Volunteers will be key as Sandy cleanup begins
by Julie Hays
When the water recedes and the winds calm, the cleanup from Superstorm Sandy will just be beginning. Relief groups and state agencies are registering volunteers to help with recovery efforts in storm-damaged areas in the days and weeks to come.
The New York City Mayor's Office is directing those who want to volunteer to register through NYC Service. People will be notified of opportunities as they become available.
New York Cares coordinates volunteer programs for 1,300 nonprofits, city agencies and public schools, according to its website. The organization is preliminarily registering volunteers and will be organizing disaster recovery projects after the storm passes.
New Jersey has activated its Volunteer Emergency Response Hotline. Local volunteers can call 1-800-JERSEY-7 (1-800-537-7397) to register. The New Jersey Office of Volunteerism and AmeriCorps will match volunteers based on availability and skills.
Boston Cares is organizing volunteers to assist in various locations across Massachusetts. There is an immediate appeal for additional help at Red Cross shelters.
United Way is organizing volunteers in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Go online for more information and to fill out the volunteer form.
Volunteers in Rhode Island can sign up for on-call opportunities through ServeRhodeIsland.org.
Samaritan's Purse will be organizing teams to help with debris clean up throughout the East Coast. Volunteers of any skill level can register online.
Red Cross volunteers have been dispatched from across the country to help the East Coast. Become a Red Cross Disaster Volunteer and support future Red Cross disaster response efforts.
Local Community Emergency Response Teams have also responded with help during and after the storm. To learn about CERT training and find programs in your area, go online.
In all emergency and disaster situations, volunteers should not self-deploy -- for their own safety and the safety of others. Visit Impact Your World for more ways to get involved and help all those affected by Superstorm Sandy.
'Stakes are very large' in reshaping Seattle police force, monitor says
Merrick Bobb, appointed Tuesday as the independent monitor to oversee Seattle police reform, says he is aware of resistance but hopes to move forward
by Steve Miletich and Mike Carter
Merrick Bobb, the man with the task of putting Seattle's police reform in place, says he hopes everyone involved "rolls up their sleeves" to make the changes work.
It is also the time to let lingering differences surrounding the effort become "water under the dam," Bobb says.
In a telephone interview Tuesday, the 66-year-old consultant, whose groundbreaking work on police accountability dates to the 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers, offered his views on the challenges he faces in Seattle.
"The stakes are very large," he said.
Bobb spoke shortly after U.S. District Judge James Robart named him to serve as the independent monitor overseeing the city's settlement agreement with the Department of Justice, which calls for changes to curtail excessive force and address biased policing.
The appointment of Bobb, president of Police Assessment Resource Center (PARC), a nonprofit in Los Angeles, represented a watershed moment in Seattle's decadelong struggle to deal with police-accountability issues, which came to a head with an officer's unjustified fatal shooting of woodcarver John T. Williams in August 2010.
But, in keeping with various disagreements between the city and Justice Department that preceded the settlement, Bobb's appointment didn't occur without a last-minute fight. Mayor Mike McGinn, Police Chief John Diaz and police commanders opposed Bobb on the grounds a board member of his nonprofit helped write the Justice Department report in December that led to the settlement agreement in July.
After Seattle's ethics chief found no conflict of interest, the City Council forced the issue, voting 8-to-1 last week to join the Justice Department, which had made Bobb its top choice, in recommending him for the position. McGinn called the action a mistake, but reluctantly agreed to it.
Bobb, known for his rigorous standards in bringing about police reforms, said he is aware of the resistance.
"It will be overcome," he said, by people "hopefully seeing that I am a fair, honest and credible source of information."
In his application letter to the city, Bobb wrote that his nonprofit is "not an advocacy organization" and "sees itself as an honest broker providing counsel and advice on best practice and constitutional policing to all who are interested."
He also wrote that he listens to "what law enforcement has to say," and has established good relations with police and political officials where he has worked.
