NEWS of the Day - February 1, 2012
on some NAACC / LACP issues of interest


NEWS of the Day - February 1, 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



7 Best TSA 'Aha Moments': Strange Things at Airport Security

by Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare

Feb. 1, 2012

You really have to find something strange to beat the best airport security catch of 2011 and of course I mean the guy at Miami International who tried to go through security with seven snakes in his pants.

Had the reptiles not been discovered - as they were via a TSA body scan machine - imagine sitting on a plane only to notice slithering in a seatmate's trouser region. The guy had three turtles in there, too.

Maybe you don't travel with snakes-in-pants, but you don't want to be stuck in line behind someone like this either if only because of delays and help is on the way thanks to expedited security lines in more airport as such lanes would pretty much exclude reptile hoarders. In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the seven best security 'gets' so far this year.

1. Dagger in a Hair Brush

An unusual weapon was found at Virginia's tiny Lynchburg Regional Airport: a hair brush with a dagger concealed inside the bristles. This was not your everyday knife, either, according to authorities: several inches long with an "ice-pick style blade". A stylist's defense against customer critiques? The TSA did not say.

2. Speargun

An unidentified passenger rather touchingly thought he'd be allowed to board his plane with a speargun in hand. If you think this security 'get' took place at a Hawaiian airport or somewhere in the Caribbean, nope. The speargun was confiscated at Salt Lake City International.

3. Chain Saw

Leatherface was nowhere in evidence when screeners at New York's Elmira-Corning Regional airport stopped a passenger from going through security with a gassed-up chainsaw in his carry-on. Chainsaw, okay; gasoline, not so much. The fuel was dumped, the chainsaw checked, and Mr. Fix-It was allowed to proceed on his way.

4. Lipstick Stun Gun

A 350,000 volt stun gun cleverly designed to look like a lipstick case was found in a passenger's carry-on bag at Burlington (Vermont) International. These smaller airports definitely have the most interesting passengers, don't they?

5. Live Teargas Grenade

Must have been exciting at Phoenix's Sky Harbor airport when a passenger strolled through security with a live teargas grenade in a carry-on. As a TSA blogger put it, "Dispersed Teargas Grenade + Pressurized Cabin = Pandemonium". That pretty much covers it.

6. $22,373 in Cash

A passenger at Jacksonville International turned in an abandoned bag to the TSA. It's not clear whether this Good Samaritan took a peek inside, but if he had, he'd have seen more than 22-thousand dollars in cash inside. The bag was reunited with its owner who must have been sweating bullets. And speaking of bullets…

7. 69 Loaded Guns (and counting)

As usual, the TSA confiscates a lot of guns: well over a thousand in 2011 alone. And so far this year, screeners discovered nearly 70 loaded guns in carry-ons. One recent incident that received considerable attention took place at the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport when TSA officers saw a weapon in a bag, but its owner - a 65 year old woman - left security before they could nab it.

After a lengthy search (which delayed about a dozen flights), the woman was found aboard an American flight that had already pushed back from the gate and was called back. The woman's excuse was the time-honored, "I forgot I had it." The woman, by the way, is an attorney.

So what can you do if you're stuck behind any of these yahoos? Hope it ends quickly, or better yet, try one of the following for a speedier security experience:

My TSA app: Download this free app for your phone and see security line 'wait times' before you head to the airport. It also provides information on whether specific items can or can't go through security, though when I tested it on 'peanut butter' it simply informed me that no gels or liquids above 3.4 ounces are allowed (yes, I know peanut butter isn't a liquid, but 'gel' may be open to interpretation).

PreCheck expedited security lanes: The experimental program at a handful airports around the U.S. is proving to be wildly popular and the TSA recently expanded it, adding PreCheck lanes at Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Salt Lake.

It's not for everyone, though. It is currently open to U.S. citizens who are miles program members of participating airlines, plus you have to be 'invited' to sign on. Then you must agree to a background check but if all goes well, you get to use the quicker PreCheck lanes which means you get to keep your shoes on.

Well, not always. PreCheck-approved passengers are still subject to random security checks like everyone else. Still, it's probably better that than being stuck in line behind the guy with all those snakes in his pants.

* * *
This work is the opinion of the columnist and does not reflect the opinion of ABC News.

Rick Seaney is one of the country's leading experts on airfare, giving interviews and analysis to news organizations that include ABC News, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the Associated Press and Bloomberg. His website, FareCompare.com, offers consumers free, new-generation software, combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deals.



