TIME Terrorism

These Are the Cities Most Likely to Be Hit by a Terrorist Attack

Twelve of the world's capital cities are considered at "extreme risk" of an attack

A report by global-risk-analysis firm Verisk Maplecroft has identified the cities most likely to be hit by a terrorist attack.

Maplecroft analyzed 1,300 of the world’s important urban centers and commercial hubs and ranked them based on the intensity and frequency of attacks in the year following February 2014. The report also combined the number and severity of attacks in the previous five years.

Baghdad is considered the most at-risk city in the world, with 1,141 people dying in 380 attacks. In all, seven of the most at-risk cities are all in Iraq, including Mosul ranked at No. 2 and Ramadi at No. 3.

According to the index, 64 cities around the world are at “extreme risk” of an attack, most of these are in the Middle East (27) including cities in Iraq, as well as Afghanistan, Pakistan or Asia.

Of those 64 at extreme risk of a terrorist attack, 12 are capital cities including Egypt’s Cairo, Abuja in Nigeria, Nairobi in Kenya and Pakistan’s Islamabad.

There are 14 cities in Africa that have seen an increased risk of violence, which has been attributed to militant extremist groups Boko Haram and al-Shabab as well as political instability.

Three cities at extreme risk of attacks are in Europe, with Ukraine’s Luhansk ranked at 46, Donetsk at 56, and Grozny in Russia at 54.

The British city most at risk of an attack is Belfast (91), compared with Manchester (398) and London, which is ranked at 400.

After the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris that left 17 people dead in January, the city was considered “high risk” and its ranking soared from 201 before the attacks to 97.

TIME housing

Report Finds Airbnb May Contribute to San Francisco’s Housing Woes

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge
Getty Images

Fights over privacy and business continue to plague the popular home-sharing platform in the City by the Bay

A report released on Thursday found that about 15% of San Francisco’s vacant housing may have been removed from the market so it could be rented out on sharing economy platform Airbnb. This comes at a time when the company is waging legal battles in several cities—and when renting out one’s home for less than 30 days has just been banned in Santa Monica, Calif.

San Francisco Board Supervisor David Campos held a news conference Thursday, asserting that the report proves Airbnb is a “significant contributor to the housing shortage” that is pushing low- and middle-income families out of the city. While no one denies that the City by the Bay is in the midst of a housing crisis, the company and at least one economist believe that the report and that politician overstate the role that Airbnb plays.

The study was conducted by the city’s independent budget and legislative analyst’s office, at the progressive lawmaker’s request. Campos has proposed legislation that would change a new law that legalized short-term rentals in San Francisco. Residents at the moment are allowed to host Airbnb guests in their units for unlimited days per year and to rent them out 90 days per year when they’re not present. Campos’ proposal would limit all rentals, hosted or un-hosted, to 90 days per year.

“The Mission is a community in crisis,” Campos said of the neighborhood that has become ground zero for working-class activists protesting gentrification fueled by booming tech companies. “This practice is exacerbating an already terrible situation.”

Airbnb countered, as local loyalists have in city council hearings, that those struggling to make ends meet can benefit from the added income that sharing a home affords. “Home sharing is an economic lifeline for thousands of San Franciscans who depend on the extra income to stay in their homes,” Airbnb spokesperson Christopher Nulty said in a statement, responding to the report. “Supervisor Campos’ proposal would make it even harder for middle class families to stay in San Francisco and pay the bills.”

The report’s author admits that the attempts to quantify Airbnb’s impact are a best guess, relying on webscrapes and assumptions about residents’ behavior. Airbnb continues to guard data about their users and financial situation that would allow for more precision. Though the company is submitting monthly anonymized data to the city to prove that hosts are remitting hotel taxes, officials have said they need more data in order to effectively enforce limits on rentals.

“I think the bigger picture questions to focus on are: How can cities pass effective legislation in the absence of accurate data about Airbnb?” Karen Chapple, professor of city and regional planning at the University of California—Berkeley, writes in an email. “Would it not be in Airbnb’s interest to share its data openly and collaborate with cities in designing and implementing fair laws?”

