NEWS of the Week - Jan 20 to Jan 26, 2014
on some LACP issues of interest


NEWS of the Week

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.


January, 2014 - Week 4


Washington D.C.

D.C. Police Chief Addresses Officer Misconduct

District of Columbia Police Chief Cathy Lanier said Friday that the department is working to implement an on-body camera system for officers to “establish a record of police conduct.”

Lanier briefly mentioned the technology to the D.C. Council while addressing concerns over police misconduct, a problem that attracted public attention last month with the arrests of three officers accused in unrelated investigations involving child pornography, attempted murder and running a prostitution operation involving teenage girls.

Police department figures show that more than 100 officers have been arrested in the past five years, but Lanier said she didn't believe the problem was any worse than in other big-city police departments. She said many of the charges that have been filed involve alcohol-related traffic offenses and domestic violence and that many of the cases are not prosecuted and do not end with a conviction.

“I want to reassure the residents of the District that they have a police force that is ethical,” Lanier said. “Those few officers' actions dishonor the oath that we all swore to uphold.”

She attributed the misconduct problems, in part, to an arbitration process that she says has resulted in the reinstatement of officers the department had previously tried to fire. In one case, she said, an officer involved in domestic violence got drunk, threatened suicide and fired his weapon in the air but was ordered reinstated.

She said the department's recruitment standards are the strongest in decades, with only 1 in 25 applicants being hired and a mandated polygraph for all applicants. The department has outreach programs aimed at preventing alcohol abuse but sometimes officers with otherwise clean records “may cross the line and engage in misconduct late in their career because of a traumatic event in their personal lives.”

Lanier did not speak in detail about the proposed body-camera system, but said it was necessary to “establish a record of police conduct.” Other departments have been experimenting with body cameras to record videos of police activity. Police officers assigned to foot patrols of downtown Los Angeles began wearing on-body cameras on Wednesday as the city evaluates different models to include in its policing.

Councilmember Tommy Wells, who chairs the public safety committee and convened the hearing, called the arrests “shocking” and sought information on hiring and supervision standards.

“These revelations have quite rightly caused great concern in our community,” Wells said in his opening statement. “The police wield immense power and responsibility, and we count on them to keep us safe. The abuse of that power by even one officer hurts the reputation of all of our officers.”

Kris Baumann, head of the police officers' union, called the arrest numbers “indefensible” and said the union has long sought changes, including in hiring and retention standards.

“If there is one bright spot that District residents can take away from this unforgiveable series of arrests and convictions, it is that the rank-and-file police officers are outraged by it and they will not tolerate it,” Baumann said in a statement. “There is no wall of silence; there is no effort to minimize the seriousness of these problems.”




Some fear homicide drop in EBR may be temporary without a more-nuanced approach

by Ryan Broussard

Last year, East Baton Rouge had a 20 percent drop in the number of homicides. Yet, the homicide rate stubbornly remains more than four times the national average, with social ills such as poverty and unemployment still plaguing the inner city.

With an infusion of federal dollars in late 2012, city- parish officials began attacking the crime problem.

The results were impressive: 66 homicides in the parish in 2013, down from 83 in 2012 and a five-year average of nearly 83 since 2008, marking the lowest number of homicides parishwide in nearly a decade.

But the homicide rate, especially in Baton Rouge, remains high. The city's 2013 rate was 21 homicides per 100,000 population, well above the national average of 4.8 per 100,000.

And some in the community are wondering if now is the time to give the same attention to the social ills underlying the crime epidemic as officials have given in the past year to those at risk of committing crimes.

“Unless we're vigilant and start working on some preventative measures, it's going to go back up,” said the Rev. Lee T. Wesley, pastor at the Community Bible Baptist Church on Monte Sano Avenue.

Law enforcement officials have repeatedly cited the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination, or BRAVE, Project as the driving force of the community policing strategy that led to the overall decline of homicides as well as the drastic drop of gang-related shootings, from about 58 percent of the homicides from 2010 to early 2012 to fewer than a handful in 2013, East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III has said.

Statistics released by Baton Rouge police in October for the first half of 2013 show a nearly 25 percent decrease in violent crime from the first half of 2012. Moore said unofficial data for the year show violent crime decreased throughout the parish by about 20 percent.

But for lasting change, advocates such as Wesley say the community needs to address the root causes of crime, not just crime itself.

“It's a culture that has created this environment, and cultures are changed very slow,” said the Rev. Donald Butler, pastor of the New Beginning Baptist Church in the Glen Oaks area. “The homicides are symptoms, truancy are symptoms, but the cause of young men committing homicides in my mind have to do with a family that is not functional.”

There is counseling available — Wesley said the Greater Baptist Association of Greater Baton Rouge offers family, juvenile and marital counseling to all those who request it — but too many people don't know about the available services.

BRAVE offers social services such as counseling and after-school programs in the 70805 and 70802 ZIP code areas, but only to members of the more than 40 street gangs whose leaders were invited to the BRAVE call-in sessions.

Call-ins are an integral part of Operation Ceasefire, the community policing program that BRAVE is modeled after. During the biannual sessions, law enforcement officers and community leaders meet with reputed violent offenders.

Others who don't quality for those BRAVE services are referred to other agencies, said Mark Dumaine, a prosecutor who serves as Moore's chief administrative officer.

“Baton Rouge is a resource-rich town and we have services that are going unutilized and so for the most part, BRAVE is able to assist (someone) by plugging them into other services such as services at the Family and Youth Service Center,” Dumaine said.

Arthur “Silky Slim” Reed, a gang leader-turned-activist who talks to at-risk youth as part of his Stop the Killing organization, said a continued effort to bring services to the inner city is needed to break the cycle of violence.

“I think that as a community, we focus on the violence — the violence of senseless killings — but we don't look at the intimate level of violence, which is the violent speech,” he said.

“When you have a parent who continues to tell a child that he's not going to be anything, that he's just going to be like the no-good man that they had him for or just like your no-good momma,” Reed said, “those parents have failed as parents.”

