TIME Transportation

Amtrak Train That Derailed Sped Up Before Crash

8 dead as all passengers are believed accounted for

An eighth and final fatality in an Amtrak train derailment earlier this week was confirmed Thursday as officials provided more information about the train’s speed ahead of the accident and pledged to install safety technologies to prevent future ones.

Robert Sumwalt, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board who is leading the investigation into Tuesday night’s derailment, gave reporters a more clear tick-tock of the train’s acceleration as speed was still considered a potentially major factor. Sixty-five seconds before the crash, Sumwalt said, an analysis of the train’s forward-looking visual recorder clocked the train at 70 miles per hour; 16 seconds before the crash, the train was going 100 mph.

Amtrak Northeast Regional 188 derailed northeast of Philadelphia Tuesday night en route to New York City from Washington, D.C. Investigators from the NTSB say the train reached 106 m.p.h. moments before the accident along an S-curve with a speed limit of 50 m.p.h. (On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that a lawyer for Amtrak dispatcher Bruce Phillips, who was injured in the crash, said his client filed what appears to be the first lawsuit to result from the derailment, with more than $150,000 sought in damages.)

Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer announced Thursday afternoon that an eighth body had been pulled from the train wreckage just hours earlier, bringing the total number of deaths to eight. Mayor Michael Nutter said that officials now believe that all 243 passengers have been accounted for.

Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman also reiterated the company’s commitment to install “positive train control” along the Northeast Corridor, a technology designed to slow and even stop speeding trains. Later, in an interview that aired on CNN, Sumwalt said: “We do believe that positive train control could have prevented this accident.”

Engineer under scrutiny

The investigation has now focused on the train’s engineer, 32-year-old Brandon Bostian of Queens, N.Y. Bostian received multiple head and leg injuries in the accident, and Mayor Nutter confirmed that he was interviewed by the Philadelphia Police Department while hospitalized. “It was a pretty short interview in which he apparently indicated that he did not want to be interviewed,” Mayor Nutter said.

On Thursday, the NTSB tweeted that Bostian had agreed to an interview by its investigators.

So far, Bostian has reportedly given a blood sample to determine whether there were any illegal substances in his system and has also turned over his cell phone. Robert Goggin, Bostian’s lawyer, says his client met with police for five hours. Neither the police nor Bostian have commented on that meeting, but Goggin says the engineer has no memory of the crash. Goggin has also told CNN that his client had not been on his phone during the accident and says the engineer has had no significant accidents in his time with Amtrak.

All eight victims have been identified: Jim Gaines, 48, a video software architect with the Associated Press; Justin Zemser, 20, a U.S. Naval Academy midshipman; Rachel Jacobs, CEO of education technology company ApprenNet; Abid Gilani, a senior vice president at Wells Fargo; Derrick Griffith, a dean at Medgar Evers Colege; and Bob Gildersleeve, 45, a vice president at Ecolab, a hygiene and energy technologies company; Giuseppe Piras, who Italian media said worked in the olive oil business; and Laura Finamore, 47, who was reported to have been going back to New York following a memorial service for the mother of a friend.

Better safety controls needed

Many are now questioning the lack of safety controls to slow speeding trains along the Northeast Corridor. According to Amtrak, full installation of positive track control was scheduled to be completed along the heavily trafficked corridor by December 2015, according to the January/February 2015 issue of Amtrak Inc., a company publication. NTSB’s Sumwalt has said that PTC could have prevented Tuesday’s accident.

“Based on what we know right now, we feel that had such a system been installed in this section of track, this accident would not have occurred,” Sumwalt said. He has also told CNN that a “key question” is to figure out why it hadn’t been used, adding: “Why was it in other areas … on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, but why was it not here?”

The likely answer is cost. Most estimates place the price tag at $10 billion to install the technology nationwide. But finding enough federal money to install PTC everywhere will be difficult. Just hours after the accident, a House subcommittee voted down a bill that would’ve increased funding for the beleaguered train service.

