| NEWS of the Day - February 28, 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
Seattle mayor declares 'public safety emergency'
by Kim Murphy
February 27, 2012
Reporting from Seattle
Nobody's ready to start talking about the "mean streets" of Seattle. But an alarming spike in street violence in this usually mellow city has everyone running scared. Mayor Mike McGinn, calling the increase a “public safety emergency,” pledged Monday to beef up police patrols and urged citizens to help combat lawlessness in their neighborhoods.
“This is an issue that requires more than just a police response,” McGinn said at a community meeting in the city's hard-hit Rainier Beach neighborhood, one of several hit by killings this year. Many of the nine slayings so far this year remain unsolved.
“I cannot emphasize enough that our response to crime and safety in our communities is dependent upon a very strong partnership between city government and the community,” he said. “Everyone who lives here, who works here, who shops here, and who comes here to enjoy what Seattle has to offer deserves to feel safe and secure.”
Seattle over the years has suffered the same kind of street violence, including gang activity, that plagues urban communities everywhere, but the numbers this year for a city of its size have been worrying.
McGinn said he was concerned enough to take a tour with senior police department officers on Feb. 11 of the city's recent murder scenes. “Since I took that tour, there have been three more murders in the city of Seattle,” he said. “In addition to that, we have also seen a large number of other stabbings or the use of guns.”
One of the cases that has the city most up in arms happened before the year even started, in November, when Rainier Valley hairdresser Danny Vega was robbed and beaten to death by three unknown assailants. Though his cellphone was taken, friends believe Vega, a gay man and a Filipino, may have been the victim of a hate crime and not merely the target of a robbery.
He managed to tell his roommates before he died that he had been attacked by three African American males, all about 18 years old.
Shortly before midnight on Jan. 17, Darek Darewski, 49, was shot to death while walking near Seattle Central Community College on Capitol Hill. Police, hoping for the public's help, released a surveillance video showing Darewski walking near the college. Soon afterward, he was approached by someone who shot him in the chest, police said. The video also shows a white car that witnesses saw leaving the scene.
Just last week, two men were shot to death in the parking lot of a restaurant in Rainier Beach. That brought the murder rate to three times what it was last year at the same time. There were 21 murders in Seattle in 2011.
“There is a wide range of circumstances. Each incident is unique. Every crime is specific,” McGinn said.
But McGinn noted that many of the crimes have been committed by young men from racial or ethnic minorities. He and other city officials urged community leaders to redouble their support of programs to combat youth violence, and they urged people in the community to report suspected crimes and criminals to the police.
“This anti-snitching stuff? I don't understand that… That makes no sense to me,” Bruce Harrell, who heads the City Council's public safety committee, said at the meeting.
Kevin Griffin, community relations director for the Seattle Seahawks football team, said coach Pete Carroll has helped replicate a youth foundation that he launched in South Central Los Angeles. That organization, A Better LA, was created during Carroll's nine years as coach at the University of Southern California.
Griffin now is executive director of its northern spinoff, A Better Seattle, and is conducting a similar effort to collect community backing and corporate contributions to deploy professionally trained street outreach workers in violence-plagued neighborhoods all over southern King County.
“It's about the call to action for all private citizens and corporations to get involved in this work,” he said.
Community leaders pledged their own support but said the city needs to maintain funding for programs for youth diversion, mental health and family outreach.
“If we knew how to do this, we would have ended this problem by now,” said the Rev. Harriett Walden, founder of a police accountability organization and one of the community leaders who met with the mayor on Monday.
“How will history judge us when they write the story of Seattle, and all the children who died on the streets?" she said. "There's not a baby born in a hospital with a gun.”
1 killed, 4 injured in Ohio school shooting
A teenager is in custody after the rampage near Cleveland.
by Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times
February 27, 2012
A routine start to a school day, with breakfast in the cafeteria and students shuffling to class, turned into chaos and tragedy Monday when a gunman opened fire, killing one student and wounding four others at a suburban Ohio high school. A teenage suspect was arrested half a mile away.
The shooting began about 7:30 a.m. at Chardon High School, about 30 miles outside Cleveland. Students told reporters that the gunman appeared to be targeting specific classmates when he walked into the cafeteria and began firing a handgun. Victims were found in at least three areas, police said. Authorities did not identify the suspect because he is a juvenile. His motive was unclear.
Loud pops rang through the cafeteria and hallways and sent students scurrying for safety. One teacher reportedly grabbed a wounded student and pulled him to safety while others barricaded their rooms. Another finally forced the gunman to leave the building, officials said.
