Females made up 14% of full-time sworn officers employed by sheriffs' offices in 2016. As of June 30, 2016, .9% of sheriffs were female, including about 11% of sheriffs in offices of 500 or more full-time-equivalent sworn officers. Among all sheriffs' offices, females held about 12% of first-line supervisory positions in 2016.
One difference between a sheriffs' office and police department is the jurisdiction that each type of agency covers. While both sheriffs' offices and police departments are law enforcement agencies, sheriffs' offices have countywide jurisdiction and police departments' authority is limited to specific cities, municipalities, towns, or villages. In addition, sheriffs' offices are generally empowered by the state to serve counties and independent cities, while police departments are established under municipal regulations. The head of a sheriffs' office is a sheriff who is usually an elected official. The head of a police department is usually the chief, who is typically appointed by a government entity, such as mayor, city manager, or a commissioner.
The report does not evaluate the success of problem-solving courts. The survey collected data on successful completion of problem-solving court programs. The survey did not collect data on whether graduates reentered the system or were rearrested.
The Census of Problem-Solving Courts (CPSC) identified problem-solving courts as having an exclusive docket, calendar, or program that operated within the judiciary. These courts had a dedicated judicial officer who used therapeutic justice to reduce problematic or criminal behavior. Therapeutic justice is a team-based, non-adversarial approach to criminal justice that offers therapeutic treatment services. It employs strategies to reward compliance and deter noncompliance. For example, the CPSC would include a truancy court with a specialized program following truant children and offering transportation or other services because this court addressed a problematic behavior using targeted services. A court that scheduled all truancy hearings on one day for scheduling purposes would not be included if it did not offer services to help reduce truancy. The CPSC excluded federal courts and problem-solving courts that operated with a youth judge or peer jury model. The collection excluded civil courts that had a contractual component (e.g., foreclosure or business courts) because they did not have a therapeutic component.
Homicide is the killing of a human being by another human being. The ARD program gathers data on homicides that occur during an arrest process regardless of whether the homicide was attributed to law enforcement personnel or a civilian.
Justifiable homicide is the killing by law enforcement personnel that is justified by law and for which no criminal punishment is imposed. These deaths occur as a result of officers performing their legal duty to protect and serve the public and may result from actions taken in self-defense. Justifiable homicides by law enforcement officers include deaths attributed to shooting, asphyxia during restraint, injuries sustained during an altercation, and the use of technologies, such as chemical sprays and conducted energy devices.
Sometimes. Deaths resulting from vehicular accidents are within the scope of the ARD program if they specifically involve direct action taken by law enforcement officers against an arrest subject during the arrest process. These direct actions can include shooting at the subject, ramming the subject's vehicle, or otherwise forcing the vehicle off the road (i.e., roadblocks or spike strips).
A suicide, or the intentional killing of oneself, is considered arrest related if the deceased interacted with state or local law enforcement officers immediately prior to taking his or her life. The most common type of reported arrest-related suicide involves decedents engaged in armed standoffs with law enforcement personnel. Other arrest-related suicides include suspects who committed suicide to evade physical custody while law enforcement personnel attempted to apprehend them. The ARD collection excludes suicides of persons with issued arrest warrants if the suicide occurred before the police located the decedent.
No. The collection does not exclude deaths based on a lack of establishing physical custody. For example, it includes officer-involved shootings, of which virtually none involved subjects who were in the physical custody of the arresting agency at the time of death. Some arrest-related suicides occurred in police lockups and booking facilities, and most occurred before law enforcement personnel apprehended arrest subjects and established physical custody.
Yes. The ARD collection includes all deaths that result from any use of force by law enforcement officers, regardless of whether the officer intended the use of force to be lethal. To resolve an incident, law enforcement officers are authorized to use force in an escalating series of actions. The amount of force used ranges from the mere presence of an officer to the use of lethal force.
