NEWS of the Day - Sept 4, 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 ...


Video shows Long Beach police striking man on ground

by Staff Reports

LONG BEACH >> Long Beach Police officers have been accused of police brutality after a YouTube video that shows several officers surrounding a man as one officer hits him with a baton went viral.

The video, posted to YouTube Monday, shows a man lying on the ground as several Long Beach Police officers surround him. One of the officers then strikes the man in the legs as others shout orders.

Family members identified the man as Porfirio Santos-Lopez, 46, of Long Beach, and said they were devastated by the incident which took place at Locust Avenue and South Street Monday.

He was being taken into surgery at Long Beach Memorial Hospital late Tuesday night for his injuries, said his wife, Lee Ann Hernandez.

Long Beach Police would not make a comment on the incident late Tuesday night saying a statement would be made on Wednesday.

However, police did speak to KTLA and said the case was under investigation. They also offered nearby store video surveillance that shows Santos-Lopez punching a man prior to the alleged police beating.

Reaction to the video has been mixed with some stating the police over-stepped their bounds while others who saw the footage of Santos-Lopez allegedly attacking an unidentified man, saying it may have been justified.

“He was already on the ground,” said Carlos Uribe when shown the video for the first time Tuesday night. “They didn't have to hit him.”

However, Connie Morales, who said she saw the surveillance video said the 46-year-old looked like he was out of control.

“I don't know if it was excessive or not, but he was just swinging at people,” she said.

Its' unclear if the man will be arrested for any offense following his release from the hospital.




Inmates get a clean slate by removing tattoos

by Christina Villacorte

The ink Lamonte Martin once brandished as a gang banger now marks him for death.

“These are the tattoos that guys look for when I'm out in the community,” said the 41-year-old inmate at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles.

“If (members of a rival gang) see it, they won't even ask any questions,” he added, rolling up his sleeves to reveal the symbols emblazoned on his brawny arms. “They'll probably just shoot me.”

Martin, however, impressed his jailers at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department by attending months of educational, vocational and life skills classes, as well as substance abuse treatment and counseling while serving his latest sentence for selling drugs.

As a reward, the department is providing him with free laser treatments to zap away the most offensive of his tattoos.

The service — which would cost several thousand dollars on the outside — is offered only to participants of the LASD's Education-Based Incarceration program, which allows inmates to obtain diplomas, GEDs, vocational certificates for various trades and even college degrees while behind bars.

More than 500 inmates have undergone the procedure over the last year and a half.

“On the surface, we're removing ink,” said Officer Cynthia Murphy. “But on the inside, the amount of confidence that these individuals are getting from this service — it's empowering.”

“Removing these tattoos greatly improves their ability to get jobs and also improves their self-esteem, because now they don't have that image of being a gang member,” added Sgt. Ray Harley. “All these things are going to help turn their lives around when they get released.”

Inmate Jessica Henry, 32, is a former tattoo artist desperate for a clean slate. “I feel that I'm stereotyped by the way I look,” she said, glancing at the vivid pigments that embellish her skin from the back of her knuckles almost to her shoulders.

“I feel that I made a lot of wrong choices in my life,” added the single mother, who claimed to have confessed to a crime her then-boyfriend actually committed just to protect him. “(The tattoos) represent my past, and I just want to start over.”

Diana Nguyen, 29, of El Monte, had been drunk or high when she had a profanity tattooed on her left hand and a half-naked woman on her left leg. “Things that you do when you're under the influence,” she said, laughing sheepishly.

Thanks to the laser treatments, both tattoos have faded and should be completely gone by the time she finishes serving her sentence for selling drugs. “At least with that cuss word off my hand, I can try to go in and get a real job, change my life and not be the person who I used to be,” Nguyen said.

Removing a tattoo is even more painful than getting one. A laser produces a short pulse of intense light that passes through the top layers of skin and is absorbed by the tattoo pigment, causing the ink to fade over time.

“If you could imagine a razor that's been heated up, placed at the end of a rubber band and then kind of shot at you — that seems to be the consensus of what it feels like,” Murphy said.

Most people need three to eight sessions, each about two months apart, to completely remove a tattoo. Taxpayers are not on the hook for the treatments because the payments come from the LASD's inmate welfare fund. Inmates themselves put money into that fund whenever they make a phone call or buy items from the jail commissary and vending machines.

