TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: February 17

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

1. Is the Taliban’s fracturing a sign of its demise or a possible turn to a more lethal strategy?

By Sundarsan Raghavan in the Washington Post

2. To fight cybercrime, President Obama needs Silicon Valley.

By Katie Benner in Bloomberg View

3. The FDA needs updated systems to review drugs — made from our own cells — that target cancer and more.

By Peter W. Huber in City Journal

4. Our high incarceration rate no longer reduces crime.

By Lauren-Brooke Eisen in USA Today

5. Better than an action movie: Catch a college lecture on your next commercial flight.

By Kim Clark in Money

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

Over 570 Arrested in Super Bowl Sex Traffic Sting

Hundreds busted for soliciting sex

Correction appended

A two-week nationwide sex trafficking sting that coincided with the Super Bowl snared several hundred men seeking to buy sex, and almost two dozen pimps.

A total of 570 would-be “johns”—men who hire prostitutes—and 23 pimps were arrested during the annual “National Day of Johns” sting orchestrated by Cook County, Ill. Sheriff Thomas Dart, which involved 37 law enforcement agencies in 17 states.

Around two-thirds (64%) of the “johns” arrested for soliciting prostitutes were answering fake Backpage.com ads, and 7% were responding to fake Craigslist ads. Almost 3,000 would-be purchasers of sex have been arrested in nine similar operations since the program was started in 2011, but Sheriffs said the 2015 sting was the largest and most successful yet.

“Law enforcement is beginning to realize that arresting the girls over and over again is never going to effectively address prostitution,” said Sheriff Dart. “If there were no johns, there would be no prostitution. It’s not a victimless crime and johns need to be held responsible for their role in exacerbating the sex trade.” 68 victims were recovered in this sting, including 14 juveniles.

Dart says he hopes national sting operations can help raise awareness about sex trafficking and dissuade would-be-johns from buying sex. “Campaigns like this send such a strong message to these guys that the risk of solicitation is just not worth it,” he said.

The Super Bowl has long been a hub for trafficking and prostitution. In a separate incident, Hall of Famer and NFL Network Analyst Warren Sapp was arrested Monday morning after allegedly soliciting and assaulting a prostitute in Phoenix after the Super Bowl. He has been suspended indefinitely from the NFL Network.

Correction: This article originally misidentified the location of Cook County. It is in Illinois.

TIME technology

Police Are Pressuring Google to Turn Off Waze’s Cop-Tracking Feature

They're worried about attacks on officers

Police are lobbying Google to disable a feature on an app that warns drivers when cops are nearby, saying it could lead to more attacks on officers.

Waze is one of the technology industry’s most popular apps with 50 million users in 200 countries, CBS News reports. The software uses GPS and social networking to give drivers’ real-time traffic alerts and warnings about congestion, car accidents, speed traps and weather conditions.

The app also marks where police are stationed on maps.

Sheriffs are worried the app could be used by would-be police killers to stalk their whereabouts.

There are no known incidents of attackers using Waze in this way but in the wake of several police shootings, law enforcement groups want the feature turned off.

Google has declined to comment on the campaign.

[CBS News]

TIME Crime

The Number of Police Officers Killed by Firearms Jumped by 56% in 2014

Police salute during the playing of the U.S. National Anthem outside the Christ Tabernacle Church at the start of the funeral service for slain NYPD officer Ramos in the Queens borough of New York
© Mike Segar— Reuters Police salute during the playing of the U.S. national anthem outside the Christ Tabernacle Church in New York City at the start of the funeral service for slain New York Police Department officer Rafael Ramos on Dec. 27, 2014

Total officer deaths also rose

The number of U.S. law-enforcement officers killed by firearm-related incidents jumped by 56% in 2014, an annual report has found.

According to the report, released by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) on Tuesday, 50 officers were killed by firearms, up from 32 in 2013.

In total, there were 126 officer fatalities throughout the year, a 24% increase from 2013 when 102 officers were killed.

After firearms, traffic-related incidents were the second leading cause of officer deaths in 2014, killing 49 officers.

