| 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 News links or on the URL provided below each article.
August 19, 2012
From Google News
Many increasingly questioning life sentences for juveniles; some convicted may go free
SAN FRANCISCO — Sara Kruzan was 17 when she was sentenced to die in prison for killing and robbing a pimp in a Riverside motel. Now, at 32, Kruzan has a chance at being freed, along with thousands of other juveniles convicted of murder who were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Those life sentences are coming under increased attack from activists, lawmakers and even the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently struck down mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles as unconstitutional “cruel and unusual” punishment. On Thursday, the California Assembly passed a bill by the slimmest of margins that would give juvenile lifers in that state a shot at freedom.
Nationwide, there are roughly 2,500 inmates who killed as juveniles that are serving life in prison without parole, including 309 California inmates serving such sentences, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
“Because their brain is still developing, they have the ability to rehabilitate,” said Michael Harris, a senior attorney at the National Center for Youth Law. “They are more likely to rehabilitate than an adult.”
Despite the legal rulings and the legislative activity, some survivors of people killed by juveniles are pushing back and arguing that a life sentence is appropriate punishment for juveniles who commit heinous murders.
West St. Louis County Religious Leaders Rally Against Recent Hate Crimes
Leaders of the Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities held a press conference at the Dar-Ul Islam Mosque in West St. Louis County asking for justice in light of recent hate crimes against Muslims.
West St. Louis County Muslims have seen their share of hate crimes and discrimination in the years since 9/11.
In 2003, the Dar-Ul-Salam Mosque, located on Weidman Road in front of Queeny Park, had its collection box broken into multiple times. Weeks later that same year, on two separate occasions, the Hindu Temple located less than a mile away from that Mosque was firebombed after the perpetrators mistook it for the Mosque.
Last year, a Muslim woman was refused service at the Mattress Firm store in Manchester because she did not uncover her face after a manager told her “she needed to show her face for service,” according to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article.
And earlier this year, the Al Salam Day School, located inside the Dar-Ul Islam Mosque, had to be closed after the Christian group Reclaiming Missouri for Christ protested outside the Mosque with the intention of handing out anti-Islamic pamphlets.
On Wednesday morning, Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders held a press conference to denounce a recent rash of hate crime against Muslims in the U.S., which may include the Aug. 6 burning of a Joplin, MO mosque.
The FBI is still investigating whether or not that fire was arson, but religious leaders here are already speaking out against what they believe is a trend of hate crimes against religious minorities that occur near election time.
Free Lunch Lady Could Face $600 Fine
A local lunch lady says she may no longer be able to serve free food to her community due to a law in her town.
A local lunch lady says she may no longer be able to serve free food to her community due to a law in her town.
For weeks, Angela Prattis has run a free lunch program in the Toby Farms community of Chester Township. As many as 60 children a day receive a free sandwich, fruit and milk during the summer. The program is funded by the state department of education and administered by the archdiocese of Philadelphia which drops off the boxed lunches daily.
Prattis tells NBC10 she was just put on notice by the township however and received a letter telling her that she needs a variance to run the program in the residential area.
“It's a letter stating, ‘shut it down or face a $600 fine,'” said Prattis.
August 18, 2012
From the L.A. Daily News
Phoned in threat to Carmike theaters has Colorado managers on edge
Police across Colorado will be keeping a close eye on Carmike Cinemas theaters Friday because someone called bomb threats into the company's corporate office and threatened several locations nationwide.
Terrell Mayton, the director of marketing for Carmike Cinemas, told The Mercury in Pottstown, Penn. said the threats were against "locations across the country" and coincided with the premiere of "The Expendables 2," an action film that opened Friday.
Mayton said once law enforcement officials have cleared the locations and deemed them safe for the public, theater managers can then decide whether or not to continue normal operations.
Of the company's more than 200 theaters, six are located in Colorado.
In Greeley, the Carmike theater manager called police Friday morning, police spokesman Joe Tymkowych said.
Tymkowych said there is no reason to believe the Greeley location is one of the theaters threatened, but police are investigating and sending a bomb technician clear the theater which is southwest of the University of Northern Colorado.
Colorado shooting rampage prompts gun bills in big states
California's proposed gun restrictions
SACRAMENTO - Democratic leaders in three big states have used this summer's mass shooting in Colorado to push bills that would crack down on assault weapons and ammunition sales, rekindling a debate that has not gained much traction in Congress or on the presidential campaign.
In Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn proposed that his state enact a strict ban on assault weapons, similar to California's. New York lawmakers have proposed wide-ranging legislation that would limit weapons purchases.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris and the Democratic state Senate leader back a bill that would make it more difficult and time-consuming to reload assault weapons. The chairmen of public safety committees in California's Assembly and Senate co-authored a bill that would require dealers to report purchases of large quantities of ammunition to law enforcement authorities.
The suspect in the July 20 Colorado shooting, James Holmes, legally bought 6,000 rounds of ammunition online without raising authorities' attention. He had four weapons, including an assault rifle, on him after the rampage that killed 12 people and injured 58 at a midnight movie screening.
"California sets the pace for the country. If there's no action in Congress, we better do something here and hope it catches fire in other states," said state Sen. Leland Yee, a San Francisco Democrat who authored the legislation that would slow down the process of reloading an assault weapon with a new magazine.
From Google News
‘Coffee with a Cop’ gets national attention
A program linking cops and community members through a cup of coffee has landed Superior in the national spotlight.
Earlier this month, Superior Community Policing Officer Bonnie Beste spoke about “Coffee with a Cop” at a national Community Oriented Policing Conference in Washington D.C. She was one of three officers chosen from throughout the nation to head a panel about the program. The talk put Superior on the national map for community policing.
“I felt honored and important to be able to be talking about ‘Coffee with a Cop’ and community policing and what we’re doing here in Superior and in conjunction with other places across the whole country,” Beste said. “How the three of us from across the country have come together to make sure we can move this forward, how we believe in it, the good things we’ve heard from other people.”
They took their message to the D.C. movers and shakers the same way they brought it to their own citizens — through “Coffee with a Cop.” “We stood up there, we shook hands, we were interactive with them,” Beste said. “We made sure they could ask questions about what was going on.”
Their efforts netted a national grant for “Coffee with a Cop” to be implemented in other departments throughout the country. That may lead to more travel for Beste, who could be tapped to help other law enforcement agencies create their own programs. Her work could also help the department apply for more grants in the future.
August 17, 2012
From the L.A. Daily News
Arizona's Gov. Brewer bars public benefits for illegal immigrants
PHOENIX - Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday ordered state agencies to deny driver's licenses and other public benefits to young illegal immigrants who obtain work authorizations under a new Obama administration policy.
In an executive order, Brewer said she was reaffirming the intent of current Arizona law denying taxpayer-funded public benefits and state identification to illegal immigrants.
Young illegal immigrants around the nation on Wednesday began the process of applying for federal work permits under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The federal policy defers deportations for that group if they meet certain criteria, including arrival in the United States before they turned 16 and no convictions for certain crimes.
After President Barack Obama announced the policy change in June, Brewer labeled it "backdoor amnesty" and political pandering by the Democratic president.
Arizona has been in the vanguard of states enacting laws against illegal immigration.
From Google News
For Mississippi, an Angst-Filled Civil War Anniversary
Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War can be an angst-filled task in Mississippi, with its long history of racial strife and a state flag that still bears the Confederate battle emblem.
Well-intentioned Mississippians who work for racial reconciliation say slavery was morally indefensible. Still, some speak in hushed tones as they confess a certain admiration for the valor of Confederate troops who fought for what was, to them, the hallowed ground of home and country.
"Mississippi has such a troubled past that a lot of people are very sensitive about commemorating or recognizing or remembering the Civil War because it has such an unpleasant reference for African-Americans," said David Sansing, who is white and a professor emeritus of history at the University of Mississippi.
"Many Mississippians are reluctant to go back there because they don't want to remind themselves or the African-American people about our sordid past," said Sansing. "But it is our past."
Black Mississippians express pride that some ancestors were Union soldiers who fought to end slavery, though it took more than a century for the U.S. to dismantle state-sanctioned segregation and guarantee voting rights.
Registrations for Nashua's Citizen Police Academy now being accepted
Anyone with an interest in how the city's police department operates is invited to participate in its annual Citizen Police Academy program kicking off next month.
NASHUA — Anyone interested in how the city's Police Department operates is invited to participate in its annual Citizen Police Academy kicking off next month.
Registrations are now being accepted from residents seeking to enroll in the 24th academy, an eight-week course designed to acquaint the community with how the department functions.
“Last year we had 38 graduates,” said Ed Lecius, community policing coordinator. “We can hold up to 44 participants, and we will max it out if we can.”
On average, there are between 26 and 40 participants each year, with more than 900 residents graduating from the academy since its inception more than two decades ago, according to Lecius.
Classes are weekly from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Tuesdays from Sept. 18 to Nov. 13.
Each week, a different bureau commander will be featured, outlining daily duties and responsibilities within various sections of the force. Chief John Seusing and the deputies will be on hand for the first night of class, giving tours of the station and a brief introduction.
