Cleveland's 'Terry' case continues to frame the debate on effective community policing
by Phillip Morris
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Good proactive community policing is part instinct, part observation and part luck. That's how the late Tyree Broomfield, the pioneering police chief of Dayton, used to describe it.
But a New York City policy that has long encouraged police officers to routinely stop and frisk people on the street based often on nothing more than a style of dress, or a “furtive” movement, is neither usefully proactive or good policing.
What is a furtive movement anyway? According to New York's stop-and-frisk policy, a suspicious movement can include being fidgety, changing directions, walking in a certain way, grabbing at a pocket or looking over one's shoulder. This sort of police fishing expedition has been credited by some for the reduction in the number of violent crimes in New York since its implementation. But at what cost and what constitutional violations?
Monday, a federal judge ruled that the city's aggressive stop-and-frisk police tactics violated the constitutional rights of minorities and were sorely in need of reforms. Federal Judge Shira A. Scheindlin didn't outright strike down the practice, which is fiercely defended by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
But she did order a federal monitor to oversee police retraining. She also called for other reforms, which she said are needed because a “policy of indirect racial profiling,” has led to the routine stops of “blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white.”
Perhaps reasonable people can agree on this: Stop-and-frisk policies as practiced in New York appear to have worked as something of a crime deterrent. There are parts of the approach that can perhaps be salvaged. But it has also proved to be demonstrably racist as practiced. And that's what is so offensive to anyone who values civil liberties and equality under the law. There has to be a balance.
Consider these figures:
Nearly 83 percent of the city's police stops between 2004-12 involved searches of blacks and Hispanics, even though both groups together make up just slightly more than 50 percent of the city's population.
Bloomberg argues that the disparity mirrors the disproportionate percentage of crimes committed by young minorities. But that argument quickly falls apart when one considers that nearly 90 percent of the people stopped and frisked under the policy are immediately released without the officer finding any basis for a summons or an arrest.
In other words, 9 out of 10 minorities stopped under stop-and-frisk practices had no justifiable reason to be subject to an invasive and dehumanizing random street stop and search.
“No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life,” the judge wrote.
Cleveland's history, of course, continues to help lead the way in the discussion of finding the difficult balance between civil liberties and crime reduction. In the 1963 arrest that eventually led to the famous Supreme Court Case of Terry V. Ohio. Cleveland Detective Martin McFadden prevented a likely armed robbery of a store near 12th Street and Euclid Avenue.
But rather then attempting to immediately arrest three men, who he believed were casing out the downtown department store, the detective watched them closely for several minutes before moving in to arrest them.
He didn't pounce based on race, but as a result of the suspects' patterns of suspicious behavior (staring into windows, etc.) and his own well-honed discernment which alerted him to clear and present danger. In other words, Detective McFadden displayed good community policing instincts that ultimately led to the Supreme Court upholding the legality of the arrest.
Yet, some 45 years later, the New York police department continues to simply substitute race and ethnicity as an easy and convenient guise for trying to proactively prevent crime.
That is both unconstitutional and sloppy policing. The federal court got it right.
Chicago: Police Expand West Side Narcotics Initiative to Reduce Violence
CHICAGO – Chicago Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy today announced the expansion of the West Side Narcotics Initiative, an anti-violence effort focused on narcotics markets on Chicago's west side, to the 15th District. The West Side Narcotics Initiative was originally launched in March in the City's 11th District with redeployed officers that were part of 200 were moved from administrative jobs to the street. Since it began, the West Side Narcotics Initiative has led to 552 arrests in the 11th District. Additionally, murders are down 40 percent, shootings are down 38 percent, and overall crime is down 30 percent in that district.
“Removing narcotics markets, an economic driver of many West Side gangs, from our communities is an essential part of our strategy to reduce violence and crime in Chicago,” said Superintendent McCarthy. “More work remains to be done, but we are seeing tangible results from this narcotics initiative and expanding it to the Austin area will benefit the community as whole.” Under the plan, recently redeployed officers from the Department's Narcotics Division conduct undercover operations to bust drug dealers in a targeted geographic area, in this case a District.
Following a bust, additional newly reassigned uniformed officers from the Bureau of Patrol then flood the area to prevent an immediate reemergence of drug dealers and gang activity. Wrap around services from other city agencies then engage neighbors and address immediate needs such as broken street lights and overgrown, vacant lots.
