| 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 links or on the URL provided below each article.
Sept 2, 2012
Community leaders decry video of cop kicking man
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A coalition of black community and religious leaders gathered Saturday to denounce the actions of a St. Paul police officer who was caught on video kicking a man lying on the ground.
Meanwhile, the man's attorney said he plans to file a lawsuit over the incident.
Video of the Tuesday arrest of Eric Hightower shows an officer kicked him once in the chest when Hightower was lying on the ground and coughing after he had been sprayed with a chemical irritant. The officer then handcuffs Hightower, drags him to his feet and, with the assistance of another officer, slams Hightower's head onto the hood of a squad car.
The video, recorded by a citizen, was posted to YouTube on Wednesday.
"This situation is intolerable," the Rev. Melvin Miller, a pastor at Progressive Baptist Church in St. Paul, said Saturday. "We're here to speak out against what is clearly an injustice. If it happened to any one of our brothers, sisters, friends, we'd be outraged about it, and rightfully so."
Sept 1, 2012
From Google News
Feds close criminal investigation on Ariz. sheriff
PHOENIX (AP) — The federal abuse-of-power investigation into America's self-proclaimed toughest sheriff — Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio — has been closed, with prosecutors saying no charges will be filed.
Authorities were investigating Arpaio for his part in failed public corruption cases against officials who were odds with him. The sheriff brought cases against a judge and two county officials in 2009.
Federal authorities also said Friday that they have decided to not prosecute matters tied to alleged misuse of county credit cards by sheriff's officials, alleged misspending of jail-enhancement funds and other matters.
"They did their investigation, they didn't find enough probable cause and they didn't bring an indictment," Arpaio said at a hastily called news conference after returning from the Republican National Convention in Florida. "We don't go around framing anybody. My people are not crooks."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel released a statement saying her office "is closing its investigation into allegations of criminal conduct" by current and former members of the sheriff's and county attorney's offices.
Alesia Thomas's death during July arrest triggers Los Angeles police excessive-force investigation
This follows another complaint, when 2 LAPD officers were caught on tape slamming a woman to the ground.
Los Angeles police are embroiled in another excessive force investigation after a mother of two died during a chaotic July arrest in which an officer kicked the woman in the groin while she was handcuffed, officials said.
The news follows a separate incident of alleged police misconduct in which a surveillance camera caught two LAPD officers body-slamming a handcuffed nurse to the ground and then exchanging a fist bump during an arrest last week.
“I take all in-custody death investigations very seriously and directed that the officers involved be removed from field duties until further details are known, including what part intoxicants and physical conditions contributed,” Chief Charlie Beck said in a statement regarding the July death.
“I'm confident we will get to the truth, no matter where that leads us,” he said.
Beck previously said he had “serious concerns” about the body-slamming incident and relieved both officers involved from field duties.
August 31, 2012
From Google News
Colorado suspect tried to call psychiatrist before shooting, attorneys say
Denver — The suspect in the Colorado shooting tried unsuccessfully to call his university psychiatrist 9 minutes before he opened fire during a Batman movie premiere, defense attorneys revealed in court Thursday.
James Holmes placed the call to an after-hours number at a hospital at the University of Colorado, Anschutz campus, where he could reach psychiatrist Lynne Fenton, defense attorney Tamara Brady said.
It wasn't clear why he called Fenton, and she wasn't immediately available to talk to him. Holmes is accused in the July 20 shooting that left 12 people dead and 58 wounded.
The detail about the call came out during a hearing about Holmes' relationship with Fenton, to whom he mailed a package containing a notebook that reportedly contained violent descriptions of an attack.
Teens who text, drive face new law in Ohio
Penalties to take force in state today
Austin Ward has been behind the wheel of a car -- as a licensed driver -- only for a few months. "All of the driving-school rules are still fresh in my head," the 16-year-old junior at Toledo Technology Academy said.
The Ward youth said he doesn't text and drive, so the new statewide law that goes into effect today won't impact the way he operates. For motorists 18 and younger like him, it is now illegal to use nearly any handheld wireless communication device while in traffic, which includes sitting at a red light or in a traffic jam.
Toledo police Sgt. Joe Heffernan said the new law won't change a lot of what police in the city do now -- a similar ordinance was passed in Toledo in 2009 and took effect in 2010 -- but could help increase awareness of distracted-driving risks. The state law is also much tougher on young drivers.
The only exceptions are using preprogramed GPS devices or making emergency phone calls for police, an ambulance, or firefighters.
Meeting to discuss community policing
Nassau Legis. Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) plans to host a meeting on community policing and quality of life issues in his district, which includes Bellmore, North Bellmore, Merrick and parts of Freeport, North Merrick and Wantagh.
