| NEWS of the Day - August 20, 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
Police plumb social media for guides to gangs in city
Men in videos show guns, brag on groups
by TAYLOR DUNGJEN
In a video uploaded to YouTube, a man boasts in a rap that "I don't talk about the murder" and claims to invoke fear in people around the city.
"I got a whopper in my pocket, I ain't talkin' 'bout a burger," he continues as the camera pans to show a revolver in his hand.
The Internet has dozens of these videos -- not all music videos -- in which young men proclaim gang affiliations and flash guns and colors.
"We do use it as an intelligence tool, no doubt about it," said Toledo police Sgt. Joe Heffernan. "If someone is going to put on the Internet for the whole world to see that they're in a gang or that they're committing criminal activity, we're going to use that information to solve crimes and complete our mission, which is to keep the community safe."
Videos appear on the social media site from a number of groups that Toledo police have identified as gangs, including the Manor Boys, Cherry Woodz, Lil Heads, X Blocc, Stickney 33, and the Choloz.
In one video, Tremayne Griffin, a Manor Boy who Toledo police have said was one of the most dangerous men in the city, is shown holding a gun in the air.
That video was uploaded in 2010. Griffin is now in prison serving nearly 22 years after he was found guilty for shooting five people in two separate incidents.
In some of the videos, the men sometimes make threats to rival gangs.
In one video posted by X Blocc, a Crip affiliate, different men call out a Blood-affiliated gang, Stickney 33.
X Blocc, in the video, claims Highland, Parkwood, and Glenwood avenues as its territory. Stickney 33 is, as its name suggests, based on Stickney Avenue in North Toledo.
Another video, posted by the Woodstocc and Parkside Crips -- who consider Woodstock Avenue and Parkside Boulevard to be home -- tells the men on Fernwood Avenue, "when I see you I'm knocking you out."
Fernwood Avenue is known as a Blood territory and home to the Lil Heads, also known as the Smith Park Boys.
In a Lil Heads music video posted this spring, one rapper says, "[Forget] da crabs, dis Bloods."
In gang culture, "crabs" is a derogatory term used by Bloods to describe Crips.
"We look at every situation and try to prioritize the threat," Sergeant Heffernan said. "If we see something on a social media site, like YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter where we think it's a credible threat, we're going to act on that. A lot of times we're unable to tell if it's a credible threat or not, and quite frankly, there's so much bragging and baloney on there that a lot of it is hard to take seriously."
Sergeant Heffernan declined to say whether any cases have been solved using information found on social media sites, but added that Toledo police have been using the tools for years.
"I think that when somebody gets on a video like that with a firearm and acts in a violent fashion, that they're making a statement about who they are and what their lifestyle is about," the sergeant said. " … I can't explain why people do the things they do."
Police have said this year that a number of shootings and homicides are gang related, including the recent killing of a 1-year-old girl.
Police believe that the shooters thought they were firing into a Moody Manor apartment -- claimed by the Manor Boys -- to take down a member of the Cherry Woodz, a gang at the Greenbelt Place apartments.
Keondra Hooks was shot once in the head when at least 12 rounds were fired on Aug. 9 into an apartment where she and her sister were sleeping. Keondra died 12 hours later at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center. Her sister, Leondra Hooks, 2, was shot in the chest but survived.
Three men, all Manor Boys, have been arrested and charged with obstructing official business. Keshawn Jennings, James Moore, and Antwaine Jones are all in the Lucas County jail in lieu of a $500,000 bond.
Sarasota city manager advocate of community policing
by J. David McSwane
Sunday, August 19, 2012
When commissioners voted to name him Sarasota's next city manager, Tom Barwin's experience as a former cop and his community policing philosophy gave him an edge.
The progressive approach to community policing in this western Chicago suburb was credited last year with bringing a 39-year low for crime. For a narrower view, consider that there have been only two murders since 2009, one of which spilled over from the big city's blighted edge.
Barwin's nearly six years here could prove valuable in Sarasota, and when he starts the job officially Sept. 1, his first order of business will be to replace Police Chief Mikel Holloway, who retires in October.
The Northerner's long-term impact on the Sarasota Police Department will be augmented further by a new community policing strategy that he must execute when he arrives here.
