| NEWS of the Day - July 14, 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
3 massive Mexico-U.S. drug tunnels included rail system, 40 tons of pot
by Elliot Spagat and Jacques Billeaud
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.
"When you see what is there and the way they designed it, it wasn't something that your average miner could put together," said Douglas Coleman, special agent in charge of the Phoenix division of the Drug Enforcement Administration. "You would need someone with some engineering expertise to put something together like this."
As Thursday's massive pot seizure in Tijuana demonstrates, tunnels have become an increasingly common way to smuggle enormous loads of heroin, marijuana and other drugs into the country. More than 70 passages have been found on the border since October 2008, surpassing the number of discoveries in the previous six years.
More than 150 secret tunnels have been found along the border since 1990, the vast majority of them incomplete, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Raids last November on two tunnels linking San Diego and Tijuana netted a combined 52 tons of marijuana on both sides of the border.
The latest Arizona tunnel was discovered after state police pulled over a man who had 39 pounds of methamphetamine in his vehicle and mentioned the strip mall.
The tunnel was found beneath a water tank in a storage room and stretched across the border to an ice-plant business in the Mexican city of San Luis Rio Colorado. It was reinforced with four-by-six beams and lined with plywood.
Investigators believe the tunnel wasn't in operation for long because there was little wear on its floor, and 55-gallon drums containing extracted dirt hadn't been removed from the property.
Coleman said investigators can't yet say for sure if the tunnel, estimated to cost $1.5 million to build, was operated by the powerful Sinaloa cartel. Still, authorities suspect cartel involvement because the group from Sinaloa controls smuggling routes into Arizona.
"Another cartel wasn't going to roll into that area and put down that kind of money in Sinaloa territory," Coleman said. "Nobody is going to construct this tunnel without significant cartel leadership knowing what's going on."
On Wednesday, the Mexican army found an incomplete tunnel in Tijuana estimated to be more than 150 yards long, beginning inside a building that advertised as a recycling plant. .
The Mexican army said two tractor-trailers were found inside the building, along with shovels, drills, pickaxes, buckets and other excavation tools. The walls were lined with dirt and wide enough for one person to get through comfortably.
U.S. authorities were investigating the tunnel discovered Wednesday for three months, said ICE spokeswoman Lauren Mack.
It takes six months to a year to build a tunnel, authorities say. Workers use shovels and pickaxes to slowly dig through the soil, sleeping in buildings where the tunnels begin until the job is done. Sometimes they use pneumatic tools.
The tunnels are concentrated along the border in California and Arizona. San Diego is popular because its clay-like soil is easy to dig. In Nogales, Ariz., smugglers tap into vast underground drainage canals.
San Diego's Otay Mesa area has the added draw that there are plenty of nondescript warehouses on both sides of the border to conceal trucks getting loaded with drugs. Its streets hum with semitrailers by day and fall silent on nights and weekends.
REWARD: $10,000 offered in July 4th slaying of 14-year-old girl
by City News Service
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
by Matthew Artz
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.
"We don't have the ability to be proactive," Jordan told the council's Public Safety Committee. "But when we react I want our reaction to have a lot of success and to be impactful so these crimes and these trends don't continue."
Four years ago, Oakland had 10 specialized crime teams and 837 officers. Last month it was down to just two such teams and 646 officers, only 260 of whom were assigned to patrol.
As manpower dwindled, violent crime began to rise. The city recorded 110 homicides last year, and seven killings in the past week have Oakland on target to match that figure in 2012. Meanwhile, the staffing shortage has forced police to use overtime to fill patrols and the department's ranks aren't expected to begin growing again until 2014.
Consolidating the problem-solving officers into crime-response teams will give the undermanned department greater flexibility and more tools to fight violent crime, Assistant Chief Anthony Toribio said. "When you have 57 problem-solving officers, you're restricted in how you can use them in crossing geographic boundaries," he said.
Community policing for years has been a heated policy issue in Oakland. Advocates in 2004 helped pass Measure Y, a voter-approved tax measure that pays for both the community policing officers and violence prevention programs.
Jose Dorado, the chairman of Oakland's Measure Y Oversight Committee, said he understands the department's rationale, but questions whether the ballot measure and accompanying city laws permit reducing the number of dedicated problem-solving officers from 57 to 35. "We have a problem with that kind of arithmetic," he said.
The problem-solving officers meet with citizen crime prevention councils and form projects based on citizen priorities. "It's what community policing is all about," Dorado said. He added that community policing in his East Oakland beat suffered last year when the program was scaled back.
The City Council didn't oppose last year's reassignment of the problem-solving officers, and several council members said this week that given the city's police shortage, they also didn't intend to fight Jordan this time around.
"Community policing has been shown to be really effective and really appreciated by the residents," Councilwoman Pat Kernighan said. "But at this point it might be a luxury we can't afford."
Superior police seek to launch citizen watch groups citywide
Superior residents interested in “taking a bite out of crime” will soon get their chance.
by Superior Telegram
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.
Any person or business interested in being part of their neighborhood's group can contact Beste at (715) 395-7401.