But, he added, "I do not hesitate to disagree if I must" and "I call them as I see them."
After Rodney King
Bobb, who earned his law degree at the University of California, Berkeley, and worked for years as a private attorney, served as deputy general counsel to eventual Secretary of State Warren Christopher on the so-called "Christopher Commission," which investigated the Los Angeles Police Department and spurred changes there after the King beating.
He went on to perform similar work involving the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the Detroit Police Department before forming his nonprofit in 2001 and working with cities throughout the country.
His work, he said Tuesday, has been driven by a desire to "improve American policing" and the reward of seeing "marvelous results obtained in various communities."
The King beating, he said, created a "sea change" in policing, moving it from a suppression model to a community-policing model.
Bobb has carried out his work while dealing for about 10 years with Guillain-Barré syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that attacked the sheathing around his motor nerves. As a result, he was left paralyzed and uses a wheelchair.
The illness has not affected his stamina or other abilities, he said.
Bobb, whose city-funded pay and budget are still being worked out, will be surrounded by a monitoring team that includes Patrick Gannon, a former deputy chief in the Los Angeles Police Department who was recently named chief of the Los Angeles Airport Police Department; Seattle attorney Peter Ehrlichman; and Joe Brann, a former police chief in Hayward, Calif., and the first director of the Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), which works nationally with law-enforcement agencies to improve community policing.
Brann served as a consultant to Seattle officials during the negotiations with the Justice Department.
"This is a critical milestone," Thomas Bates, executive assistant U.S. attorney in Seattle, said in a statement. "Mr. Bobb and his team are highly respected professionals and bring a wealth of law enforcement experience, including Chief Pat Gannon, who is third generation LAPD and one of the most respected law enforcement leaders in the country. The focus for everyone is coming together around meaningful reform and positive change."
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, who has led his department through sweeping court-supervised changes and who is credited with building strong community ties, said Tuesday that Bobb and Seattle should be a good fit.
Recalcitrance and suspicions are common among police at the beginning of the process, Beck said, noting Bobb has experience with that.
"The LAPD did not entirely buy into the findings of the Christopher report," Beck said. "Eventually, we came around to much of it."
"I've known Merrick his entire professional career," said Beck, whose department has used PARC to investigate and make recommendations about several issues, including some involving use of force. "I have tremendous respect for him and his work. He is a pioneer in the field."
Los Angeles lessons
Beck said he has spoken several times with Seattle Police Chief Diaz in recent months, mostly about how Los Angeles police navigated through a consent decree that went significantly further than the agreement in Seattle.
While some practices that worked in Los Angeles might not work in Seattle, Beck said, the fundamentals are the same: regaining the trust of the communities and addressing the issues in the department that contributed to the breakdown.
Beck said Seattle moved closer to those goals through Bobb's selection as the monitor and by involving Los Angeles civil-rights attorney Connie Rice, a renowned figure in the changes in that city's Police Department whom McGinn has tapped as an adviser.
In an email Tuesday, Rice wrote, "I have worked with Merrick Bobb for over 15 years. The Court and the city will find that he is a superb choice for monitor. His knowledge of and respect for policing is deep, and there is no one with a better understanding of why departments fail to meet constitutional standards — and what it takes to help them meet those standards."
In Seattle, Rice added, the challenge will be to bring all parties together.
Bobb, whose appointment could last up to five years, agreed, saying the settlement will be fulfilled only when there is "mutual trust" between Seattle's communities and the Police Department that make the city safer for all.
Night Out Against Crime event set for today in west county
by Nina G. Wills
The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office District 12 Community Policing Unit will be hosting a National Night Out Against Crime today in an effort to help the community unite in the push to reduce crime and provide a night of fun for families.
“The purpose of this event is for our local police units to go out into the community and with the community take a stand against crime,” said Deputy Jessie Moreland. “We're dealing with crime both effectively and professionally.”
