LACP - NEWS of the Week - July, 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.


July, 2014 - Week 2



How to stay safe during lightning storms

by Alessandra Martinez

CHICOPEE, Mass (WWLP) — Yesterday, one man died after being struck by lightning on Saturday at Rocky Mountain National Park, and 3 others were injured.

22News is working for you with safety tips for when you find yourself outdoors during a lightning storm.

Most people know that when there is lightning, they shouldn't be outside. But if you are caught outside during a lightning storm, there are a few tips you should know to keep yourself safe.

When there is lightning and you are outside, the most important thing to do is to seek shelter in a sturdy place, such as a building or a car. You will be safe if you are inside the car and not in contact with the metal outside.

Do not seek shelter under a tree or near tall objects. Lightning will search for the tallest point in an area to strike at, and if you are in that area you will be in danger. With that in mind, you don't want to be the tallest point in an area, so do not go to an open field or park.

Also, it is important to stay away from anything that conducts electricity like fences or power lines.

And finally do not be near any bodies of water.

The most important thing you need to do when there is a lightning storm is to get inside of a sturdy shelter, like a building or a car. But when you are finally inside, you still need to be cautious of how lightning can affect you when you are indoors.

When you are inside, stay off corded phones, computers, and other electrical equipment that you could be in direct contact with. Be sure to unplug those corded devices too that could be short circuited. Another thing to keep in mind is to avoid plumbing, so this means do not wash your hands, take a shower, or wash dishes. The National Weather Service also advises that you stay away from windows and doors. If you have dogs, bring them inside. Dog houses outside are not safe places for your pets to be hiding.

If you plan on going back outside, be sure to wait for half an hour after you hear the last rumble of thunder.



South Carolina

Programs bolster police, community relationships

by Teddy Kulmala

If you're out and about this summer, you're likely to see Aiken Public Safety officers in activities beyond their normal responsibilities, for example, dipping snow cones for children or hosting neighborhood movie nights.

The agency has several ongoing outreach programs designed to bolster relationships with the community. Some have been around for years, like Mobile Movie Night, which was held last Thursday in Hahn Village. Others have only emerged in recent years.

‘Something better to look forward to'

More than 30 people, mostly children, gathered in the recreation hall at Hahn Village on Thursday to watch “Frozen” while enjoying popcorn and drinks.

“The kids love it,” said Sgt. Jennifer Bickel. “Last year at Brandt Court, they were throwing the football with the officers.”

Stephania Richardson brought her children to a previous movie night, and decided to bring them again Thursday night.

“It's something for the kids to do. There's really nothing for the kids to do out here in Hahn Village,” she said. “The streets are taken over. They're out there selling drugs, getting into a lot of fights. Stuff like this, it gives them something better to look forward to.”

Also during July, the department is holding Chillin' in Your Neighborhood in different communities. As part of that program, officers will be in a different neighborhood each Wednesday at 1 p.m. to give out snow cones and interact with children, as well as their parents.

Also on Wednesday, Aiken Public Safety reached out to a different segment of the population with Coffee With a Cop. The monthly event, which began last year, is held at a different restaurant or cafe each month and allows residents to stop in, have a cup of coffee and talk with officers about anything and every thing.

Most of the feedback from residents is positive, Bickel said, but they do get questions or concerns from others. She recalled an officer who had a negative reaction with a resident at a previous Coffee with a Cop event. That resident came back this week.

“He came today and spoke to (the officer), thanked him and apologized for the negative interaction, and left on a much more positive note,” Bickel said.

Coffee with a Cop will likely become a quarterly event, with the next meeting being sometime in September or October.

‘Every day is Coffee with a Cop'

Cynthia Mitchell has been the community services coordinator for Aiken Public Safety for two years, but previously spent about 15 years with Aiken Neighborhood Services.

“Public Safety always makes great efforts to be creative in how we get out to meet the community where they are,” she said. “We know people are not always gonna come to meetings, so we look at how we can provide a little outreach, a little fun and entertainment, but also set the stage for law enforcement to build relationships with the community.”

Because much of Public Safety's job is responding to emergency calls – Mitchell said programs like Coffee with a Cop and Mobile Movie Night are proactive and help establish relationships, making it easier for officers to respond to calls in those communities in the future.

In that case, she said, evidence of the programs' impact is not what you see, but rather what you don't see.

“Sometimes, when you're on the front end and you do that proactive piece, things don't happen,” she said. “How do you measure a call you don't get? A lot of times, people don't see the value in community policing and being proactive.”

Mitchell said that, because of the outreach efforts, residents feel more comfortable calling Aiken Public Safety with questions about things they saw in the news or don't understand. She recalled a presentation at the end of the new Bikes and Books program, which started last year.

“One little boy blurted out, ‘I ain't scared of the police anymore,'” she said with a laugh.

Lt. Karl Odenthal said people regularly come up to talk with him in public.

“Every day is Coffee with a Cop,” he said. “When you sit down in a restaurant, people always come up and ask you questions. In fact, I get fewer questions at Coffee with a Cop than I do on an ordinary day.”

Bickel said the outreach efforts are a way to make an investment that will help them at a later time.

“You make that deposit out there,” she said. “And when you need to make a withdrawal on that, the goodwill is there.”

Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.



New Jersey

Trenton's surging homicide rate is on pace to meet last year's record

by Keith Brown

In the closing days of June, two men died bloody deaths on the streets of Trenton. One was, for a brief time, a John Doe, an unidentified corpse found in an alley. Police later identified him as 23-year-old Honduran native Juan Carlos Castillo. The other was Trenton resident Naquan Ellis, also 23, who received a fatal bullet wound in the chest.

Their deaths occurred sometime overnight on June 25, and became homicides Nos. 18 and 19 of the first half of 2014, landing the city exactly where it was this time last year: at 19 homicides.

Last year, Trenton went on to reach its all-time high number of homicides, with 37. This year, the tide of blood on the city's streets defies all of the efforts by Trenton police and outside law enforcement agencies to put crimp in the death toll.

