NEWS of the Day - Oct 6, 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 ...



Gov. Brown signs another bill easing conditions for immigrants

by Patrick McGreevy

Law enforcement officials in California who arrest immigrants in the country illegally will be prohibited from detaining them for transfer to federal authorities unless they committed a serious crime under one of several bills signed Saturday by Gov. Jerry Brown to ease conditions for immigrants.

The Trust Act is the second milestone bill on immigration signed by the governor in two days. On Thursday he approved a measure allowing immigrants in the country illegally to receive California driver's licenses.

“While Washington waffles on immigration, California's forging ahead,” Brown said. “I'm not waiting.”

Brown's action came as immigration advocates rallied in California and across the county to push for new immigration legislation.

As Washington remains preoccupied with a federal government shutdown, immigration has faded into the background.

Earlier this week, House Democrats introduced an immigration bill that mostly parallels the one passed by the Senate in June. It would offer a path to citizenship for most of the 11 million immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally, as well as expand visa programs in an effort to eliminate current backlogs.

But many House Republicans do not support a path to citizenship for the 11 million.



New Jersey

Montclair Police to Get Office Space in Glenfield Middle School

by Georgette Gilmore

At the last Board of Education meeting, Police Chief David Sabagh announced that the MPD would be placing officers inside Glenfield Middle School to establish better communication with the students, parents and teachers.

Yesterday, Glenfield principal Joseph Putrino sent home a newsletter titled, “Glenfield: A True Blue Community School,” with more details of the partnership between the Montclair Community Police Unit and Glenfield. This is a part of the MPD's new Community Service Unit initiative:

Glenfield Middle School has been known as a true community school. We offer our space and resources to all aspects of the town. Our facility has housed many community-based functions ranging from sporting events to the Montclair Adult School. We are now engaged in yet another community partnership that will indeed benefit our town and our school. Glenfield Middle School and the Montclair Police Department have joined forces!

The History
As part of their new community policing program the Montclair Police Department is seeking to reconnect with schools. Many of you may remember the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program that used to exist in all of our schools. Due to town budget constraints the program was eliminated over 5 years ago. I still run into teachers, students and parents who valued and miss the program. D.A.R.E was not only a great system for educating students but also a way to remove the stigma of seeing a police officer and thinking, “There must be a problem!” When the MPD approached me about wanting to have a base in one of our schools, I saw a win-win situation.

The Schedule
Beginning this month, I have offered to give the Montclair Police Department office space at Glenfield Middle School. Our partnership is one that will pilot an idea to utilize each other as a resource. In the future other schools may also be included in this plan. Access to Glenfield is a logistical benefit for their community policing program. You may have noticed the increased presence of the police around our neighborhood.

The Gain
In return we will be able to use the officers present during the day to assist with arrival and dismissal procedures and as a resource throughout the day. Our plans currently have the officers presenting to kids on important issues and helping the administration problem solve issues like drop off traffic. Once again our school community will lose the stigma that seeing a police officer means something is

The office space designated for the Montclair Police Department will be in the main office. At any given time there will be two officers present in the school and two out in the field “walking the beat.” As a perk we will have two officers on patrol up until (but not limited to) 10:00pm. This means that much of any unwanted nighttime behaviors will be deterred away from the school.

The Plan
We have a transition plan that will allow all students to acclimate to the presence of our new guests. The Montclair Police Department has purchased a more relaxed uniform for the officers who will participate in the partnership. Students can expect Montclair blue polo's with a more casual look. Additionally, as we integrate the officers to a more permanent presence, we will be circulating to each house to introduce the officers so the students are completely familiar with our guests. Also, we will be training the officers in the nuances of education and middle school students.

I want to reinforce that I am the principal of the school and make all decisions for our students throughout the school day. The police will only be involved if I have requested their service (pretty cool).