Ohio targets young adults on dangers of prescription drugs

by Russ Zimmer

COLUMBUS - A class of prescription painkillers has saddled many Ohio youths with addiction.

The state hopes the stories of a veteran, a mother, an aunt and a friend - all whose lives have been changed irrevocably by opiate analgesics - will make youths think twice.

This is the state's first awareness campaign specific to these painkillers, such as the brand names OxyContin or Opana.

Posters soon will begin appearing at 400 convenience stores and other locations in Ohio. Ads will be on Facebook, Pandora online radio and other sites that appeal to the 18- to 29-year-old demographic, said Orman Hall, director of the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services.

Personal stories were brought to life at the campaign kickoff Tuesday at the Statehouse.

Jo Anna Krohn, a Portsmouth woman who lost her 18-year-old son to an overdose three years ago, said the emotional pain was too unbearable for her to stay quiet. She started a support group, SOLACE, that now has six more branches across the state.

"My son was an addict and it took his life, and I would do anything to prevent that from happening to other families," Krohn said.

"Next month will mark the two-year anniversary of a call I got that changed my life forever," began Angie Thomas, of Columbus.

Her sister, addicted to painkillers, was relinquishing custody of her 6-year-old daughter. Thomas would have to raise the child and answer tough questions.

"How do you tell this story to a child?" she said. "That her mother was gone and we don't know if she's coming back?"

Administrators and front-line treatment personnel were on hand, too, to discuss the epidemic. At last count, opiates, including heroin, were listed on more than half of all unintentional overdose death certificates.

In Ohio's largest county, opiate-related deaths are up 30 percent in the most recent 18-month reporting period, and heroin use is up 28 percent in the past six months, said Bill Denihan, CEO of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health board of Cuyahoga County.

"It's alarming to know how fast this is occurring," Denihan said.

April Caraway, director of the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board, talked about how the demand for opiate rehabilitation services is soaring, but statewide treatment capacity remains low.

In the Warren-Youngstown area - a two-county area of about 500,000 people - there are 12 beds for in-patient detox clients, she said.

"We have people all across the state dying on these waiting lists," she said.

Hall, who has been a leading voice against opiate addiction in Ohio since his days as director of the Fairfield County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health board, spoke after the conference about other plans for pushing back against opiate addiction this year.

» Hall previewed an education campaign aimed at prescribers. It will attempt to reduce the amount of opiates that enter circulation through legitimate channels, but for unnecessary reasons.

Hall told of a colleague whose son was prescribed hydrocodone, Vicodin, for a sore throat - an overreaction, in his opinion.

"This is the kind of stuff we're combating," he said.

» Addiction services has developed new protocols for the use of medication in treatment. Hall has long been a proponent of the use of buprenorphine (brand name Suboxone), naloxone and other pharmaceuticals to help patients wean themselves off of opiates. He said they're going to introduce new prescribing guidelines for medication-assisted treatment soon.

» Hall said in the spring addiction services will begin a pilot program in southern Ohio in which doctors will have more freedom to administer medication-assisted treatment for opiate addicts. Currently, doctors must be licensed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to distribute Suboxone or other drugs that mimic the euphoria of opiates, but to a far lesser extent.

Gov. John Kasich, who has made opiate addiction a legislative priority, was slated to speak, but had to cancel, Hall said.




Violent crime on decline

by James Lu

February 1, 2012

With January at a close, the Elm City posted its first month without a homicide since August 2009.

New Haven Police Department spokesman David Hartman said violent crime around New Haven was “way down” in January. Yet despite this success, some members of the Board of Alderman, including Board President and Ward 5 Alderman President Jorge Perez, questioned Mayor John DeStefano Jr.'s anticipated proposal to budget for 40 to 45 new NHPD officers as the department implements its new community policing strategy.

“I'm happy to see the [DeStefno] administration is paying attention to community policing after they almost single-handedly killed it,” Perez told the New Haven Independent. “[But] they raised taxes on the pretext we're going to hire more cops. Then DeStefano laid off cops. Then he hired more cops. Less than a year later he wants to hire more cops.”

DeStefano and newly appointed NHPD Chief Dean Esserman announced the new double class of officers at a press conference in Newhallville last Thursday, even as they announced that 21 officers will be moved from the investigative division to patrol. The move is one of several that Esserman has made since taking office on Nov. 18. He has implemented walking beats in each of the Elm City's 10 districts, and on Friday announced he would be replacing the NHPD's three assistant chiefs with his own leadership team.

