers Who Rescued Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight,"
www.cleveland.com, 5/17/2013.Yenko, Athena, "Police Recounts Emotional Cleveland Rescue of Amanda Berry, Gina de Jesus, Michelle Knight," www.au.ibtimes.com,
"We should not pause and remember to thank first responders and police officers only in the wake of tragedy...We should do it every day."
--President Barak Obama at 2013 National Peace Officers' Memorial Service
Flags flew at half-staff yesterday in honor of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty. President Barak Obama paid tribute to the ultimate sacrifices of officers at the National Peace Officers' Memorial Service:"
All of you in law enforcement, you devote your lives to serving and protecting your communities. Many of you have done it for your country as well. After serving two tours in Iraq as a Marine, Bradley Michael Fox retired with honor and followed his dream to becoming a police officer. He had been with the Plymouth Township Police Department in Pennsylvania for five years when he was shot and killed pursuing a suspect last September. It was the day before his 35th birthday, and six months before the birth of his son," (www.whitehouse.gov).In 2012, 127 law enforcement officers died on duty in the U.S., according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
The causes of their deaths follow:
- Traffic-related incidents (50)
- Firearms-related fatalities (49)
- Job-related illnesses (14)
- Stabbings (5)
- Falls (3)
- Helicopter crashes (2)
- Beatings (2)
- Air plane crashes (1)
- Boating incidences (1)
Texas lost more of its officers (10) than any other state in 2012. Earlier this month, 25 names were added to the Texas Peace Officer's Memorial wall from the last two years, (www.kvue.com).
Since 1791, nearly 20,000 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty in the U.S. Already, 2013 has seen 41 line-of-duty deaths.
“Each and every day, police officers ... step out the doors of their homes with a quiet courage and conviction to shield us from harm,” said West Virginia State Sen. Bill Laird, D-Fayette, a former sheriff, (www.register-herald.com).
"Currently, there are 19,981 names engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial," (www.nleomf.org). Thank you to the over 900,000 men and women serving as sworn law enforcement officers in this country. May you return home safely at the end of each shift.
- Kallergis, Foti and Heather Kovar, "Fallen Officers Remembered with Ceremony, Parade," www.kvue.com, 5-6-2013.
- Moore, C.V., "Thin Blue Line--National Peace Officers Memorial Day Observed," www.register-herald.com, 5-16-2013.
- National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, "127 Law Enforcement Officers Killed Nationwide in 2012," www.nleomf.org, 12-27-2012.
- National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, "Law Enforcement Facts," www.nleomf.org, (accessed 5-15-2013).
- National Police Week, "About National Police Week," www.policeweek.org, (accessed 5-15-2013).
- Office of the Press Secretary, "Remarks by the President at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service," www.whitehouse.gov, 5-15-2013.
- Peluso, Paul, "President Obama Honors Fallen Officers at Memorial," www.officer.com, 5-15-2013.
This has been a week of emergencies which have attracted national attention. No doubt 911 operators/dispatchers were busy dealing with a torrent of phone calls and radio transmissions after the Boston Marathon bombings
and the West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion,
(follow the links to listen to samples). Telecommunications professionals play a key role in every reported emergency. Not only was
April 14-20, 2013, a traumatic week, it was National Public Safety Telecommunications Week. We should say thank you to the people who are there to take our calls when we need help. Originally, switchboard operators handled emergency calls. Then callers dialed numbers directly...a different number for each police, fire, EMS agency. In 1937, the 999 emergency phone system began in the United Kingdom. "In the United States, the first 911 call was placed in Haleyville (Alabama) on February 16, 1968," (PoliceOne.com). The 911 system gradually spread to most places in the U.S. While many locations have the enhanced E911, some locations still have no 911 service. Emergency operators take many calls of every variety. "
In a 25-year career in a metropolitan area, the call total can be around a million...Many are mundane, many are a glimpse into hell," (Policeone.com).