“We're never going to bring business here,'' acting Police Director Ernest Parrey Jr. said in an interview last week. “We're never going to bring tourism here. We're never going to bring the economic side of the house back here if we don't address the public safety issue.”

Parrey was appointed director to replace Ralph Rivera by newly elected mayor Eric Jackson, who swept to victory last month partly on a platform of bringing order to the city's streets.

The number of homicides in Trenton so far this year also trumps the number of killings in Camden, a city with a national reputation for violence, which had 18 slayings in the same period.

Adjusting for population, The Times' calculations show that Trenton's homicide rate — the number of homicides for each 100,000 people — stands at 22, surpassing Newark's rate of 15, Detroit's 17 and more than doubling Philadelphia's eight homicides for each 100,000 people.

While Newark, Detroit and Philadelphia are far larger cities and each has recorded more homicides this year — Newark has 43 homicides with a population of 277,718; Detroit, with a population of 688,700, has 114 slayings and Philadelphia has 155 killings with a population of more than 1.5 million, according to law enforcement officials in each city's home county — but more have been killed in Trenton this year per capita than all three, the latest statistics show.

The city's inglorious murder rate has officials worried. Acting state Attorney General John Hoffman has pledged full support to battle gun violence.

Most of the homicides so far this year resulted from gun violence. Sixteen of the 19 victims were shot to death, two others were stabbed and one was beaten to death. All shooting victims were black men, most in their 20s or younger. The average age of the 16 shot to death in Trenton so far this year is 28.

The homicides are one part of the totality of violence in Trenton. As of June 9, the last available statistics from the Trenton Police Department, there were 81 shootings in the city since January, including an April shooting at the funeral of a man at Galilee Baptist Church, which drew national attention. State Police put the number shot through June 30 at 106.

There were 98 people shot in the city, according to Trenton police, up from 120 people shot in 84 shootings this time last year.

One of the victims this year was a 9-year-old girl, who on May 12 was shot in the leg and twice in the shoulder, police have said.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office said while shootings recorded by State Police are down 9 percent from the 116 victims recorded by State Police in the first six months of 2013, the numbers are still too high.

“When we see numbers like these, it is always concerning,'' the spokesman, Peter Aseltine, said. “We certainly know that Trenton has a problem with violence.”

A multi-agency surge of law enforcement — which includes federal, state and county enforcement sent to buttress a local force decimated by 2011 layoffs — has been in place since August, resulting in the confiscation of many guns and the jailing of those who carry them, Aseltine said.

State and local police have seized 114 guns in Trenton in the first six months of this year, roughly double the number seized in the same period last year. Beefed up warrant squads — law enforcement squads that root out and arrest those with outstanding warrants — have taken 90 known criminals off the streets. And since August, 182 people have been prosecuted by the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office for weapons-related crimes under a program targeting gang members and repeat offenders who carry guns in public, Aseltine said.

Those efforts were augmented in May with the addition of more officers in anticipation of increased crime during the summer months, when violence tends to rise.

Since the second wave of the police surge that began May 14, 30 people have been hit by gunfire in Trenton through July 2. That's eight fewer gunshot victims than in the same period last year, Aseltine said.

But there also were eight people murdered during that same period, including 16-year-old Ray'Quan Brown, who was shot to death June 1 on Stuyvesant Avenue. Brown's murder was the first of six slayings in June, making it the deadliest month to date.

“There are too many murders and shootings in Trenton,'' Aseltine said. “But we feel certain it would be worse this year were it not for our efforts and the additional boots we have put on the ground to assist the Trenton Police Department.”

For his part, Jackson — who was sworn in as mayor July 1 — moved quickly to support campaign rhetoric to make public safety a priority when within minutes of taking office he installed Parrey to replace Rivera.

Jackson said the move should be a clear signal that his administration is serious about battling the city's violence. Parrey served on the Trenton police force from 1986 until his 2011 retirement.

“He's not there to do business as usual,'' Jackson said in an interview shortly after taking office.

Jackson's plan to battle crime includes a shuffling of priorities at the police department — which lost nearly a third of its force in budget cuts three years ago — and putting more cops on foot patrols in high-crime areas, an emphasis on “community policing,'' and supporting more multi-agency initiatives to battle violent crime.

Parrey said the efforts by federal and state agencies to augment the city police are welcome and necessary. He also hinted that more partnerships and programs were on the horizon, but declined to be specific.

“We need help,'' Parrey said. “This is no time to be egotistical. We need help. And they're providing that help.''

But Parrey said enforcement is only one part of an overall strategy to bring down violent crime. He is an advocate of “community policing'' strategies, which have officers work more closely with the public to head off problems before they grow worse.

“The answer is not putting men or women in 8' by 8' boxes,'' Parrey said. “What we need to do is find a better way.''

Parrey pointed to the Trenton Violence Reduction Strategy, which provides social services and job-training for repeat offenders and those most at risk of joining gangs. The program kicked off in September with a $1.1 million grant from the attorney general's office. It has 22 participants and involves partnership with The College of New Jersey and Rutgers University - Camden.

“We need to expand that,'' Parrey said. “If you can give folks a glimmer of hope that there might be another way and I don't have to be in this mix — we need that alternative.''
But, Parrey said, ultimate responsibility for citywide violence rests with every member of the city. A joint effort among the government, police and community will be needed to quell the violence and save lives.

“I know from talking to people who are here, they just want to be safe,'' Parrey said. “That's all our responsibilities. It's not just the mayor's, it's not the police, it's all of our responsibility.”




Police chief credits crime reduction to leadership that took risks

by Robert Rogers

RICHMOND -- When he was tapped to be Richmond's police chief in 2006, Chris Magnus wasn't fully aware of the enormity of what he was about to face.

