NEWS of the Day - July 28, 2013
on some LACP issues of interest

NEWS of the Day
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 ...

Despite ambitious goals, millions would be left out of immigration deal

by David Nakamura

WASHINGTON — President Obama has staked his bid to rewrite the nation's immigration laws on providing a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally. Failing to do so, he told a Spanish-language television station, would mean 11 million people "permanently resigned to a lower status."

But even if the Senate legislation favored by Obama became law tomorrow, more than one in four illegal immigrants would remain undocumented and outside the system, according to federal estimates.

That gap worries many reform proponents, who fear that the system would leave millions living in the shadows without legal protection. They would also be subject to harsher workplace requirements and enforcement measures included in the plan.

"We are very disappointed with that number because we really want to reform the system once and for all and make sure we legalize all people who are not committing crimes," said Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA of Maryland, an advocacy organization.

The bipartisan legislation that passed the Senate last month would set up a 13-year process toward citizenship for undocumented immigrants, including mandatory fines and other requirements. The Congressional Budget Office projected that 8 million immigrants would start the process of attempting to gain citizenship under the plan, but an additional 3.5 million would not qualify or would decide not to pursue it.

There is also no guarantee that those who begin the process will reach the end goal of becoming naturalized. The Social Security Administration estimates that 400,000 of those who gain provisional status would drop out within six years because they would not meet the financial requirements.

The question of how many immigrants attain citizenship could be crucial to the success of an overhaul. When President Ronald Reagan signed the 1986 immigration bill, about half of the nation's 5 million undocumented immigrants at the time gained legal status. The other half did not — becoming the base for the current undocumented population.

"The whole point of fixing the system is to do it in a way that improves our country by ending this system of second-class citizenry," said Ana Avendaño, director of immigration at the AFL-CIO, which supports a path to citizenship to help ensure employers do not exploit unauthorized immigrants for lower wages. "We do not want to create arbitrary conditions that re-create the exact same problem we're trying to fix."

Senate negotiators emphasized that the comprehensive immigration bill, which was approved last month by a 68 to 32 vote, was crafted to be as inclusive as possible, given Republican demands for financial penalties and other requirements.

"This was the best possible outcome in terms of creating a tough but accessible path to citizenship that will address the 11 million living in the shadows," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., a key architect of the legislation.

In the GOP-controlled House, leaders have said they will not take up the Senate bill and will instead pursue smaller-scale bills that do not include a path to citizenship. Some advocates fear that the House would further limit the number of immigrants eligible for legal status if it decides to take up that issue.

White House spokesman Bobby Whithorne said the Senate bill represented a compromise the president is comfortable with. "Under the Senate bill, we believe that a vast majority will be eligible to earn citizenship if they choose to follow the rules, pay a fine, pay taxes, obey the law and get a background check," he said.

Most of the immigrants who would not qualify under the bill fall into three categories: those convicted of a felony or more than two misdemeanors; those who cannot meet the work and financial requirements; and those who arrived in the United States after Dec. 31, 2011.

There are hundreds of thousands more immigrants who qualify for provisional legal status but will choose not to pursue it, analysts said. That category includes those who do not understand the process, who are fearful of being deported or who do not plan to remain in the United States for the rest of their lives.

The federal analyses of how many immigrants would pursue citizenship are based partially on government data, but much uncertainty remains. For example, although experts said 500,000 to 700,000 people entered the country illegally after the 2011 cutoff date, that number is growing each day.

Some immigration proponents said the legislation includes arbitrary barriers that exclude too many immigrants.

For instance, felony statutes vary by state, meaning that a person convicted of a felony in one state might not be considered a felon in another. Applicants for legal residency and citizenship must show they have been continuously employed, with gaps of no more than 60 days at a time — which could be difficult in a weak economy.

The fees required to gain provisional legal status — $500 per person at the start, escalating to at least $2,000 over 10 years — could also be a barrier for poorer applicants.

Perhaps most arbitrary of all, immigration advocates said, is the cutoff date, which was the product of extensive negotiations this past spring.

Senate aides said Democrats wanted to allow all immigrants who entered the country before the date the bill becomes law to be eligible for the path to citizenship. But Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., countered with a deadline set five years prior to the enactment of a new law, arguing that only immigrants who had established deep economic and social ties deserved to pursue full legal status.

The December 2011 date represents a compromise roughly in the middle, assuming Obama were to sign the law by the end of this year, aides said.

