| NEWS of the Week
|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 ...
NOTE: To see full stories either click on the Daily links or on the URL provided below each article.
June 24, 2012
From Google News
Many men suffer with mental illnesses, avoid seeking help because of social stigma
In February 2010, Christopher Shackelford's life seemed to be getting back on track.
After the Columbus man had major surgery for Crohn's disease, an inflammation of the bowels, his physical health improved. He enrolled at Franklin University in pursuit of a master's of business administration.
Then, a nemesis from his past resurfaced and derailed his life.
By 2011, social anxiety had virtually imprisoned Shackelford in his home. He stopped going to the movies and the mall. He couldn't stand to interact with his barber or the gas-station clerk.
“I wouldn't go to the grocery store, because I knew I'd have to talk to the cashier,” he said.
For years, Shackelford, now 33, had kept his mental condition from his physicians. Previously, he had shared his secret only with his girlfriend.
Crime not increasing, say police and statistics
MASON CITY — Despite some high profile cases in the past year, crime seems to be tracking downward in Mason City.
According to FBI Uniform Crime Statistics, the overall number of serious crimes has fallen, from 2006 to 2010.
Due to government reporting requirements, 2011 statistics are not yet available.
The number includes serious crimes such as murder, rape, arson and burglary.
Citizens' concerns with a recent string of crimes brought Police Chief Mike Lashbrook to the City Council on June 5.
The April 14 murder of Ian Decker of Mason City and a shooting outside Northside Liquor earlier this month raised concerns. A recent rash of home burglaries and arson fires in trash bins has added to the worries.
June 23, 2012
From the L.A. Daily News
VA looks to technology to reduce veteran suicide risks
WASHINGTON — The Veterans Affairs Department hopes to reduce the risk of suicide among veterans by making greater use of video conferences between patients and doctors and by gradually integrating its electronic health records with those maintained by the Defense Department, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki told mental health professionals Wednesday.
Among active-duty troops, there has been an uptick in suicides this year — about one a day, compared with one every 36 hours in previous years, The Associated Press reported earlier this month. Among veterans from all of the nation's wars, about 18 each day commit suicide.
Shinseki said the video conferencing would reduce the distance patients have to travel and make it easier to fit appointments within a busy schedule. He also pointed out that more veterans were communicating with the department's staff through online chats and text messages, and that the department is encouraging the trend because it lessens the stigma that some patients feel when they seek treatment.
“Shame keeps too many veterans from seeking help,” Shinseki said at a suicide prevention conference.
Feds put $15 million toward job training for homeless veterans
Community organizations and public agencies across the country will share $15 million in grants to help train homeless veterans for jobs, the Department of Labor announced on Tuesday.
The department projects that 8,600 homeless veterans will receive training through the 64 grants to such organizations as Volunteers of America, Goodwill and public agencies, a Labor department news release said.
The groups competed for the grants. A complete list is available here.
“This is a complicated challenge that requires an ‘all hands on deck' response,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.
The grants are being made through the department's Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, which also plans $19 million more in continuing grants during the coming year.
From the Washington Times
Arkansas Supreme Court strikes down execution law
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Supreme Court struck down the state's execution law Friday, calling it unconstitutional.
In a split decision, the high court sided with 10 death row inmates who argued that, under Arkansas' constitution, only the Legislature can set execution policy. Legislators in 2009 voted to give that authority to the Department of Correction.
“It is evident to this court that the Legislature has abdicated its responsibility and passed to the executive branch, in this case the (Arkansas Department of Correction), the unfettered discretion to determine all protocol and procedures, most notably the chemicals to be used, for a state execution,” Justice Jim Gunter wrote in the majority opinion.
Two justices of the seven-member court dissented, arguing that the correction department's discretion is not “unfettered” because it is bound by the federal and state constitutions that guard against cruel and unusual punishment.
“In addition, Arkansas is left no method of carrying out the death penalty in cases where it has been lawfully imposed,” Justice Karen Baker wrote in the dissent.
June 22, 2012
From the Washington Times
House committee suspects ‘Fast and Furious' cover-up
Answers may be in 1,300 pages it wants
The House committee investigating Fast and Furious has received more than 7,600 documents from the Justice Department, but Republican lawmakers say none addresses who approved the gunrunning probe, who failed to stop it before a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed and why department officials initially lied to Congress about it.
Now the panel has its sights set on an additional 1,300 pages of documents it believes will answer those questions and also expose a political cover-up at Justice.
