| NEWS of the Day - March 5, 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
Chicago police chief pledges no NYPD-style spying
OAK BROOK TERRACE, Ill. — For the first time in public, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy promised his department will never conduct blanket surveillance of Muslims like the New York Police Department did in Newark, N.J., when he was chief there.
McCarthy addressed hundreds of Muslims on Saturday at the annual banquet of the Council on American-Muslim Relations-Chicago, a civil rights organization. He said police would follow leads in criminal cases, but the department "does not and will not conduct blanket surveillance and profiling of any community in the city of Chicago."
"We are deeply committed to respecting the civil rights of all Chicagoans," McCarthy said.
McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have tried to reassure Chicago-area Muslims since The Associated Press revealed the NYPD's spying in Newark. The AP reported last month that in 2007, the NYPD's secretive Demographics Unit fanned out across Newark, photographing mosques and eavesdropping on Muslim businesses. Earlier, the AP reported that the department was conducting similar surveillance in New York, building databases showing where Muslims live, shop and pray.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has vigorously defended the operations, saying police only follow up on allegations. But civil rights advocates and other critics say the NYPD's 60-page report on the Newark operations showed Muslims were targeted for no other reason than they were Muslims, not because they were suspected of crimes.
McCarthy, who was also a top officer in the NYPD at one point, told the AP that his former colleagues in New York notified him as a courtesy that they were sending plainclothes officers into Newark but none of his Newark officers participated in the operation. But New York police say Newark leaders cooperated with the effort.
McCarthy met privately last week with community leaders to discuss the issue, but he hadn't stated publicly whether he supported the NYPD tactics.
He was warmly received at Saturday's banquet, held in a Chicago suburb. CAIR Executive Director Ahmed Rehab praised McCarthy for his "heartfelt" sincerity and taking the initiative to attend, and the audience applauded when the chief said police need to work with the city's communities to prevent crime and terrorism.
"We are focused on our mission of making Chicago the safest city for every resident in every neighborhood, but we can't do it alone," McCarthy said. "We must have a positive relationship with the wonderfully diverse communities that comprise Chicago and that make this great country of America as strong as it is today."
U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Chicago Democrat and immigration advocate, also addressed the group, lashing out at the NYPD's spying methods.
"It makes no sense and is not sensible law enforcement," Gutierrez said.
McCarthy wrapped up his remarks by saying he is a 9/11 survivor, who was in a command post near the World Trade Center until the towers fell. He told the audience that 13 of the 23 officers lost by the NYPD were personal friends.
"And I want to tell you this," he said. "In the 10-plus years since that horrific event, which has affected me to my core, I have never once thought ill of the religion of Islam."
Citizens Invited to Share Input on Omaha Police
Omahans have the chance, Monday night, to weigh in on Omaha police officers' performance. City council members want to hear what the community has to say, for better or for worse.
Chairman of the Public Safety Committee, Councilman Chris Jerram, said the public forum planned for 6:30 p.m. at Legislative Chambers, 1819 Farnam Street, is the result of other recent community meetings in which police issues kept coming up.
This is the first time council members have held such a meeting, which will be public hearing style, where people can come to the podium and talk for a limited time. Council members will listen and pass the feedback on to police administration. Jerram wasn't sure if any police officers would be present.
"I feel like I've had a really good experience our neighborhood," said Wendy Sully, while walking her dog in Dundee. "I feel like there's a police presence in a really good way."
But at North Omaha Barbers, 24th and Lake Streets, there's a different feeling. "We're just kind of concerned," said owner Steve Moore, "wondering when the violence is going to stop and what the police are going to do."
His client, Ralph Gagson said, "They need to communicate with the people out there more. They need to get involved with us instead of trying to bring us down, try to help us come up by trying to help us come up us with our people around here."
But former Police Chief, Thomas Warren, told Channel 6, this department is doing a "good job with community policing." Warren, who now heads the Urban League of Omaha, said police administration meets regularly with the public. In particular, he pointed to weekly sit-downs held at the Omaha Home For Boys, meetings where anyone can attend.
Still, Moore believes, "A lot of them are just out of touch with the community."
On the topic of violence, Sully said, "I suppose it's something that's always going to be present, and it's probably more of the community coming together that really makes a difference."
She added, "You see that happening more and more, I think, which is really positive."
Those who wish to attend Monday night's meeting can park on the street, or they can pay to park in the Douglas Omaha Civic Center parking garage.