"Everybody just started running," Megan Hennessy, 17, told the Associated Press. She said she was in class when she heard the gunshots. "Everyone was running and screaming down the hallway."
The building had no metal detector, but Geauga County Sheriff Dan McClelland said police and school officials had many drills. It turned out to be "practice, if you would, for an event just like today."
Police responded after the first shots, Chardon Police Chief Tim McKenna told reporters at a televised news conference. Students reached for their cellphones and texted their parents, who gathered outside to pick up their children.
Five students were taken to hospitals. Two students were listed in critical condition, one was in serious condition and one was stable.
McKenna identified the dead student as Daniel Parmertor.
"We are shocked by this senseless tragedy," Daniel's family said in a statement. "Danny was a bright young boy who had a bright future ahead of him. The family is torn by this loss. We ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time."
From Google News
A Community Cop Assumes National Post
by Allan Appel
As he was sworn in as president of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, patrolman Shafiq Abdussabur floated plans to give fellow cops a new title: “tutor.”
Abdussabur made his remarks after he placed his hand on the Koran and was sworn in before 40 friends, family members, fellow officers, and officials including U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
The ceremony took place Saturday afternoon in a private room at the Greek Olive restaurant on Sargent Drive. It was hosted by the New Haven Guardians, a fraternal organization of Elm City African-American officers that Abdussabur helped to found in 2005.
That organization will greatly expand the number of officers working as tutors to kids in the neighborhood this summer, Abdussabur said.
“He's the face of community policing,” city street outreach worker Doug Bethea said at the swearing-in. “He's the most outstanding officer on the force, the one troubled kids trust the most.”
In taking on (NABLEO)‘s pressure-cooker presidency, Abdussabur is stepping onto a regional and national stage for the first time. It is the latest turn in a 45-year journey that has included formal art training, entrepreneurial adventures both profit and non-profit, student activism, and attending Black Panther rallies on the Green as a kid with his mom. Abdussabur also writes books (the most recent: Driving While Black: The Black Man's Guide to Law Enforcement).
Click here for a thumbnail biography of Abdussabur when he was selected as the Independent' s Man of the Year in 2006. And click here for a challenge he sent to the black community at a recent anti-violence forum.
“Today is not about me,” Abdussabur said in his remarks at Saturday's event. “It's to recognize a crisis. We do not have celebration time.”
One Police Mentor = Five Non-Police Mentors
Abdussabur was recruited to become a cop by New Haven Police Chief Nick Pastore in the inaugural days of community policing in the 1990s. By the middle of the next decade, community policing had fallen out of favor.
As bullets flew and younger people were dying in New Haven, Abdussabur was instrumental in 2007 in bringing the Street Outreach Workers model from Providence to New Haven. He was the new outreach team's liaison to the police department for its first years.
Along the way Abdussabur noticed that younger and younger kids were using guns to settle disputes. To address that problem he founded CTRIBAT, a volunteer cop-run program that takes kids on outdoor adventures, teaches life skills, and shows them the perils of gun culture. He said research shows that for troubled kids the core players in the best mentoring programs are police officers. In terms of effectiveness, one police officer mentor is worth five non-officer mentors, he said.
Using the bully pulpit and resources of NABLEO, Abdussabur said, he wants to expand the current 15 kids being tutored by New Haven's Guardians to approximately 50 by this summer.
The plan calls for CTRIBAT to work with groups like Solar Youth and Youth Rights Media; and programs already functioning within the Housing Authority of New Haven.
Kids from age 5 to 21 will be eligible to have an officer as a tutor. “I guarantee you if a kid's in a movie eating popcorn with an officer, that kid isn't going to do something bad,” he said.
“We know what works [in New Haven]. We're going to have the best mentoring program in the entire country of police mentoring kids.”
NABLEO has 18 chapters, like the New Haven Guardians. They are mostly in the northeast and number approximately 12,000 individual members. The group was established in 2002, when it formally broke away from the National Black Police Association over philosophical difference including insufficient emphasis on community policing, according to NABLEO's Charles P. Wilson.
Wilson, who is stepping down after two two-year terms as president, said he personally recruited Abdusabbur. He cited his intelligence, energy, and personal qualities.
The presidency is a demanding all-volunteer job that must be done on an officer's off-time, Wilson noted. Wilson said each week during his two terms as president he spent as many hours on NABLEO business as on his post as a lieutenant with the Rhode Island College police department.
“I'm already burning my sick time and vacation time,” said Abdussabur.
Taking on the new challenge came as no surprise to Abdussabur's grandparents, Almena and Fred Fulcher. They were first among equals in the audience of Abdussabur's admirers.
