NEWS of the Day - Nov 30, 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 ...


North Korea

Report: Accused of spying, American held in North Korea issues 'apology'

by Greg Botelho

(CNN) -- An 85-year-old American man detained in North Korea has apologized for his actions, including for killing troops and civilians during the Korean War, North Korea's state-run news agency reported Saturday.

KCNA released a statement it claimed was from Merrill Newman -- a Palo Alto, California man who, his family says, has been held in North Korea for more than 30 days.

"After I killed so many civilians and (North Korean) soldiers and destroyed strategic objects in the DPRK during the Korean War, I committed indelible offensive acts against the DPRK government and Korean people," Newman said, according to the "apology" reported by KCNA.

His statement ends: "If I go back to (the) USA, I will tell the true features of the DPRK and the life the Korean people are leading."

In addition to this statement, KCNA ran a story alleging Newman came to North Korea with a tourist group in October and afterward "perpetrated acts of infringing upon the dignity and sovereignty of the DPRK and slandering its socialist system."

Searching for spies

This story claimed that Newman tried to "look for spies and terrorists who conducted espionage and subversive activities against the DPRK." Investigators determined that, as a member of the U.S. military, he "masterminded espionage and subversive activities ... and, in this course, he was involved in the killings of service personnel of the Korean People's Army and innocent civilians."

"The investigation clearly proved Newman's hostile acts against the DPRK, and they were backed by evidence," the KCNA story added. "He admitted all his crimes and made an apology for them."

Until now, Pyongyang had not explained why it was holding Newman.

There was no apparent immediate response from the U.S. government to the reported apology or the accompanying North Korean official news report.

Washington does not have diplomatic relations with Pyongyang, and it has been working through Sweden -- the U.S. protecting power in North Korea -- to obtain information about the American.

The retired financial consultant was last seen aboard a flight from Pyongyang to Beijing. Just minutes before the plane was to depart, he was removed from the flight by North Korean authorities.

According to his family, he had been on a 10-day organized private tour of North Korea. From phone calls and postcards he sent, the trip was going well and there was no indication of any kind of problem, his son said.

Family begged for his return

Newman's family could not be immediately reached for comment about the North Korean claims or the reported apology. But in recent days, they had voiced their concern about him.

In an interview with CNN on Monday, his wife said they hoped he'd be home for Thanksgiving.

"We need to have Merrill back at the head of the table for the holidays. And we ask -- respectfully -- for them to release him and let him come home," Lee Newman told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

She said Newman has a heart condition and only packed enough medicine for the trip. She has sent packages of medication, but said she does not know whether he has received them.

Newman is one of two American citizens being held in North Korea.

The other one, Kenneth Bae, was arrested in November 2012 and sentenced in May to 15 years of hard labor. The North Korean government has said he was found guilty of "hostile acts" and attempts to topple the government.




Newtown killer's father 'broken,' family stigmatized

by Michael Winter

Adam Lanza's aunt asks, "Was there something more we could have done? Did we miss the signs?"

Adam Lanza's father remains "broken" and family members are "shaken to the core" and stigmatized a year after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, his aunt has told a British newspaper.

"Peter has only spoken about it to a very, very small number of people, including my husband, Michael, his brother, as they are very close," Lanza's sister-in-law, Marsha, told the Daily Mail from her home in Crystal Lake, Ill. "'Peter is a changed man. He's broken. How can you ever begin to try and deal with that? It's just impossible."

Dec. 14 marks the first anniversary of Adam Lanza's spree. He first killed his mother, Nancy, in her bed, and then slaughtered 20 first-graders and six educators at the school in Newtown, Conn., before taking his own life.

Investigators said the antisocial 20-year-old was obsessed with violent video games and mass murders. He was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, an autism-spectrum disorder not associated with violence.

Peter and Nancy Lanza divorced in 2001, but he had regular contact with Adam until their relationship deteriorated. He last spoke with his son in 2010.

The family is still at a loss to explain what motivated the blood bath, and has not had a "big family meeting or anything" to discuss it, Marsha Lanza said.

"Was there something more we could have done? Did we miss the signs?" she said. 'I went over old Facebook messages that Nancy sent me at the time and nothing seemed to indicate this was coming. We're still struggling to understand it ourselves.'

She also told how her children have been taunted and she has been shamed in public because of their last name.

"It happens everywhere the bank, restaurants, gas stations," she said. "You see them see the name ... and then you know what they're thinking. I know what's going through their mind."

Peter Lanza, who recently returned to work, did want to add anything beyond the statement he issued after the shooting, a family spokesman told the paper.




In North Philly, community policing is at heart of crime reduction


IT WAS ABOUT 8 o'clock Tuesday night, and the chilly, rain-soaked streets of North Philadelphia's 39th Police District were nearly empty as Officer Michael Levin's Crown Vic crept across the blacktop.

But Levin, who usually works in bicycle patrol when weather and circumstances permit, was on the street anyway, keeping a watchful eye on the swaths of North Philadelphia, Nicetown, Germantown and East Falls that make up the district headquartered at 22nd Street and Hunting Park Avenue.

On this night, Levin, 28, a seven-year veteran who's spent all those years in the 39th, reflected on community policing - a strategy favored by Capt. Michael Craighead, who took command of the district about a year ago.

"Bike patrol is really good for community relations. People come up and thank you. It's a real good deterrent presence," Levin said. "The community needs us and we need them."

Police statistics show that shootings in the 39th District have dropped about 40 percent over last year. The district has had 63 shootings, compared with 106 in the same period last year.

Levin busied himself during the first leg of his tour with checking corners plagued with drug sales and, as often come with them, shootings. At one of the district's hot corners, Hansberry and Knox streets in Germantown, Levin pointed out a corner store with a shattered glass door.

"Hansberry and Knox is busy for us," he said. "It's one of our violent corners."

Even on the quiet, rainy nights, Levin said, police presence on the streets and interacting with people in the neighborhoods - he stopped at one point on Germantown Avenue to momentarily block traffic for men pushing a woman's car to the curb after it ran out of gas - builds rapport and helps police prevent and solve crime.

"That's the hard part, trying to get people to talk [about crimes]. Community policing 100 percent helps. People know we care," Levin said. "Treat people with respect. That's the most important thing."

That motto held true even in tough circumstances later that night, when Levin and fellow officers came face-to-face with a raging senior citizen who threatened, "I'll shoot a cop. I'll kill all these motherf-----s," numerous times as the officers tried to calm him.

They were called to the man's apartment on 15th Street - one of the bigger jobs of the otherwise quiet shift - after the man's neighbors called 9-1-1 and reported that he was drunk and threatening to stab them.

Levin and two other officers spent 10 minutes talking to the man to calm him down. The cops, despite the man's threats, kept their cool and eventually convinced him to go back inside his apartment. For them, the job isn't just about throwing people in jail; it's about working with the community.

"Even talking to people you're arresting" is an important part, Levin had explained earlier. "I'll say, 'You're 19, you've got your whole life ahead of you. You're not gonna make it on these streets.' "

Levin and commanding officers in the 39th agree that the emphasis on community policing has helped to reduce crime around the district and gain the trust of people in violent neighborhoods where a "no-snitch" culture had prevailed in the past.

"The community itself is our eyes and ears. Nobody knows more information as to who the players are, what they're doing, where they're doing it, where they're hiding drugs and weapons than people who live there," said Lt. Vincent Testa, who's worked in the district for about three years. " 'Don't snitch?' Community policing is the antithesis of that."

For Levin, helping people is the rewarding part of the job.

"There are a lot of good people down here who need help," he said during his tour Tuesday night.

"That's what I signed up for."