Tag Archives: police

Stoned drivers targeted by new breathalyzer technology

By Brady Jones
Medill Reports

Slowed reaction time. Reduced ability to make decisions. Impaired coordination. Memory loss. Difficulty in problem-solving. These are some of the symptoms listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describing people who drive under the influence of marijuana. And right now, it is very difficult for law enforcement officials to determine when these drivers are sharing the road with you—and may be responsible for causing an accident.

Detecting recent marijuana use by drivers is far more difficult for law enforcement than detecting the presence of alcohol. Currently, testing can’t be done for marijuana using on-site breath samples. Now, a new device that aims to provide a reliable solution to this growing concern is being developed—and law enforcement officials welcome the potential of the new technology.

As more states move to legalization for recreational purposes, marijuana is more accessible to people with limited or no experience using it. The ability to successfully detect drivers that have smoked or ingested the drug becomes paramount to keeping drivers safe. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana that produces the feeling of being high, does not show up on current, traditional breathalyzer devices used by law enforcement to detect blood alcohol content.
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Mount Greenwood protests a microcosm of national division on police brutality

By Alex Ortiz

During the afternoon of Nov. 20, a group of some 15 protesters walked down a closed off streets at Kedzie Avenue and 111th Street in Mount Greenwood on the city’s far southwestern edge. It was a cool but clear day — perfect  for a large demonstration. Residents looked on while standing on their front lawns. Many had confused faces, while others shook their heads disapprovingly. Continue reading

When volunteers help connect beat cops with communities, crime often goes down

By Jasmine Cen

A beat facilitator is a volunteer who connects Chicago police officers working a beat with members of the community to help combat neighborhood violence.

Beat facilitators meet monthly with the officers to talk about safety concerns at Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) meetings. The CAPS program began in 1993. More than 200 meetings happen every month. Continue reading When volunteers help connect beat cops with communities, crime often goes down

Police and colleges assess the the emoji threat

By Colin Mo

When it comes to the concept of “emoji” – ideograms and smileys used in electronic messaging and internet web pages – courts and law enforcement tend to take it very seriously.

Recently, a 12-year-old girl was arrested for using emojis on a public Instagram post, prompting her school to call in law enforcement. In her public Instagram post, she included the emojis for a gun, a bomb, and a knife, and the word “killing. “Cases are beginning to emerge in which police charge people — often kids — for using emoji in ways that they deem threatening,” according to a Time article.

For many millennials, cases like this are becoming a free speech issue, in which the lines are blurred and not clear-cut. Those in college have reason to be concerned what their college administrations take into consideration when viewing their public social media posts.

“I’d be curious to know how much evidence or what type of evidence they would need to actually investigate something because there are problems with both sides of the coin,” said Eric Millington, an undergraduate at Northwestern University.

Similar questions have been raised by other students, such as:

– If someone hacked my account and posted a terrible message, what happens?

– What if it’s a problem of generation gap, and that millennials do not consider the message threatening?

“This particular issue regarding emojis has not come up,” said Alan Cubbage, Vice President for University Relations at Northwestern University. “[But] Northwestern has procedures in place for dealing with messages that may appear to be threatening. If such a potential threat is discovered, members of the administration, including university police, student affairs (if it involves a student), human resources (if it involves a staff member), and others evaluate the threat and determine the appropriate response.”

“In general, the police would determine if a crime was committed, probably in consultation with school district officials, parents and, ultimately, the State’s Attorney’s Office,” said Perry Polinski, the communications coordinator for the Evanston Police Department. “It would depend on the context of the message that such symbols are contained in.”

Polinski compared the issue to “cyber banging.” Cyber banging is when gang members taunt or disrespect rival gang members with postings and/or videos via social media.  Though the potential to escalate into violence is more likely with cyber banging, the use of  symbols/emoji might lead to gang “tagging” (graffiti) to mark territory,” he noted.

In the end, the Evanston Police would like to remind the public: Like so many things in this day and age in which technology and social media are concerned, it is extremely convenient and effortless to thoughtlessly tap a couple of keys and hit the send button “on the fly” without considering the consequences.

Photo at top: Screenshot of emoji used in a popular messaging app, WeChat. (Colin Mo/MEDILL)

One bullet, two victims: Protesters rally for convicted NYPD officer

By Shanshan Wang

Thousands of people, mostly Chinese-Americans, marched in downtown Chicago Saturday, calling justice for former NYPD officer Peter Liang, who was convicted of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a black man in 2014.

The protesters chanted along the way, holding national flags, signs and banners with slogans conveying the message that selective justice is not justice, and that Liang is a scapegoat. Many of them have been following the news and sharing the protest information on WeChat, the most popular social media platform among Chinese community.

On Saturday, throngs of protesters, many from Chicago’s Chinese American community, decried the guilty verdict in the police shooting trail of Peter Liang in New York. Liang was convicted of shooting Akai Gurley, an African American, in 2014 while on the job as a New York City cop. Many protesters said race is not an issue here and that their main appeal was to have justice in law. However, at least one black woman insisted black lives matter. (Yunfei Zhao / MEDILL)

Continue reading One bullet, two victims: Protesters rally for convicted NYPD officer

Urban League panel works out community trust issues

By Thomas Vogel
Video by Hannah Gebresilassie

Police tactics, mental-health awareness and youth engagement were top concerns for a panel of community leaders, government officials and media personalities assembled Tuesday for a community forum at the South Side headquarters of the Urban League of Chicago.

Representatives from Chicago Police Department, community leaders and citizens discussed issues around building trust within the Chicago community, coordinated by Chicago Urban League and Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. (Hannah Gebresilassie/MEDILL REPORTS)

The event, co-sponsored by the Campaign for Political Reform, comes at a low point in the relationship between city government and residents. Persistent crime, lack of jobs and decreased government services coupled with several recent high-profile police shootings, including the killing of teens Laquan McDonald, Quintonio LeGrier and Cedrick Chatman have contributed to the rocky relationship. The panelists, who each brought a different professional perspective, helped workshop solutions but acknowledged the complexity of the problem.

“It’s devastating to see the lack of trust,” said Alexa James, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Chicago, a mental health organization. “We have years and year of work to be done. This is a significant culture change.”

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Police recruitment numbers down

By Iacopo Luzi

In East Side, on a cold night with no one on the streets, the lights of Taylor Elementary School are turned on to welcome aspiring police officers. But almost no one shows up.

Taylor is open to host a Chicago Police Department recruitment fair, organized by Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th Ward). Other fairs are being held elsewhere in the city in advance of the Jan. 31 deadline to apply to become an officer.

“We organized this event to give a chance to people to apply for a good job, with a good salary, a possibility for many people here on East Side,” said Garza. However, despite the good intentions, fewer than 10 people showed up, stopping briefly to ask a few questions of the officers at the fair and then quickly disappearing.
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Feeling the heat, Chicago Police counter criticism, highlight ‘good works’

By Thomas Vogel

De-escalating a domestic dispute in Englewood. A drug bust in the Harrison District. A South Side foot chase to catch a carjacker. These are just a few of the instances the Chicago Police Department recognized Tuesday morning at its monthly Commendation Ceremony.

Designed to emphasize positive instances of crime fighting, the event offered the department a way to counterbalance the negative attitude many Chicagoans have adopted toward the nation’s second-largest police force following several embarrassing incidents.
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