NEWS of the Day - November 16, 2012
on some LACP issues of interest

NEWS of the Day - November 16, 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 ...


Iran's nuclear program ready to ramp up

by George Jahn

VIENNA - Iran is on the threshold of being able to create weapons-grade uranium at a plant it has heavily fortified against Israeli attack, diplomats told The Associated Press on Thursday, calling into question an Israeli claim that Iran had slowed its nuclear time table.

One of three diplomats who discussed the issue said Iran was now technically ready within days to ramp up its production of 20 percent enriched uranium at its Fordo facility by nearly 700 centrifuges. That would double present output, and cut in half the time it would take to acquire enough of the substance needed to make a nuclear weapon, reducing it to just over three months.

Such a move would raise the stakes for Israel, which has said it believes the world has until next summer to stop Iran before it can get nuclear material and implied it would have time to decide whether to strike Fordo and other Iranian nuclear facilities.

The two other diplomats who spoke to the AP could not confirm the 700 number. But both agreed that Tehran over the past few months had put a sizeable number of centrifuges at Fordo under vacuum. It takes only a few days to begin enrichment with machines that are under vacuum.

While experts agree that the Islamic Republic could assemble enough weapons-grade uranium to arm a nuclear weapon relatively quickly, they point out that this is only one of a series of steps need to create a working weapon. They say that Tehran is believed to be years away from mastering the technology to manufacture a fully operational warhead.

All three diplomats are from member nations of the IAEA, which is scheduled to release its latest report on Iran's nuclear program as early as Friday. They demanded anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss restricted information with reporters.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak's assertion earlier this month that Iran has "essentially delayed their arrival at the red line by eight months," is in line with the timeframe laid out by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September, when he spoke at the U.N. General Assembly.

IAEA officials said they would have no comment. A phone call to Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's IAEA representative, went to voice mail.

Based on intelligence from the United States and other IAEA member nations as well as its own research, the agency suspects that Tehran has done secret work on developing nuclear weapons. Washington and its allies also fear that Iran is enriching uranium to reach the ability to make such arms. But Tehran denies any interest in atomic arms, dismisses allegations that it has conducted weapons experiments and insists it is enriching only to make nuclear fuel and for research.

In Washington, President Barack Obama told reporters there is still time for the United States and Iran to reach agreement on Iran's nuclear program.

Obama said there should be a way for Iran to enjoy "peaceful nuclear power" while still meeting international obligations and providing assurances that they are not developing nuclear weapons.

The Vienna-based IAEA, in its last report in August, said that Tehran had doubled the number of centrifuges at Fordo within three months to more than 2,000. Diplomats since then have told reporters that hundreds more have been installed, bringing the total to nearly 2,800, or full capacity for Fordo. But the number operating - about 700 - has not changed from early this year.

Iran has a far larger enrichment plant at Natanz, in central Iran, which churns out uranium enriched below 4 percent. But the 20-percent material being produced at Fordo is of greater concern to the international community because it can be turned into weapons-grade uranium of 90 percent purity much more simply and quickly - and because the facility, near the holy city of Qom, is well protected against attack.

Barak's comments appeared prompted by the IAEA's August report, which said Iran had turned much of its 20-percent uranium into reactor fuel plates that are difficult to retool into warhead material. As a result, it is still far short of the amount of more highly enriched uranium it would need to progress to weapons-grade levels.

But depending on how many more centrifuges it activates, it could quickly replace the converted material and reach the 140 kilograms - about 300 pounds - needed for at least one warhead.

Tehran "should be in a position to produce enough (material) for two or three" nuclear warheads by the summer, if does decide to double output in the next few weeks, said Olli Heinonen, the International Atomic Energy Agency's deputy director general in charge of the Iran file until 2010.




Watchful eyes of citizens

Mike Almond had four good reasons to join Superior's new Citizen Watch program, his daughters.

by Maria Lockwood

Mike Almond had four good reasons to join Superior's new Citizen Watch program, his daughters.

“For me, first and foremost, it's my kids,” he said. “The more deterrent I have to keep drugs away from them, the better.”

He learned about the program when he approached Nora Fie, children's librarian at the Superior Public Library, about setting up a safety awareness class for children. As they worked on the class, tentatively scheduled for April, Community Policing Officer Bonnie Beste asked Almond to think about joining the Citizen Watch.

“I'll do my share,” said Almond, who lives on Oakes Avenue. “I'm just trying to do my part.”

