| 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.
Oct 21, 2012
Separated by law: Families torn apart by 1996 immigration measure
In a nation built by immigrants, they thought they could pursue their American Dream - with loved ones at their side. Instead, they're living an American nightmare that's tearing families apart and forcing Americans into exile.
Chris Xitco, a native of Los Angeles, never imagined that after marrying his wife Delia in 2002 and trying to legalize her, she'd end up barred by U.S. officials for life, with no pardon even possible for 10 years. She now lives south of Tijuana, Mexico, alone with the couple's two small children.
T.J. Barbour, a native of San Diego, has been struggling every day to care for a 10-year-old son, since his wife Maythe was deported and then barred from the United States in 2011 for what could be 20 years.
In central North Carolina, Anita Mann Perez has been financially ruined trying to raise three small children since her husband Jorge was exiled for 10 years in 2007. Now she's moved to Mexico to join him.
Across the country, as illegal immigrants have settled into communities, they have met Americans, fallen in love, married and had children. But when Americans have voluntarily stepped up to sponsor their spouses for legal residency, believing this was the right thing to do, they've been shocked to discover their citizenship does not trump mandatory penalties the spouses must face. Far from it.
Shoot to kill or shoot to wound?
The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions
I know law enforcement shoots neither to wound nor kill. But the rest of the public doesn't necessarily understand that. Should the profession be doing more to remedy this?
A bit of background...
Law enforcement's use of deadly force has received a lot of attention recently in my home state of Alaska. As of July this year, there had been seven police-involved shootings.
That might not sound like many in some parts of the country and it's not necessarily a lot for Alaska. But by July 2011, there had only been two officer-involved shootings in the state.
I think there's also been a cluster effect that has brought more attention on my hometown than shootings in the rest of the state. Three of the seven shootings took place in the city where I live and two of them, both fatal, occurred less than a month apart. One of those had the media, the community, the police and politicians all humming — and not the same tune.
Oct 20, 2012
Fort Hood victims want shootings to be called 'terrorist attack'
FORT HOOD, Texas - Nearly three years after the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, many of those affected are urging the government to declare it a terrorist attack, saying wounded soldiers and victims' relatives otherwise won't receive the same benefits as those in a combat zone.
About 160 people, including relatives of the 13 people killed at the Texas Army post and some of the more than two dozen wounded and their families, released a video Thursday expressing their frustration.
They say soldiers injured or killed deserve fair benefits and Purple Heart eligibility.
"The victims are being forgotten and it's frustrating," Kimberly Munley, one of the first two officers who arrived at the shooting scene on Nov. 5, 2009, told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The soldiers injured or killed have not received certain benefits and are not eligible for the Purple Heart, because the defense secretary has not declared it a terrorist attack, said John Stone, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. John Carter. The Texas Republican has sponsored a bill that would make those provisions available for the Fort Hood victims.
Bomb Threat Prompts 5-Hour Evacuation at Texas A&M
Texas A&M University's campus was shut down for about five hours Friday after an emailed bomb threat prompted an evacuation of more than 50,000 people and a building-by-building search.
A&M Police Lt. Allan Baron said officials were still searching some buildings late Friday afternoon, but no bombs had been found and people were being allowed to come back on campus to retrieve personal belongings and their cars. Evening activities campus, about 100 miles northwest of Houston, were set to go on as planned.
The threat also would not prompt extra security for Saturday's football game between sixth-ranked LSU and No. 20 A&M.
"We're not preparing for a high influx of problems. We're treating it like any other game that is sold out," Baron said.
High-traffic buildings and facilities, including dining and residence halls, had been cleared by police, Baron said, adding that he didn't know how many more buildings still needed to be searched.
Masons willing to donate land for playground
St. Johnsville, N.Y. — Impressed with the ongoing community policing initiative in the village, members of St. Johnsville Masonic Lodge No. 611 are willing to donate land to be used a children's playground.
Lodge member William Farber on Tuesday approached the mayor and village board of trustees about donating the land off Bridge Street, which he said measures nearly two acres.
