A Wall Street Journal examination shows how states allow some police officers to remain on the force despite misconduct
Former Inkster, Mich., police officer William Melendez, here in court last year, was convicted of assault and misconduct. He is appealing the verdict. Photo: David Coates/The Detroit News/Associated Press
Gary Allen Steele fired a gun near his former girlfriend during an argument. Donald Snider harassed a minor. Claudia Wright faced forgery charges. Frank Garcia was accused of shooting out his window while driving drunk.
All pleaded guilty to crimes or left jobs to avoid prosecution. All were police officers at the time of their alleged misconduct. All still are.
They are among hundreds of officers in America who still have badges after being charged with crimes, The Wall Street Journal found in an examination tracking outcomes of police-misconduct cases across every state.
Infractions that can disqualify barbers, child-care providers and others needing state certification don’t necessarily bar officers from retaining jobs or getting new ones. In America’s patchwork system, most states let some officers remain on the force despite misconduct, including actions that other states might consider disqualifying.
Image by Catherine MacBride/Getty Images
With a president-elect who has publicly supported the debunked claim that vaccines cause autism, suggested that climate change is a hoax dreamed up by the Chinese, and appointed to his Cabinet a retired neurosurgeon who doesn’t buy the theory of evolution, things might look grim for science.
Yet watching Patti Smith sing “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” live streamed from the Nobel Prize ceremony in early December to a room full of physicists, chemists and physicians — watching her twice choke up, each time stopping the song altogether, only to push on through all seven wordy minutes of one of Bob Dylan’s most beloved songs — left me optimistic.
Taking nothing away from the very real anxieties about future funding and support for science, neuroscience in particular has had plenty of promising leads that could help fulfill Alfred Nobel’s mission to better humanity. In the spirit of optimism, and with input from the Society for Neuroscience, here are a few of the noteworthy neuroscientific achievements of 2016.
One of the more fascinating fields of neuroscience of late entails mapping the crosstalk between our biomes, brains and immune systems.
In July, a group from the University of Virginia published a study in Nature showing that the immune system, in addition to protecting us from a daily barrage of potentially infectious microbes, can also influence social behavior. The researchers had previously shown that a type of white blood cells called T cells influence learning behavior in mice by communicating with the brain. Now they’ve shown that blocking T cell access to the brain influences rodent social preferences.
Wells Fargo & Co. settled a dispute with a group of black brokers claiming the bank failed to give them the same career opportunities as their white colleagues.
Source: Wells Fargo Settles With Brokers Over Claims of Racial Bias – Bloomberg
People have dreamed about flying cars for decades, but the technology has always seemed far out of reach. Airplanes have long been too big, expensive, dangerous, loud, and complex for personal aviation to be more than a hobby for rich people.
But that might be about to change. “There’s a couple of technologies that are maturing and converging” to make small, affordable airplanes feasible, says Brian German, an aerospace researcher at Georgia Tech.
German argues that lighter and more powerful electric motors, batteries that can store more energy, and more sophisticated aviation software could transform the market for small aircraft.
Indeed, several companies are already working on prototypes of car-size airplanes that could soon become cheap, safe, and versatile enough for ordinary people to use them regularly. Google co-founder Larry Page has secretly funded one startup in this market, Zee Aero, since 2010. In 2015 he also invested in another called Kitty Hawk, led by former Google self-driving car guru Sebastian Thrun.
The flying cars of the future won’t look exactly like the ones on The Jetsons. There’s a good chance you’ll rent them on demand from a company like Uber instead of buying one that parks in your driveway — a possibility Uber explored in a recent white paper. But a future where millions of people take short trips by air on a regular basis could be closer than you think.
James Beacham looks for answers to the most important open questions of physics using the biggest science experiment ever mounted, CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. In this fun and accessible talk about how science happens, Beacham takes us on a journey through extra-spatial dimensions in search of undiscovered fundamental particles (and an explanation for the mysteries of gravity) and details the drive to keep exploring.