Police search for young suspects after Georgia infant shot, killed in stroller
BRUNSWICK, Ga. – A young boy opened fire on a woman pushing her baby in a stroller in a Georgia neighborhood, killing the 1-year-old boy and wounding the mother, police said.
The woman, Sherry West, told WAWS-TV that two boys approached her and demanded money Thursday morning. Brunswick Police Chief Tobe Green said the boys are thought to be between 10 and 15 years old.
West said she insisted she didn't have any money and tried to protect her son, Antonio, before shots rang out. She had been walking near her home in this coastal city about 80 miles south of Savannah.
"I put my arms over my baby and he shoves me, and then he shot my baby right in the head," West said.
West was shot in the leg.
"This is obviously a terrible day in Brunswick," Brunswick Mayor Bryan Thompson said. "Please call if you know something. You are complicit in this crime."
The boy's father, Louis Santiago, told the TV station he wishes he could have been there to protect his family.
"He was special," Santiago said. "He had the bluest, bluest eyes."
Officers from a SWAT team checked vacant houses as investigators tried to find possible witnesses. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources provided a helicopter to aid the search.
Police are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
Richmond police to participate in ‘Tweet-A-Thon'
The Richmond Police Department will join more than 100 law enforcement agencies in eight countries today for a “Global Tweet-A-Thon.”
The department said it will take people along for a virtual ride-along via its Twitter account — @RichmondPolice — from noon until 4 p.m.
Richmond police spokeswoman Dionne Waugh will tweet updates as she is riding with Officer Al Joyner.
“I look forward to giving citizens a realistic idea about the types of things we encounter and deal with on a regular basis,” Joyner said in a news release. “I may be more of a Facebook person than a Twitter person, but I believe social media is key in helping to keep our community informed about what we do.”
Richmond police officials said they believe the Tweet-A-Thon will further community policing efforts and bring attention to the use of social media by police agencies.
Oakland police focus on neighborhoods
by Justin Berton
Oakland police will switch to a neighborhood system of law enforcement, making high-ranking officers responsible for smaller geographical areas and building stronger ties to residents, in an effort to stretch a shrunken force more effectively and cut the city's crime rate.
Chief Howard Jordan said Monday that police will partition the city into five districts and that captains in each one will answer to him as they develop crime-fighting strategies tailored to individual neighborhoods.
The plan was devised by Robert Wasserman, one of several highly paid consultants hired by city officials to harness Oakland's violent-crime rate, which is the highest in the state. Wasserman and his team, known for emphasizing a community policing philosophy, have won $350,000 in contracts from the City Council in the past year.
Making top officers responsible for relatively small areas is not a unique strategy - San Francisco's Police Department, for example, divides the city into 10 districts, each with its own station run by a captain.
Oakland, however, has exercised control over staffing allocations and neighborhood policing strategies largely from the Police Department's downtown headquarters.
Two years ago, facing a steep decline in patrol officers, Oakland abandoned smaller districts and divided the city into two large regions. The idea under the new model is that instead of patrol officers racing across vast parts of the city to respond to 911 calls, they will be able to focus on their smaller assigned beats, improving response times and allowing for more proactive policing.
The new plan is also intended to give captains far more responsibility and make them more accessible to residents. In addition to checking in with existing Neighborhood Crime Prevention Councils, they will be assigned to create advisory boards made up of neighborhood clergy, business owners and youth-group representatives.
"It will put the right people in the right places," Jordan said. "They will be in charge of smaller, more manageable areas."
Outside the Fruitvale Transit Village, residents were hopeful the plan would result in demonstrable change, but they were also skeptical.
Rosella Gonzales, 39, said she sees petty street crime - which she described as robberies, fights and thefts from stores - "nearly every day" near the transit village, where she works.
"If it means it's better for everyone's safety, then I'm all for it," Gonzales said. "But I don't know what you can do to stop all that kind of action. Maybe it will just move somewhere else."
Sgt. Barry Donelan, president of the Oakland Police Officers Association, said his members welcome the new strategy, yet cautioned the department was still woefully understaffed.
"The real challenge is, there's still only a handful of OPD officers relative to the number there should be," Donelan said.
Oakland has 611 officers, down from a recent high of 837 in 2008. Jordan, however, said some help is on the way - an academy of 55 recruits will graduate Friday, followed by another batch of recruits about to start the seven-month-long academy. He also pointed to continuing assistance from the California Highway Patrol and the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.
Hoping for grant money
Last week, county law enforcement officials said they were seeking a $67 million federal grant that would help establish a countywide crime-suppression team. A chunk of the grant would also help pay for 30 new Oakland police officers.
On Monday, Jordan said the new system had started over the weekend in a swath of East Oakland from Fruitvale Avenue to the San Leandro border, which includes some of the city's most dangerous streets. The area was divided into two districts, each with its own captain and 60 officers.
The chief characterized the districts as "beta testing" zones where officials can work out the kinks before continuing in other parts of the city.
Capt. Steven Tull, who will oversee one of the East Oakland districts, said the first order of business was to seat an advisory board of residents and to hear how they want their streets policed.
"We're changing the way we did business in the past," Tull said. "We're starting with engagement with the community and giving them a say in the decision-making process."