When Kathleen “Kitty” Otto learned the new Citizen Watch program was starting, she was quick to join along with her sisters Dawn Priem and Tammy O'Brien. All three women are former members of the Superior Police Auxiliary.

“The Neighborhood Watch is a good thing,” said Otto, who lives on Weeks Avenue. “It does, it keeps the crime down.”

Currently their group boasts nine members, the youngest of whom is 53.

“Everybody wanted to join, nobody wanted to be captain,” Otto said, so she stepped up for the role. Their Citizen Watch members keep an eye out as they walk their dogs, drive through the area or look out the window.

“We can get to know our neighbors,” Priem said. “Not only us watching out for them, but them watching out for us … people care.” And they all want their neighborhood to be nice, Otto said.

A table in the lobby of Elmwood Apartments has become a desk station for members of the watch, with printouts of laws, identification tips and more available.

Almond takes walks through the neighborhood with his cockapoo, Teddy. His next door neighbor drives by area businesses late at night to check on them. Becoming part of the Citizen Watch has helped Almond put names to the faces of neighbors he used to just wave and say “Hi” to.

One challenge still lies ahead, and it will include coffee. Almond and Beste are planning a meet and greet with some of his neighbors, the residents of Golden Apartments.

“I'm African American; I'm a big guy,” Almond said, and he wanted to let the older ladies at the apartments know that they shouldn't call the cops if they see him wandering through their parking lot in the early morning hours.

“I'm here to help,” he said.

There are 33 active members of the Citizen Watch, according to Beste, covering all areas of Superior. And they are actively recruiting. As Almond and Otto put it: “The more, the merrier.”

The groups are also seeking monetary donations to purchase neighborhood watch street signs, window clings, magnetic bumper stickers and vests. Those outward signs can pay big dividends. People don't break the law in front of a police officer because they see the cop car or uniform, Beste said.

“We know the police can't be everywhere,” Priem said. But signs of an active Citizen Watch can also be a “huge deterrent” to crime, according to Beste. Their presence can protect both residents and businesses.

Members of Superior's Citizen Watch serve as extra eyes and ears for the police department. They keep an eye out for anything different, dangerous or out of the ordinary. If something doesn't look right, they call the police.

Almond acts as the leader and focal point for his group. Members call him with information and he passes it on to police. Otto said most members in her group tend to call the cops themselves.

Citizen Watch members don't have to take regular patrol shifts or commit to dozens of hours.

“From what Bonnie was explaining, hey, a walk around the block helps,” Almond said. “Every little bit helps.”

Anyone interested in becoming a member of the Citizen Watch or donating funds for the program should call Beste at 715-395-7401 or email besteb@ci.superior.wi.us .



Cedar Rapids Police Chief Asks Community for Help Stopping Gun Violence

by Aaron Hepker

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - New Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman made his first public plea Thursday, asking for witnesses to come forward to help stop a spike in gun violence.

Gunfire in the city this year is already up 34 percent, with 59 confirmed reports this year compared to 44 in all of 2011. At least 13 people have been shot, including two who died from their injuries. In the past 25 shooting incidents, including four in the past week, no arrests have been made.

Jerman, who started Oct. 29, said in a statement issued by the department Thursday that he is “outraged” that more witnesses are not coming forward with information to help solve the shootings.

“I am upset by the number of reports of shots fired and disappointed that more citizens are not coming forward with information to hold these offenders accountable,” Jerman said.

The bloodiest stretch of shootings happened in mid-April, when four people were shot in four days. One of them, 22-year-old Raphael Blackwell, died.

Police have made arrests in six of the shooting cases, including the Blackwell homicide. But so far no arrests have been made in connection with the shooting death of 19-year-old Latasha Roundtree, who was shot Sept. 22.

In some cases, victims have been uncooperative with investigators. Police said that was the case when two men were shot in the 2100 block of C Street SW on March 29. Investigators cited similar difficulties after a drive-by shooting on a sunny morning in July that left a car riddled with more than a dozen bullet holes.

The pace of the shootings had seemed to slow, but has picked up again this past week. Three houses had windows shot out Friday and a man was shot in the leg Sunday. More gunfire Tuesday afternoon left bullet holes in two houses and a garage in Wellington Heights.

“These acts will not be tolerated,” Jerman said. “The citizens are obviously reporting the act itself, but we need more citizens to come forward with who is committing these crimes. There are individuals that know who is doing this, and I am outraged that they are not coming forward with the information.”

