| NEWS of the Day - January 20, 2012
|on some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood activist across the country
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view ...
We present this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
From Los Angeles Times
Distracted pedestrians? Accidents on rise for headphone-wearers
Much attention has been paid to the dangers of distracted driving: Researchers have studied the effects of driving while texting or talking on a phone, and many states now regulate the use of cellphones by drivers.
But what about distracted walking?
In a study published this week in the online journal Injury Prevention, researchers examined six years of reports and found that the number of headphone-wearing pedestrians killed or injured by moving vehicles has tripled in the U.S. since 2004 and 2005. Sixteen people were injured or killed in that two-year period; 47 people were injured or killed in 2010 2011, they found.
“We knew that drivers can be distracted,” Dr. Richard Lichenstein, the study's lead author, said in a phone interview from Maryland. But pedestrians wearing headphones can be distracted too, he said, and risk getting hit by cars or buses or even trains.
Lichenstein, director of pediatric emergency medicine research at the University of Maryland Medical Center, said he decided to study the topic after reading headline after headline about pedestrians being killed while wearing headphones.
Researchers analyzed incidents reported in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Google News Archives and the Westlaw Campus Research Database. They identified the incidents by combing the reports and articles using words such as “headphones,” “killed,” “injured,” “iPod” and several other variations.
Overall, the team identified 116 cases from 2004 through 2011 in which pedestrians were injured or killed by moving vehicles. Of the victims, 68% were male, and 67% were younger than 30.
Further, 59% of the accidents occurred in large metropolitan areas with populations larger than 1 million. And 55% of the victims were struck by a train.
The ages of pedestrians killed “mimic the demographic of those that use MP3 players and iPods,” Lichenstein said.
The study did have limitations, the researchers noted.
“First, it relies on media reporting, which likely over-publishes tragic events but vastly under-publishes non-fatal cases,” they wrote in the article. "Moreover, there is no method of collecting information about "near misses."
Another major limitation involves the study's inability to establish correlation, much less causation, between headphone use and the risk to pedestrians.
“To make any sort of causality statement, we'd need to conduct a large-scale observational study,” Lichenstein said.
Suicidal intentions, substance abuse, mental illness and other factors may also play roles in some of the pedestrian injuries and fatalities, he said.
The study shouldn't be used to prompt legislative action, Lichenstein said, but at the very least, it should be used as an educational tool.
Highly organized drug ring relied on 8-year-old as a lookout
A major New York drug ring, which police announced this week had been destroyed, apparently relied upon an 8-year-old boy as a lookout, part of a calculating and highly regimented operating system that even officials said was impressive.
A Wednesday raid on the ring in East Harlem also turned up some surprises, such as 2 1/2 gallons of liquid PCP in Hawaiian Punch bottles and $39,000 in cash, New York police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said at a news conference. Thirty-five people were arrested and charged with a total of 275 counts alleging conspiracy, drug possession and drug-selling.
"We had housewives, people going back with large amounts to their neighborhoods in other states. We had all ... types of people," police Inspector Lori Pollack said in an NY1 account describing the range of customers who frequented the business, which did more than $1 million a year in drug sales.
"It was pretty structured, I will say that," she said of the manner in which the alleged ringleaders, brothers Lamont and Bernard Moultrie, ran the drug ring. "There were posts. You knew where you had to be, you knew what your hours were going to be." The ring included packagers, security guards and vetters who would assess each customer for signs they might be undercover agents.
One of the workers was an 8-year-old boy who served as a lookout and whose responsibilities included warning his bosses if trouble was on the way. He was considered a victim and was not among those facing criminal charges.
“The defendants used this child to facilitate the daily activity of this drug den, putting him in harm's way every day ... 8 years old,” the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., said at the news conference.
In the end, the business' success may have been its downfall. Police began an investigation at the housing project that served as the drug ring's base after neighbors complained about the activity there, saying they had to push through lines of people in the lobby who would show up each day to make purchases. The investigation took 15 months to complete, in part because of the layers of security and lookouts.
One of the alleged ringleaders, Lamont Moultrie, was on parole for a 1989 murder when he was arrested Wednesday. Another suspect had been in jail for murder and had just been released last March after serving 25 years.
First, a sex offender registry. Next, an animal abuser registry?
Animal abusers, take heed. Efforts to establish online registries for animal abusers, like the ones for sex offenders, are gaining support, with legislation pending or soon-to-be-introduced in at least five states.
Among the efforts is one from Florida state Sen. Mike Fasano, who has proposed Dexter's law, named after a kitten that was beaten to death in his state. His proposal would require convicted animal abusers to register with authorities. Their names, home addresses and photographs would be posted online, and they would be required to pay $50 a year to maintain the registry.
