| NEWS of the Day - August 18, 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
Phoned in threat to Carmike theaters has Colorado managers on edge
by Erin Udell
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.
He said he did not know whether the theater planned to close for the day.
Police in Grand Junction and Steamboat Springs did not receive specific threats, but still sent officers to meet with theater management and walk through the buildings.
Law enforcement officials in Colorado Springs and Fort Collins have not responded to calls.
Mayton said the caller claimed to be from a vendor service Carmike Cinemas uses.
"We don't take any threat that is communicated to us lightly," Mayton said. "The safety of our guests and employees is never taken lightly."
Movie theaters have been on high alert since July 20, when a gunman killed 12 and wounded 58 others during a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" at the Century Aurora 16.
Tuesday night, Landmark Theatres shut down the Esquire art house in central Denver because of a telephone threat, Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson confirmed.
Colorado shooting rampage prompts gun bills in big states
California's proposed gun restrictions
by Don Thompson
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.
With strong support from Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York lawmakers have offered a similar rationale for proposing a series of bills that together would give their state the nation's toughest gun control laws.
"I think there is appetite for reform," Cuomo told reporters this week. "I think that's a good thing, and I think that's one of the issues I'm going to have at the top of the list next January."
The prospects for the proposals are uncertain, but Democratic political strength in each state provides momentum that would be largely absent in Republican-dominated states. California, for example, has some of the toughest gun laws in the country and last year enacted a ban on the open carry of unloaded handguns.
Democrats control the statehouse and governor's office in California and Illinois, and all but the state Senate in New York. Even with half the legislature in Republican hands, Cuomo said he believes Republican lawmakers will work with him on gun-control legislation.
In California, Yee and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, who authored the bulk ammunition bill, said they are optimistic because they already have the support of influential lawmakers - and, in Yee's case, the state attorney general.
The proposals are not likely to be addressed in earnest until lawmakers return next year, since most of this year's legislative sessions are finished and California has just a few weeks left.
The push in some of the nation's most populous and liberal-leaning states illustrates a national divide, often along party lines, over whether the public should have unfettered access to military-style weaponry and ammunition.
"It's time for the people to band together in our state ... and do something about these weapons. We should remember those who lost their lives," Quinn said last month after he added his gun control proposal onto a bill that had dealt with ammunition sales.
New York state Sen. Michael Gianaris has proposed legislation limiting firearms purchases to one a month, requiring background checks for all gun sales, a firearms safety course for gun buyers and a cooling-off period before a gun could be picked up after purchase. It also would require that sales of firearms and ammunition be reported within 24 hours.
Fellow Democratic Sen. Jose Peralta also introduced a bill that would prohibit the sale or purchase of more than 500 rounds of ammunition during any 30-day period.
"The recent rash of gun violence makes clear that enough is enough," Gianaris said in a statement.
The leaders hope the legislation will go further than gun control bills have in Congress, where Republicans are generally opposed to further restrictions and Democrats are reluctant to engage on the issue during a presidential election year.
After the Colorado shooting, two Democrats introduced a bill that would prohibit the general public from buying thousands of rounds of ammunition by mail or online.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said the Senate's schedule is too crowded to allow a debate on gun control this year and has been noncommittal about whether Congress would consider the issue next year. The White House has said President Barack Obama will not push for stricter gun laws this year.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, complained after the Colorado shooting that Congress has failed since 2004 to renew the federal assault weapons ban she authored a year after a gunman killed eight people in a San Francisco high-rise in 1993.
Nor will Congress take up the bill introduced after the Colorado shootings by U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York.
"The reality is that these tragic shootings will continue if we can't break the gun lobby's stranglehold on Congress," Lautenberg said in a statement.
Since 1990, the National Rifle Association's political action committee and individuals associated with the NRA have contributed nearly $19 million to members or candidates for Congress, with 82 percent of those contributions going to Republicans, according to The Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C.
The National Rifle Association did not respond to repeated messages left by The Associated Press over several days. Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, said the state's current laws are already working and don't need to be tougher. He cited a 2010 state attorney general's report that found less than 4 percent of the weapons used in violent crimes and sent to state crime labs were assault weapons.
"We're governed by people who have an inordinate fear, a knee-jerk, visceral, emotional reaction to guns," Paredes said.
The divide is not just between states and the federal government, but also between Democratic- and Republican-leaning states.
In Wyoming, for example, the Republican-dominated Legislature recently passed a bill allowing residents to carry concealed guns with no permit or background check. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, defended gun rights even after a shooting this week near Texas A&M University that killed three people including a police official and the gunman.
Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said the gun control proposals were a step in the right direction.
"There are places where we're seeing kind of the hopeful signs," he said. "But right now, there are far too few of them."
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.
by Maria Lockwood
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.
Beste stepped into the role of community policing officer a year and a half ago. Since then, she has held community meetings, worked with citizens and businesses, supported National Night Out events, manned the department’s Facebook site and tackled chronic nuisance issues.
During one community meeting, Dave Miller of Northwest Outlet offered to sponsor “coffee with Bonnie” to open up the lines of communication between the business community and the police department.
Shortly after that, Beste found an article in a community policing publication on “Coffee with a Cop” by Sgt. Chris Cognac of the Hawthorne, Calif., Police Department. She asked Police Chief Charles LaGesse if she could start a similar program in Superior. He gave her the green light.
“She ran with it,” LaGesse said.
The first “Coffee with a Cop” took place in February. To date, four have been held. The fifth runs 7-9 a.m. Tuesday at McDonald’s Restaurant, 2026 Tower Ave.
“This is a time to get questions answered, bring up concerns and meet some of your local officers,” Beste said. There’s no formal agenda. The event is relaxed, and free coffee is available. “If you only have a couple extra minutes during your morning commute you can stop in and open the lines of communication with your police officers.”
It’s a chance for people to bring up issues they don’t feel warrant a 911 call.
“Something that may seem a smaller issue to us, that’s their big issue,” Beste said. The top concern she’s heard during these coffee sessions is pedestrian safety in crosswalks.
“And that’s part of improving the quality of life, which is what we want to do here through the department,” Beste said.
Another of the officer’s big successes was last week’s National Night Out. With her encouragement, the number of events in Superior tripled — from three last year to 10 this year. Officers visited each event, Beste said, and neighbors got out of the house and met each other.
“When good citizens are out, crime stays away,” she said.
The next big item on Beste’s agenda is setting up Citizen Watch groups throughout the city. She plans to kick the program off with meetings for participants in September. Anyone interested in being part of their neighborhood’s watch group can contact Beste at (715) 395-7401 or email@example.com.
She gave a lot of credit to the chief and command staff for believing in outreach to citizens through “Coffee with a Cop” and other community policing efforts.
“With the progressive nature right now of our police department and moving this forward we can really make an impact for our citizens,” she said.