The Announcement
To slowly transition the school into this new partnership, The Montclair Public Schools and Glenfield have taken several steps to ensure our population has been informed. At the last Montclair Board of Education meeting Police Chief David Sabagh spoke about the program. Additionally, Glenfield PTA dedicated our last meeting on October 1st to this topic. Glenfield staff have also been included in the conversation. It is important to us to ensure that our population had a chance to hear the details of the program and ask questions.

Together, I know we can refine security procedures at Glenfield, reduce the stigma of our police force, increase awareness on important issues like drugs and alcohol and reconnect with the community on a more meaningful level.

If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me.

Dr. Joseph A. Putrino, Jr.




Traffic cameras continue to sprout, despite little evidence they increase public safety

by Phillip Morris

Ohio Representative Bill Patmon attended a community meeting in Cleveland's Glenville neighborhood this past June. When it was his turn to speak, he asked the nearly 150 people assembled in the community center to demonstrate by a show of hands how many of them supported the use of traffic enforcement cameras in the city.

“Not a single person raised their hands. I knew the devices weren't popular. But not a single hand went up. My constituents in that room were completely against the use of cameras,” said Patmon, who later voted with the majority of the House to ban the rapidly growing use of red-light and speed cameras in Ohio.

The bill is now pending in the Ohio Senate.

It's not surprising that the traffic enforcement technology, so popular with the administration of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and City Council, is a whole lot less popular in the neighborhoods.

Despite glimmers of hope and flashes of economic revival, Cleveland remains a poor and under-employed city. Residents are economically stressed and resent the robo-cop devices. They consider the non-blinking mechanical eyes as little more than blatant revenue generators that do little to improve public safety in a meaningful way. They are offended by officialdom's claim that the cameras are all about promoting safety.

“Sure, a speeding, reckless motorist might pump their brakes near one of the cameras,” said Patmon.

“But then once they leave the range of the camera, it's back to driving as usual. The cameras don't really change behavior, but they do generate a lot of revenue,” he said.

And it is this kind of economic concern that remains a compelling, yet largely un-amplified argument in Cleveland, the kind of financial concern that would ordinarily gain some traction in a big city mayoral race. But it simply hasn't happened in this most quiet of races in 2013.

Mayoral candidate Ken Lanci, who carries the almost laughable underdog status of a Buster Douglas who dethroned undefeated heavyweight champion Mike Tyson in 1990, has tried on a number of occasions to advance the case that the cameras are punitive and economically regressive.

He has also tried not so subtly to make the camera issue a race issue. He has campaign literature that reads, “Stop targeting East Siders on Red-Light cameras.” The tactic has done little to fuel his steep uphill campaign.

But that fact doesn't change the reality that the camera argument in Ohio is likely far from over. And economic arguments are not the only concerns raised about the cameras. Some studies have reportedly demonstrated that red-light cameras actually lead to an increase in accidents. And other critics and reports raise privacy and enforcement concerns.

Therefore, if the state legislature doesn't overturn or limit the mechanical policing, it's quite possible that the courts will take a hard look at the probity and fairness of the technology, which is increasingly a fact of life in many hard-pressed cities throughout the country.

More than 1 in 5 motorists say they cannot afford auto insurance and another 1 in 5 motorists say they drive uninsured because their premiums are simply too high, according to statistics provided by the Insurance Research Council.

In poor cities like Cleveland, the rate of uninsured motorists generally closely tracks unemployment rates. That reality creates certain predictable outcomes: Increased numbers of uninsured, impoverished drivers will now face the additional burden of mechanical cameras watching their cars, siphoning their wallets, but arguably doing precious little to make Cleveland safer.

That's why Patmon's show of hands in Glenville was met with a resounding “no.”





Public safety: Policing the police

ACTING POLICE Chief Julie Tolbert is starting out right in keeping a promise to restore public confidence in the metro police department.

On Thursday, she made two necessary moves. She placed two veteran officers who were named in a 2010 federal police corruption investigation on paid administrative leave.