Arun Sundararajan, an economist who reviewed the report, believes that Airbnb and its data are something of a red herring. While the site may lead to some units being taken off the market and to disturbances among neighbors who don’t like sharing their buildings with tourists, he says the housing options provided by Airbnb are likely drawing more tourists—and more revenue—to the city. The responsibility of Airbnb in yielding the current lack of housing in the city is “sort of like a rounding error when you compare it to the population growth in San Francisco and the number of units that are rent-controlled.”

As Airbnb stands firm on protecting users’ data and refusing to fork over the names and addresses for every booking, Nulty points out that these short-term rentals are contributing around $469 million in revenue to the local economy and that more than 80% of users in San Francisco share only the home in which they live.

“Any sort of creative disruption tends to have winners and losers,” Sundararajan says. “I just don’t see a scenario in this case where the losses are going to outweigh the wins.”

TIME Transportation

8th Body Found as Focus of Amtrak Derailment Shifts to Engineer

Philadelphia mayor called engineer "reckless and irresponsible"

Officials have accounted for all the passengers and crew aboard the Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia this week, after finding an eighth body amid the wreckage on Thursday morning.

The announcement came as the investigation into the crash’s cause has zeroed in on the train’s engineer, who sustained a concussion in the accident that left at least eight people dead and 200 people injured. The engineer, Brandon Bostian, has “absolutely no recollection of the incident,” his lawyer said Robert Goggin said on Good Morning America Thursday.

Investigators have determined the train was traveling at more than 100 mph when it crashed going through a curve in the tracks, where the speed limit was 50 mph.

Bostian, a 32-year-old Queens resident, was treated and released from Philadelphia’s Einstein Medical Center on Wednesday, NBC News reports. Records from the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen indicate he has worked at Amtrak since April 2009.

Bostian voluntarily gave a blood sample to authorities, as well as his cell phone, Goggin told ABC News.

In a news conference Wednesday, Robert Sumwalt, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, said the train’s engineer had applied the brakes at about the time it was entering a left-hand curve and that preliminary data showed it was traveling at 106 mph, more than twice the speed limit for that section of track. “You’re supposed to enter the curve at 50 miles per hour,” he told reporters near the scene.

The Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188, which was carrying 238 passengers and five crew members to New York City, derailed near the site of a 1943 accident in that left dozens dead. Sumwalt, who had earlier said his team had not yet met with the engineer, said data recorders from the train would be further analyzed in Washington, D.C., where the train originated Tuesday, and that he expected investigators to remain at the site for about a week.

On Wednesday evening, with excessive speed rising as an apparent main factor in the derailment, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter lashed out against the engineer.

“Clearly he was reckless and irresponsible in his actions” he told CNN. “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.”

Sumwalt took a more cautious approach in commenting on the engineer, saying “we want to get to the facts before we start making judgments.”

TIME cities

These Are the 9 Best Cities for Biking to Work

They have more than just bike lanes

In honor of National Bike Month and Bike to Work Week, TIME rounded up the best U.S. cities for people who want to commute by bicycle. Many of these cycling-friendly cities have special bike lanes that are protected from traffic, and they also boast bike-sharing systems, plenty of parking spots for bikes, active bike lobbies and mayors committed to enacting policies that make bicycling safer and easier.

To find out which cities to include, TIME asked three veteran bicycle policy advocates: Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists—believed to be the nation’s oldest bicycle advocacy organization—Jim Sayer, executive director of the Adventure Cycling Association, and Tim Blumenthal, president of PeopleForBikes.

  • Portland, Ore.

    The Best Cities to Bike In - Portland, Oregon
    Getty Images

    Clarke from the League of American Bicyclists praises the city with the highest percentage of bike commuters among the largest 70 U.S. cities (almost 6%) for painting bike lanes green and “reorganizing intersections” over the years to make it safe for bikers to get onto key bridges that span the Willamette River. On the Hawthorne Bridge, for example, sidewalks were made wider to accommodate bike lanes, while a running “Bicycle Counter” helps the city monitor bike traffic so it can make improvements. Sayler from the Adventure Cycling Association also points out that apartment buildings promote bike parking spots to attract residents, while local businesses do the same to draw in customers.