"I knew I was taking on a major challenge in terms of becoming police chief in a city that had historically very high levels of crime," Magnus said. "On the other hand, I had no idea just what I was getting myself into in terms of the factions within the department, the politics in the community and some of the traps that were being set for me before I even arrived."

The "traps," Magnus said, included command staff in his department resistant to the changes he was determined to make.

Magnus, who has garnered regional and even national acclaim for his community policing approach and successes in reducing crime, discussed his strategies, challenges and even his favorite books at the Richmond Public Library on Thursday. His lecture, titled "Changing the Culture of a Police Department," drew about 45 people and was hosted by the Richmond Public Library Foundation to raise money for its programs.

Magnus' hour-long talk was a wide-ranging discussion that touched on policing approaches, bureaucratic theory and his own baptism by fire leading a department with a history of tumult, internal dissent and high-profile trampling of residents' rights.

But the central focus was leadership, which he said he honed at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government before coming to Richmond. Among the books he touched on was "Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading," an acclaimed book written by his professors at Harvard.

"I'm not a big fan or frequent reader of leadership books, but I can honestly say that this particular book and its authors have had a powerful impact on my life and career," Magnus said.

The results, Magnus said, speak for themselves. A city that once routinely had more than 40 homicides per year has eight so far in 2014, following the lowest homicide total in more than 30 years in 2013. Violent crime is down 26 percent this year, according to department statistics, and trust and satisfaction in the department's performance are relatively high. An officer has not shot and killed a resident in more than five years.

Magnus credited many other city departments and active residents for contributing to the drop in crime, but cautioned against becoming complacent. "Things can turn in a blink," he said.

Before the progress, Magnus said he had to overcome serious challenges to his leadership and his drive to change the department's culture and practices.

The department he entered in 2006 used "street teams," popular among officers, that focused on pacifying the most violent neighborhoods, an approach Magnus said was ineffective and frayed community relationships. In 2012, he won in court against seven high-ranking officers who sued him for alleged discrimination, and during that trial the disbanding of the street teams was revealed as a major source of friction between Magnus and his critics. Most of his detractors in the department have either retired or "evolved," he said.

At the conclusion of his remarks, Magnus took questions from the audience. One man asked why the city tapped Magnus to be chief after a series of predecessors that were so different in temperament and approach.

"God only knows," Magnus said, drawing laughs.

Residents who spoke Thursday were uniformly pleased with Magnus' work.

"This city is lucky, hiring Magnus was one of our shining moments," said resident Ellen Gailing.

Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726. Follow him at Twitter.com/sfbaynewsrogers




Youth organize Portland rally to put community on notice: 'Silence the Violence'

by Maxine Bernstein

About 90 Portland youth and adults gathered at McCoy Park Friday afternoon to send a simple but clear message.

They chose not to shout or yell, but instead expressed their thoughts in silence, wearing tape over their mouths bearing words that revealed what's important to them: Peace. Love. Respect. Life. Happiness. Ownership. Unity.

Tarron Randolph, 14, who lives in New Columbia and was one of the teens who helped organize the gathering, said the tape also symbolized their efforts to "silence the violence.''

The event followed a shooting of a 5-year-old boy in Southeast Portland earlier this week and two homicides in the city since June 30, including one that occurred less than a block from McCoy Park.

"We want to let people know the youth care. We're out here just to make this a better community...We want to stop the gangs,'' Randolph said. "We're young youth. We want to make the New Columbia a better place so kids can come outside and be with their friends and family and not worry about nothing bad happening.''

Randolph said his mother is afraid when he walks to the basketball court or to the Regence Boys & Girls Club.

His mother, Tara Randolph, joined in the event Friday. She said that yes, she doesn't want her teenaged son out at night.

"I have my son in before dark,'' she said. "I just want it to be safe for all these babies out here. It's just not fine that the kids can't enjoy life, period, without having to worry about a shooting nearby.''

Daniel Dominguez, 14, who helped Randolph plan Friday's event, said, "I hope poeple realize it's not necessary to take a life.''

Randolph and Dominguez are co-chairs of New Columbia's Youth Empowerment Solutions group, part of STRYVE. It's part of a national initiative, led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which takes a public health approach to preventing youth violence before it starts.

Portland is one of four cities selected to carry out the community-based violence prevention strategies.

"This is a purely youth-led effort,'' said Abdullah Hafeedh, a STRYVE community health worker with Multnomah County's Health Department. "All the adults did was put word out that the youth was doing this.''

The Bravo Rosa Parks Youth Orchestra played several songs at the start of the event, and dedicated its first selection to the memory of Andrew Coggins Jr., the 24-year-old man who was killed in a drive-by shooting on nearby North Fessenden Street on June 30.

"We wanted to be a voice in the community and stand up against the violence,'' said Mark Woodward, the orchestra's program director and conductor.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and his wife Nancy Hales, and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury attended.

"Thanks for organizing this,'' Hales told Randolph and Dominquez. "Community policing is a nice idea but it doesn't work without community.''

Hales called the shooting of the 5-year-old boy in Southeast Portland's Laurel Place apartment complex "appalling.''

"The idea of a child being shot amplifies the calling that we face,'' he said.

In the short term, Hales said he'll make sure Portland's gang enforcement officers get the support they need on the street.

Earlier this week, Portland gang enforcement Sgt. Don Livingston said he didn't have adequate number of officers to stem the rising violence.

"I think you'll see more officers in patrol supporting the work our gang enforcement team does,'' the mayor said.

Before the gathering split up, the youth and adults formed into two circles. There, Valerie Salazar, a STRYVE county health worker, led an exercise to emphasize the need to come together as a united community.

"If you think that none of this violence affects you, you're absolutely mistaken,'' Salazar said. Forming relationships and getting to know one another in your community, she said, is the best way to reduce violence.

"The more you know someone...that in and of itself reduces conflict,'' she said.

Tamara Walker, a Multnomah County health volunteer who the youth had asked to attend the gathering, later chatted with Portland police Officer Jordan Winkel, one of four officers assigned to New Columbia.

