NEWS of the Day - May 3, 2012
on some LACP issues of interest

NEWS of the Day - May 3, 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 the L.A. Daily News

Student left in cell 4 days recalls hallucinations

by Julie Watson

SAN DIEGO - A college student picked up in a drug sweep in California was never arrested, never charged and should have been released. Instead he was forgotten in a holding cell for four days and says he had to drink his own urine to stay alive.

Without food, water or access to a toilet, Daniel Chong began hallucinating on the third day.

He told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday that he saw little Japanese-style cartoon characters that told him to dig into the walls to find water. Chong tore apart the plastic lining on the walls.

"I ripped the walls and waited for the room to flood for some reason," said the 23-year-old University of California, San Diego, student, three days after he left the hospital where he was treated for dehydration and kidney failure. "I can't explain my hallucinations too well because none of them make sense."

Later he added, "I felt like I was completely losing my mind."

Four days later, agents opened the door on a fluke and found him covered in his own feces, Chong said.

Chong's attorneys filed a $20 million claim Wednesday against the Drug Enforcement Administration, saying his treatment constitutes torture under U.S. and international law.

"He nearly died," said Chong's lawyer, Eugene Iredale. "If he had been there another 12 to 24 hours, he probably would have died."

The five-page notice, a required precursor to a lawsuit, was sent to the DEA's chief counsel in Washington and cites damages for pain and suffering, future medical and psychiatric treatment, and loss of future earnings.

The $20 million figure refers to the maximum Chong and his lawyers would seek.

The top DEA agent in San Diego apologized Wednesday for Chong's treatment and promised an investigation into how his agents could have forgotten about him.

The incident stands out as one of the worst cases of its kind, said Thomas Beauclair, deputy director of the National Corrections Institute, a federal agency that provides training and technical assistance to corrections agencies.

"That is pretty much unheard of," he said, noting that, in his 40-year career, he has heard of instances where people were forgotten overnight but not for days.

A federal law enforcement official familiar with DEA operations said the agency's protocols require that cells be checked each night. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter, said the cell where Chong was held is not intended for overnight stays because it does not have a toilet.

U-T San Diego was the first to report Chong's ordeal.

Chong told the AP that he went to his friend's house April 20 to get high. Every April 20, pot smokers light up in a counterculture ritual held around the country at 4:20 p.m.

Chong slept there that night and, around 10:50 a.m. the next day, agents stormed into the house as Chong said he was rolling a joint at the kitchen table. The raid netted 18,000 ecstasy pills, other drugs and weapons. Nine people, including Chong, were taken into custody, according to the DEA.

Chong was moved from cell to cell for several hours and then questioned. He said agents then told him that he was not a suspect and would be released shortly. He signed some paperwork, was put in handcuffs and sent back to the holding cell, a 5-by-10-foot windowless room. The room is one of five cells at the facility.

The only view in was through a tiny peephole in the door. He said he could hear the muffled voices of agents and a toilet flushing. As the hours dragged into days, he said he kicked and screamed as loud as he could. At one point, he ripped a piece of his jacket off with his teeth and shoved it under the door, hoping someone would spot it and free him.

Chong said he ingested a white powder that he found in the cell. Agents later identified it as methamphetamine. Chong said he ingested it to survive.

The next day, Chong said his hallucinations started. Dr. Wally Ghurabi at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica said dehydration could have brought on the altered state of mind along with the methamphetamine. The methamphetamine also could have made that dehydration worse.

People can die from dehydration in as little as three to seven days, depending on body mass and the temperature of the environment. Ghurabi said Chong was wise to drink his own urine to stay hydrated.

Chong said he urinated on the cell's only furniture - a metal bench - to be able to drink the fluid. He stacked a blanket, his pants and shoes on top of the bench to try to climb up and trigger a fire sprinkler on the ceiling, but his repeated attempts failed.

After the days dragged on, Chong said he accepted the fact that he would die. He considered taking his own life rather than withering away by dehydration. He bit into his eyeglasses to break them and then tried to use a shard to scratch "Sorry Mom" into his arm. He stopped after the "S," too weak to continue.

He said he wanted to leave his mother some message and that was the shortest one he could think of to write.

Then the lights went out. Chong sat and scooted along the floor, bound in darkness for the final two days. He said his hallucinations deepened: The blanket transformed into a person, then two people. He could no longer urinate. He said he screamed for agents to have mercy on him and just give him a quick death.

"My breath was getting shorter and shorter," he said. "I felt paralyzed. It was really hard to stand. I started screaming something ridiculous like, 'Remedy! Revive me!' And then that's when the lights turned on and the agents opened the door with very confused looks on their faces. They said, 'Who are you? Where'd you come from?'"

Paramedics took Chong to a hospital, where doctors also treated him for cramps, and a perforated esophagus from swallowing a glass shard. Chong, who weighed 166 pounds before the bust, said he lost 15 pounds during the ordeal.