Nevertheless, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's quest for records got more complicated this week when President Obama asserted executive privilege and refused to turn them over — and the committee in turn voted to recommend holding Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress .
Together, they are the crux of what has become the biggest separation-of-powers battle of the Obama administration .
House Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday that the president's play proves the White House was involved in the cover-up.
“The decision to invoke executive privilege is an admission that White House officials were involved in decisions that misled the Congress and have covered up the truth,” the Ohio Republican told reporters. “So what is the Obama administration hiding in Fast and Furious?”
Central America next drug hot spot
Efforts in Mexico, Colombia said to be working for U.S.
A State Department official this week compared the war on drugs in Latin America to baseball games, in which the United States is winning in Colombia, leading in Mexico and just coming to bat in Central America, where there are too many umpires.
“In Colombia , we are in the ninth inning,” said William R. Brownfield , head of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs . “The score is 10-to-1, the Colombian government is winning. The game isn't over yet, but they're already starting to celebrate in the stands.”
“In Mexico, we're in the sixth inning. The Mexican government has taken the lead,” he said. “It's still a very tight game.”
He said the Mexican government , with strong U.S. aid, has “steady pitching” and a “deep and powerful bullpen.”
However, the drug war is just beginning in Central America, and the United States is facing new challenges dealing with seven different governments in that region, he said.
Taunted N.Y. bus monitor doesn't want bullies charged
Hopes parents see video
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A New York school bus monitor who was verbally assaulted by four middle schoolers, an attack that generated international outrage and an outpouring of support for the woman when a video of the taunts went viral, has told police she does not want the boys to face criminal charges.
The monitor, 68-year-old Karen Klein , told police she is happy with the swift and strong community response against the verbal attack aboard a Greece Central School District bus, which was captured in a 10-minute video, authorities said Thursday.
Criminally charging the boys, all seventh-graders, would require their conduct to rise to the level of a crime, Greece Police Capt. Steve Chatterton said. So far, it has not been found to reach that level.
The YouTube video was viewed more than 1.5 million times by Thursday morning. An online crowd-funding site raised more than $225,000 by midday to help send Klein on vacation.
Klein said she hoped the boys' parents would view the video of the attack and talk to their children about being “a little more respectful.” Parents of all four boys are cooperating fully and say their children will be punished, Chatterton said.
From Google News
Community, Seattle and DOJ
Community groups want say, more transparency in police reform talks between Seattle and DOJ
SEATTLE — Community groups on Thursday demanded a greater say and more transparency in negotiations between the city and the Justice Department over police department reforms, saying they're concerned the talks were taking too long and that any agreement might not reflect their wishes.
The DOJ issued a report last winter saying that Seattle police had a pattern or practice of using excessive force, often in response to minor offenses. The federal agency has threatened to sue unless the city agrees to make changes, including requiring officers to report all uses of force, no matter how minor, and hiring more sergeants to be front-line supervisors.
Discussions aimed at reaching a consent decree that would avert a lawsuit have proceeded in fits and starts, behind closed doors. That has some community groups worried.
According to Mayor Mike McGinn, the talks were being held with a mediator, The Seattle Times reported. Spokesman Aaron Pickus declined to confirm that Thursday.
The community groups were concerned about public indications that the talks might not be going well — such as the city's decision to defend in court an officer's use of a racial epithet just before stomping on a prone robbery suspect of Mexican descent, Martin Monetti Jr.
California's Trust Act
A bill moving through the California Legislature, aptly named the Trust Act, seeks to counter the damage done to community policing and public safety by the Obama administration's Secure Communities program. The program conducts mandatory immigration checks of everyone booked into local jails and has led to the deportations of many thousands of people with no criminal records, while impeding law enforcement.
Once the program identifies immigration violators, federal officials can issue “detainers,” or requests that people be held so they can be picked up for deportation. Local departments usually comply, even though police officials complain that doing so clogs their cells with traffic violators and other very minor offenders, including — because of database foul-ups — wrongfully detained citizens and legal residents.
When every arrest is a potential immigration arrest, people in immigrant communities are afraid to report crimes or cooperate with investigations.
Hence the Trust Act. Sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, the bill would require local police departments to release people who have been arrested once their bond is posted or their sentence is up as long as they have no serious convictions and even if federal officials have issued a detainer.
June 21, 2012
From the Washington Times
Obama claims privilege in gunrunning probe
House panel recommends Holder be held in contempt
The White House ignited a full-fledged constitutional showdown Wednesday when President Obama asserted executive privilege in refusing to turn over documents subpoenaed by a House committee in its investigation of the botched Fast and Furious gunrunning investigation. The committee replied by voting to recommend Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. be held in contempt of Congress .