Registries also have been proposed in Maryland, Colorado, Arizona and New York. Stephan K. Otto, director of legislative affairs for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, expects similar proposals in more states.
Suffolk County on Long Island in 2010 moved to create a registry, and has since been followed by two other New York counties. No names appear on the Suffolk County registry yet, because it was only recently set up. Convicted abusers will appear on the registry for five years. Those failing to register are subject to a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.
The New York counties also require pet stores and animal shelters to check the names of anyone seeking to adopt or buy an animal against the registry, Otto said.
Maryland State Sen. Ronald Young said he plans to introduce legislation in the wake of two incidents in his state. In one, a Yorkshire terrier was thrown off a 23-foot-high balcony; the dog, Louie, survived. In the other, a golden retriever puppy named Heidi was shot to death.
"Just too many people are mistreating and killing animals,'' Young said in an interview.
A bill to create such a registry in California, introduced in 2010, didn't make it through the Legislature, partly because of concerns about its cost.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund says the registries can reduce the number of abused animals and serve as an early warning system for potentially violent criminals, citing cases of serial killers who had tortured animals as children. Otto said they also can save taxpayers money by reducing the cost for caring for and treating abused animals.
Among the issues that need to be addressed is who should be required to register? Should it include "someone who took their golden retriever out one day, went into a 7-Eleven, but it was too hot outside, and the dog died," asked Madeline Bernstein, president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Los Angeles.
Otto said that some states have looked to limit the registry to felons.
Liberty Watch Colorado, in its blog, called the legislation "an unnecessary expansion of government.''
Severed head: no arrests made in Hollywood body parts case, LAPD says
Los Angeles police said Thursday night that there had been no arrests made in connection with the body parts discovered near the Hollywood sign
The remarks were contained in a statement sent to the media by the Los Angeles Police Department.
Detectives were flooded with calls after CBS Los Angeles reported that an arrest had been made. The station later said that someone was questioned in connection with the case.
Earlier Thursday, police served several search warrants in connection with the severed body parts discovered over the last few days near the Hollywood sign.
LAPD sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case was ongoing, said the investigation was progressing but declined to provide further details.
The search began Tuesday afternoon, when dog walkers discovered a severed head in the park after they noticed their dogs playing with a plastic bag and went to inspect it. The head was inside.
On Wednesday, with the help of specially trained cadaver dogs, police found two hands and two feet.
Authorities believe the victim was killed within a day or two of the discovery of the head. They believed the hands were in good enough condition and were attempting to obtain fingerprints to identify the victim.
From Google News
Anonymous claims credit for crashing FBI, DOJ sites
by Hayley Tsukayama
Following a Justice Department release stating that federal officials had taken down the file-sharing site Megaupload, hacking collective Anonymous launched several attacks on government and entertainment industry Web sites in retaliation.
Seven executives from Megaupload, a very popular site for sharing files, were indicted, The Washington Post's Sari Horowitz and Cecilia Kang reported Thursday. Federal officials said the site was flagrantly disobeying copyright laws and protections. Megaupload attorney Ira Rothken denied those charges.
Within hours of the announcement, Anonymous vowed to crash the Web sites of the Justice Department and Universal Music, which were unresponsive for hours late Thursday. The group continued to announce more targets, including the main page for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which was rendered inaccessible about 8:30 p.m. Thursday night, and the White House, which was not.
The attacks did not appear to be designed to collect any information from the Web sites, but simply flooded the pages with more Web traffic than they were designed to handle. This is known as a distributed denial-of-service attack, and is a common tactic Anonymous members use to embarrass companies and organizations.
The attacks are likely to continue, The Post's Ed O'Keefe and Ian Shapira reported Thursday in The Federal Eye.
Barrett Brown, the Dallas-based founder of an online think tank that works with Anonymous, said that Anonymous hackers might also figure out a way to ensure that certain Congress members' names would be linked to their support of the Stop Online Piracy Act.
“Operation Donkey Punch is definitely going to involve bringing attention to the Congress members through creative means,” Barrett said. “We have means to tie someone's name to something forever using search engine optimization.”
On a Twitter account associated with the Anonymous member known as Sabu, the hacker called for Web users to “boycott Hollywood” and support torrent sites, independent movies and music and — of course — kill the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act.
Using the hashtag “#StarveTheBeast,” Sabu tweeted, “We the people are in charge. We have the power. Remember that [ladies] and gentlemen. We can't allow paper-pushers to rule us.”