Avon's Citizen's Police Academy has openings
AVON, Colorado — The Avon Police Department will be hosting the fourth annual Citizen's Police Academy starting Sept. 10. There are still a few openings for citizens to join the course.
The academy will take place on Mondays from 6-8:30 p.m. starting on Sept. 10 and concluding Oct. 15.
The six academy classes wil include six presentations and interactive demonstrations.
Participants must be 18 years of age or older; live, work or volunteer in the town of Avon; have no felony convictions; have no significant or recent misdemeanor convictions; and are willing to complete a waiver of liability.
Register at www.avon.org/citizenspoliceacademy or drop by the Avon Police Department to pick up an application form.
Organ Trafficking on the Rise in the United States
The demand for donated organs in wealthy nations is rising much faster than the supply of organs donated through traditional means can meet, leading to a small but growing number of people living in poverty who sell their vital organs on the black market.
Countries like Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Bolivia are among the nations where organ trafficking has become a major underground business as demand for these body parts rises in the United States, which has become the largest supplier and market for the trade, according to a news report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (CIJ).
The ICIJ reports says that two million products made of human tissue are sold every year in the U.S., with a complete disease-free human body going for upwards of $80,000 to $200,000. The organ trafficking industry in the U.S. has doubled in the last decade.
“It is an industry that promotes treatments and products that literally allow the blind to see (through cornea transplants) and the lame to walk (by recycling tendons and ligaments for use in knee repairs),” The ICIJ report, entitled “Skin and Bone: The Shadowy Trade in Human Body Part,” stated. “It's also an industry fueled by powerful appetites for bottom-line profits and fresh human bodies.”
Unlike the international drug and sex trade, organ trafficking has largely escaped the public eye thanks in part to lax government oversight and common attitudes that others' body parts should help people survive diseases, the ICIJ says. The group's eight-month investigation found that there are few safeguards to ensure that organs and human tissue are obtained legally. There has been a growing concern by some doctors that diseased tissues could infect patients with hepatitis, HIV and other diseases, yet little has been done in the medical field to monitor where the organs come from, the group says.
August 16, 2012
From the L.A. Daily News
Undocumented immigrants line up for federal program to avoid deportation
Nathaly Uribe has all the papers she needs to get a work permit - something the 17-year-old daughter of a construction worker only dreamed of growing up as an illegal immigrant in the United States.
The high school senior said she hopes a federal program launched Wednesday that defers deportation for undocumented immigrants will make it easier to get a decent job and help pay for college.
"This is my country. It's where my roots are," said Uribe, who moved from Chile when she was a toddler and lives in Glen Burnie, Md. "It feels great to know that the country that I call home finally accepted me."
Thousands of young undocumented immigrants lined up Wednesday hoping for the right to work legally in America without being deported. The Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals could expand the rights of more than 1 million young undocumented immigrants by giving them work permits, though they would not obtain legal residency here or a path to citizenship.
From Google News
Policing by bike a growing trend nationally
When Madison police Sgt. Tony Fiore was asked to do his job on a bike, he didn't like the idea.
"They had to drag me to the bike kicking and screaming," he says.
Now he sings a different tune.
"Now I'm all in," he says. "I drank the Kool-Aid. I believe in what bikes have to offer."
Fiore, who heads the Central District Community Policing Team, now spends a lot of time on a bike. And more officers will soon join him. The city recently approved the purchase of 15 additional bikes, and five more will be donated by Trek. That will bring the total number to 30, tripling the current fleet. Currently, the vast majority of bike patrols take place in the dense, bar-saturated Central Police District. Capt. Jay Lengfeld, who's in charge of expanding the program, wants all five police districts to find ways to use the bikes.
"Since I've been here, the last 30 years, we've always had cops on bikes," Lengfeld says. "But it's always been kind of an informal thing, depending on the interest of an officer, or a district might want to start something. I was given the task at the beginning of this year to formalize our bike program. We determined that we need 30 to 40 bikes to have an adequate bike program here."
National Night Out highlights 'community' policing
Communities across the country, including Belleville, held National Night Out festivities last Tuesday.
If you look online, you'll read that National Night Out is designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, generate support and participation in local anti-crime efforts, strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community relations and send a message to criminals letting them know neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
More simply, amid the parties and food and music, there's the theme of solidarity in the township, standing up to crime, not just individually but as a team.
How often do we take the time to get to know one another in our neighborhood, even more so those who work for us? Because of our busy schedules, it's probably a lot less these days.
From the White House
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals: Who Can Be Considered?