Most law enforcement agencies have policies that guide the appropriate level of force for a given situation. Law enforcement personnel are trained to only use lethal force when an arrest subject poses a serious threat to the officer or another individual and an arrest would be imminent. The threshold of criminal behavior to prompt an arrest is far lower than the threshold to prompt the use of lethal force.
Domestic relationships include intimate partners, immediate family members, and other relatives.
Intimate relationships are defined as current or former spouses, boyfriends, or girlfriends, including same sex relationships. Intimates are distinguished from
- other relatives, such as a parent, child, sibling, grandparent, in-law, cousin
- acquaintances, such as a friend, coworker, neighbor, schoolmate, someone known
- strangers who are anyone not previously known by the victim.
Violence between intimates is difficult to measure because it often occurs in private, and victims are often reluctant to report incidents to anyone because of shame or fear of reprisal.
The types of contact in the PPCS include those initiated by residents, those initiated by police, and resulting from a traffic accident. Resident-initiated contacts include reporting a crime, disturbance, or suspicious activity; reporting a non-crime emergency, such as a medical emergency; reporting a non-emergency, such as asking for directions, custody enforcement, and court orders; participating in a block watch or other anti-crime programs; or approaching or seeking help from police for another reason. Police-initiated contacts include being stopped by police while in a public place or a parked vehicle (i.e., street stop), being stopped by police while driving a motor vehicle (i.e., traffic stop), riding as a passenger in a car that was stopped by police, being arrested, or being stopped or approached by police for some other reason. The PPCS also collected data on contacts resulting from a traffic accident.
Sworn officers have full arrest powers granted by a state or local government. Nonsworn officers do not have the ability to arrest and serve in the capacity of a security officer.
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During 2018, an estimated 61.5 million U.S. residents age 16 or older, or 24% of the population, had one or more contacts with police. This includes calling to report a crime, being stopped in a moving vehicle, or being approached by an officer in a public place (street stop).
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics' (BJS) Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) 2003 survey, state and local law enforcement agencies with 100 or more sworn personnel, employing 59% of officers nationwide, received nearly 27,000 citizen complaints about police use of force during 2002. About 8% of these force complaints were sustained; that is, there was sufficient evidence to justify disciplinary action against the officer or officers. See Citizen Complaints about Police Use of Force
CBP officers are tasked with stopping terrorists, terrorist weapons, illegal drugs, aliens, and materials harmful to agriculture from entering the United States. These officers perform patrol and response functions along, and in the vicinity of, the 8,000 miles of U.S. boundaries.
In addition to felony criminal matters, prosecutors’ offices handled a variety of other case types. A greater number of prosecutors’ offices reported computer-based offenses and taking on homeland security responsibilities. In 2005, 60% of all state court prosecutors reported prosecuting crimes under the state’s computer crime statute, compared to 42% in 2001. About 80% of all offices reported handling credit card fraud, bankcard fraud (71%), identity theft (70%), and transmitting child pornography in 2005.
Full-time prosecutors’ offices were more likely to report prosecuting cases related to terrorism or participating in terrorism related investigations, compared to small full-time offices or part-time offices. In 2005, 2% of all prosecutor offices reported prosecuting cases related to terrorism; 7% actively participated in terrorism related investigations; and a third had members of the staff attend training on homeland security issues. Nearly a quarter of all offices participated in state or local task forces for homeland security.
Staffing and budget increases experienced by state court prosecutors' offices in the 1990s generally leveled off by 2001. Resources available to state court prosecutors' offices in 2005 were similar to those in 2001. In 2005 state court prosecutors' offices employed approximately 78,000 attorneys, investigators and support staff, had a median annual budget of $355,000, and closed about 250 or more felony cases.
In 2005, 24% of prosecutors’ offices reported problems recruiting new staff, and 35% had problems retaining staff attorneys. Thirty-seven percent of full-time medium offices and 27% of full-time large offices reported problems recruiting new staff attorneys, compared to 11% of part-time offices. Among offices identifying staff retention and recruitment problems, salary was the number one concern.