Keep in mind that the operator/dispatcher has no visual on the scene. He/she must imagine what is happening, try to calm frantic callers and officers, wait patiently during the silences, and sometimes dive into the next call without knowing how the last was resolved. They hear fear and chaos on the other end of the phone or radio but can't physically do anything to end the emergency.
"Being a 9-1-1 operator/dispatcher is overwhelming. There are half a dozen screens, immense amounts of information, beeps and chirps and whatnot in our ears that all mean different things, codes to remember, directions and locations, names, call-signs, jurisdictional lines, policies and procedures, etc., etc., etc," (Officer.com, 1-9-2013).
Listen to a series of recorded calls and radio transmissions of a shooting in progress that occurred in Glendale, California (Select "Glendale Shootout Part 1" and "...Part 2").
Multiple reports of a man shooting a weapon from inside his apartment flood the call center. First, callers report hearing about 20 shots followed by more and more. Then a series of radio transmissions with officers describes a shootout with the gunman.
Public safety operators are the cruicial first step to any emergency response, yet they are often unappreciated by the public and the officers they dispatch.
According to Jeff Troyer, Executive Director, Calhoun County 911 Consolidated Dispatch Center (Michigan), "Less than 1 percent of the population can actually do this job," he said. "It's not an easy thing to be able to do. It's an environment where multi-tasking is needed, and a position that takes multi-tasking to a whole other level," (Advisor-Chronicle.com).
In what may have been the fist study looking at PTSD among 911 dispatchers/operators, 300 dispatchers were questioned about their worst calls and the effects of stress (Chicagotribune.com). Their most difficult calls are listed below: WORST CALLS
- 16.4% Unexpected death/injury of a child
- 12.9% Suicidal callers
- 9.9% Officer involved shooting/unexpected death of an adult
Although dispatchers only visualize the scenes described to them by others, they face many of the same emotional distresses that officers experience on scene. "Study respondents experienced 'one or two symptoms' of PTSD while as many as 3.5 percent had symptoms serious enough to qualify for a full PTSD diagnosis," (Chicagotribune.com).
Regardless, the call taker must remain composed. He or she must use techniques to try to calm the person on the other end of the line. Operators and dispatchers jump from one unique call to another.
"We get calls from parking complaints and barking dogs and then you have the extremes — suicides, shootings, homicides — everything you hear on the news," said Jim Jones, training coordinator for Tri-Com Central Dispatch in Kane County, Illinois, (Chicagotribune.com).
Call takers may want to reach through the phone to comfort a terrified child or help barricade the door for a trapped victim. But they can only fight crimes and crises with words.
"[They] suffer from the hypervigilance, that physiological fight, flight or freeze, without the ability to do anything about the circumstances at all. To me, this creates the most amount of stress of the occupation...9-1-1 operators/dispatchers are unsung heroes " (Officer.com, 1-10-2012). Like other emergency personnel, their shift may go from bordeom to chaos in a moment. We cannot dismiss the importance of their role in public safety.
For those who ask the questions and dispatch the helpers when we call 911--Thank you!Resources:
- Boston EMS, "Listen: 911 Call for Aid of Boston Marathon Bombings," CBSnews.com, 4-15-2013.
- Investigation Discovery, "Call 911 Videos: Glendale Shootout Part 1" and "Part 2," Discovery.com, (accessed 4-18-2013).
- Kellogg, Corinne, "A Day in the Life of a 911 Dispatcher," Advisor-Chronicle.com, 2-24-2013.
- KMOV.com, "911 Calls Released in West, Texas Explosion," KMOV.com, 4-20-2013.
- McCarthy, Jack, "Feeling the Stress of the Job," Chicagotribune.com, 6-6-2012.
- Perin, Michelle, "911 Call Takers are Behind-the-Scenes Heroes," Policeone.com, 4-16-2013.
- Perin, Michelle, "Just a Dispatcher?" Officer.com, 1-10-2012.