With ambush attacks resulting in 15 deaths this year, NLEOMF chairman Craig Floyd expressed concern that antigovernment sentiment in the country was influencing individuals to carry out attacks on police officers.

“Enough is enough. We need to tone down the rhetoric and rally in support of law enforcement and against lawlessness,” he said.

TIME Law Enforcement

FBI Inquiry Finds Rampant Mishandling of Evidence

An internal probe found the bureau is holding two tons more drugs than records showed

An internal review of the FBI’s evidence handling procedures found a system rife with serious errors, according to a new report, including evidence mislabeled, mishandled or lost altogether, and in every region of the United States.

The survey of more than 41,000 pieces of evidence found the FBI holding less money but more guns and drugs than records indicated, the New York Times reports. Officials say most problems are the result of the FBI’s move in 2012 from a paper-based to a digital accounting system. The review could complicate criminal prosecutions throughout the U.S.

Read more at the Times

TIME Crime

Thousands Rally Against Police Brutality in Washington and New York City

In Washington, DC, New York City and around the country, Americans staged protests over the deaths of unarmed citizens by police

Demonstrators numbering in the tens of thousands marched on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and in New York City on Saturday, as well as other cities across the U.S., to protest the killings of unarmed black men by police officers.

In the nation’s capital, the families of black men killed by police, including relatives of Staten Island resident Eric Garner, Ferguson, Mo. teenager Michael Brown, and Cleveland, Ohio 12-year-0ld Tamir Rice and others, joined civil rights groups and other demonstrators at the Justice For All march. The marchers called for an end to police killings and for law enforcement who kill unarmed citizens to be held to account for their actions.

In New York City, protestors held signs featuring the words “I am Eric Garner” and chanted what has become a rallying cry of the movement to end police killings of unarmed black men: “Hands up/Don’t shoot.” Andre Irving, 31 and black, attended the rally with his father Mark Irving, 57. “I’m worried for my safety, the safety of my family, my friends, my neighbors,” he told TIME. “Can I go to the store and walk home without being killed?”

Eva Osborne, 8, wore a pin featuring the words “I can’t breathe,” some of the last words Eric Garner spoke before he dies in a video of his arrest, and a phrase that has also been used as a rallying call. “I have a black brother and a black dad,” she said. Her brother is five, her father 43, the same age as Eric Garner. “When my brother grows up, he might be treated the same way.”

Police declined to estimate the size of the ground in Washington, the New York Times reports, but media estimates place the size of the crowd in the tens of thousands. Police in New York City estimated the crowd size at roughly 12,000.

The protests mark a new level of civil action in weeks of sometimes violent unrest around the country, as citizens erupted in mass outrage after no charges were brought against police officers responsible for killing Brown, an unarmed teenager shot by police in Ferguson, and Garner, an unarmed Staten Island man who died after being aggressively subdued by police during his arrest for illegally selling cigarettes on the street.

The Justice For All march in Washington was spearheaded by the National Action Network led by Al Sharpton. Some demonstrators, expressing disdain at those they considered celebrity protestors, disrupted the proceedings at a pre-march rally, The Washington Post reports.

TIME Crime

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Announces Police Retraining Program

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a press conference to speak about new guidelines for NYPD officer retraining at the New York Police Academy in the Flushing section of Queens, New York, on Dec. 4, 2014.
Anthony Beha—SIPA USA New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a press conference to speak about new guidelines for NYPD officer retraining at the New York Police Academy in the Flushing section of Queens, New York, on Dec. 4, 2014.

Some 22,000 officers will complete a three-day training course on tactics like deescalation

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called for the retraining of the city’s police force on Thursday, one day after the announcement that a grand jury declined to indict a white officer in the death of an unarmed black man.

“The relationship between police and community has to change. The way we go about policing has to change,” de Blasio said in an afternoon news conference, standing next to Police Commissioner William Bratton and other city leaders as he called for reforms. “People need to know that black lives and brown lives matter as much as white lives.”