The Prosecutors in State Courts statistical series began in 1990. The series focuses on the nation's 2,300 state court prosecutors' offices that handle felony cases in state courts of general jurisdiction. The National District Attorneys Association (NDAA), prosecutors across the nation, and individuals interested in acquiring a better understanding of state prosecutor operations extensively use the data on the number of staff, annual budget, criminal caseloads, and other office characteristics. The 2007 National Census of State Court Prosecutors (NCSP), currently underway, will provide more recent estimates. See Prosecutors in State Courts, 2005, to read more about prosecutors in state courts in 2005.
Results from the Civil Justice Survey of State Courts, 2005, show that 61% of civil cases concluded by trial involved a tort claim in which plaintiffs alleged injury, loss, or damage from the negligent or intentional acts of defendants. Cases dealing with allegations of breach of contract (contract cases) accounted for 33% of trials, and real property cases accounted for about 6%. The most frequent kinds of civil cases disposed of by trial were motor vehicle accident (35%), seller plaintiff (11%), buyer plaintiff (10%), and medical malpractice (9%).
Overall, plaintiffs won in 56% of all tort and contract trials in 2005. The rate of plaintiff success varied according to the type of case litigated. Plaintiff win rates were not applicable to real property trials.
Plaintiffs were more likely to win in contract cases (66%) than in tort cases (52%). Mortgage foreclosure (89%), animal attack (75%), and seller plaintiff (75%) cases had the highest percentage of plaintiffs who prevailed. Plaintiffs won in over half of the trials for motor vehicle accidents (64%), employment discrimination (61%), and product liability (55%) cases, but prevailed in less than a third of medical malpractice (23%) cases.
The 2005 Civil Justice Survey of State Courts (CJSSC) shows that about 26,950 tort, contact, and real property cases were disposed of by bench or jury trial in state courts of general jurisdiction nationwide. This amounts to a trial rate of approximately 3% for all general civil cases filed in 2005. Of the almost 27,000 trials, 68% were jury trials while in the remaining 32%, litigants waived their rights to a jury trial and had their cases heard before a judge only. See Civil Bench and Jury Trials in State Courts, 2005.
In 2005 estimated $6 billion in compensatory and punitive damages was awarded to plaintiffs who won in civil trials. The median amount awarded to plaintiff winners in all trial cases was $28,000. Contract trials garnered higher median awards ($35,000), compared to tort trials ($24,000). About 10% of plaintiffs who won in general civil trials were awarded over $250,000 in total damages while about 4% were awarded $1 million or more.
The NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 (NIAA), Pub. L. 110-180, was signed into law by the President on January 8, 2008. The NIAA amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 ("the Brady Act") (Pub. L. 103-159), under which the Attorney General established the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The Brady Act requires Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to contact the NICS before transferring a firearm to an unlicensed person for information on whether the proposed transferee is prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm under state or federal law. The NIAA was a bipartisan effort to strengthen the NICS by increasing the quantity and quality of relevant records accessible to the system.
The NIAA was enacted in the wake of the April 2007 shooting tragedy at Virginia Tech. The Virginia Tech shooter was able to purchase firearms from an FFL because information about his prohibiting mental health history was not available to the NICS and the system was therefore unable to deny the transfer of the firearms used in the shootings. The NICS is a critical tool in keeping firearms out of the hands of prohibited persons, but it is only as effective as the information entered into the databases upon which it relies. The NIAA seeks to address the gap in information available to NICS about such prohibiting mental health adjudications and commitments and other prohibiting backgrounds. Filling these information gaps will better enable the system to operate as intended to keep guns out of the hands of persons prohibited by federal or state law from receiving or possessing firearms.
The NICS is a national system that checks available records in three databases to determine if prospective transferees are disqualified from receiving firearms. It is administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). A NICS check includes a check of the following three databases that are maintained by the FBI:
- Interstate Identification Index (III), a database of criminal history record information,
- National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which includes information on persons subject to civil protection orders and arrest warrants
- NICS Indices, which includes the information contributed by federal and state agencies identifying persons prohibited from possessing firearms who are not included in the III or NCIC, such as persons with a prohibiting mental health history or who are illegal or unlawful aliens.