"I think this was one of the most beautiful things because it was inspired by our youth,'' she said. "And that's what it's going to take to make a change.''




Tallahassee Police Release 5 Point Plan to Enhance Public Safety in the Community

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- Tallahassee Police Chief Michael Deleo held a 2 pm news conference Thursday to announce details about the department's new strategy to increase public safety.

1. Community Leadership Council on Gun Violence

The department is looking to create a Council on Gun Violence that is comprised of local leadership and community members. The council will work to help identify programs and solutions to help stop the spread of gun violence.

2. Community Oriented Policing Squad/ Violent Crime Response Team

TPD's goal is to confront violent crime from a long term perspective and build relationships with the public. Two months ago a newly formed Community Policing Squad was deployed in Tallahassee's south side to focus on building partnerships with the community and restore quality if life for people in that area.

Also as part of the 2015 budget, the police department will be able to hire 6 new officers to create a Violent Crime Response Team.

3. Strategic Plan

The chief is working to develop a strategic plan for the department to help identify key areas for allocations of resources and development.

4. Culture of Procedural Justice

Training that cultivates sense of respect and trust between TPD Officers and residents. Using a model of procedural justice the actions will be guided by fundamental fairness when dealing with people and the neutral application of legal principals.

5. Independent Policy Review

Included in the departments effort to align department policies with national best practices standards. TPD has contracted with the Police Executive Research Forum to review the department's polices and training curricula.



Chinese hackers reportedly sought data on US workers with security clearance

by Fox News

Chinese computer hackers were able to access the computer network of the federal agency that houses the personal information of all government employees in an apparent attempt to target workers who have applied for security clearances, according to a published report.

The New York Times reports that the hackers gained access to some databases from the Office of Personnel Management this past March before federal authorities were able to block them from the network. A senior Department of Homeland Security official confirmed to The Times that the cyberattack had taken place, but claimed that no "personally identifiable information" had been lost. It was not immediately clear how far the hackers had managed to penetrate into the system.

Accusations of hacking by China and counterclaims of such activity by the U.S. government have strained U.S.-Chinese relations. Chinese hacking has been a major theme of U.S.-China discussions this week in Beijing, though both sides have publicly steered clear of the controversy.

In May, the Justice Department filed a 31-count indictment against five Chinese military officials operating under hacker aliases and accused them of penetrating computer networks of a half-dozen steel companies and makers of solar and nuclear technology to gain a competitive advantage. The Chinese government denied the allegations and suspended a working group on cyber rules that was to be part of the annual "Strategic and Economic Dialogue" this week.

Those applying for security clearances would be expected to provide such information as foreign contacts, previous jobs, past drug use and other personal details to the Office of Personnel Management, the Times reported.

The agency oversees a system by which federal employees applying for security clearances enter financial data and other personal information, the Times said, and those who maintain such clearances are required to update their information through that system. Agencies and contractors use the information to investigate employees.

The paper quoted an unidentified senior U.S. official as saying that the attack had been traced to China but that it wasn't clear whether the hackers were part of the government.

The attack in March was not announced even though the Obama administration has urged U.S. companies to share information about breaches in security with the government and with consumers, the newspaper reported.

"The administration has never advocated that all intrusions be made public," Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the Obama administration, said in a statement to the Times. "We have advocated that businesses that have suffered an intrusion notify customers if the intruder had access to consumers' personal information. We have also advocated that companies and agencies voluntarily share information about intrusions."

Hayden said the administration had no reason to believe that personally identifiable information for employees had been compromised.



From the Department of Justice

Justice Department, Health and Human Services Call for Action to Address Abuse of Older Americans

Elder Justice Roadmap Outlines Critical Path to Combating Elder Abuse

WASHINGTON –Today, leaders in the fight against elder abuse announced a framework for tackling the highest priority challenges to elder abuse prevention and prosecution, and called on all Americans to take a stand against the serious societal problem of elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.

Research suggests that one in 10 Americans over the age of 60 has experienced elder abuse or neglect, and that people with dementia are at higher risk for abuse.

Supported by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Elder Justice Roadmap was developed by harnessing the expertise and gathering the input of hundreds of public and private stakeholders from across the country. The goal of these expert summits was to identify the most critical priorities and concrete opportunities for greater public and private investment and engagement in elder abuse issues. The Elder Justice Roadmap, which is being published today, reflects the knowledge and perspectives of these experts in the field and will be considered by the Elder Justice Coordinating Council and others in developing their own strategic plans to prevent and combat elder abuse.

“The Roadmap Project is an important milestone for elder justice,” said Associate Attorney General Tony West. “Elder abuse is a problem that has gone on too long, but the Roadmap Report released today can change this trajectory by offering comprehensive and concrete action items for all of the stakeholders dedicated to combating the multi-faceted dimensions of elder abuse and financial exploitation. While we have taken some important steps in the right direction, we must do more to prevent elder abuse from occurring in the first place and face it head on when it occurs.”

“From now until 2030, every day, about 10,000 baby boomers will celebrate their 65th birthday,” said Kathy Greenlee, HHS' assistant secretary for aging and administrator of the Administration for Community Living. “And the fastest-growing population is people 85 years old, or older. Stemming the tide of abuse will require individuals, neighbors, communities, and public and private entities to take a hard look at how each of us encounters elder abuse—and commit to combat it.”

To support the mission of elder abuse prevention and prosecution, DOJ has developed an interactive, online curriculum to teach legal aid and other civil attorneys to identify and respond to elder abuse. The first three modules of the training cover what lawyers should know about elder abuse; practical and ethical strategies to use when facing challenges in this area; and a primer on domestic violence and sexual assault. This training will expand to include six one-hour modules covering issues relevant to attorneys who may encounter elder abuse victims in the course of their practice.