"If Republicans are going to take a political risk by voting to legalize, they might as well go all the way," said Kevin Appleby, migration policy director at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which supports a path to citizenship. "It's not like they get political credit because 3 million didn't get legalized and 8 million did."

Some immigration analysts said the Senate compromise is better than the one struck in 1986, when lawmakers decided that those who entered the country after 1982 would be ineligible.

"This is a balancing act. You've got to reconcile a set of tensions and contractions. They've done so pretty well," said Doris Meissner, who served as Immigration and Naturalization Services commissioner in the Clinton administration.

Those who would be left out include immigrants such as Yessenia, 31, who left a violent town in El Salvador and crossed over the U.S. border illegally in April with her 17-year-old brother and 4-year-old daughter.

After paying $21,000 for human smugglers to help her negotiate the month-long trip, Yessenia said she was caught by immigration authorities in Houston. They sent her to live with her mother in Montgomery County while she awaits a court date this fall.

Yessenia's mother, who has lived in the country illegally for eight years, would qualify for legal status under the Senate bill. But Yessenia and her brother and daughter would not. If sent back home, she fears her brother will be forced into one of the violent gangs controlling her home town.

"It makes me feel terrible," she said in Spanish, speaking through a CASA of Maryland translator on the condition that her last name was not used because of her legal situation. "Even people who have been here for less than a year deserve a chance. But my family and I will not get that chance."




Two jailed in ambush of San Bernardino police officers

Redlands man, Los Angeles man taken into custody

by Doug Saunders

SAN BERNARDINO -- Two men, one from Redlands and one from Los Angeles, have been identified as the two men arrested in what is being described as an ambush of two police officers, one of whom was shot in the leg, police said Saturday.

Keijuan Tyrone Mayfield, 22 of Redlands and Eric Newson, 22, of Los Angeles were taken into custody in the 108 block of East Base Line late Friday night after they allegedly opened fire on police during a traffic stop, police said.

Police have not said if the two have gang ties but they're not ruling it out, authorities said.

Officers attempted to stop a blue four-door sedan around 9:12 p.m. by a liquor store at Base Line and Sierra Way, police said.

"The car pulled into the lot and four armed individuals stepped out of the car and started shooting at the patrol officers," said police Lt. Paul Williams. "Multiple shots were exchanged between officers and the suspects."

The officer who was struck in the leg was taken to Loma Linda University Medical Center where he was treated and released, officials said His name was not released.

District Attorney Mike Ramos reacted harshly to the ambush.

"The police are the only thing standing between the law-abiding people in our county and total anarchy, and they need us and the public to rally to their support," Ramos said. "Our officers have been ambushed twice in nearly a week. Let me be very clear. We will prosecute these criminals and any other criminal who thinks it's OK to attack an officer to the fullest extent of the law."

The other ambush Ramos was referring to was of a sheriff's deputy on July 16 as he and his partner were delivering an eviction notice in the 1400 block of Date Street.

Miguel Alvarez is accused of driving up to the deputies as they sat in their patrol car and firing multiple shots, striking one of them.

The deputies returned fire, striking the suspected shooter's car. Alvarez was apprehended a short time later, authorities said.

Some neighbors living in the area of Friday night's shooting appeared unfazed about shots ringing out.

One woman who asked to remain anonymous, fearing retaliation from gang members, said it's a sad day when police are shot at while trying to keep neighborhoods safe.

"When someone shoots at the police, it just shows they're fearless and have no regard for anyone else," she said. "I've lived in this city my entire life and have seen its ups and downs, but never have I seen anything this bold."

Mayfield and Newson were booked at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga on suspicion of attempted murder of a police officer. They were being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

Anyone with information on Friday night's shooting is asked to call police Detective John Munoz at 909-384-5630 or police Sgt. Gary Robertson at 909-841-5361.



Critics of surveillance find voices

Unlikely coalition forms to oppose domestic program

Washington -- After 9/11, there were no shades of gray. There are plenty now.

The vigorous debate over the collection of millions of Americans' phone records, underlined by a narrow House vote upholding the practice, buried any notion that it's out of line, even unpatriotic, to challenge the national security efforts of the government.

Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, joined in common cause against the Obama administration's aggressive surveillance, falling just short Wednesday night against a similarly jumbled and determined coalition of leaders and lawmakers who supported it.

