| NEWS of the Day - July 30, 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 Google News
Hundreds decrying police violence march in Anaheim
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) – Hundreds of protesters denounced recent fatal police shootings and issued a call for peace in the community even as police arrested at least nine people in separate marches Sunday.
Some 200 vocal protesters rallied in front of police headquarters, while a separate group of about 100 people marched silently along a two-mile stretch of a main thoroughfare, The Orange County Register reported.
Chanting "Whose streets? Our streets!," the vocal group started marching toward Disneyland, but a police line stopped the group a half-mile away. The blockade, which temporarily closed several traffic intersections, caused the demonstrators to head away from the resort.
"What's going on here in Orange County is symbolic of a problem with the system," Eduardo Perez, a 21-year-old student, told the Register. "This wouldn't happen to white people. This is racism, simple as that."
The other group was dressed in white and remained silent as part of their call for peace. They walked five-people across, shoulder to shoulder, some carrying messages such as "We are Anaheim" and "Peace begins with us." City Councilwoman Kris Murray and state Sen. Lou Correa, a Democrat who represents Anaheim, were among the marchers.
At least nine people were arrested, Police Sgt. Bob Dunn said. Most face minor charges including failure to disperse and blocking traffic, but one woman is accused of attacking a clerk at a mini market.
She was held on suspicion of assault and battery, Dunn said.
It was the ninth consecutive day of protests against police. The demonstrations occurred hours before an evening memorial service for Manuel Diaz, a 25-year-old man who was shot dead July 21.
Some marchers attempted to join the service but were turned away by organizers, who had hired their own security team, Dunn said. The evening vigil was peaceful, he said.
Police said Diaz, who had a criminal record, failed to heed orders and threw something as he fled police. He was unarmed.
The night after Diaz was killed, police shot to death Joel Acevedo, a suspected gang member they say fired at officers following a pursuit.
The shootings ignited four days of violent protests, culminating Tuesday night in hundreds of demonstrators surging through downtown. Police said some in the crowd smashed the windows of 20 businesses, set trash can fires, threw rocks and bottles at police and damaged City Hall and police headquarters. Two dozen people were arrested.
The Orange County district attorney's office is investigating, and the U.S. attorney's office and the FBI agreed to review the shootings to determine if civil rights investigations are warranted.
A group of demonstrators rallied peacefully in front of Disneyland on Saturday.
Police as allies a possible way to stop Fort Myers violence
Cities that have cut violence rates have had officers establish roots in community.
The News-Press' Rise Above project: An effort established with community leaders to curb violence in Fort Myers
Could homicides in Fort Myers be reduced if police put more effort into making allies within the community?
Other cities have had success lowering homicide rates using community policing, a decades-old strategy that aims to fight crime through a partnership between the community and police.
Its idea is to encourage community cooperation by painting police as allies instead of enemies.
Cathy Lanier, chief of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., swears by community policing. Last year, the district reduced its homicide count by 42 percent over 2008. There were 108 homicides in 2011, and the city solved 95 percent of those cases.
Instead of arresting someone for a minor violation, such as an open container of alcohol, Lanier's officers have been trained to try to develop a relationship with that person. It's taken five years, Lanier said, but now the community seems to trust the police.
“We get phenomenal tips in,” she said.
Lanier said she gets five or six tips sent to her Blackberry every day. She believes some have prevented planned shootings.
Fort Myers Police Chief Doug Baker recognizes the importance of such an effort, but recently has been forced to reduce his community policing program because of budget and manpower constrictions.
In March, the police department added two community policing officers in the Dunbar community, where many of this year's 15 homicides have occurred. Since then, the department has had to move resources from community policing to a homicide task force.
“Unfortunately we're not there as hard as we were in the beginning,” Dunbar community policing officer Yvetta Dominique said.
Monicke Bell, a Dunbar mother of four, said she has been impressed by the Fort Myers Police Department's community policing efforts. Before this year, she had
Still, the relationship between the community and the police will take time to repair.
“From the time I was little, it hasn't been good,” Bell said. “Just because of the racism that used to be here.”
In St. Louis, Mo., police have turned to the clergy for help reaching the community. In 2009, the police department developed a homicide-ministry alliance that visits homicide victims' family members, Police Chief Dan Isom said. A minister and the officers investigating the homicide also attend every victim's funeral.
“What we find is with the clergy involved is we get much more cooperation with the family members,” Isom said.