“I raised him. I brought him home from the hospital. He's intelligent and very very good to people. I knew he was going to come this far,” said Almena Fulcher (who's pictured at the top of the story).
The other NABLEO officers sworn in Saturday included Hubert Smith, Litoria Williams, and Frances Dubose-Watson.
Notable positives seen in area law enforcement
Despite the fragmentation of local government and the absence of police departments in some communities, or the downsized version of a department in others, there are some positives in the level of protection for thousands of area citizens.
For starters, the quality of community policing is far superior to what it was when I launched a reportorial career in the mid-1960s. Cops today are better trained and better equipped. The level of education is higher. The overall professionalism is many notches above what you would have found 45 to 50 years ago.
"This is your gun, this is your badge. Go get 'em'' was sometimes the order after Mayor Blotzo hired cousin Fester. Some cops that I saw in action years ago put their lives in danger taking coins out of parking meters. No, Fester, don't walk in traffic while pushing the coin cart.
State police then and now received academy-level training. The challenge always has been finding the money for the number of state troopers necessary to do the major highway patrolling, major criminal investigations and also respond to the less serious issues in those towns without local police.
When state troopers respond to a call in Bear Creek Township, for example, every taxpayer in Luzerne County and Pennsylvania is paying the bill. Bear Creek Township, like hundreds of other municipalities, has no police department. This is grossly unfair (everyone is paying for a county sheriff's office too). There are some in the state Legislature who want to levy a fee on the towns living off everyone else's dime. That legislation should be on the front burner.
We saw an example of good local police work last week in Kingston. Four people were arrested in a raid that netted 200 bags of heroin, 50 vials of cocaine, drug paraphernalia, cell phones and $950 in cash. Two vehicles also were seized.
Three of the four alleged drug dealers are from Philadelphia. They have been living in this area for several weeks and they posted signs, "No Trespassing'' and "Private Property.'' They just as well could have posted a sign, "Drug Dealers - Arrest Us!'' It is not difficult to imagine that someone saw the activity, saw the signs, alerted police and an investigation led to speedy arrests.
Kingston, of course, has a police department.
But citizens' attention to what if happening in the neighborhood is crucial too. This is true whether there is an organized Crime Watch or not. The simple act of neighbor watching out for neighbor can head off burglaries or worse.
Recently arrests were made in the Shickshinny-Mocanaqua where methamphetamine production was halted. Dallas Township cops made a major drug bust. Again, it is easy to imagine that people saw events that were out of the ordinary. Then factor in gang activity that has many towns worried.
A police sergeant in a local community told me last week that Wyoming Valley is being swept by a crime wave sparked by drug users desperate for cash or things they can sell quickly. It is imperative that you lock your car, at all times, even when it is in your driveway or in front of your house. Brazen thieves will wander the streets in daylight and jump at any opportunity to get into a car, remove money or valuables, and walk away.
Perhaps it is time to consider a Crime Watch if your community or neighborhood does not have one.
Meantime, if your town has cops, give one a hug or a handshake. (Make sure his/her Taser is safely holstered). If your town has no police, get to the next town council meeting and suggest formation of a regional police department.
Spike in gun violence means more police patrols, but community's help needed, too, says Seattle mayor
Calling the city's rising violent crime rate a public safety emergency, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said this morning that residents and business owners in the high crime areas will see an increase of police patrols, but added that community members need to do their part, too.
McGinn was speaking at a news conference at the Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club, where Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell said that people need to pay attention to things going on in their neighborhoods. He suggested block watch-type groups walking around their neighborhoods.
“This is our community. This is where we jog, this is where we exercise, this is where we barbecue. This is home to many of us,” Harrell said. ”I'm not afraid of a lot, but I'm afraid of a bullet.”
Harrell said that he will start holding meetings for the city's Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee in the community, the next one on March 7. He wants to hear ideas on how to address the growing street violence.
More than 100 people gathered at the Boys & Girls Club news conference to hear from McGinn, Harrell, Seattle police Deputy Chief Nick Metz , clergy and youth. Metz, who last week announced beefed up patrols in crime hot spots, said that officers are going to “be aggressive” when it comes to street violence.
“We are going to be Constitutional in our policing, but we are going to be aggressive,” Metz promised.
There have been nine homicides in Seattle this year, at the same point last year there three, according to police.
Pastor Lawrence Willis , of the United Black Christian Clergy of Washington, said that nearly 100 people, many youth, gathered at the site of two recent slayings on Friday for a prayer vigil. Willis said that members of the crowd outside Maya's Mexican Restaurant, where two men were fatally shot last Tuesday, are scared.
“We have a community that feels unsafe,. We have young people who feel unsafe,” Willis said.