NEWS of the Day - May 10, 2012
on some LACP issues of interest

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

2 LAPD officers honored by president for stopping Hollywood shooting spree

LOS ANGELES -- Two Los Angeles police officers will be honored by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at a White House ceremony Saturday for their role in killing a gunman who went on a shooting spree in Hollywood.

Detective Craig Marquez and Officer Kevin C. Cotter Sr. will be among the National Association of Police Organizations TOP COPS award winners honored at the Rose Garden ceremony.

Marquez and Cotter shot and killed Tyler Brenham., who had walked to Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street at 10:15 a.m. on Dec. 9, pulled out a .40- caliber handgun and for an unknown reason began shooting at passersby.

Cotter was working an off-duty job at a nearby movie set, heard the shooting, and ran to help.

A few blocks away, Detective Craig Marquez was drinking a cup of coffee.

By the time the two converged on the scene, one victim had been shot and killed.

The officers, who were in plainclothes, repeatedly called on Brenham to drop his weapon, but he refused and began firing at the officers instead.

With a few well-aimed shots, they killed Benham.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief Charlie Beck commended the two officers and third -- Detective Travon Dixon -- for running into a dangerous situation with no body armor and no radio to call for backup from other officers.

"It's one thing to go into a situation when you're fully prepared, fully briefed, have all the equipment you need and have the ability to plan," Beck said at the time.

"It's another thing when a murderous rampage causes you to leave your off-duty job, no communications equipment, no knowledge about whether there's going to be other police officers at the scene or not, and go forth and directly challenge an armed gunman who's already taken another life. That's heroism."



From the Washington Times

Justice Dept. plans to sue Arizona sheriff Arpaio

PHOENIX (AP) — Federal authorities have said they plan to sue Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and his office over allegations of civil rights violations, including the racial profiling of Latinos.

The U.S. Justice Department has been seeking an agreement requiring Arpaio's office to train officers in how to make constitutional traffic stops, collect data on people arrested in traffic stops and reach out to Latinos to assure them that the department is there to also protect them.

Arpaio has denied the racial profiling allegations and has claimed that allowing a court monitor would mean that every policy decision would have to be cleared through an observer and would nullify his authority.

The self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America has been a national political fixture who has built his reputation on jailing inmates in tents and dressing them in pink underwear, selling himself to voters as unceasingly tough on crime and pushing the bounds of how far local police can go to confront illegal immigration.

DOJ officials told a lawyer for Arpaio on April 3 that the lawman's refusal of a court-appointed monitor was a deal-breaker that would end settlement negotiations and result in a federal lawsuit.

The “notice of intent to file civil action” came Wednesday from Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez in a letter to an Arpaio lawyer.

Perez, who heads the DOJ's civil rights division, noted that it's been more than 100 days since the sheriff's office received the DOJ's findings report and federal authorities haven't met with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office counsel since Feb. 6 to discuss the terms of a consent agreement.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Arpaio defended himself in the face of the pending lawsuit.

“If they sue, we'll go to court. And then we'll find out the real story,” he said. “There's lots of miscommunication emanating from Washington. They broke off communications.

“They're telling me how to run my organization. I'd like to get this resolved, but I'm not going to give up my authority to the federal government. It's as simple as that,” Arpaio added.

Last December, the DOJ released a scathing report accusing Arpaio's office of racially profiling Latinos, basing immigration enforcement on racially charged citizen complaints and punishing Hispanic jail inmates for speaking Spanish in Arizona's most populous county. Maricopa County includes Phoenix and its surroundings.

The DOJ also accused Arpaio of having a culture of disregard for basic constitutional rights.

The civil rights allegations have led some Arpaio critics to call for his resignation, including the National Council of La Raza, a prominent advocacy group for Latinos.

The sheriff's office also is facing criticism over more than 400 sex-crimes investigations — including dozens of alleged child molestations — that hadn't been investigated adequately or weren't examined at all over a three-year period ending in 2007.

Arpaio has apologized for the botched cases, reopened 432 sex-crimes investigations and made 19 arrests.

Separate from the civil rights probe, a federal grand jury has been investigating Arpaio's office on criminal abuse-of-power allegations since at least December 2009. That grand jury is examining the investigative work of the sheriff's anti-public corruption squad.



FBI chief urges restoration of searches without warrants

by Jerry Seper

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III on Wednesday urged the reauthorization of an act passed by Congress in 2008 — but slated to expire at the end of this year — that gives federal authorities the ability to conduct warrantless searches.

He said the law allows the collection of vital information about international terrorists “while providing a robust protection for the civil liberties and privacy of Americans.”

During a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee , Mr. Mueller said the FISA Amendments Act ( FAA ) gives law enforcement authorities wide-ranging surveillance authority to target terrorism plots at a time al Qaeda and its affiliates and adherents continue to scheme to attack U.S. sites.

“These groups have attempted several attacks in and on the United States, including the failed Christmas Day airline bombing in 2009, and the attempted bombing of U.S.-bound cargo planes in October of 2010,” he said.

