Today's LACP news:
January 27, 2015
Honour our Holocaust survivors, don't be a bystander
by Dame Susan Devoy
70 years ago in the early hours of the morning and in the middle of a bitter snowstorm, Auschwitz Concentration Camp was liberated. Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, this afternoon some incredible New Zealanders – our own Holocaust survivors - will honour us with their presence at Makara Cemetery. Together we will remember millions of innocent men, women and children who were murdered by a ruthless, racist regime.
So today of all days, as we stand alongside our Holocaust survivors we must ask ourselves, have we learnt anything at all? Are we honouring their legacy?
I'd like to share a story with you, a pre-school boy walking home from kindy with his mother is confronted by angry adults who abuse him because he is a Jew.
They rip the yarmulke off his small head and scream hate at him and his mum.
Did this attack take place 75 years ago? Was that little boy from Berlin or Warsaw?
I'm ashamed to say that no, this didn't happen long ago and neither did it happen far away.
This small Kiwi boy lives in Mt Eden and he faced race hate only a few months ago, on the streets of our biggest city.
Sadly Muslim Kiwis have reported similar attacks on their children and mums on the way home from school.
When our kids are scared to wear a yarmulke or a head scarf because some adult may abuse or attack them: what kind of New Zealand are we living in?
Some may argue we shouldn't be too worried because we don't have the same rate of attacks as other countries. But this argument is flawed.
Because as our Holocaust survivors will tell you, hate starts small.
Hate is born when a small child and his mother are abused as they walk home.
Hate grows when their neighbours and friends stand by and do nothing.
Hate triumphs when intolerance and prejudice becomes engrained across an entire society, from the pages of newspapers to the halls of Government, from schoolrooms to boardrooms.
If there is any lesson everyday New Zealanders can learn from the Holocaust - it's don't be a bystander.
Don't stand by and do nothing when you see people spreading hate and prejudice in your community, or your neighbourhood. I can't help but wonder whether anyone supported that small boy and his mum. Did someone let them know they weren't alone? Did someone challenge the cowards who abused them?
Those who spread hate and prejudice in our communities need to know their hatred is not welcome: and it's everyday New Zealanders who need to give them that message.
Everyday New Zealanders need to challenge prejudice and hate wherever, whenever we see it. We have an excellent international human rights record but it is not worth the paper it is written on if New Zealanders are under attack because they're Jewish, Muslim, Chinese or Maori.
Human rights aren't just found in a declaration at the United Nations.
Our human rights must be found here where we live and work, on the streets of Mt Eden, outside a synagogue in Central Wellington, or a mosque in Kilbirnie. Human Rights begin at home. They are rights we are all responsible for, ours to hold and ours to lose.
I'd like to see more young Kiwis attend Holocaust Remembrance Day. With all that is going on in the world right now our youngest New Zealanders need to hear first hand from some of our oldest New Zealanders, people who can tell them exactly what race hate, prejudice and genocide is all about.
The lesson we learn from the Holocaust is that hate starts small, on the streets we live in, at the places we shop and gather. It grows when good people stand by and do nothing. It's up to everyday New Zealanders to stand up for peace and human rights right here at home. This is how we honour the past and guarantee a future we can be proud to leave our children and grandchildren.
Two cops shot, suspect killed at chaotic Minnesota city council meeting
'Everybody get down!': Hero city councilman John Elder prompts fellow pols to take cover, pulls handgun to defend chamber after shots ring out during Monday meeting in New Hope, Minn. Two police officers were wounded but the gunman was shot and killed, police said.
by Jason Molinet
Shots rang out during a city council meeting Monday in New Hope, Minn., sending some local politicians diving for cover and prompting another to pull out his handgun.
Two police officers were wounded when a man suddenly opened fire immediately after the swearing in of cops in the council chambers. The man, whose name has not been released, was shot and killed by police, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
The gunfire erupted just outside the chambers at 7:15 p.m. and brought the meeting to an immediate halt.
That's when John Elder, a New Hope council member who also works as public information officer of the Minneapolis Police Department, shouted at his fellow council members: "Everybody get down!"
"That went right through the door," another council member said. "Somebody got shot."
Elder, now crouched behind his council seat, pulled his pistol and took aim.
The chaotic scene was caught on cable-access video and posted to YouTube.