Ed Shihadeh, an LSU criminologist who collects and analyzes data for BRAVE, said the first step is to take care of the crime, and then address the social ills.

“If you want to cure those social problems and deal with poverty and despair, first bring the crime rate down, then you can deal with those problems,” he said.

Law enforcement officials have repeatedly cited BRAVE as the main, if not sole, reason for the homicide decrease, but George Capowich, an assistant professor of sociology at Loyola University in New Orleans who specializes in crime and society, said the decrease could signal that the nearly decade-long crime epidemic in the city may be slowly coming to a close, and not just because of BRAVE.

“Does it (BRAVE) completely explain the dramatic drop? I think that's unlikely,” Capowich said.

He stressed that he does not have access to the data and could not definitively pinpoint the leading causes for the decrease, but factors like population shifts, people getting older and growing out of the criminal lifestyle, and people getting new responsibilities have been shown in past research to reduce crime rates.

Other research has shown that when drug dealers' markets are stable and they are not concerned about competition from other drug dealers, violence decreases, even if only temporarily, Capowich said.

That is a factor, he said, if the BRAVE call-ins are successfully leading juvenile offenders out of gangs, leaving fewer dealers on the streets.

But not all of the slayings were gang-related.

Last year, three people in East Baton Rouge were killed in murder-suicides, three young children died from blunt-force traumatic injuries and at least four people were killed by family members.

Other homicides included a woman stabbed to death allegedly by a stalker, a sole witness to a homicide who was beaten to death in an unrelated killing, and a woman who received a fatal dose of heroin from a boyfriend.

A number of people were fatally shot through a window in a car or in their own home: on Jan. 10, a Baton Rouge woman was shot through a window in her home; on Feb. 27, a man was shot through a window in his Hyundai Santa Fe; and on Aug. 10, a father was shot through a bedroom window in his apartment while sleeping in a bed with his 6-year-old son. Police do not have any leads in those homicides.

Still, more than half of the homicides in the city occurred in two areas: the 70805 ZIP code area, long recognized as the city's most-violent, and the bordering 70802 area, the city's second most-violent.

Those two areas make up just 19 of the city's 75 square miles but annually account for nearly half of its serious and violent crime, a statement that rang true in 2013 with 27 of the city's 49 homicides occurring within those borders.

The 70802 area had a drastic reduction in homicides: 10 in 2013, down from 23 the year before.

The 70802 area had a drastic reduction in homicides: 10 in 2013, down from 23 the year before.

In the 70805 area, however, homicides increased: 17 in 2013, from 14 the year before. That increase was logged despite BRAVE's focus on that area.

“We always knew that it is the historically most challenged area in Baton Rouge and that's why the grant was focused on 70805, and remember this grant is focused on gun violence, in particular in young kids,” Moore said. “When you have that increased presence there, you would think that the murders would have at least been the same or a little bit less, but it's really hard to explain.”



Court ruling shields public safety info due to potential ‘terrorists'

A US appellate court decision this week could allow federal agencies to withhold public safety information related to crucial infrastructure concerns or environmental disasters because of potential nefarious use by “terrorists or criminals.”

A US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia panel ruled this week that such information can be concealed from the public by US government entities for “law enforcement purposes” because “terrorists or criminals could use that information to determine whether attacking a dam would be worthwhile.”

The case was brought by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a resource non-profit for potential government whistleblowers. PEER's attempt to use a public information request to compel the release of emergency plans for two large storage dams on the Rio Grande River was thwarted, as was its call for inundation maps that show which areas around the dams would flood should a failure occur.

PEER says the decision “significantly expands the scope of the exemption under the Freedom of Information Act for material compiled for ‘law enforcement purposes.'”

“Under the standard articulated by the court, the majority of information about known risks and planned responses to virtually every emergency could be placed off limits,” PEER senior counsel Paula Dinerstein, who argued the appeal, said in a press release. “This ruling will block affected communities from learning about plans to prevent and respond to chemical spills.”

In PEER's case, it had inquired with the United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) about multiple emergency plans, over 75 inundation maps, and a 2009 report on the condition of the Amistad Dam - the largest dam on the US-Mexico border.

USIBWC refused to release the material even though, according to PEER, the agency had acknowledged “external reviews showing two major structures, the Falcon and Amistad Dams, are in ‘urgent' need of repair.”

In its decision, the panel referenced a supposed “intelligence alert” from the US Department of Homeland Security that outlined an alleged plan by drug traffickers to blow up Falcon Dam.

“The alert states that traffickers warned some local residents to evacuate in advance of a possible attack on the dam. That record evidence confirms what common sense suggests: The inundation maps, if disclosed, could reasonably be expected to endanger life or physical safety,” the ruling stated.

The USIBWC's stated mission “is to provide binational solutions to issues that arise during the application of United States-Mexico treaties regarding boundary demarcation, national ownership of waters, sanitation, water quality, and flood control in the border region.”

Dinerstein pointed to recent spills in West Virginia and the Gulf of Mexico as examples where nearby residents would be left in the dark regarding actions to take in an emergency, all for the sake of shielding such information from those who might exploit it for nefarious purposes.

“Basic emergency planning should not be treated as a state secret,” said Dinerstein. “By the court's incredibly deferential standards, virtually every federal agency could withhold maps, assessments and even phonebooks if an official can imagine a potential nefarious use for them. A vigilant public will lose access to much of the information needed to protect itself and to agitate for changes that prevent these man-made disasters from occurring.”

The case in West Virginia adds another layer to how the federal government handles emergency response to chemical spills. Two weeks ago, a coal-processing substance known as MCHM began leaking into the Elk River and the surrounding community from a tank at a plant owned by Freedom Industries.

Officials say state and local planners did not have an emergency response plan in case of a spill of Crude MCHM. The absence of strategy for such an accident may be explained by a federal emergency planning law - the Emergency Response and Community Right to Know Act - that does not require one for Crude MCHM because it is not listed under federal rules as an "extremely hazardous material.” Crude MCHM is also known as 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol.