HHS is supporting the mission by developing a voluntary national adult protective services (APS) data system. Collecting national data on adult mistreatment will help to identify and address many gaps about the number and characteristics of adults who are the victims of maltreatment and the nature of services that are provided by APS agencies to protect these vulnerable adults. In addition, the data will better inform the development of improved, more targeted policy and programmatic interventions.

In addition to informing federal elder justice efforts, the roadmap has already inspired private stakeholders to take action. For example, as a result of the roadmap, the Archstone Foundation has funded a project at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California to develop a national training initiative, while other funders, such as the Weinberg Foundation, have begun to consider inquiries and projects outlined in the roadmap. Likewise, the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging at Hunter College, The Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale and the New York City Elder Abuse Center will be co-sponsoring a symposium in September 2014 focusing on innovations and challenges related to elder abuse multidisciplinary teams, a priority area identified in the roadmap.

“While federal and state governments certainly have critical roles to play, the battle against elder abuse can only be won with grassroots action at the community and individual level,” said Greenlee. “Turning the tide against elder abuse requires much greater public commitment, so every American will recognize elder abuse when they see it and know what to do if they encounter it.”

Two steps local communities, families and individuals can take are:

• Learn the signs of elder abuse. The National Center on Elder Abuse, a program of the Administration on Aging at ACL, has developed a helpful Red Flags of Abuse Factsheet (PDF) that lists the signs of and risk factors for abuse and neglect.

• Report suspected abuse when you see it. Contact your local adult protective services agency. Phone numbers for state or local offices can be found at the National Center for Elder Abuse website, or call 1-800-677-1116.

“We must take a stand to ensure that older Americans are safe from harm and neglect,” said Associate Attorney General West. “For their contributions to our nation, to our society, and to our lives, we owe them nothing less.”

The Elder Justice Roadmap and accompanying materials are at: http://ncea.acl.gov/Library/Gov_Report/index.aspx

Free online training for attorneys is at: https://www.ovcttac.gov/views/dspLegalAssistance.cfm?tab=1#onlinetraining




Wilmington offers new line of defense against violence

by Esteban Parra and Yann Ranaivo

More uniformed officers, including top brass, will be walking the Wilmington's hotspots in the coming days to build community relations in the wake of a recent spate of violence that took the life of a 43-year-old woman, police Chief Bobby L. Cummings said Tuesday.

Police also will be working more closely with city agencies to address neighborhood issues as part of a new strategy to stem the increase of crime, Cummings said.

"It's not just to deal with nuisance crime, it's also to deal with the people who live in the area, reintroduce ourselves to them to build relationships again," he said.

The plan stems from Mayor Dennis P. Williams' efforts to bolster community policing, a tool he has championed to improve ties between police and neighborhoods. A belief about increased community policing is that the new relationships will help residents feel more comfortable about helping officers solve serious crimes.

"It's a part of that," Cummings said. "It's about rebuilding relationships and building trusts. You can't police the city if you don't know the issues."

Jawad Ali Ahmed, a manager of Adams Market near Wilmington's Center City neighborhood, said the improved visibility of patrolmen could go a long way in scaring away criminals. But he cautioned that police will have to put a real concerted effort into its new policing plans.

He said they can't step up their involvement temporarily.

"If they're only here for a day or two, then it's only going to be like a day or two that everybody's going to be gone," he said. "But if the presence stays, and they know they're going to be here, then yeah."

Ali Ahmed was managing the store at West Seventh and North Adams streets Sunday night when Crystal Brown and her cousins walked in for a bite to eat. A few moments later, Brown left the store and walked into a crossfire of bullets.

A stray bullet struck her in the chest, killing her in front of relatives, some of whom were preteens.

This was the city's latest homicide this year, putting Wilmington on pace to surpass the number of people killed in the city in the last three years. There have been 13 homicides so far this year – one more over the same time period than in 2011 and 2012 and five more than the same time period last year.

The number of shooting incidents are down from last year and 2012 for the same time period. Also down are the number of shooting victims for the same time period in 2013, 2012 and 2011.

FBI statistics for 2012, the most recent year available, show that Wilmington's violence per capita was third highest among about 45 cities with 50,000 to 100,000 people, and eighth highest among about 750 American cities with more than 50,000 people.

Ali Ahmed called the killing "devastating."

"Her blood is still on the ground," he said, pointing to a brown spot near the tire of a white Crown Victoria parked in front of the store. "I guess she was standing somewhere right here. When I came outside, she was right underneath my car."

Her shooter remained at large Tuesday.

Without going into detail, Cummings touched on some of what police plan to do, starting in a week or two.

• Officers, when not on service calls, will get out of their vehicles and walk in areas where there are issues. This includes patrolmen, inspectors and even himself.

• The supervising staff will meet quarterly to discuss issues they are seeing and develop response strategies.

• The city will continue to work with state, county and federal agencies. They also will look to partner with others to impact the city in a positive way.

• Using other city resources to tackle issues where policing alone can not make changes. This could mean calling in the city's license and inspection office or real estate and housing department to help resolve issues.

"You have to provide some other alternative options to this strategy that we have," Cummings said. "It's not just policing."

The plan will not mean more officers than the force already has, just more of a visible presence.

"Obviously we can't get more officers than what we have, but the presence of the officers is out there," he said. "Again, getting out doing their park and walks, making the neighborhood contacts. That's a big component of what we are doing."

They will be concentrating in six hotspots across the city of about 71,000 people.

Roger Roberts, who was sitting in a pickup truck waiting for his sister at West Seventh and North Monroe streets Tuesday, said it's paramount that police step out of their cars and walk the streets if they want to improve trust and help lower crime.

"They walk the community … the crime rate will be down," he said. "That way they can get to know the community even better. If they do that, pretty soon the community's going to learn to trust the cops again."

Teresa White, who lives on the 800 block of Pine Street, an area that has seen two fatal shootings over the past couple of weeks, said she's divided over improved police presence.

White, who was sitting in the shade with other residents on her block, said more police involvement would cut down on crime. But she said she's worried police have targeted the wrong people.