- Perin, Michelle, "Training a Dispatcher," Officer.com, 1-9-2013.
Beginning in 1972, women found more opportunities in law enforcement, although they still faced many barriers. Progress continues to move slowly.Equipment
In the early 70's, many women were still issued impractical uniforms that included skirts and heals. In wasn't until the late 70's that equipment belts designed for women were available.
There are still issues with uniforms, especially in departments with few women. According to Donna Milgram, executive director of the Institute for Women in Trades, Technology and Science (IWITTS), "Most gear is designed for male officers and is based on tests with male officers, and cut down versions don't really work for women. Improperly fitting equipment, and uniforms pose a health and safety hazard which could endanger the lives of police officers and of others" (Policeone.com)Opportunities
President Richard Nixon's 1969 executive order ending the FBI's ban on hiring women as special agents had been a step in the right direction. However, the most significant piece of legislation to usher in the modern era of law enforcement for women came in 1972.
An amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act gave the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) power to enforce anti-discrimination laws for state and local government agencies--including police departments. Women began being hired in greater numbers, attending regular police academies, and receiving promotions to supervisory positions across the country. These advances were not showing up equally in every department.
"An analysis of the UCR data showed that most of the police agencies reporting to the FBI did not employ any policewomen in 2003," (Policechiefmagazine.org). While large agencies and campus police departments integrated women into patrol positions, many small, rural departments still do not have female officers.Hiring officials say they hire the best person for the job, but complain that there are few female applicants (Pennlive.com).
Recruitment still lags behind need.
Diversity is important in law enforcement. Chief James Adams of Upper Allen Twp. Police Department in Pennsylvania said, "If you look at our client base, we have significant victims, witnesses, people we arrest, who are female. I'm not saying it's 50-50, but right now we're 100 percent male as far as sworn staff" (Pennlive.com).
Social Barriers"In 1973, a sergeant with the LAPD, Fanchon Blake, sued after she and other female police sergeants were not allowed to take the lieutenant's exam because they were women. She won. A similar lawsuit filed against the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department by Sue Bouan in 1980 was eventually settled in 1988" (Policemag.com). These lawsuits helped improve hiring and promotional practices for women. However, some of the pioneers, like Bouman,
- 1972: An amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act gave the EEOC power to enforce anti-discrimination laws for state and local government agencies.
- 1980: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) formally defined sexual harassment and classified it as a form of sexual discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- 1985: Penny Harrington became first female police chief for a major city, (Portland, Oregon).
- 1992: Jacquelyn Barrett elected as first black female sheriff (Fulton County, Georgia).
- 1993: Margaret M. Moore, first female to serve as the head of an ATF field office (Baltimore, MD).
- 1994: Beverly J. Harvard selected first African American woman to serve as chief of police for a large city, (Atlanta, Georgia).
- 1995: The National Center for Women & Policing and the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives were founded.
- 1999: Women in Federal Law Enforcement organization was incorporated.
- 2003: The majority of U.S. agencies did not employ female law enforcement officers.
- 2011: Women comprise 13% of law enforcement personnel.
- 2013: Julia Pierson appointed by President Obama as first female Secret Service Director.
confronted a backlash from peers for the rest of their careers.Sexual harassment and hazing were common roadblocks for new female officers in the 1970's. Patty Fogerson, ret. detective supervisor III, worked as a police officer with the LAPD from 1969 to 1994. She talked about her early years on the department. "Phrases like sexual harassment and hostile work environment didn't exist back then. I was able to work robbery and detectives, background investigations, and was one of the first female drill instructors in the academy. I just got along and survived in the beginning, then things settled down" (Policemag.com). As of 1998, there were few mentoring programs designed to support women in law enforcement (Policemag.com).
Women in small departments where they may be the only female patrol officer sometimes find support through national organizations.Benefits of Women in Law Enforcement
Rather than having a tendency to fuel an already violent situation, female officers are more likely to use communication skills to try to calm the situation. Some victims may find talking with female officers less intimidating than reporting to male officers. Chiefs point out that there are situations in which the department may open itself up to liability when only relying on male officers in sensitive situations with female victims and suspects.
