NEWS of the Day - October 18, 2012
on some LACP issues of interest

NEWS of the Day - October 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 ...


New York City

Federal Reserve bombing plot foiled in NYC

by Kevin Johnson

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.

"The defendant thought he was striking a blow to the American economy," Lynch said. "He thought he was directing confederates and fellow believers. At every turn, he was wrong, and his extensive efforts to strike at the heart of the nation's financial system were foiled by effective law enforcement."

Federal agents began tracking Nafis in July, about seven months after he had arrived in the United States, when he told a government informant that he wanted to launch a major attack in the country.

"I just want something big," Nafis allegedly told the informant in a recorded conversation. "Very, very, very, very big that will shake the whole country."

In a series of conversations recorded over the next several weeks and months, the suspect expressed interest in targets, ranging from the New York Stock Exchange to "a high-ranking government official." The official was not identified in court documents.

FBI surveillance teams later tracked Nafis during alleged scouting missions near the stock exchange. But by September, security concerns allegedly led to the selection of the Federal Reserve Bank as the final target.

Early Wednesday, according to court documents, Nafis allegedly traveled with an undercover agent to a local warehouse where he assembled the device and attached the detonator on the drive to the target. After filming a video at a nearby hotel in which he took responsibility for the attack, he was arrested following unsuccessful attempts to detonate the phony device.



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.

"We think that's an appropriate thing to do, especially in the light of the gun violence we struggle to deal with in our criminal justice system and our public health system," she told a local newspaper editorial board this week, according to a transcript of the meeting provided by her office. "The legal gun shops in suburban Cook County are a conduit for crimes in Chicago. There's no way around it."

Preckwinkle declined to speak with The Associated Press ahead of the announcement Thursday, but her spokeswoman Kristen Mack confirmed the details of the plan.

Mack said the office has found no other jurisdiction in the nation that has imposed a tax on bullets, even though several have considered it. Legislation on such a tax was previously introduced by state lawmakers in Springfield, but has never been voted on, she said.

Richard Pearson, the executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, scoffs at such talk, saying the tax wouldn't do anything to address gang violence but would harm local businesses and law-abiding citizens.

"If she wants to get to the people causing all the problems she ought to put a tax on street gangs," he said. "All this is going to do is drive business out of Cook County, into other counties, Indiana and Wisconsin."

One suburban gun shop owner agreed, saying that his customers, many of whom are hunters and police officers, will simply go elsewhere.

"Who's going to come to Tinley Park to buy ammunition?" asked Fred Lutger, the owner of Freddie Bear Sport in that suburban Chicago community.

And, said Lutger of that money going toward treating gunshot victims, "Why should be paying for gang bangers shooting each other? You're taxing law-abiding citizens for what criminals are doing."

Gun rights advocates spent years challenging in court Chicago's handgun ban, which was ultimately overturned in 2010 by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lutger said a lawsuit was certain. Pearson said he and others started talking about a legal challenge as soon as they heard Preckwinkle was considering the tax.

Even Preckwinkle seemed resigned to a legal challenge in her comments to the newspaper board.

"You can't make decisions based on the basis of whether or not somebody's going to sue you or then you'll never do anything," she said.




New approach on crime by Winnebago DA

by Chad Doran

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.

"If we don't gain a better understanding of the underlying issue for a particular area or a particular group of people then we are never going to be able to hone in on it," Gossett said.

Gossett says places like UW-Oshkosh, parks and other locations in communities could be designated as safe zones. Places that will receive extra police patrols and places where he says crimes of any kind will not be tolerated.

"We're going to try to make it so that areas that should be safe are safe," Gossett said.

Trying to prevent problems before they become prosecutions.

Gossett says there will be a learning curve for all of the attorneys. He says the teams have already started reaching out to various groups in the county.




Police dept. steps out of car and into classrooms

by Chris Lee

“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.

After coordinating the project with elementary principal Kyle Stumpf and getting the OK from HPD chief Doug Bergstrom, Drake grabbed some books and began reading.

Not wanting to take too much time from the teachers, Drake spends roughly 20 minutes in the classroom when he is there.

Last Tuesday, Drake read to the students in Allie Billings' second-grade classroom. After reading Guji Guji, Drake passed out some fun material for the students to take home.

Reading isn't the only focus of the visits. He also wants to assure students that the police aren't scary and they are approachable.

He also reiterates that it is important to call 911 when there is an emergency.