  • Washington, D.C.

    The Best Cities to Bike In - Washington, D.C.
    Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images A bicyclist stops to look up at the cherry trees as they blossom around the Tidal Basin on the National Mall in Washington on April 10, 2015.

    The first jurisdiction in North America to start a bike-sharing program boasts the second largest percentage of bike commuters (4.5%) among the largest 70 U.S. cities and stands out because it has made bikes easily available and installed a protected bike lane along Pennsylvania Avenue, between the White House and the Capitol, said Clarke, from the League of American Bicyclists. In fact, Capital Bikeshare station docks or corrals for returning bikes have been getting so full in downtown D.C. in the mornings that, starting this week, riders will be able to hand their bikes to attendants rather than walk until they see an open dock.

  • San Francisco

    The Best Cities to Bike In - San Francisco
    Getty Images/LOOK

    The Bay Area stands out for the way its mass transit system accommodates bicyclists, argues Sayer from the Adventure Cycling Association. Bikes are allowed on BART trains, stations have bike racks and lockers, and the Caltrain has bike cars.

  • Minneapolis

    The Best Cities to Bike In - Minneapolis
    Getty Images

    The city has “great bike paths and bike lanes that are well-marked, interconnected, and scenic,” said Blumenthal from PeopleForBikes. “One of the great ways to commute by bike in the country” is the Midtown Greenway, a former rail line that was converted into a bike path with multiple entry points and runs through the heart of the city.

  • Philadelphia

    Phildelphia Bike Share
    Matt Rourke—AP Azephra Hamilton helps stage Philadelphia's bike share bicycles ahead of their inaugural ride Thursday, April 23, 2015, in Philadelphia. The city's bike share program is set to launch Thursday and Independence Blue Cross is the title sponsor of the program dubbed "Indego." (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

    Its bike-share program just launched in April 2015, but already it is being touted as the most egalitarian one in the country because it does not require a credit or debit card to purchase a membership. “It’s serving all neighborhoods, not just the most affluent ones, making bike riding more available to people without a lot of resources,” said Blumenthal from PeopleForBikes.

  • Davis, Calif.

    A bicyclist rides west on the bike trail which parallels Russell Boulevard in Davis, Calif., on June 30, 2010.
    Randy Pench—Sacramento Bee/MCT/Getty Images A bicyclist rides west on the bike trail which parallels Russell Boulevard in Davis, Calif., on June 30, 2010.

    At 24.5%, the Northern California city boasts the highest percentage of residents biking to work in the country and is famous for pioneering bike lanes, which were initially implemented as an experiment in 1967. Today, the home of the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame maintains 100 miles of bike lanes and paths, and at the University of California, Davis, cars and university buses come to a halt on campus at the top of the hour to make way for all of the students and faculty members who bike to and from classes.

  • Boulder, Colo.

    Best Cities to Bike In - Boulder
    Getty Images

    There are bike lanes with concrete curbs and 75 underpasses ideal for bikers nervous about riding next to cars. As part of a transportation policy adopted in 1989, “the city has constructed an average of one mile of off-street paths, half a mile of on-street bicycle lanes, and two underpasses each year,” according to Boulder’s website.

  • Seattle

    Best Cities to Bike In - Seattle
    Getty Images

    In addition to offering a bike-sharing program, Seattle also recently installed a bicycle lane on Second Avenue designated by plastic posts. These efforts, and others like harsher penalties for motorists who hit bicyclists, are said to be a result of tireless lobbying by the Seattle-based nonprofit Cascade Bicycle Club, one of the largest bicycle clubs. The club has about 16,000 members and organizes the Pacific Northwest’s top bicycling events.