There were 113 homicides in St. Louis last year, down from about 167 in 2008. As in Fort Myers, most victims had prior arrests, and many of the homicides were drug-related. While it's hard to say whether the homicide-ministry alliance was responsible for the decline or whether it was other St. Louis police initiatives, Isom said he has noticed a positive response from the community, and family members are more likely to provide police with useful information.
For the past six years, police in Cleveland have been using a community-involved strategy geared toward fixing the social problems that cause crime.
“We can't arrest our way out of these problems,” Chief Michael McGrath said.
The Cleveland police department partners with schools, social services, health care, mental health programs and substance abuse services. Outreach workers under the city's community relations department mentor children on the fringe of society in an attempt to stop them from committing crimes. The police department also holds resource fairs for people getting out of jail, in an attempt to curtail reoffenses.
Baker said the Fort Myers Police Department uses many of the community policing strategies common in bigger cities, such as an ex-convict outreach program and engagement with local pastors. In Dunbar, Dominique has plans to start a neighborhood choir, a drama team and a rap contest, rewarding the person whose rap represents Fort Myers in the most posivite light.
The key is balancing the police department's two roles: creating allies and making arrests, Baker said.
He said the police department will continue along that path, with one exception. Since the department has not received many tips on past homicides, Baker is going to try a more proactive approach by focusing on tips to prevent future homicides.
“The public expects the criminals to be arrested, and that's what we're going to do,” Baker said. “But I can't do it alone, and the community policing should play a role in it.”
never seen police organize field days for neighborhood children or social events for the community, she said.
Community Policing, LAPD says this is why we are becoming one of the safest cities in the U.S.
(Video on site)
When I was a Valley dweller back when we were first married in Valley Village our neighborhood started experiencing gang related activity and auto thefts. We were in the LAPD's North Hollywood divisions policing territory. They worked with us to establish a Neighborhood Watch and worked with us on a variety of community issues. We became friends with several of the officers that patrolled our area. Community Policing now as outlined in the video has grown and is helping to make the neighborhoods in North Hollywood safer.
On a sidebar if you haven't subscribed to the LAPD's YouTube channel yet you might want to consider as aside from the infomercials and PSA's they also have regular crime tips and vids seeking info on crimes.
Las Vegas police, residents unite to make public housing safer
by Lynnette Curtis
As the summer sun sets over Sherman Gardens Annex, the children go right on playing.
They race each other on bicycles through the West Las Vegas public housing complex, play hide-and-seek behind its concrete block apartments, kick their legs on the swings.
Even as the sky darkens, their mothers don't worry so much anymore about them staying outside.
"Our kids can play in the street now," said Tina Smith, 52, who has lived in the complex at Doolittle Avenue and H Street with her daughter for about eight years. "Before, it was rare with all the shooting going on."
The 160-unit family complex, popularly known as The Jets, is infamous for being home to gang members who long used violence to defend their turf.
Not long ago, shootings and other violence were a part of life.
" I wasn't allowed to play out here," said Robyn Traylor-Smith, Tina Smith's daughter, now 18. "I was in the house."
But over the past couple of years, life at the annex and two adjoining public housing complexes - Villa Capri and Sherman Gardens - has changed. Overall violent crime fell by 44 percent between 2010 and 2011, Las Vegas police say. The number of gun-related incidents plummeted by 89 percent, while robberies decreased 80 percent. There hasn't been a homicide reported inside the three complexes in 18 months.
Those familiar with the neighborhood say a partnership involving police, residents, religious leaders, public housing officials and others is responsible for the transformation.
The nearly two-year collaboration, dubbed the Sherman Gardens Initiative, is an extension of Safe Village, a program begun in 2006 to reduce violent crime in West Las Vegas, a poor, historically black neighborhood.
The Metropolitan Police Department last year was nationally recognized for its Safe Village program, receiving the Webber Seavey Award, the International Association of Chiefs of Police's top honor for community policing.
Both Safe Village and the Sherman Gardens Initiative encourage everyone with a stake in the neighborhood to become more involved in the community.
But Safe Village tends to have a more reactive approach: After traumatic events - such as homicides - police, religious and community leaders go to crime scenes to help relatives of the victims and quell fears in the community.
The Sherman Gardens Initiative, meanwhile, focuses more on preventing those crimes from happening in the first place.
Police in the area now spend more time getting to know residents instead of arresting them. Housing officials have partnered with nonprofit groups to open a resource center for children and a computer lab.
Neighborhood religious leaders go on regular weekend "night walks" to talk to young men about being responsible. The Police Athletic League, a group dedicated to helping youths resist gangs and drugs, provides children with free sports activities.
"Once you get the kids involved, whole families come together," Smith said.