It's not every day you see Republican Speaker John Boehner and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi facing off together against their own parties' colleagues — with an assist from Rep. Michele Bachmann, no less — to help give President Barack Obama what he wanted. But that's what it took to overcome efforts to restrict the National Security Agency's surveillance program.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush warned the world "either you are with us or you are with the terrorists," period, and those few politicians who objected to anything the U.S. wanted to do for its national security looked like oddballs.

That remarkable political consensus cracked in the bog of the Iraq war, and argument returned, but the government has had little trouble holding on to its extraordinary counterterrorism tools.

What's changed?

The passage of time, for one thing, and the absence of another attack on the scale of 9/11. Americans have also discovered, through Edward Snowden's leaks, that surveillance doesn't start at the water's edge or stop with terrorist plotters in the homeland, but sweeps in the phone records of ordinary people indiscriminately.

Even in the frightening aftermath of 9/11, when large majorities told pollsters they were ready to trade in some personal protections for greater security, any effort to monitor phone calls or emails of average people was considered a step too far. In a Pew Research Center survey the week after the terrorist attacks, 70 percent said no to that.

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona says memories of those days have faded and the political climate has changed.

"The stuff we went through last year about detainees we never would have gone through in 2002," he said Thursday. He was referring to the debate in Congress for two years straight over the indefinite detention of terrorist suspects, even U.S. citizens captured within the nation's borders.

The closeness of the House surveillance vote "says there's great and widespread concern about the extent of the NSA's activities," McCain said, "and that's why we need hearings in Congress." This, from a supporter of the NSA surveillance.

Concerns about drone use domestically, as well as the NSA's powers, have energized the debate in Congress, though they have hardly rolled back the national security apparatus. Lawmakers have prevailed repeatedly on votes to keep Guantanamo open for terrorist suspects and, on Wednesday, the House easily passed a nearly $600 billion defense spending bill once the air cleared from the surveillance showdown.

Public opinion appears to have shifted toward privacy but in measured ways.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Wednesday found rising concern about threats to privacy, with a majority saying the NSA's collection of phone and Internet data intrudes on people's rights.

Yet 57 percent said it's more important for the government to investigate terrorist threats, even at a cost to privacy, than for it to put privacy first. In 2002, that view was held even more strongly, by 79 percent.

Ever since the 2001 attacks, Congress has authorized and presidents of both parties have signed extensions of the powers to search records and conduct roving wiretaps in pursuit of terrorists, tools provided by the USA Patriot Act. The act passed in October 2001 with only one vote against it in the Senate, and with a lopsided 357-66 vote in the House.

Two years ago, it won yet another strong endorsement, renewed despite a delay achieved by Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a tea party favorite though first and foremost a libertarian when it comes to the government exercising its national security powers.




SPD introduces Seattle Central course on community policing

by Sam Heft-Luthy

Students registering for fall quarter at Seattle Central Community College will have another class to consider adding to their cart. In partnership with the Seattle Police Department, SCCC will offer a free course intended to teach prospective police recruits the goals and tactics of law enforcement as well as prepare them for the academy exams.

Acting Sergeant Adrian Diaz will instruct CPP101: Introduction to Community Policing, which will be offered tuition-free to 25 students, Mayor Mike McGinn, SPD Assistant Chief Nick Metz, and officials from SCCC announced in a press conference last week.

The program is part of an SPD drive to increase community outreach and involvement in the personnel recruitment process, McGinn said.

“We needed to look outside the box for what we were doing as far as recruitment,” Metz said.

McGinn said the course is intended to increase diversity in SPD's ranks, addressing misconceptions about the expectations and requirements of police service in minority and low-income communities.

Though state law prohibits SCCC from reserving enrollment spots for minorities and women, Metz said SPD has been working with groups like El Centro De La Raza to recruit candidates that reflect the diversity of SCCC and the city at large.



North Carolina

Red Springs police find new way to patrol community

by Ali Rockett

RED SPRINGS - Sgt. Charles McMillian, who has been on the Red Spring police force for two years, drove his patrol car through a quiet neighborhood.

He slowed as he approached a home with a car parked in the front yard and two teens sitting inside.

McMillian parked and walked to the car to introduce himself.

"I've never seen anyone outside this house before," he said. "I just wanted to stop and say hello. If y'all need anything, don't hesitate to call us."

This is how he spends most of his shift, he said. McMillian calls it "park and walks."

"The chief wants us to be community-oriented," he said. "To get them involved and to stop looking at us as the bad guy."

