Today's LACP news:
April 18, 2014
KC police arrest highway shooting suspect
by CHRISTIAN BRYANT
"We have somebody in custody and that person has not been charged."
Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forte spoke briefly to reporters Thursday night, but said authorities have apprehended a man believed to be connected to at least a dozen Kansas City highway shootings.
The Kansas City Star reports about 30 officers carried out a search warrant at a residence in Grandview, Mo. Neighbors told the Star the man who lived at the home "kept to himself and would come and go at odd hours of the night."
Authorities also towed away a dark green Dodge Neon from the residence. A reporter for KSHB tweeted that the car matches the description of a "mysterious green sedan" seen by many of the shooting victims.
The arrest comes a week after police connected a dozen of nearly 20 highway shootings that date back to 2013. Authorities found a pattern of cars being hit near exit ramps or road splits. (Via KCTV)
Three people sustained non-life-threatening injuries before the last shooting was reported April 6. Chief Forte reiterated the suspect has not been charged and a name hasn't been released. Authorities plan to hold a news conference Friday to divulge more information.
Atlantic City police expand programs to reach out to the community
by LYNDA COHEN
Atlantic City is putting police back in the Police Athletic League and a substation into one of the more troubled neighborhoods as part of a vast outreach planned to improve relations between the department and the community.
Police will sit down with residents Friday morning in the city's Westside for the first “Coffee with Cops.” It is one of several events meant to foster a partnership between the Police Department and residents. A version for students is “Pizza with Police.”
“These are things to gain the trust and a rapport with the community,” Police Chief Henry White said. “We need the community in order to prevent crime and also to help solve crime after it's occurred.”
In addition to the events, a long-discussed police substation will open in Stanley Holmes Village next month, at Kentucky and Adriatic avenues, White said. Officers on varying shifts will take over the former manager's officer after the complex's own security moves uptown.
The department-wide approach to community policing is being spearheaded by the five-officer Community Relations Unit, headed by Sgt. Monica McMenamin.
As officers went around with fliers announcing the Coffee with Cops, one resident noted, “Usually, when you guys are here, it's not good,” McMenamin said.
“We're trying to change that,” she told him.
Officers Bob Berg, David Hadley, Richard Hood and Kiyia Harris round out the Community Relations Unit, which will have an office in the PAL building.
“We're excited to have the police more involved with the PAL,” Executive Director Michael Bailey said.
Several officers want to sponsor kids to attend the PAL who can't afford it, along with mentoring them, McMenamin said.
Hadley — who used to head the PAL — said he wants to sponsor four or five children, and will challenge his co-workers to do the same.
“You're not going to get locked up,” Lamont Banks, 16, jokingly yelled as fellow 10th-grader Lamar Bruckler pushed Harris on a newly finished wooden go-cart the kids built from leftover deck wood of Recreation Department worker George Brown.
The teens said it was good to have the officers returning to the PAL.
“They get to know each other as people,” Bailey said.
Instead of fearing an officer, he said, a kid can point and say, “No, that's Officer Harris. She's my friend.”
The department hoped to have its Junior Police Academy held in the PAL building this summer, but the regularly planned program will already fill the area, so they are looking for somewhere else to hold the two, two-week sessions set to tentatively begin June 7.
Principals at the city's eight elementary schools will be recruited to choose fifth-graders that would likely do well in the program. Then, they will fill out applications, including writing an essay about why they want to join the academy.
Sitting down to lunch together earlier Thursday, the Community Relations Unit — minus Berg, who was working security for the mayor — ran off a list of upcoming events they hope to start, including track, a reading program and a baseball clinic hosted by Deputy Chief James Pasquale, who manages the Sand Sharks youth baseball team.
Hadley also said they are hoping to restart police trading cards, which were popular years ago. He still has a copy of his from about 20 years ago, which shows in his bio he had been on the force just 4½ years at the time.
“It's not work for me,” he said of his new assignment, which brings him back to the PAL where he worked for years. “It's different when it's a passion.”
The community policing will be part of everyone's work, White said. And, while the manpower will not allow for walking patrols, officers will be encouraged to park and walk on their beats.
The city is partnering with the Coalition for a Safe Community and the Atlantic City/Pleasantville Municipal Planning Board, which works to solve city problems from various angles.
“It's not just these programs we're doing with the young, it's our law enforcement agency partnering with the community and problem-solving,” White said. “The more trust the community has in us, the more confident they will be to share information and help us reduce crime in their neighborhoods.”