Federal official in Arizona to plead the fifth and not answer questions on 'furious'
by William La Jeunesse
The chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona is refusing to testify before Congress regarding Operation Fast and Furious, the federal gun-running scandal that sent U.S. weapons to Mexico.
Patrick J. Cunningham informed the House Oversight Committee late Thursday through his attorney that he will use the Fifth Amendment protection.
Cunningham was ordered Wednesday to appear before Chairman Darrell Issa and the House Oversight Committee regarding his role in the operation that sent more than 2,000 guns to the Sinaloa Cartel. Guns from the failed operation were found at the murder scene of Border Agent Brian Terry.
The letter from Cunningham's Washington DC attorney stunned congressional staff. Last week, Cunningham, the second highest ranking U.S. Attorney in Arizona, was scheduled to appear before Issa‘s committee voluntarily. Then, he declined and Issa issued a subpoena.
Cunningham is represented by Tobin Romero of Williams and Connolly who is a specialist in white collar crime. In the letter, he suggests witnesses from the Department of Justice in Washington, who have spoken in support of Attorney General Eric Holder, are wrong or lying.
“Department of Justice officials have reported to the Committee that my client relayed inaccurate information to the Department upon which it relied in preparing its initial response to Congress. If, as you claim, Department officials have blamed my client, they have blamed him unfairly,” the letter to Issa says.
Romero claims Cunningham did nothing wrong and acted in good faith, but the Department of Justice in Washington is making him the fall guy, claiming he failed to accurately provide the Oversight Committee with information on the execution of Fast and Furious.
"To avoid needless preparation by the Committee and its staff for a deposition next week, I am writing to advise you that my client is going to assert his constitutional privilege not to be compelled to be a witness against himself." Romero told Issa.
This schism is the first big break in what has been a unified front in the government's defense of itself in the gun-running scandal. Cunningham claims he is a victim of a conflict between two branches of government and will not be compelled to be a witnesses against himself, and make a statement that could be later used by a grand jury or special prosecutor to indict him on criminal charges.
Military suicides drop, other problems on rise
January 20, 2012
The number of suicides among soldiers has been leveling off, but there has been a dramatic jump in domestic violence, sex crimes and other destructive behavior in a force that has been stressed by a decade of war, according to an Army report released Thursday.
“There's a lot of good news in this report, but there's also some bad news,” the Army vice chief of staff, Gen. Peter Chiarelli, told a Pentagon news conference. “We know we've got still a lot of work to do.”
Suicides among active-duty soldiers and National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers not on active duty totaled 278 last year, down 9 percent from 2010.
“I think we've at least arrested this problem and, hopefully, will start to push it down,” Chiarelli said.
But violent sex crimes and domestic violence have increased more than 30 percent since 2006 and child abuse by 43 percent.
“After 10 years of war with an all-volunteer force, you're going to have problems that no one could have [forecast] before this began,” he said.
Chiarelli released a 200-page report for military leaders and health-care providers that is intended to assess the physical and mental condition of the force, disciplinary problems and deficiencies in how the Army deals with problems.
It follows up on a 2010 report that said the Army was failing some soldiers by missing signs of trouble or by looking the other way as commanders tried to keep up with tight deployment schedules needed to fight in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Chiarelli said commanders are getting more troops into substance-abuse programs; are removing more troops from the service for misconduct; and are preventing would-be recruits with alcohol and drug convictions from joining.
Other details of the report include:
? Post-traumatic stress disorder is epidemic, and there could be 472,000 U.S. service members with the condition, half of them in the Army.
¦ Some 24,000 soldiers were referred to substance-abuse programs in the 2011 fiscal year, which ended in September.
¦ The Army had more than 126,000 diagnosed cases of traumatic brain injury from 2000 to 2010. That included more than 95,000 mild cases, about 20,000 moderate cases and more than 3,500 cases in which there were severe, penetrating injuries.
Chiarelli said the military has taken “a huge step forward,” with new screening procedures for troops who suffer concussions, a frequent injury in wars in which makeshift bombs have been insurgents' weapons of choice.
Troops are now taken off the battlefield and held off for days or weeks until they recover, he said.
CDC: Many Teen Girls Unaware of How Easily They Can Get Pregnant
(WASHINGTON) -- Many adolescent girls are confused about how easy it is to become pregnant, especially when contraceptives aren't used, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Data taken from the 2004 to 2008 Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System of females between 15 and 19 years old found that one in two teens who had an unwanted pregnancy reported that neither they nor their partner used birth control.
In the group that dispensed with contraceptives, a third of girls claimed that they didn't think they could pregnant at that time, 23 percent said their partner refused to use birth control and about the same number had no problem with getting pregnant.
