WSU News

Tag Archives: police

‘Deadly force’ lab finds racial disparities in shootings

By Eric Sorensen, WSU science writer

Lois-JamesSPOKANE, Wash. – Participants in an innovative Washington State University study of deadly force were more likely to feel threatened in scenarios involving black people. But when it came time to shoot, participants were biased in favor of black suspects, taking longer to pull the trigger against them than against armed white or Hispanic suspects.Continue reading

WSU graduate student models Spokane neighborhood for prediction, prevention of burglary

Neighborhood-model-80By Alyssa Patrick, College of Engineering and Architecture

SPOKANE, Wash. – Crime prevention theories suggest that when a burglar decides to rob a house, he or she chooses a home that gives passers-by a poor view of entry points such as doors, windows and garages.Continue reading

Criminologist shares good lessons from bad times

VilaPULLMAN, Wash. – Scores of missteps as a soldier and cop in hazardous places have prepared Bryan Vila to make a career of studying deadly errors in his criminology lab at Washington State University Spokane.

His free, public presentation, “Mistaken Adventures around the Globe,” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27, in Smith CUE 203 will kick off the WSU Pullman Common Reading Program’s ( guest expert series for the 2013-14 academic year.

Thousands of WSU students will use topics from the common reading book, “Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error,” by Kathryn Schulz, in classes, activities and projects. It considers how some of the world’s most outstanding discoveries – and much personal growth – have originated from failure.

common reading“Half a century of stumbles, screw ups and goofs have made me an expert on making the best of an ugly situation,” said Vila, a criminal justice and criminology professor.

“His story plays out like a thriller novel,” said Karen Weathermon, co-director of common reading. “It will be a relevant and exciting addition to our ongoing discussion of error and judgment.”

Vila has been a teenaged Marine on the battlefields of Vietnam, a young street cop in the slums of Los Angeles and a police chief in the dubious island paradise of Micronesia. He will share hard-won strategies for embracing error as inevitable, learning to recover with good humor and wringing good lessons from bad times. 

Leaving lots of time for discussion, he’ll also describe how his one-of-a-kind simulation lab uses normal accident theory to study the impact of fatigue-related errors on deadly force judgment and decision making, police driving and counterinsurgency operations.

Each Common Reading Tuesdays event in fall and spring will touch on themes from the book. On Feb. 24, author Schulz will be on the Pullman campus for the program’s annual invited lecture and visits with students and faculty.

Vila earned his Ph.D. in ecology in 1990 from the University of California-Davis. He has held tenured teaching positions at UC-Irvine and the University of Wyoming. Formerly director of the Division of Crime Control and Prevention Research at the U.S. Department of Justice, Vila joined WSU Spokane in 2005.

With numerous publications focused on fatigued law enforcement agents and a myriad of other criminal justice topics, Vila was honored with a Career Achievement in Scholarship Award in 2012 from the WSU College of Arts and Sciences. He has attracted several millions of dollars in grant funding to WSU Spokane and teaches courses on criminology, policing and crime control.


Police collecting information on apartment fire

PULLMAN, Wash. – Local law enforcement officials are continuing to investigate and collect information on the Sunday, July 14, fire that destroyed four buildings under construction in the Grove apartment complex on Terre View Drive.
“The cause of the fire remains suspicious” and the investigation is ongoing, said Steve Hansen, assistant director, WSU Police Department. 
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call the Pullman Police Department at 334-0802. Those who see someone acting suspicious or a crime in progress are asked to call 911 from a safe location.

Gunman hits multiple cars on Hwy 8, east of Moscow

The Latah County Sheriff’s Office was investigating a reported active shooter on Friday, Jan. 22, on Highway 8 between the small towns of Deary and Bovill, east of Moscow.
KREM-TV reported that “a
n active shooter used a firearm to hit up to 20 vehicles over a three and a half hour period,” beginning about 1 p.m. Friday.
The incident and investigation has forced a temporary closure of the highway.
For additional information and related reports:  
01-22-10 KXLY (6 p.m.) –  Gunman shooting at cars on Highway 8 near Helmer
01-22-10 Spokesman-Review – Idaho police look for sniper in highway shootings
01-22-10 KHQ (6 p.m.) – Idaho police look for sniper in highway shootings
01-22-10 KREM – Sniper fires at several vehicles on rural highway

Gender and shift work influence police depression

Depression and suicidal thoughts among police officers differ based on gender and work shift, according to a recent study co-authored by Bryan Vila, professor of criminal justice and member of the Sleep and Performance Research Center at WSU Spokane. Results appear in the October 2008 edition of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.
A quarter of female police officers and nearly as many male officers assigned to shift work had thought about taking their own lives, said the study in a report by the State University of New York at Buffalo. In addition, reports of depressive symptoms among these officers were 12.5 percent among women and 6.2 percent among men, compared to 5.2 percent in the population at large.
Unexpected among the findings was the difference between male and female officers when work shifts were analyzed. Policewomen who worked mostly day shifts reported having more suicidal thoughts than female colleagues assigned to work afternoons or nights, while the opposite was true for males.
“Most of the women had responsibility for family and child care, in addition to their jobs as police officers, and working the day shift took them away from those important parts of their lives,” noted the authors. “On the other hand, more suicidal thoughts and depression reported by males on the midnight shift may be accounted for by isolation from the male bonding that takes place in a predominately male organization.”
The study involved 115 officers selected randomly from a 935-officer mid-sized urban police force. A study is planned on the effects of shift work on cancer risk.