“The lodge is willing to donate the land to the village so it can be used as a playground for toddlers and elementary school-aged children,” said Farber. “The lot isn't big enough to support activities for older children, at least in the lodge's opinion, but it should be fine for younger children.”
Farber said the lodge would donate the land with the understanding if the village determines the plot is no longer needed for a playground, the property be returned to the lodge.
“The lodge members are also willing to do everything they can to raise moneys, or to help raise moneys, for the purchase of equipment for the playground,” he said. “Conducting extra fundraisers, collecting donations, whatever we can do to help. The members believe this is a good project.”
Oct 19, 2012
LAPD probing Manson family link to 12 unsolved homicides
The Los Angeles Police Department disclosed Thursday that it has open investigations on a dozen unsolved homicides that occurred near places where the Manson family operated during its slew of murders four decades ago.
The Police Department made the revelation amid a legal battle to obtain hours of audio tapes recorded in 1969 between Charles Manson follower Charles “Tex” Watson and his attorney. The LAPD has said detectives believe tapes could shed more light on the activities of Manson's group.
Watson has been fighting to limit the LAPD's access to the tapes. This month, a federal judge in Texas granted an emergency order preventing the police from executing a search warrant at an office where the tapes are kept.
LAPD officials did not disclose details of the cases and said the department is examining the murders because they occurred near known Manson hangouts around the city.
“These cases have circumstances that are similar to some of the Manson killings,” Cmdr. Andy Smith said. “We are hoping that these Tex Watson tapes can provide us further clues on these cases... We are doing this for the families of these victims.”
Another day, another fiend planning to kill us, but Raymond Kelly and the NYPD and the FBI snuff out another threat
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis used Missouri college as a cover then headed to downtown Manhattan hoping to become a big shot by setting off the same kind of bomb used in the 1993 WTC attack. Thanks to never-resting security pros, he may spend the rest of his life in prison
So this time it was a Bangladeshi who wanted to use a thousand-pound bomb on the Manhattan Federal Reserve building on Liberty St. and kill more innocent people in New York City.
This time it was Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis walking around lower Manhattan, drawing a crude map and deciding whether he wanted to put his bomb at the Stock Exchange or at the Federal Reserve. He was an enemy foot soldier in the war that does not end, no timetable for troops to be withdrawn because they never will be.
“He sees too many cops at the Stock Exchange, too much of a uniformed presence, and moves on,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said on Thursday afternoon.
This is the war being fought every day by the FBI and by the NYPD, everyone involved knowing that there is always somebody new coming along with the most murderous intentions any city in this country has ever encountered. And the heroes of the city, as great as we have ever had, are the undercover agents and the police officers who continue to stop them, catch them and put them away forever.
“It is why we're looking at people all the time,” Kelly said. “It's why there are investigations constantly going forward, whether one of these plots pans out or not. We are fighting this war every day. This is the place they want to come. That is their operating premise, and we haven't been proven wrong about that.”
Undercover Muslim Agents: Mission Accomplished
Like its policies or not, the FBI's infiltration nabbed a terrorist, and thwarted an attack.
The next time you hear somebody criticize law enforcement for fielding undercovers in the Muslim community, take a walk past the Federal Reserve Bank of New York .
Then consider what very well might have happened if there had been no undercover to snare the 21-year-old man now accused of attempting to detonate what he believed to be a 1,000-pound bomb on the crowded street you are strolling.
Quazi Mohammad Rezawanul Ashan Nafis almost certainly would have kept searching for someone to join him in the jihad that prosecutors say was his primary purpose for coming to America from his native Bangladesh on a student visa in January.
He is said to call America “dar al-harb,” or “land of war,” and he could very well have ended up loading a truck not with the inert stuff supplied by the undercover FBI agent, but with explosives as real as his declared intent.