This initiative is a piece of the larger comprehensive policing strategy created, built and implemented under Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Superintendent McCarthy. In less than two years the Chicago Police Department has seen a return to community policing; created Chicago's first comprehensive Gang Violence Reduction Initiative; built a meritocracy and depoliticized the Department; instituted CompStat to track the effectiveness of crime prevention efforts; implemented Operation Impact to saturate high crime areas with officers; and developed a closer partnership with the communities and residents officers serve.
Community comes out against crime
Safety, information, and fun were part of this year's event
by By Al Sullivan
Crime, like rust, never sleeps.
This is a lesson that Bayonne Police Chief Ralph Scianni conveyed at this year's Night Out Against Crime, on Aug. 6.
Hundreds of kids and their parents enjoyed rides and snacks, while officers from the Bayonne Community Policing Program, the Bayonne Police Explorers Club, and the Hudson County Sheriff's Department issued helpful information about crime prevention.
Other groups such as Women Rising were on hand to give savvy advice about safety and domestic violence.
Margaret Abrams represented two groups, Women Rising, offering information on domestic violence services, and a group called Rider of the Clouds, which educates motorists and others about motorcycles. She founded the group after her son's death in 2012.
“We have just about everything a victim of domestic violence would need to obtain sources to get the help they need,” Abrams said.
Members of law enforcement have long touted the benefits of crime prevention. One of the efforts is National Night Out, designed to heighten awareness of and increase participation in anti-crime efforts. The first National Night Out was held in 1984 and has been growing ever since. In New Jersey, many municipalities participate in the effort to decrease crime rates.
The three-hour event took place on Del Monte Drive between 23rd and 24th Streets in the Bayonne Special Improvement District. The event brings together kids and police and provides a wealth of information helpful to parents.
Members of the Bayonne Police Department, Hudson County Sheriff's Office, the Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority, and the Bayonne Police Explorer Unit No. 227 volunteered their time.
Bayonne, according to Scianni, has participated in the event since 1992.
“We interact with the public,” he said. “I have a long history of being involved with the Community Policing program. Nights such as this give us an opportunity to listen to the concerns of citizens and deal with quality-of-life issues.”
Scianni said the event was designed to raise awareness about public safety in the community.
“This symbolizes anti-crime efforts,” he said. “We want to encourage the community to work together with the police in reporting any suspicious activities. As a result of raising public awareness regarding quality-of-life issues, we've been able to solve a number of crimes over the last year. It's really helped to make our jobs easier.”
Scianni said that during his career as a police officer, he was assigned to Community Policing for 11 and a half years.
“It's near and dear to my heart,” he said. “It contributes to community involvement and partnerships with as many people as possible.”
He said events like National Night Out help maintain these relationships on a long-term basis.
“This is a national event that is held in thousands of other communities,” said Captain Rob Geisler. This is his first year in the Community Policing program.
Events like this also give officers a chance to talk with other branches of law enforcement, such as the Hudson County Sheriff's Department, Geisler said.
Explorers helping out
Members of the Police Explorers, Women Rising, the Hudson County Sheriff's Department, and the police command center were on hand. Police equipment was on display, and officers distributed balloons and supervised the rides. Volunteers from the Department of Parks and McCabe's Ambulance also were on hand.
Mike, who wanted his last name withheld, is chief of the Bayonne Police Explorers program, which is run from the high school. He has been with the program seven years.
Night Out provides an opportunity to recruit new members. The group currently has 23 members. The Explorers, ages 14 to 21, staff many of the information tables, handing out pamphlets and small gifts for kids.
The group, which meets at the high school every other Tuesday, learns basic skills involving law enforcement.
“Our next meeting will deal with domestic violence,” Mike said. “The next meeting, we'll discuss scenarios to deal with it.”
In summer, the group has an Explorer Academy. During the year, it helps out with city events, such as Night Out. It also works traffic control during parades.
Many who join want to get into law enforcement, Mike said, and this is a good way to learn a lot of things they need to know, including prepping for the police entrance exam.
The Hudson County Sheriff's Department
The Hudson County Sheriff's Department was on hand to fingerprint kids and give them paper badges, coloring books, pencils, and rulers.
Along with plastic police helmets and other police-oriented toys, Bayonne police were also issuing IDs for kids, which are helpful if a child gets lost.
“For nearly three decades, the National Night Out has brought communities together with their public-safety personnel to recognize their inherent partnership in making our streets, our neighborhoods, and our homes as safe as possible,” said U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez in a statement. “I applaud the many organizations supporting this year's events, including the more than 100 events in New Jersey, to help fight drugs, gun violence, and other crime by promoting community-oriented police programs.”