Madison police invite public on a 'Tweet Along'
MADISON — Police invite people to experience life as a police officer in the borough by taking a “Tweet Along,” the 21st-century version of a ride along.
Follow two officers starting at 2 p.m. Friday, May 3, and ending at 2 a.m. on Saturday, May 4. Sergeant Steve Carpenter will give Twitter followers a virtual ride on the day tour and Patrolman Luis Goncalves will continue on the night tour.
Learn what the officers do minute-by-minute throughout the afternoon and into the night and what type of calls they field.
Patrolman Chad Rybka will handle the Twitter feed and answer questions from followers during the 12-hour program. He'll also be dispensing crime prevention tips.
Followers will also get an inside look at the Public Safety Complex.
Rybka said, "I will be riding along with officers assigned to the Patrol Division tomorrow. For the first half of the program, followers will ride with Sergeant Carpenter and for the second half of the shift, we will follow Patrolman Goncalves from the night shift."
He said he will use a table to "to post pictures and updates from the field as often as practical. This will also be an interactive experience, offering residents an opportunity to ask questions and receive information on crime prevention."
Madison is not the first community to allow folks to tweet along. "I learned about this program while researching online about new community policing programs," Rybka said. "Tweet Alongs originated in Texas and have been used by other police departments as well; although to the best of my knowledge this will be new to our area."
Taking a virtual ride with officers should "give our residents a better idea of what their officers do on a given shift. The reality is that the arrests they read about, or the sight of an officer on a motor vehicle stop, represents only a fraction of the ways in which we serve the public," Rybka said.
If people sign up for Twitter and take part in the Tweet Along, that's one more step in getting "more people in the community engaged with our social media. More communication between the police and the public is positive for both the community and the department," he said.
To Tweet Along, follow the police department's twitter account: @MadisonPoliceNJ.
For updates about the program and to learn more about the officers participating, visit the department's Facebook page
Don't saddle county with inadequate jail, courthouse
People across the political spectrum agree that racial disparities in our criminal justice system are at crisis proportions and have been for some time, both nationally and locally. I also believe opposition to the justice center bond issue is the least effective way to address those concerns.
In the spring of 2010, the Consultation of Religious Communities made issues related to race and law enforcement a priority. This initiative gave rise to a broad-based network called the Coalition for Racial Justice that's working to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, education and in access to affordable housing. Not coincidentally, many of the people involved in these ongoing efforts also support the proposed justice center.
The coalition includes people from nonprofit agencies and faith communities, elected officials, public employees, UI and concerned citizens. The coalition frequently has advocated with the Iowa City mayor, city manager, police chief, Housing Authority staff, human rights commissioner and Iowa City Community School District staff and board members.
The coalition lobbied the Iowa City Council to establish the Ad Hoc Diversity Committee to look at the needs of our minority communities in relation to the Iowa City Police Department and public transportation. That committee made a comprehensive report to the council in March. Unfortunately, the report's recommendations regarding the police were not well covered by the media.
Perhaps most telling was the committee's conclusion that the Iowa City police department “is currently functioning under a ‘control and monitor' approach to dealing with minority citizens.” They recommended that the police department's culture be changed to one more geared to “protect and serve.”
The Diversity Committee proposed the city consider adopting a community policing model and that police officers receive better training related to race. They recommended the police collect better data for looking at racial disparities and that the department conduct a comprehensive racial equity impact assessment.
Implementation of these recommendations by Iowa City would likely do a lot to reduce the racial disparity in the county jail because the majority of arrests are made by Iowa City officers. I hope you will read the full Diversity Committee report (www.icgov.org/?id=2268) and join the CRJ in lobbying city officials to take these much needed steps.
The Johnson County Board of Supervisors already has made a commitment to undertake a comprehensive racial equity impact assessment and to address the disparities revealed by the assessment. The supervisors also have enlisted all the law enforcement agencies in the county to collect data and to join in addressing issues related to racial disparities.
A lot remains to be done to remedy racial disparities in our local law enforcement and judicial systems, and it will take several years to do it. But, particularly at the county level, we have officials in place committed to doing this work according to evidence-based protocols.
Continuing to saddle our officials with seriously inadequate jail and courthouse facilities just when we are on the threshold of making significant progress would be a real set-back.
Racial disparities in the criminal justice system, the colossal failure of the War on Drugs, and simply treating jail inmates humanely are very important issues. Therefore I urge you to vote in favor of the bond issue for the Johnson County justice center. And I hope you will join in the local efforts to address these concerns already well underway.
The Rev. Dorothy Whiston is a member of the Consultation of Religious Communities, the Coalition for Racial Justice and the Johnson County Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee. She has volunteered in Iowa prisons for 20 years.
Three Men Arrested in Connection with Boston Marathon Bombing Investigation
Three men were arrested and charged today in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings investigation.
Dias Kadyrbayev, 19, and Azamat Tazhayakov, 19, both of New Bedford, Mass., were charged in a criminal complaint with conspiracy to obstruct justice by conspiring to destroy, conceal and cover-up tangible objects belonging to suspected Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, namely a laptop computer and backpack containing fireworks. A third man, Robel Phillipos, 19, of Cambridge, Mass., was charged with willfully making materially false statements to federal law enforcement officials during a terrorism investigation. According to the affidavit accompanying the complaint, Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov are both nationals of Kazakhstan who entered the United States on student visas. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and $250,000 fine. Phillipos, a U.S. citizen, faces a maximum sentence of eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Carmen M. Ortiz and Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Office of the FBI, announced the charges today. This investigation was conducted by the FBI's Boston Division, the Boston Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police and member agencies of the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is comprised of more than 30 federal, state and local enforcement agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. Marshals Service; U.S. Secret Service; the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority; and others. In addition, the Watertown, Mass., Police Department, the Cambridge Police Department, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Police Department, the Boston Fire Department, the National Guard and police, fire and emergency responders from across Massachusetts and New England played critical roles in the investigation and response.
The charges contained in the criminal complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.