"The time they need to come, they don't come," she said. "Then when they come, they harass the people they don't need to harass."

Another supporter of increased community policing is Wilmington Councilman Bob Williams, a member of the council's public safety committee and a former city police officer.

"I really think it's going to take a dedicated unit to get out on the street and walk and gauge the community," Williams said. "At first, people are going to be hesitant, and think that it's just another tactic."

Jaehn Dennis, president of the Vandever Avenue Civic Association, said the recent shootings have "put a thumb in the administration's eye." He said right now he supports any initiative trying to lower crime, including getting police to walk the streets.

"At the same time, walking will cut down response time. In high-crime areas, walking would be good," he said. "You got to try something. If it doesn't work, let's try something else."

Cummings, who was named chief in late May, said he looks forward to the city's new path.

"The direction that we're heading in is a good one," he said.

"While you're headed in that direction are there going to be things that occur that impact people's lives in a negative way? Absolutely.

"We're hoping to get to a point where we've minimized a lot of that because we know we're not going to ever stop it all," he said. "But we're going to minimize it as best we can."

Contact Esteban Parra at (302) 324-2299, eparra@delawareonline.com or Twitter @eparra3. Contact Yann Ranaivo at (302) 324-2837, yranaivo@delawareonline.com or on Twitter @YannRanaivo.

Inside the numbers

Homicides up: There have been 13 homicides this year, a faster pace than in each of the last three years. Over the same time period, there were eight in 2013 and 12 in both 2012 and 2011.

Shootings down: The number of shooting incidents this year are down from 2013 and 2012 for the same time period.

Violence: FBI stats for 2012, the most recent available, show Wilmington's violence per capita third highest among 45 cities with 50,000 to 100,000 people




Murray offers solutions to Seattle public safety crisis

by James Tabafunda

The Seattle Police Department reported two separate shootings over the Fourth of July weekend— one in West Seattle and one in Rainier Beach. The shootings are the latest to occur since the city detailed its campaign to address public safety.

Last month, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray conveyed a sense of urgency about developing a comprehensive plan for safer neighborhoods at two events.

Both at his speech before the Seattle City Council and at an ethnic media press conference a few hours later on June 25 at Seattle City Hall, Murray spoke about the city's public safety crisis.

“We do not, over the recent years, have a developed, coherent, coordinated, city-wide approach to public safety policy. Unless we, as a city, address this crisis of confidence, our challenges in public safety will only grow,” Murray said during his speech.

The mayor called public safety an “unwritten compact” among the city, the people, and the police, “which guides our respective responsibilities in our collective accountability.”

“Instead of responsibility and accountability, our city has seen finger-pointing and blame-shifting,” Murray added.

Among Murray's proposals to improve public safety and partner for safer neighborhoods, given at the 38-minute ethnic media press conference:

Programs for young people. By putting the Parks District Funding Plan on the ballot in August, he plans to keep Seattle's 23 community centers open longer.

“Expanding their hours is important,” Murray said. “During the summer, we're going to re-prioritize some of the existing city revenue and expand hours in our community centers, expand after-school hours in our libraries for social engagements for teens as well as expand the Teen Youth Program.”

Working with others on poverty and homelessness, mental illness, and gun violence. “We will also be working with the county and the state, but particularly other local cities to deal with some of the issues of crime, particularly in South Seattle,” Murray said. During his speech, he also said he wants city government to invite Seattle citizens to play a stronger role in public safety.

• Police reform. Murray made it clear that reform is needed and underway following mandates issued by the federal court, including training in “the appropriate use of force,” “a true community policing plan that means that we have officers out of their cars and on foot, getting to know people in the neighborhoods that they patrol, [and] that we use technology to understand patterns of crime and the reporting of crime.” Bicycle patrols are also part of the community policing plan.

Chief (Kathleen) O'Toole is going to develop this,” he said about Seattle's first female police chief—confirmed by city councilmembers on Jun. 23.

“This is key. It's key to change in the dynamic of policing in the City of Seattle,” he told reporters at the press conference. “We'll make sure that you have the chance to meet her in the next few weeks.”

Access for senior citizens. He mentioned the parents of his Japanese American husband are in their 90s and moving to Seattle and that their ability to move around safely is more challenging.

“This city is definitely, through its Office of Senior Citizens, exploring what we do around the issue of safety, not just public safety from crime but also physical safety. How do we create an environment where the sidewalks and the places that people walk are physically safe?” he asked.

Programs for senior citizens. Like programs for young people, education programs and community centers are vital resources to the city's seniors.

“Expanding community center hours is not just about the youth, it's also about senior citizens, particularly senior citizens who are poor and have no other place to have activities but in the community centers,” Murray said.

Diversity in the Seattle Police Department (SPD). Murray appreciates Chief O'Toole's use of the term “police service” instead of “police force” and emphasizes that diversity in the SPD remains a priority.

Murray said: “We do have Chinese American police officers, and we need to utilize them better in reaching out to younger Chinese Americans in getting them interested in the police force. Finally, the pay is not all that bad, and we need to tell that story as well.”

Youth employment. Murray said the city's current program helped provide jobs to about 450 young people in 2013. “We've increased that by 50 percent to 1,000 (in 2014), but even that, in my opinion, is not enough, and I have asked a group of business leaders to work with us so that next summer, we can at least double that to 2,000, if not more, jobs for youth.”

Starbucks, Microsoft, and Amazon are just some of the companies invited to participate in the city's youth employment program.

Reducing homelessness in the International District. Murray wants to see homeless people get the proper treatment and the proper shelter. They are “the only way we're going to get them off the street,” Murray said. “Arresting homeless people and putting them in jail is not a policy so we have a lot more to do on the issue of homelessness.”

Public security cameras in the International District. “Chinatown is one of two neighborhoods, the other is the Central District, that's actually asked for some level of cameras for policing for public safety,” Murray said. He wants a public discussion to take place among residents of these neighborhoods, the city, and the ACLU and other civil libertarian groups who “are concerned about these cameras,” one that explores ways to use these cameras that don't invade personal privacy rights.