It's a stunning escalation in a 15-month-long fight, and marks the first time Mr. Obama has asserted the privilege during his term of office. But the move could be politically poisonous because courts have held that a president may claim privilege only if he or a top White House aide was part of the deliberations over Fast and Furious — meaning Mr. Obama is either defying precedent or tacitly acknowledging that someone in the White House was involved.
House Republican leaders said Wednesday afternoon that they will hold a contempt vote in the full House next week unless Mr. Holder produces the requested documents.
“Despite being given multiple opportunities to provide the documents necessary for Congress ‘ investigation into Fast and Furious, Attorney General Holder continues to stonewall,” House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia said in a joint statement. “Fast and Furious was a reckless operation that led to the death of an American border agent, and the American people deserve to know the facts to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.”
CIA releases papers from 9/11 file
Reveal budget concerns affecting its effort to find bin Laden
In the months before the terrorist attacks of September 2001, the CIA unit dedicated to hunting for Osama bin Laden complained that it was running out of money, and analysts considered the likelihood of catching the terrorist leader to be extremely low, according to government records published this week.
The declassified documents, dated from 1992 to 2004, are heavily blacked out and offer little new information about what the United States knew about the al Qaeda plot before 2001. Many of the files are cited in the 9/11 Commission report, published in 2004.
The commission determined the failure that led to 9/11 was a lack of imagination, and U.S. intelligence agencies failed to connect the dots that could have prevented the attacks.
Though few new details are revealed in the documents, the files offer more historical context for the years surrounding the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil.
The National Security Archive obtained the documents through a Freedom of Information Act request and published them on its website Tuesday. The archive is a private group seeking transparency in government.
From Google News
Phoenix police chief encourages community-policing idea
Block Watch programs among suggestions to keep neighborhoods safe
Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia is encouraging residents to take a more active role in the public safety of their neighborhoods.
During a community meeting last week in northeast Phoenix, Garcia asked residents to consider volunteering in neighborhood Block Watch programs. He also pledged to make sure patrol officers are more proactive when on duty.
He said a community-policing focus, in which residents become active participants, is central to his philosophy.
"They (the ideas) define where we're going as a community and through the police department," Garcia said.
Garcia came to Phoenix last month after working for the Dallas Police Department.
Wilmington needs genuine community policing
This past week our city has once again been struck with the personal tragedies of deaths caused by gun violence. I've listened to friends and neighbors from every corner of our city and their concerns and pleas have been the same – someone must act now. They are angry that once again the administration and the leadership of Wilmington's police remain completely unaccountable. Their only response is business as usual.
When Gov. Jack Markell visited the city on Thursday evening, residents told him what they've been telling the administration for years – they need more police visibility. They want to see the police in their neighborhoods, walking, on bikes and interacting with people in neighborhoods. They are asking for genuine community policing.
Five years back, members of the City Council developed a detailed community policing deployment plan responding specifically to concerns of Wilmington residents from every neighborhood in this city.
This plan would have assigned specific Wilmington Police Department officers to specific geographic areas on a round-the-clock basis. Neighborhoods would have a stable group of officers. They could be partners. Officers would know about and be able to address criminal elements. There would always be officers patrolling an area who knew it, knew the neighbors and – most importantly – knew who doesn't belong there.
June 20, 2012
From the Washington Times
Libya becomes focal point for foiling terror
Militant havens expand
A breakdown of security in Libya has allowed a significant flow of militants and weapons into other troubled areas in North Africa, according to the top Pentagon official on Africa policy.
The outflow of Libyan weapons and militants has “created opportunities for al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb to exploit instability and establish new and expanded safe havens,” said Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Amanda J. Dory.
Speaking at a conference sponsored by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies this week, Ms. Dory specifically noted the turbulent situation in Mali , where rebel military forces and Islamist militants have seized control of a large part of the country.
The developments highlight the growing U.S. military interest and involvement in Africa as the Pentagon implements a strategy to thwart militants and terrorist groups across the continent.
According to the U.S. intelligence community's 2012 Worldwide Threat Assessment, Africa-based terrorist groups such as al-Shabab in Somalia, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Algeria and Boko Haram in Nigeria will surpass the remnants of the “core” al Qaeda in Pakistan in terms of threats to U.S. interests and will seek opportunities to strike Western targets in their operating areas.