She did the same thing with a police captain who was implicated in a sexual harassment complaint against former chief Willie Lovett, who was forced to retire a week ago.

Both moves show responsible leadership. Unfortunately, she failed to take one more needed step — putting someone else in charge of the department's Internal Affairs unit.

If she genuinely wants to police the police, and help restore the department's integrity, then she must put a trusted cop in this key position.

It remains unclear why the former chief sat on his hands when he learned that Sgt. Malik Khaalis and Star Cpl. Willet Williams were the subjects of a corruption investigation of complaints that Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team agents were engaged in illegal drug activities about three years ago.

Khaalis, a metro officer, was assigned to CNT at that time. Williams, also a metro officer, had a relative who was the target of drug investigators.

The two officers were investigated. The FBI reported that Khaalis was allegedly tipping off Williams, which was ruining the CNT's efforts to put drug dealers behind bars. Yet the two officers, for some unexplained reasons, were never charged by federal or state prosecutors. The only thing that U.S. Attorney Edward Tarver and then-Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm (and now, Meg Heap) ever did was tell former chief Lovett that neither officer was welcome on a witness stand.

And amazingly, the chief promoted Khaalis to sergeant. That has never been explained. Also unexplained was the chief's decision to pull his metro officers out of CNT after news about the corruption investigation was brought to his attention.

Khaalis and Williams apparently are now the focus of another Internal Affairs investigation. This time, let's hope it's a real one.

Also being looked at is a member of the former chief's command staff, Capt. Cedric Phillips. He was named in a sexual harassment complaint filed Sept. 20 with city human resources officials by police Sgt. LaPrentice Mayes. The filing occurred a week before the chief was forced out by City Manager Stephanie Cutter.

The sergeant complained that his captain allegedly attempted to procure the sergeant's wife, police Detective Trina Mayes, for sex. He also alleged that his wife had a repeated affair with the chief, allegedly with the captain's help.

These are only allegations at this point. Nothing has been substantiated publicly. So it's proper to withhold judgement.

Still, these allegations are serious. They undermine the department's morale and chain of command, which affects performance. That, in turn, affects public safety. The criminals who are paying attention to these soap-opera-like events must be laughing their heads off.

The public's limited resources must be invested in fighting crime, not protecting or enabling unprofessional or possibly criminal behavior.

Acting Chief Tolbert is a 32-year department veteran, as well as a member of the former chief's top command staff. She said last Tuesday that her immediate concerns are “ensuring that everything is stabilized, that the internal and external customers feel comfortable and that leadership is in place.”

Putting these three officers on leave is a positive step in that direction.




'Public safety ambassadors' patrol downtown Tulsa


Chase Durnal pulls his city of Tulsa security vehicle into a narrow clearing of trees along a highway bordering downtown's East Village District and examines a mattress tucked between branches.
“That's where we'll find campsites — on the outskirts” of downtown, he says.

Durnal, 28, is one of three “public safety ambassadors” who patrol within the Inner Dispersal Loop on behalf of the Downtown Coordinating Council, observing and reporting graffiti, trash and disruptive or criminal activity.

Not that this vacant campsite is disruptive.

Durnal often finds these set-ups while patrolling out-of-view areas along the Inner Dispersal Loop. He stops, speaks with any residents and, if they're willing, he'll direct them to a shelter or ask the John 3:16 mission to reach out to them.

“That's the role of an ambassador,” Durnal said. “We try to handle everything.”

The ambassador program, which began in 2011 and is funded by the Coordinating Council, is managed and equipped by G4S, the contracted security company that guards City Hall and patrols parks.

The ambassadors are armed, CLEET-certified security officers who are tasked with maintaining the appearance of downtown and addressing problems too insignificant to warrant police attention.

The goal, Coordinating Council Manager Tom Baker said, is to help reverse any notion “that downtown wasn't as safe and secure as we would like for it to be.”