MORE: See Protestors Take to the Streets After the Eric Garner Grand Jury Decision

Some 22,000 officers will complete a three-day training course that will aim to brush them up on tactics like deescalating situations and interacting with people who are mentally ill, Bratton said. De Blasio noted that $35 million will go into the training to allow for overtime pay.

The mayor’s announcement followed a night of largely peaceful demonstrations around the city and preempted a rally planned Thursday evening at Lower Manhattan’s Foley Square. A series of police-involved deaths this year has put politicians under scrutiny over a lack of trust between police departments and the local communities they serve.

Read next: Why a Medical Examiner Called Eric Garner’s Death a ‘Homicide’

TIME Crime

Justice Department Finds Cleveland Police Guilty of Excessive Use of Force

U.S. Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division, right, makes a statement during a news conference on Dec. 4, 2014, in Cleveland.
Tony Dejak—AP U.S. Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division, right, makes a statement during a news conference on Dec. 4, 2014, in Cleveland.

Investigation found that officers excessively used deadly force, unnecessarily used Tasers and chemical sprays, and used unwarranted force against mentally ill people

The U.S. Department of Justice has told the Cleveland police department to conduct an internal shake-up after a federal probe found its officers systematically and routinely used excessive and unreasonable force.

A 21-month-long investigation into the practices of the Cleveland Division of Police concluded Thursday that officers excessively use deadly force, unnecessarily utilize tools like Tasers and chemical sprays, and use unwarranted force against people who are mentally ill.

The report is a damning portrayal of a department that has been criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union and others within Cleveland for years over its conduct.

(MORE: Attorney General Eric Holder Plans ‘Institute of Justice’ to Address Protest Concerns)

The federal government began investigating the department in March 2013 after the officer-related shooting deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams following a high-speed car chase. On Nov. 29, 2012, more than 100 Cleveland police officers were involved in trying to apprehend Russell and Williams, both of whom were black and unarmed. Officers eventually fired 137 shots at the car. Almost all of the officers who fired were white.

The department has come under scrutiny again in recent days after a black 12-year-old boy, Tamir Rice, was shot dead on Nov. 22 by a white police officer in a Cleveland park, who apparently mistook a toy pellet gun for a real firearm.

Cleveland police have agreed to an independent monitor who will oversee a series of reforms within the department.

TIME

Cameras Wouldn’t Just Prevent Police Brutality. They Would Prevent Violent Protests Too

Mayor De Blasio Discusses Use Of Police Body Cameras At Police Academy In Queens
Andrew Burton—Getty Images New York Police Department (NYPD) Officer Joshua Jones demonstrates how to use and operate a body camera during a press conference on December 3, 2014 in New York City.

Nick Gillespie is the editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason.tv.

Want fewer avoidable deaths and potentially angry protests? Then get more video from every possible angle

If you’re outraged—and you should be—that no indictment followed Eric Garner’s death at the hands of the New York Police Department, thank the people who captured the attempted arrest gone horribly wrong from different angles on their cellphone cameras. And start pushing for laws and procedures that not only provide legal protection for citizens who film police but outfit cops with wearable cameras and other recording devices.

Such technologically enabled transparency won’t end all disputes between citizens and law enforcement but it will go a long way to providing clarity in ambiguous cases and, as important, minimizing bad actions by police and suspects alike. It will also have an impact on protests that always have a potential for violence on the part of marchers and authorities.

If official and crowdsourced footage of the confrontation between Michael Brown and Ferguson policeman Darren Wilson existed, it may well have minimized the subsequent protests, militarized response to demonstrators, and the widely criticized grand jury proceedings in Missouri.

Amateur video abounds in the Garner case. Cellphone footage plainly shows cops putting the 350-pound man into the chokehold and other restraining moves that a coroner ruled killed him (chokeholds are explicitly banned by NYPD rules, which should give even police defenders pause). Other video shows NYPD officers standing haplessly over an unmoving, apparently dead Garner for minutes, attempting no resuscitation. The footage is not just disturbing as hell—Garner is heard shouting, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” repeatedly before he expires—it’s the reason why people across the political spectrum are disgusted by the grand jury ruling. As Rep. Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican who is also a lawyer, tweeted, “Clearly excessive force against #EricGarner.”