But the most powerful change also was the simplest: People began talking - and listening - to each other.
"The community was getting tired of the way we were doing our jobs," said Capt. Larry Burns, supervisor of the Bolden Area Command, which includes the three public housing properties.
"We were good at chasing people around and taking them out of the community, but we hadn't done enough to build relationships there," he said. " We hadn't done anything to change the paradigm of life for them. "
Now, Burns and his officers work with residents, including former gang members he once locked up, to address problems.
"We learned it's not about us telling them what we want from them, but listening to what they want and need from us," Burns said. We are changing the way that we do business. "
THE BEGINNING OF CHANGE
Burns' predecessor, now-Deputy Chief Kevin McMahill, launched the Sherman Gardens Initiative in September 2010 in hopes of stemming violence in the roughly 1-square-mile area.
One of the first orders of business was surveying residents about their needs.
" We walked around talking to them," said John Hill, director of the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority. "People said they felt ignored. They felt left out."
Residents previously weren't being treated with enough dignity and respect, said Dora LaGrande, chairwoman of the authority's board.
It was clear there was a lot of work to do," she said.
The residents complained about repairs going undone and problem tenants being overlooked, with crime in the neighborhood and how police were handling it.
The issues included "how do we get homicides to stop?" said Mujahid Ramadan, a well-known community activist who is part of the initiative. "We had gang members shooting and citizens afraid of the gang members."
Housing authority staffers got to work on their end. They made repairs to the properties and improved the landscaping. They reached out to several faith-based groups and nonprofits for help. They began more quickly dealing with problem tenants, including women with trouble-causing boyfriends.
"We said, 'Are you going to let this person cause you and your kids to lose your lease?'?" Hill said.
Meanwhile, officers in the area began focusing more on community policing and less on " saturation." The same officers were assigned to the area most nights so residents got to know them.
" We ditch the cop car and walk around," officer Ryan Glass said at the beginning of his recent Friday night shift. That way, "they see us as people, not just as the cops."
Glass has worked the area for four years. In the beginning, "it was crazy," he said. "We were having shootings all the time. Now, it seems like they are few and far between."
He and other officers spend time chatting with residents. They hand out stickers and Slurpee gift certificates to the children. They give out their cellphone numbers.
"Instead of coming in and forcing them to do whatever we want, we take a minute to talk to them," he said. "It changes people."
Now, resident Smith said, instead of running away from officers, the kids run to them. "Everybody knows Metro is family here," she said.
Residents began calling Glass or other officers at the first signs of trouble.
"They want a safe community," said Pastor Willie Cherry, of Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church, who is part of the initiative. " They want their children to be able to come out and play. They want to feel safe walking down the street without worrying about being jumped."
Even those who live outside the complex noticed a difference.
" It used to be real bad, but not anymore," Betsey Walker said while sitting outside her apartment at Lake Mead Boulevard and H Street with her 5-year-old granddaughter.
"It's been a blessing. I just thank God they got a change over here."
Lower crime statistics prove the initiative's success, Burns said. And they were achieved without increasing police presence in the three complexes.
"In fact, we decreased the overall police presence," Burns said. "We learned some lessons."
Not only did the initiative succeed without more officers on the street, it was built without any special funding from the Police Department or the housing authority.
"What we had is human resources," Hill said.
The challenge now, those involved in the Sherman Gardens Initiative say, is to maintain positive momentum and the initial energy that came from witnessing change for the better.
Dozens of stakeholders meet each Monday afternoon at housing authority headquarters to hash out any problems that arise and make plans for the future.
At a recent meeting, a police lieutenant expressed frustration about a drive-by shooting that occurred just outside the initiative's boundaries. He wondered aloud whether the group is making enough of a difference. Other stakeholders offered support and encouragement.
"I ask myself, 'What is the value of a life?'" LaGrande said, adding that she knows the group's efforts have saved more than one.
Burns said he noticed the change when he and other officers went to the hospital to visit family members of the shooting victim. They were embraced instead of shunned.
"It was completely different," he said.
The group also holds regular town hall-style meetings at nearby Matt Kelly Elementary, where public housing residents can ask questions or vent frustrations.
Those involved with the initiative have each promised their continued commitment.
" We are not going to let this thing go," Hill said.
Smith attends most of the meetings to offer her "two cents."
"I want to give my support in hopes they'll support us" residents, she said.
She said her and other residents' opinions are now heard and valued.
But she keeps returning to the children, and what changes in the neighborhood have meant for them.
"They're playing football up and down the side of the street," she said. "They're running back and forth. The best sound is to hear them laughing, running and playing."