Newtown school shooting 911 calls to be released Wednesday
Some audio recordings of 911 calls from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting will be released Wednesday afternoon.
The calls, made to Newtown, Connecticut, police, are scheduled to be made available to the media on CDs at 2 p.m. ET.
The release of the recordings will be administered by the attorneys for the Town of Newtown at their offices in Danbury.
Calls to the state police in Litchfield are not a part of this group of recordings.
The Associated Press had challenged authorities' refusal to release the 911 tapes.
Last week, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Eliot Prescott upheld the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission's ruling to release calls related to the December 14, 2012 shooting. A state attorney had tried to block the release to shield the victims' families.
The massacre at Sandy Hook left 26 people dead, including 20 children, making it the second-deadliest shooting in U.S. history.
The gunman, Adam Lanza, shot himself at the end of his 11-minute rampage.
The killings in Newtown, about 60 miles outside New York, happened less than five months after a similar bloodbath at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, outside Denver.
Those mass slayings triggered a nationwide debate over gun violence, school safety and mental health, a debate that produced some new restrictions on firearms in several states.
Backlash by gun-rights advocates followed.
SCPD Commits to Improving Latino Community Policing
Agreement with the Justice Department comes five years after the killing of Marcelo Lucero.
by Ryan Bonner
The Suffolk County Police Department has committed to "significant changes in how it engages the Latino community" under a tentative settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday.
The Justice Department began an investigation of the department in 2009 following the killing of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant who was attacked by a group of teenagers in Patchogue in November 2008.
That investigation "focused on discriminatory policing allegations, including claims that SCPD discouraged Latino victims from filing complaints and cooperating with the police and failed to investigate crimes and hate-crime incidents involving Latinos," the Justice Department said in a statement.
Under the settlement, which must be approved by the county legislature, the police department is required to "to ensure that it polices equitably, respectfully, and free of unlawful bias."
The agreement also calls for enhanced training and investigation of allegations of hate crimes and bias incidents, better access to police services for those with limited English proficiency and strengthened outreach by the police department in Latino communities.
The Justice Department had already recommended several reforms to improve policing in Latino communities in 2011 and the county instituted a number of them. The agreement announced Tuesday "memorializes those recommendations" and commits the police department to the changes, the Justice Department said.
“All residents of Suffolk County deserve full and unbiased police protection, regardless of national origin, race, or citizenship status," Loretta Lynch, United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement. "When people feel they cannot turn to the police for protection, they have lost one of our most basic rights – the right to feel safe in one's community."
Lynch praised the county and the police department for cooperating with the investigation and working to "ensure fairness and equal treatment for all."
The Justice Department will monitor compliance with the agreement, which ends only after the police department has substantially complied with all of the requirements of the agreement for at least one year.
Frederick police call for community feedback to aid next strategic plan
by Daniel J. Gross
Frederick police are seeking the public's help, not to solve a crime, but to identify ways in which the department can improve in the next five years.
The Frederick Police Department distributed a survey to city residents and business owners to determine the community's perception of the agency — a first step of many in crafting a new five-year strategic plan.
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Those in the community have until 4 p.m. Friday to fill out the one-page online survey and offer feedback.
Gauging the public's feelings toward the department is the first step in a strategic planning process that will guide police efforts for the next five years, Deputy Chief Capt. Pat Grossman said.
The areas of focus going forward may include staffing levels, technology, policing tactics and other key aspects of the agency.
Staffing is always a concern, Grossman said, and the department needs to look at ways in which growing and advancing will allot more sworn personnel.
"In five years, I would like to have, for example, more staffing, say 300 officers," he said. "How do we break this down? How do we build and work with our stakeholders? We're not looking at today, we're looking at five years and how we can be opportunistic."
Grossman believes this is the first time the department has solicited resident feedback via a citywide survey before their strategic planning, he said.
Police Chief Tom Ledwell wrote in a letter to the community, "We believe strongly that those affected by our strategic direction should be able to contribute their ideas at the beginning of the process to help guide us."
The City of Frederick Public Safety Survey asks survey-takers to read through 30 statements and select the five they believe are most important.
The statements include "The FPD is culturally and racially diverse, and has bilingual officers," "There are neighborhood watch and other related public safety programs" and "The FPD concentrates on property crimes and burglaries."
Reducing crime, improving police-related facilities and making technological advances were some of the core focus areas that came about from the department's previous strategic planning, Grossman said.
The department creates a strategic plan every five years, not a longer or shorter time, he said, because a good pace of change takes place in a five-year span.
"In 10 years there are so many different changes," Grossman said. "Five years is going to enable us to establish goals that are more attainable."
Once the survey results are compiled, he said, the department will consult with community leaders and city officials to learn of additional hopes, goals and concerns before top police officials map out a new strategic plan.
Task Force Will be Created to Review Officer-Involved Shootings
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will begin appointing people to the task force Tuesday.
by Cody Kitaura
In the wake of the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by a sheriff's deputy, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Tuesday will begin appointing a Community and Law Enforcement Task Force that will consider recommending a process for an independent citizen's review of officer-involved shootings.
The 21-member task force's options include recommending a citizen review board, a police review/citizen oversight review board, a police review/citizen's appeal board or an independent citizen auditor.
In Sonoma County, a Grand Jury currently reviews the Sonoma County District Attorney's report on its investigation of officer-involved shootings. That report decides whether there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed.
The Task Force also could retain the Grand Jury review process.
Sheriff's Deputy Erick Gelhaus shot Lopez seven times within 10 seconds as the teen walked along Moorland Avenue in Santa Rosa with an airsoft BB gun that resembled an AK-47 rifle on Oct. 22.
According to Santa Rosa police who are investigating the fatal shooting, Gelhaus said he ordered Lopez to drop the gun, then shot him as the barrel of the BB gun rose as Lopez turned toward him.
There have been at least 9 marches and protests since the shooting. Protesters and community members have called for Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch to arrest and indict Gelhaus, and for an independent citizen's review of the shooting and Gelhaus' actions.
Lopez's family has filed a federal civil rights violation lawsuit against Gelhaus and Sonoma County. The suit claims there exists an "unconstitutional custom and practice" at the sheriff's office regarding the deadly use of force.
Each of the five county supervisors will appoint three members to the Community and Law Enforcement Task Force. Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas will appoint three members, the Mayor of Santa Rosa will appoint two and the County District Attorney will appoint one member.
The Task Force's first recommendations are due in February 2014 and its final recommendations are due in December 2014.
Two weeks after the Lopez shooting, the Board of Supervisors held a lengthy discussion on community healing.
The public comments at the hearing led to several recommendations, including the task force.
The task force also will consider options for community policing to be included in next year's budget, reviewing whether the office of the coroner should be separated from the sheriff's office, and informing the supervisors of any additional feedback from the community.
Other recommendations for the Board of Supervisors to consider are holding town hall meetings with "underserved communities" to discuss "inclusion, healing and disparity in services," supporting state and federal legislation on gun and replica weapon control.