Community policing in the International District. Murray would like to see police officers patrol by foot and by bicycle, letting its residents know they are in the community. Murray said: “All of those things are things that we need to implement as well as the police and me or councilmembers doing safety walks from time to time throughout Chinatown and identifying where there are problems (garbage, graffiti, drugs) and identifying those areas so that we can develop a plan to respond to it.”

“And we're beginning that, we're beginning that today,” he said.

Immigrants and refugees. Language barriers continue to be a problem for those who speak English as their second language and who want to report a crime. Murray described a common situation in Seattle: “When someone calls 911, there's usually a click as they try and get the person to an interpreter, and that click usually, I am told in many cases, is interpreted by the person who doesn't speak English as they've been hung up on.”

He says there needs to be improvements in how the 911 reporting system works and educating immigrants and refugees about this system so they know they are not putting themselves in any danger.

“Secondly, it's an issue around educating folks that reporting crime actually helps them and helps the community because I realize in many countries where folks come from, reporting a crime to the police is a risky proposition,” Murray said. That risky proposition is the perception by immigrants and refugees that communicating with the city can lead to their deportation.

Murray also said: “I've made it clear that this city and our police are not going to be involved in helping the federal government identify people who are here, and our police will not be used to arrest anybody simply because of their legal status. That will not change.”



New Jersey

Morris County to host free youth summer camp about public safety

by Justin Zaremba

Looking for a free summer camp for your high school student?

Students in grades nine through 12 can participate in a free summer "Youth Public Safety Academy" from Aug. 11 through Aug. 15 at the county's Public Safety Training Academy, at 500 West Hanover Ave.

More information on the camp is available in the county's news release below:

The academy is a one-week training program, whose objective is to expose the student “cadets” to some very rewarding careers in public safety, public service, including county government, emergency services, law enforcement and emergency management, said the youth academy's coordinator, William Schievella.

“We will be placing strong emphasis on self-respect, respect of others, teamwork and commitment to one's goals,” Schievella said. “The academy is perfect for any high school student who would like a challenge this summer.”

The academy will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day, with a structured, hands-on curriculum that will include interaction with county agencies; field trips; presentations from educators; an overview of Emergency Medical Services training; fire department, SWAT/SERT Team and K-9/Bomb Unit demonstrations; crime scene investigations; Emergency Management Special Operations Group and physical training; according to Schievella.

“All of our presentations will be offered in a fun, informative, interactive, educational and hands-on manner in a format similar to what actual police, fire and EMS academy cadets experience,” he said.

Freeholder Douglas Cabana said the freeholder board is sponsoring the academy to build interest in public service and public safety professions.

“Maybe, one day, because of the experience gained at the academy, one of these students will run for public office or pursue a career in law enforcement or volunteer as a firefighter or EMT,” said Cabana, freeholder liaison to the Department of Law and Public Safety. “But, even if they don't, the leadership lessons they will learn during the week will last them a lifetime.”

Lunch will be provided by the Academy each day. Upon completion of the academy, an official graduation ceremony will be conducted Friday, Aug. 15.

The required application forms, which must be completed and returned no later than July 15, are available online at http://morrisacademy.org/2014AcademyForm.pdf

Completed applications should be sent to the Morris County Department of Law & Public Safety, P.O. Box 900, Morristown, New Jersey. The applications can also be e-mailed to oem@co.morris.nj.us or faxed to 973-829-8604.

Since space is limited, submission of an application prior to the deadline does not guarantee acceptance into the program. More information about the free summer Youth Public Safety Academy may be obtained by calling 973-829-8600.

Schievella, director of the Police Studies Institute at the College of St. Elizabeth in Convent Station, is a former chief of investigations with the Morris County Prosecutors Office.




Balancing right to know and public safety

by Greg Abbott

Much has been written and said about a recent ruling from the Office of the Attorney General about Texans' access to information regarding the location of dangerous chemicals throughout the state. Lost in many of these reports is the importance of finding the proper balance between safeguarding Texans and ensuring their right to important information.

Texans deserve to know what kinds of chemicals are being stored in their communities. At the same time, the Texas Legislature is equally concerned about providing terrorists a road map to all facilities in Texas that could be used to build bombs and destroy communities. In passing the Texas Homeland Security Act in 2003, the Legislature recognized that, in a post-9/11 world, there should be a balance to accessing sensitive information about where terrorists could locate bomb-making materials or targets to attack. That is why the Legislature unanimously agreed that providing a database of information about chemical facilities was a danger too great.

Texas law requires businesses that stockpile fertilizer to file reports with their local fire departments and with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). Those reports, called Tier Two reports, provide information about what chemicals are being stored, the amount of chemicals onsite and their location. Just as we saw last year in West, Texas, this information is critical for emergency responders, and it's equally important to families that live near the facilities.

In May, DSHS asked the Open Records Division of my office to determine if the Homeland Security law allows DSHS to withhold Tier Two reports from the general public. Previously, DSHS had voluntarily released that information without seeking a legal opinion. Now, DSHS sought legal advice — and the law is clear. The Texas Homeland Security Act requires DSHS to withhold information about chemical facilities that would be a treasure trove for terrorists.

We all remember the 1995 Oklahoma City federal building attack, in which 168 people were killed by a fertilizer bomb. And in the last month, two central Texas men my office investigated pleaded guilty to terrorism charges for conspiring to support an Iraqi terrorist organization. It is this kind of continual threat that the Texas Homeland Security Act seeks to snuff out. Information in the hands of terrorists could create real and serious danger in our communities. The Texas Legislature has chosen to allow the location of chemicals that could be used in similar attacks to be withheld from the general public to reduce the chance of that information falling into the wrong hands.