Hell Square needs ‘broken bar' crackdown by police
by DIEM BOYD
Bill Bratton's return as commissioner of the New York Police Department brings with it his trademark “broken windows” policing policy. Bratton's strategy advocated for a hard-line approach on low-level crime and quality-of-life violations predicated on the belief that a “disorderly city is a dangerous city.”
The crack in Bratton's “broken window” strategy of the '90s is that this policy overwhelmingly targeted the poor and minorities — where a police record for petty crimes had such devastating long-term effects as risking housing and work eligibility among these groups. Now, in the Lower East Side's Hell Square, new-old Commissioner Bratton has a chance to fairly implement the “broken windows” style of policing that avoids the failures of past policy that may have disproportionately targeted minorities and the poor.
Currently, loitering and open containers in Hell Square is more lawful than in the Bronx or Bed-Stuy. A mere nine-block area, Hell Square is bounded by E. Houston, Essex, Delancey and Allen Sts. In this small section of New York, the city has created a destination playground for outsiders from Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Jersey and college students to party and commit offenses that would get other New Yorkers ticketed in their own neighborhoods. The disparity in the implementation of the “broken window” policy — against the poor and minorities — should compel Bratton to address how lawless this section of the Lower East Side has become.
If “broken windows” are symbolic of unaccountability, then this is a community of “broken bars” with little-to-zero accountability. In the last five years, the escalation of low-level crimes in Hell Square — such as public urination, open containers (people drinking alcohol on the sidewalk and in public spaces), public intoxication, littering, verbal harassment, loitering, disorderly conduct, etc. — has increased discomfort and fear among neighborhood residents.
The accumulation of these incidents forces residents to retreat as a sense of neglect pervades the area. A reduction of community efficacy has resulted in more serious crime, such as grand larceny (often theft of personal electronics), felony assault (up 32 percent in the first quarter of 2014), drugs, vandalism, trespassing and violence, plus greater signs of incivility, perpetuating a spiral of neighborhood decay.
The rampant anti-social behavior resulting from high alcohol-outlet density in Hell Square demands a police policy shift from passive crowd control and traffic mitigation to active, real-time policing of crimes consistent with citywide policing of other neighborhoods.
To start fixing this community that is suffering “broken bar” neglect, we need to strictly enforce regulations against public urination and vomiting, open containers, public intoxication, littering, loitering, verbal harassment and disorderly conduct. Ticketing will send a message that the Lower East Side is no longer a place where negligent behavior is above the law.
Through hyper-focused concentration on enforcement centered around a zero-tolerance policy for minor offenses and disorderly behavior infractions, the negative impacts of alcohol saturation in this community can be significantly reduced. Moreover, police officers simultaneously must develop an understanding of which venues are the source of these issues, not just limit focus to the end result on the street. Once the root causes can be identified, responsible liquor license holders will be among the beneficiaries of a commercially and socially viable community.
Situating “broken windows” policing within the broader context behind community policing is the vision we see to help advance the changes necessary. The prevailing perception among residents is that we have been unable to exert any social control over our community, and seemingly have been left out of the process. And despite the strong police presence, enforcement is not addressing the immediate concerns and problems this community faces from high alcohol-outlet density at the hands of negligent operators and offenders.
Moreover, enforcement may not be familiar with the rules, regulations, stipulations or procedures needed to effectively address community concerns and safety, especially regarding particularly bad operators.
One solution is Bratton's “conscious uncoupling” with the '90s version of “broken windows” toward a modern implementation of the policy: one that emphasizes police integration into communities, developing trust and a working partnership between enforcement and residents to solve problems and crime. This approach will decrease the assumption by police that anyone in a particular area is a potential criminal. But at its base level, “broken windows” policing has to take a blanket approach toward all low-level crimes in all parts of the city, treating all offenders equally.
A strong relationship between residents and police officers is paramount to reversing the current course. We advocate for having officers that patrol the neighborhood get to know residents in order to help solve problems. Under the leadership of new commanding officer Joseph Simonetti at the Seventh Precinct, there is an opportunity for police and community collaboration to directly address immediate problems and persistent crimes, promoting a lawful environment for all members of this community.