Hennepin County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Mike Carlson said the two officers are in good condition and are expected to survive, KARE reported.
The DEA Is Spying on Millions of Cars All Over the U.S.
With sweeping power to monitor the movements of so many Americans, the federal agency will continue to lose the hopeless drug war.
by Conor Friedersdorf
Once again, Americans face a tradeoff between liberty and security. On one hand, the Drug Enforcement Administration has been building "a database to track in real time the movement of vehicles around the U.S., a secret domestic intelligence-gathering program that scans and stores hundreds of millions of records." If you drive in populated areas your movements have very likely been tracked.
On the other hand, the result is that illegal drugs are no longer sold on U.S. streets, the price of getting high is too high for most to pay, and international drug cartels are all but gone, as are overdose deaths and street gangs that profit from narcotics.
I kid, of course–not about the huge imposition on the privacy of innocents that the federal government is perpetrating with a license plate tracking program run by the DEA, which is real, so much as the notion that the DEA will achieve success with it.
The DEA will obviously continue to lose the War on Drugs.
We've traded our freedom to drive around without being tracked for next to nothing. Those who would cede essential liberty for the promise of security may deserve neither, but ceding it for the promise of a drug free America is just delusional. The federal government could imprison every recreational drug user in America and it still couldn't win the drug war because, among other things, the federal government can't even prevent heavy drug use within the federal prison system .
Even if the DEA spied on millions of Americans' phone calls it still wouldn't be able to win the War on Drugs, which I know because the DEA was also doing exactly that.
Not that the DEA thinks this is about winning the drug war so much as perpetuating itself. Says the Wall Street Journal , "One email written in 2010 said the primary purpose of the program was asset forfeiture—a controversial practice in which law-enforcement agencies seize cars, cash and other valuables from suspected criminals."
The ACLU, which exposed large swaths of this program by doggedly filing Freedom of Information Act requests, put out a statement that aptly articulates why the government's actions here are so wrong. Said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst, collecting location information about Americans not suspected of any crimes "raises very serious privacy questions. It's unconscionable that technology with such far-reaching potential would be deployed in such secrecy. People might disagree about exactly how we should use such powerful surveillance technologies, but it should be democratically decided, it shouldn't be done in secret.''
Unfortunately, leaders in the U.S. law enforcement community feel that they're justified in secretly adopting sweeping new methods with huge civil liberties implications.
Their behavior is an affront to self-government.
75 guns confiscated at Sky Harbor in 2014, 4th-highest in nation
12 seized at Tucson International Airport
by Karla Liriano
PHOENIX – The Transportation Security Administration confiscated 75 guns at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in 2014, the fourth-highest total in the nation, a Cronkite News review found.
Phoenix followed Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, which had 116 confiscations, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which had 107, and Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, which had 76.
Sky Harbor's total was up from 65 in 2013 and 53 in 2012.
Tucson International Airport had 12 confiscations in 2014, up from eight in 2013. Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport hasn't had any since 2012.
The data came from weekly updates posted to the TSA's blog and information compiled by the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative.
Jeffrey C. Price, an aerospace science professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver and an expert in aviation security, said state gun laws contributed to how the top airports ranked.
“If you look at the states where there's the highest number of confiscations, they're all states that have rather liberal conceal-and-carry laws and a lot of people carry firearms,” Price said.
The most common type of weapon confiscated at Sky Harbor was a 9mm pistol, with 19 of those seized, followed by a .38-caliber pistol, with 11 seized the data showed.
In 2014, TSA security checkpoints confiscated 2,155 weapons in 229 airports across the country, averaging to almost six a day and up 14 percent from last year, according to the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative. More than 1,800 of those were loaded.
A decade ago, weapon seizures were at only two a day nationally, according to TSA spokesman Nico Melendez.
“Passengers aren't doing the research themselves before they come to the airport,” he said.
Rules that been in place since 9/11 are available at TSA.gov or through the My TSA mobile app.
The TSA has the legal authority to assess civil penalties up to $7,500 when its workers find guns in carry-on items. The agency then alerts local law enforcement to determine whether there was criminal intent.
Richard Bloom, director of terrorism, intelligence and security studies at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, said most people who bring these type of weapons to the airport don't pose any kind of security threat.