Chong spent five days at the hospital, including three in intensive care, before leaving Sunday. His roommates told him they had filed a missing persons report. He missed a midterm exam.

"The DEA's answer to this is: 'Oh, we forgot about him. I'm sorry,'" said his lawyer, Iredale.

Chong was not going to be charged with a crime and should have been released, said a law enforcement official who was briefed on the DEA case and spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak about the ongoing investigation.

Chong said he has no criminal record.

The top DEA agent in San Diego, William R. Sherman, said in a news release that he was "deeply troubled" by what happened to Chong. "I extend my deepest apologies (to) the young man," he said.

Sherman, the special agent in-charge in San Diego, said the event is not indicative of the high standards to which he holds his employees. He said he has personally ordered an extensive review of his office's policies and procedures. The agency declined to say what those were.

Chong said no one has contacted him personally to apologize.

Doctors said Chong's wounds should heal, but he said he still breaks down in tears.

"I'm very glad they found me," he said.

Federal lawmakers are demanding a thorough investigation. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., sent a letter Wednesday to Attorney General Eric Holder.

"Please provide me with the results and the actions the department will take to make sure those responsible are held accountable and that no one in DEA custody will ever again be forced to endure such treatment," the letter stated.



From the Washington Times

Colleges pledge to squelch dangerous rites of hazing

by Ben Wolfgang

Universities are no longer turning a blind eye to what happens inside the fraternity house.

After horrific, firsthand accounts from students and multiple recent deaths, the long-accepted practice of hazing - both in Greek organizations and other university clubs - has been thrust into the spotlight, and a fierce, unprecedented crackdown from college leaders is gaining traction nationwide.

“In the past, it's always been a ‘boys will be boys, no big deal' kind of attitude. But we're learning how you prevent this from happening,” said Tracy Maxwell , executive director of hazingprevention.org, the leading organization in the fight to eradicate decades-old rituals of forced drinking, brutal beatings and creatively unsavory customs.

Most common in the fraternity and sorority culture, hazing also has found its way into other parts of college life.

On Wednesday, state prosecutors in Florida charged 13 people in the November death of Robert Champion , 26, a drum major in Florida A&M University's legendary marching band. Champion was severely beaten and later died.

Eleven of the people, whom authorities did not name pending their arrests, face charges of hazing resulting in death, a third-degree felony in Florida that could result in more than five years' imprisonment. The two others face misdemeanor charges. Nobody is being charged with murder or manslaughter, charges that could involve doubts about who dealt what specific blow.

“The death is nothing short of an American tragedy,” State Attorney Lawson Lamar told reporters in Orlando, Fla. “No one should have expected that his college experience would include being pummeled to death.”

Similar practices, Ms. Maxwell said, have infected football teams, bands, clubs and other groups at schools across the country.

About 55 percent of all college students who join fraternities, sororities, sports teams and other social or athletic groups report being subjected to hazing, according to a 2008 University of Maine study. For many, it's often as innocuous as being forced to do peers' laundry or to carry their books to and from class.

In other cases, it takes a deadly turn.

Cornell University student George Desdunes died of alcohol poisoning in February 2011. Authorities said his brothers in the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity forced him to drink as part of the group's pledging ritual. His blood alcohol content was 0.409 at the time of death. Four students were charged with first-degree hazing, misdemeanors in the state of New York.

After the high-profile incident, university President David J. Skorton declared that “pledging as we know it has to stop.”

He ordered all Greek chapters on the Cornell campus to come up with initiation systems that do not involve “dangerous or demeaning acts” forced upon pledges.

Other institutions have taken similar steps. Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim in March called hazing “harmful and destructive” and put his school's Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter on probation for three academic terms after its treatment of pledges.

The fraternity is accused of forcing pledges to drink massive quantities of alcohol, take shots of saltwater and vinegar and swim in kiddie pools filled with a mixture of rotten food and vomit.

The practices were revealed by a former student, who blew the whistle on his fraternity brothers in a recent Rolling Stone magazine piece. In response, Mr. Kim also established a campus committee tasked with putting a permanent end to hazing.

Alpha Epsilon Pi closed its Boston University chapter after police found five pledges stripped to their underwear, bound and covered in chili sauce and other condiments in the fraternity house basement. Boston police have charged 14 people with hazing, assault and battery and other offenses.

In a statement, the fraternity, founded in 1913, blasted the conduct of its members.

“The actions being reported at Boston University do not reflect our fraternity's values or principles of brotherhood,” the group said. We “are reaching out to every one of our 160 campuses to make sure that all of our brothers understand our position.”

In the broader fraternity world, more and more members have realized that hazing needs to be snuffed out, said Peter Smithhisler, president and CEO of the North-American Interfraternity Conference, which represents 75 fraternities on more than 800 campuses in the U.S. and Canada.