  • Chicago

    The Best Cities to Bike In - Chicago
    Getty Images

    Because of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s pledge to provide “a bicycle accommodation within [a] half-mile of every Chicagoan” by 2020, there are already 200 miles of “on-street, protected, buffered and shared bike lanes,” even in the toughest areas to bike, like the center of the city.

TIME cities

Baltimore Hopes a Big Sports Week Will Help Mend Its Image

Thousands pack the infield during the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 17, 2014 in Baltimore.
Jonathan Newton—The Washington Post Thousands pack the infield during the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 17, 2014 in Baltimore.

After unrest that was sparked by the death of Freddie Gray

(BALTIMORE) — Looting, rioting and violence has left Baltimore rattled and in a state of repair. Officials hope a big sports week has a healing effect on the beleaguered city.

Civil unrest remains an issue in Baltimore after two weeks of tension between residents and police. The return of the Orioles for an extended period and the running of the Preakness could help ease matters.

The Orioles expect to play before enthusiastic crowds throughout the week, and track officials say good weather could lead to record attendance numbers at Pimlico Race Course.

“We certainly recognize the role that we play in the community, and hope we would always be seen as a unifying experience,” said Greg Bader, vice president of marketing and communications for the Orioles.

The defending American League East champions begin a nine-game homestand at Camden Yards on Monday. That also marks the start of Preakness Week, the annual buildup at Pimlico to the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.

Baltimore was overrun by violence and destruction April 27 after the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died of spinal cord injuries while in the custody of Baltimore police. The Orioles postponed two home games and, in an unprecedented move, played a third without allowing fans to enter. Then they shed three home games against the Rays on May 1-3 to St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s an unfortunate situation, but we’re trying to make the best of it,” Orioles first baseman Chris Davis said during a series at Yankee Stadium, the team’s last stop before returning home.

Monday’s game against Toronto will be the Orioles’ first in front of their fans since April 26. Much has changed in Baltimore while they were on the road.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Friday the Justice Department will conduct a broad investigation into the Baltimore police force to identify law enforcement practices that are unconstitutional and violate civil rights.

With all that has happened, and what might still occur, a sense of uncertainty surrounds the city.

“The thing that would worry me a little bit is the Preakness will be the showcase event for Baltimore, so let’s hope (violent protesters) don’t use that as an avenue to further their causes — whatever they may be,” Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said.

Capt. J. Eric Kowalczyk, a Baltimore Police Department spokesman, said he was not aware of any planned demonstrations near Pimlico or at Camden Yards meant to keep Gray’s death in the public eye.

The Rev. Jamal Bryant has a different take on the situation. A leader of the protests that followed Gray’s arrest, Bryant said visitors will likely encounter peaceful demonstrations.

“Don’t be afraid of the protesters, be afraid of the police,” he asserted. “The police have more instances of excessive force against citizens than the protesters do.”

Security is of paramount importance for the Preakness.

“We’re paying attention to it,” said Salvatore Sinatra, general manager of the Maryland Jockey Club. “We’ve talked with our help and the police. We’re going to have the armed services here, Homeland Security. We’re going to make sure our fans are safe. I don’t anticipate any problems.”

Bader said the Orioles have been working with “all necessary state and local officials to ensure a safe and secure environment for all fans.”

Davis believes a night of baseball might go a long way toward restoring a feeling of normalcy in the city.

“I think it’s something that will kind of help remedy what’s been going on there,” the Orioles’ first baseman said. “Being back and giving the fans an opportunity to see us play, and play some good baseball, will hopefully kind of revive their spirits.”

The hope is that everyone’s focus will be on the Orioles and the horses.

“A lot of it has quieted down,” Sinatra said. “We really need to get the Orioles back, playing a series at home, and have the Preakness run.”

Asked if the Orioles’ return would be a feel-good moment for the people of Baltimore, manager Buck Showalter said: “I hope so. I want them to feel what they feel, not what we think they should or shouldn’t.

“Nobody’s been in their shoes. So you just want to be a positive force in people’s lives.”

