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Policing the USA

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BREAKING NEWS: WE HAVE OFFICIALLY MOVED!

Find the latest in policing at policing.usatoday.com.  See you at our new location, where you can continue to share your thoughts, send us information about what’s happening in your community and interact with our columns, videos, data and editorials.

WHAT’S NEW

Community: Decriminalizing drugs paves way for cure

Politics: #BLM supporters, members respond to Trump

Delve into this site

HOW TO USE POLICING THE USA
The names are all too familiar to most Americans, and for tragic reasons: Michael Brown. Trayvon Martin. Sandra Bland. Their stories have become symbols of racial injustice, police brutality, lack of progress.  But do their experiences tell the entire story?  Are things much worse, or much better, than the news media have portrayed?  Is the #blacklivesmatter movement, an outgrowth of recent cases of police mistreatment, doing enough in your view to make a difference? Or are police being unfairly criticized?

This site is a portal for you to share your views and tell your stories about broader issues of race, justice, the role of journalists and the American experience. Talk about what’s happening in your community, or on your campus, in photos, videos and words.  Engage in a dialogue with others.  Share what you think is working, what the news media could do better, what you would like to see change.

We, as a news organization, want to take a close look at ourselves and our communities. We’re telling stories and giving our views on three major aspects — race, news media and politics — through podcasts, videos, photos and voice, all captured on this page.  We’re also providing data on the latest police conflicts and interactions.

And we’re inviting you to do the same. Respond using several platforms: social media, videos, photos and voice.

Google Voice

Call 540-739-2928 to leave your views or talk about what’s happening:

Submit a photo

Have a great example of the police working with members of your community? Or is the opposite happening? Are there movements and protests happening in your neighborhood? Show us what’s happening in your community through our Your Take call.

Isaiah Simpson, center, links arms with other demonstrators during a
Isaiah Simpson, center, links arms with other demonstrators during a “Black Lives Matter” rally in Memphis.

The college voice

Young people are at the center of the #blacklivesmatter movement.  Show us what’s happening on your campus.  We also have a video contest. Participate. Here’s how.

The data on police use of force

Nearly 70% of Americans arrested are white, yet black men have a higher likelihood of going to prison (1 in 3) compared with white men (1 in 17). While a handful of cases involving young black males and police use of force make the headlines, many more black men say they confront police bias on a daily basis. Learn more in the data behind the headlines.

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Our contribution

We wanted to take a look at our role in reporting, discussing and covering race. How can the news media be better? What does success — when it comes to covering race, police use of force and progress — look like?  A podcast includes the story of one Baltimore man who was brutalized and a roundtable discussion with USA TODAY reporters and editors.

Since the Michael Brown shooting, President Obama has given a series of speeches about race relations. He has referred to the deep-rooted tensions between minority communities and law enforcement, but said there is never an excuse for lawlessness. What have the president’s speeches meant to you?  We put some of your opinions up against the speeches in this video.  Take a look.

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Spotlight

Mandatory minimums do more harm than good
A female prisoner is returned to solitary confinement. (Photo: Danese Kenon, The Indianapolis Star)
A female prisoner is returned to solitary confinement. (Photo: Danese Kenon, The Indianapolis Star)

Barbra Scrivner shares her story about serving nearly 20 years of a 30-year sentence after being convicted in a drug distribution ring. She tells us why bipartisan support is growing to reform mandatory minimum sentencing, and why holding non-violent drug offenders in prison for decades is counterproductive. Read her piece.

“I may have deserved to go to prison but certainly not for 30 years.”

Barbra Scrivner

Traffic stop nearly costs a life
An African-American man shares his experience of being pulled over by Denver police in 2009 when he was 19. Alex Landau, who grew up in a middle-class family with his adoptive white parents, explains what happened that night after he was accused of making an illegal left turn to his mother, Patsy Hathaway, in a piece recorded by StoryCorps.

Share your thoughts about this traffic stop or on race and the justice system. Call 540-739-2928 to leave a voice message. Tweet your views with #policingtheusa, or send us a comment or photo via letters@usatoday.com.

 

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Politics

Trump’s actions show weakness, activists say

Protesters are removed as Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Fayetteville, N.C., on March 9. (Photo: Gerry Broome, AP)
Protesters are removed as Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Fayetteville, N.C., on March 9. (Photo: Gerry Broome, AP)

After Donald Trump’s Super Tuesday win on March 15, he stated that there would be riots if he didn’t become the GOP nominee. He’s already encouraged violence during rallies, and has threatened to have protesters arrested. See what #BLM activists and supporters and Trump followers have said about the violence on social media.