Red Springs Police Chief Ronnie Patterson said he believes more community involvement in policing makes his officers' jobs easier.

Officers always drove through neighborhoods, but they rarely got out of their vehicles or knew residents by name, Patterson said.

Since taking over in 2010, Patterson said he has encouraged a more personal touch.

"(The public) won't come into the police station and tell us what's going on," Patterson said. "But if we're out in the community and they see us and know us and trust us, then they'll tell us."

Patterson attributes lower crime rates in the town to the increased visibility.

Before 2009, he said, the 3,500 residents of this Robeson County town averaged about two to three murders a year. Last year, the town had one murder, and a suspect was caught within two hours.

The town also has seen a significant decrease in burglaries and robberies.

Crime hasn't completely stopped. But Patterson credits the community working together.

McMillian said most residents welcome an increased police presence.

"They love for us to get out and make them feel like part of the team," he said. "We've got some that hate us. But most see that we're trying to make it a better place."

McMillian drove another few blocks and stopped to talk with Jean Davis, who lives alone and often visits her son in Wilmington.

When she leaves town, Davis calls the station and asks the officers to keep an eye on her home.

McMillian said any resident can do that. The officers have a list of addresses where residents are gone, and they'll stop by several times a day.

"That makes me feel more secure when I go out of town," Davis said.

McMillian said the officers also visit each bank every day, as well as other businesses.

Kathleen Jacobs, a cashier at the Exxon on Fourth Avenue, said she gets a little antsy if an officer hasn't checked in during her shift.

"We're just so used to having them check on us," Jacobs said.

Patterson said when new recruits join the force, he makes sure they are "willing to go above and beyond the call of duty."

"I don't care if it's a cat in a tree or a family that lost a member to a murder; that's that person's crisis, and we're here to help."



Some Chiefs Chafing as Justice Department Keeps Closer Eye on Policing


When Justice Department officials announced the results of a two-year investigation into civil rights violations at the Miami Police Department this month, it was the 11th time in two years that the federal government had put a local law enforcement agency on notice that it must change its ways or face a federal lawsuit.

Cities from New Orleans and Seattle to Missoula, Mont., and East Haven, Conn., are grappling with similar federally mandated changes after investigations into their police departments. In Miami, the Justice Department found a pattern of the use of excessive force — in an eight-month period in 2011, eight young black men were shot and killed by the police. This month, the Justice Department announced a sweeping settlement forcing Puerto Rico to change 11 areas of policing, including the use of excessive force, searches, stops and the handling of domestic violence. It was, the department said, “among the most extensive agreements ever obtained.”

Civil rights violations by police departments have been subject to investigation by the federal government since 1994, when Congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. But federal intervention has become far more common and much broader in scope under the Obama administration, a development proudly highlighted on the Justice Department's Web site.

During Mr. Obama's first term, the department initiated 15 investigations into troubled law enforcement agencies, almost twice the number carried out in the last four years of the Bush administration. While early investigations focused narrowly on the use of excessive force and racial profiling, recent inquiries have taken on a host of other issues, including the treatment of the mentally ill, the handling of sexual assault cases and unconscious bias of officers.

Last year, the department extended its purview further, announcing its intention to investigate a district attorney's office over the handling of sexual assault cases . The Missoula County attorney, Fred Van Valkenburg, has so far declined to cooperate, arguing that under state law, the Justice Department has no standing to investigate his office.

“In my mind, these people have never run into somebody who told them ‘no,' ” Mr. Van Valkenburg told an audience at a City Club Missoula luncheon in June. The National District Attorneys Association has sent a letter objecting to the investigation to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

Civil rights lawyers and criminal justice experts have hailed the Justice Department's increased activism.

“Justice Department litigation has really set a national standard,” said Samuel Walker, emeritus professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, and the author of “The New World of Police Accountability.” He said the investigations — and the resulting settlements, known as consent decrees — send a message to police departments that “there are some minimal things you have to do to be professional, and here are the things you need to do in order to achieve that.”

And some police officials whose departments have been the target of Justice Department investigators say the consent decree that resulted was beneficial. “I think they're extremely effective,” said Robert McNeilly, a former chief of the Pittsburgh Police Department, the first agency to enter into a consent decree after the 1994 law was passed. To comply with the decree, the department increased accountability and increased training. Among other things, it instituted an early warning system to identify officers who were at high risk of using excessive force.

But the federal intervention has also caused frustration among some police chiefs, who say the government should work to find a cheaper and more efficient process. Consent decrees, they say, can drag on for years and impose huge cost burdens on cities that are least able to afford them.

