NEWS of the Day - March 11, 2013
on some LACP issues of interest

NEWS of the Day - March 11, 2013
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 ...


Speed cameras are a scam, Ohio judge rules

A judge in Ohio says what so many have been thinking, but never expected to hear from a judge. He described them as "nothing more than a high-tech game of 3-card Monty."

by Chris Matyszczyk

Many believe that speed cameras were invented by Fagin.

They perch there in all arrogance, waiting for the next sucker whose pocket they'll pick.

Some localities have come to admit that they don't reduce accidents. Arizona took the decision to remove its highway speed cameras altogether.

Baltimore's were so riddled with errors that they were removed recently too.

Who could forget the recent, poetic incident in Baltimore when a speed camera decided (with the help of a human police officer) that a stationary car was speeding.

The chorus of suspicion surrounding these dubious objects has now been joined by one of the last people you'd suspect: a judge.

As WDTN-TV Ohio reports, Judge Robert Ruehlman this week declared that speed cameras were "a scam."

He vehemently criticized the authorities of Elmwood Place, Ohio, a village that installed speed cameras and then began to bathe in revenue as divas bathe in champagne.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that the judge also described the cameras as "nothing more than a high-tech game of 3-card Monty."

More Technically Incorrect

In the first month of the cameras' activity, Elmwood Place sprinkled 6,600 speeding tickets, each of which generated $105.

Oddly, there are only 2,000 residents in the whole of Elmwood Place.

Locals decided this resembled backstreet robbery and so went to court, also offering the legal defense that the cameras were installed without displaying the appropriate public notices to warn people this was coming.

The judge ordered the village to just stop it with the speeding tickets.

The village, perhaps concerned that its pockets might cease to bulge, is to appeal his verdict.

The attorney for the plaintiffs, Mike Allen, however, told the Columbus Dispatch: "This is the first time that a judge has said 'enough is enough'. I think this nationally is a turning point."

There is, perhaps, still a long way to go before the nation's local authorities will decide to forgo such as easy money-spinning device.

In the meantime, please think of the poor people of Dayton, Ohio. There, if you have two unpaid tickets, the city can now legally tow your car away.

How's that for justice?





Submitted by mjacquez Arcata, Ca- The Arcata Police Department has been given an award by the State of California. It's the James Q. Wilson Award for Excellence in Community Policing. The award is recognizing the Youth and Family Services Division, now an award-winning program.

Some might say that a police officers job is to respond to calls and make arrest. But in Arcata officers say they are doing much more. Lieutenant Ryan Peterson said, "It's not just going out and arresting the bad guy. It's going out and fixing the problem… we are trying to do something that is unique, something that is different. Something that is going to have this long term, lasting effect on the community of Arcata."

One of the programs in the division is called ‘Cops and Kids.' The program is a way for students to see officers beyond the badge. Lt. Peterson added, "police officers really are promoting something like literacy. That being in school, reading, and getting a good education is the most important thing that a child can do."

The Principal at Arcata Elementary said the students enjoy the interaction with the officers. Principal Margaret Flenner said, "the kids see them in a different light. Rather then just the authoritarians, they see them as being apart of the school and the community… when they see them they are waving to them. When they see them in town they go up and talk to them."

And Arcata Police said that's exactly the kind of community response they are looking to achieve. Lt. Peterson said, "We want to be there to help our youth, to be a positive role model. We want them to grow up and be positive productive members of society."

In winning the James Q. Wilson Award, Arcata Police beat out agencies like San Francisco and San Jose police departments.



"You're on your own": Video claims police unable to help

The video, created by activists, features footage of police suggesting measures for warding off home invaders

by PoliceOne Staff

An undercover video has been released by conservative activists who claim it highlights how residents are "on their own" when it comes to warding off home invasions, and illustrates the "importance of recognizing a gun's role in saving lives."

Camera operators from Project Veritas, headed by James O'Keefe, asked police officers in their stations in North Carolina, New Jersey, and New York for advice on what homeowners should do while waiting for police to arrive.

While a few officers suggested applying for gun permits, the group says the majority of the advice was the same: fend for yourself. Police suggested anything from locking yourself behind closed doors and screaming, using bleach and ammonia, and having a dog to protect your home.

In some instances, the cops tell the videographers that they have incredibly long response times and one North Carolina officer saying, "We can't always get there. Look at the traffic right now."

Some other excerpts from the video:

"We try. We can't always get there." – Fuquay-Varina, NC

"Sometimes we can't be anywhere at all because everybody's tied up." – Durham, NC

"Lock yourself in a bedroom, start yelling and screaming." – Jersey City, NJ

"Some people have dogs." – Yonkers, NY

"Go get some bleach. Go get ammonia." - East Orange, NJ

"A rifle and shotgun is actually for luxury." – Kew Gardens, NY

"It's 2013. It's the United States of America. You lock your doors and you hope nothing happens." – Dobbs Ferry, NY

O'Keefe, who has drawn attention previously for hidden-camera filming of organizations such as ACORN and Planned Parenthood, claimed the goal of the investigation was to highlight the "importance of recognizing a gun's role in saving lives."

