| 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.
July 15, 2012
From the L.A. Daily News
California drivers will be allowed to text, with restrictions
The Associated Press
SAN JOSE, Calif. - California drivers will be allowed to text when they're behind the wheel of a car, as long as they're using a hands-free device, and with some restrictions.
Under a bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday, beginning Jan. 1, drivers will be able to send, dictate and listen to text messages, but only if they're using a voice-activated device attached to a cellphone by a headset or Bluetooth earpiece, or a program inside a vehicle, like OnStar.
AB 1536, sponsored by California Assemblyman Jeff Miller, R-Corona, will allow Californians to text behind the wheel for the first time since texting while driving was outlawed more than three years ago.
"There's all this brand-new technology coming out that people want to take advantage of and use, and under current law they are unable to do that," Miller told the San Jose Mercury News.
From the White House
Honoring Leaders in the Fight Against Youth Homelessness
Yesterday, I participated in a Champions of Change event here at the White House highlighting the inspiring work of 13 leaders in the effort to end child and youth homelessness. This program, hosted by the White House in partnership with the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), featured Champions from across the country who were nominated through a public nomination process by colleagues, friends, and community members. Barbara Poppe, the Executive Director of USICH, introduced the Champions and noted that they “exemplify the spirit of collaboration [and] commitment to diversity, and have demonstrated that innovative strategies, coupled with unwavering commitment, can produce measurable results when serving children and youth experiencing homelessness in their communities.”
Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan spoke about his experience volunteering at a homeless shelter in college and described the tremendous progress that has been made since then in the fight against youth homelessness. He also spoke about Opening Doors, the nation's first ever comprehensive Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. 19 federal agencies are cooperating to achieve the goal of ending homelessness, but Secretary Donovan emphasized that the progress we are seeing would not have happened without the work being done in communities across the country by these Champions of Change and others like them.
From the FBI
Inside the Denver JTTF
Part 2: Partners Help Cast a Wide Safety Net
The more than 100 FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) around the country rely on a network of local, state, and federal partners to help protect the nation. In Denver, one of our key partners is the Colorado Information Analysis Center.
Known by its acronym, CIAC—pronounced “kayak”—was established by the state legislature in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to bring organizations together to gather, analyze, and share information. Working in tandem with the JTTF, the CIAC's multi-agency fusion approach casts a wide security net throughout the Colorado region.
“We have representatives from the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, local law enforcement, local emergency managers, and local firefighters who all come together to share information,” said Steve Garcia, a major in the Colorado State Patrol who oversees the center's operations. “That information is fused—hence the term fusion center—to create an intelligence-sharing environment.”
The FBI is the fusion center's investigative arm “and the single most important partner we have,” Garcia added, explaining how the two organizations work hand in hand. “Last year we received over 400 tips and leads that came in to our website or 1-800 number regarding suspicious activity. The FBI, being the primary agency for counterterrorism, goes out and investigates those leads.”
July 14, 2012
From the L.A. Daily News
3 massive Mexico-U.S. drug tunnels included rail system, 40 tons of pot
TIJUANA, Mexico - Three drug smuggling tunnels equipped with lighting and ventilation - including one with a railcar system - have been discovered along the U.S.-Mexico border in less than a week, the latest signs that cartels are building sophisticated passages to escape heightened detection above ground.
Two of the tunnels were incomplete, including one that the Mexican army found in a Tijuana warehouse Thursday with more than 40 tons of marijuana at the entry. The passage extended nearly 400 yards, including more than 100 yards into the United States.
Soldiers found the Tijuana warehouse with four moving trucks full of marijuana, a trailer full of dirt, pickaxes, wheelbarrows, drills and other excavation equipment. The tunnel was equipped with a railcar system.
The Mexican army said three people were detained.
It was the second, major incomplete tunnel discovered in the San Diego-Tijuana area in two days and the third along the U.S.-Mexico border since Saturday, when a completed passage was found in a vacant strip mall storefront in the southwestern Arizona city of San Luis.
The 240-yard tunnel in Arizona showed a level of sophistication not typically associated with other crude smuggling passageways that tie into storm drains in the state.
REWARD: $10,000 offered in July 4th slaying of 14-year-old girl
LOS ANGELES - L.A County is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever shot and killed a 14-year-old girl as she watched a Fourth of July fireworks display in unincorporated Westmont, bordering South Los Angeles.
Unique Russell was shot in the 1300 block of West 97th Street near Normandie Avenue around 10:20 p.m. on July 4 and died at a hospital, said Detective Gary Sloan of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Homicide Bureau. A 12- year-old girl and a 25-year-old man were wounded but survived.
Witnesses said two men between 18 and 25 years old were seen running south on Normandie, Sloan said.