“What I really mean, is that I don't want something that's like, small. I just want something big,” he was recorded saying, according to the criminal complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court. “Something very big. Very very very very big, that will shake the whole country…make one step ahead for the Muslims…make us one step closer to run the whole world.“
Atascadero Launches New Community Policing Program
ATASCADERO, Calif. -- With continued cuts to law enforcement, central coast cities are finding new ways to address long-term problems in the community.
Atascadero is the latest city to roll out a community policing program that assigns officers to a certain section of the city.
With 26 officers on call for a city with the population of 27,000, it can be difficult for Atascadero police to get to everything.
"We cover 24/7 so there is a likelihood when someone calls in for something and its at a different time of day or a different day of the week, they may get a different officer," Sergeant Keith Falerios of the Atascadero Police Department.
The department is launching a new program that assigns officers to certain areas of the city so the next time you call 9-11 for the same problem you wont keep getting different officers.
"It's going to give the citizens who live in that area a single point of contact within the police department," Sergeant Gregg Meyer of the Atascadero Police Department.
Oct 18, 2012
New York City
Federal Reserve bombing plot foiled in NYC
A Bangladeshi national, allegedly inspired by fallen al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, was arrested Wednesday by federal authorities who accused him of a plot to bomb the Federal Reserve Bank in New York.
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, was taken into custody after allegedly assembling and attempting to detonate what he believed to be a 1,000-pound bomb whose components — unknown to him — had been provided by undercover federal agents.
The materials were rendered inoperable and posed no threat. Nafis traveled to the U.S. in January with the purpose of forming a "terrorist cell" and launching an attack, New York U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said. "Unbeknownst to Nafis, one of the individuals he attempted to recruit was actually a source for the FBI," court documents stated.
Nafis, who allegedly wrote of his intent to "destroy America," is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda. He could face life in prison, if convicted. He also is the latest in a series of terror suspects to be identified in elaborate sting operations around the country in which undercover FBI agents have supplied suspects phony devices and components to help make their cases.
Bullet tax eyed in bid to curb Chicago crime
As Chicago struggles to quell gang violence that has contributed to a jump in homicides, a top elected official wants to tax the sale of every bullet and firearm — an effort even she acknowledges could spark a legal challenge.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle will submit a budget proposal Thursday that calls for a tax of a nickel for each bullet and $25 for each firearm sold in the nation's second-largest county, which encompasses Chicago.
Preckwinkle's office estimates the tax will generate about $1 million a year, money that would be used for various county services, including medical care for gunshot victims. Law enforcement officials would not have to pay the tax, but the office said it would apply to 40 federally licensed gun dealers in the county.
Through last week, the city reported 409 homicides this year compared to 324 during the same period in 2011. Although the violence still doesn't approach the nearly 900 homicides a year Chicago averaged in the 1990s, officials say gang violence was largely to blame for a rash of shootings earlier this year.
Preckwinkle insists the ordinance is far more about addressing gun violence than raising money for a county that faces a deficit of more than $100 million next year.
New approach on crime by Winnebago DA
OSHKOSH - Winnebago County is putting a twist on the idea of community policing.
Many police departments are turning to the newer method to help curb crimes in problem areas before they start. Instead of officers, the district attorney's office is putting attorneys where the problems are.
Winnebago County District Attorney Christian Gossett says the goal of his agency's community policing program is simple.
"Community policing is about solving problems in unconventional ways and that's what this is," Gossett said.
In January, Gossett says he will divide his staff into four teams. Three prosecutors will be assigned to handle drugs and property crimes. Three others will focus on crimes involving juveniles, domestic violence and crimes against children. Two prosecutors will work on assault crimes focusing on people and places where assaults happen. Gossett himself will focus on alternative diversion programs to lower the number of people going through the court system.
Police dept. steps out of car and into classrooms
“Can I see your gun?”
Holyoke Police officer Larry Drake said this is a common question he has received from the young minds at Holyoke Elementary School.
Drake has spent the last four weeks reading books to classes at the elementary school.
As he said in March when he first began working in Holyoke, he wants to become a part of the community and get to know people. Community policing is the way he puts it. One way he is doing this is a little outreach program at the school.