For those looking to travel along the corridor, service will likely be limited for several days. There’s currently no service between New York City and Philadelphia, and limited service is running between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pa., and New York City and Boston. Boardman, Amtrak’s CEO, said the company expects to have full service running through Philadelphia by Tuesday.

TIME Transportation

Navy Midshipman, AP Employee Among 7 Amtrak Crash Victims

A Wells Fargo executive, CUNY dean and technology company CEO also died in the crash

Five of the seven people killed aboard an Amtrak train that derailed north of Philadelphia Tuesday were identified Wednesday evening, with an AP employee, a CUNY dean and a U.S. Naval Academy midshipman among the victims.

A Senior Vice President at Wells Fargo and the CEO of Philadelphia-based education software company AppreNet were also confirmed dead in the crash.

The Associated Press reported that video software architect Jim Gaines, one of the news agency’s own employees, died in the accident.

Gaines—an award-winning software designer who had worked at the agency since 1998—was on his way from Washington, D.C. to his home in Plainsboro, N.J., according to the AP.

AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt sent employees an e-mail Wednesday describing Gaines as leaving behind a “legacy of professionalism and critical accomplishment, kindness and humor.

AppreNet chief executive Rachel Jacobs had been returning to her home in New York when she was killed in the derailment, her family confirmed on Wednesday. In a statement, the family said Jacobs was “a wonderful mother, sister, daughter, wife and friend,” and that they “cannot imagine life without her”.

Justin Zemser, a 20-year-old midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland, was on leave and heading home to Brooklyn on the ill-fated train. Zemsar was a sophomore at the academy and a wide receiver for its sprint football team, described as a “bright, talented and patriotic young man” by a New York City Council member he interned with.

“He was wonderful. Absolutely wonderful,” Zemser’s mother Susan told reporters outside her home. “Everybody looked up to my son and there are just no other words I could say.”

The fourth victim was identified as Wells Fargo executive Abid Gilani, whose death was confirmed by company spokeswoman Elise Wilkinson.

Officials at the City University of New York’s Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn confirmed late Wednesday that Derrick Griffiths, dean of student affairs at the institution, was also killed in the crash. Griffith, 42, served students and the community “with passion” and was a “champion for the downtrodden”, the college said in a statement.

TIME Transportation

Amtrak Train That Derailed Was Speeding, NTSB Says

The train was said to be traveling at more than twice the posted speed limit

Investigators continued to pore over the scene of an Amtrak train derailment in north Philadelphia on Wednesday evening, hours after federal authorities said an engineer slammed on the brakes as it traveled at more than twice the speed limit, a move that barely slowed it before going off the tracks to leave at least seven people dead and more than 200 others injured.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday it was still too early to determine the ultimate cause of the crash and that a team of investigators will, over the next few days, probe factors like the train’s brake system and the track. After officials said preliminary data from a train recorder showed it had been traveling overly fast, speed arose as a potentially major cause.

Robert Sumwalt, a member of the safety board, said in a news conference that Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188, which was carrying 238 passengers and a crew of five between Washington, D.C., and New York City, derailed while making a sharp left-hand turn close to 9:30 p.m. Around the time an engineer applied the brakes, Sumwalt said of an initial examination of the data, the train was traveling at 106 m.p.h., or more than twice the posted speed limit on that section of the tracks. “You’re supposed to enter the curve at 50 m.p.h.,” he said, noting that just before the curve the posted speed is 80 m.p.h. Moments later, at the time the recorder stopped working, the train’s speed was clocked at 102 m.p.h.

The crash happened on a curve near the site of an accident in 1943 that killed dozens apparently after problems with the train wheels as well as a lack of oversight. Sumwalt said two recorders were being sent to a lab in Washington, D.C., for further analysis.

“We’ve suffered a tragedy here in our city. Seven people have died as a result of a train derailment, which is a very unusual event,” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter told reporters. “I don’t think anyone sitting here standing here today has a memory of a derailment of this kind in 50 years.”

“We have not completely matched the manifest that we received from Amtrak with the patient or hospital information,” Nutter said, adding that it was possible that some passengers who survived have not been in contact with local officials or that some who had tickets never boarded the train.