Barwin, 58, says he is up to the job and he will hire a chief who can bring the on-the-ground, personable sort of policing that commissioners want.
"I think what we're looking for are potential chiefs that certainly have some experience and solid foundation of true community policing," Barwin said.
A new way of policing
Rick Tanksley is the kind of police chief who wears a polo shirt to work, who volunteers that crime is slightly up, who talks about his 116 officers like they were dreamed up in an episode of "Leave It to Beaver."
He is the kind of police chief that Sarasota might expect to be hired by Barwin, a soft-spoken manager who considers himself progressive and a student of community relations.
Standing tall in his basement office in Oak Park, Tanksley circles his fingers over the northeast corner of a map of his five-square-mile village, which abruptly runs into rough patches of Chicago from two sides.
"These spots right there," he says, "we got a lot of issues, lots of hotspots, so people are concerned in there."
To allay those concerns, Tanksley's department holds monthly community meetings in eight zones. Beat officers produce a quarterly newsletter that includes the officer's photo and addresses recent crimes or provides guidelines for bike safety or block parties.
Oak Park does not stick strictly to the rubric that Sarasota's emerging plan includes. But Tanksley says any effort toward community policing hinges on gaining the public's trust.
For example, if a neighbor's lawn is unkempt, Tanksley instructs his officers to see if the residents need help or have been foreclosed on.
"People are going to be talking about what's going on in the community anyway," Tanksley said. "We need to be a part of that."
It is far from the romanticized, head-busting image Hollywood has bestowed upon police. But a focus on the root causes of crime in hot spot areas, rather than sending drug dealers through a revolving prison door, has been effective in cities similar to Sarasota.
Under Barwin's and Tanksley's command, an unusual survey of residents who dealt with police — victims of theft and even drivers who were ticketed — found more than 70 percent of them were either "satisfied" or "somewhat satisfied" with their experience.
"Some administrators would have said, 'Wait a minute?'" Tanksley says, laughing. "What do we do if the results are unfavorable?"
"Back in the day, police departments didn't really care about your perception."
Barwin says he hopes to hire a chief much like Tanksley, who in turn credits Barwin because he "allowed me to do what I had to do without any sort of political influence."
"Given Tom's background as a police officer," Tanksley says, "he understood the sort of things we were dealing with. He was engaged."
But issues in Oak Park are in many ways different from issues in Sarasota, which is complicated further by historical segregation and soured perceptions of police in certain neighborhoods.
A new manager, new chief, new plan
Whomever Barwin chooses, the new chief also will have a tough job.
That person will set a new tone for the beleaguered department and set the agenda for a new mandate to work closely with the public to fight crime.
Barwin's brief experience as a police officer three decades ago and his support of community policing were a key selling point, said Sarasota Vice Mayor Willie Shaw.
Shaw, whose district includes the highest crime and poverty areas in the city, is the driving force behind the so-called High Point policing strategy, which the commission has officially adopted.
"I felt confident that he can do what needs to get done," Shaw said, adding he hopes Barwin can help bridge the divide between City Hall and the city's black community, whose leaders have called for officers who can work with residents to solve crime.
"He is used to dealing with what we're just about starting to deal with," Shaw said of Barwin's experience in Oak Park.
The High Point plan calls for officers to build tight networks with families and religious and community leaders to single out major offenders, to separate them from minor criminals before they escalate.
Rather than lock up the minor offenders — typically teenagers from poorer neighborhoods — the new strategy would give them a chance to change their ways with help from family and officers. If they do not fly straight, then they are made an example of.
Sarasota has adopted community policing strategies in the past with varied success, but those pushing for reforms say such efforts have been narrowly focused on high-crime areas and thus lost steam as officers retired or left.
Experts and local proponents of community policing agree that a department-wide approach is key to success. It starts with the city manager and his police chief, they say.
"Law enforcement is the initiator of the conversation between the community and the police," Shaw said.
Barwin says experience with community policing is "very high up on our list of pre-qualifications" for a new chief.
"Each neighborhood will have a conduit, an officer who is their beat officer, their liaison who will share info with them," Barwin said, adding neighbors should regularly share emails with their beat officers.
"I think it's really putting a friendly and helpful face on the police department."
With the help of Interim City Manager Terry Lewis, also a former police officer, Barwin is already whittling down the list of candidates for police chief.