Moreland said it is important for the community to know what the Sheriff's Office is doing to combat crime.
“We're not just out here riding around in car,” Moreland said. “We want to let them know we have improved technology and equipment to stay ahead of the bad guys.”
There will be an opportunity for the community to see and learn about some of this technology.
The Sheriff's Office will have specialty units out, including the domestic violence unit, the corrections unit and the SWAT team. There will also be PBSO helicopters, marine boats and ATVs.
A number of area organizations, including the City of Pahokee, the American Red Cross and the Boys & Girls Club also will have information tables at the event.
Bridges at Pahokee, a parent resource and education center, will have games and activities for children and share safety tips with parents.
“This is a positive event for the community and we expect that it will be a great turnout because there really is something for everyone,” Moreland said.
The event, which also will feature a children's area with bounce houses, is from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Pahokee Marina, 190 N. Lake Ave. Hot dogs and sodas will be served.
For more information, contact Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office District 12 Community Policing Unit at 561-351-0588.
From the FBI
Annual Crime in the U.S. Report Released
Annual figures released for reported violent crimes and property crimes in the U.S. in 2011.
Latest Crime Stats --
Annual Crime in the U.S. Report Released
According to our just-released Crime in the United States, 2011 report, the estimated number of violent crimes reported to law enforcement (1,203,564) decreased for the fifth year in a row, while the estimated number of property crimes reported to law enforcement (9,063,173) decreased for the ninth year in a row.
You can access the full report on our website, but here are a few highlights:
- The South, the most populous region in the country, accounted for 41.3 percent of all violent crimes (lesser volumes of 22.9 percent were attributed in the West, 19.5 percent in the Midwest, and 16.2 percent in the Northeast).
Aggravated assaults accounted for the highest number of estimated violent crimes reported to law enforcement at 62.4 percent.
- Firearms were used in 67.8 percent of the nation's murders, 41.3 percent of robberies, and 21.2 percent of aggravated assaults (data on weapons used during forcible rapes is not collected).
- In 2011, 64.8 percent of murder offenses, 41.2 percent of forcible rape offenses, 28.7 percent of robbery offenses, and 56.9 percent of aggravated assault offenses were “cleared”—either by the arrest of the subject or because law enforcement encountered a circumstance beyond its control that prohibited an arrest after the subject was identified (i.e., death of the subject).
- 43.2 percent of the estimated property crimes occurred in the South (followed by the West with 22.8 percent, the Midwest with 21.1 percent, and the Northeast with 13 percent).
- Larceny-theft accounted for 68 percent of all property crimes in 2011.
- Property crimes resulted in estimated losses of $156.6 billion.
- Also cleared were 21.5 percent of larceny-theft offenses, 12.7 percent of burglary offenses, 11.9 percent of motor vehicle theft offenses, and 18.8 percent of arson offenses.
The FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program is one of two statistical programs administered by the Department of Justice that measures the magnitude, nature, and impact of crime—the other is the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Both were designed to complement each other, providing valuable information about aspects of the nation's crime problem, but users should not compare crime trends between the two programs because of methodology and crime coverage differences. The UCR Program provides a reliable set of criminal justice statistics for law enforcement administration, operation, and management, as well as to indicate fluctuations in the level of crime, while the NCVS provides previously unavailable information about victims, offenders, and crime…including crimes not reported to police. Additional information about the differences between the two programs can be found in the Nation's Two Crime Measures section of Crime in the United States .
Looking ahead to 2013 and beyond , the UCR Program is working to complete the automation of its data collection system, which will result in improved data collection efforts with new offense categories and revised offense definitions…as well as a faster turnaround time to analyze and publish the data. And beginning with the 2013 data, the new definition for rape will take effect, and the FBI is developing options for law enforcement agencies to meet this requirement, which will be built into the new data collection system.
UCR's Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2011 and Hate Crimes Statistics, 2011 will be available on our website later this fall.