“So far, so good,” Drake said of the outreach program.

At the end of his visit he also presents the students with a junior officer oath. The oath reads, “I promise to follow the rules of our teacher at school, and the rules my parents have at home. I promise to respect my friends, my family and myself. I promise to help make Holyoke Elementary a safer and better place.”

Drake got the idea from one of his instructors at Community College of Aurora's police academy. The 26-year veteran encouraged Drake throughout his training and emphasized the community policing aspect.

Drake has already been speaking with elementary counselor Sharon Jones about presenting a bullying workshop to some of the older students. Drake also said a D.A.R.E. program could be a possibility in the future.



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.

The Civil Rights Division's Criminal Section enforces federal criminal statutes that prohibit voter intimidation and suppression based on race, color, national origin or religion.

As it has in the past, on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012, the Civil Rights Division will implement a comprehensive program to help ensure ballot access that will include the following:

  • Shortly before the election, the Civil Rights Division will announce which jurisdictions will have federal personnel as election monitors and observers at polling places.
  • Civil Rights Division attorneys in both the Voting and Criminal Sections in Washington, D.C., will be ready to receive election-related complaints of potential violations relating to any of the statutes the Civil Rights Division enforces. Attorneys in the division will take appropriate action and will consult and coordinate with local U.S. Attorneys' Offices and with other entities within the Department of Justice concerning these complaints before, during, and after Election Day, as appropriate.

Civil Rights Division staff will be available by phone to receive complaints related to ballot access (1-800-253-3931 toll free or 202-307-2767) or by TTY (1-877-267-8971). In addition, individuals may also report complaints, problems, or concerns related to voting by fax to 202-307-3961, by email to voting.section@usdoj.gov and, closer to Election Day, by complaint forms that may be submitted through a link on the department's website, at www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/

Complaints related to violence or threats of violence at a polling place should, in the first instance, always be reported to local police authorities by calling 911.

Criminal Division and the Department's 94 U.S. Attorneys' Offices:

The Department's Criminal Division oversees the enforcement of federal laws that criminalize certain election fraud and vindicate the integrity of the federal election process.

The Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section and the Department's 94 U.S. Attorneys' Offices are responsible for enforcing the federal criminal laws that prohibit various forms of election fraud, such as vote buying, multiple voting, submission of fraudulent ballots or registrations, destruction of ballots or registrations, alteration of votes and malfeasance by election officials . The Criminal Division is also responsible for enforcing federal criminal law prohibiting voter intimidation that does not involve a basis in race , color , national origin or religion (as noted above, voter intimidation that has a basis in race, color, national origin or religion is addressed by the Civil Rights Division).

The department encourages each U.S. Attorney's Office to communicate with state election officials before the federal general elections regarding the handling of election-related matters in their respective districts. In addition, the department provides annual training for the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who serve as district election officers (DEOs) in their respective districts. DEOs are responsible for overseeing potential election-crime matters in their districts , and for coordinating with the department's election-crime experts in Washington, D.C.

On Nov. 6, 2012, the U.S. Attorneys' Offices will work with specially trained Federal Bureau of Investigation personnel in each district to ensure that complaints from the public involving possible voter fraud are handled appropriately . Specifically:

  • Federal prosecutors at the Public Integrity Section, the DEOs in U.S. Attorneys' Offices, FBI officials at headquarters in Washington, D.C., and FBI Special Agents serving as Election Crime Coordinators in the FBI's 56 field offices will be on duty while polls are open, to receive complaints from the public.

  • Election fraud or intimidation complaints should first be directed to the local U.S. Attorney's Office or the local FBI office. A list of U.S. Attorneys' Offices and their telephone numbers can be found at www.justice.gov/usao/offices/index.html , and a list of FBI offices and accompanying telephone numbers can be found at the “Contact Us” button at http://www.fbi.gov. Again, however, complaints related to violence or threats of violence at a polling place should, in the first instance, be reported to local police authorities by calling 911.

  • Election fraud or intimidation complaints may also be directed to the Public Integrity Section (202-514-1412). Public Integrity Section prosecutors are available to consult and coordinate with the U.S. Attorneys' Offices and FBI regarding the handling of election-crime allegations.

Both protecting the right to vote and combating election fraud are essential to maintaining the confidence of all Americans in our democratic system of government. We encourage anyone who has information suggesting voting discrimination or ballot fraud to contact the appropriate authorities.