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TBI Releases First Study on TN Law Enforcement Use of Deadly Force

Press release from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; October 7, 2013:

NASHVILLE- The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation today released its first-ever study on law enforcement’s use of deadly force and shooting incidents in Tennessee while in the line of duty. Different from the annual Law Enforcement Officers Killed or Assaulted (LEOKA) report, this report takes an in-depth look at officers who have used force or deadly force with a weapon while protecting Tennesseans and the effect that critical incident had on the officers, their departments and their communities.

The mixed methods research study took a three pronged approach to the issues. First, law enforcement agencies across the state were surveyed about the number of times officers within their departments used deadly force between 2007 and 2011. Second, round table discussions were held where law enforcement leaders provided input on trends, causes, policy and costs of the use of firearms by officers in their respective regions of the state. Lastly, researchers interviewed a dozen officers who had been involved in a shooting incident to gain the perspective of those officers and publish eight of those summarized interviews as case studies.

Law Enforcement Use of Deadly Force 2007-2011 Quick Facts

  • Of the 295 agencies that responded to the survey, 206 were police departments, 75 were sheriff’s departments and the remaining 14 were state departments.
  • Eighty-four agencies experienced at least one officer involved shooting between 2007 and 2011 with a total of 234 officer involved shootings.
  • The majority of the shooting incidents at 140 or approximately 60 percent were large departments with more than 101 sworn personnel. Both small and medium sized agencies each reported about 20 percent of the shooting incidents.
  • Two hundred and seven agencies reported having no officer involved shootings during the time period.
  • Thirty-five of the officers involved in shooting incidents are no longer employed in law enforcement.
  • Seventy-two percent of all agencies received deadly force training at least annually.
  • Of the 234 incidents reported lawsuits were filed in 20 cases and were evenly distributed between small, medium and large agencies.
  • One hundred and sixty-four agencies reported having mandatory post shooting counseling provided to officers.

The study reveals several factors contributing to the use of deadly force incidents including mentally ill subjects, drugs, gangs and the disposal of seized weapons. Another common theme is the importance of firearms training including judgmental training to the law enforcement community as a whole. To read the study in its entirety click here.

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New Beacon Center Brief Analyzes Practice of ‘Policing for Profit’

Press release from the Beacon Center of Tennessee; March 18, 2013:

NASHVILLE – The Beacon Center of Tennessee today published a new policy brief on the disturbing practice of “policing for profit.” The brief, titled The Perils of Policing for Profit, analyzes civil asset forfeiture laws, which have recently come under fire throughout the state.

Across Tennessee, law enforcement agencies are seizing money, cars, and other property based on the mere suspicion that the property is related to criminal activity. In some cases, tens of thousands of dollars worth of property or cash is seized, yet the property owner is never charged with a crime.

The brief reviews the perverse incentives created by this practice, which has led to the confiscation of more than $1.6 billion worth of property nationally. However, due to the lack of transparency related to Tennessee’s forfeiture laws, the amount seized within the state’s borders remains unknown.

“Policing for profit is an alarming practice that ensnares innocent victims, turning the American concept of justice on its head through a presumption of guilt,” said Trey Moore, Beacon Center’s director of policy and co-author of the brief. “Lawmakers should eliminate the perverse incentives for law enforcement to seize property absent proof that a crime has actually occurred.”

The brief calls for the outright ban of the practice by strengthening the legal standards used to permit law enforcement to seize property. Short of eliminating the practice altogether, the brief offers several intermediary solutions. They include placing civil forfeiture revenues in a neutral fund that cannot be used by law enforcement; transferring the burden of proof from the property owner to the government; reporting of seized property to promote more transparency; prohibiting ex parte hearings; allowing property owners to recover their losses and costs if the property is returned; and the termination of equitable sharing arrangements between local law enforcement officials and the federal government.

Several state lawmakers have filed bills related to this issue. Those measures are slated to be heard in legislative committees over the coming days.

The policy brief can be downloaded at: http://www.beacontn.org/wp-content/uploads/The-Perils-of-Policing-for-Profit.pdf

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Study: Students of Involved Parents Perform Better in School

Press Release from Comptroller Justin Wilson; July 8, 2010:

Report Highlights Importance of Family Engagement in Education

Students perform better in the classroom when their families and their schools forge strong partnerships, according to a new report released today by the Comptroller’s Offices of Research and Education Accountability.

The report, titled “Family Engagement in Education,” notes that while it is difficult to precisely measure the benefits of family involvement on student achievement, studies have suggested there is a positive relationship.

Students with more engaged families tend to attend school more frequently, make better grades and graduate to higher levels of education. Those students are generally more likely to have better behavior and social skills as well.

The report discusses ways parents can become more engaged, including reading to children and helping with their homework, participating in school activities, setting high academic expectations, monitoring their children’s academic performance, working with teachers to address concerns and advising older students with their college or career plans.

The report also documents some of the strategies used by Tennessee schools to reach out to parents. These include sponsoring family activities outside of normal school hours; creating new channels for communicating with parents via newsletters, phone messaging systems, online grade access and other nontraditional media outlets; and opening computer labs to parents as well as students.

To view the full report online, go to: http://www.comptroller1.state.tn.us/Repository/RE/FamilyEngagement.pdf

OREA is an agency within the Comptroller’s office that is charged with providing accurate and objective policy research and analysis for the Tennessee General Assembly and the public.