| NEWS of the Day - August 21, 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
Autopsy: Death of handcuffed man in Arkansas a suicide
by JEANNIE NUSS
The Associated Press
Little Rock, Ark. • A man police say shot himself in the head while his hands were cuffed behind him in the back of an Arkansas patrol car tested positive for methamphetamine, anti-anxiety medication and other drugs, according to an autopsy report released Monday that listed his death as a suicide.
The state crime lab report said the muzzle of a handgun that Chavis Carter apparently concealed from arresting officers was placed against his right temple when it was fired. The report, signed by three medical examiners, included a drug analysis showing Carter's urine and blood indicated methamphetamine and other drug use.
The report, released to The Associated Press and other news organizations under a Freedom of Information Act request, said Carter's blood also tested positive for at least trace amounts of the anti-anxiety medication diazepam and the painkiller oxycodone. His urine test also returned a positive result for marijuana.
The report said Carter's death was ruled a suicide based on autopsy findings and investigative conclusions from the Jonesboro Police Department, which has faced questions from Carter's family and community members about the circumstances surrounding the July 28 shooting.
"He was cuffed and placed into a police car, where apparently he produced a weapon, and despite being handcuffed, shot himself in the head," the report said.
Benjamin Irwin, a Memphis, Tenn., lawyer representing Carter's family, declined to comment on the specifics of the toxicology report, calling instead for police to release details of any gunpowder residue or other such tests.
"If those tests were taken ... what were the results?" Irwin asked.
On Monday night dozens of Carter family supporters gathered outside the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn., for a candlelight vigil.
Carter's mother, Teresa Carter, wiped her eyes as people spoke about her late son.
"My heart is so heavy," she said.
Court: Ala schools can't check student immigration status; police can ask for suspects' papers
by Associated Press
ATLANTA — Part of Alabama's immigration law that ordered public schools to check the citizenship status of new students was ruled unconstitutional Monday by a federal appeals court that also said police in that state and Georgia can demand papers from criminal suspects they have detained.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Alabama schools provision wrongly singles out children who are in the country illegally. Alabama was the only state that passed such a requirement and the 11th Circuit previously had blocked that part of the law from being enforced.
Judges said fear of the law “significantly deters undocumented children from enrolling in and attending school ....”
Both private groups and the Obama administration filed lawsuits to block the law considered the toughest in the country.
The court, however, upheld parts of immigration laws in Alabama and Georgia allowing law enforcement to check documents for people they stop.
And the panel left in place an injunction that blocks a section of the Georgia law that allows for the prosecution of people who knowingly harbor or transport an illegal immigrant during the commission of a crime.
In Alabama, the judges sided with opponents of the law on other key points, including challenges to sections that made it illegal to harbor illegal immigrants; made it a crime for illegal immigrants to seek work; and made it a state crime for people in the country illegally not to have registration documents.
The decisions follow a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding parts of a similar law in Arizona. The Atlanta-based court referenced that decision in its opinion to lift the injunction on the suspect verification section.
Georgia and Alabama are among several states that have enacted anti-illegal immigration laws in recent years. Proponents have argued they are necessary in part because of alleged federal inaction. Opponents have argued that many of the laws are punitive to immigrants and that policy must be steered by the federal government.
Omar Jadwat, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney involved in challenging similar laws in Alabama and Georgia, said the judges stuck down the schools provision “in pretty robust terms” and effectively opposed the sponsors' stated idea of forcing illegal immigrants to “self-deport” by making their lives too difficult.
“The original idea behind the law, that these provisions would all work together to allow the states to aggressively identify and prosecute undocumented residents, has been shot down,” said Jadwat.
Alabama Republican Gov. Robert Bentley disagreed, saying the court upheld the “essence” of the law.
“The core of Alabama's immigration law remains that if you live or work in the state, you should do so legally,” said Bentley, who signed the measure. “It is time now to move past court battles and focus on enforcement of Alabama's law.”
