Thursday, June 15, 2023
Camden’s price for policing ‘malpractice’
Jailhouse beatings, deputy car crashes and other misconduct by Camden County Sheriff’s deputies have taken a financial toll on the county.
Last month, the county’s insurance provider, The Travelers Companies, Inc., notified Camden County it would no longer provide law enforcement coverage because of the frequent and costly insurance claims coming from the sheriff’s office.
There have been 15 active claims made against the agency in the last two years, most of which are coming from the jail, according to Mike Spiers, the county’s human resources director.
While Sheriff Jim Proctor points to low jailer pay behind some of this, the local NAACP chapter says there has been a culture of unaccountability at the sheriff’s office that pay alone won’t fix.
Violence in Glynn
Glynn County is experiencing a string of gun violence in the last few weeks, culminating with the shooting death of a 16-year-old Brunswick high schooler on Tuesday.
Mykal Ellis, a sophomore and football player, was found in the road with gunshot wounds Tuesday night on Johnston Street in Brunswick, according to The Brunswick News.
On Monday night, the Glynn County Police Department reported an 11-year-old boy accidentally shot himself at a home on Roswell Drive. He’s been hospitalized. Last week, a midday drive-by shooting injured two men also on Johnston Street, and a homeless man was found fatally shot in a Glynn County wooded lot on June 7.
This spate of shootings follows a May 26 graduation party in Fairway Oaks where five people were shot and injured. It fits the definition of a “mass shooting” as used by Everytown for Gun Safety and the Gun Violence Archive.
Context: Studies show gun violence is place-based and disproportionately determined by race. A 2017 study from the American Journal of Public Health studied how gun violence in Philadelphia clustered in low-income neighborhoods but disproportionately affected Black residents, regardless of income. Black children were more likely than white children to be hospitalized due to gun violence. A 2019 study from researchers at the University Wisconsin-Madison looked at residential mortality rates in 103 metropolitan areas over 50 years, determining a link between segregation and homicide victimization.
Those could be factors in Brunswick too, where the majority of the shootings are occurring. According to the Census Bureau, 32% of Brunswick residents live below the federal poverty line. The city is 60% Black.
Factors like an understaffed Glynn County Police Department — 38 vacancies out of 140 positions as of the end of May — and the activity of gangs in Brunswick, which the Brunswick Police Chief Kevin Jones estimates there are two dozen of in the area, certainly play a role as well.
- Alcohol and guns are everywhere in American society. Researchers say it’s a deadly combo. (USA Today): A new report looks at just how intertwined alcohol is with gun violence. Approximately 1 in 3 homicide perpetrators drank heavily before killing their victims. A quarter of gun suicide victims and 30% of homicide victims drank heavily before being killed. The risk for legal gun owners who misuse alcohol is the increased risk of intimate partner violence. Here’s the study.
- Military service a major factor in extremist attacks, study finds (Task and Purpose): The Department of Defense said in 2020 that extremist groups target active-duty military and veterans for recruitment. A recent study now backs that up. Extremists with military backgrounds were 2.41 times more likely to commit mass casualty violence than those without military experience. Researchers emphasized that current or former military service members are not more likely to radicalize than a regular citizen, but when they do radicalize “they are more likely to plan for, or commit, mass casualty crimes, thus having an outsized impact on public safety.”
- Suit: Georgia public defender organization violated open records law (Link to the lawsuit): The Southern Center for Human Rights filed suit earlier this month against the Georgia Public Defender Council (GPDC) for deliberately slowing, withholding and overcharging for records related to how many people are detained in jail and have requested access to a public defender. They stopped sending the lists after August 2022. The Current has the last list GPDC sent — take a look at how many people were on that list, what crimes they were accused crimes, and what county they were in.
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Camden taxpayers will have to foot the bill, after the county’s insurance provider no longer wishes to cover its losses due to repeated malpractice incidents from Camden County Sheriff’s Office deputies, like jailhouse beating, car crashes and damaging PIT maneuvers during chases.
Ebner, 54, now Glynn County Police Department chief, has not been found liable in these past NJ cases. The allegations and his background played a role in two of five other municipalities where he has sought law enforcement jobs in the last year to drop him from contention.
Former gun industry executive says the epidemic of mass shootings results from the breakdown of unspoken social contract the firearms industry once recognized as important to maintaining the freedom to own weapons.
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