While some are concerned about women not being as big and strong as some male officers, others don't see this as a major issue. There are many tools, including tasers and firearms, that simply do not rely on strength. In most situations, all officers would be better off if they relied on tactics and skills rather than strength.
Now that women play a more active role in the military, some female applicants bring military experience and tactical skills to the job.Achievements
Although uncommon, women have served as police chiefs, sheriffs, and assistant directors of federal agencies. Women have formed supportive organizations including the International Association of Women Police, The National Center for Women & Policing, The National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives, and Women in Federal Law Enforcement.
There are still firsts left for women in law enforcement. In fact, Julia Pierson was just selected by President Obama to be the Secret Service director on March 26, 2013. She will be the first woman to hold that post. After working as a police officer for three years at the Orlando Police Department, she joined the Secret Service. She rose through the ranks over the last 30 years (www.cfnews13.com). Some believe that she is entrusted with changing the male-dominated culture of the agency which allowed for a prostitution scandal in 2012 (Washingtonpost.com).ProgressThe International Association of Chiefs of Police released a report on "The Future of Women in Policing" (Criminaljusticeschoolinfo.com). These were their findings:
Women's role in law enforcement has grown significantly in the last 140 years (see Women in Law Enforcement: The Early Years
- Given the variety of circumstances faced by law enforcement officers, it has been found that women can be just as effective and even more effective in certain scenarios.
- Women often show a high degree of competency in intellectual and strategic situations and can diffuse potentially dangerous situations with great skill
- Women still face discrimination, sexual harassment, and peer intimidation in their roles
- As role models at higher levels of law enforcement increase, the number of women interested increases
- The media has recently made a shift and portrayed women as competent and effective law enforcement personnel, which is helpful for changing societal assumptions
- More than two-thirds of current criminal justice students polled are in support of additional women law enforcement officers
- Women law enforcement officers are especially effective in carrying out the new community model of policing, which is less reactive and more proactive
). Yet, women hold only 13% of law enforcement jobs, and only 7% of supervisory positions (Criminaljusticeschoolinfo.com). Many small departments still have no females among their sworn officers. Unlike their male counterparts, female officers frequently feel the need to prove themselves daily. Perseverance has allowed women to make contributions and attain increasingly more powerful roles in law enforcement.Resources:
Criminal Justice School Info, "Women in Law Enforcement,"
www.criminaljusticeschoolinfo.com, (accessed 4-2-2013).Horne, Peter, "Policewomen: Their First Century and the New Era," www.policechiefmagazine.org, September, 2006.Miller, Barbara, "Female Police Officers are Rare but Sought After for Unique Skills," www.pennLive.com, 12-8-2012.
National Law Enforcement Officer Museum, "Women in Law Enforcement Photo Timeline,"
www.NLEOMF.org, (accessed 3-20-2013).News 13, "Orlando's Julia Pierson Named 1st Woman Secret Service Head," www.cfnews13.com, 3-26-2013.Scoville, Dean, "The First Female Patrol Officers," www.policemag.com, 9-21-2012.Stone, Rebecca, "Sam Browne and Beyond: A Look at Duty Belts," www.policeone.com, Nov. 2000.Wilson, Scott, "Obama to Name Julia Pierson as New Secret Service Director," www.washintonpost.com, 3-26-2013.
During National Women's History Month, let's look into how women have slowly integrated into the field of law enforcement. It took a long time before women held the same jobs as men for anywhere close to the same level of pay. And many more years before they were issued uniforms and equipment that were practical for their role as police officers. They still fight for respect.The first few women in law enforcement were hired in 1845 to be matrons. Far from patrol officers, they were civilians hired to care for women and children in police custody. It is difficult to name the first female police officer, since there is little agreement on dates and duties. Based on research publicized in 2010, it would appear that
Marie Connelly Owens was hired by the Chicago Police Department as a police officer in 1891 (Suntimes.com). In 1898, she joined others in her department in being placed on the civil service rolls as a "regular patrolman" after scoring 99% on her exam (www.fedagent.com).