The same day the leak was discovered north of Charleston, the US House passed the Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act that would ultimately eliminate requirements for the Environmental Protection Agency to review and update hazardous-waste disposal regulations in a timely manner. It would also make it more difficult for the government to compel companies that deal with toxic substances to carry proper insurance for cleanups, thereby pushing the cost on to taxpayers.

In addition, the bill would result in a slower response time in the case of a disaster, requiring increased consultation with states before the federal government could call for the cleanup of Superfund sites - where hazardous waste could affect people and the environment.

The legislation is not expected to pass in the Senate, nor does it have support from the White House.



Kids and Guns and Public Safety, by Diane Dimond


Uncle Jim used to herd a group of us kids into the car on a sunny Saturday morning and head to an isolated area outside town. His son, little Jim, my two cousins Sandy and Terry and I were full of anticipation. We were going target shooting — with a real gun — guided every step of the way in gun safety by Uncle Jim. I was about 10 or 11 years old, the oldest kid in the group.

“Always keep a gun pointed toward the ground until you are ready to shoot,” Uncle Jim would say as he set up soda cans on a fence post about 20 yards away. “Never, ever point a gun toward another person.”

There on the southwest mesa outside Albuquerque, we would wait patiently until it was our turn to handle the pistol. Uncle Jim would stand right behind us and guide the gun into our hands, showing us the proper technique of cradling the hands around the bottom of the gun while placing an index finger on the trigger. Then he'd take a step back as we raised our arms and tell us to shoot when we were ready.

While in an outstretched-arms position, I once turned slightly to ask him a question and he urgently leapt forward repeating the mantra, “Never, ever point a gun toward another person.” He steered my arms back to the target.

If only there were an Uncle Jim inside every house with a kid and a gun.

I've been thinking about my young gun training ever since hearing news about the school shooting in Roswell, New Mexico — just two hundred miles from where I learned to handle a gun. The first thought that popped into my head was, “Where did that child get access to a gun?”

The 12-year-old got the shotgun from his home and used it to shoot two of his classmates inside a crowded gymnasium at the Berrendo Middle School. Thankfully, the result was not as devastating as some other recent school shootings but, at this writing, one of the wounded children, a 12-year-old boy, is still hospitalized in critical but stable condition. The second victim, a 13-year-old-girl, is home now but still has limited use of one arm.

According to police, a search of the boy's home revealed several firearms were kept there — none stored in a lock box.

Police revealed that the boy actually took time to saw-off the stock of the shotgun, making it easier to conceal. Again I thought, “Where were the parents while he was doing this?”

Some will say it's not fair to question what the parents did or didn't do. Know that my heart aches for them, as well as the wounded and their families. But who else was responsible for that child getting a gun? Who else was responsible for the safekeeping of that weapon? It's easy to say that placing blame solves nothing but without accountability, where are we? After the next school shooting involving a minor do we just shrug our shoulders and say nothing different could have been done?

Reader Alice Benson of Tijeras Canyon, New Mexico, wrote me after the Roswell shooting. She helps newly released parolees navigate the court system and Benson asked, why don't schools have just one entrance, manned by an armed guard and a metal detector?

“One might ask: When was the last time we heard of someone getting shot in a courtroom?” Benson wrote. “Why do we guarantee the safety of criminals in a courtroom and not the safety of our most vulnerable resource — our children?”

Good question, Alice. Let's do the math.

After a school shooting in Cleveland, Ohio, a few years ago, city fathers set aside 3.3 million dollars to put metal detectors in all 111 public schools and to hire guards to man them. Can your state afford that?

The average cost of a good metal detector is upwards of $7,000. Multiply that by the approximately 100,000 public schools in this country. Then, of course, there would be the cost of each guard's salary. If he or she is armed, they would have to be state certified and trained and would certainly ask for more than minimum wage, say, $40,000 or $50,000, per school, per year.

So, I'd say the bottom-line answer to the question, Alice, is that there is not enough money in the school budget. And not enough resolve to divert funds from other sources to provide such security at the entrance to every single public school. Right or wrong, it is the reality.

Also, let's ask ourselves: Is that the atmosphere we want while educating children? Think of the tension and anxiety surrounding airport security checkpoints. Will the kids have to take off their shoes and belts and empty their pockets every morning? Is that how we want our kids to start each day?

A much easier solution would be for every adult who owns guns to step up and be accountable for it. Even if there is no child in the home, firearms are tops on the list of items robbers look for when they break into a house. Every gun owner should have conscience enough to secrete their gun or, preferably, buy a locked cabinet in which to store every weapon they own. I'm not talking gun control here. I'm talking personal responsibility.

I wonder what Uncle Jim, a life-long resident of New Mexico, would have said about the Roswell school shooting? He's no longer with us, but I bet he'd hang his head, let out a big sigh, and say, “Never, ever point a gun towards another person.”




YPSILANTI: Community action team being formed to police LeForge Road area

by Krystal Elliott

As part of the new collaborative effort amongst the Ypsilanti and Eastern Michigan University police departments and the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office, a Community Action Team is being formed to deal with crime in Ypsilanti's Leforge corridor.

The Leforge area has been under scrutiny during the past few months following a number of high-profile, violent crimes that have taken place over the past year. Two EMU students have been murdered off campus in that area: Julia Niswender near the end of 2012 and Demarius Reed in October.

The CAT team will be comprised of four individuals, including one from each department as well as a federal agent, and will be responsible for policing the Leforge area as well as other areas immediately surrounding the EMU campus.

“They're going to be much more active in their intelligence gathering,” said Ypsilanti police Lt. Deric Gress. “Their job is to be more focused for the city and the campus area and to stir some intelligence up, to get more proactive.”

Gress said that having a dedicated CAT team working an area frees up other officers to patrol the rest of the city, as well as allows for those on the team to focus their efforts and get the job done. It's a better way to utilize officers in an understaffed department, he said.

“When you shrink down like all the agencies have done over a number of years you go from a proactive, community-based system to a reactive system,” Gress said. “Now the pendulum is swinging back the other way. We're going to start utilizing our officers to have a more proactive role.”