Today, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin accepting requests for consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals. Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. Under this process, USCIS will consider requests on a case-by-case basis. While this process does not provide lawful status or a pathway to permanent residence or citizenship, individuals whose cases are deferred will not be removed from the United States for a two year period, subject to renewal, and may also receive employment authorization. To be considered for this process, you must show that:
- You came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday
- You have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time
- You were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
- You entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012
- You are currently in school, have graduated or obtained your certificate of completion from high school, have obtained your general educational development certification, or you are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States
- You have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat
- You were present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS
From the FBI
Three Charged with Making Threats Against University of Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH—A federal grand jury in the Western District of Pennsylvania today returned two indictments charging a resident of Dublin, Ireland, with a series of crimes related to e-mailed threats targeting the University of Pittsburgh, three federal courthouses, and a federal officer. A third indictment charges two Ohio men for additional online threats against the university, announced U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton.
A 35-count indictment named Adam Stuart Busby, 64, of Dublin, as the sole defendant. According to the indictment, from March 30, 2012 until April 21, 2012, Busby sent more than 40 e-mails targeting the University of Pittsburgh campus. The e-mailed bomb threats resulted in more than 100 evacuations at the University of Pittsburgh, greatly disrupting the university community. The indictment charges Busby with 17 counts of wire fraud, 16 counts of maliciously conveying false information in the form of bomb threats, and two counts of international extortion.
A separate but related four-count indictment alleges that on June 20 and 21, 2012, Busby maliciously conveyed false information through the Internet claiming bombs had been placed at U.S. courthouses located in Pittsburgh, Erie, and Johnstown, Pennsylvania. In addition, Busby is charged with threatening David J. Hickton, a federal officer, while he was engaged in the performance of his official duties.
August 15, 2012
From Google News
Program providing protection for young immigrants launched
Hundreds of thousands of people who entered the United States as children but without documentation can apply -- beginning Wednesday -- to remain in and work in the country without fear of deportation for at least two years.
"I've found the form!" screamed Maria, a young Chilean at a Latino community center in New York, as she leaped from her seat.
She was with a number of other undocumented immigrants meeting here to get legal advice in anticipation of the release of the form, which authorities surprisingly posted a day before they had said they would.
The form, titled "Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," was dated August 15, 2012 and bore the expiration date of February 28, 2013.
Maria started filling it out immediately, telling a reporter she was too afraid to divulge her last name or details of her childhood trek to the United States, but would feel differently once the form had been processed and her status ensured.
The director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said Tuesday that applicants who have not committed major crimes can apply without fear of deportation.
From the Department of Justice
Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West Speaks at the Visit to the San Jose, Calif., National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention Site
Thank you, Mary Lou, for that kind introduction. I also want to thank my friend and colleague, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, for being here today and for all the work that her office is doing to reduce youth violence in the Northern District of California. Attorney General Holder often says our U.S. Attorneys are community problem solvers, not case processors, and that could not be truer of Melinda and her dedicated staff.
Let me also thank your great mayor, Chuck Reed. I've known Mayor Reed for most of my life and there is no one who cares more about this city, about its future and its people, than Chuck Reed. And it's an honor to be with him today.
I think Mary Lou really summed it up well so I'll be brief. By emphasizing collaborative partnerships, evidence-based and data-driven strategies and a balanced, holistic approach, we know we can help communities to curb violence and promote the health, safety and development of our young people.
San Jose is doing just this, which is why it's one of six cities that are part of the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention. The San Jose team has been working hard over the last 20 months to implement concrete strategies to coordinate their youth violence prevention activities.
And what San Jose is doing aligns well with the work we're doing at the Department of Justice. Attorney General Eric Holder's comprehensive Anti-Violence Strategy, led by our Nation's U.S. Attorneys, focuses on a "three-legged stool" approach to reducing and preventing crime through enforcement, prevention, and reentry. San Jose's anti-violence plan involves not just law enforcement, but schools, the Faith community, the business community and public health experts.
August 14, 2012
From Google News
Judge keeps key documents sealed in Colorado shooting case
DENVER (Reuters) - A Colorado judge on Monday ordered that the bulk of key documents detailing the case against accused movie theater gunman James Holmes remain sealed, largely rejecting a request by news organizations to reverse a previous order.
Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester did allow for the release of 34 documents, mostly relating to media motions and procedural issues.
But he ordered that the documents media members most wanted to see - affidavits of probable cause, subpoenas, arrest warrants, search warrants, and requests for or court orders for production of records - all be kept under seal.
Prosecutors have charged Holmes with 24 counts of first degree murder and 116 counts of attempted murder in the July shootings at a midnight screening of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colorado. Twelve people were killed and 58 were wounded.
