NEWS of the Day - April 10, 2012
on some NAACC / LACP issues of interest

NEWS of the Day - April 10, 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 Google News

Teens still texting while driving, survey says

by Larry Copeland

The high-profile campaign against distracted driving, especially among young motorists, has seeped deep into the national culture: April is Distracted Driving Month, and tonight's season premiere of the Fox teen hit TV show Glee features a distracted driving crash cliffhanger from last season.

Despite all that focus, a new survey from insurer State Farm indicates that many teens might still be ignoring the message.

The survey, conducted for State Farm by Harris Interactive, finds that just 43% of drivers ages 16 and 17 say they have never texted while driving — the same percentage as in the insurer's first survey in 2010.

Yet 76% of teens ages 14-17 agree that “if you regularly text and drive, someday you will be killed while driving,” and 93% agree that “if you regularly text and drive, someday you will get into an accident.”

The State Farm survey comes as Glee is expected to resolve a cliffhanger from last season. Drama queen Quinn Fabray, played by Dianna Agron, was rushing to her ex-boyfriend's wedding and texting while driving when her vehicle was blindsided by a truck. The screen went black, leaving viewers wondering about her fate.

Harris Interactive surveyed 652 teens 14-17 in February to examine their attitudes and behaviors around driving.

The message apparently isn't sinking in for some. “Unfortunately, it has not in terms of the teens who say they're texting while driving,” says Chris Mullen, State Farm's director of technology research.

The survey shows some progress: Fewer teen drivers say they “very often” text while driving, and more say they do it “rarely” than in the 2010 survey.

Cheyenne Schorlig, 17, a junior at Eureka High School in Eureka, Calif., who has had her license about 10 months, says she never texts while driving.

“I've been in a couple of accidents where the driver was texting while driving,” she says.

Jaylea Salk, 18, a senior at Eureka, says that among her peers who still text and drive, “a lot of it probably is the social media aspect with Facebook and Twitter. People want that connection, and they want to be able to talk with their friends. They don't think, ‘If I just wait 10 minutes, I can do it safely.' They want that instant gratification with everything.”

The survey emphasizes the vital role of parents in fighting teen texting and driving. Among the teens who text, 67% talk often with their parents about driving; that rises to 82% among teens who never text while driving.

“What it tells me is that parents do have an extreme influence and a role to play in teaching their teens how to drive,” Mullen says.



Former Skeptic Now Embraces Divisive Tactic


Twelve years back, a former New York police commissioner spoke with disdain of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's get-tough police tactics, particularly the stopping and frisking of thousands of men, most of them black or Latino.

“A large reservoir of good will was under construction” before Mr. Giuliani, he told the City Bar Association. “It was called community policing. But it was quickly abandoned for tough-sounding rhetoric and dubious stop-and-frisk tactics that sowed new seeds of community mistrust.”

In 2002, that man, Raymond W. Kelly, returned as police commissioner.

In that year, the police stopped and questioned 97,296 New Yorkers; 82 percent of them walked away without so much as a ticket. Nine years later, in 2011, his officers stopped 685,724 New Yorkers; 88 percent of them were also completely innocent. A vast majority were black or Latino men.

Perhaps most striking, Mr. Kelly offers no apology for his embrace of a tactic he once reviled. At a recent hearing, Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito nearly pleaded for a less hostile approach. “There needs to be prevention and deeper community-based tactics and strategy,” she said.

Mr. Kelly's eyes narrowed. “Yeah,” he shot back at her, “what is that?”

A particular melancholy attends to the public official who can imagine nothing better than the flawed present. As crime plumbs historic lows, Mr. Kelly insists that his officers question, sometimes with guns drawn, sometimes with young men's faces to the pavement, more New Yorkers than the population of Boston.

John A. Eterno, a former police captain who is a professor at Molloy College, sees a place for stop-and-frisk tactics. Gangbangers dominate the courtyard of public houses? Put them through the wringer. But to apply the tactic so broadly is a disaster in a democratic society, he says.

“Crime has dropped 80 percent, and yet he says there are 700,000 suspects in the streets?” Professor Eterno says. “He turns the police into an army of occupation.”

No one doubts Mr. Kelly's dedication, nor his pain when a suspect wounds four of his officers in a gun battle, as happened Sunday. Ideologues have turned gun laws into moth-eaten jokes. A semi-automatic handgun slips out of a North Carolina gun shop and into the hands of a felon with startling ease.

But the hallelujah chorus that forms for Mr. Kelly does him no favors. On Monday, Mike Lupica, the Daily News columnist, suggested that to question Mr. Kelly's championing of stop-and-frisk tactics was to comfort the enemy.

The tactic, however, is a remarkably imprecise instrument. Less than 2 percent of police stops led to the recovery of a weapon. By contrast, the unbridled use of stops leaves a deep bruise of unfairness, particularly around the issue of race.

I tried this around my dining room table this weekend. I am white and my sons — Aidan, 19, and Nick, 24 — travel to many corners of a city that they love. Has a cop, I asked, ever stopped you?

Both shook their heads no.

On Monday morning, I put that question to eight black male students who attend the Borough of Manhattan Community College. Cumulatively, they said they had been stopped 92 times. They spoke with surprisingly little rancor.

But they wonder at the casual humiliations. The police stopped Mario Brown, who dreams of a career in theater arts, and forced him to take off his sneakers in the subway. (“It's kind of ridiculous; I don't see any Caucasian kids doing this.”) They forced Jamel Gordon-Mayfield, 18, the son of a police detective and a doctor, out of his parents' S.U.V. one afternoon and demanded he take a Breathalyzer. (He passed.) Then they searched him and the car.

Jasheem Smiley, 19, sweet and soft-spoken with a neat goatee, lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with his uncle. Two months ago, he says, a van drove up on the sidewalk and a man jumped out. “I'm a cop!” the man yelled. “Get down on the sidewalk!” Mr. Smiley complied but feared he was being robbed and asked to see a badge. The officer, he said, responded by putting his shoe to his face and pressing it to the pavement.

Mr. Smiley's tone is matter of fact. He speaks mainly of his humiliation at lying on the sidewalk as hipsters gawked.

What, I ask, is his aspiration? He smiles, rueful. “I'm a first-year criminal justice major,” he says. “I'd like to be an investigator, but sometimes I wonder about that.”

Maybe this is what that commissioner meant when he spoke of a “dubious” policy that erodes faith in the police.