Gress said that he anticipates the CAT team will be ready for launch during the first week of February. EMU is in the process of selecting its officer for the team. The two that have already committed from the Sheriff's Office and YPD are currently being trained by a CAT team that already exists in Ypsilanti Township.

Residents of the Leforge area can expect to see the CAT team out and about in the early stages, but later on officers may use plain-clothes and unmarked vehicles to patrol the area.

The new CAT team was announced during a Leforge Area Neighborhood Watch meeting hosted by Eastern Michigan University Thursday. The three agencies wanted to have a meeting with students and residents of the area to engage in a more community-based policing approach.

“Crime doesn't really have boundaries so it's important that we collaborate and make the entire area safer, not just the campus,” said EMU police Lt. Doug Wing. “What happens on campus affects the community and what happens in the community affects the campus as well.”

There were few students in attendance at the meeting, but that did not stop the agencies for calling upon those in the audience to get involved in crime prevention.

“We as law enforcement have increased our presence in that area. The part that we're missing is the community involvement here. We want to help you. We want to do everything we can to help our neighborhoods be successful and safe,” Wing said.

All three local law enforcement agencies are calling on the community to report all crime and suspicious activity.

“You're out there every day. It's your neighborhood,” Gress said. “Participation is key even if you don't think this information is all that. But with your little bit, you don't know what we already know, it all combines and it has a snowball effect.”

Crime reporting helps law enforcement perform data-driven police-work, which is what the three agencies are focusing on in the coming year. With limited resources and manpower, using data to predict criminal activity helps police officers become more efficient at solving crime.

To further engage the community, particularly in the Leforge corridor, the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office will be sending people out in the community going door to door with a survey to assess the community's perception of crime in the area. That effort was supposed to have been underway by now but given the unusually cold weather the county has seen in the past few weeks, the survey has been delayed.

In addition to community policing measures, residents of the Leforge area can expect to see public security cameras as well as cameras within apartment complexes. Several property managers have taken the initiative to increase safety measures, including Peninsular Place, the apartment complex where Niswender was found drowned in her bathtub.

As EMU students begin looking for housing for next fall, Peninsular Place is one apartment complex advertising additional security cameras and new electronic locks.

Students are also being encouraged to join the neighborhood watch groups and other neighborhood associations throughout the city.



New York

Mixed reception over NYPD ‘community policing' plan

“Community policing” has become a mantra in the progressive political world over the past year. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton have vowed to make it a core principle of the NYPD's approach to policing.

But the catchphrase has rarely been explicitly and specifically defined. There has been no clear picture drawn of what the new approach would look like in practice.

It has been attempted before — by former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, in fact, back in 1992 and 1993 before he passed on leadership of the NYPD to Bratton the first time, two decades ago.

Cops who were around at that time say it was flawed back then.

“The actual practice of it didn't really seem to work the way it should have,” said Carolyn Taylor, a former cop who retired as a sergeant in 2001.

Taylor explained that rather than training the whole force to operate differently in the field, there were specific community policing officers assigned to specific beats. They were tasked with interfacing with the community and addressing issue within the community in these specific areas.

“But they became far removed from doing the actual job of a police officer,” Taylor said. “It took a lot of manpower away from responding to emergencies.”

Some people were more blunt.

“To be honest with you, I think community policing is a big joke,” said Ed Mullins, president of the sergeants union.

“I think it's a feel-good for the public,” he continued. “They do this big group-hug thing that accomplishes nothing.”

He described the same practice: specific community policing units of police officers assigned to certain streets in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“You couldn't use them if you were short a sector car, you couldn't use them if something happens,” Mullins said.

“If community policing were to be implemented, number one they'd have to change the name so they'd remove the past stigmas,” Mullins advised.

And it seems that “they” are doing just that — Bratton appears to increasingly be moving away from de Blasio's campaign mantra of “community policing” to a new terminology: “collaborative policing.”

There is another obstacle to effective community — or collaborative — policing, according to both former and active duty cops: the number of cops in the NYPD has decreased.

Eugene O'Donnell, a former cop who now teaches police students at John Jay College, noted there “doesn't seem to be any real appetite to make it bigger.” If anything, there appears to be a push in the opposite direction.

“It seems to be shrinking and there doesn't seem to be a plan to stop the shrinkage,” O'Donnell said.

The NYPD practices “minimum manning,” meaning there are a certain number of police officers that must be on patrol at all times.

But O'Donnell said that number doesn't necessarily mean beat cops out on the street, and Taylor agreed that the number of people actually out on patrol “can be skewed.”

Of the officers assigned to a specific precinct, a number of them may be deployed into detective bureaus, or out on steady tours. The numbers of cops out on patrol are “not necessarily evenly distributed on a daily basis.”

The number of detectives on duty or assigned to a given precinct is particularly tricky, O'Donnell said, and there are homicides that are going unsolved when they needn't be.

“There's some evidence they're not solving the crimes they should be solving,” O'Donnell said.

Lieutenant Louis Turco, an active duty cop with the lieutenants' union, said community policing “had some valid points to it,” but agreed it would required more officers than the NYPD currently has.

“I think it's a good tool to have that out in the communities,” he said. “The problem is you need to increase the manpower.”

The idea, Turco said, is to not separate out specific community policing cops.

Cops walking the beat would stop into businesses, meet people, build relationships with them. Storeowners and residents would get to know and become comfortable with those officers, and the officers would gain a better understanding of the area and the needs of the community.

But these officers wouldn't be separated from the police force — if anything, they would be more likely to respond to 911 calls in the area where they were working.

And that would be beneficial too.

If officers are just responding to 911 calls all the time, Turco said, “it becomes very impersonal.” But when the responding officers are people the victims have gotten to know, it gives them a greater sense of safety and security.

Ultimately, Turco said, having someone walk the same beat regularly allows the community to get to know them better, and there are no downsides to that.

But he maintained, “With the number of officers we have now, you just can't get that done.”

Bratton has reportedly said the same, not too long ago.

In June, many months before de Blasio appointed him police commissioner — well before de Blasio even seemed to have a chance of winning the primary election — Bratton spoke at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative thinktank where the strategy of proactive policing was first developed.