"Media hypocrites have never even bothered to ask about all the lives that guns can save. So we did," he said.




Police reserve program touted

by Mike Blasky

When people hear the term, "reserve police officer," their first impression doesn't always match reality.

Critics might picture a bumbling Barney Fife patrolling the streets of Mayberry, but Kevin McMahill sees an opportunity for a dedicated volunteer officer force with the same abilities as a full-time Las Vegas police officer.

"People have a natural reluctance to think we could field a fully capable reserve officer ... because they think those officers wouldn't be up to par in training," said McMahill, deputy chief of the Patrol Division.

"The reality is, they would have the same training and the same requirements as a regular officer. And it's proven to be effective in so many other jurisdictions," he said.

Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Diego are three nearby cities with a healthy reserve program, McMahill said. Las Vegas used reserve officers more than 20 years ago, although the practice was eventually dissolved.

"We're one of the few last major police organizations that doesn't have a robust reserve officer program," he said.

McMahill has pitched his bosses on the benefits of such a program for a long time. Recently, they started listening.

The deadline for applicants to the first reserve academy was midnight Friday. As of Friday morning, the department had received almost 500 applications.

The academy could begin in September or October, barring any bumps in the road. The applicants who pass their background test, a 420-hour police academy and 200 hours of field training - likely a small percentage - could start patrolling Las Vegas as early as next year.

The reserve academy requires about half the hours of the regular department academy because some functions - such as driving - are not needed. Reserves also won't be trained to take complicated narcotics or sexual assault reports.

But little would distinguish a reserve from a full-time officer. They would wear the same uniform, put on the same badge and carry a gun. The main difference is reserves will work part time and won't be paid.

McMahill's vision is for the first batch of reserves to supplement Operation Safe Strip, a longtime program to boost the number of officers on Las Vegas Boulevard at high-traffic times, especially on the weekend and during the summer.

Currently, the department moves a few officers assigned to each local area command and places them on the Strip each weekend. But pulling officers from their normal assignments drains resources in the neighborhoods.

Each reserve would be paired with a full-time officer, likely on a foot-patrol beat or in a two-person squad car. The main focus will be to increase the "visible presence" at the city's economic hub.

"The reality of it is, we're still not effectively policing up there. There are 300,000 visitors at any given time up there. It's a difficult job," McMahill said.

Deputy Chief Gary Schofield, who will oversee the human resources of the program, said the Strip is the lifeblood of the community and must be properly staffed.

"The reason my family is here and everybody else's family is here, and the livelihood we have is because of Las Vegas Boulevard," he said.

Schofield said police are looking for applicants with a strong sense of community.


Reserves will be required to work at least 20 hours a month, a large burden for people with full-time jobs and families, he said. And that's after a long academy and field training period.

"Think about how many hours you have to go through to get to the level you need," he said. "To do that two days a week, and one day on a weekend, is a pretty heavy-duty commitment. ... for an unpaid, volunteer position that requires you to spend an extraordinary amount of time getting trained."

McMahill said he first proposed the idea of a modern reserve program when the department began feeling an economic crunch from falling property tax revenue.

"We were looking then at a $60 million budget deficit and there was no end in sight," he said. "We haven't hired anybody in awhile."

The department is facing a projected $46 million budget shortfall in the next fiscal year, which begins in July.

As officers have retired and positions have been eliminated, McMahill's officers are feeling the heat. The department is about 43 patrol officers from minimum staffing level.

At this pace, he expects to be near the "break even" point within a few months, he said.

"I have the largest organization in the department and the numbers continue to dwindle," he said.

Not everyone is convinced reserve officers are the answer, however.

Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada , said studies of the department - such as the U.S. Department of Justice study last year - showed problems with training and implementing policy.

"Putting people out there with half-training is just going to create more problems," he said.

Lichtenstein said he hoped Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie would reconsider.

"While there's obviously a budget shortfall, they might want to look at Metro officers already trained from areas that are not as important, such as administration things, and putting them on the street where they're needed," he said.

The department's liability if a reserve officer makes a mistake is the same as it is with a regular officer. If a reserve officer is shot or hurt, he would be entitled to the same workers' compensation.

Chris Collins, executive director of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, the union that represents rank-and-file Las Vegas officers, said he hadn't been briefed on the program and declined comment.

McMahill said the reserve program was never intended to circumvent the hiring of full-time officers.


The department will start hiring regular officers when its financial outlook improves. But a reserve officer is a way of reducing long-term costs, he said.

With 50 reserve officers, the department could save an estimated $500,000 in one year. With 275 officers, a proposed number after four or five years, the department could save an estimated $2.4 million.

Police have been finding ways to cut costs for several years, Schofield said.

Volunteer patrol services representatives already work in Las Vegas. The volunteers wear different colored uniforms and are not armed, but they can take basic reports, he said.

"A lot of what we do is just presence," Schofield said.