___

AP Sports Writer Ron Blum in New York, freelancer Josh Abner in Louisville and AP Writer Dave Dishneau in Baltimore contributed to this story.

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 Innovation

Why the Next Leader of the U.N. Should Be a Woman

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. After 70 years of men in charge, the next leader of the U.N. should be a woman.

By Gillian Sorensen and Jean Krasno in the Washington Post

2. Here’s how to design a better Monday.

By Studio 360 and IDEO

3. What brought some cities back from the economic brink? Making peace with their suburbs.

By Nancy Cook in the National Journal

4. There’s an app to document and salvage Nepal’s cultural heritage.

By Annette Ekin at Al Jazeera

5. Elon Musk just made growing weed easier.

By Wes Siler in Gizmodo

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Crime

How the Feds Went Soft on Baltimore

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts MARSHALL PROJECT
Alex Brandon—AP Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Anthony Batts surveys the corner of North and Pennsylvania avenues during protests in the city on April 30, 2015.

The city's involvement in a Justice Department program shows the softer side of intervention

This story was written by Simone Weichselbaum for The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that covers the U.S. criminal justice system. Sign up for their newsletter, or follow The Marshall Project on Facebook or Twitter.

Six months before Baltimore exploded in anger at the city’s police, Justice Department officials were already busy examining the record of brutality and misconduct that had plagued the force for years.

But unlike other cities that have come under investigation by the department’s Civil Rights Division after complaints of excessive force, Baltimore, found its way into a less-onerous and adversarial Justice program that emphasizes cooperative support for local law-enforcement agencies. In fact, Baltimore requested the intervention.

That Justice program, called the Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistance, was created in 2011 by the department’s Office of Community Oriented Police Services, or COPS. Compared to the avenging lawyers of the Civil Rights Division, the program’s consultants might be considered the good cops.

Where the Civil Rights Division is known for filing lawsuits in the federal courts to compel recalcitrant police agencies to stop discriminatory practices or the excessive use of force, the COPS plan offers expertise and training to help change-minded police departments implement new policies on their own.

“There are 18,000 police departments in this country, and the idea that we can sue our way into reform, or put every police department under a consent decree, is just not viable,” the director of the COPS office, Ronald L. Davis, said in a telephone interview with The Marshall Project.

(On Friday, Baltimore’s chief prosecutor, Marilyn J. Mosby, announced she had filed criminal charges against six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man who was arrested on April 12 for allegedly carrying a switchblade knife and died a week later from injuries he suffered while in custody.

The Baltimore police chief, Anthony W. Batts, had known Davis for years when he telephoned him last fall to ask for the COPS program’s help. The call came just days after the Baltimore Sun reported that the city had paid out $5.7 million in court judgments and settlements to resolve more than 100 police misconduct lawsuits since 2011.

Before taking over the Baltimore department in 2012, Batts had been the police chief in Oakland, Calif. At the time, Davis – a 19-year veteran of the Oakland force – was leading the police department in East Palo Alto, a small city 31 miles across the San Francisco Bay.

Davis said he had only a professional relationship with Batts, but knew his work as a chief in Baltimore, Oakland and Long Beach, Calif. Davis also emphasized that while the Collaborative Reform program necessarily gives priority to police agencies that are eager to change, it does not offer them an end-run around the Civil Rights Division.

In Baltimore’s case, Davis said, he consulted with officials of the division’s Special Litigation section to make sure they had not begun a preliminary investigation into a “pattern or practice” of discriminatory policing there. He added that the Civil Rights Division can also step in later, if a police force fails to make good on its promises to make changes in the collaborative program.

“The COPS office is not an investigatory body,” he said. “If we don’t see the same earnest effort that you committed to, we will cease and desist our program and turn everything we have over to Civil Rights.”

Batts and the Baltimore mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, announced within days of the Sun article that they, too, had sought the Justice Department’s intervention, and they issued a 41-page reform plan that they described as a set of parameters for change. The steps in that plan included increasing accountability for rogue officers, tracking misconduct more closely, and possibly providing body cameras to record officers’ actions.