Talk of drones patrolling U.S. skies spawns anxiety
WASHINGTON (AP) — The prospect that thousands of drones could be patrolling U.S. skies by the end of this decade is raising the specter of a Big Brother government that peers into backyards and bedrooms.
The worries began mostly on the political margins, but there are signs that ordinary people are starting to fret that unmanned aircraft could soon be circling overhead.
Jeff Landry, a freshman Republican congressman from Louisiana's coastal bayou country, said constituents have stopped him while shopping at Walmart to talk about it.
“There is a distrust amongst the people who have come and discussed this issue with me about our government,” Landry said. “It's raising an alarm with the American public.”
Another GOP freshman, Rep. Austin Scott , said he first learned of the issue when someone shouted out a question about drones at a Republican Party meeting in his Georgia congressional district two months ago.
From Google News
Rodney King's legacy, two decades after the riots
RODNEY KING has died, 21 years after a brutal assault by Los Angeles police officers made him a household name.
On March 3, 1991, King, then 25, was speeding on Interstate 210 at more than 100 miles per hour. Just released from a two-year sentence for robbery, he had been drinking and was well aware that he would be found in violation of his parole if stopped. When he did finally pull over after an eight-mile police chase, he acted aggressively with the officers. What happened next, however, sent shockwaves through the country: Recorded by a bystander on home video, officers tased and kicked Mr. King and bludgeoned him with metal batons more than 50 times.
After these images aired worldwide — and especially after riots erupted in Los Angeles after the acquittal of several of the officers — Rodney King became a reminder of police brutality and of the persistence of institutionalized racism. Two decades later, how much has changed?
Some good did come of Mr. King's suffering. In subsequent years, the Los Angeles Police Department — mostly under the direction of chief William Bratton — actively pursued a model of community policing that focused on regaining the trust of minority communities wary of racial profiling and the needless reliance on force. Community policing has been largely successful in Los Angeles and has since been implemented in other cities. The home video, too, was a reminder to police everywhere of an emerging culture of public accountability and the demands it makes of officers.
June 19, 2012
From the L.A.Daily News
Nonprofit offers mortgage-free homes for veterans, service members
Washington National Guard veteran Keelan Southerland and his wife, Arlene, are the first family in the United States to occupy a donated house from Homes for the Homefront.
The program offers mortgage-free homes for veterans and members of the armed forces who meet certain criteria. It was set up with the gift of 100 houses from JPMorgan Chase to Operation Homefront, a San Antonio, Texas-based charity.
Keelan Southerland served in Iraq in 2008 and 2009. He sustained back and eye injuries that eventually required him to be medically evacuated. The Southerlands have moved into their Liberty Lake house, north of Spokane, Wash.
Read more about the Southerlands and Homes for the Homefront in the Spokesman-Review. Find an application for the program here.
From the Washington Times
Alcohol plays role in reports involving the Secret Service
Records show DUIs
One U.S. Secret Service special agent drank too much alcohol and got caught after a minor traffic accident. Another agent got nabbed after driving into a telephone pole. Yet another got arrested after getting stuck in a ditch.
As the Secret Service deals with the ongoing fallout from an embarrassing prostitution scandal, newly released records are laying bare the extent of drunken driving and other alcohol-related misconduct over the years.
Arrests spanning nearly a decade were revealed in a highly redacted log on file with the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General, which released the 229-page document to The Washington Times and other media organizations through a Freedom of Information Act request.
When the records first became public last week, Secret Service officials were quick to point out that the vast majority of misconduct accusations received by the agency involved numerous complaints and did not specifically target Secret Service employees.
American Scene: U.S.-born terrorist pleads guilty in ‘mini al Qaeda' case
A New Yorker accused of trying to start what prosecutors called “a mini al Qaeda cell” pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges of conspiracy and providing material support to a terrorist organization.
An indictment had alleged that Wesam El-Hanafi pledged loyalty to al Qaeda and sought to teach the terror group how to evade detection on the Internet after he went to Yemen in 2008.
The Brooklyn-born El-Hanafi admitted in federal court in Manhattan to having conversations in 2009 with a co-defendant about “seeking out additional contacts within al Qaeda.” The co-defendant, Sabirhan Hasanoff , pleaded guilty to similar charges earlier this month.
Prosecutors had portrayed the two U.S. citizens as a new, more sophisticated breed of homegrown terrorist: Both had earned college degrees and landed well-paying jobs before trying to share their expertise with al Qaeda. El-Hanafi, 37, faces up to 20 years in prison.