As of Wednesday evening, five of the fatalities had been identified. Among them were Jim Gaines, a 48-year-old software architect who worked with the Associated Press; Rachel Jacobs, chief executive at the Philadelphia-based education technology company ApprenNet; Abid Gilani, a senior vice president at Wells Fargo; Justin Zemser, a 20-year-old midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy; and Derrick Griffith, a 42-year-old CUNY doctoral student and dean of student affairs for the university’s Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn.

In a televised interview with CNN late Wednesday, after excessive speed was noted before the derailment, Nutter slammed the train’s engineer. “Clearly he was reckless and irresponsible in his actions” he said. “I don’t know what was going on with him. I don’t know what was going on in the cab, but there’s really no excuse that could be offered, literally, unless he had a heart attack.”

A number of news outlets reported into the evening on the engineer’s identity. NBC News reported it had confirmed via Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia that Brandon Bostian was treated for injuries and later released. A lawyer for Bostian, a 32-year-old Queens resident, told ABC News that his client couldn’t recall the derailment and was “very distraught” after hearing the crash had led to deaths. Bostian, who the attorney said suffered leg injuries in addition to a concussion and a head wound, had turned over a blood sample and cell phone to authorities.

Train traffic along the busiest stretch of the Northeast Corridor, the stretch of rail between Washington, D.C., and Boston that Amtrak says serves more than 2,200 trains every day, was set to remain snarled into Thursday. In a statement, Amtrak said it would not operate between Philadelphia and New York City on Thursday, but that New Jersey Transit would honor Amtrak tickets between Trenton and New York City.

Earlier, Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey described the scene as “horrific and heartbreaking.” And Senator Bob Casey, who spoke afterward, commended rescuers for working “under the most horrific circumstances.”

The White House released a statement Wednesday morning that offered condolences to the victims’ families.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those we lost last night, and to the many passengers who today begin their long road to recovery,” President Obama said in the statement. “Amtrak is a way of life for many. From Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia to New York City and Boston, this is a tragedy that touches us all.”

Vice President Joe Biden, who often discusses his own frequent trips on Amtrak between Wilmington and the nation’s capital, also released a statement. “Amtrak is like a second family to me, as it is for so many other passengers,” he said. “The victims could have been any one of our parents, children, or someone from one of our communities.”

—With reporting by Dan Kedmey

Read next: Focus of Amtrak Derailment Shifts to Engineer

TIME Crime

These Two Stats Show the Big Problem With Policing in America

Policemen hold their hats at their side during a vigil service for two fellow officers killed during a traffic stop, in Hattiesburg
Lee Celano—Reuters Policemen hold their hats during a vigil service for two officers killed during a traffic stop in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on May 11, 2015.

We know how many cops are killed in the line of duty, but not the number of people killed by cops

There are two sets of numbers that tell us a lot about the state of policing in America. This week, the FBI released the latest tally of cops killed in the line of duty. The grim toll in 2014 was 51 law enforcement officers who were killed while doing their jobs (the figure does not include those who died in work-related accidents). That’s an 89% rise from the year before, but still below the average of 64 deaths from 1980 to 2014.

We have those comparisons because the FBI database is considered complete and updated every year. What we don’t know is the corollary number: how many people die as a result of encounters with the police. The FBI does compile a list—the latest shows there were 461 suspects killed in 2013 by police officers, up from 397 in 2010—but it is in no way a comprehensive account because the information is provided voluntarily and only some of the nation’s almost 18,000 police departments contribute. Plus, the FBI’s list is short on details and only specifies the type of weapon used in fatal incidents. Numbers compiled by advocacy groups suggest that the number of people killed by police is much higher, although lower than it once was. According to the New York Times, for example, 91 people were shot and killed by police officers in New York City in 1971 compared with eight in 2013, which was a record low.

The lack of a reliable, comprehensive database has become a flashpoint in the debate over policing following a string of high-profile fatal incidents involving white officers and unarmed black men. These deaths have led to sometimes violent protests and a renewed focus on police use of force against minorities. And the public response helped prompt FBI director James Comey to call for better data in a speech on law enforcement and race. “The first step to understanding what is really going on in our communities and in our country is to gather more and better data related to those we arrest, those we confront for breaking the law and jeopardizing public safety, and those who confront us,” Comey said.