According to Capital New York, Bratton attributed the problems with stop-and-frisk to the diminished size of the police force, which he said was a result of a “political decision” under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg due to “budgetary needs [and] with the justification that crime was down so dramatically.”

“Budget decisions were made to reduce the size of the police force from 41,000 to about 34-, 35,000,” he reportedly said. He estimated that cut amounted to “a loss of about 80 officers per precinct.”

Bratton also blamed the decreased size of the police force for Operation Impact, a program he has been critical of, which stations rookie cops in high-crime areas. A lack of supervision by more experienced cops led to “huge numbers of stop-and-frisk” incidents,” Bratton reportedly said.

Taylor also noted the issue of Impact cops being inadequately prepared.

“They're brand new out of the academy, and they're actually still training, so they still don't know what their description is,” Taylor said. “They're basically there just to have a body present, which does create its own feelings of safety.”

Capital separately quoted Bratton saying the decreased police force became “too small” to assign cops to specific beats long-term, enabling them to develop relationships with local residents and collaboratively work to reduce crime.

Bratton seems to have changed his mind, however.

Following his first press conference as police commissioner, Bratton dismissed a question about the size of the force being a hindrance to effective community policing.

“The size of the force has nothing to do with the ability to do collaborative or community policing,” Bratton said.




Federal anti-crime programs fare well in the new spending agreement. That's a bad thing.

by Radley Balko

The Crime Report has a rundown. A few notable items:

• The two biggest agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice got increases–a total of $8.3 billion for the FBI, up $248.7 million from last year, and $6.77 billion for the Bureau of Prisons, up $90.2 million from last year.

• The Drug Enforcement Administration gets $2.02 billion, up $9.6 million.

* The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gets $1.18 billion, up $49.6 million.

• Byrne-JAG grants for state and local anticrime programs get $376 million, $8.3 million less than last year but $11 million more than what the appropriators called the “post-sequester level,” referring to earlier-enacted mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration.

• Violence Against Women Prevention and Prosecution Programs get $417 million, up $9.1 million from last year.

• The COPS community oriented policing program, periodically targeted for elimination by Republicans but supported by Democrats, gets $214 million, $4 million under last year but $4 million above the post-sequester level.

Some programs faced some significant cuts, including a fund to reimburse states for incarcerating undocumented immigrants, and federal juvenile justice funding.

The Crime Report points out that “[i]nsiders give much of the credit for preserving anticrime expenditures to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) . . . a strong proponent of federal support for criminal justice.”

It's a mistake to reflexively think federal involvement in criminal justice policy is always a good thing. Many of these crime-fighting grants have become a way for federal policymakers to impose crime policy on states and municipalities, and the policies imposed are often more aggressive and draconian than whatever those states and municipalities might have otherwise done. The bait-and-switch tactic began during the Nixon administration. Nixon and Attorney General John Mitchell were looking for a way to impose Nixon's aggressive anti-crime agenda on cities and states that were averse to federal meddling on criminal justice issues. Turning on the funding spigot, then threatening to pull it away, proved to be pretty effective.

Federal anti-drug grants, for example, provide a financial incentive for local law enforcement agencies to prioritize drug policing over, say, investigating assaults. They can also cause some police agencies to impose quotas on drug cops, a policy that can produce some disastrous consequences. The aforementioned Byrne-JAG grant program funds the creation and maintenance of multi-jurisidictional anti-drug task forces, the often unaccountable police units that have given us debacles like the mass (and wrongful) arrests of sizable portions of the black populations of Hearne and Tulia, Texas.

The other problem with these grants is that there's no real metric attached to them. The Brennan Center recently published an excellent overview of this problem, with some smart proposals for reform. But the fundamental hitch with these grants is that they're usually designed to go to where crime is bad. That means that police agencies who are doing a poor job fighting crime are rewarded with grants, while agencies that see crime improve risk losing their funding. Grants like those for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA), for example, encourage police agencies to devote an inordinate amount of police resources to making drug arrests. More drug arrests make it more likely that their jurisdiction will be designated a HIDTA—and get the funding that comes with it.

Even well-intentioned, hard-to-oppose programs can produce bad results. I've heard from defense attorneys that the grants aimed at preventing and prosecuting domestic violence, for example, provide an incentive for police and prosecutors to aggressively pursue domestic violence convictions even in cases where the alleged victim has no interest in pressing charges, or to overlook evidence that an incidence of reported abuse may have been motivated by a custody dispute.

The COPS grants have been problematic too. Community policing in theory is an admirable objective. The idea is to encourage cops and police agencies to be less reactionary—to see themselves not as soldiers in the war on crime, but as members of a community, who have been charged with keeping that community safe. Cops should walk beats, be encouraged to live in the communities they patrol, attend neighborhood meetings, and so on.

But in my recent book, I explain how despite the good intentions, COPS grants historically haven't come with any requirement that they be spent on community policing (and in any case, police budgets are fungible). Nor have they come with a specific definition of what community policing actually means. Surveys and interviews done by criminologist Peter Kraska have shown that for many law enforcement leaders, community policing means frequent use of SWAT teams, roadblock checkpoints, “stop and frisk” and even using SWAT or other paramilitary police teams for regular patrols.

So in the early 2000s, reports began to surface that the program was being used by police agencies to create SWAT teams, certainly not something for which the grants were intended. Both major parties tend to be fond of the grants. It lets your local congressman put out press releases announcing how he procured federal funding for your local police. But interestingly, to the extent that there is a difference between the parties, it's the Republicans who are more skeptical. In fact, the George W. Bush administration had begun phasing out funding for both the Byrne and COPS grants. I suspect that was more out of an allegiance to federalism and an aversion to federal spending than concern about the proliferation of SWAT teams or overly aggressive drug busts. But as the Mikulski quote indicates, Democrats have worked to bring them back.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to explain this problem to Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), who at the time chaired the House subcommittee that handles federal criminal justice policy (it's now called the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations). Scott was flabbergasted that COPS grants were being used to start SWAT teams. It was, he said, not at all what he and other supporters of the program intended. Nevertheless, his committee recommended a budget that refunded the program at 1990s levels, with no restrictions on how the grants are used.