These are not pretty pictures but they are essential viewing if you want to understand how the police operate and why so many Americans, especially racial and ethnic minorities who tend to have more run-ins with police, feel about law enforcement.

Given how they come off in the Garner footage, it’s understandable why police routinely try to shut down citizens photographing or videotaping them in the line of duty. Indeed, last August, police in Ferguson arrested several reporters for doing just that. That sort of thing is hardly an isolated incident, either. While there is a court-recognized right of citizens to record the police, there’s also little question that cops and law enforcement at all levels are waging nothing less than a “war against cameras.”

Ironically, cameras are in many—maybe most—instances the police’s best friend. Dashboard-mounted cameras have become standard equipment for most highway patrols and routinely exonerate patrolmen accused of misconduct. Back in August, former NYPD police commissioner Bernie Kerik, who implemented dash cams for his force, said that such footage overwhelmingly vindicates police versions of events. Not only that, they have a calming effect. “If a trooper loses his cool,” a spokesman for Pennsylvania Highway Patrol told The York Daily Register, “The trooper will have to answer for his actions.”

And they will also have to answer when they turn off or mess with cameras at inopportune moments. The Albuquerque, New Mexico PD did just that earlier this year when it fired a member for failing to turn on her body camera before engaging in a fatal shooting.

You don’t have to believe that “everyone behaves better when they’re on video” to recognize the vast benefits of ubiquitous video from official and distributed sources. It might have prevented violence in Ferguson in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting (it may even have helped to avoid the incident in the first place). While it did not help to bring an indictment in the Eric Garner death, it has raised disturbing and totally legitimate issues about police behavior and techniques. Those are good things, even if they are born out of tragedy.

Police should actually be the most supportive of increasing the amount of footage, especially footage taken by cameras they’re wearing. A year-long study of the Rialto, Calif., police department found that using “officer-worn cameras” reduced use-of-force incidents by 59% and reduced complaints against the cops by 87.5%. Between the Brown and Garner deaths—and cases such as the one in Cleveland where police shot and killed 12 year old Tamir Rice—law enforcement needs to work hard to regain the trust and confidence of the American public. Assuming they are acting in good faith and in accordance with proper policies, literally being able to show things from their point of view may be one of the best ways they can reassure us all.

Nick Gillespie is the editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason.tv and the co-author with Matt Welch of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong with America.

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

South Carolina Grand Jury Indicts White Cop in Fatal Shooting of Black Man

Richard Combs
Larry Hardy—The Times and Democrat/AP Richard Combs the former police chief and sole officer in the small town of Eutawville listens in court on Dec. 4, 2014, in Orangeburg, S.C.

Richard Combs was formally charged over the 2011 shooting of Bernard Bailey

—TheA white former police chief in South Carolina was formally charged in the 2011 shooting death of a black man in a town hall parking lot Wednesday, the same day a New York grand jury declined to indict a white NYPD officer in the death of a black Staten Island man, sparking widespread protests.

A South Carolina grand jury indicted Richard Combs, an ex-police chief who fatally shot 54-year-old Bernard Bailey during a confrontation near town hall. Combs was the only officer in Eutawville, S.C., a population of about 300 people.

(MORE: Behind the Video of Eric Garner’s Deadly Confrontation With Police)

According to the Associated Press, Combs attempted to arrest Bailey in May 2011 after he went to the Eutawville town hall about a broken-taillight ticket given to his daughter. The two got into a fight and Combs shot Bailey while he was in his truck. In 2013, Combs was indicted for misconduct in office, a lesser charge.

The indictment comes after recent decisions by grand juries in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City in which white officers were involved in deadly confrontations with two unarmed black men, Ferguson’s Michael Brown and Staten Island’s Eric Garner.

Both grand juries decided there was insufficient evidence to convict the officers involved. Combs’ lawyer questioned the timing of the murder charge and claimed that prosecutors were merely trying to piggyback off national outrage over the deaths of Brown and Garner.

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