“The statistical trends just reflect the fact that people often forget they're carrying because weapons are a daily part of their life,” Bloom said. “These type of situations rarely, if ever, have involved any kind of terrorist attacks.”
Price noted that those with conceal-and-carry permits are instructed to check the laws of other states when traveling, but he said many aren't clear that in transit they are only allowed to transport firearms in checked baggage.
“The problem we're hearing more of is people thinking they can actually bring it on the plane because they have a conceal-and-carry permit,” he said. “There might be some education that needs to take place on these programs.”
Bloom agreed, adding that spreading the word about the potential penalties could cut down on weapons brought to airports.
“More effective communication has to occur, not only about what the rules are but also about the consequences so that people are likely to comply with the rules,” he said.
Police investigate series of shots fired at Cincinnati tower
CINCINNATI (AP) — Police in Cincinnati say they're investigating a series of shots fired over the past week at the city's largest building.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports authorities closed a downtown tunnel Tuesday morning to investigate shots fired after business hours Monday at the Great American Tower. Police say it's the fourth time in the last week that someone has shot and hit a window of the building.
Police say nighttime security personnel have been the only occupants during the shootings and no one has been injured. The investigation is ongoing and police have made no arrests.
Authorities say they're working with building representatives on security measures, but don't plan on imposing restrictions on employees.
The 41-story tower houses tenants including Insight Global, Key Bank and Lafayette Life Insurance.
125 U.S. prisoners exonerated last year, including 6 in Ohio
by Alan Johnson
A record 125 exonerations were reported in the U.S. last year in cases where convictions for serious crimes were reversed, sometimes decades after the original offense.
Six exonerations were from Ohio, which was fifth behind Texas (39), New York (17), Illinois (7) and Michigan (7), according to the National Registry of Exonerations report released today.
The six Ohio men exonerated had served a combined 173 years in prison: Kwame Ajamu (Cleveland, murder); Wiley Bridgemen (Cleveland, murder); Joel Covender (Lorain, child sex abuse); Ricky Jackson (Cleveland, murder); Dewey Jones (Akron, murder); and Anthony Lemons (Cleveland, murder).
The annual exonerations report, compiled since 1989 by the University of Michigan Law School, found 125 cases nationally in which people eventually were found innocent after prior criminal convictions. That topped the previous high of 91 exonerations in 2013. The registry has cited 1,535 wrongful convictions in the past 16 years.
Samuel Gross, the Michigan law professor who edits the registry, said more significant than the increase in exonerations was that 54 percent of the clearances of innocent people were initiated or supported by law enforcement and prosecutors.
“The big story for the year is that more prosecutors are working hard to identify and investigate claims of innocence. And many more innocent defendants were exonerated after pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit,” Gross said in a statement.
The big increase was fueled in part by 33 cases in Houston, where crime-lab analyses proved to be wrong in detecting illegal drugs.
The registry tracks cases in which someone has been convicted of a crime but later is proved innocent by DNA evidence or other means. The crimes range from murder and child abuse to sexual assault and drugs.
The full National Registry of Exonerations report is available online: http://bit.ly/1C4YwIk
Why some cops hate Waze, the app highway drivers love
by Lindsey Bever
Before cop killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley ambushed two New York police officers last month, police said, he wrote on his Instagram: “I'm putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours, let's take 2 of theirs.” He apparently expressed support on social media for Michael Brown and Eric Garner, who were killed by police.
Brinsley also posted a screenshot from Waze, a navigation app that allows millions of users to help each other track traffic, road hazards, construction zones and the whereabouts of police officers watching for speeders, among other things. It's immensely popular, particularly with people who spend a lot of time on interstates.
Investigators don't think Brinsley used the app in his attack against NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu — partly because he threw out his cellphone more than two miles from the scene. But a Los Angeles police chief doesn't buy it, and he fears the technology could aid others who want to hunt and kill cops. He's not alone.
In a letter, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck urged Google, which owns the app, to disable the feature that warns drivers when cops are close by.
Waze described how it works on its Web site.
After typing in their destination address, users just drive with the app open on their phone to passively contribute traffic and other road data, but they can also take a more active role by sharing road reports on accidents, police traps, or any other hazards along the way, helping to give other users in the area a ‘heads-up' about what's to come. In addition to the local communities of drivers using the app, Waze is also home to an active community of online map editors who ensure that the data in their areas is as up-to-date as possible.
