| NEWS of the Day - February 15, 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
W. Side forum on policing cites treatment of gay, lesbian victims
Community level seen as in need
by Harold McNeil
More sensitivity in treating gay and lesbian victims of crime and a better approach to community policing were just a couple of the issues raised by a group of West Side residents who met Tuesday with members of the Joint Commission to Examine Police Reorganization.
The meeting in the Niagara Porter Library was the second of three such forums planned by the commission to solicit public input on ways to improve the operation of the Buffalo Police Department. The commission was formed in 2010 to perform the first external review of police operations in two decades, and is in the final stages of preparing a report with recommendations for Mayor Byron W. Brown and city lawmakers.
Carlos Benitez, who presided over Tuesday's meeting in the absence of Chairman Joseph Mascia, told the 10 residents in attendance that the commission was seeking to avoid complaints about specific incidents or encounters with city police.
“This is not about gripes. This is about what you think would be a solution or a recommendation that would improve the quality of policing in Buffalo or would improve the quality of life here in our neighborhoods on the West Side,” Benitez said.
Paul Morgan, who lives in the Richmond Avenue area, expressed a number of concerns about the way the department handles complaints from gay and lesbian victims of crime.
“There's no sensitivity training. There's no special accommodations for transgender individuals. We've been begging for this for how long?” Morgan said.
Tom Gleed, who more than a decade ago was appointed by then-Mayor Anthony M. Masiello as a liaison to Buffalo's gay community, said he was added to the current police reorganization commission to help address some of the issues that Morgan raised.
“We will recommend from this commission that the administration put in place a pipeline to the Police Department working directly with the gay community,” Gleed said.
Morgan also complained about crime victims who go to the B District police station having to file complaints to a dispatcher who is separated from them by a wall of plexiglass.
“You shout through a little bank teller window in a drafty vestibule. If you're the victim of a violent crime and you ask, ‘Can I come in and sit down and explain my [problem]?' you know what I've been told? . . . ‘We have security concerns. We can't let you in.' What would that sound like to you?” Morgan said.
Benitez replied: “I applaud you for having the courage and fortitude to bring that out in this public forum. That's exactly the kind of thing we're looking for as far as public input.”
Meanwhile, Andy Goldstein of the Fargo Estates Neighborhood Association raised concerns that there weren't enough B District officers to simultaneously address the needs of West Side residents and those of the downtown entertainment district.
“It's just tons of stuff going on downtown and in the B District. I would ask: Why can't there be a separate district to handle all these festivals and the downtown entertainment district so that it doesn't take strength away from our neighborhoods?” Goldstein said.
The commission will hold a third public input session at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Tapestry Charter School, 65 Great Arrow Ave.
Connecticut crime at lowest in 44 years
by James Lu
Crime is at a 44-year low in Connecticut.
That statistic was one of several laid out last Friday by Mike Lawlor, the state's undersecretary for criminal justice policy and planning, as he addressed the state legislature's Judiciary Committee on crime trends statewide. Though Lawlor touted positive state data, including a 11.4 percent drop in arrests in 2011 and a 10 percent drop in criminal recidivism over the past three years, New Haven officials and community leaders said these statistics may not be representative of New Haven's recent experience with crime.
“The good news is that crime is down, and down significantly,” Lawlor said in his address. “Like most states, we have adopted proven best practices and they are working. Community policing, state-of-the-art technology and risk-reduction interventions for offenders are all paying off.”
While Lawlor said “no one knows” what is causing the fall in crime rates, no one factor is the sole reason. He added that reduction in criminal activity reflects a national trend — crime rates have been steadily dropping nationwide since a peak in the early 1990s, according to data in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reports.
Last year, New Haven experienced a 11 percent drop in violent crime even as homicides rose to 34, a 20-year high. Violent crimes in 2012 are down more than 25 percent compared to the numbers from this time last year, according to the New Haven Police Department data, and no homicides have been recorded so far this year.
Crime in the Elm City has followed a different trajectory from the rest of Connecticut, said Bishop Theodore Brooks, who until last Friday served on the city's Board of Police Commissioners.
“I think New Haven is unique in itself — while other crimes are down, it's been the violent crimes that have been noticeable,” he said.
Decreasing violent crime in New Haven requires “changing the culture on the street,” Brooks said, adding that this is precisely what NHPD Chief Dean Esserman is hoping to accomplish through his renewed focus on community policing strategies.
In addition to community policing, Lawlor said his office was “fully invested” in initiatives in New Haven to stop the “senseless killings of young African-American men.” This will be done by focusing policing energies on the groups, including gangs, responsible for the shootings and the specific neighborhoods in which they operate, he said.
Many of those committing violent crimes are repeat offenders — Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and other city officials stressed last year that a high percentage of violent crime is committed by people returning to the city post-incarceration.
While violation of probation is the number one crime for which people serve jail time in Connecticut, the number of offenders under probation has dropped more than 10,000 in the past few years, Lawlor said.
Combating recidivism in New Haven requires coordination between the NHPD, probation and parole officers, Connecticut's state attorney's office and the community, NHPD spokesman David Hartman said. The NHPD is also establishing a task force to investigate unsolved non-fatal shootings and prosecute offenders to “keep them locked up,” one of the unit's leaders told the New Haven Register.
According to Lawlor, 72 percent of the state's prison population is African-American or Latino.