When the transferee is not a U.S. citizen, a separate query is run to confirm the transferee's immigration status. If a NICS check identifies a person as falling within a prohibited category, the FBI advises the FFL that the transfer is "denied." Individuals can appeal denials and seek correction of information in the FBI databases by either applying to the FBI or the federal or state agency that contributed the information to the FBI.
The Gun Control Act of 1968, as amended, 18 U.S.C. 921, et seq., establishes the following categories of persons who are prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm: Any person pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 922(g) or (n) who—
- has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year
- is a fugitive from justice
- is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance
- has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution
- is an illegal or unlawful alien or a non-immigrant alien (with certain exceptions)
- has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions
- having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his citizenship
- is subject to a domestic violence protection order that meets certain requirements
- has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
- is under indictment for or has been charged with a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
Section 922(g)(4), Title 18, United States Code, prohibits the receipt or possession of firearms by an individual who has been "adjudicated as a mental defective" or "committed to a mental institution." Regulations issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), 27 C.F.R. § 478.11, define these terms as follows:
Adjudicated as a mental defective.
(1) A determination by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority that a person, as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease—
- is a danger to himself or to others
- lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs.
(2) The term shall include —
- a finding of insanity by a court in a criminal case
- those persons found incompetent to stand trial or found not guilty by reason of lack of mental responsibility pursuant to articles 50a and 72b of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. 850a, 876b.
Committed to a mental institution. A formal commitment of a person to a mental institution by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority. The term includes a commitment to a mental institution involuntarily and a commitment for mental defectiveness or mental illness. It also includes commitments for other reasons, such as for drug use. The term does not include a person in a mental institution for observation or a voluntary admission to a mental institution.
No. The NICS does not maintain a database of medical records or information on mental health diagnoses or treatment plans. When a record of a person prohibited from possessing a firearm as a result of mental health issues (i.e., a person who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution or adjudicated a "mental defective" by a court, board, or other lawful authority) is entered in the NICS Indices, the entry contains only a name, other biographic identifiers (e.g., date of birth), and codes for the submitting entity and prohibited category. The NICS Indices does not contain medical records or medical information.
When information about such adjudications and commitments is provided to the NICS, the FBI can deny firearm transfers to persons with disqualifying mental health histories, both in the state where the record was created and in other states to which the individual may have subsequently moved.
The information in the NICS is subject to the Privacy Act and the privacy of the information is protected in a number of ways. The only responses provided by the NICS to a request for a NICS check is "Proceed," "Denied," or "Delayed." In cases of a "Denied" response, neither the general prohibiting category nor information about the specific event that places an individual in that prohibited category is provided to the FFL. The individual, however, is able to request information about the reason for the denial from the FBI and can appeal the denial and seek to correct incomplete or inaccurate information in the system upon which the denial is based.
In addition, as noted above, the information identifying mental health adjudications or commitments contributed by federal and state agencies is maintained in the NICS Indices. The regulations governing the NICS limits the use of the NICS Indices to (1) checks under the Brady Act by FFLs of proposed firearms transferees; (2) checks by federal, state, or local criminal justice agencies in connection with the issuance of a firearms-related or explosives-related license or permit; and (3) requests by ATF in connection with civil or criminal law enforcement relating to the federal Gun Control Act (18 U.S.C. Chapter 44) or National Firearms Act (26 U.S.C. Chapter 53). Checks of the NICS Indices for general law enforcement purposes are not permitted under the regulations. See 28 CFR. 25.6(j).
The NIAA seeks to improve the information available to the NICS, so that the system can more accurately identify prohibited persons, by—
- enhancing the Brady Act requirement that federal departments and agencies provide relevant information to the NICS
- providing incentives to states to submit complete information to the Attorney General on persons prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms through—
- authorizing new grant programs for state executive and judicial branch agencies to improve information available to the NICS
- providing for Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program penalties for states that do not comply with the Act's record completeness goals.