"That was my baby. That was my baby," Donna Wade, the slain girl's mother, said in an emotional news conference two days after the shooting. "If anybody know anything, please, just please, just contact anybody."
The reward was authorized by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Anyone with information about the shooting was urged to call the Sheriff's Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.
From Google News
As Oakland fights violence, community policing to take hit
OAKLAND -- Police are planning to scale back Oakland's community policing program to free up officers to fight the violent crime that is gripping the city.
While department brass has not finalized the plan that will be presented to council members this fall, it once again will include consolidating and reorganizing the city's 57 problem-solving officers who comprise the backbone of Oakland's community policing program.
The blueprint for the plan will be a similar retreat from community policing initiated last year by then-Chief Anthony Batts. Instead of deploying a dedicated problem-solving officer in each of the city's 57 community policing beats, Batts placed one in each of the department's much larger 35 regular police beats. The remaining 22 officers were assigned to crime-reduction teams that targeted violent hot spots across the city.
The plan was credited with quieting some of the most dangerous sections of West Oakland, but it was fiercely opposed in the hills, where residents said the city was violating the voter-approved ballot measure that funds the officers.
Chief Howard Jordan returned all of the officers to community policing work in April, but with crime still high and staffing desperately low, Jordan told council members this week he again planned to redeploy the officers to fight violent crime.
Superior police seek to launch citizen watch groups citywide
Superior residents interested in “taking a bite out of crime” will soon get their chance.
Superior residents interested in “taking a bite out of crime” will soon get their chance. The Superior Police Department plans to launch Citizen Watch groups throughout the city in September.
Community Policing Officer Bonnie Beste is collecting information from people who are interested in being part of such groups. The groups will be run by community members with the police department serving as a liaison.
“It's proven the presence of people out there deters crime,” Beste said, and extra pairs of eyes catch things police don't see. With only one community policing officer, she said, “It takes our citizens to keep it working.” Businesses are also being tapped to join in the Citizen Watch groups.
It's been about 10 years since the city had a neighborhood watch program, according to Superior Police Chief Charles LaGesse. He brought up the idea of restarting the program while conducting a series of community meetings focused on a string of arson fires this spring.
Beste said the idea to get citizens' groups involved in keeping their neighborhoods safe has been circulating for a while prior to that. She hopes to hold a series of meetings in September to launch groups throughout Superior.
July 13, 2012
From Google News
Professional Learning Communities: Why law enforcement needs them
Maybe there was a time when all you had to do as a cop was swing your nightstick and do as you were told, but those days are long gone
Police culture is made up of leaders and followers. It is — as the kids say — how we roll.
Top down management works or we wouldn't stick with it. We talk a good game of collaboration, but we believe in experts, we believe in bosses, we believe in butts-in-the-seat training and being talked at rather than conversed with.
Television psychologist Dr. Phil would ask, “How's that workin' for yah?”
Leadership and training patterns are not likely to change in my lifetime so I'm only going to suggest an addition. It's the concept of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), borrowed from the world of K-12 schools.
In the frenzy to comply with ridiculous federal rules, grant requirements, and a system of public education that seems to be in the toilet, the trendy concept may not be a bad idea. By trendy I mean less than 30 years old.
Louisianna Deputies, BR police team up
East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux is assigning 25 deputies to supplement the work of five elite Baton Rouge police officers under a new plan targeting the city's worst crime hot-spots.
To enhance collaboration between the two agencies, Gautreaux said, he also is granting those five Baton Rouge police officers parishwide jurisdiction, making their work in certain high-crime areas such as Glen Oaks, Scotlandville, Gardere and Burbank more efficient.
“Listen, we don't know exactly where this is going to be three years from now, four years from now,” Gautreaux said. “But I can tell you, without us making all the efforts possible and without the community involvement, I can definitely tell you where we're going to be and it's not going to be a position any of us want to be in.”
Modeled on the nationally successful CeaseFire community policing program, the city-parish's new plan, called Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination, or BRAVE, aims to quell violence using a multi-faceted approach.
One key element involves the police fostering positive relationships with the law-abiding majority of the community, to embolden them to report criminal activity they know about in their neighborhoods despite the pervasive fear of retaliation from criminals and distrust of law enforcement.
July 12, 2012
From Google News
Neighborhood watch groups help build community
Neighborhood watch groups provide two main benefits: neighbors who might not otherwise meet get to know and help each other, and neighborhoods form positive relationships with local police.
These are benefits the town of Manchester began to experience more than 20 years ago when the first group, then called the Spruce Street Area Block Watch, was formed.
Today, Manchester has three neighborhood groups. The Spruce Street watch was expanded and renamed the East Side Neighborhood Watch. About 15 years ago, the Green Manor Neighborhood Watch and the Townwide Neighborhood Watch were formed.
