Fighting + Facing Crime in 2014
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because in this decade, policing has taken on a whole new hue — but with even more “gray” areas.
“I grew up hating the police,” says New Orleans detective Charles Beau Hoffacker; as a kid he felt like they were constantly trying to take his mother away from his troubled family. When he joined the force in 2004, he thought he would try to change the system from within. It was when he switched to homicide that he began taking art classes. His art is a form of therapy, helping him cope with a dark daily world and conflicting emotions about being a cop. But it is a unique life, straddling the worlds of murder and art, one that produces fascinating, haunting work that makes us all think just a little bit deeper about what goes on around us every single day. Read the story here.
Ever heard of a “puke ray”? It’s about as bad as it sounds (emits flashing, multicolor light pulses that induce nausea). We’ve been hearing a lot about police militarization, but gadgets are changing police forces, too. Case in point: Taser’s stock has jumped almost 30 percent since the protests began in Ferguson, Missouri. The reason: Taser’s side business in officer-worn cameras, which observers believe is a big selling point these days. Police tech ranges from cop-cams to nonlethal or “soft-kill” weapons — a global market projected to reach $1.63 billion in 2014. But as terrifying as sound cannons and ray guns sound, it’s surveillance and data mining that are having the greatest — and maybe scariest — effect on police operations. Read the story here.
Like a modern Sherlock Holmes, Eduardo Salcedo uses unconventional techniques to unravel the mysteries of corruption, kidnapping and drug trafficking in Colombia. His methods — a mix of neuroscience, artificial intelligence and social network analysis — may be controversial, but they are trusted by institutions like Transparency International, Global Integrity and Colombia’s government. Salcedo has connected the dots among hundreds of apparently unrelated incidents and come up with an extensive list of suspected dirty politicians and narco-paramilitary members, and uncovered rampant corruption at even the highest levels in Colombia’s intelligence agency. And while many applaud Salcedo’s efforts, not everyone is a fan of his extravagant methods. Read the story here.
True Detective: By now you’ve certainly heard of HBO’s Louisiana-based crime drama that swept the country this spring. There’s a reason the spine-tingling thriller, which follows two detectives (Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson) on a wild ride as they search for answers during a 17-year hunt for a loose serial killer, was up for 12 Emmy nominations. This is not your everyday, darkly layered, genre-shaking, Twin Peaks/The Killing/Broadchurch murder mystery. Densely layered, trippy, almost poetic dialogue flips a middle finger at traditional police drama conventions. And that’s why the show has riveted critics — and why we can’t wait for next season. Read the story here.
Death brushed Ruby Sales when she was 17. Brushed, because someone took the bullet meant for her. The experience muted her for months, but now — nearly 50 years later — Sales is roaring against racially charged violence in a way she wishes she could have as a teenager. Now 66, Sales is a widely honored Episcopal theologian; the shooting became a touchstone for decades of civil rights work, including founding a nonprofit social justice organization that works to bring communities together across racial and gender divides and trains “a new generation of peace and justice workers.” Sales says her visit to Ferguson confirmed to her that the United States still has a lot of work to do to break free of the cycle of violence that dogs African-Americans’ relations with the police. Read the story here.