As the FBI’s new data on officer deaths shows, those confrontations can sometimes be fatal. The most common incident leading to an officer’s death came from answering a disturbance call (11), followed by involvement in car chases or traffic stops (10) and ambushes (8). Others were killed while involved in investigations, tactical situations or dealing with drug-related issues.

“There are certainly cases in the last year that have been directly related to the rise in tensions between police and minority communities,” says Marquette University criminology professor Meghan Stroshine, referring to incidents like one in New York City in December, in which two NYPD officers were deliberately targeted and shot “execution-style” apparently as retribution for police-related deaths of unarmed black men. “We have some cases clearly that were of a retaliatory nature or in the name of correcting perceived past wrongs.”

Just within the last two weeks, several officers have died on duty. The first NYPD officer to be killed in the line of duty since December died on May 4 after being shot by a gunman in Queens. And last week, two officers in Hattiesburg, Miss., were killed during a traffic stop. Four suspects have been charged.

TIME Aging

Why More Older Americans Are Suffering From Fatal Falls

55% of unintentional injury deaths among seniors come from falling

One of the fastest growing killers of older Americans isn’t a disease or a disability. It’s the accidental fall.

A new CDC report finds the rate of Americans aged 65 or over who die as a result of unintentional falls has nearly doubled since 2000; 55% of older citizens who die of unintentional injuries do so from falls, up from 33% in 2000. The death rate from falls increased from 29.6 per 100,000 in 2000 to 56.7 per 100,000 in 2013.

There’s no single reason for the steep increase in deaths from falls, and it’s far from clear what may be behind the rise, says the National Center for Health Statistics’ Ellen Kramarow, the report’s co-author. She notes the report is based on death certificate data, and there may be better reporting on underlying causes of death than in the past. But one factor some researchers point to is the continuing increase in overall life expectancy.

“People are living longer and living longer with conditions that make them frail and vulnerable to fall,” Kramarow says.

Before the growth in end-of-life care, assisted living facilities, medications, and hospital procedures designed to extend our lives, many people died from diseases or ailments that previously couldn’t be cured or treated in a way that made them manageable. Today, older Americans can often stave off death from something like heart disease or diabetes with medication that can prolong life longer than ever before. U.S. life expectancy is now at a record high of 78.8.

But as we live longer, often with diseases that once might have killed us, we get more frail — and consequently, researchers say, more likely to suffer fatal injuries from a fall.

Rates for other fatal accidental injuries like car crashes, suffocation, poisoning and fire-related deaths have remained steady over the last decade, according to the CDC. The death rate among seniors due to vehicle accidents actually went down in 2013 to about 15 per 100,000 people from 20 per 100,000 in 2000.

Overall, unintentional injuries resulted in almost 46,000 deaths for those 65 and older, making it the eighth leading cause of death. Unintentional injuries comprised 85% of all fatal injuries in 2012-2013 with suicide and homicide accounting for 15%.

TIME Transportation

How Smart Traffic Lights Could Transform Your Commute

Using data to make cities run smoother

The traffic signals along Factoria Boulevard in Bellevue, Wash., generally don’t flash the same stretch of green twice in a row, especially at rush hour. At 9:30 a.m., the full red/yellow/green signal cycle might be 140 seconds. By 9:33 a.m, a burst of additional traffic might push it to 145 seconds. Less traffic at 9:37 a.m. could push it down to 135. Just like the traffic itself, the timing of the signals fluctuates.

That’s by design. Bellevue, a fast-growing city of more than 130,000 just east of Seattle, utilizes a system that is gaining popularity around the U.S.: intersection signals that can adjust in real-time to traffic conditions. City officials say that these lights, known as adaptive signals, have led to significant declines in both the hassle and cost of commuting.

“Adaptive signals make sure that inefficiencies never happen,” says Alex Stevanovic, director of the Laboratory for Adaptive Traffic Operations & Management at Florida Atlantic University. “They can make sure that the traffic demand that is there is being addressed.”