Around the same time, the Manchester Police Department launched its community policing initiative. Since then, officers are assigned specifically to patrol these neighborhoods and get to know the watch members.
Neighborhood watch groups are very valuable to a local police department, Forish said. Members become more observant of activity in their neighborhoods and are more comfortable communicating with police – often providing tips that help solve crimes, she said.
5 Arizona companies become 'IMAGE certified'
PHOENIX – Five Arizona businesses representing the steel fabrication, aviation, construction, landscaping and metal finishing industries became the latest employers to partner with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to strengthen their hiring practices, reduce fraud and ensure they employ a legal workforce.
Agate Steel, Ascent Aviation, CareScape, ChemResearch and Summit Builders were each certified as "IMAGE" or "ICE Mutual Agreement Between Government and Employers" partners during a ceremony Wednesday. IMAGE is a voluntary program that allows private industry to partner with ICE to reduce unauthorized employment and the use of fraudulent identity documents.
"Our IMAGE partnerships enable us to recognize the highest level of employment integrity and foster best hiring practices," said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of HSI Arizona. "When employers make a commitment to hire and maintain a lawful workforce, it's good for their business and it's good for the community."
Agate Steel, Inc., based in Scottsdale, was founded in 1973. The company manufactures pre-engineered metal buildings, provides structural steel fabrication services and operates a steel service center on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. The company's core clients come from the power, mining and industrial sectors, as well as the federal government.
July 11, 2012
From Google News
Ashland terror suspect to plead guilty
Rezwan Ferdaus to serve 17 years, faces fine
The Ashland man who allegedly hatched a home-grown terrorism plot to fly explosive-laden, remote-controlled airplanes into national landmarks in Washington, D.C., has agreed to plead guilty, according to a deal filed Tuesday in US District Court in Boston.
Rezwan Ferdaus would serve 17 years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release and would be subject to a fine under the agreement to plead guilty to two charges: attempting to damage and destroy a federal building by means of an explosive and attempting to provide material support to terrorists.
Ferdaus, 26, faced life in prison under sentencing guidelines for those charges, before the agreement was reached. Prosecutors have also agreed to dismiss four additional charges of supporting terrorists and obtaining weapons.
A hearing for Ferdaus to plead guilty has been set for July 20 before US District Court Judge Richard Stearns, who would have to approve the agreement.
Dog walkers can keep community safe
Dog walkers have a chance to help out the RCMP thanks to a new initiative.
Pooches On Patrol (POP) is the work of the Vernon RCMP Community Policing Office, and gives dog owners the opportunity to be a part of making the community a safer place to be.
“Dog walkers know their neighbourhood and are more likely to notice when something is not quite right,” said Rachael Zubick, co-ordinator for the community policing office.
“POP gives dog walkers the tools they need to actively participate in keeping their neighbourhoods safer by acting as eyes and ears for their community.
July 10, 2012
High heat forecast this week; LAFD warns of leaving kids in cars
LOS ANGELES - With high heat forecast for the Southland this week, the Los Angeles Fire Department is warning motorists to guard against the death of a child in a hot car.
"We need your help to make sure that no child dies needlessly by being left alone in a hot vehicle," the department said in a statement headlined, "Where's Baby?"
Among the department's recommendations to avoid forgetting a baby behind:
- Always put something you'll need -- a cell phone, handbag, etc. -- on the floor in the back seat to make you open the back door every time you reach a destination. This way, making sure no child is forgotten behind becomes a habit;
- Keep a large teddy bear in the child's car seat when it's not occupied. When the child is in the seat, put the teddy bear in the front passenger seat as a reminder that the child is secured in a safety seat behind you;
- If you see a child, dependent adult or pet alone in a hot vehicle, and they seem hot or sick, get them out as quickly and safely as possible. Call 911 for assistance;
- Never leave car keys where children can get them; always make sure your car is locked so that children cannot get in without adult supervision. Also, teach children about the dangers of a car, especially the trunk. Be sure they know a car is not a toy.
From Google News
The Fight Against 'Tourist' Painkiller Trafficking
The Florida painkiller clinics have made controversial headlines. Now, "tourists" are beginning to catch on and use them to turn a buck in their home states.
As he sat in the doctor's office, ex-boxer and weightlifter Gerald Dixon explained that years of sports had left him in pain, especially his hands, and he was looking for relief.
After a cursory examination at the clinic in West Palm Beach, Fla., Dixon left with a prescription for 180 doses of OxyContin — and a plan to return to his Ohio home and sell them on the street.
The trips made by Dixon and others like him — authorities dub them "prescription" or "drug" tourists — have complicated the challenges investigators face trying to stem the flow of painkillers, whose prevalence have made drug overdoses the leading cause of accidental death in dozens of states including Ohio, Florida, Kentucky and Utah, surpassing car crashes.