Not that there is no role for federal oversight of local law enforcement. Arguably, after investigating terrorism and interstate crime, the federal government's most important function in this area is civil rights enforcement. That is, to intervene when sheriffs, police chiefs, prosecutors, and judges either violate or inadequately protect the civil rights of the citizens they serve. Unfortunately, the budget for this variety of civil rights enforcement withers in comparison to the funding for the myriad other ways the federal government tries to influence local criminal justice policy. More on that in a future post.



From the Department of Homeland Security

Working Together with Local Law Enforcement

by Alejandro Mayorkas -- Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security

Yesterday I was honored to participate in the Major County Sheriffs' Association winter meeting. Having served as a federal prosecutor for twelve years, first as an Assistant United States Attorney and then as the United States Attorney for the Central District of California, I am well aware of the noble and extraordinary work that local law enforcement performs in our communities throughout the nation.

Meeting with Sheriffs from across the country yesterday, I had the opportunity to hear about the challenges they face as they work to keep their communities safe. We discussed ways to continue to build on our important partnership and areas where the Department of Homeland Security can provide additional support and assistance in that endeavor.

DHS values its partnership with local law enforcement and over the past five years has taken significant steps to develop this relationship. Through our Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, for example, we have trained approximately 23,000 state, local, tribal, and international law enforcement personnel each year. We have provided personnel, training, technical assistance, technology, and grant funding to support more than 75 state and major urban area fusion centers. It is our goal to help ensure that law enforcement officials around the country have the information and resources they need to keep their communities safe.

We are committed to strengthening our partnership with local law enforcement. As the new Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, I am immensely proud to serve the many men and women across the Department who work with local law enforcement on the front lines every day to keep our nation safe and secure.

I am grateful to the Major County Sheriffs' Association for allowing me to participate in its winter meeting yesterday. I was proud to be amongst so many of our local law enforcement leaders. I look forward to our work together.




Police really "like" Facebook post that led to arrest

FREELAND, Pa. - Police in the northeastern Pennsylvania town of Freeland give an ultra-enthusiastic thumbs-up to a recent post on Facebook.

Officers arrested 35-year-old Anthony Lescowitch on Monday night, less than two hours after he shared a wanted photo of himself and taunted police for not being able to find him, the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader reported Tuesday.

Lescowitch, who was being sought on assault-related charges, shared the wanted bulletin minutes after Freeland police posted it on the department's own Facebook page, authorities said.

After that, an officer pretending to be an attractive woman then messaged Lescowitch, according to police. The suspect refused the offer of a drink but eventually agreed to meet for a cigarette, and after he arrived at the agreed-upon location. police arrested him.

Whereupon they posted this Facebook message:


Lescowitch, of Drifton, remained in the Luzerne County Jail Tuesday. Court records show he faces a preliminary hearing Jan. 29 on charges including aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct stemming from an incident last July.

How do you like that?



South Carolina

Supporters of 14 yr old boy executed in 1944 for killing 2 girls want a new trial

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Supporters of a 14-year-old black boy executed in 1944 for killing two white girls are asking a South Carolina judge to take the unheard-of move of granting him a new trial in hopes he will be cleared of the charges.

George Stinney was convicted on a shaky confession in a segregated society that wanted revenge for the beating deaths of two girls, ages 11 and 7, according to the lawsuit filed last month on Stinney's behalf in Clarendon County.

The request for a new trial has an uphill climb. The judge may refuse to hear it at all, since the punishment was already carried out. Also, South Carolina has strict rules for introducing new evidence after a trial is complete, requiring the information to have been impossible to discover before the trial and likely to change the results, said Kenneth Gaines, a professor at the University of South Carolina's law school.

"I think it's a longshot, but I admire the lawyer for trying it," Gaines said, adding that he's not aware of any other executed inmates in the state being granted a new trial posthumously.

The request for a new trial is largely symbolic, but Stinney's supporters say they would prefer exoneration to a pardon.

Stinney's case intersects some long-running disputes in the American legal system — the death penalty and race. At 14, he's the youngest person executed in the United States in past 100 years. He was electrocuted just 84 days after the girls were killed in March 1944.

The request for a new trial includes sworn statements from two of Stinney's siblings who say he was with them the entire day the girls were killed. Notes from Stinney's confession and most other information deputies and prosecutors used to convict Stinney in a one-day trial have disappeared along with any transcript of the proceedings. Only a few pages of cryptic, hand-written notes remain, according to the motion.

"Why was George Stinney electrocuted? The state can't produce any paperwork to justify why he was," said George Frierson, a local school board member who grew up in Stinney's hometown hearing stories about the case and decided six years ago to start studying it and pushing for exoneration.

The South Carolina Attorney General's Office will likely argue the other side of the case before the Clarendon County judge. A spokesman said their lawyers had not seen the motion and do not comment on pending cases. A date for a hearing on the matter has not been set.

The girls were last seen looking for wildflowers in the tiny, racially-divided mill town of Alcolu about 50 miles southeast of Columbia. Stinney's sister, who was 7 at the time, said in her new affidavit that she and her brother were letting their cow graze when the girls asked them where they could find flowers called maypops. The sister, Amie Ruffner, said her brother told them he didn't know and the girls left.

"It was strange to see them in our area, because white people stayed on their side of Alcolu and we knew our place," Ruffner wrote.

The girls never came home and hundreds of people searched for them through the night. They were found the next morning in a water-filled ditch, their heads beaten with a hard object, likely a railroad spike.

Deputies got a tip the girls had been seen talking to Stinney. They came to Stinney's home and took him away. His family wouldn't see the boy again until after his trial. Newspaper accounts suggested a lynch mob was nearly formed to attack the teen in jail.

Stinney's dad worked for the major mill in town and lived in a company house. He was ordered to leave after his son was arrested, said Stinney's brother Charles Stinney, who was 12 when his older brother was arrested. Charles Stinney's statement explains why the family didn't speak to authorities at the time.