In Detroit, which declared bankruptcy on July 18, a consent decree imposed to correct a range of serious problems including the use of excessive force, false arrest, illegal detention and failures in investigation and training is in its 11th year. In New Orleans, city officials asked the Justice Department to come in but are now contesting the consent decree, saying its measures are too expensive to carry out.

“We don't disagree with the objectives at all,” said Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, an organization based in Washington that conducts research on policing and recently issued a report on federal civil rights investigations into police departments. “What we find issue with is the mechanics of the process.”

In addition to cost, the issues addressed in the forum's report included concerns that standards for compliance set by the Justice Department were sometimes unreasonably high, 95 percent in some instances; that the process was often adversarial rather than collaborative; and that there was a lack of measures to tell whether the federal intervention was effective.

Some police chiefs also complained that the Justice Department, in its eagerness to promote best practices in new areas, in some cases investigated police departments that, their chiefs argued, were not clearly in violation of constitutional standards.

In Montana, federal investigators found that the Missoula Police Department “discriminates against women in its response to sexual assault,” according to the letter of findings issued by the Justice Department. But Mark Muir, Missoula's police chief, contended that the government had offered no objective evidence that his department had met the criteria for discrimination set by the courts, or even that Missoula's record in handling sexual assault cases was worse than that of other comparable cities.

“I've got to tell you, Missoula, Montana, is not one of the worst of the worst in any respect,” Chief Muir said. But, he said, once a police department has been singled out by the Justice Department, “they pay a huge price in terms of their reputation and their effectiveness in the community.”

In some cases, consent decrees can also make it more difficult for departments to focus on fighting crime, some chiefs said. William J. Bratton, who as chief of the Los Angeles Police Department from 2002 to 2009 steered it through seven years of a 13-year consent decree, says he has no doubt that in some cases intervention by the Justice Department is necessary.

“The state of American policing is not where it should be,” Mr. Bratton said. But, he continued, “there is a tension, and it is felt by police chiefs, between the constitutional policing that we're obligated to provide to operate within the law and the obligation to provide public safety in terms of controlling crime and disorder.”

The Los Angeles department has won praise for its transformation into a model police agency under the consent decree, which was entered into after the Justice Department found pervasive corruption in the Rampart community division. But other cities, with fewer resources and inconsistent leadership, might not fare as well, Mr. Bratton said.

He and other police chiefs also expressed concern about the monitors who oversee the enforcement of settlements, noting that monitoring has in itself become a kind of cottage industry. Monitors, either individuals or firms, who submit proposals and are chosen by a federal judge, are paid as long as a consent decree continues, amounting to sums that can run into the millions of dollars. As a result, critics say, they have little incentive to bring the process to a speedy close.

Sheryl Robinson Wood, a lawyer appointed in 2003 to oversee Detroit's compliance with its consent decree, resigned in 2009 after it was disclosed that she was having an affair with the mayor at the time, Kwame M. Kilpatrick. The city sued to recover the $10 million it had paid Ms. Robinson Wood and her employers, Kroll International and two law firms. At the time of her resignation, the Police Department was only in 36 percent compliance with the decree.

Roy L. Austin Jr., the deputy assistant attorney general who supervises the special litigation office in the Justice Department's civil rights division, said the costs of civil lawsuits are also high to cities. The Justice Department, he said, does not take a one-size-fits-all approach to its investigations, and takes into consideration how effective a department is in solving its own problems.

But, he said, “You have departments that are so troubled that to sit back and wait, based on our experience, for them to address what are enormous problems is going to leave people with their rights violated for a long time before those problems are addressed.”

Mr. Wexler and others, however, said that for agencies with specific problems whose leaders are eager to make changes, a more collaborative approach might be cheaper and just as effective.

One such method was tried in Las Vegas last year after a series of local newspaper articles on officer-involved shootings over 20 years by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. The agency entered into a voluntary agreement with the Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services Office, which offers technical assistance to police departments but has no enforcement power. The Police Department is putting in place the recommendations of the resulting 154-page report.

Still, said Dr. Walker, of the University of Nebraska, so many federal investigations have now been conducted that no American police department really has an excuse for engaging in practices that violate civil rights.

“In the year 2013, no police department should be in a position where it can be sued by the Justice Department,” he said. “The past records indicate what problems they need to be aware of and what to do about such problems if they have them.”