[ CLICK HERE TO READ THE CDC REPORT ]
Contraceptive use also didn't prevent teens from becoming pregnant, with 45 percent using either high effective or moderately effective birth control methods while five percent depended solely on the rhythm method.
The CDC says more needs to be done to educate teens about pregnancy and how to prevent it.
Kits make mark on child protection
by Kristi Patton
The Penticton community policing office and auxiliary police members are offering free child identification kits to parents this weekend.
“It's something nobody ever wants to have to dig out, but if your child ever does go missing, it can help bring closure to the case,” said Jim Porteous, Penticton safety co-ordinator. “It is a record that the parent can have available so that if their child should go missing, it can be a starting point for police to start tracking them.”
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at Cherry Lane shopping centre, volunteers and auxiliary police members will be taking children's fingerprints to give to the parents to keep as part of a child identification kit. Porteous advises parents should take the prints, along with a small sample of their child's hair and an updated photo, and put them in safe spot.
The event will also serve to bring awareness to their volunteer-based Citizens on Patrol, speed watch and operation lockout auto crime programs. Porteous said in the past year Citizens on Patrol have increased their patrol hours in Penticton by about 20 per cent.
“It just has been a fantastic group of people and the things they are finding are phenomenal,” said Porteous. “This includes businesses that have gates that are insecure, suspicious people at schools and parks, vandalism and more that they report to the RCMP. They have been very, very valuable to the community.”
Porteous said as part of the community policing service, businesses can contact him and arrange a time if they feel they should be doing more to secure their buildings and property. A walk through can be done for a proper security check where he can provide recommendations.
“We find a lot of insecure premises where the Citizens on Patrol have actually gone and locked a gate that may have been forgotten by the last employee there. Who knows what the volunteers have possibly stopped in the way of vandalism or theft over the years,” said Porteous.
Volunteers for Citizens on Patrol are subsidized for fuel and their equipment has been bought and paid for through community donations.
To become a volunteer you must fill out an application form, get a criminal record check and perform a couple of ride-alongs with the Citizens on Patrol supervisor. Members patrol the hotspots in the city known for vandalism, especially the schools, have tipped RCMP to drunk drivers, located stolen vehicles and even have helped catch wanted fugitives.
The job of a volunteer is to observe and report, they never get close because their mandate is to always be safety conscious. They are not equipped to arrest anyone. Those interested in learning more about Citizens on Patrol or having a security check done on their business can contact Porteous at 250-490-2373.
Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson Speaks at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Criminal and Social Justice Committee Meeting
From the Department of Justice
January 19, 2012
Thank you, Mayor Parker. I'm just delighted to be here.
I want to thank all of you for the invitation to speak today and to share some thoughts on OJP's and the Justice Department's work with the nation's mayors, particularly in the area of youth violence. Before I do, though, I want to really applaud what you're doing to improve public safety in your cities. There is such innovation going on around the country – it's just exciting to hear about.
At the Department of Justice, we know protecting communities falls on your shoulders. Most crime, we know, is handled by local law enforcement, local prosecutors, and local judges, not to mention their local allies outside the justice system.
So your role in setting crime policy and directing public safety resources is really unique. No other government “CEO” has the kind of daily obligation to prevent and reduce crime that you do – not governors, not even the President. At the Department of Justice, we're proud to support your efforts – and I can tell you that the Attorney General and I continue to fight for critical funding for you through programs like JAG-Byrne and others – and I know Barney will talk in a moment about COPS funding.
And you also recognize that the issue of public safety can't be properly understood in isolation. Crime and violence so obviously affect education, housing, public health, and local economies, and that list could go on. That's why you know that taking a comprehensive approach is critical.
I know so many of you have been working actively to encourage partnerships in your communities – and we applaud your commitment here. As you know better than anyone, these continue to be tough times, and we need to make sure we're coordinating our efforts to make public safety dollars go further.
This comprehensive approach to fighting crime is one the Obama Administration and this Department of Justice are working hard to promote. And I'd like to take a little time today to highlight a few of our initiatives:
The centerpiece of our efforts to address youth violence is the National Forum for Youth Violence Prevention. It brings together groups across the spectrum – local and federal leaders, law enforcement, educators, public health providers, community and faith-based representatives, parents, and young people – to share ideas about effective and affordable ways to prevent youth and gang violence.
The Forum is built on three pillars – multidisciplinary partnerships, data-driven strategies, and a balanced approach that blends prevention, intervention, enforcement, and reentry. Six cities are participating – Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, and Salinas and San Jose, California – and they've all developed and are well into implementing their comprehensive violence prevention plans.