Drake visits about twice a week. So far, he has been reading to students in kindergarten, first and second grades.
From the Department of Justice
Protecting the Right to Vote and Prosecuting Ballot Fraud
In anticipation of the upcoming election, the Justice Department today provided information about its efforts, through the Civil Rights and Criminal Divisions, to ensure that all qualified voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots and have their votes counted free of discrimination, intimidation or fraud in the election process .
Civil Rights Division:
The Civil Rights Division is responsible for ensuring compliance with the civil provisions of federal laws that protect the right to vote, and with federal criminal laws prohibiting discriminatory interference with that right.
The Civil Rights Division's Voting Section enforces civil provisions of federal laws that protect the right to vote including: the Voting Rights Act; the National Voter Registration Act; the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act; and the Help America Vote Act. Among other things, these laws prohibit discrimination based on race or membership in a minority language group; prohibit intimidation of voters; provide that voters who need assistance in voting because of disability or illiteracy can obtain assistance from a person of their choice; require minority language election materials and assistance in certain jurisdictions; provide for accessible election machines for voters with disabilities; require provisional ballots for voters who assert they are eligible but whose names do not appear on poll books; provide for absentee ballots for service members, their family members and U.S. citizens living abroad; and require states to ensure that citizens can register at drivers' license offices, public assistance offices , other state agencies and through the mail; and include requirements regarding maintaining voter registration lists.
Oct 17, 2012
Bath salts dangers underscored
L.A. County health officials warn against using the drug, which has been linked to a number of bizarre incidents and arrests nationwide.
Los Angeles County health officials warned Tuesday against the use of bath salts — the designer drug involved in a series of bizarre incidents and arrests — just one week after a new study charted a skyrocketing number of calls to U.S. poison control centers about the drug.
The relatively new drug has been known to provoke hallucinations, paranoia and uncontrollable violent outbursts, officials said.
"Bath salts are very dangerous and, in many cases, we don't really know what's going into this drug," L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Jonathan Fielding said in an interview after issuing the warning.
In July, President Obama signed a federal ban on the drug's three active ingredients and halted smoke shops and gas stations from selling bath salts. The drug remains available, however, online and through the black market.
From the White House
Staying Safe Online
We depend on the Internet and digital tools for many aspects of our daily lives. This fundamental reliance is why our digital infrastructure is a strategic national asset, and why today I joined leaders from the Department of Homeland Security, members of Congress, and leaders from across New York and financial world to support National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) and the Stop.Think.Connect Campaign.
This month, we recognize the role we all play in ensuring our information and communications infrastructure is interoperable, secure, reliable, and open to all. NCSAM reminds us that being safer and more secure online is a shared responsibility. That's why, during the month of October we pay special attention to “Achieving Cybersecurity Together.”
While increased connectivity has enormous benefits, it has also increased the importance and complexity of our shared risk. Many of our lives depend on technology, which makes cybersecurity one of our country's most important national security priorities. Our economy and critical infrastructure depend upon the Internet, as nearly all public and private sector entities conduct business and store critical data on Internet-connected networks.
From the FBI
Safe Online Surfing -- New Cyber Safety Website for Teachers, Students
With school back in session, one topic that's on many class curriculums around the nation is cyber safety. After all, it's a hyper-connected world—with texting, social networking, e-mail, online gaming, chat, music downloading, web surfing, and other forms of wired and wireless communication now a regular part of children's lives.
The FBI has a new program that can help. Today, as part of its longstanding crime prevention and public outreach efforts, the FBI is announcing a free web-based initiative designed to help teachers educate students about cyber safety.
It's called the FBI-SOS (Safe Online Surfing) Internet Challenge —and it was developed with the assistance of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and with the input of teachers and schools.
