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Police training in a new light
Spring 2016

Police training in a new light

The call came into 9-1-1 from a Spokane YMCA last October: A middle-aged man was threatening to break the kneecaps of an eight-year-old, because he said the boy could “ruin my NBA career.”

Corporal Jordan Ferguson of the Spokane Police Department responded, fully aware of the suspect’s antagonistic and unpredictable behavior. Ferguson’s body camera footage shows what happened next.

In the lobby of the YMCA, an employee first describes the man’s erratic statements. Ferguson tracks the man to the gym, who then walks away yelling. Rather than restraining the man immediately, Ferguson asks him questions and listens carefully and calmly, taking his time as the … » More …

Hunting for Dirtbags cover
Spring 2015

Hunting for “Dirtbags”: Why Cops Over-police the Poor and Racial Minorities

Hunting for “Dirtbags”: Why Cops Over-police the Poor and Racial Minorities

Lori Beth Way and Ryan Patten ’03 PhD
Northeastern University Press, 2013

In this day of increased scrutiny of police, many people wonder about policing styles and how officers use their unassigned time. The high rate of minority arrests and stops as well as the higher level of surveillance in poor communities have also come into question.

With these things in mind, two political science colleagues at California State University, Chico explored what factors influence police officers’ decisions on their policing strategies. Patten and Way … » More …

Fall 2013

Kathleen McChesney ’71—Agent of change

One day during Kathleen McChesney’s senior year, an FBI recruiter came to campus. Everyone was impressed with the smart looking fellow in the three piece suit. His pitch dazzled the class. “We all wanted to apply,” says McChesney. “But then he passed out the applications. He gave one to each student until he got to me. Then he said, ‘I can’t give you one. The FBI doesn’t have women as agents.’”

It was an inauspicious beginning for the girl from Auburn who would eventually become the highest ranking woman in the agency. The next year J. Edgar Hoover died and the policy was changed. But … » More …

Fall 2013

If You Don’t Snooze, You Lose

About an hour before sunrise on August 27, 2006, Comair Flight 5191 was approaching 120 miles per hour on its takeoff from the Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky, when co-pilot James Polehinke noticed something strange about the runway.

“That is weird,” he said in a conversation captured by the flight recorder. “No lights.”

“Yeah,” said Capt. Jeffrey Clay.

Sixteen seconds later, their 50-seat commuter jet ran out of runway. Polehinke just managed to get airborne but not enough. The plane hit an earthen berm, clipped a fence and a clump of trees, and went down in a ball of flames.

The pilots had gone … » More …

Bryan Vila (second row) joins police officers—his trainees—in a 1979 ceremony to celebrate Kosrae’s status as a state in the newly formed Federated States of Micronesia. Courtesy Bryan Vila
Summer 2013

Training the island police

When he learned about a job training police in the Pacific islands of Micronesia in 1978, former Los Angeles police officer Bryan Vila seized the opportunity to work in paradise. Little did he know that the hard lessons of teaching police officers from 2,000 different islands over six years would make him an expert on training in other cultures.

Vila, now a Washington State University professor of criminal justice and criminology at the Spokane campus, had been a Marine in Vietnam as well as a member of the sheriff’s department in Los Angeles, when he landed with a bang on an unpaved runway in Saipan.

» More …

Summer 2007

Anatomy of Murder: Robert Keppel '66 Police Science, '67 MA Police Science

In 1974, during Robert Keppel’s second week as a major crimes detective with the King County Sheriff’s Office, he was assigned the cases of two women who had gone missing on the same day from Lake Samammish. They turned out to be two of Ted Bundy’s victims, and the beginning of Keppel’s career-long study of serial killers. Keppel left the Sheriff’s Office in 1982 to become the lead criminal investigator for the Washington State Attorney General’s office. At the same time, he worked on the Green River Killer Task Force. From death row in Florida, Bundy contacted Keppel, offering to help him find the Green … » More …

Spring 2003

Pailca oversees accountability within Seattle Police Department

A case involving Asian-American teenagers detained by a Seattle police officer for jaywalking sounds routine enough, but the July 2001 incident soon unfolded into highly publicized accusations of racial profiling. The issue landed in the lap of attorney Sandra “Sam” Pailca, the first director of the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) within the Seattle Police Department.

Pailca found that while the officer was rude to the group, his actions did not amount to inappropriate treatment because of race. The police chief agreed with Pailca’s call for minor discipline for the officer, a decision unpopular both in the Asian community and with many in uniform, leading … » More …