"George's conviction and execution was something my family believed could happen to any of us in the family. Therefore, we made a decision for the safety of the family to leave it be," Charles Stinney wrote in his sworn statement.

Charles Stinney said he remembered the events vividly because "for my family, Friday, March 24, 1944, and the events that followed were our personal 9/11."

Both statements were made in 2009. Lawyer Steve McKenzie said he planned to file the request for a new trial then, but heard from a man in Tennessee who claimed his grandfather was with George Stinney the day of the killings. McKenzie thought the information from someone not related to Stinney would be especially powerful, but the person suddenly stopped cooperating after stringing the lawyers along for years.

The request for a new trial points out that at 95 pounds, Stinney likely couldn't have killed the girls and dragged them to the ditch.

The motion also hints at community rumors of a deathbed confession from a white man several years ago and the possibility Stinney either confessed because his family was threatened or he was given ice cream. But the court papers provide little information and the lawyers also wouldn't elaborate.

At 14, Stinney was the youngest person executed in this country in the past 100 years, according to statistics gathered by the Death Penalty Information Center.

Newspaper stories from his execution had witnesses saying the straps to keep him in the electric chair didn't fit around his small frame and an electrode was too big for his leg.

Executing teens wasn't uncommon at that time. Florida put a 16-year-old boy to death for rape in 1944 and Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio and Texas executed 17-year-olds that year.

Lawyers also filed a request for to pardon Stinney before the state Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services in case the new trial is not granted.

There is precedent for that. In 2009, two great-uncles of syndicated radio host Tom Joyner were pardoned by the board nearly 100 years after they were sent to the electric chair in the death of a Confederate Army veteran. Joyner's lawyers showed evidence the men were framed by a small-time criminal who took a plea deal that saved his life and testified against them.

But Frierson said a pardon would be little comfort to him in the Stinney case. "The first step in a pardon is to admit you are wrong and ask for forgiveness. This boy did nothing wrong," Frierson said.




Heartwarming: Viral Video of Texas Police Officer Playing Game of Catch With Lonely Boy Shatters Antagonistic Police Stereotype

(Video on site)

by Leonardo Blair

A viral video showing a Texas police officer playing a game of catch with a lonely 10-year-old boy is drawing praise across America for its surprising departure from the antagonistic relationship that often appears to exist between officers and the communities they serve.

The dashcam video of the encounter shows Rosenberg Police Department Sgt. Ariel Soltura noticing Jermaine Ford playing with a football alone. Soltura, who was on patrol at the time, decided to stop his vehicle and engage the boy in a game of catch.

On Saturday, the Rosenberg Police Department posted the dashcam video of the encounter on its Facebook page with the note: "While a 2 minute game of football might not mean anything, to some it could mean everything!"

The public responded to the video by heaping praise on Soltura's gesture and sharing it more than 7,000 times as of Tuesday evening.

"This just melts my heart. My son always says he has no one to play football with. So to imagine this kid feeling the same way and along came a police officer just had to brighten his day. It's the littlest things in life that make the biggest impact! God bless this police officer," said Amy Granger Carter.

"See, honestly, THIS right HERE, is what community policing is ALL about! If cops were in the community, being PART of the community, the community would be more apt to assist when it's needed and wouldn't be so much against the police. I'm not old enough to remember when police officers WALKED their beat and knew their neighbors and even LIVED in the same neighborhood they patrolled," noted Allen L. Coates Jr.

"I commend this officer for being PART of the community. Who knows, this kid he simply played ball with may have the opportunity to go right or left, but just from this experience he had with this officer he will chose the CORRECT life path! We need to see more of this!" he added.

In an interview with FOX 26, Soltura agreed with Coates' analysis of the video.

"The message is something that was created years ago. Is that we cannot simply police the community. We have to police with the community," noted Soltura. "That's why our department is different in, in that we went to a drawing board and we tore down all the walls that separated law enforcement and the community in general," he added.



MLK: 'We will reach the goal of freedom'


On April 16, 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. sat in a Birmingham, Alabama jail cell. He had been arrested for "parading without a permit" for demonstrating against segregationist laws. Birmingham authorities refused to grant a permit for such a protest. In jail, he wrote the "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," responding to a public statement of concern and caution from eight white, southern religious leaders who questioned the use of protestors from outside the region, the pace of change and the tactic of civil disobedience.

On this holiday honoring Rev. King, we turn over the editorial spot to provide excerpts from that remarkable document.

I think I should give the reason for my being in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the argument of "outsiders coming in."

I am in Birmingham because injustice is here; I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider ...

I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say "wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vast majority of your 20 million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society ...

When you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger" and your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) ... when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodyness" - then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.

You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, it is rather strange and paradoxical to find us consciously breaking laws. One may well ask, "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: there are just laws, and there are unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "An unjust law is no law at all."

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law, or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality ...

I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are presently misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with the destiny of America. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands.




Museums in Southern California offering free admission on Jan. 25
by David Ng

Twenty venues around Southern California will offer free admission on Jan. 25 as part of the annual Museums Free-for-All program.

Participating museums include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Orange County Museum of Art.

The offer is valid for general museum admission only, organizers said, and may not apply to special ticketed exhibitions. Regular parking fees apply at each venue.

The free day can offer substantial savings for families. General adult admission at LACMA is normally $15, and at MOCA it's $12. The Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach normally charges $12 for an adult admission.

Some of the participating museums such as the Getty Center already offer free admission to all. (The Getty Villa requires timed tickets for entry.) The Hammer Museum is scheduled to switch over to free admission at all times starting Feb. 9.

The Museums Free-for-All program is organized by SoCal Museums, an umbrella marketing group that had been known as the Museum Marketing Roundtable.