Just to give one example, in Detroit, Chief Godbee has engaged in a partnership with community and faith-based volunteers called the Safe Routes Initiative, designed to make sure kids get to and from school safely. He assigned 25 new officers hired under a COPS grant to this effort.
It's been exciting to see the level of support and enthusiasm the Forum has generated. We've had excellent participation from the sites, and terrific exchanges of information and ideas. And I should mention that we'll be selecting four more sites through a competitive process in the coming months. So I encourage you to consider applying.
Comprehensive initiatives require a balanced approach, always including enforcement but also making room for prevention. The Attorney General understands this, and a year-and-a-half ago he launched his Defending Childhood Initiative. Through that, we're treating children's early exposure to violence in an effort to prevent traumatic experiences from leading to a future of crime and other problems.
A comprehensive approach also means making public safety everyone's concern - especially the community's. Under our Community-Based Violence Prevention Demonstration Program – managed by our Juvenile Justice Office – we're supporting efforts that involve citizens in crime-fighting efforts.
This program supports federal, state, and local partnerships to replicate evidence-based strategies like the Chicago CeaseFire model. Oakland, Denver, Brooklyn, and Washington, D.C. are currently participating, and three new sites are being added this year – Newark, Boston, and Baltimore.
And we're working in other ways to support cities in their community safety efforts. Last summer we launched a new “what works” clearinghouse called CrimeSolutions.gov. This new web site includes information on more than 160 criminal and juvenile justice programs, each rated for effectiveness. And I'm excited that this Spring, we'll be opening a companion Diagnostic Center to help mayors, policymakers, and other local leaders identify their public safety needs and implement these evidence-based strategies.
Finally, we're a central part of the Administration's Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative. This is a White House-led effort involving several federal agencies working to help transform neighborhoods of distress into neighborhoods of opportunity. We're working closely with the Department of Education, through its Promise Neighborhoods Program, and with HUD, through its Choice Neighborhoods Program.
Our own Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program complements those efforts by building on place-based strategies for addressing violence. We're also bringing our resources to bear through our Building Neighborhood Capacity Program. Through that, we're targeting areas that don't have the benefit of anchor institutions – like universities or hospitals – and that might be located far from economic engines and job sources.
Our goal is to help give those communities a chance to create opportunities for their residents. In the coming weeks, we'll be sending out an invitation to cities to participate.
So despite the challenges we're facing, we're still finding ways to address our public safety needs. And the fact that crime statistics are falling in many cities does reflect some progress.
For that, I credit your leadership. You've helped to drive the field toward a more collaborative, more data-driven, evidence-based approach to public safety. I applaud you for your commitment – and I encourage you to continue thinking comprehensively and continue relying on the evidence as you manage your public safety resources.
So thank you for your partnership, and thank you for all you do for America's communities.
From the Department of Homeland Security
Readout of Secretary Napolitano's Remarks at the National Sheriffs' Association 2012 Winter Conference
January 19, 2012
Office of the Press Secretary --
WASHINGTON—Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today delivered remarks at the National Sheriffs' Association 2012 Winter Conference highlighting the Department's progress over the past three years working together with state and local law enforcement to build a safer, more secure and resilient nation.
“Homeland security starts with hometown security, and we all have a role to play,” said Secretary Napolitano. “We have made extraordinary progress in improving how we share information, train together, and build new capabilities while identifying and addressing evolving threats to enhance public safety and security.”
During her remarks, Secretary Napolitano underscored the Department's collaboration with law enforcement and first responders on countering violent extremism and human trafficking, reporting suspicious activity, securing the border and enforcing our nation's immigration laws, through training and information sharing initiatives. The Department continues its strong support for fusion centers, working in coordination with other federal partners, through training, technical assistance, technology and grant funding as well as the deployment of DHS intelligence officers to fusion centers, who work alongside their state and local counterparts to assess evolving threats and share information.
Secretary Napolitano discussed the Department's efforts to enhance law enforcement prevention and protection activities through grant funding. In 2011, DHS awarded more than $2.1 billion in federal preparedness grants to assist states, urban areas, tribal and territorial governments, non-profit agencies, and the private sector in strengthening our nation's ability to prevent, protect, respond to, recover from, and mitigate terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies.
Secretary Napolitano also reiterated President Obama's call for Congress to take action to prevent layoffs of law enforcement and first responders, and to keep our communities safe by passing legislation such as the American Jobs Act. The legislation would provide $5 billion in assistance to states and local communities to create or save thousands of law enforcement and first responder jobs across the country.
For more information, visit www.dhs.gov.