As city leaders increasingly turn to data for insight into running their metros more efficiently, adaptive signals have emerged as a 21st century strategy to chip away at a longstanding scourge. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, almost 11 million Americans commute more than an hour each way to their job while 600,000 U.S. residents have one-way “megacommutes” of at least 90 minutes or 50 miles.

And all that time on the roads costs money. The Centre for Economics and Business Research estimates that U.S. commuters lost $124 billion in 2013 due to the cost of fuel, the value of time wasted in traffic, and the increased cost of doing business. CEBR predicts those costs will rise 50% by 2030.

Only 3% of the nation’s traffic signals are currently adaptive, but the number of smart signals in the U.S. has jumped from 4,500 in 2009 to 6,500 in 2014, according to Stevanovic, who tracks the signals’ installation around the U.S.

The largest concentration of adaptive signals is in Los Angeles, a city that has long struggled with congestion. Nearby Orange County, Calif. has the second largest, followed by Utah, where about 80% of the state’s traffic signals are adaptive. But the frontier of adaptive traffic management may be in Bellevue, according to transportation policy experts. The city’s overhaul began in 2010 when it began implementing a system called SCATS (Sydney Coordinative Adaptive Traffic System, which was first developed and used in Sydney, Australia). Currently, 174 of Bellevue’s intersections have been outfitted with the new technology with plans for all 197 intersections to use adaptive signals by the end of the year.

The system uses a series of wires embedded in city streets that tell the signals how much traffic is moving through the intersection. When traffic is heavier, the green lights stay on longer. Less traffic means shorter greens. During peak traffic periods, nearby intersections sync their lights to allow long stretches of green. When there are fewer cars on the road, those intersections revert to their own cycles. Mark Poch, the Bellevue Transportation Department’s traffic engineering manager, says uncoupled intersections work more efficiently when there are fewer cars on the road because they can better respond to specific situations at that cross street.

Along Factoria, one of Bellevue’s main downtown arteries, travel times have decreased by 36% during peak rush hour since adaptive lights were installed, according to city transportation officials. Along NE 8th Street, another heavily trafficked street, travel times are down 43% from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Those decreased delays appear to add up to real savings for drivers: Bellevue officials say the $5.5 million system saves drivers $9 million to $12 million annually (they estimate that a driver’s time is worth $15 an hour).

For all of Bellevue’s success, adaptive signals are not a panacea for clogged roadways. Kevin Balke, a research engineer at the Texas A&M University Transportation Institute, says that while smart lights can be particularly beneficial for some cities, others are so congested that only a drastic reduction in the number of cars on the road will make a meaningful difference. “It’s not going to fix everything, but adaptive has some benefits for a smaller city with a particular corridor on the verge of breaking down,” he says.

In Bellevue, the switch to adaptive has been a lesson in the value of embracing new approaches. In the past, Poch says, there was often a knee-jerk reaction to dealing with increased traffic: just widen the lanes. Now he hopes that other cities will consider making their streets run smarter instead of just making them bigger.

“It’s been a slow change,” Poch says. “It’s easy to think the way to get out of it is to widen the road. However, as we move toward being better stewards of our resources and more sensitive to environmental issues, let’s take what we have and operate it better. I think that’s a more prevailing thought now, and I think it makes sense.”

TIME Crime

Why Charges in the Freddie Gray Case Came Quickly

Marilyn Mosby
Andrew Burton—Getty Images Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announces that criminal charges will be filed against Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore on May 1, 2015.

Experts say the swift move to charge six police officers indicates strong evidence

The charges brought against six Baltimore officers involved in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray on Friday came just a day after police turned over their investigation to the Baltimore state’s attorney’s office. And experts say the swift nature of the charges likely reflects the strength of the case against the officers involved.

While several high-profile police-related deaths have not seen indictments—like in the cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in Staten Island, both of whom died after confrontations with police—the charges brought against Baltimore police were extensive and came rapidly.