Esserman was “brought into the job” to implement a community policing approach that would reengage citizens in a bid to tamp down violent crime, said Richard Epstein, the chairman of the Board of Police Commissioners. As part of the push for this new strategy, DeStefano said he would bring a budget amendment to the Board of Aldermen next week that would transfer funds from other city departments to the NHPD so that it can hire new officers for its patrol division.

Perez told the Independent he wanted to know more specific details before giving his approval to the measure. City Hall spokeswoman Elizabeth Benton '04 said DeStefano would provide details about his proposal in his State of the City address next Monday.

Perez said he was not opposed to hiring more officers, but wondered if it would be possible to move more officers from other units to patrol instead. He added that he wanted to know how the city's overall budget is faring before lending his support to the mayor's proposal.

Ward 7 Alderman Doug Hausladen '04, who serves on the Board of Aldermen's public safety and finance committees, said he could not comment on DeStefano's anticipated proposal because he has not yet seen it. But he said he supported the NHPD's return to community policing.

“[Community policing] was a refreshing take, a change of action that I was excited to see,” he said. “But walking beats are expensive, and there's not as wide deployment of forces.”

Despite 2012's quiet start, New Haven saw two murders last January.




Compstat ramps up

by Paul Bass

The suspect's mug shot flashed on the screen.

“Who is this guy?” the chief asked.

Responded the neighborhood's top cop: “You know, he's a little bit of an enigma.”

The conversation didn't end there. It just began. It would draw in cops from other neighborhoods, other divisions. Not to mention people from state parole and the state's attorney's office. While dozens of others listened in.

The setting was a fourth-floor conference room at the police department. Some 70 people gathered there Tuesday morning for the department's weekly “CompStat” meeting, where top cops responsible for New Haven's 10 policing districts report on the latest crime trends in their neighborhoods and plans for tackling them.

Tuesday morning's gathering showed the ways that new Police Chief Dean Esserman changed the meeting, dramatically, as part of his larger plans for remaking the department and revive community policing.

The meetings used to take place every four weeks, then every six weeks, according to Lt. Luiz Casanova, who oversees patrol. Maybe 30 people would show up, pretty much just cops from the department.

CompStat, which started in New York City, stands for “computer statistics” or “comparative statistics.” Cities across the country have replicated it; Esserman used it in Providence. In some places people have credited it with holding police supervisors accountable for performance and catching crime trends early; some have criticized CompStat for leading to fudging of numbers, similar to teachers and administrators playing around with results from high-stakes tests. CompStat can also, as demonstrated Tuesday, offer a chance for people working on crime from different angles and silos to share information and ideas.

This month Esserman began convening the meetings every week and inviting many more police “partners.” (He also changed the name from Tasca to CompStat.) Tuesday's gathering drew more than twice as many people as in the past.

Facing the district managers at another long table were top departmental detectives and their supervisors.

At the table connecting the other two tables sat Casanova, who emceed the meeting; Esserman, who peppered everyone with questions; state Sen. Martin Looney (a visitor); state prosecutor David Zullo; Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins.

From Beaver Hills to West Rock to Dwight, managers reported that they've started assigning regular walking beats this week, as planned. Participants reviewed a car chase earlier that morning (by Hamden cops into New Haven territory) that ended in a crash inside a sleeping man's bedroom; Esserman spoke about the need to limit chases in the city. A new shootings-focused investigative unit, formed with the help of the state police and the state's attorney, was announced. (Read about that here.)

The tone shifted at times from applauding the managers for their successes (“celebrating our wins,” as Casanova put it) and pressing them to commit to specific action.

Afterwards, as informal conversations continued among participants, Lt. Thaddeus Reddish remarked on the potential of weekly meetings to catch smaller problems before they get bigger.

“It's good. It's fresh,” he said. “You can stay right on top of it. You put this up [pictures of suspects, information about trends] six weeks from now [instead], you had six robberies, it gets to six robberies.”

No Murders Yet
In just about every part of town, the districts showed drops in most crimes, including violent crimes, from last week; over the past month; and compared to last year. (“Something in the water this past week I need to know about?” Esserman asked.) One exception: thefts from autos went up. In different neighborhoods, Casanova noted, the thieves seem to be swiping GPSs.

