NEWS of the Day - December 12, 2012
on some LACP issues of interest

NEWS of the Day - December 12, 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 ...


Must some stores buy lifesaving defibrillators? Court will decide

by Eric Hartley

How far does the duty to try to save a life go?

That philosophical question became a legal one Tuesday as the California Supreme Court was asked to weigh in.

In recent years, many stores and government buildings have installed automated external defibrillators, which can save the lives of people whose hearts stop.

But now the court must decide whether a store can be required to have a defibrillator - and held liable if it doesn't.

The question in the underlying case is whether Target Corp. is responsible for the death of a woman who went into cardiac arrest and died in a Los Angeles County store.

But the court's answer could have broad implications for stores across California.

Mary Ann Verdugo, 49, went into cardiac arrest on Aug. 31, 2008 at the Target in Pico Rivera. By the time paramedics got to her, she was dead.

The store did not have an automated external defibrillator, or AED.

Verdugo's family sued Target in state court, arguing the company breached its duty to provide care to members of the public invited into its store. The case was moved to federal court because Target is headquartered in another state, Minnesota.

A federal trial judge threw the case out, ruling Target had no legal duty to have an AED on hand. Verdugo's mother and brother appealed.

There's no California law requiring any store to have defibrillators on hand. But long-standing state common law requires stores to provide first aid to the public, a theory known as the "duty of care."

Could a jury hold that means a Target must buy an AED for every store?

Because that's a question of California law, not federal law, the federal appeals court's order Tuesday asked the California Supreme Court to answer it. That process is known as "certifying a question of law."

How the state high court answers will determine how the federal case proceeds.

In court filings, Target says the duty to provide first aid means only that store employees must call 911 to summon help for someone having a medical emergency.

Verdugo's family says what's required has changed as technology has changed. They argue that with cardiac arrest so common - nearly 700 Americans a day die of it - and AEDs a proven lifesaver, it's reasonable to require them to be on hand.

David Eisenstein, a lawyer for the Verdugo family, said whether a store could be held liable would depend on factors including the size of the store and the number of shoppers. A mall or a big box store such as Target might have a duty to have an AED, while a small store might not. Juries or judges could decide in individual cases.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Harry Pregerson said he would have ruled for the Verdugos and sent the case to trial.

Almost 300,000 people a year have sudden cardiac arrest, and 95 percent of them die, Pregerson wrote, and requiring AEDs in large stores such as Target is not burdensome.

The judge noted Target sells defibrillators on its own website for $1,200.



New Jersey

Salvation Army still in need of donors

by Anna Jeffries

NEWARK — With Christmas about two weeks away, the staff and volunteers of the Salvation Army are working to make sure Licking County families have the food, clothing and gifts they need.

Requests for Christmas assistance are up this year, so even more donations are needed, said Kaye Hartman, volunteer coordinator at the Salvation Army.

This year, the agency is helping 1,300 families through their Christmas Cheer program, including about 2,666 children. That's about 600 more children than in 2011, she said.

Many families have told Hartman they have enough food and clothing to get by, but they can't afford to buy any extras, she said.

“We had a lot of folks tell us even though they are working, they are barely making ends meet,” she said. “There's not a lot of extra money.”

The Salvation Army also has received more requests for boxes of food from senior citizens than in years past, she said.

One of the main ways the Salvation Army funds its Christmas Cheer program is through donations collected in its red Salvation Army kettles.

Bell ringers have been stationed at kettles around Licking County since Nov. 23. Although donations have been coming in, the weather has made things challenging, Hartman said.

“The rain has killed us. If people are coming out of a store and it's pouring, they probably aren't going to stop,” she said. “We are doing OK, but we need to do better.”

This year, the Salvation Army has an 8-foot-tall kettle that has been traveling around to different events to collect donations. The kettle's name, Faith, Hope and Charity, was chosen by two sisters, Gia and Kia Mullins, who attend St. Francis de Sales School, Hartman said.

“They thought we should name it (that), because that's what the Salvation Army is all about,” she said.

In addition to dropping change in a kettle, Licking County residents can help the Salvation Army by taking tags off the Angel Trees at area businesses. The tags have information about a child or family and list their Christmas wishes.

Many people and businesses already have sponsored families or made donations. Children in Trinity Episcopal Church's Sunday school raised money to put together gift bags for children in the Salvation Army's shelter. The bags will be put together Saturday and given to the recipients Tuesday.

However, the Salvation Army needs more people to buy gifts for middle and high school students, so they have something to open on Christmas.

“Older children are harder to shop for,” Hartman said. “People are more reluctant to take those tags off the tree.”

Gift certificates to stores such as Walmart or Game Stop make great gifts for older kids. Even a gift card to McDonald's or a coffee shop can mean a lot for a teenager, she said.

All angel tree gifts must be turned in to the Salvation Army by Monday, Hartman said.

“We could use people to take more tags,” she said. “We've got to take care of all of (the children).”




Brazilians visit to learn about community policing

Ten experts from Brazil who specialize in human rights, law enforcement and public safety recently met with Chief Mike Mieras and Deputy Chief Jason Trevino of the Washoe County School District Police Department to learn more about the concept of community policing.

The officers come from the city of Recife in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco. Recife is one of the most violent cities in the country, and authorities there say they are battling the highest homicide rate per capita in Brazil.

“We hope the community policing concept will catch on there, bring down their homicide rate and increase their quality of life,” said Jack Thompson, a representative of the U.S. Mission in Brazil who accompanied the group. “We assembled this group to work together as a team because community policing does not involve just the police; it takes a village.”

“We are so proud and honored to meet this group, and we're anxious to tell them how we protect our students, our schools and our community,” said Mieras. “We call our program ‘Positive, Proactive, Professional Policing,' and we're happy to share information about our community policing system with them.”

Community policing is a philosophy that promotes proactively addressing the conditions that prompt criminal activity, social disorder and fear of crime. It focuses primarily on collaborative partnerships between law enforcement and the community.

Such programs are increasingly common in the United States but not in Brazil. Police departments operated by school districts are equally uncommon in South American countries.

“They're very curious,” said Thompson. “A school police department is a completely alien concept to them. They're having a Eureka moment right now, just wrapping their heads around that.”

The group also toured Sparks High School to learn more about how the district conducts emergency management efforts during natural disasters and lockdowns. At Sparks Middle School, the group learned about the “single point of entry” security system and other safety procedures at school.

During its 10-day visit to the United States, the group is also visiting local governmental agencies in Minneapolis and Mankato, Minn., and Little Rock, Ark., to learn about their policing methods.

— Submitted by Vickie Campbell