“We also remain concerned about the threat from homegrown violent extremists,” he said. “Over the last two years, we have seen increased activity among extremist individuals. These individuals have no typical profile; their experiences and motives are often distinct. But they are increasingly savvy and willing to act alone, which makes them difficult to find and to stop.”

His comments came in the wake of the discovery that al Qaeda had undertaken a sophisticated plan involving a non-metallic underwear bomb to be used by a suicide bomber, who actually was a double agent working with the CIA and Saudi intelligence agencies.

Mr. Mueller testified that counterterrorism remains the FBI's top priority, noting that in the past decade, al Qaeda has become decentralized, but the group remains committed to high-profile attacks against the West. He said records seized from Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, as well as the recent conviction of an al Qaeda operative plotting to conduct coordinated suicide bombings in the New York City subway system, confirmed that the group was committed to renewed attacks.

He also said terrorist groups are using the Internet to connect with like-minded persons, adding that al Qaeda uses online chat rooms and websites to recruit and radicalize followers to commit acts of terrorism.

This continued activity, he said, is why the intelligence community must continue to “enhance our intelligence capabilities” and to “share information” to ensure that it gets to the right people before any harm is done.

In July 2008, Congress defied concerns about a post-Sept. 11 government assault on privacy rights and granted final passage to an amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that allowed spy-agency eavesdropping on terrorism suspects abroad, delivering a major policy victory to President George W. Bush.

Ending more than a year of wrangling between the White House and the Democrat-led Congress over modernizing the 30-year-old FISA, the new amendment allowed the government to intercept foreign calls without court approval and gave phone companies legal immunity for aiding the administration's warrantless wiretap program enacted after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The 69-28 Senate vote that sent the bill to the president's desk divided Democrats and spurred criticism of the party's then-likely presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, for switching his position to support the bill. Mr. Obama voted for the bill, reversing a pledge during a hard-fought primary race to “unequivocally oppose” any bill that grants retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies.

The Obama administration also has asked Congress to renew provisions of the FISA Amendments Act, calling it a “top legislative priority of the intelligence community.”

The American Civil Liberties Union blasted the outcome but applauded the Democratic senators who voted against the bill, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.



New Sanford, Fla., police chief aims to ease racial tensions

by Yamiche Alcindor

The interim police chief taking over the Florida city force embroiled in controversy from the Trayvon Martin killing told USA TODAY that he wants to improve race relations between his officers and the African-American community.

Richard Myers, 58, took over the chief's job on Thursday, replacing Bill Lee, who is on leave amid strong criticism for his handling of the Feb. 26 shooting of Trayvon. The 17-year-old was shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman , who prosecutors say racially profiled Trayvon because he was black.

The case has put Sanford, pop. 54,000, and its police force in the national spotlight. Myers says he wants to bring public confidence back.

"It's apparent to me that there is some tension here between the African-American community and the police," said Myers, who has met with officers, City Council members and local community leaders. "I think both the community and people of the police department want to improve that. I'm going to do whatever I can to help facilitate strengthening that connection."

So far, Myers, who anticipates that he'll be briefed on the details of the Trayvon Martin case in the next two weeks, says he's not sure exactly how he'll deal with racial issues.

He says he's leaving some of that up to residents and officers who he says will be key in developing a plan of action.

Myers also plans to look into policies affecting neighborhood watch groups and their relationship with the police department.

"I've never heard of a neighborhood watch program that authorizes people to carry guns," he said. "If you're only being the eyes and ears of the police, why do you need protection?"

Trayvon was shot and killed as he was returning to a gated community. His family says he was followed and then killed because Zimmerman deemed him "suspicious" because the teen was black and wearing a hoodie.

Zimmerman, 28, whose father is white and whose mother is Hispanic, says he shot Trayvon in self-defense.

He has been charged with second-degree murder.



Worcester, Mass. sheriff says secure communities long overdue

(NECN: Katelyn Tivnan, Worcester, Mass.) - Starting next week, a controversial immigration program will be enforced in Massachusetts.

Secure Communities is an information-sharing program, checking the fingerprints of those who have been arrested by local police with immigration and customs enforcement.

It's something Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangilidis says is long overdue.

“This will help reduce the crime committed by illegal aliens who are in this country, criminal aliens and have no doubt it will make this community safer,” says Evangilidis.

He says it will be an important tool for law enforcement agencies and doesn't put any added burden on those departments.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has objected to it, saying he fears racial profiling and setbacks to community policing.

“It was a tool readily available at no cost yet Governor Patrick wouldn't support it and a list of us did, so I'm grateful secure communities will be in Massachusetts,” says the sheriff.

Lt. Governor Tim Murray says some of the concerns with this program that have been addressed.

“ICE themselves said this program had deviated from its original intention and it was a concern for the governor and other governors across the country,” Murray says.

Wayne Sampson of the state's chiefs of police association says those concerns are legitimate.

“If they come forward with information or to make a report, there may be some reluctance to make that call now,” says Sampson.

He says it is important to educate the public on just what the program entails. Sampson says citizens need to know if they call police their immigration status is not the first priority.

“The important part is we are not asking local law enforcement to now begin enforcing immigration,” he says.

But, Sampson says, despite concerns, secure communities will have a positive impact on public safety.