Residents are urged to call 911 immediately when they hear gunshots, and to be ready to report the location, a description of the shooter or shooters and any vehicles involved, and the direction the people or vehicle went.

Tips can be submitted by calling the department's investigative division at (319) 286-5400 or by flagging down a patrol officer. Anonymous tips are also accepted through the Linn County Crime Stoppers, by calling 1-800-CS-CRIME (272-7463) or by texting CRIMES (274637) with 5227 in the message or subject line and the tip. Rewards are possible if the information leads to an arrest.

Jerman said one of his top priorities is to make Cedar Rapids safer.

“I encourage citizens to make that call, text that tip and help stop these shootings and hold those responsible for hurting our neighbors and damaging property,” Jerman said. “I believe in community policing. Notice that “community” is the first word listed. Make no mistake; these words go together for a complete phrase. But police cannot operate without the help of the community.”



U.S. finds lack of accountability in Las Vegas police shootings

by Timothy Pratt

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday released the results of an investigation into the use of force and officer-involved shootings by Las Vegas police, finding a lack of accountability by the department.

The agency's investigation comes after Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers were involved in a record 25 shootings in 2010, the cap to a decade that saw that number top 20 three times, another first.

The surge in police use of force was documented in a five-part series in the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper last year that looked at dozens of shootings over two decades in which 142 civilians were killed and no officers were fired or prosecuted.

"The (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department) is taking too narrow an approach by just looking at whether an officer was in fear of his life - they're not holding officers accountable to adhere to the department's policies and principles," said James "Chips" Stewart of CNA, a Virginia-based research and analysis firm hired by the DOJ for the study.

The report makes 75 findings and recommendations, including that LVMPD's use of force policy is too cumbersome and difficult to implement and that most of the unarmed civilians involved in shootings were black.

It also said the board used to review the use of force by police officers was "outdated and insufficient," according to Bernard Melekian, director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services at the Justice Department.

The DOJ began its on-the-ground look at the LVMPD several months after officials read the newspaper series on police use of force and interviewed nearly 100 people, including officers, prosecutors, police union officials and community groups, Melekian said.

Sheriff Douglas Gillespie, who oversees the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, said he had not seen the findings until today but was "not afraid of this report" and embraced its findings.

Melekian said the DOJ report into the LVMPD and its recommendations were different from a federal consent decree, which is more time-consuming and expensive. The report released Thursday, he said, came out of a "collaborative reform process."

The Justice Department's civil rights division may yet pursue investigations of specific cases involving shootings by officers, he said, and his office would revisit the police agency in six months and issue another report in a year.

Dane Claussen, executive director of the ACLU of Nevada, said he was concerned about the lack of data on racial disparities in Las Vegas-area police work. He said that neither the federal agency nor LVMPD collected this data, adding, "somebody's got to do it."




Clearwater Police Recognized for Hispanic Outreach

Clearwater Police is profiled in a national report regarding police work in immigrant communities.

by Jared Leone

Clearwater Police Department is profiled in the Vera Institute of Justice's comprehensive report, "Engaging Police in Immigrant Communities: Promising Practices from the Field."

The report serves as a guide for law enforcement agencies that are looking to begin or expand work with immigrant communities.

Clearwater Police is one of 10 agencies selected out of more than 200 nationwide to be featured for its positive practices in engaging immigrants in the community.

Clearwater began its Hispanic Outreach Program, Operation Apoyo Hispano, in 2001 after recognizing the need to break down cultural and language barriers with a growing Hispanic community.

"Our Hispanic outreach efforts are a very important component of our community policing strategy," said Clearwater Police Chief Anthony Holloway. "We understand and recognize the value of positive and open communication with all members of our community whom we serve."

Clearwater best practices highlighted in the report include:

  • Helping create a Hispanic Outreach Center to offer bilingual (English and Spanish) victim advocacy, family advocacy, mental health counseling, legal and immigration services and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. The center is also the primary workstation for the CPD's Hispanic Liaison Officer.
  • Creating a civilian interpreter program in partnership with the YWCA of Tampa Bay
  • Partnering with multiple organizations to create the Clearwater Area Task Force Against Human Trafficking, which identifies trafficking victims, provides victim support and uncovers trafficking networks

To view the report visit: http://cops.usdoj.gov/RIC/ResourceDetail.aspx?RID=672