In 1908, Lola Greene Baldwin was the first full-time, paid female law enforcement officer in Portland, OR. Apparently the first female to have powers of arrest at the LAPD was Alice Stebbins Wells, hired in 1910. She may have been the first person referred to as a "policewomen."
- 1845: New York City hired two police matrons.
- 1878: Many departments across the country hired police matrons.
- 1891: Marie Owens, formerly a city health inspector, was hired as a police officer for the Chicago Police Department. She served for 32 years.
- 1898: Marie Owens passed her civil service exam with a score of 99% and joined others at her department on the civil service rolls.
- 1908: Lola Greene Baldwin was sworn in as a full-time, paid law enforcement officer for Portland, OR.
- 1910: Alice Stebbins Wells was hired by the LAPD and may have been the first female with powers of arrest and the first referred to as a "policewoman."
- 1915: International Association of Policewomen (IAP) was founded. It was disbanded during the Depression.
- 1916: Anna Hart, a jail matron for Hamilton County, OH, was the first female law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty.
- 1918: Policewomen with limited powers were working in more than 200 U.S. cities.
- 1921: Mary E. Hamilton became the first female precinct leader for NYPD.
- 1948: Although 30 percent of FBI employees were women, none were special agents. They all worked in support positions.
- 1956: The International Association of Women Police (IAWP) formed as a continuation of the IAP.
- 1957: Beverly Garland starred in the first American TV police show starring a woman.
- 1960: The number of policewomen had doubled since 1950.
- 1961: In Shpritzer v. Lang, Felicia Shpritzer won her case in front of the Supreme Court of New York after females had been denied the opportunity to take the promotional exam.
- 1965: Felicia Shpritzer and Gertrude Schimmel had the two highest scores on the promotional exam and were sworn in as NYPD's first female sergeants.
- 1968: Elizabeth Robinson and Betty Blankenship of the Indianapolis Police Department were the first women assigned to car patrol duties.
- 1969: President Richard M. Nixon signed Executive Order 11478 which made it illegal to discriminate in the federal service based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or handicap.
Society took a step backward during the 30s and 40s when most employers decided that the few jobs available during the Depression should go to men. During WWII, when many men left for military service, women filled support jobs in police departments but still had limited roles. While 30 percent of FBI employees were women in 1948, they were all in support positions such as secretaries, file clerks, radio operators, fingerprint examiners, or lab technicians. Not one served as a special agent.
In the 1950s and 60s, more and more women worked as police officers rather than filling social work functions. Most notably, "The face of law enforcement across the country was forever changed in 1968 when Indianapolis Police Department policewomen Elizabeth Robinson and Betty Blankenship strapped on their guns and took control of Car 47...These two women made it quite clear that women were capable of all aspects of law enforcement responsibilities," (ICWtorchbearerawards).
President Richard M. Nixon's executive order signed on August 8, 1969, removed the FBI's ban on hiring women as special agents. "Women now held authority to carry firearms, execute search warrants, and make arrests" (NLEOMF.org).
When Patty Fogerson joined the LAPD in 1969, male and female officers shared concerns about how to work with each other. "My first partner didn't know whether he should open the door for me when we got in the car," Fogerson said. Although the term had not been coined, sexual harassment was intense in those early years (LATimes.com). Yet, she persisted and retired from the department in 1994.Also in 1969, Judith Lewis began working for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. "Our uniform was a skirt, high heels, and a blouse. We went through a 10-week academy vs. a 20-week academy for men. We got a 2-inch gun to carry in our purse" (Policemag.com).
Very little was equal for male and female law enforcement officers.