“We don't condone it, we don't tolerate it, we don't support it. Within the fraternity industry, we acknowledge that hazing is a cancer that must be cut out,” he said. “There is significantly more awareness [today] of what hazing is and what will not be accepted. The communities in which we live, the fraternities have a zero-tolerance policy. No one is hiding anything.”

Leadership from universities and fraternities, analysts say, is vital in addressing the problem.

Although some students may simply refuse the humiliating initiation requirements, many go along with them rather than risk their reputations, Ms. Maxwell said.

“There are so many students who are leaving our schools with deep psychological trauma that they're never going to talk about,” she said. “The shame is so deep, that somehow they're weak, that they couldn't take it. The culture reinforces that.”



Bin Laden documents to be posted Thursday morning

by Kristina Wong

The Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., will post on its website at 9 a.m. Thursday documents seized last year by Navy SEALs from Osama bin Laden 's hideout in Pakistan after they had killed the al Qaeda leader.

The publication of the terror network's documents comes amid criticism that President Obama is politicizing the one-year anniversary of bin Laden 's death for political gain.

A spokesman for the Office of Director for National Intelligence said Wednesday that the timing of the release of documents is not linked to the anniversary of bin Laden 's death.

“Identifying the documents, declassifying the document analyzing and reviewing the documents required considerable time since they were obtained a year ago,” spokesman Michael Birmingham said.

He said that time was needed to transcribe the 17 documents, which will be posted in English and Arabic.

Mr. Birmingham said the director for national intelligence decided to pass the documents to West Point to review and post “because of its ability to publish expert commentary and analysis by subject matter experts alongside the documents, because of their previous experience with analyzing and posting captured battlefield documents.”

The documents were selected by a U.S. inter-agency government group and vetted to make sure there was no operationally sensitive information posted, the spokesman said.

Last Friday, a senior U.S. intelligence official told reporters the documents provide an unfiltered look at what was going on in al Qaeda and “tremendous insights on al Qaeda 's strategy and the personalities that will likely remain useful for years to come.”



From Google News

New Jersey

Teaneck Police Plan Night of Family Fun Against Crime

National Night Out event includes planned military helicopter landing, rock climbing wall.

Chief Robert A. Wilson and the Community Policing Squad of the Teaneck Police Department are proud to announce the police department's hosting of this year's Teaneck's National Night Out 2012 on Tuesday, August 7 th . We encourage everyone to come out and join their neighbors in partaking in this exciting crime and drug prevention event. National Night Out involves over 15,325 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases around the world. In all over 37.1 million people are expected to participate in this year's 29 th Annual National Night Out.

National Night Out is designed to: (1) Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness; (2) Generate support for, and participation in, local anticrime efforts; (3) Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and (4) Send a message to criminals letting them know neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on August 7 th , residents throughout Teaneck and across the nation are asked to lock their doors, turn on outside lights and spend the evening outside with neighbors and police. This ‘town wide block party' will take place in Teaneck's Milton Votee Park and will include displays and presentations from the Teaneck Police Department, various other county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, fire trucks, ambulances, representatives from all branches of the military as well as various other organizations and community groups and so much more. Some of the highlights of the evening include a planned landing of a military drug eradication unit helicopter, an Army rock climbing wall, give-a-ways, music, food, games and fun for the whole family. Everyone is welcome!

Anyone with questions can call the Teaneck Police Community Policing Squad at 201-837-8759.




Digger Phelps calls on community to stop teen violence

by John Paul

SOUTH BEND – With his trademark energy, former Notre Dame men's basketball coach Digger Phelps introduced his game plan to stop teen violence and take back South Bend streets.

After a month marked with teen violence, including a shooting during a teen dance at the Century Center, Phelps said “Enough.”

His plan, introduced during a luncheon Wednesday, is simple:

- Community policing, including our police department and neighborhood watch teams to control youth violence and keep their communities safe.

- Drug and gun free school zones.

- Mentoring: Phelps wants to recruit 500 mentors by the end of the summer.

- After school and career programs to help students, but he's also counting on community centers to serve a bigger role.

Phelps said this is a team effort.

"We have to take care of South Bend," said Phelps. "We have enough assets in this community to do it."

"Digger cares about this community enough to ask a lot of people to be part of the team," said South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. "Everyone needs to help"

Phelps' Wednesday lunch meeting at the Morris Inn was a buildup to a town hall meeting at the Kroc Center Thursday, May 10 at 6:30 p.m.

"It's not going away," said Phelps. "The random violence, especially with the drive-bys, it can happen anyplace, anytime."

"It's wrong and we as people can make this change," said Phelps.

"We'll do everything we can at the leadership level to help, but it really has to come from the neighborhoods, from the community," said Buttigieg.