A driver who spots a construction crew, a stalled vehicle or a cop car simply taps an icon on the app. The warning — in the form of a cartoonish symbol — then pops up on everyone else's Waze map at the same location. Bluetooth enables voice notification to drivers as well, alerting them that a police car is up ahead.
There's no way, however, to know whether a cop is awaiting speeders, aiding a disabled vehicle or doing something else. Sometimes, the patrol car is gone by the time the driver reaches the area. In any case, Beck said, it's a safety concern.
“I am concerned about the safety of law enforcement officers and the community, and the potential for your Waze product to be misused by those with criminal intent,” he wrote to Google chief executive Larry Page, according to NBC Los Angeles. “I look forward to opening a dialogue with you as to how Google can prevent the future misuse of the Waze app to track law enforcement officers, thereby avoiding any future deaths or injury.
“I am confident your company did not intend the Waze app to be a means to allow those who wish to commit crimes to use the unwitting Waze community as their lookouts for the location of police officers.”
After Beck's letter, sheriffs spoke at the National Sheriffs Association winter conference last week in Washington, D.C. One referenced the app as the “police stalker.”
“The police community needs to coordinate an effort to have the owner, Google, act like the responsible corporate citizen they have always been and remove this feature from the application even before any litigation or statutory action,” Sheriff Mike Brown from Bedford County, Va., said, according to the Associated Press. Brown is also the chairman of the association's technology committee.
Southern California reserve deputy sheriff Sergio Kopelev brought the issue to Brown's attention during a funeral for one of the fallen NYPD officers. He calls his attempt to ban the app's feature his “personal jihad."
Waze has since responded to concerns.
“These relationships keep citizens safe, promote faster emergency response and help alleviate traffic congestion,” Waze spokesman Julie Mossler said in a statement. “Police partners support Waze and its features, including reports of police presence, because most users tend to drive more carefully when they believe law enforcement is nearby.”
Google declined comment to the AP.
If the company did discontinue the police-tracking component, it wouldn't be the first to do so. Amid pushback from from legislators, Nokia killed the sobriety-check tracking function from its Trapster app, the AP reported. The app was discontinued last year as Waze came to dominate.
But some law enforcement officers say they want their whereabouts known.
“We want to be seen,” San Jose Police Sgt. Heather Randol told the San Jose Mercury News. She said there's a purpose to “being highly visible on patrol”: to reduce crime.
In fact, some say the app's feature could even be called helpful.
“Someone is less likely to speed if they know a police officer is around the corner,” San Francisco Police spokesman Albie Esparza told the newspaper. “It also helps with public safety so people know where there is an officer to get help.”
White House gets drone defense wake-up call
by James Rogers
The quadcopter drone that crashed onto the White House grounds overnight has highlighted the growing security threat posed by small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), experts warn.
The White House incident comes less than two weeks after a drone flew over the French presidential palace in Paris.
“I do think it's a wake-up call for the government to start thinking about how it will protect against this type of thing -- it's important for the government and the military in general,” Missy Cummings, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Duke University, told FoxNews.com. “This [White House drone] was harmless, but in the future it might not be.”
The Secret Service said Monday that the drone was a 2-foot-long commercially available "quadcopter." Brian Leary, a Secret Service spokesman, said an officer posted on the south grounds of the White House complex "heard and observed" the device "flying at a very low altitude" shortly after 3 a.m. ET. The commercially available device was said to pose no threat.
Caroline Baylon, a cybersecurity researcher at the The Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, in London, told FoxNews.com that drones, thanks to their small size and ability to hover low over the ground, can pose a huge security headache.
“They have opened up this whole area that we haven't defended against before,” she said. “Most radar can't deal with drones that fly really low.”
Baylon, who has studied the spate of drone incidents in the French nuclear industry, explained that taking down a drone is no easy task. “You can shoot a drone down, but it requires a certain level of marksmanship,” she said. “It's easier said than done.”
The researcher told FoxNews.com that technologies being considered to combat UAVs include a new breed of ‘interceptor' drones.
One interceptor that has attracted plenty of attention is the Rapere drone. The developers behind the technology say Rapere will hover over a target drone and lower a “tangle-line” to disable its rotor blades. “Right now we are flying under the radar for commercial reasons, but all will be revealed in time,” explains the Rapere project website.
