| NEWS of the Day - August 4, 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
Fireworks, hot dogs all part of Night Out
V'land's annual fight-crime event set for Tuesday
by Deborah M. Marko
VINELAND — Years ago, the city's police department asked the public to join it in symbolically fighting crime one night each year by turning on their front lights while they sat on their porch.
These days, Vineland police are more focused on coaxing people out of their homes. For a fourth year, the department is hosting a community celebration to observe National Night Out.
This year, the “Going Away Party” for neighborhood crime and drug abuse will be held 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday on the grounds of the Chestnut Assembly of God, 2554 E. Chestnut Ave.
“It's a visible sign of our commitment to fostering relationships between the police department and our citizens so we can all address the issues that affect our community in a more efficient manner,” Police Chief Timothy Codispoti said.
Community policing, which involves officers out in neighborhoods talking with residents, is an every day priority for the local police department, Codispoti said, noting National Night Out is yet another way to promote it.
The National Night Out celebration is an opportunity to bring together people who might not ordinarily cross paths with local police officers, he said.
They'll get to see “what their police department is doing in the community on a 24/7 basis,” the chief said. “They'll get to meet their police officers, their neighbors and friends.”
How the community pulled together to cope with the aftermath of the devastating June 30 storm was a valuable lesson.
“I think our citizens saw how important it was to look after their neighbors and realized that one of the strongest bonds that people had was the bond they had with the person living to their left and with the person living to their right,” Codispoti said.
It's that community unity that also is the focus of the National Night Out festivities.
Officer Joe Pagano, the event coordinator and unofficial master of ceremonies, is a member of the department's community policing unit.
“Everything works better when you work together,” Pagano said, adding that's also the idea driving community policing.
Pagano thanked the local business community and Chestnut Assembly of God for supporting the event.
The National Night Out festivities will offer something for all ages, he promised.
Vineland police will display their crime-fighting gear. The department's Harley-Davidson and mobile incident command center will be on site.
The talented K9s will be displaying their talents. Veteran dogs, with established fan clubs, will be there; and this will be the National Night Out debut for some recent four-footed grads of the Atlantic County K9 Academy.
Cooper University Hospital plans to send its trauma helicopter, which will land on the grounds during the party.
A car show is expected to draw 200 vintage automobiles, including the police department's restored 1966 Ford Galaxie.
For the youngsters, there will be bouncies, an inflatable water slide and a daredevil bicycle show. Free hot dogs, hamburgers and drinks will be provided. And at 9 p.m. there will be fireworks.
National Night Out events set in Mason City
MASON CITY — Mason City is joining forces with thousands of communities nationwide for the "Annual National Night Out" crime and drug prevention event on Tue, Aug. 7.
A free, fun-packed family fun night is planned from 5 to 8 p.m. at East Park by the Band Shell.
National Night Out is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, and co-sponsored locally by the Community Policing Advisory Board, and the Mason City Police Department. It is supported in part by Target Stores and the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Awareness.
National Night Out is an annual event that involves all segments of the community to build a healthier, safe community; generate support for anti-crime and anti-drug programs; and strengthen community relations with the police.
In addition to complimentary hot dogs, chips, and pop, there will be drawings for prizes, face painting, Half Pint the Clown, inflatable bouncers, a Kid Power Pedal Tractor Pull and demonstrations and displays from various community service organizations. Music will be provided by DJ Brian Carlson.
Steven Greenhut: Police shooting policies need rethinking
It's also time to bring California in line with other states and open police shooting records and misconduct allegation to greater public oversight.
by STEVEN GREENHUT / Special to the Register
While sitting in a restaurant in Philadelphia's Chinatown during my first visit here in more than a decade, I watched TV news reports of violent protests erupting in normally placid Anaheim after two fatal police shootings the prior weekend. It was shocking. The footage of riot-clad police tussling with and firing nonlethal weapons at protesters brought back bad memories of growing up in the Philly area in the 1960s and 1970s.
These days, Philadelphia is a surprisingly calm place, but back then, when tough-guy Mayor (and former police commissioner) Frank Rizzo ruled the roost, there were frequent confrontations. The worst incident actually came in 1985, after Rizzo had left office, when city cops dropped a bomb on a row house occupied by a black liberation group. Eleven people died, including five children. Those were dark times, but it seems as Philly has learned some lessons that have eluded many California police forces.
While Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait is, thankfully, no Frank Rizzo, he tried his hand at tough-guy rhetoric at a news conference after Tuesday's violence: "Vandalism, arson and other forms of violent protest will simply not be tolerated in our city. We don't expect last night's situation to be repeated but if it should be, the police response will be the same: swift and appropriate."
Of course, we all are against violence, vandalism and arson. Indeed, the mother of one of the men killed by police poignantly called for calm. But I can't agree that the police response was appropriate.
Tait, who rightly called for an outside investigation of the police shootings, over the objections of other council members, needs to work harder to live up to the promises he made when became mayor. Tait promised to foster a culture of "kindness" in the city. I know he means it, and he told me he is deeply concerned about some police actions.
Anaheim's police culture echoes the old Los Angeles Police Department culture that valued aggressiveness over community policing, and the city administration has shown no willingness to confront it. City police have shot six people this year, five fatally, under varying circumstances.
Sunday, an Anaheim gang officer shot and killed Joel Acevedo, 21. Police said Acevedo fired at the officer during a foot chase. A handgun was found lying between the man's legs.
But it was the shooting July 21 of Manuel Diaz that brought people out on the streets.
Diaz, 25, reportedly ran from police, possibly from plainclothes officers. He was unarmed. According both to a lawsuit filed by his family and witnesses quoted in the media, one officer shot him near his buttocks; another officer then shot him in the head.
Police reportedly left the mortally wounded man on the ground without calling an ambulance. It's not hard to understand the resulting outrage.
After Fullerton police beat to death an unarmed homeless man last July, hundreds of people took to the streets in protest, and there were no violent encounters. Fullerton authorities just left the protesters alone. In Anaheim, the police – bolstered by reinforcements from other police agencies – cordoned off downtown streets, stood in riot gear and fired nonlethal projectiles at the crowd, including at journalists.
I covered one police shooting in Anaheim in 2008. A 20-year-old newlywed stepped outside his house with a wooden rod in his hand after hearing a ruckus nearby. Police had been chasing a robbery suspect, and when the young man came out of his house, they shot him to death. Even Police Chief John Welter, who still leads the department, said the man "was innocent of anything that the officer thought was going on in that neighborhood." Yet, apparently, nothing has changed since then.
While Anaheim has a greater need than some other cities to re-evaluate its policing policies, problems with police use-of-force problem are endemic throughout the country and, especially, in California, where police union priorities – i.e., what's best for officers, not the citizenry – have dominated policy decisions for decades.
Recent news reports show a significant increase in police-involved shootings in many areas of California. Police shootings account for one of every 10 shooting deaths in Los Angeles County, according to a Los Angeles Times report. Videotapes of the encounters often show that the official version of the story is at odds with what really happened. No wonder police agencies spend so much time confiscating video cameras from bystanders, something that should chill every freedom-loving American, whether on the political Left or Right.
The California Supreme Court's Copley Press v. San Diego decision in 2006 allows allegations of police misconduct to remain shrouded in secrecy. The public can access complaints against doctors, lawyers and other professionals but, in California, misbehavior by public employees who have the legal right to use deadly force often is off-limits to scrutiny. Because of an exemption in the public-records act, police agencies need not release most details of their reports of officer-involved shootings.
Furthermore, the Peace Officers Procedural Bill of Rights in California's Government Code gives accused officers such strong protections that officers can rarely be disciplined or fired. The "code of silence" is alive and well in police agencies.
Most police department citizen-review panels are toothless. We should never condone violent protests, but it's not hard to understand the recent frustration in central Anaheim. What if it were your child or your neighbor's child?
It's time for a real discussion about how police should deal with the community and under what conditions they should use deadly force. It's time to bring California in line with other states and open records to greater public oversight. If Mayor Tait is serious about creating a safer and kinder city, he will need to insist on this debate, regardless of the expected pushback from the police unions.
