Martin Kaste

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced on Tuesday that he will not run for re-election because of allegations that he sexually abused minors three decades ago.

Murray is a skilled, bare-knuckled politician and it was assumed he would cruise to re-election this year.

But a few weeks ago, he was sued by Delvonn Heckard, 46, who says that back in the 1980s, Murray paid him for sex when Heckard was a minor.

The Justice Department decided not to charge the officers involved last July in the fatal shooting of a black man, Alton Sterling.

The decision is being met with anger by activists who say prosecutors are too deferential toward cops — and are too quick to let them off. That notion has been front and center since the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Mo., that followed the death of Michael Brown.

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

It was the world's biggest tunneling machine when it first chewed into the loose dirt and gravel on Seattle's waterfront in 2013. With a cutting head nearly 60 feet wide, it had been built in Japan and shipped across the Pacific to dig a two-mile-long double-decker highway tunnel under downtown.

The machine was named "Bertha" in honor of a 1920s-era mayor — the prefatory "Big" always implied, never stated.

Why don't the police fire warning shots? That's a question that comes up a lot, especially after controversial shooting deaths.

Last fall, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and 10 other law enforcement groups got together to work out a consensus policy on the use of force — a sort of model document for local departments that want to update their rules. When the document came out in January, it contained a surprise: It allowed for warning shots.

In 2014, the New Orleans Police Department made a bold move into body cameras, requiring all uniformed officers to wear them and record their contact with the public.

The program got off to a rough start: NPR documented spotty use by officers, and, crucially, how hard it was for the office of the city's independent police monitor — which handles complaints about police misconduct — to gain access to videos of police use of force.

Murders are on the rise in the United States.

The national murder rate jumped dramatically in 2015, and early indications are that it rose again in 2016, though official numbers aren't available yet.

Sgt. Marty Tucker thinks millennials have trouble talking to strangers. Tucker runs training for the Sheriff's Office in Spokane, Wash., and he says new recruits seem inhibited when making face-to-face contacts with members of the public.

"They're so stressed out about making contact that they don't think about anything else," he says. "So they get up there, and then they'll freeze up."

The darkest moment for American police this year was July 7 in downtown Dallas, when police officers providing security for a peaceful protest march suddenly found themselves under attack. And those weren't the only cops targeted this year. Deadly ambushes followed in Baton Rouge, Des Moines and Palm Springs.

As a result, many police will remember 2016 as a grim chapter in what many call the "war on cops." These ambush-killings of officers created a sense that they were under siege, threatening to poison the post-Ferguson debate over police reform.

During the campaign, Donald Trump railed against "sanctuary cities" — generally understood to be jurisdictions where local law enforcement doesn't cooperate sufficiently with federal immigration authorities. Sanctuary cities were an especially hot issue because of the death of Kate Steinle, a tourist shot by a Mexican national in San Francisco in 2015.

Gun control has been a minor theme of this year's presidential election, as Hillary Clinton promises to close "loopholes" in the background checks for gun purchasers, and Donald Trump pledges "unwavering support" for the Second Amendment.

The real battle over guns, though, has been waged at the state level this year — with a new emphasis on ballot initiatives.

Pages