But some local officials remained unconvinced. The City Council president, Bernard C. “Jack” Young, had written to then-Attorney General Eric Holder on Oct. 1 requesting “a full review of the Baltimore City Police Department’s policies, procedures and practices.” Lester Davis, a spokesman for Young, said the councilman had specifically sought the involvement of the Civil Rights Division and would submit a new request to Holder’s successor, Loretta Lynch.

Officials of the Civil Rights Division said in recent interviews with The Marshall Project that while they have stepped up their enforcement efforts in recent years, they continue to struggle with the limitations of a Special Litigation staff of only about 50 attorneys, some of whom work on issues other than police accountability.

“Would the Civil Rights Division and the country benefit from having more people to focus in on these issues? Absolutely,” the acting assistant attorney general who heads the division, Vanita Gupta, said in an interview. “I would be an idiot to say that I don’t want more people.”

The Collaborate Reform Initiative represents what is effectively a second track on which the Justice Department can push for change with local law-enforcement agencies. But — particularly in cases like that of Baltimore, in which a force might be looking for some relief from public criticism — it requires careful vetting, current and former department officials said.

“The COPS program doesn’t have any enforcement authority,” noted William Yeomans, a former Civil Rights Division official. “So the department has to conclude that here is a police department that can take voluntary measures to improve itself. You have to have confidence in the leadership of the police department.”

Another former Justice Department official, Robert Driscoll, who served in the George W. Bush administration, said he was suspicious of how the Obama administration had decided on the less-invasive option for Baltimore, a city governed by Democrats.

“That is a nice way out of a difficult problem, when people say, `What are you going to do in response to the Baltimore Sun article?’” he said. “The difficulty of the way this is being handled is figuring out who gets the COPS approach and who gets a full-blown (Civil Rights Division) investigation.”

Baltimore is one of eight cities that have been or are being “assessed” – not investigated – by the Collaborative Reform Initiative. In Las Vegas and Philadelphia, teams of federally funded consultants have recommended dozens of reforms in such areas as use of force guidelines, internal investigations, firearms training and the recording of witnesses to shootings by the police.

“It is really an alternative,” a Justice spokesman, Kevin Lewis, said. “Before it gets to a place that it is so escalated that you need a pattern and practice (lawsuit), what the Department of Justice is doing is providing an option.”

But the department’s softer side is not always welcomed, either.

After a series of police shootings in Las Vegas, the ACLU of Nevada requested an investigation by the Civil Rights Division. When the Justice Department decided it would use the COPS program instead, ACLU lawyers wrote to the Justice Department expressing dismay. “We were very apprehensive,” said Tod Story, ACLU of Nevada’s executive director. “We thought what was happening here was worthy of a full-scale civil rights investigation.”

Ronald Davis, the COPS director, said he had no illusions about the extent of the challenges that police reformers faced in Baltimore.

“The powder keg that exploded in Baltimore has been simmering for generations,” he said. “And the idea that us starting an assessment in October somehow would have stopped that – I think I would disagree with.”

TIME cities

These Are the World’s 10 Most Youthful Cities

Young man on bridge with city skyline
Getty Images

See what cities are most popular among people ages 15 to 29, according to a new survey

New York City is the most popular city for people ages 15 to 29, according to a survey published Thursday.

The Toronto-based YouthfulCities surveys thousands of young people each year about various city-specific topics, including culture, employment, sports, and produces this ranking of the world’s most youthful cities.

“The word youthful is used to describe attributes of youth and it is a universally positive concept,” including connectivity, openness and inventiveness, according to the project’s mission statement.

New York City, thanks to its strong scores in the arts, climbed to the top spot from No. 3 last year. Toronto, which took the crown in the 2014 list, slid this year to No. 6.

Here are the top 10 most youthful cities:

  1. New York City
  2. London
  3. Berlin
  4. San Francisco
  5. Paris
  6. Toronto
  7. Chicago
  8. Los Angeles
  9. Mexico City
  10. Amsterdam

See the full list of 55 cities here.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com