Guests include commanding officers from the Nassau County Police Department's First and Seventh precincts. The police will discuss recent burglaries, staffing, crime, traffic enforcement, neighborhood issues, problem-oriented policing and the goals of law enforcement. Most of the meeting will be reserved for questions and answers.
The meeting will be Sept. 6, at 7:30 p.m. in the North Merrick Library at 1691 Meadowbrook Rd.
August 30, 2012
From the L.A. Daily News
Federal sweep targets 17 in suspected Mexican heroin, speed, cocaine ring
Federal agents swept through Southern California Wednesday morning to arrest 17 suspected drug dealers involved in a massive Mexican heroin, speed and cocaine smuggling network.
The raids ranged from San Diego to Palmdale and included a North Hollywood car repair shop that allegedly aided the distribution of drugs and a Van Nuys taco shop that might have been used as a storehouse.
Nearly two dozen suspects were still on the loose, officials said, many likely in Mexico.
"This investigation has dealt a serious blow to a trafficking network we believe was funneling significant quantities of high-grade methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin into the Los Angeles area," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations in Los Angeles, in a statement.
From Google News
Venice: Community demands accountability in police beating of skateboarder
Nearly two weeks after the beating of a 20-year-old student in Venice by officers from the Los Angeles Police Department, police, members of the clergy and community as well as the young man's family are still seeking answers to a situation that has become a clarion call for police accountability and has drawn the attention of a high-profile attorney attached to another well-known case.
Ronald Weekley, Jr., a student at Xavier University in Louisiana, was on his way home Aug. 18 when four police officers stopped him for allegedly skating in traffic. Police claim the skateboarder resisted arrest and a cell phone camera captured a series of images that appear to show three officers on top of Weekley with one officer hitting him numerous times.
The beating was posted online and outrage throughout Venice ensued. At the Aug. 21 Venice Neighborhood Council meeting, several residents spoke of their anger with the police on what they felt was excessive force.
The following day, friends, family and supporters of the Weekly family held an impromptu protest where they demanded an explanation for the beating.
August 29, 2012
Eye on city streets
Surveillance cameras appear to be helping crime-ridden areas
Columbus residents deserve to live in safe neighborhoods. They shouldn't have to cross the street or stay in their homes to avoid prostitutes, drug dealers and shoot-outs, which is why the city should continue to assess a new police tool.
Surveillance cameras, installed in a pilot program a year ago, appear to discourage crime, generate tips and make residents feel safer. Four of the five test neighborhoods saw crime drop significantly — by 14 percent to 46 percent. That's according to city safety data comparing this May and June with the same months in 2011.
But it's hard to tell whether the cameras are responsible or if there are other factors at play. Crime did go down in the Mount Vernon, Linden, Hilltop and Weinland Park communities. But it went up by 14 percent in a Downtown area of E. Livingston Avenue.
Maybe the cameras around Livingston Avenue were too few and far between. Maybe rapid community redevelopment in Weinland Park is helping to chase away crime.
Maybe the criminals are camera shy.
Law enforcement wraps up community policing project
The Rockingham Police Department and Richmond County Sheriff's Office partnered up this summer in a joint community policing project at Crown Pointe and Gardenwood Apartment complexes in Rockingham. The project was designed to bring residents of high crime areas and law enforcement together to lessen crime and provide a more family friendly environment.
“The police department took two officers from their normal positions and put them down at (Crown Pointe and Gardenwood Apartments), and that basically became their city for the entire summer,” said Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly. “They worked there all summer and didn't leave — they patrolled on foot, by way of golf cart or A.T.V. Also, the Sheriff's Office sent deputies down there … We worked with both complexes, making sure people that didn't belong there were made to leave.”
Clint Neeley, an officer with the Rockingham Police Department, said he saw a decrease in crime levels while law enforcement was there.
“This year, arrests went down dramatically,” Neeley said. “I believe we had three arrests for the whole summer. Two of them were trespassers and one of them was a subject that just happened to be in the area that had warrants on them. Three arrests — that's really low compared to prior years. We didn't have any drug arrests … basically there were only minor offenses.”
“I feel like it was successful,” Kelly said. “When we first started (the project years ago) … we had multiple arrests. We had very few arrests down there this year. I believe it was more because of officers presence, they knew the officers would be there.”
Collaboration and coercion in community policing
Collaboration in its rawest and most effective form involves the equality of each participant and an open mindedness that defies conventional police interactions
Collaboration is an essential skill of community policing, but a skill that is seldom effectively taught. Coercion is taught very well, is highly valued, and therefore necessarily shows up where other skills are not balanced and acculturated.
Coercion is modeled by police academy trainers, police academy structure, and training officers — it is the essence and purpose of the law itself. Coercion is forced conformity with behavior predetermined by one who has the power to impose that conforming behavior. It is the substance of police manuals and policy. Many leadership styles are predicated on coercion in one form or another.