That’s a sign there’s likely very strong evidence to prosecute. “In my experience, prosecutors do not bring cases they plan to lose,” says Phillip Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University. “It seems to me that the facts of this case are so egregious that the prosecutor has a really strong case.”

Baltimore City’s State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby on Friday announced charges including second-degree murder, manslaughter and assault against six officers involved in Gray’s April 19 death, a week after he suffered a severe spinal injury inside a police van. Baltimore’s police union accused her of acting prematurely, with Michael Davey, lawyer for Baltimore’s Fraternal Order of Police, calling Mosby’s actions an “egregious rush to judgement.”

But the speed with which the charges were brought could also reflect decisions made by some of the officers involved to become potential state’s witnesses. Candace McCoy, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says that in many cases involving charges brought against multiple officers, there are often cops who offer to testify against their colleagues — though she emphasizes that it’s too soon to say whether that’s the case here.

McCoy praised Mosby’s decision to indict all six officers, however, instead of trying to bring charges against just one or two. She argues that the reason no charges were brought against NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, who used an apparent chokehold against Garner that helped lead to his death, is because a grand jury was only considering one officer involved instead of several who were trying to detain Garner.

“It’s important that they’re indicting all the officers,” McCoy says. “Trying to convince a grand jury to indict just one person when the jury realizes all of them contributed is difficult. One person alone is not responsible for a death.”

It may also work in the prosecutor’s favor that a firearm wasn’t used in the Gray incident. Stinson, who tracks the number of police officers arrested and charged around the U.S., says officers are more likely to be convicted in on-duty deaths when the incident does not involve a firearm.

Of the 48 cases Stinson has tracked since 2005 involving police-related deaths without a firearm, 61% resulted in a conviction. But of the 54 officers prosecuted in a death without a firearm, only 20% have led to charges, according to data compiled and analyzed by Stinson and the Washington Post. Thirty-nine percent of officers were not convicted and 35% of cases are still pending.

The most serious charges in Gray’s death have been brought against Officer Caesar R. Goodson, Jr., who was the driver of the police van carrying Gray. Goodson has been charged with second-degree murder, second-degree assault and three counts of manslaughter. No gun was involved.

“Courts are very reluctant to second-guess split-second decisions by officers when a gun is involved,” Stinson says. “But in these other cases, it’s not as easily explainable and they’re not willing to give the benefit of the doubt because they’re oftentimes so egregious.”

TIME Crime

Who is Marilyn J. Mosby? A Guide to the Baltimore State’s Attorney

Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore state's attorney, speaks during a media availability on May 1, 2015 in Baltimore.
Alex Brandon—AP Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore state's attorney, speaks during a media availability in Baltimore on May 1, 2015.

The 35-year-old prosecutor announced Friday that Freddie Gray's death was being treated as a homicide

Late last year, Marilyn J. Mosby was a young insurance company attorney attempting to unseat Baltimore’s state’s attorney. Now, she’s leading the case against six Baltimore officers charged with murder, manslaughter and assault in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.

On Friday, Mosby—elected Baltimore City State’s Attorney last November—announced there was probable cause to charge police with murder in the death of Gray, a black man whose spine was severed after being detained near a West Baltimore housing project on April 12. Gray died a week later.

The 35-year-old attorney now finds herself at the center of an incident that has roiled Baltimore for weeks and renewed the nation’s focus on the intersection between race and policing.

In some ways, Mosby is an unlikely prosecutor to bring charges against police officers in the Gray case. Five generations of her family were all in law enforcement, and her grandfather was one of the first African-American police officers in Massachusetts. “I know that the majority of police officers are really hard-working officers who are risking their lives day in and day out, but those really bad ones who go rogue do a disservice to the officers who are risking their lives and taking time away from their families,” she told Baltimore Magazine in January.

Mosby was raised by a single mother in Boston, where in 1994 her 17-year-old cousin was killed near her home after being mistaken for a drug dealer. She was the first in her family to graduate from college and attended Tuskegee University in Alabama, studying political science. She later attended Boston College Law School and worked as assistant state’s attorney in the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s office.

