NPR Story
10:51 am
Fri September 5, 2014

Racial Gaps Not Unusual In Police Departments

More than one-third of Garfield Heights is black, but out of 50 police officers, only one is African-American. (Image via Garfield Heights Police annual report)

Originally published on Thu September 4, 2014 11:29 am

The population in Ferguson, a city of about 20,000 people north of St. Louis, is about two-thirds African-American. The city’s police force has 53 officers, four of whom are black.

But Ferguson is not alone when it comes to a race gap in police departments. Hundreds across the country have forces with a white percentage that is more than 30 percentage points higher than the communities they serve.

Nick Castele from Here & Now contributing station WCPN took a survey of departments in northern Ohio.

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Military Surplus
3:56 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Several Washington Police Departments Suspended From Surplus Program Over Lost Weapons

An M16 rifle.
Credit Flickr Photo/Piskami (CC-BY-NC-ND)

State records reveal that in the past two years, four law enforcement departments in Washington state have been suspended from the military surplus program known as 1033.

The government program issues surplus military gear to state and local municipalities who show a need. Under the program, law enforcement agencies can apply to receive everything from Shop-Vacs to mine-resistant vehicles. All they need to pay is the cost of shipping.

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1:09 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Police Captain: Engaged Residents The Best Defense Against Rising Crime

Southeast Seattle residents met Wednesday night to discuss their concerns about rising crime in the neighborhood with Captain David Proudfoot and Chief Kathleen O'Toole.
Credit KUOW Photo/Jamala Henderson

Crime is up in Southeast Seattle, according to Seattle Police say.

At a crime prevention meeting Wednesday night, South Precinct Captain David Proudfoot said their highest priority  is to tackle the rise in street crime.

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9:38 am
Thu September 4, 2014

U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan Steps Down To Seek Next Chapter

U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan talks to reporters about police reform at the Federal Building in Seattle in May.
Credit KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Jenny Durkan, the U.S. Attorney for Western Washington, announced her resignation Wednesday, saying she felt the time was right to go.

Durkan spent five years as the region’s top law enforcement official, which she said was longer than she’d planned.

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Military Surplus
3:25 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

What Are Washington Police Departments Doing With Mine Resistant Vehicles?

An example of an MRAP that can be used by police departments.
KUOW/Kara McDermott

In the last few years, Washington state has received shipments of mine resistant vehicles that were used in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

They’re pricey (about $650,000), and they’re tough to drive, but 17 police agencies have one to call their own. Each one weighs about 50,000 pounds.

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Military Surplus
1:35 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Should Local Police Get The Military's Extra Armored Trucks?

Page County, Va., Sheriff John Thomas received an MRAP for his department in May. "Is it overkill? Yeah, it is. I mean, for our use, it's more armor than we need. But it's free," he says.
David Welna NPR

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 3:17 pm

Mine-resistant, ambush-protected troop carriers, known as MRAPs, were built to withstand bomb blasts. They can weigh nearly 20 tons, and many U.S. troops who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are alive today because of them. But many of the vehicles are now considered military surplus, so thanks to a congressionally mandated Pentagon program, they're finding their way to hundreds of police and sheriff's departments.

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Police Surveillance
1:58 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Secret Surveillance In Tacoma: Police Collecting Cell Phone Records

Marcie Sillman talks with Tacoma News Tribune reporter Kate Martin about a surveillance device being used by the Tacoma Police Department that sweeps up meta data from cell phones.

Police Reform
1:52 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

ACLU President On Ferguson: 'The Beginning Of Change Is Awareness'

A Seattle march in support of Michael Brown and the protesters in Ferguson, MO.
Flickr Photo/Joe Wolf (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with ACLU president Susan Herman about the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, following an officer shooting of an unarmed teenager.

Ferguson Connection
9:58 am
Mon August 25, 2014

How Military Surplus Worked In Oso’s Favor

The North Fork Stillaguamish River and the headwall left behind by the Oso landslide.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

You might not think there's much of a connection between the deadly Oso landslide and this month's racially charged unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.

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9:14 am
Fri August 22, 2014

Seattle Rally: 'It's Hard Being A Black Man In This Country'

Protesters hold their hands up at Pratt Park in Seattle's Central District for a Michael Brown rally.
Angela Pierce

It's been nearly two weeks since black teenager Michael Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. His death touched off a wave of outrage that spread to cities across the country, including Seattle.

On Thursday evening, the Seattle King County NAACP hosted a rally at Pratt Park in the Central District.

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Police Force
2:46 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

How Do Police Departments End Up With Military Equipment?

A member of the Emergency Response Team at the Nike Women's Half Marathon in Washington, D.C., this year.
Flickr Photo/The Q Speaks (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with Al Jazeera America correspondent Sebastian Walker about why police departments in the United States are acquiring military equipment.

King County Policing
9:44 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Police Militarization Becomes A Hot Topic

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 4:35 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



Now, the images from Ferguson - images of heavily armed police - have triggered a national debate about whether American cops have become too militarized. President Obama pointed to that concern yesterday.


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Law Enforcement
8:46 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Former Seattle Police Chief Takes Job As County Undersheriff

Sheriff John Urquhart introduces his new chief deputy, or undersheriff, Jim Pugel.
Credit KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

King County Sheriff John Urquhart has chosen his new chief deputy: Jim Pugel, the former interim Seattle police chief.

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12:35 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Mental Health Cops Help Reweave Social Safety Net In San Antonio

Officers Ned Bandoske (left) and Ernest Stevens are part of San Antonio's mental health squad — a six-person unit that answers the frequent emergency calls where mental illness may play a role.
Jenny Gold Kaiser Health News

Originally published on Thu August 21, 2014 9:08 am

It's almost 4 p.m., and police officers Ernest Stevens and Ned Bandoske have been driving around town in their unmarked black SUV since early this morning. The officers are part of San Antonio's mental health squad — a six-person unit that answers the frequent emergency calls where mental illness may be an issue.

The officers spot a call for help on their laptop from a group home across town.

"A male individual put a blanket on fire this morning," Stevens reads from the blotter. "He's arguing ... and is a danger to himself and others. He's off his medications."

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Racial Tension
3:32 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Local Black Teens On Ferguson: 'It's Hard To Talk To People Who Don't Care'

Yaninna Sharpley-Travis (left) and Devan Rogers (right) stand with Marcel Purnell, organizer of Youth Undoing Institutional Racism. They are making the "don't shoot" pose, which has become a popular form of social media protest after the events in Ferguso
KUOW Photo/Matthew Streib

Jeannie Yandel speaks with Devan Rogers and Yaninna Sharpley-Travis, two members of Youth Undoing Institutional Racism, about how they interpret the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, and how they interact with local police.

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