The most dramatic figure—but one officials don't want to overemphasize at this point—involved murders, since that number can fluctuate wildly month by month. Still, after a year with a near-record 34 homicides, it did not go unnoticed.

“Today is Jan. 31,” Esserman noted. “There hasn't been a murder [yet this year]. You are doing some nice work.”

Reported violent crime dropped 83 percent in Westville/West Hills in the first 28 days of January compared to 2011. “I know it's early in the year. If you can keep that up, you're a superstar,” Casanova told the district manager, Lt. Marty Tchakirides.

In Hill South, District 3, most crime categories dropped between 20 and 71 percent in January from a year ago. Esserman asked District Manager Holly Wasilewski why that happened. The arrest of one repeat offender made a big difference, she replied. Also, “having officers focus more on their beat boundaries rather than go all over the place.”

A 7 a.m. robbery of a woman has caused concerns at nearby John C. Daniels School, she reported. She planned to meet later that day with school officials and the head of the department's school cops, Sgt. Ricardo Rodriguez.

Lt. Reddish reported on the capture of a violent burglar and street robber who'd been terrorizing East Rock and beating up Yale students.

Esserman turned to Lt. Julie Johnson, head of the Major Crimes Unit.

“Detective, did he talk?” he asked.

“He didn't talk that night,” she responded. But a neighbor saw the mug shot in the Register and gave the cops information about another incident involving the suspect.

“This is the guy who messed up our block watch meeting,” Esserman said. “Good, we got him. The community needs to know we got him.”

“We put the word out,” Reddish said.

So far the police have him for two of the incidents for which he's suspected, Reddish said. One involved the man punching his girlfriend's father with a knife inside his fist.

Prosecutor David Strollo, sitting near Esserman, reported on the suspect's bond and upcoming court dates.

In another case, Fair Haven's Sgt. Anthony Zona had the picture of a suspect he's been tracking shown on the screen. He's the same suspected mugger, Zona said, whom the group had discussed earlier in the meeting, who'd been trying to cash stolen lottery tickets. Zona also spoke of upcoming plans to catch someone who apparently robbed two different Chinese food delivery people in two nights. And he spoke of working with people at a crime-plagued housing complex to start registering serial numbers of TVs, playstations and Xboxes.

“You'll trust they're going to do what they say they're going to do. Then you're going to trust and verify,” Esserman pressed him.

“Abso lute ly,” Zona vowed.

A Confession

Then came Lt. Ray Hassett's turn. The Dwight district manager and former professional actor (he had parts in Body Double and Superman: The Movie), spun the tales of two troublemakers his cops have been tracking.

One was the hapless robber who kept knocking on doors one day last week and pointing a gun at potential mugging targets, only to have the doors closed on him. Police caught up with him. They recovered two “Stinger” air soft handguns—with labels showing the suspect's name and birth date.

“Who is this guy?” Esserman asked.

Hassett (at right in above photo, right before the meeting started) called him an “enigma.” He comes from Massachusetts, he said.

“Where does he live?

“He's homeless.”

“With two guns?”

The man also got caught in North Carolina for assaulting a handicapped person, among other crimes.

Turning to Strollo, Esserman asked whether the suspect can be held behind bars. “It's up the judge,” Strollo replied.

“I wonder about this guy,” Esserman pressed.

Hassett began quoting the suspect speaking to the cops after his capture: “I'm stupid. I can't believe I'm such an idiot. Just take me to jail ...”

Hassett paused for dramatic effect, then added, “That's a confession,” provoking laughter throughout the room.

Esserman suggested the state's attorney pay special attention to the case. Turning back to Hassett, he noted that the cops who caught the suspect are Hassett's two newly-assigned walking beats.

“They were in the car” that night last week, Hassett replied.

“What were they doing in the car?”

“I didn't start the walking beats until last night.”

Then Hassett asked have projected the picture of another repeat offender. “He is a player in my district,” he said. “I want to put him on the radar.”

The man has fought with cops, he said. A family member personally asked the cops to have him arrested.

Lt. Jeff Hoffman, who heads the tactical narcotics unit, said his detectives made an undercover drug buy from the money. The crack cocaine turned out to be fake. They got a search warrant for his apartment, arrested him on dealing charges, and discovered 13 bags of marijuana.

He's now out on bond.

Is he on probation? Esserman asked. Parole?


“Terrific. Is he back home?”

“Yes,” Hassett responded.

“He lives with his mother,” Hoffman added.

Many eyes will be watching.