Instructors and field training officers work on the trainee's skill in projecting authority and control. Officers learn about eye contact, posture, and voice inflection as means of establishing supremacy in their interactions. Domination and intimidation become such a part of the police persona that officers' personal lives and relationships often suffer.
Coercion should not and will not be removed as a fundamental means of what must be done in policing, but problem solving requires a keen awareness of where coercion tends to show up when we think we're collaborating. Collaboration, the means of problem solving that we find at the opposing end of the collaboration-coercion continuum, is often mischaracterized in concept and in practice.
Most simply, as the components of the word itself reveal, collaboration is co-laboring, working together. Collaboration doesn't necessarily imply that those working together are of like mind or even desire to be on the same team. Collaboration in its rawest and most effective form involves the equality of each participant and an open mindedness that defies conventional police interactions.
August 28, 2012
From Google News
Prosecutors: 'Anarchist' group of U.S. soldiers aimed to overthrow government
A U.S. soldier laid out an elaborate plot by a group of active and former military members to overthrow the government, telling a southeast Georgia court Monday that he was part of what prosecutors called an "an anarchist group and militia."
Dressed in his Army uniform, Pfc. Michael Burnett spoke in a Long County court about the group of Army soldiers and its role in the December deaths of a former soldier Michael Roark and his teenage girlfriend Tiffany York. Roark, he said, was killed because he allegedly took money from the group and planned to leave.
"I don't know how it got to the point where two people got murdered," Burnett said in court. Burnett talked about how he and three others accused -- Pvt. Isaac Aguigui, Sgt. Anthony Peden and Pvt. Christopher Salmon -- had first begun getting together "just going out shooting guns, just guy stuff."
"And then Aguigui introduced me to 'the manuscript,' that's what he called it, a book about true patriots," the soldier said. The four men became part of a group that aimed "to give the government back to the people," according to Burnett, who admitted that revolution was its goal. They called it FEAR -- Forever Enduring Always Ready, and spent thousands buying guns and bomb parts.
13th Annual Tredyffrin Township Citizens Police Academy
Held, 7- 9:30 p.m. every Thursday for 12 weeks beginning Sept. 27 at the Township Building, 1100 DuPortail Road
If interested contact the Director of Community Policing, Officer Larry Meoli at 610-408-3654 or e-mail him at (Lmeoli@tredyffrin.org). You may also stop by and pick up an application or view the information on our web page at www.tredyffrin.org/police/crime/cpa.aspx . Deadline for applications is September 17, 2012. This academy is being offered free of charge.
The program is designed to increase understanding between citizens and police officers through training and open communications. You are not being trained as a police officer.
The academy is an excellent program to bring the community and police department together through mutual understanding. By participating in this program citizens promote community involvement - which is the most powerful force any law enforcement agency has in the fight against crime.
Thank you for your continued support,
Anthony Giaimo, III
Superintendent of Police
Rome police unveil new community impact unit
ROME — A “groundbreaking” Rome policing unit will be taking to the streets in an aggressive effort to strategically crack down on the city's quality-of-life issues and other criminal activity.
Known as the Community Impact Unit, four city patrol officers and several detectives will build partnerships with Rome's business owners, residents and visitors to pro-actively address crime and disorder problems in the community before they become persistent scourges.
These reassigned officers will heavily saturate the foot-trafficked areas of Rome through intensive patrols on foot and bicycle, Rome police Chief Kevin Beach and Mayor Joseph Fusco said. “CIU officers patrolling through these means will not merely be responding to incidents, but rather engaging Rome's citizens on an informal basis to learn of and address chronic crime issues throughout the city,” Beach said.
Fusco and Beach will host a press conference at Rome City Hall Monday afternoon to unveil this new policing program, which is scheduled to begin its first patrols at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 4. Among the quality-of-life issues the unit will address includes disorderly conduct, littering, loitering, public intoxication and street narcotics, officials said. However, unit members will also confront crime in residential neighborhoods plagued by persistent burglaries and violations occurring within abandoned homes and lots.
From the Department of Homeland Security
Expanding our "If You See Something, Say Something™" Message to Keep Fans Safe
This morning, I joined Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber, National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern, and representatives from Major League Baseball, National Football League, National Hockey League, as well as New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chief Operating Officer Nuria Fernandez and New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jerry Houer to unveil a new sports Public Service Announcement (PSA) as part of the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) "If You See Something, Say Something(tm)" public awareness campaign.
Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League and the National Hockey League are joining together for the first time to help DHS deliver an important message to their millions of fans: if you see something that doesn't look right, report it to appropriate authorities.