Here's the full list of museums participating in the Jan. 25 free day:

Annenberg Space for Photography
Armory Center for the Arts
Autry National Center of the American West
California African American Museum
California Science Center
Fowler Museum at UCLA
Getty Center
Getty Villa
Hammer Museum
Japanese American National Museum
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Los Angeles Fire Department Museum and Memorial (Hollywood and San Pedro)
Museum of Contemporary Art



Terror 'Surprise' for Sochi Olympics? Purported Suicide Bombers' New Threat


Citing a new "surprise package" for Russia and Olympic spectators, Islamist militants in the North Caucasus =Sunday launched a new threat to the Sochi Olympics with a purported "martyrdom" video by two suicide bombers who attacked a transit hub 400 miles away.

The video posted on a Chechen extremist site considered a credible platform for militant statements featured two unidentified men before the black flag of jihad and cradling AKMS rifles.

The duo -- dressed in street clothes and without the usual trappings of jihadis -- casually explained that Russians and those attending the Winter Games next month will not be safe as long as forces sent by President Vladimir Putin occupy the North Caucasus region near Sochi, Russia.

"We'll have a surprise package for you," one of the men said in the militants' video. "And those tourists that will come to you, for them, too, we have a surprise. If it happens [the Olympics], we'll have a surprise for you. This is for all the Muslim blood that is shed every day around the world, be it in Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria, all around the world. This will be our revenge."

The new video posted online overnight showed news and security camera footage of two suicide bomb blasts late last month at a busy train station and a commuter trolley in the city of Volgograd, which is a major transit hub in Russia.

U.S. officials said they are studying the video.

The video comes one day before the Olympic torch relay is scheduled to go through Volgograd Monday.

U.S. intelligence officials consider the threats from the Islamic terror groups against the Olympics to be very serious, which helped lead to the unusually strong travel advisory issued by the State Department this week for Americans who plan to travel to Sochi for the Olympics.

"I think the threats are real. [Islamist Chechen leader Doku] Umarov basically called for attacks on the Olympics," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, told ABC News' "This Week" today. "I think you're going to see attempts to do that. I think it's more likely that the attacks will happen outside the perimeter, more soft targets, transportation nodes."

ANALYSIS: Sochi 2014 Olympics in Terrorists' Crosshairs

A secret contingency operation is underway by the U.S. government to prepare for responding to a terrorist attack in Sochi and evacuating athletes and dignitaries, ABC News intelligence sources said.

U.S. officials continue to say the Russians are not fully cooperating with American security forces, at least as much as the Americans would like.

There will be small armed teams of U.S. security personnel allowed to be in Sochi, but the Russians are very much running their own show, in their own way, and apparently don't see any need to let U.S. security personnel in on every plan or piece of intelligence. U.S. officials said they are concerned that if they complain too much, the Russians could restrict even more the number of armed U.S. personnel allowed to be in the country.



New York

Bratton on why stop-and-frisk problem is ‘solved'

by Azi Paybarah

Mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned on the promise to “end the stop-and-frisk era.”

Fifteen days into his administration, his police commissioner declared the mission effectively accomplished.

At a conference about community policing strategies in Manhattan, NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton said, “In terms of being about what to about the high number of stops, my answer is this aspect of the problem has more or less been solved.”

He added, “As some of you may be aware, the number of stops has fallen dramatically. In some instances, they've stopped altogether. Stop-and-frisk has been stopped in some neighborhoods altogether.”

“To give you some idea,” he continued, “in the fourth quarter of 2012, the department recorded a little more than 90,000 stops. In the fourth quarter of 2013, that number fell to 12,300. In 2011, the peak year for use of this tactic, the NYPD conducted 694,000 documented stops. In 2013, the figure was about 194,000. So, clearly it is in decline and I believe that is a good thing.”

Bratton was speaking at the “Safe Streets, Strong Community” conference, hosted by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a nonprofit group that helps distribute federal and private money to fund holistic strategies to help distressed neighborhoods. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and federal housing secretary Shaun Donovan also spoke to the group earlier in the day.

Asked to expand on his comment that the stop-and-frisk issue had largely been resolved, Bratton replied, "My CompStat numbers. That's what I look at every day," referring to the daily crime numbers collected by the department.

In a scrum with reporters, Bratton said, “The officers are still effectively doing stop-question-and-frisk, as reflected in the numbers, but nothing like they were doing.”

Bratton said he spent “hours” in New York City's trains today and, while looking at crime stats there, he saw that in some transit districts, “there were no stop-question and frisk forms filled out” yesterday.

During last year's race for mayor, the Democratic candidates sought to tap into voter anger at Mayor Michael Bloomberg and resentment in minority communities who saw their neighborhoods get safer, but felt unfairly targeted by the NYPD's tactics. De Blasio and other candidates said they would curtail the use of stop-and-frisk, but not ban it outright.




Euclid Police Department continuing community programs

by Amy Popik

Euclid Police Department has revealed plans for a full year of community policing and a police athletic league.

More than 40 events and programs were shared with the committee for 2014.

Many programs from 2013 will return this year such as Junior Police Academy, Cop a Question, Coffee with a Cop and Hooked on Fishing, Not Drugs.

“Community policing efforts by our police department were lacking a couple of years ago,” Euclid Police Chief Tom Brickman said at a recent Safety Committee meeting. “With several people put into administrative positions, there was a desire to refocused our efforts in that area.”

This year, the department is also taking a “team approach” to crime prevention, and are offering more programs on the subject for the community.

Brickman said the department will work to coordinate neighborhood block watch programs, apartment watch training and crime prevention seminars, as well as simply being more visible in various communities.

Starting a community policing Facebook page and Twitter account are in the plans for 2014, as a way to keep the community informed.

“I believe that involving community policing in crime prevention makes sense,” he said. “Crime prevention empowers our citizens, it helps them feel secure in where they live and work and provides us all with a safer Euclid.”

PAL at the police department works to create positive relationships between police officers and youth, between 7 and 17.

Something new PAL would like to begin is a mentoring program for students, and hopes to apply for a grant to help support this program.

The department will be constantly working to be visible in the schools with anti-bullying, drug awareness and Eddie Eagle gun programs, just to name a few.

“The list (of programs and events) is a bit ambitious, but I believe we have the people in place to accomplish many of these positive activities,” Brickman said.
For more information and to learn more about volunteer opportunities, visit www.euclidpd.org