Holmes, a 24-year-old former graduate student, was arrested shortly after the massacre. Authorities said he told police he was the "Joker" in a reference to Batman's comic-book nemesis. He is being held in solitary confinement at the Arapahoe County jail.
From the Department of Justice
Justice Department Announces Consent Decree with City of New Orleans to Resolve Allegations of Unlawful Misconduct by New Orleans Police Department
Negotiated Agreement Concludes Two-Year Investigation and Begins Federal Court Oversight of Police Department Reform
The Department of Justice announced today that the United States has entered into a comprehensive, cooperative consent decree with the city of New Orleans to resolve allegations of unlawful police misconduct by the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD). The filing of the consent decree in federal court in New Orleans continues the process of reforming the NOPD and begins federal court oversight of that reform to ensure effective and constitutional policing in New Orleans.
“Today's action represents a critical step forward. It reaffirms the Justice Department's commitment to the highest standards of fairness and professionalism and underscores our determination to work alongside our law enforcement partners to protect not only the safety – but the essential civil rights – of everyone in this country,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.
The consent decree requires NOPD to make broad changes in policies and practices related to use of force; stops, searches and arrests; custodial interrogations; photographic line-ups; preventing discriminatory policing; community engagement; recruitment; training; officer assistance and support; performance evaluations and promotions; supervision; misconduct investigations; and NOPD's system of secondary employment, also known as paid details.
August 13, 2012
From the L.A. Daily News
Concerns arise that civilian drones can be hijacked
MONROVIA - They've become the eyes and ears of the military. Small, unmanned aircraft systems designed and built by AeroVironment Inc. at a Simi Valley plant are being used extensively by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They can hover, swoop and fly at altitudes high enough to operate virtually undetected while providing live streaming video of enemy operations.
And pending clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration, AV's drones are poised for use in a variety of civilian applications, including law enforcement, monitoring pipeline and utility assets and search-and-rescue operations.
But there's just one glitch - they can be hijacked. Or at least Professor Todd Humphreys suspects they can. And if that happens, these nimble aircraft could become weapons for terrorists.
AV officials, however, say their technology includes safeguards that would make that nearly impossible to do.
Humphreys and his team of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin's Radionavigation Laboratory completed an experiment on June 25 showing that they have found a way to hack into the GPS systems of unmanned drones.
Burbank Unified reestablishes hot line for students to report bullying
With more attention being paid to the potentially tragic effects of bullying, particularly online, the Burbank Unified School District has resurrected a hot line for students to report abuse.
As students prepare to return from summer break, Tom Steele, director of student services, said he printed 1,000 fliers with the hot line's phone number and email that will hang in every classroom in the district, from kindergarten through high school.
The hot line has been six months in the works, and comes after new cyber-bullying laws have been created to support California students. The reactivated hot line for reporting bullying was last operable in 2006.
Now, with increased awareness of bullying, Steele said, the hot line is back in business. “Burbank doesn't have any more or any less [bullying] than any other place,” said Burbank Unified school board member Roberta Reynolds. “We just need to be very vigilant.”
The hot line also is borne out of an ongoing bullying discussion on how parents, teachers and administrators handle the consequences of student behavior on digital platforms, particularly social media websites.
The new bullying hot line is (818) 729-4589. Or students may send an email to StopBullying@burbankusd.org.
From Google News California
Police use social media tools to inform citizens
6,000 agencies use Nixle public notice service By Terry Collins SAN FRANCISCO -- Minutes after a shooting near the Oakland Airport this year, the gunman was on the loose. And police Sgt. Chris Bolton quickly fired off a flurry of text alerts to thousands of nearby residents through a social media tool for law enforcement agencies.
"Stay out of area," said one alert. "Multiple shooting victims reported. Medical on-scene. Police are evacuating a nearby, affected business."
Officers would eventually discover a grisly scene inside a tiny Christian college on that spring day. Seven people were killed, three others wounded and dozens terrified in the deadliest mass shooting in the city's history.
Bolton later gave those on edge an update: "Possible suspect in custody. No imminent public safety threat appears to exist in immediate area."
Across the country, law officers are adding a new form of social media to their arsenal of crime-fighting tools.
Almost 6,000 law enforcement agencies are now deploying the public notification service Nixle to provide residents with real-time alerts on crimes in progress, traffic messes and missing children. Previously, the service has helped police in Amarillo, Texas, capture a fugitive wanted for aggravated robbery and probation violation; and authorities in Fayetteville, N.C., nabbed a suspect wanted for armed robbery soon after a Nixle alert was sent to residents.