FOR STATES: The NIAA has provisions that encourage states to meet specified goals for completeness of the records submitted to the Attorney General on individuals prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms. The records covered include automated information needed by the NICS to identify felony convictions, felony indictments, fugitives from justice, drug arrests and convictions, federally prohibiting mental health adjudications and commitments, domestic violence protection orders, and misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence. The Act provides for a number of incentives for states to meet the goals it sets for greater record completeness.
- First, the Act allows states to obtain a waiver, beginning in 2011, of the National Criminal History Improvement Program's (NCHIP) state matching requirement for NCHIP grants, if a state provides at least 90 percent of its records identifying the specified prohibited persons.
- Second, the Act authorizes a separate grant program to be administered consistent with NCHIP, for state executive and judicial agencies to establish and upgrade information automation and identification technologies for timely submission of final criminal record dispositions and other information relevant to NICS checks. Up to 5% of the grants may be reserved for Indian tribal governments and judicial systems.
- Finally, the Act provides for discretionary and mandatory Byrne grant penalties for non-compliance with record completeness requirements: During the 2-year period beginning 3 years after the date of enactment of the Act, up to 3% may be withheld in the case of less than 50% completeness; during the 5-year period beginning 5 years after the date of enactment of the Act, up to 4% may be withheld in the case of less than 70% completeness; thereafter, 5% must be withheld in the case of less than 90% completeness (although the mandatory reduction can be waived if there is substantial evidence of the state making a reasonable effort to comply).
IN THE FEDERAL SYSTEM: The NIAA creates an independent statutory obligation for federal agencies to report records identifying prohibited persons to the Attorney General no less than quarterly. It also requires federal agencies that issue prohibiting mental health adjudications or commitments establish a program under which a person subject to such an adjudication or commitment can apply for relief from his or her firearms disability according to standards under 18 U.S.C. § 925(c). Additionally, the Act provides that a prohibiting adjudication or commitment issued by a federal agency or department may be nullified in certain instances by a qualified set aside, expungement, release from mandatory treatment, or other specified means.
CHANGE TO THE MENTAL HEALTH PROHIBITOR: Prior to the NIAA, section 922(g)(4) was effectively a lifetime prohibition on possessing firearms by any person "who had been adjudicated a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution." The Act, however, provides that when relief is granted under a federal or state relief from disabilities program that meets the requirements of the Act, or when certain automatic relief conditions are met with respect to persons federally adjudicated or committed, the event giving rise to the mental health disability is "deemed not to have occurred" for purposes of the federal firearm prohibition.
There are two conditions that each state must satisfy before being eligible to receive grants:
- First, a state must provide to the Attorney General a "reasonable estimate," based on a methodology established by the Attorney General, of records subject to the Act's completeness requirements.
- Second, a state must certify, to the satisfaction of the Attorney General, that the state has implemented a program permitting persons who have been adjudicated a mental defective or committed to a mental institution to obtain relief from the firearms disabilities imposed by law as a result of such adjudication or commitment. This relief must be granted, in accordance with principles of due process, by a state court, board, commission, or other lawful authority. The relief must be based on a finding that the circumstances of the disability and the person's record and reputation are such that the person will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to the public safety and that the granting of relief would not be contrary to the public interest.
Before the enactment of the NICS Improvement Act, a person's adjudication as a mental defective or commitment to a mental institution was effectively a lifetime prohibition. Concerns were expressed to Congress about the permanence of this prohibitor and the life-long effect it would have on persons whose mental health adjudication or commitment records would be provided to the NICS under the Act's provisions. To address these concerns, the Act included not only provisions to require or promote the sharing of the existence of information about this disability for use by the NICS, but also provisions that require or authorize the establishment of federal and state programs that allow individuals to seek relief from the federal mental health firearms disability if circumstances warrant. As of December 2017, 31 states have enacted relief programs that have been certified by the state and approved by ATF.