The PSA will feature referees and umpires from baseball, soccer, basketball, football and hockey. It encourages everyone to be vigilant for things that don't seem right - an unattended bag or package, a vehicle that seems out of place or suspicious behavior or activity. Starting this fall, fans will see the new PSA in stadiums nationwide. You can also view the PSA on our redesigned website here.
Public and Private Sector Experts Gather in Atlanta to Strengthen Partnerships and Address Cyber Threats
Partnerships are required across all levels of government, the private sector and internationally to share information about emerging cybersecurity threats and how to stop them, and coordinate mitigation efforts in response to cyber incidents.
Last week, cybersecurity experts from the public and the private sector gathered in Atlanta for the eighth annual Government Forum of Incident Response and Cybersecurity Teams (GFIRST). More than 1,600 cybersecurity professionals from various federal agencies, state and local governments, and private businesses discussed a range of cyber-related issues from cyber intelligence to social networking. Participants had the opportunity to hear from some of the biggest names in the business, including Executive Chairman of RSA Art Coviello and founder of Black Hat and DEFCON Jeff Moss.
August 27, 2012
From Google News
John Walker Lindh Sues For Prison Prayer Group
John Walker Lindh was a middle-class kid in Northern California who converted to Islam and went to travel the world. U.S. authorities eventually captured him in Afghanistan after 9/11, when he was allegedly fighting alongside the Taliban.
His story was the focus of a "Law and Order" episode, and a song called "John Walker's Blues" by Steve Earle.
For the last five years, Lindh has been living in a secret prison facility in Indiana with convicted terrorists, neo Nazis and other inmates who get special monitoring.
On Monday, Lindh will come out of the shadows and into a federal courthouse in Indianapolis, as the plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
The devout Muslim wants to be able to pray together with his fellow inmates every day from inside the walls of his secret prison unit in Terre Haute, Ind.
"They can sit around and talk about politics or football or whatever philosophy," says Ken Falk, a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union who's representing Lindh. "The one thing they're not allowed to do is pray together for their daily prayers, which many Muslims believe is required or at least strongly preferred."
Amish beard-cutting trial attracts international attention, pitting law of God vs. law of man
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The law of God will collide with the law of man this week in a crowded federal courtroom in Cleveland, where 16 Amish defendants -- 10 men with full beards, six women in white bonnets -- will stand trial on charges related to a series of beard- and hair-cutting attacks against fellow Amish men and women last year.
And the world will be watching.
The case has attracted national and international attention, in part because of public curiosity about the normally reclusive and peaceful Amish community, and because of the peculiar nature of the alleged crimes.
Interest also has been heightened by the fact that the federal government rather than a local prosecutor brought the charges. The case is the first in Ohio to make use of a landmark 2009 federal law that expanded government powers to prosecute hate crimes.
Then there is the prospect of witnesses providing salacious testimony about an Amish bishop providing sexual counseling for married women while forcing other members of his flock to sleep in chicken coops.
New website to link Holland community, police
Holland, Michigan — Holland residents can now get up-to-the-minute alerts of police, fire or other emergencies though a free online service, Holland Public Safety Department officials said.
The city has begun using Nixle, an online messaging service, which provides alerts, advisories and community notices by way of email or text messages to mobile phones. The service covers police, fire and emergency management messages.
"Holland residents will benefit because it will be the the quickest direct communication/notification from public safety on issues that are important to the community," Holland Public Safety Department police spokesman Capt. Jack Dykstra wrote in an email to The Sentinel. "It is subscriber-based and has a geographical option as well."
Many Michigan departments started using the service last year, only to drop it when Nixle announced it would begin charging government agencies. The company has since reverted to a free model.
Dykstra said notices will not take away time from road or community policing officers because messages will be sent by police office staff, either at the command or administrative level.
Police recruitment a challenge nationally, expert says
Reaching full strength could take Rockford Police Department more than a year.
ROCKFORD — Rockford is far from alone in its struggles to hire qualified candidates to become police officers.
Although recruitment results vary with economic, social and educational factors across the country, large departments often struggle to find recruits who can meet the increasingly customer-service-oriented role of a modern police officer, said Kim Kohlhepp, manager of the Center for Testing and Career Development for the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
“Nationwide, recruitment is always a challenge for policing,” Kohlhepp said. “On the one hand, with jobs being more scarce, it makes recruiting a little easier for all jobs. Even under conditions like that, it's difficult for agencies to recruit enough qualified applicants. To become a police officer, there is a stringent background requirement that eliminates many candidates, drug testing, criminal records check and beyond that, the nature of policing has changed.”
It will likely take more than a year for the Rockford Police Department to add the 17 police officers it needs to reach its authorized strength of 285. A group of seven recruits, who have conditional employment offers, are in the final portion of the vetting process.
They would bring the department within 10 of the goal, but will require months of training before they can work on their own.