police

It's a warm and muggy summer afternoon in Chicago, but that doesn't seem to bother the kids clamoring to ride the Ferris wheel, the Rock-O-Plane and other carnival rides set up in this southwest suburban park.

At the annual Chicago Fraternal Order of Police summer picnic, city cops and their families hauled in coolers and set up grills to enjoy food and bond with brothers and sisters in blue.

But there's something hanging over this picnic: the stress and strain of the job, and the scrutiny that many here say is harsher than ever.

The recent police shootings of African-American men in Louisiana and Minnesota have reignited the debate over use of deadly force. That was on the mind of a black community leader in Washington state as she strapped on a gun belt and took aim inside a state-of-the-art training simulator for police.

At the Washington State Patrol Academy in Shelton, Corporal Lori Hinds guides a pair of visitors into what looks like a walk-in video game. Inside five, large video screens form a 300-degree computer-generated environment.

Gregory "Buster" Coleman is a cop who's been through a lot.

He was the Liberian National Police Commissioner during the Ebola outbreak.

He and his men would wear protective equipment when they were out on patrol during the epidemic. But the garb is "not made for policing," says the robust 36-year-old. "If we had to make a difficult arrest the suit could tear." He paused. "Every night I would have to strip outside my house, be sprayed down with chlorine then shower before I could even greet my children."

That was a bit unnerving.

So was going to Harvard.

In South Carolina, a federal grand jury has indicted a white, former police officer on civil rights charges over the shooting death of an unarmed black man last April.

An experiment has been underway in California since November 2014, when voters approved Proposition 47: put fewer lawbreakers in jail without increasing crime. The measure converted a list of nonviolent felonies into misdemeanors, which translated into little or no jail time for crimes such as low-value theft and possession of hard drugs.

Police didn't like Prop 47 when it was on the ballot, and now many are convinced they were right to oppose it.

City of Tacoma

The city of Tacoma wants to improve how its citizens and the police force interact with each other. It started Project Peace - an ongoing series of facilitated conversations that are taking place throughout the city.

At each meeting, police officers and community members use the open platform to share their fears and hopes. KPLU student reporter Zoe Velie talked with participants at a Project Peace event at Tacoma's Lincoln High School.

Ed Ronco / KPLU

Local law enforcement agencies are asking the public to “Tweet Smart” and be careful how they use social media in an emergency. Their concern is that too much information about the real-time movements of police could put officers in danger. 

Jessica Robinson

Researchers at Washington State University say the same kind of self-tracking technology that's become popular among smartphone users could also help police officers stay safer on the job.

A criminal justice professor will debut an app that monitors alertness at a White House conference Tuesday.

The Seattle Police Department needs to hire more sergeants to work closely with rank-and-file officers. That’s the view of an independent monitor, Merrick Bobb, who's looking into excessive use of force. He'll present his monitoring plan to a federal judge tomorrow for approval.

Arkdog / Flickr

Police officers working in schools can’t necessarily search a student without a warrant, even though a teacher usually can. That’s the upshot of a ruling by the Washington State Supreme Court out Thursday, in a case involving a student at Robinswood High in Bellevue and the murky legal realm of cops in schools.

The Bellevue Police Department has five officers working exclusively in the schools. In this case, one of them caught the student with a bag of marijuana, arrested him, and then searched his locked bag without permission.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

The city of Seattle and the U.S. Department of Justice have struck a deal on how to reform Seattle’s police department. The agreement heads off a threatened civil rights lawsuit against the city.

Tom Banse / KPLU

TACOMA, Wash. - Get ready to spot a new kind of "bird" in the sky. Within the next month, the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to green light the use of small unmanned aircraft by emergency services. Some sheriffs' departments in the Northwest are showing interest in these aircraft.

TACOMA, Wash. - Get ready to spot a new kind of "bird" in the sky. Within the next month, the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to green light the use of small unmanned aircraft by emergency services. Some sheriffs' departments in the Northwest are showing interest in these aircraft.

What we're talking about here are scaled up hobby airplanes and helicopters or scaled down military drones. A booth rented by unmanned aircraft systems company Prioria Robotics drew a crowd this week at an emergency management conference in Tacoma.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington is adopting a Blue alert system to enlist the public in looking for cop killers. KIRO-FM reports Gov. Chris Gregoire is expected to sign the Blue alert bill Thursday.

Two Renton officers have been demoted for posting a cartoon to YouTube that makes fun of the staff and policies of a new jail in South King County.

Deputy Police Chief, Charles Marsalisi and police sergeant Bill Judd, were each knocked down a rank after their involvement in the video came to light.

Yasunari Nacamura / Flikr

Crows have been attacking cops in the parking lot of the Everett Police Department's north precinct station. Birds have been swooping down on officers walking from their cars.

Still image courtesy of Anzamarch (Junko) / YouTube

Clean it up or close it down – that's the choice for the new owner of a vacant property in South Seattle that's become notorious for noisy raves. 

Police have declared The Citadel a chronic nuisance. The boxy warehouse building was turned into a music venue by owner Steve Rauf, who says the dance parties have brought in much-needed revenue. 

AP photo

     The state Supreme Court is considering whether to release thousands of police records related to last year's fatal shooting of four Lakewood police officers.

      The Seattle Times is seeking release of the records. The files are from the case of Maurice Clemmons, an ex-con who gunned down the Lakewood officers in November.

      Clemmons was killed by a Seattle officer following a massive manhunt. But a half-dozen people are charged with crimes for allegedly aiding him.