Sandra Bland’s mom supports Clinton

Geneva Reed-Veal, mother of Sandra Bland, who died in police custody, along with Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Garner, and Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, spoke during a forum in South Carolina for the Democratic candidate.

Throwing support behind Sanders

Erica Garner (Photo: screenshot from ad)
Erica Garner (Photo: screenshot from ad)

Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner, the unarmed black man who was killed by New York City police after a 2014 altercation, stars in a dramatic ad for Bernie Sanders.

“We need to believe in a leader like Bernie Sanders.”

Erica Garner

Views on Obama’s speeches

We put your voice and written comments against Obama’s words in a video. An excerpt is above. View the full video hereHave more to say? Call us at 540-739-2928. We may add your comments to future videos.

What do you think of Obama’s speeches, the Justice Department investigations and the political efforts made to improve the relationship between law enforcement and the minority community? Who should do more? What should they do?

Media

A news conference takes place Aug. 15, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. (Photo: Jeff Roberson, AP)
A news conference takes place Aug. 15, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. (Photo: Jeff Roberson, AP)

Are we missing big picture on race?

“We see biased news coverage … because the narratives that fit our stereotypes … are deemed more accessible by those who are covering the news.”

Travis Dixon, media scholar

Listen to a roundtable discussion:

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College

Stories of change: American University

A junior talks about how her search for diversity at American, where just 6% of the college population is black, led to a deeper level of activism than she imagined.

Collected on campus
College students speak up about racism and other issues via tweets to @USATODAYCollege.

Mizzou students continue the fight for change

Community: Tell us what’s happening on your campus.

 

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Our commentary

Etta Myers at a February 2016 rally in Annapolis to override the governor’s veto of a bill restoring voting rights for ex-offenders. (Photo: Courtesy of Etta Myers)
Etta Myers at a February 2016 rally in Annapolis to override the governor’s veto of a bill restoring voting rights for ex-offenders. (Photo: Courtesy of Etta Myers)

Ex-offenders who paid dues deserve voting rights

Etta Myers spent most of her adult life incarcerated and has never voted. At 62, she’ll be voting for the first time this year. Read why she says restoring the right to vote to ex-offenders is so crucial in her column.

Obama is wrong on solitary confinement

Read more USA TODAY Opinion editorials and columns about incarceration, use of force and cop deaths.

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Listen

“Whenever there’s an emergency — all the haters out there — who’s the first person you call? You call the police.”
Louis Perry;
Stevenson Ranch, Calif.

Listen to Perry’s full comment in the player below. Share your views at 540-739-2928.

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Community

With less than 5% of the world's population, the United States has almost 25% of its prisoners. (Photo: AP)
With less than 5% of the world’s population, the United States has almost 25% of its prisoners. (Photo: AP)

Decriminalizing drugs paves way for cure

In last week’s Spotlight, “Mandatory minimums do more harm than good, ex-inmate says,” a woman shared her experience as a non-violent offender sentenced to 30 years on drug charges. See what readers said about mandatory minimums and her story. 

Share your thoughts on race, justice, media

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Making a difference

Officer saves man from burning SUV

A police officer in Texas saved a 29-year-old man from a burning vehicle, according to Corpus Christi police. Watch the video above to see the dramatic rescue.

Shaq, police pick up teens with basketball

The video of how Gainesville, Fla., police officer Bobby White handled a noise complaint about kids playing basketball has been viewed more than 17 million times. One of those viewers was Shaquille O’Neal. Watch the video above to find out more.

 

 

Spotlighted

Catch up on what you may have missed from our rotating Spotlight section

Karl Grill on duty in 2004. (Photo: Handout)
Karl Grill on duty in 2004. (Photo: Handout)

Why it’s worth it: Despite hardships, cops change lives

Asian cop’s conviction seen as selective justice

Sitcom takes ‘profound’ look at police brutality

Chicago responds to shooting surge

Confront white privilege Continue reading

Beyond the badge

New approaches to policing, communities worth talking about

People demonstrate in Cincinnati on July 31, 2015 after a candlelight vigil for Samuel DuBose, who was killed during a traffic stop in July. (Photo: The Cincinnati Enquirer)
People demonstrate in Cincinnati on July 31, 2015, after a vigil for Samuel DuBose, who was killed during a traffic stop. (Photo: The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Letting data drive police changes
Stanford researchers are creating a database with information about 100 million traffic stops.

‘Smart guns’ show promise but face hurdles
The Obama administration is committed to advancing research into technology to make guns safer.

Pay high-risk individuals to avoid crime
Washington, D.C., City Council has approved a bill that would offer certain residents a stipend for not breaking the law.

Continue reading

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