US mail theft often begins with a stolen key

One arrow key can open many mailboxes in a delivery area. They’re so valuable that it’s against federal law for an unauthorized person to be in possession of one. But that hasn’t prevented a nationwide wave of robberies involving arrow keys.

A Scripps News investigation found an increasing number of letter carriers being targeted by criminals on the hunt for arrow keys. In 2021, 132 arrow keys were snatched away from mail carriers. By 2023, that number had more than tripled to 418, according to numbers we obtained from the Postal Inspection Service after filing a public records request.

Full story: US mail theft often begins with a stolen key

Colorado becomes 2nd state to ban use of ‘excited delirium’ | 9news.com

Colorado will become only the second state in the country to prohibit use of the controversial term “excited delirium” on such official documents as police and autopsy reports after Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill into law Thursday.

The new law, inspired by a lengthy 9NEWS/KFF Health News investigation, follows legislation initially passed in California last year.

Our investigation tied more than 225 deaths across the U.S. to use of the term. Almost all followed prone – or facedown – restraint, use of a stun gun, or both.

Full story: Colorado becomes 2nd state to ban use of ‘excited delirium’ | 9news.com

Kentucky governor cites higher incarceration costs in veto of criminal justice bill

Kentucky’s Democratic governor vetoed a GOP-backed criminal justice bill that would impose harsher sentences for a range of crimes, saying it would saddle the state with sharply higher incarceration costs.

The bill, which spurred some of the most contentious debates of the session, would make a multitude of changes to the state’s criminal code, enhancing many current penalties and creating new offenses.

Supporters portrayed the bill as a necessary policy shift that would do more to hold criminals accountable and to make communities safer. Opponents warned the measure would carry a hefty price tag for taxpayers with no assurances that the tougher approach would lower crime.

Full story: Kentucky governor cites higher incarceration costs in veto of criminal justice bill

911 call takers play a crucial role in deciding when to send police alternatives : NPR

For decades, 911 call takers have had three main options: send emergency medical responders, fire and police. A fourth option is becoming increasingly common: a mental health professional who responds to some calls instead of police. A study released this March found that 44 of the largest U.S. 50 cities now have an alternative response program, many of which don’t involve police at all.

As more cities deploy these new responders, the decision of when to use them usually rests with already stressed 911 workers.

In a survey of 911 professionals last year, more than 80 percent of respondents said their facility was understaffed. Almost the same amount said they regularly deal with burnout and anxiety.

Full story: 911 call takers play a crucial role in deciding when to send police alternatives : NPR

Washington state judge blocks use of AI-enhanced video as evidence in possible first-of-its-kind ruling

A Washington state judge overseeing a triple murder case barred the use of video enhanced by artificial intelligence as evidence in a ruling that experts said may be the first-of-its-kind in a United States criminal court.

The ruling, signed Friday by King County Superior Court Judge Leroy McCullogh and first reported by NBC News, described the technology as novel and said it relies on “opaque methods to represent what the AI model ‘thinks’ should be shown.”

“This Court finds that admission of this Al-enhanced evidence would lead to a confusion of the issues and a muddling of eyewitness testimony, and could lead to a time-consuming trial within a trial about the non-peer-reviewable-process used by the AI model,” the judge wrote in the ruling that was posted to the docket Monday.

Full story: Washington state judge blocks use of AI-enhanced video as evidence in possible first-of-its-kind ruling

It’s Hard to Implement Red Flag Laws. A New National Center Is Meant to Make It Easier.

Most of the responsibility to implement these laws falls to the individual states that enact them, but the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act allocated hundreds of millions in funding for state crisis intervention programs, including risk protection orders. That money started moving out the door of the Justice Department last year. Part of the funding, $2 million, went to Johns Hopkins for the new National ERPO Resource Center.

The center, which quietly began operating last year before its public debut in March, is what’s known as a training and technical assistance provider — essentially a hub to support state and local officials as they endeavor to make risk protection orders fit local needs, and connect stakeholders to share best practices.

In 2023, the center trained more than 1,200 judges, social workers, law enforcement officials, victims advocates, attorneys, community organizations, and health professionals who share the job of making sure that red flag laws actually work. Its newly launched website includes a range of resources for both officials and people who may need to use a risk protection order.

Full story: It’s Hard to Implement Red Flag Laws. A New National Center Is Meant to Make It Easier.