Reliance on the city's 3-1-1 quality-of-life complaints hotline cannot substitute for the community policing needed in Hell Square. The 3-1-1 system separates the community from government agencies, delaying resolutions to nonemergency, yet urgent, problems. In this data-driven system, there is no accurate way to truly measure the needs of a community or hold government agencies and / or businesses accountable for resolving issues and conflicts. By redirecting the police focus toward community safety and quality-of-life infractions, any disconnect between data and actual conditions on the ground will be self-correcting.
Past strategies have failed, and trust in our governance has eroded. As liquor licenses ballooned, overtaking an entire community, low-level crime has become epidemic. Licensing without emphasis on strong and consistent enforcement is a recipe for the social disorder found in Hell Square. Reversing this community's blight will only succeed if residents and the local police precinct establish a trusting, working relationship.
We need the collective will and participation of these three parties — residents, all business owners and the police — with substantive support from the New York State Liquor Authority and our elected officials. By marrying “community policing” with “broken windows” policing, all of us working together — residents, responsible liquor license holders and non-alcohol businesses — can restore social order and create an opportunity for a sustainable future that allows for economic diversity and a livable community.
Boyd is founder, Lower East Side Dwellers
Yonkers police face difficult, dangerous job
by Charles Gardner
A recent Journal News report would lead the average reader to believe that allegations made in lawsuits against members of the Yonkers Police Department are factual in nature, with little response from the department. This is not an accurate portrayal.
Police work in today's complicated world is a very difficult and dangerous profession. Officers are frequently called upon to engage in enforcement actions, often involving violent or emotionally disturbed individuals and sometimes requiring the use of physical force to maintain public safety. These types of encounters leave police vulnerable to allegations of misconduct and lawsuits against the department. It is important to note that allegations made in many of these lawsuits are ultimately found to be untrue; any implication of guilt of accused officers or lack of response by the department does not present a fair and balanced view.
In my opinion, multiple negative comments from attorneys representing plaintiffs in lawsuits against the department do not provide an objective account. The department is unable to comment on active litigation.
Although I am not at liberty to discuss specific personnel-related matters or comment on ongoing litigation against the department, I would like to provide another perspective on the matter.
Over the past several years the Yonkers Police Department has engaged in a number of programs and initiatives that have reduced citizen complaints, lawsuits, overall crime and improved our relationship with the community.
As indicated in the main article, community leaders acknowledge that "complaints have dropped and continue to drop." Citizen complaints have steadily decreased over the past three years, with excessive force complaints reduced from 25 in 2011 to 16 in 2012. That is a significantly low number for a department that responds to more than 120,000 calls for service and arrests over 6,000 people each year.
The article also reported that the payout per Yonkers officer, for legal matters related to misconduct cases, was low as compared to other area departments. As compared to 2012, lawsuits involving members of the department have fallen approximately 17 percent. The department is also in the process of improving our procedures for monitoring and tracking lawsuits filed against department members.
We continue to make strides in crime reduction with overall major crime in the city of Yonkers down 20 percent in the past two years and Yonkers remains one of the safest cities in the country as compared to cities of similar size and population.
We believe our diversified community policing efforts such as our youth police initiative, re-entry program, police community councils and expanded use of social media have contributed to the aforementioned reductions.
The progress we have made is due to the sacrifices, hard work and dedication of the men and women of this agency who, under very difficult conditions, continue to serve and provide quality police services to the people of Yonkers. We are a progressive, professional New York state-accredited police department made up of dedicated individuals who deserve our support. I am extremely proud of them and proud to be their commissioner.
The writer is commissioner of the Yonkers Police Department.
An April 6 Journal News report – "Behind the Badge: Abuse of Power?" – focused on a series of lawsuits claiming misconduct against two Yonkers Police Department officers.
The report included a main article, "Lawsuits: 2 Yonkers cops menace suspects, public," that detailed complaints against the officers. The report also documented the cost of police misconduct lawsuits, and provided summaries of 18 complaints against officers; half the cases were pending.
Yuba-Sutter Public Safety: Program for aging drivers
by Monica Vaughan
The California Highway Patrol will provide a program to address issues facing senior drivers, including gradual incremental effects on vision, flexibility and response times.
The Age Well Drive Smart program will address those issues and more to help older drivers drive safer and drive longer.
The event will be at Summerfield Senior Living, 1224 Plumas St., Yuba City, at 9 a.m. April 29.
Seniors, caretakers and families are encouraged to attend.
Call the Yuba Sutter area CHP to reserve a seat at 674-5141.