If reserves want to transition to full-time officers, they would have to enroll in the department's regular academy, which trains officers to operate as a regular one-person patrol officer.

They would likely have a leg up on their competition at the academy, with résumé experience as a Las Vegas officer. They would also have already passed the physical fitness, background, written and oral tests.

"Reserve programs allow you to sort of get a test run," McMahill said.

If the program succeeds, McMahill said he hopes it would expand to other areas of the department.

A fleet of an additional 100 volunteer traffic officers could drastically cut down the number of fatal accidents, he said. Or a retired homicide detective could volunteer to investigate cold cases.

But that could be years away. At the very least, McMahill said he hopes the program will increase transparency with a community that has read about deadly police shootings and use of force issues for years.

Although the department fell short of its initial goal of 800 applications, McMahill said he thinks there's substantial interest in policing the world-famous Strip, he said.

"It's a cool part of our job," he said.




Let's work together to keep our community safe

by Glenn Feldhauser -- director of Mt. Pleasant Division of Public Safety

Mt. Pleasant's safety has been threatened in the recent months. It isn't normal for us to hear about this type of crime in our community; that's because it happens so rarely. While these types of incidents can frighten us, it is important to remember who we are as a community.

Today, especially, each of us has an important role to play.

The Mt. Pleasant Police Department works with area agencies every day to ensure we stay a safe community. Our road patrol answers approximately 16,500 calls for service every year and our detectives investigate crimes that require a great deal of time or may require assistance from other area agencies.


Youth and community service officers are present in the Mt. Pleasant Public Schools. They are involved in reacting to incidents in the schools, and in crime prevention activities such as safety awareness, physical security surveys and enhancements. Executives from the various police agencies, along with emergency management and central dispatch, and the area drug team, work together to develop long-term strategies for technology, planning, training and the response to crime.

We also count on you to do your part in keeping our community safe. If you see something, say something.

In the early 1800's, Sir Robert Peel outlined the principles of modern policing. Peel said, “The police are the public and the public are the police. The police are merely members of the community who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interest of community welfare and existence.”

Our next step is using key data to identify and address problems leading to a decline in some of our neighborhoods. You can help us develop strategies to increase the safety and value of our neighborhoods.

We are dedicated to working to keep all of you safe. And let's keep working together. That's what our community needs now.




Be good officers, yes. But also be good ambassadors.

by Tom Lyons

She tells far more stories about good cops doing great police work, but Sarasota Chief of Police Bernadette DiPino does have one hackle-raising anecdote about two cops in Miami.

In a nutshell: When visiting South Florida years ago with her young daughter, DiPino got lost in a tough neighborhood and asked two officers for directions.

For no apparent reason aside from disdain for anyone who would bother them, the officers first ignored her, then were rude and dismissive, and finally gave her bogus directions.

DiPino was disgusted, but she knew this to be unusual behavior — even if normal for those two — because she also was a cop.

The new chief told the story to a room full of Sarasota officers in a training session a few days ago, and then asked: What impression would that encounter make on someone who doesn't know cops, never sees them being helpful and friendly, and only sees them make arrests, write tickets and ask suspicious questions?

Anywhere officers are perceived as uncaring entities from another world, something has to change, the chief preaches. Cops need to work to build human connections, for the good of all.

When they do, DiPino says, there will be a reward: Cops will like the job more. They'll be better at it, too, and get more help, and sometimes — no guarantees here, she said — they might even be appreciated and thanked.

"It's going to make you feel good about your jobs," the chief told the room full of law officers.

"You're ambassadors," for the city and for all other cops, DiPino said. When you reach out and treat people well, the city becomes a better place for all.

Anyone who doubts Sarasota's new chief wants officers committed to "community policing" hasn't sat in one one of those sessions. For her one story about rude cops, she has a dozen about officers being good role models, or working with civilians to solve problems, and using creativity and teamwork more than handcuffs to reduce crime.

What she wants is a mix of old and new. Community policing encourages police to be professional, but not constantly authoritarian. They are urged to get to know people, help people get to know them, and become a welcome part of the neighborhoods they serve.

DiPino didn't have to say it, but high-crime zones are the ones most in need of that approach, yet usually don't get much unless a special effort is made there. Officers who schmooze naturally on Main Street don't always do the same in Newtown, where mutual distrust is more a historical norm.

But DiPino doesn't want a special community policing unit designated to blitz one neighborhood with good will.

"It's a philosophy that has to be departmentwide," she told her officers. And it works with bar owners and tourists as well as troubled juveniles in tough neighborhoods.

I'm sold on her sincerity, and prone to think many officers are, too. Why not? DiPino is not just an enthusiastic messenger. She is also the boss. No wonder several officers stuck around after class to offer ideas and tell their own stories of connecting with people some cops might have seen only as suspects.

But people can leave church humming a hymn and still forget the good intentions when back at the bar. The test will be how much DiPino's inspiring anecdotes take hold and improve things, especially in troubled neighborhoods.

Tough job. But, fresh from DiPino's upbeat sermon, I am still humming the tune. I hope lots of cops are, too.