July 4, 2020


Thank You

Dear PERF members,

So far, 2020 has been a year to remember – mostly in a difficult way – and it promises to continue on that path for months to come.

But today, the 4th of July, feels like some kind of milestone, and a good time to stop for a minute and thank everyone who has been so helpful to PERF during these trying months.

Many of us will be lucky enough to spend the 4th of July relaxing with our families and maybe a few friends. But for police chiefs, sheriffs, officers and deputies, today will be an especially difficult day.  We did a PERF Critical Issues Report titled “Police Are Bracing for Many July 4 Problems,” and it was a harrowing story to tell. 

So to all of you who will be out on the streets today – managing demonstrations and safeguarding First Amendment rights, trying to minimize large gatherings that could spread COVID-19, responding to violent crimes, and dealing with dangerous private fireworks displays – thank you for your service.  And thanks to all of the officers and deputies in your department.

I also want to thank all PERF members for everything you have done to help PERF this year. I appreciate the email and phone calls I get every day from our members, sharing news and ideas about what’s happening.  As you know, we’ve been doing these COVID-19 and Critical Issues Reports pretty much every day, and when we call PERF members and ask them to participate, you say “yes” and work us into your schedules every time.  The level of help we get is remarkable, and I appreciate it so much. We simply could not do what we do without your active participation.

I’d also like to thank the PERF staff, including those who dropped what they were doing four months ago to work on our Daily COVID-19 Reports. It’s important for us to get these out on a daily basis. We are facing the biggest health emergency of our lives, and because the story has been changing every day, we realized that police and sheriffs’ offices needed to share what was happening in real time. And later, of course, when the events in Minneapolis happened and national protests started, we pivoted to cover those issues. 

I’m also proud of my great staff who put together our two recent online Town Hall Meetings. We will be doing more of those types of online events in the months to come.

Here’s a picture of some of our staffers on one of our daily 10:30 calls, when we plan our next Daily Report…. 

Almost all PERF staffers have been working remotely for more than three months. It’s especially difficult for PERF staffers with children to juggle their work and the demands of their kids.  Here’s our Deputy Research Director Sean Goodison, who said he was using ICAT principles to de-escalate a disorderly conduct situation involving his daughter Ava:

Raquel Rodriguez from Accounting told us her dog has a way of telling her, “I’m not kidding, it’s time for a walk.”

Deputy Director of Technical Assistance Lisa Mantel has kids and somehow also found time to volunteer to build PPE kits for the medical staff at Johns Hopkins hospital:

And here’s our CFO, Ken Hartwick.  While everyone else is wearing a T-shirt and shorts, you can find Ken in the office, wearing a dress shirt and one of his stylish Jerry Garcia ties!

Finally, our Director of Technical Assistance, Jessica Toliver, is known for her talent in managing many different projects at a time. But it seems that home-schooling her 2 kids has been a bridge too far.  At one point, Jess was reduced to locking them out of the house:

I hope I’ve made you laugh or smile with this nonsense.

To close on a serious note, the policing profession is facing what may be the most serious challenges in our lifetime. So more than ever, I’m grateful to PERF members for the work you do, and for what you give to PERF.

I hope your 4th of July won’t be too stressful, and maybe you’ll even get some time to relax this weekend.

Weekend Clips are below.




Weekend Clips

Washington Post: As opioids flooded tribal lands across the U.S., overdose deaths skyrocketed

At the height of the opioid epidemic, Native Americans overdosed and died at a rate that rivaled some of the hardest-hit regions in Appalachia. Nationwide, from 2006 to 2014, Native Americans were nearly 50 percent more likely to die of an opioid overdose than non-natives, a Washington Post analysis found.

In recent months, the novel coronavirus has added to the trials of Indian country, long plagued by health disparities, poverty, housing shortages and isolation. Arizona’s White Mountain Apache Tribe and the Navajo Nation, with land that stretches over three Western states, have struggled with some of the highest per capita infection rates in the United States.

But tribal leaders say they have not lost sight of the ongoing devastation caused by prescription opioids.


NPR audio: Wilmington police chief on the firing of police officers for their racist comments

NPR's Mary Louise Kelly speaks with Wilmington, NC Police Chief Donny Williams about the firing of three police officers after their racist comments were accidentally recorded by a car camera.


NBCLX: Marine, Police Chief, Priest: One man's journey to improve community relations with the police

Six decades ago David Couper served his country as a United States Marine. Today, he serves his parish as a priest at St Peter’s Episcopal Church in North Lake, Wisconsin. But wedged snugly in between those two careers Couper also had a lengthy stint as a police chief. And Couper had one thing in mind when he became Chief of Police in Burnsville, Minnesota in 1968...to bridge the gap between the department and community.


The Atlantic: The FBI agents who return stolen cultural artifacts

The first day of April, in 2014, dawned “gray, cold, rainy, ugly,” recalls Tim Carpenter, a supervisory special agent of the FBI’s Art Theft Program in Washington, D.C. Early that morning, his team knocked on the door of Don Miller’s farmhouse in Waldron, Indiana.

A tip to the FBI had brought Carpenter and Cusack-McVeigh to Miller’s door. According to the tipster, Miller had an extensive trove of illegally looted cultural objects, along with some human remains.

All told, after studying Miller’s collection and records, the FBI took possession of roughly 7,000 items—one-sixth of his full collection—for which they had strong evidence of illegality under a variety of statutes. It was the largest recovery of cultural property in the FBI’s history.

A typical seizure by the FBI Art Theft Program, Carpenter notes, ranges from a few objects to perhaps 2,000 items. “While we have no way of knowing how many large private collections exist,” he says, “we have seen, and expect to continue to see, more and more of them coming to light as collectors pass away and the collections are inherited by younger generations who will contact the FBI and law enforcement for guidance.”

The scale of this FBI repatriation effort offers a unique window into the challenges and rewards of the process.

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