“All you have to do is get something in the rotors,” noted Cummings, a former fighter pilot, but warned that it can be hard for an interceptor drone to find the “enemy drone.”
The Rapere drone uses 12 cameras pointing in every direction. The device uses a range-imaging technique called ‘structure from motion' to reach its target, according to the project website.
The U.S. military is also ramping up its anti-drone efforts. Last year, for example, the Office of Naval Research announced plans to build a laser weapon to shoot down drones.
However, Cummings believes that this type of technology, like the U.S. military's “Black Dart” anti-drone program, will be more effective at taking down much larger drones. She also noted the risk of collateral damage that laser weapons pose in a densely-populated area.
For secure locations such as the White House, quickly identifying small, low-flying drones will be key, according to Cummings. “They need to figure out how to detect these things,” she said. “Radar doesn't detect them so you really need some new camera vision technology.”
Wireless technology could also be a crucial weapon in combating the drone threat, enabling authorities to locate UAVs and also identify IP addresses associated with the devices.
Scott Schober, CEO of Metuchen, N.J.-based wireless specialist Berkeley Varitronics Systems told FoxNews.com that his company sells a drone detection tool. “All these commercial drones are using standard open Wi-Fi for video telemetry and control and communication,” he said. “We can pick up an approaching drone that might be a threat, the model number, its altitude and approach speed.”
The company's Yellowjacket tablet Wi-Fi analyzer also can find the precise location of a drone and its pilot, according to Schober.
A man has claimed responsibility for the drone that crashed onto the White House grounds early Monday, an incident that triggered an immediate lockdown and a Secret Service investigation.
Secret Service spokeswoman Nicole B. Mainor said the individual contacted the agency Monday morning to "self-report" the incident. According to Mainor, "initial indications are that this incident occurred as a result of recreational use of the device."
A U.S. official told The Associated Press the man said he didn't mean to fly the drone over the White House; he is said to be cooperating with investigators. The New York Times reported he is a government employee, though he does not work for the White House.
The FAA is referring inquiries about today's incident to the White House.
Mayors Examine Community Policing
Building trust, improving police practices and addressing racial and economic disparities are some of the recommendations of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which has been studying the issue of community policing.
Their recommendations take on added significance after the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner at the hands of police. But how much will it cost to implement those recommendations?
Gary, Ind., Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson chairs the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Working Group of Mayors and Police Chiefs, which spent four months reviewing community policing practices in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting last summer in Ferguson, Missouri. She discusses their conclusions and recommendations with Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson.
Defining ‘community policing'
“For me, community policing means a way that law enforcement engages the community not just when there is a crisis, but in their daily duties and in the day-to-day activities of law enforcement. So it is creating a connection, it's creating a relationship with members of the community — particularly the law abiding citizens, so that when an incident occurs they will have a connection that will give citizens the confidence that if they provide information that it will be acted upon and that it will be held confidentially. It also gives citizens the confidence that when there is a crisis such as a police-involved death, that because the preexisting relationship exists, they know that it will be investigated in a manner that will give the community comfort.”
On practicing community policing
“The practice of community-oriented policing is very common. Increasingly, police departments are training, are encouraging all their officers… Initially there was a program, it was called the COPs program — Community Oriented Policing — you would have one or two, or maybe three or four, officers whose job it was to go into the community and connect with citizens. Now, police departments large and small are understanding that that has to be the protocol. That people are wanting to have relationships with the police department that are not necessarily related to a call, and that it benefits officers to have a connection to the community that supersedes any specific law enforcement activity… It can't be a program, it can't be one or two officers, it really does have to be a way of doing business in your department.”
On investing in community policing
“It can work in an era of tighter budgets. Tighter budgets should really drive more departments to engage in community-oriented policing because you don't have as many officers on the street, you don't have some of the resources that you have traditionally had. So it's important that you have a relationship with the law abiding citizens of the community.”
On last year's police-involved shootings
“I think what people often forget is that as a rule, is that African-Americans tend to be more law and order than a lot of people think. And so we want the police to, in fact, engage in our communities, we count on that to happen. It's a matter of how it happens and the approach that they take. I think it also goes to recruiting, it also goes to training, and it also goes to discipline of officers.”