US to temporarily shut down embassies around the world Sunday amid security concerns
The United States will temporarily shut down its embassies and consulates around the world Sunday -- including those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt -- as a precautionary measure over terror-related concerns, State Department officials said.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf did not say how long the international installations would stay closed -- only that the decision was taken “out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting.” Officials would not describe the nature of the threat.
Sunday is a normal workday in many Arab and Middle Eastern countries, meaning that is where the closures will have an impact. Embassies in Europe and Latin America would be shuttered that day anyway.
“We have instructed all U.S. embassies and consulates that would have normally been open on Sunday to suspend operations, specifically on August 4,” a senior State Department official said Thursday night. “It is possible we may have additional days of closing as well.”
Other U.S. officials said the threat was specifically in the Muslim world.
The issue of security abroad has been prominent since the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, and a string of demonstrations on other U.S. embassies in the Middle East and North Africa.
On Thursday, measures to beef up security at U.S. embassies were passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The bill is in response to the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, where Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
The Senate bill creates a training center for diplomatic security personnel.
Separately, the House Foreign Affairs Committee authorized full security funding for diplomatic missions -- despite recommending a nine percent cut overall for State Department operations.
The House and Senate have already approved spending bills that cover embassy security. But their budgets differ markedly in other areas.
Sheriff offers 10-week citizen police academy
by Jason Campbell
FRENCH CAMP – Ever wanted to learn about law enforcement tactics and procedures?
The San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department is going to make that possible.
Starting Sept. 4, the department will begin its annual Citizen's Police Academy at the Sheriff's headquarters in French Camp – providing an up-close and hands-on look at what those behind the badge do on a daily basis.
For $40, participants will spend three hours every Wednesday, for 10-weeks, working with academy instructors on patrol procedures, narcotics, gangs, hostage negotiations and crime prevention.
Instructors – which will include both sworn deputies and civilian staff members – will talk about internal affairs, the community oriented policing model that the department strives to embrace and what goes in to being part of a specialized unit like SWAT.
“The opportunity for citizens to attend our sheriff's academy allows them to learn about our inner workings and why we do what we do and how we do it,” said Sheriff's Public Information Officer Les Garcia. “We've been fortunate enough to hold several of these classes over the years and have received positive feedback from the community and those that participated.
“We hope that we're able to continue to build that relationship. We believe that programs like these continue these efforts – the participants become our ambassadors, and that's important to have.”
The 10-week program will wrap up with a graduation ceremony on Nov. 6.
Applicants must be at least 21 years of age with no misdemeanor convictions within one year of the date of applying (all past arrests will be considered during the screening process). Felony convictions will disqualify someone from eligibility – a brief background check will be done to determine who qualified because of admittance into sensitive areas and the disclosure of sensitive data.
Those wishing to sign up are urged to download and fill out an application immediately. They can be found atwww.sjsheriff.org under the “community policing” section. Future participants can also contact Garcia at (209) 468-4414.
Fireworks, food and family fun promised at V'land Night Out
by Deborah M. Marko
VINELAND — The Vineland Police Department invites the community to its National Night Out celebration that's set to begin at 5 p.m. Tuesday on the grounds of Chestnut Assembly of God.
The event features a potluck sharing of resources for what is billed as a goodbye party for crime.
The message is serious. But the atmosphere will be fun with free food, an antique car show and family-friendly activities.
The city's Community Policing Unit works all year to organize the crime prevention party, which Police Chief Tim Codispoti called “one of the cornerstones of the emphasis that we put on community policing.”
Community policing is not a complicated concept, the chief said, noting it's nothing more than police and the public working together around the clock to keep their community safe.
This is the fifth National Night Out celebration hosted by the city's police force, Officer Joe Pagano said. More than 2,000 people attended last year's event.
“It gives us face time with people from our community,” Codispoti said.
And when they go home, the chief said, he hopes people remember the officers they met and feel more comfortable about contacting the police department.
“The best thing that they can do is, when during their daily activities if they see activity that is out of the norm, don't hesitate to call us,” Codispoti said. “Tell us what you see and allow us to come out and investigate it.”
There is sometimes a public perception that people don't want to get involved. “That is in contradiction to the thousands of calls that we get,” Codispoti said.
Thirty years ago, National Night Out was created by the National Association of Town Watch to spotlight the role of the community in crime and drug prevention, Pagano said.
“We are never going to stop trying to build bridges between us and every facet of our community,” Codispoti said. “It's what we're supposed to do, it's what we should be doing and it's what we are doing.”
Area businesses are pitching in to provide free food.
Millard Hahn, operator of a Williamstown-based Amish restaurant, is grilling hamburgers and hot dogs. Sgt. Smokey's Traveling Barbecue also is cooking.
Pontano's Farm Fresh Produce donated corn on the cob. Watermelon is arriving fresh from Molinelli's Farm.
The event would not be possible without financial support from Brewster Fine Wine and Liquors, Bottino's ShopRite, Rental Country, Garden State Signs and Marcacci Meats.
The city's police unions have joined together to host a bike raffle, open to those 15 and younger. To enter, youngsters should stop by the Mojo's Bike tent and fill out a raffle ticket. At the end of the evening, Pagano said, there will be a drawing for a gift certificate for one boy's and one girl's bike.
This year, the crowd-pleasing K9 units will be back to showcase their crime-fighting skills. The city's Emergency Medical Service and Fire Department are bringing their vehicles. The Army will challenge participants to try its 40-foot rock climbing wall. There also will be water slides and bounces for the children.
For nostalgia lovers, the event offers an antique car show featuring about 120 vehicles. Trophies will be awarded in multiple categories, including the coveted Best in Show.
There will be helicopter landing from Atlantic Air Two and a tethered hot air balloon.
Attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or a blanket. The evening will go out with a bang, with fireworks scheduled at 9 p.m.
While everyone is welcome, pets are not, police said.