School officials said many Hispanic parents quit sending their children to class immediately after Bentley signed the law, and some families left the state in fear. Local education systems have said many children returned to class, and some immigrant families moved back to Alabama after courts blocked many provisions in the law.
In a statement, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said he was generally pleased with the ruling for his state but disagreed with the court on the section dealing with transporting illegal immigrant that is still being blocked.
Jadwat said the organization will continue to challenge so-called “show-me-your-papers” provisions of the state immigration laws.
“The court today rejected many parts of Alabama and Georgia's anti-immigrant laws, including attempts to criminalize everyday interactions with undocumented immigrants and Alabama's callous attempt to deprive some children of their constitutional right to education,” he said in a statement. “The court explicitly left the door open to further challenges against the ‘show me your papers' provision, which we will continue to fight.”
Police, community partnerships credited for reduction in crime rate
Homicide rates have fallen in Kansas City, Kan., during the past few years. The number of homicides as of Aug. 17 this year was 12. Last year's total was 27. The high was 72 in 1985, and there were 65 in 2001.
Officials credited a 14 percent reduction in the violent crime rate in Kansas City, Kan., to police partnerships with community residents.
“I'm proud of our community, and I think this is evidence that when we work together, elected officials, neighborhood leaders, and our police department, over a sustained period of time, great results can occur, and as a result of that our community is safer today than it has been in a long time,” Kansas City, Kan., Mayor Joe Reardon said today.
The statistics show the community is on the right path, but there is still work to do, he said. Community policing is definitely the source of success and needs to continue, he added.
Police officials last week released statistics that showed the percentage of homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated battery and assault had decreased an average of 14 percent in the first eight months of 2012, compared to the same period in 2011.
In a news release, police department officials attributed the decline to a strong relationship with the citizens, and said that part of the success was due to a focus on getting violent offenders off the streets. The department has achieved an 80 percent clearance rate on homicides. Also, higher bonds have been set on repeat violent offenders, a spokesman said.
Additionally, there has been cooperation with other law enforcement resources and agencies to assist the police department in targeting violent offenders, according to the spokesman.
Mayor Reardon said that in addressing crime in the future, the city needs to have a twofold approach.
“We need to continue to be aggressive about fighting crime, using all the resources available,” he said. “The second is to focus on our young people to make sure they are getting the education they need and have activities that are positive to them, the proactive side,” he said.
The city now has a solid foundation on attacking crime and needs to also focus now on activities that will lift its young people, he added.
He said the Unified Government's Healthy Communities plan will focus on providing recreation and healthy activities for residents. He added it was important to do this at the same time as maintaining the efforts to fight crime.
In the worst economic times, the UG has continued to make investments in the police and fire departments, personnel and equipment, he noted.
If the violent crime rate reduction trend continues through the end of 2012, it will be the fourth year that the murder rates have been low. Historically, crime rates are at 25-year lows, he said.
“It's not a blip on the radar, we're seeing this develop in a real trend,” Reardon said. “It's taken a long time to get there.”
The partnership of neighborhood leaders, police department, elected officials, with consistent funding of programs has resulted in the change, he said.
A police spokesman said the department has worked very hard in the past several years to develop relationships with community residents that lead to the solving of crimes. The department is also analyzing statistics to target specific areas of the city where there have been recent crimes, according to the spokesman.
At the neighborhood level, Lou Braswell, executive director of the Leavenworth Road Association, said local residents there have been participating in the Neighborhood Crime Prevention Patrol for the past eight years.
“I think the police department has moved forward in the last 10 years in realizing that the community pays attention to what's going on,” Braswell said. “I think they've started listening to us more, and are depending on neighborhood groups, NBRs and watch groups. They have put it all together and really become a team in working together.”
The announcement about the crime rate reduction came within the same week of a double homicide reported in Kansas City, Kan. Despite the recent homicides, the violent crime rate is still lower than a year ago.