FBI-SOS is available through a newly revamped website at https://sos.fbi.gov. The site features six grade-specific “islands”—for third- through eighth-grade students—highlighting various aspects of cyber security through games, videos, and other interactive features. Each island has either seven or eight areas to explore—with a specific cyber safety lesson—and its own central character and visual theme. For example, fourth grade features Ice Island, complete with falling snow and penguins.
Oct 16, 2012
'Veterans Court' helps Los Angeles' ex-soldiers find the right path after being arrested
Herbert Brown was destined for prison until Veterans Court gave the former soldier a new start.
He'd used drugs for decades to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder from the Vietnam War, and was eventually arrested for selling cocaine to an undercover cop.
Veterans Court, however, allowed him to avoid prison and receive mental health and substance abuse treatment instead.
On Monday, Brown graduated from the program and Judge Miguel Tynan dismissed the charges against him.
"I was in deep trouble," Brown said during the simple graduation ceremony at a courtroom in the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles.
"I'm not good at speeches but I just want to say 'thank you' to everybody," he added.
In all, six wounded warriors became the second batch to graduate from the Los Angeles County Veterans Court program Monday.
Video shows police officers repeatedly pummeling shirtless man in Jewish youth center in Brooklyn
A volunteer security guard at the center said he called cops because he found the shirtless man drunk and sleeping in the lounge of the center, which provides services to young Jewish adults.
Two police officers repeatedly pummeled a shirtless man in a Jewish youth center in Brooklyn after they roused him from sleeping and moved to arrest him, surveillance video released Sunday night shows.
Cops showed up at the Aliya Institute on E. New York Ave. in Crown Heights on the evening of Oct. 8 after receiving a call about a fight between two men, a community source told the Daily News.
But Zlamy Trappler, 24, a volunteer security guard at the center, said he called cops because he found the shirtless man drunk and sleeping in the lounge of the center, which provides services to young Jewish adults.
Two police officers, one male and one female, found the man sleeping on a couch, surveillance video shows. The officers awaken the man, identified by CrownHeights.info, which first made the video public, as Ehud Halevi, who is swaddled in a white sheet, the video shows.
As Halevi gets to his feet, Trappler comes in, and Halevi appears to have a heated exchange with the cops and Trappler, who leaves. The exchange between Halevi and the officers intensifies, with the male cop removing a pair of handcuffs, the video shows. Halevi pushes the male officer's hands away from his body, the video shows.
The officer then charges Halevi, the video shows, punching him in the face, while the female officer appears to pepper-spray him and beats him with what appears to be a truncheon.
Arlington Police Hosting Forums to Talk Crime Trends
Four forums are slated through the first of November.
The Arlington County Police Department will host a series of community forums to discuss current crime trends throughout the county, including discussion about recent incidents of violent crime, according to a news release.
Each forum will be hosted in one of the county's three police districts. Police Chief Doug Scott, Deputy Chief Michael Dunne, and commanders and officers from each district's community policing team will attend to present information and answer questions, the release states.
Police will have statistics to present to the community as part of these events, spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said.
Oct 15, 2012
Feds target gang born in L.A.
In a novel action, the U.S. calls MS-13 a criminal organization, allowing restrictions and seizure of assets.
Federal authorities Thursday named Mara Salvatrucha MS-13, the ruthless Latin American gang born three decades ago on the streets of Los Angeles, as a "transnational criminal organization," becoming the first street gang to join the list.
The designation gives the U.S. Treasury Department the power to freeze any financial assets from the gang or its members and prohibits financial institutions from engaging in any transactions with members of the group.
Officials said the move is designed to reduce the flow of gang money within the United States and across the border. Authorities believe that money generated by MS-13 groups in the United States is funneled back to the group's leadership in El Salvador. The designation is likely to make it more difficult for gang members to use banks and wire transfers to move their profits.
Local law enforcement officials cheered the federal action, saying they hope it can significantly dent the gang's power. Among the other organizations to receive the designation are Japan's Yakuza organized crime syndicate and Mexico's Zetas, whose leader, Heriberto Lazcano, was killed by Mexican Marines on Sunday. An armed gang later stole his body from a funeral parlor.