The first women in law enforcement struggled to earn an opportunity to try to prove themselves. It would take much more to earn respect and some semblance of fair treatment. In my next blog, I will look at progress made by women in the modern era of this male-dominated field. Resources:Boxall, Bettina, "In a Man's World: Women were a Novelty When Patricia Fogerson Joined the LAPD; 'You Just Kept Your Mouth Shut and Kept Going,' She Says," LATimes.com, 3-3-1994.
Indiana Commission for Women Torchbearer Awards, "Elizabeth Robinson and Betty Blankenship,"
Center for Women & Policing, "A History of Women in Policing,"
www.womenandpolicing.com, (accessed 3-20-2013).
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, "The Forgotten Story of Marie Connelly Owens of the Chicago Police Department,"
www.Fedagent.com, 3-15-2013.National Law Enforcement Officer Museum, "Women in Law Enforcement Photo Timeline," www.NLEOMF.org, (accessed 3-20-2013).Scoville, Dean, "The First Female Patrol Officers," Policemag.com, 9-21-2012.Spielman, Fran, "First Female Cop Hired in 1891, 22 Years Earlier Than Thought," www.Suntimes.com, 9-30-2010.
Yesterday President Barack Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAMA) into law. Not only does it reinstate the earlier VAMA provisions which helped women who suffered domestic violence and sexual assault, it also extends protections to lesbians, gays, immigrants, and Native Americans.
"All women deserve the right to live free from fear," President Obama said, (USAToday.com)
Last year the Congress failed to come to an agreement to reauthorize the act. This year, the Senate passed the bill on a 78-22 vote which included every Democrat, every woman, and 23 of 45 Republicans. An attempt to remove the protections for new groups was eventually rejected and the bill passed the House on a 286-238 vote, (FOXnews.com).
"The Violence Against Women Act has set the standard for how to protect women, and some men, from domestic abuse and prosecute abusers and is credited with helping reduce domestic violence incidents by two-thirds since its inception in 1994," (Bostom.com).Selected VAMA Provisions
- Enables domestic violence crimes against women to be prosecuted in federal courts
- Prevents service providers from refusing services to gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual victims of domestic violence
- Offers grants for transitional housing and legal assistance
- Offers grants for law enforcement training and hotlines
- Reauthorizes the Trafficking Victims Protection Act
- Allows Tribal Courts to prosecute non-native attackers of Native American women on tribal lands
- Adds stalking to the list of crimes for which protection is available to undocumented immigrants
- Supports programs to reduce sexual assaults on college campuses
- Authorizes programs to reduce the backlog of rape investigations
Native American women experience domestic violence at roughly twice the rate of the general U.S. population. Although Native American Tribes are legally sovereign nations, U.S. federal law and Supreme Court rulings have not enabled Tribal Courts to exert jurisdiction and prosecute non-native American perpetrators of crimes on their lands. This is a huge barrier to justice for Native American women, nearly
half of whom are married to non-American Indians. In fact, nearly "77 percent of people living in American Indian and Alaska Native areas are non-Indian, according to a recent Census report," (AP.org). The latest version of the Violence Against Women Act will change that in regard to domestic violence.
‘‘One of the great legacies of this law is it didn’t just change the rules, it changed our culture. It empowered people to start speaking out,’’ Obama said, (Boston.com) Resources:
Associated Press, "Congress Passes Bill Renewing Violence Against Women Act,"
FoxNews.com, 2-28-2013.Cohen, Tom, "House Passes Violence Against Women Act After GOP Version Defeated," CNN.com, 2-28-2013.Fonseca, Felicia, "Law Gives Tribes New Authority Over Non-Indians," AP.org, 3-7-2013.Jackson, David, "Obama Signs Renewal of Violence Against Women Act," USAToday.com, 3-7-2013.Lederman, Josh, "Obama Signs Expanded Violence Against Women Act," Bostom.com, 3-7-2013.Parker, Ashley, "House Renews Violence Against Women Measure," NYTimes.com, 2-28-2013.