Reader Rebuttal (Kerry Condon):
by KERRY CONDON / President, Anaheim Police Association
I feel compelled to correct some of the factual errors Steven Greenhut makes in his column "Police shooting policies need rethinking" [Commentary, July 29]. Comparing the 1964 Philadelphia race riots to Anaheim's protesters is a complete overexaggeration. The Philadelphia race riots erupted during the civil-rights movement, a time of severe racial tensions between the city of Philadelphia and its black community. Rumors spread through North Philadelphia that a black pregnant women was beaten to death by two white officers – a blatant mischaracterization of a dispute between a black woman and two Philadelphia police officers – one white and one black. A total of 341 people were injured, hundreds of stores were damaged, and more than 700 arrests were made. The facts of Philadelphia and Anaheim do not even remotely compare. Yet, Greenhut leaves little room for the truth in his column between the misinformation and rumors.
Greenhut writes that Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait's comments that vandalism, arson and other forms of violent protest would be met with a swift and appropriate response was nothing more than "tough guy rhetoric." As president of the Anaheim Police Association, I was present at the July 24 meeting. The police officers assigned to City Hall and the surrounding areas acted as professional law enforcement officers they are. They maintained a calm demeanor the entire evening despite taking the brunt of the protesters' verbal assaults for hours as they stood and protected everyone, including the protesters themselves. Police resisted taking any action until a small group of protesters became aggressive and violent. Blocking city streets, throwing rocks and other objects at the police, damaging businesses in the area by breaking store windows, setting fires and looting is what prompted police action, not the hurling of insults. A swift and appropriate response by police was necessary and appropriate.
Greenhut also errs when he says Tait called for an outside investigation of the recent police shootings over the objections of other council members. The City Council voted 5-0 to ask the U.S. Attorney's Office to review these shootings. I welcome any credible agency to review these shootings. I am confident that the review of any officer-involved shooting handled by the Orange County District Attorney's Office will reveal a complete, thorough and objective investigation.
Greenhut compares Anaheim police culture with the old Los Angeles Police Department culture that valued aggressiveness over community policing. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Anaheim Police Department has embraced the community-policing model for more than two decades, empow-
ering residents. Police officers continue to work with residents, teaching them how to protect themselves while working with police and other city departments to make their community a better and safer place. It is difficult to accomplish this when law-abiding residents live in fear of gang members, drugs dealers and criminals. While these efforts are vital to our success, we also recognize we need to be as equally committed to taking action against the criminal element in order to make Anaheim a safer place for all to work, live and play.
Law enforcement officers are hardly the overzealous thugs Greenhut would like to believe they are. I can assure you the majority of Anaheim residents want a police force that is proactive in their policing instead of waiting for the criminals to victimize their city before taking action.
From the Department of Justice
Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West Speaks at the United Neighborhood Centers of America Neighborhood Revitalization Conference
Washington, D.C. ~ Thursday, August 2, 2012
Thank you. I'm very pleased to be here. I'd like to thank the leadership and staff of the United Neighborhood Centers of America for the invitation to speak today – and for the outstanding service you and your affiliates provide to America's communities. For more than a century, UNCA has worked to improve conditions in distressed neighborhoods and restore opportunity to those who live there.
By bringing together community stakeholders with businesses, philanthropies, academia, and government, this organization has helped to lay the foundation for economic success and social transformation in cities across the country. Your work has truly made a difference.
Today, with more than 10 million Americans living in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty and far too many of them looking for work, struggling to pay rent, or striving desperately to escape crime, your mission, your resolve, your leadership and ingenuity has never been more critical. That's why it's inspiring to see so many folks here committed to helping communities break the cycle of poverty and displacement. You are the ones who work day in and day out to help these neighborhoods overcome obstacles and realize their potential.
And I want you to know that those of us in the federal government -- and particularly those of us at the Justice Department -- we want to work with you to create safe and healthy neighborhoods; to build communities that are sources of pride and strength for our fellow Americans living and working in urban pockets throughout our country.
And to be effective partners, we will have to break out of the everyday silos that too often define our professional circles of concern and build partnerships that will enable us to leverage limited resources and achieve problem-solving synergies we could never realize while working separately.
We must do this because the problems of persistent crime, failing schools, inadequate housing, and poor health do not impact us in isolation, one separate from the other. We experience these issues together; as a mosaic of challenges that comprises the context of our lives.