She was working as field counsel for Liberty Mutual Insurance when she decided to run for Baltimore’s state’s attorney, campaigning on a pledge to keep repeat offenders off the street and vowing to start a diversion program that would help young drug offenders avoid getting more serious criminal records. Her surprise victory in November over Gregg Bernstein, who had served one term as the city’s state’s attorney, made her the youngest chief prosecutor in a major U.S. city.

In the run-up to Gray’s charges, Mosby had been criticized for her lack of experience having never held elected office before, as well as a potential conflict of interest regarding her husband Nick, who is a city council member representing the neighborhood where Gray was arrested. Mosby has brushed off that criticism, saying that she doesn’t answer to the city council but by the constituents who elected her.

Still, Mosby was under significant pressure to bring about charges against the officers involved in Gray’s death after a series of violent protests that forced Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to bring in thousands of National Guard troops to keep the peace.

Now that charges have been brought, she’ll face yet more scrutiny — not least from Baltimore’s police union, which accused Mosby Friday of having a conflict of interest in this case due to her “close relationship” with the Gray family attorney. According to the Baltimore Sun, Billy Murphy, the Gray family’s attorney, gave Mosby $5,000 for her campaign and was part of her transition committee.

Back in January, Mosby acknowledged the long-standing problems between residents and the police, hoping she could help bridge that trust gap between residents and police. “There are barriers of distrust within the community and law enforcement,” she told Baltimore Magazine. “And we’ve got to find ways to bring down these barriers. It’s never been more evident than now, right?”

TIME Crime

New York Police Chief Defends ‘Broken Windows’ Policing

Broken store windows remain as members of the Anne Arundel County Police guard the intersection of North Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue, on April 29, 2015, in Baltimore.
Patrick Semansky—AP Broken store windows remain as members of the Anne Arundel County Police guard the intersection of North Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue, on April 29, 2015, in Baltimore.

But Commissioner Bill Bratton also said he would reform strategy of targeting low-level crimes

The New York Police Department issued a 41-page report Thursday attributing the city’s low levels of crime to the so-called “broken windows” strategy.

The year-long investigation defends the practice of misdemeanor arrests, Reuters reports — but New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said on Thursday he would reform the practice of focusing on lower-level crimes, which has been called discriminatory by civil rights groups.

“We need a new form of quality-of-life broken windows policing,” he said.

The broken windows theory of policing holds that cracking down on petty crimes such as unruly behavior or vandalism creates a lawful environment that prevents worse crimes from happening. Bratton implemented zero tolerance policies inspired by the theory in New York City during the 1990s, a time when the crime rate dropped precipitously. But critics say that broken windows policing leads to racial profiling and overfilled jails.

The strategy came under scrutiny last summer when Eric Garner died following an incident with NYPD officers in Staten Island. Garner was accused of selling loose cigarettes and was detained by police, setting off weeks of protests over his death.

Similar charges have been made of the Baltimore Police Department following the death of Freddie Gray, who was detained after “making eye contact” with officers and running away. Gray, who died on April 19 from a severed spine, was carrying a switchblade.

[Reuters]

TIME Courts

Santa Monica’s Ban On Nativity Display Upheld

In this Dec. 13, 2011 file photo, a woman walks past a two of the traditional displays showing the Nativity scene along Ocean Avenue at Palisades Park in Santa Monica, Calif.
Ringo H.W. Chiu—AP In this Dec. 13, 2011 file photo, a woman walks past a two of the traditional displays showing the Nativity scene along Ocean Avenue at Palisades Park in Santa Monica, Calif.

City did not violate the First Amendment, court says

The city of Santa Monica did not violate the First Amendment when it banned the display of nativity scenes in a city park, a federal appeals court unanimously ruled Thursday.

For years, the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee erected Christmas dioramas in Palisades Park. But in 2011, a group of atheists was able to secure most of the spots in the park allowed by the city for holiday displays.

The following year, the committee and the atheists filed so many applications with the city that Santa Monica officials decided to shut down the process altogether.

The nativity committee sued the city on free speech grounds but a district judge ruled for the city in 2012. On Thursday, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the committee did not have a “viable claim” that the Santa Monica ban violated the constitution, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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