Spokane, Washington’s Sherriff’s Office is bolstering the communication skills of newly hired deputies by training them on how to engage with strangers. The training teaches new recruits how to use body language and practice “reading” strangers before making contact — important policing skills. Practice sessions are conducted in a mall where trainers observe and critique those interactions. While police administrators and trainers have noticed that the advent of digital social interactions may have weakened millennial’s interpersonal skills, they have also noted that this issue applies to all generations. Spokane officials based this training on the Pentagon’s research on strengthening conversational skills of soldiers and Marines.
Since 1983, the state of Washington has used evidence-based policymaking to understand and implement the programs that work to achieve social policy goals. Its state legislature has embraced this approach, for example, by requiring that health services funding be available only to those programs that are evidence- or research-based. These programs have a proven record of being effective through rigorous and objective research studies. Washington state has used evidence-based policymaking to great success in the areas of child welfare, juvenile rehabilitation, and children’s mental health.
Stockholm has begun testing a new system that warns drivers about oncoming ambulances and firetrucks through their onboard devices. Working through car radios, with the ability to interrupt CDs, and Bluetooth-connecting devices, the technology will issue a warning to drivers to give way to approaching emergency vehicles. Having at least a 10–15 second warning would facilitate first responders' accessibility and improve road safety for other drivers. The city is testing the system in a limited number of vehicles and plans to expand across the country later this year.
San Francisco is joining a growing number of government units experimenting with “basic income” to assure that its residents can pay for daily essentials. San Francisco will focus its pilot on families with children, and will used evidence-based research to compare those children in families that are receiving basic income with children in families receiving other social services. As automation and artificial intelligence disrupt industries and economies, national and international policymakers are taking a close look at the effectiveness of measures such as basic income to strengthen the social safety net and to prevent those in need from slipping further into poverty. Similar programs are being tested in Oakland, California; Finland; and parts of India.
To catch those who drive unsafely next to bicyclists, London’s Metropolitan Police will pose as normal bike riders to monitor and reprimand unsafe driver behavior. The police are targeting “close passing,” whereby drivers go past bicyclists at a distance of less than 5 feet. While the police aim to inform drivers rather than to punish them — including by providing offenders with a 15-minute roadside training session, they can make arrests when necessary. Law enforcement officials also hope that public awareness of the program will have a widespread deterrent effect, creating a safer environment for riders and encouraging more residents to use this mode of transportation.