It's no coincidence that communities with high student drop-out or truancy rates also experience greater delinquency and more crime. Or that neighborhoods with high unemployment also have sub-standard housing. These problems often coexist and reinforce one another.
Take, for example, this one statistic: A majority of our children – over 60 percent, regardless of race – are exposed to some form of violence, crime, or abuse -- from brief encounters as witnesses to violence in the home to being direct victims themselves.
Now, that's not just a law enforcement challenge; when those kids show up in school and they're not ready to learn, that's an education challenge. And when those kids show up in clinics suffering from anxiety, depression or a whole host of other issues, that's a public health care challenge. And when they when can't find a job because they don't have the skills employers are looking for because they've dropped out of school much too early, that's a business challenge.
So neighborhoods in which our children are exposed to violence, crime or abuse? That's a community-level challenge. And it requires a community-level response.
That's why this Administration is moving to address these challenges comprehensively. Through the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative, for instance, the White House is leading a federal effort to spark economic growth in five cities and one region, helping them maximize resources and leverage partnerships with businesses, philanthropies, and non-profit organizations.
Another critical component of the Administration's strategy, as many of you know, is the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative. The goal is to help transform neighborhoods in distress into neighborhoods of opportunity by using federal support to leverage local assets and increase local capacity. Our friends at the Departments of Education, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, and Health and Human Services are key partners in this effort, with strong leadership from the White House.
And as part of this initiative, the Justice Department is launching a new program called the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation program – or BCJI – that will help develop place-based, community-oriented efforts to address neighborhood-level crime issues. Through this exciting new effort, we'll dig deep to examine how high rates of crime and violence can delay and frustrate the process of neighborhood revitalization and we'll explore ways to address that difficult issue.
Part of the way we'll do that is by leveraging and augmenting existing sources of federal support. For example, through BCJI, we are offering Public Safety Enhancement grants to recipients of the Education Department's Promise Neighborhood grants and HUD's Choice Neighborhood grants to help them address their most persistent crime problems.
Now, for many communities, that kind of coordinated approach to providing resources will mean all the difference. But we know that not every community has the organization, infrastructure or tools to be able to access the help they need. And some jurisdictions, while they may have the capacity to attract resources at the city-wide level, are unable to support efforts targeted at the neighborhood level. This means that communities that need the most assistance are often unable to take full advantage of local, state, federal, or even private support.
So today, I'm pleased to announce new awards under a groundbreaking initiative called the Building Neighborhood Capacity Program to help distressed and disadvantaged communities better compete for the resources they need.
Using a combination of Census data and site visits, we were able to identify a set of communities that are poised for progress but who have not always received attention from the traditional grant-making process. Our goal was to select communities that, until now, have lacked the capacity to fully access resources for critical community issues.
And I'm pleased to announce that our first eight neighborhood recipients of the Building Neighborhood Capacity Program are: Ward 1 and Ward 3 neighborhoods in Flint, Michigan; Amani and Metcalfe Park neighborhoods in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Binghampton and Frayser neighborhoods in Memphis, Tennessee; and El Dorado and Southwest neighborhoods in Fresno, California.
These communities were selected based on compelling statements of need and evidence of cross-sector partnerships and neighborhood engagement. Each city will receive intensive, expert assistance and up to $75,000 to support cross-sector partnerships and up to another $75,000 in each targeted neighborhood.
I'm very excited about this effort because it will bring hope to challenged communities that for too long have been left to struggle in the shadows. It will help them to begin the process of revitalization, help them to restore a sense of civic pride.
Because empowering communities to chart their own course, to seize their own destiny: that is at the heart of the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative and the new grants we are announcing today. And while those efforts are no doubt important to moving the ball of progress forward in our Nation's urban landscapes, they alone are not sufficient. The fact is, success in this effort requires folks like you: dedicated individuals who are in this for the long haul.
Folks like you, who know that crime, displacement, and despair are not inevitable; who know that we can overcome those adversities by taking individual actions of daring and courage, of resourcefulness and determination.
Folks like you, who know that collaboration is the foundation of a healthy neighborhood.
Folks like you, who know that every time we bring opportunity to a community, we create safer streets; and with safer streets comes renewed hope; and with renewed hope comes changed lives.
So I thank you for all you do on behalf of America's communities and I thank you for your time today.