“This doesn't cost the taxpayers one penny,” Harley stressed.

And taxpayers actually benefit from a lower recidivism rate — the number of inmates recommitting offenses upon release.

Sheriff Lee Baca's spokesman, Steve Whitmore, said preliminary studies have shown inmates who take part in the department's Education-Based Incarceration program have a lower rate of re-offending than those in state prison.

Martin, who has spent literally half his life behind bars for various weapons and drugs crimes, now professes to want to do “something different for the community.”

He is currently an inmate mentor in the LASD's Maximizing Education Reaching Individual Transformation (MERIT) program and strives to become a rehab counselor.

“I decided to change my life,” Martin said. “And I want to show other gentlemen that they can do it, too.”

For nurse Christine Warner, who administers the laser treatments that allow the inmates' transformations, the process is “the most rewarding job I've ever had.”

“(The inmates) are very grateful to have it done,” she said. “A lot of times, they're moved to tears. We've got big, burly guys coming in here, but they start crying because they're so grateful to have this done — they're getting a fresh start.”



Education behind bars keeps inmates from re-arrest

by Christina Villacorte

Inmates who attended academic and vocational courses while behind bars have far lower odds of going back to prison than inmates who did not, according to a recent study.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan said a Rand Corp. analysis shows inmates who get an education in prison are, on average, 43 percent less likely to be arrested for new crimes than inmates who simply wait out their sentences.

“These findings reinforce the need to become smarter on crime by expanding proven strategies for keeping our communities safe and ensuring that those who have paid their debts to society have the chance to become productive citizens,” Holder said in a written statement.

Every year, an estimated 700,000 inmates leave federal and state prisons, but the recidivism rate is about 50 percent within three years.

The Rand Corp. analysis, funded by the Department of Justice, showed inmates who attended either academic or vocational education programs while in prison had a 13 percent higher chance of getting a job afterward compared with inmates who didn't.

Inmates who secured vocational training had even better prospects — a 28 percent higher chance of employment.

“Investing in these education programs helps released prisoners get back on their feet — and stay on their feet — when they return to communities across the country,” Duncan said.

The research estimated each $1 investment in prison education saves between $4 and $5 in incarceration costs.




Editorial: Police connection a positive step for city schools

Gloucester Daily Times

Students and visitors heading into and out of Gloucester High School for today's first day of school will find a new figure manning an office in the school's front reception area.

It won't be a new school administrator or counselor. It will be Gloucester Police Sgt. Michael Gossom, the Gloucester Public Schools' new school resource officer. And we can only hope it doesn't take long for all to recognize just what type of resources Gossom can help provide, and prove to be.

On the surface, Gossom – who will be in uniform, complete with firearm — will provide an important measure of security that can be called upon within the school when needed. And it's important to note that, while he will be based at GHS, he will boost the security of the city's other schools when he visits those facilities as well.

It was through safety and security concerns — largely raised by resident Amanda Kesterson in the wake of last December's Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre — that the idea of providing security guards or police officers for city schools began to take hold.

But as he sets up shop today, it's important that students, parents, school officials and city residents alike recognize this important pilot program for what it can bring — a sense of comfort for students who can talk to and share concerns with a police officer, and a chance for the Police Department, through Gossom, to gain new insight into the issues students and other Gloucester youths are facing in their daily lives, and a new appreciation for building relationships with them as well.

If all goes well — and there's every reason to think it should — Gossom's presence in Gloucester High or elsewhere in the city's school system will not be seen as a mere security measure, but as perhaps the ultimate positive step in community policing. And in that vein, it should not only help Gossom and the Police Department deal with the city's students, teachers and parents — and vice versa — but should lay the groundwork for working in confidence with many of these students for years to come.

There may still be some school officials who question whether this step is necessary – and whether Gossom should be carrying his weapon in the school. But Police Chief Leonard Campanello noted the reason for that — the fact that Gossom must be prepared to respond in the event he's called to an outside emergency during the school day.

The fact is, police officers in schools have long provided a positive interactive presence for students at other schools for years, and that type of community policing is an ideal fit for Gloucester, a city built upon lasting, close-knit neighborhoods and longtime local family ties.

With that, we wish Sgt. Gossom and the entire Gloucester High and Gloucester school community the best in this new school year. And may this new program draw the confidence and support it deserves from all sides.