Dixon, 52, a drug dealer for most of his adult life, had recently discovered a new angle on an old profession. By driving to Florida just once a month and acquiring a bagful of pain pills — legally and illegally — he could earn tens of thousands of dollars.
California TRUST Act Builds Wall Around Secure Communities
[Last week], the California Senate passed the TRUST Act. Known by some as the “anti-Arizona immigration law,” it would limit California law enforcement's cooperation with the federal Secure Communities program. The TRUST Act is positive news for California budgets, residents of the state, and police departments that practice community-policing strategies.
The TRUST Act is an improvement for three main reasons:
1. The TRUST Act would limit immigration detainers to unauthorized immigrants convicted of a serious or violent felony. This is essential to continuing California cities' successful use of community policing strategies that rely on informant and witness cooperation with police, even if they are unauthorized immigrants. If the possibility of deportation is increased with Secure Communities, fewer unauthorized immigrants and their legal families will go out on a limb to help police solve real crime.
2. The TRUST Act would lower the cost for local governments who object to the high cost of detaining suspected unauthorized immigrants. Food, guards, prisons, beds, and other amenities provided to suspected unauthorized immigrants are too expensive for many jurisdictions.
3. The TRUST Act frees those who haven't been convicted of violent or serious felonies and would prevent imprisonment of American citizens like James Makowski.
From the FBI
Four Fugitives Sought for Murder of Border Patrol Agent
A reward of up to $1 million is being offered for information leading to the arrest of four men wanted in connection with the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was killed in a shootout near the U.S.-Mexican border in Southern Arizona on December 14, 2010.
In an indictment unsealed in Tucson today, Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga, Ivan Soto-Barraza, Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes, and Lionel Portillo-Meza—who had allegedly entered the United States illegally in order to rob drug traffickers of their contraband—were charged with various crimes, including murder, assault, robbery, and firearms offenses. Manuel Osorio-Arellanes was taken into custody on the night of the shooting, but the four other men are still on the lam.
“Brian Terry made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our border,” said FBI Phoenix Special Agent in Charge James L. Turgal Jr. “It is our hope that the publicity surrounding this case will lead to information concerning the whereabouts of the remaining four fugitives. The FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue to pursue those individuals responsible for the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.”
Help Us Catch a Killer
Unknown Offender Linked by DNA in Two Separate Cases
On a Saturday night in October 2009, college student Morgan Harrington left a Metallica concert at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and disappeared. It would be several months before her body was discovered in a field about 10 miles away.
We need your help to find Harrington's killer. The individual we are seeking has also been linked by DNA to a sexual assault in Fairfax City, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. Today, the Virginia State Police, Fairfax City Police, and the FBI released two enhanced sketches of the suspect and are reminding the public there is a reward of up to $150,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the Harrington case.
The multimedia campaign being launched today to draw attention to the investigation will include information on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, a public service announcement by Metallica, and electronic billboards in Virginia and along the East Coast.
“Bringing renewed attention to the case will get people thinking about it again,” said Virginia State Police Special Agent Dino Cappuzzo. “Our hope is that someone will come forward and provide a crucial piece of information that will help us solve the murder.”
July 9, 2012
From Google News
Manhunt under way for Taliban who shot woman in public execution amid cheers
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered the arrest Monday of the Taliban who participated in the public execution of a woman accused of adultery.
Shock and outrage have mounted since an amateur video surfaced of a burqa-clad woman sitting on the ground while a man standing a few feet away shoots her nine times before a cheering mob.
The execution raises questions about what the 2014 withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan will mean for women, who regained basic rights of education and voting after the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
Karzai condemned the killing and ordered security officials to arrest and punish those involved, according to a statement released by the president's press office.
Officials in Afghanistan, where the amateur video was taken, believe the woman was executed because two Taliban commanders had a dispute over her, according to the governor of the province where the killing took place.
More of nation's public schools decide to split up boys and girls
MIDDLETON, Idaho — Robin Gilbert didn't set out to confront gender stereotypes when she split up the boys and girls at her elementary school in rural southwestern Idaho.
But that's exactly what happened, with her Middleton Heights Elementary now among dozens of public schools nationwide being targeted by the American Civil Liberties Union in a bitter struggle over whether single-sex learning should be continued. Under pressure, single-sex programs have been dropped at schools from Missouri to Louisiana.
“It doesn't frustrate me,” Gilbert said of the criticism, “but it makes the work harder.”
While Gilbert's school is believed to be the only one in Idaho offering single-sex classes, the movement is widespread in states like South Carolina, which has more than 100 schools that offer some form of a single-gender program.
Single-sex classes began proliferating after the U.S. Education Department relaxed restrictions in 2006. With research showing boys, particularly minority boys, are graduating at lower rates than girls and faring worse on tests, plenty of schools were paying attention.