Border Patrol group calls for Holder's resignation
The National Border Patrol Council , which represents all 17,000 of the agency's non-supervisory agents, called for the resignation Monday of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. for his role in the botched “Fast and Furious” gunrunning operation that resulted in the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
Council President George E. McCubbin III , a 25-year Border Patrol veteran himself, described Mr. Holder 's actions in the case as “a slap in the face to all Border Patrol agents who serve this country,” adding that the attorney general has shown “an utter failure of leadership at the highest levels of government.”
Two semi-automatic AK-47 assault weapons found at the scene of the Dec. 15, 2010, killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry were traced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ( ATF ) to “straw buyers” who bought the weapons as part of the Fast and Furious investigation.
Agent Terry died during a gunfight with heavily armed Mexican bandits along the U.S.- Mexico border south of Tucson. More than 2,000 weapons purchased during the ATF-led Fast and Furious operation were “walked” to drug smugglers in Mexico . More than 600 of them are still missing.
Wisconsin couple who kept modern-day slave for 19 years deported to the Philippines
MILWAUKEE – Two husband-and-wife doctors from the Milwaukee-area, who kept a Filipina domestic servant in their home as a virtual slave for nearly 20 years, were deported this week by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). The investigation leading to their arrest and conviction was conducted by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and partner law enforcement agencies.
Jefferson Calimlim Sr., 67, and his wife Elnora, 66, both former medical doctors in Milwaukee, were deported June 12 from the United States under ICE escort, arriving in Manila June 14.
The Calimlims were convicted May 26, 2006 in the Eastern District of Wisconsin for forcing a woman to work under conditions of servitude for nearly two decades in their Brookfield home. They were sentenced to six years in federal prison on human trafficking charges, and ordered to pay more than $900,000 in restitution to the victim.
On Dec. 7, 2010, a federal immigration judge in Chicago ordered the Calimlims removed to the Philippines after they complete their prison sentences. On June 1, 2012, the Calimlims were released from the Bureau of Prisons and turned over to ICE to be deported.
From the FBI
Journey Through Indian Country
Part 3: Murder on the Zuni Reservation
Special Agent John Fortunato walked behind the abandoned house on the Zuni Reservation in western New Mexico and pointed out where Floyd Yuselew dug a grave to bury the friend he had murdered with an ax to the head.
The two had been drinking, and investigators believe the murder was committed because Yuselew thought his buddy had been flirting with his girlfriend. When tribal police and the FBI learned of the crime in March 2009, they found the victim still sitting in the chair where he had been killed months earlier. Because the house was unheated throughout the cold winter, the body—and the crime scene—had been perfectly preserved.
Uncertain what to do with the body, and not wishing to live in his house with a corpse, Yuselew and his girlfriend moved in with friends. Periodically, he returned to dig in the frozen backyard to make a grave. Later, Yuselew was afraid his girlfriend would turn him in for the murder when their relationship ended badly, so he called the Zuni police, told them about the body, and tried to pin the crime on her.
June 18, 2012
From the Washington Times
American Scene: Immigration law ruling likely to prompt lawsuits
PHOENIX — Police agencies that would enforce the most controversial part of Arizona's 2010 immigration law are expected to get squeezed by legal challenges from opposite sides if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the law in the coming days.
Opponents of the Arizona law, known as S.B. 1070, are likely to sue police departments on claims that officers racially profile people as they enforce the provision of the law that requires police to check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons. But legal challenges also are expected from the other side: from supporters who could claim that a police agency has broken the law if it restricts the enforcement of S.B. 1070.
“There are people just waiting to challenge this law on both sides of the spectrum,” said Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor.
The right to sue was among the parts of the law that were allowed to take effect in July 2010.
Drones and cyberattacks changing the face of American warfare
After a decade of costly conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, the American way of war is evolving toward less brawn, more guile.
Drone aircraft spy on and attack terrorists with no pilot in harm's way. Small teams of special operations troops quietly train and advise foreign forces. Viruses sent from computers to foreign networks strike silently, with no American fingerprint.
It's war in the shadows, with the U.S. public largely in the dark.
In Pakistan, armed drones, not U.S. ground troops or B-52 bombers, are hunting down al Qaeda terrorists, and a CIA-run raid of Osama bin Laden 's hideout was executed by a stealthy team of Navy SEALs.
In Yemen, drones and several dozen U.S. military advisers are trying to help the government tip the balance against an al Qaeda offshoot that harbors hopes of one day attacking the U.S. homeland.