What seems to be missing in most accounts about our office's ruling is an explanation of the way in which people who live in communities near chemical storage facilities can still access information about what is stored there. There should be no ambiguity — information about what is stored in chemical facilities across the state is still publicly available. Under the Community Right-to-Know Act, Tier Two reports may be requested directly, in writing, from the facility storing the chemicals. The facility must provide the reports in 10 days. In addition, the Texas Department of Insurance maintains an online search tool that allows Texans to input their ZIP code to see general locations where ammonium nitrate is being stored.

To provide even better access to this important information, I'm also proposing that the Texas Legislature allow access to this information at local fire stations during regular business hours. Those reports are currently filed with local fire departments, and the public can currently seek out information from fire department officials, but the change will provide immediate access for communities.

We must do all we can to protect the memories of the men and women who died in West, and to make sure the public knows how to access information about potential hazards in their communities.




Freeway incident raises questions on how police interact with public

by Scott Gold, Joseph Serna, Kate Mather

Marlene Pinnock is a mother of two who once studied bookkeeping and accounting. But her life has not been simple.

She was known as a sweet, friendly presence by some who lived in a homeless encampment beneath an overpass where the 10 Freeway crosses La Brea Avenue. She had been arrested several times on suspicion of minor offenses in that same Mid-City neighborhood.

On July 1, she ventured onto the 10 Freeway, barefoot, carrying a purse and veering into lanes of traffic. A California Highway Patrol officer arrived on the scene and tried to get her off the freeway shoulder.

What happened next has generated investigations, outrage and unanswered questions. One of those motorists shot a cell phone video showing the officer repeatedly punching the 51-year-old as her purse rested on the ground beside her.

To some experts, the incident was tragically familiar. The incident, they say, speaks to the ever-evolving, uneven and imperfect encounters that take place daily between law enforcement officers and people in crisis.

"Law enforcement officers are now street corner psychologists," said Carla Jacobs, a prominent advocate for an effective mental health system. "Some are trained well. Some are not. But the reality is that they are cops. They are not psychologists."

The video, which has been played on television over the last few days, showed Pinnock walking near the La Brea exit. The CHP officer, who has not been identified by the agency, followed Pinnock on the shoulder — an attempt, the CHP said, to keep her from walking into traffic and endangering herself and others.

The officer ordered Pinnock to stop, according to a CHP document. Repeatedly, she ignored those commands, and then began walking "against the flow of traffic and into the traffic lanes," the document said.

On the video, the officer can be seen attempting to hold her arm. Pinnock appeared to try to twist away from him. At that point, the officer took her to the ground and began hitting her with his black-gloved fists, as she covered her head with her arms. After a matter of seconds, an off-duty officer helped subdue Pinnock, but not before the first officer landed at least nine blows.

Ron Thomas, whose homeless son Kelly Thomas died after a violent altercation with Fullerton police in 2011, said Monday that he supported the officer's initial actions.

"He must take her into custody for her own protection. I was absolutely fine with that," Thomas said. "But then why in the hell did he start beating her? ... It's absolutely appalling."

The beating of Pinnock did not approach the deadly end of Kelly Thomas' incident. Authorities said she was not seriously injured and she was taken to a hospital for "further evaluation." CHP Sgt. Denise Joslin declined to discuss Pinnock's mental condition, but noted that walking along a busy freeway at rush hour is "not something most people do."

CHP officials said the video captured only part of the incident. Capt. Greg Meyer, a retired Los Angeles Police captain who is an expert on the use of force, said it was too soon to conclude if the force used was excessive or unwarranted.

"In my experience with videos, they're not the whole story," Meyer said. "Everyone would agree that just viewing someone punching someone else is not a pretty thing to see. But we need to figure out what happened. Why did it happen? And was it legally justified?"

Public records show Pinnock has been arrested at least a dozen times since 2008 by a handful of law enforcement agencies. She was suspected of crimes classified as misdemeanors, including thefts, trespassing and one battery.

Pinnock graduated from Jefferson High School in South Los Angeles, attorney Caree Harper said. She underwent some training related to bookkeeping , and has two children and two grandchildren.

LAPD records, which detailed seven of her arrests, frequently described Pinnock as unemployed or a transient. Pinnock was well known to some people at a homeless encampment not far from where the altercation occurred. The encampment is littered with debris, trash, an old computer monitor and blankets.

Damon Taylor, 41, said he has known Pinnock for almost two decades and described her as caring and sweet.

"She won't do anything to harm anybody," he said.

John Burris, one of the Pinnock family attorneys, said Monday he didn't know why she was on the freeway but that the CHP's officers punches were clearly excessive. He said he didn't know much about Pinnock's mental history, adding that should be irrelevant to the way she was treated.

"Officers should be trained on how to deal with that," Burris said. "Do you get to use more force because their impaired or not? The issue here is whether the force was justified."

Many agencies have begun sending some officers through 40-hour "crisis intervention" training, in which officers are equipped with skills that can de-escalate tension during exchanges with people who are acting out or might be suffering from a mental illness. But the training is time-consuming and expensive, and is still treated as an afterthought in many agencies.

Joslin said Monday the CHP's crisis intervention training was an "8-hour, interactive training class intended for CHP uniformed and non-uniformed employees." She did not elaborate further, except to say the training was mandatory and "covers how to recognize persons with mental illness or conditions."

The programs are critical enough that they should be part of a standard law enforcement academy curriculum, said Michael C. Biasotti, chief of police in New Windsor, N.Y. Biasotti recently wrote an often-cited thesis at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, in which he argued that the mentally ill population has begun consuming critical amounts of law enforcement resources nationwide.

Studies have shown, Biasotti's paper noted, that police in New York respond to a call involving a person with a suspected mental illness every six and a half minutes. In Florida, police take 40,000 people into custody each year for psychiatric evaluations, more people than are arrested for assault or burglary.

"It's a mess," he said. "It's an urgent problem."




Norwich police see impact of foot patrols on crime

by Greg Smith

Norwich — The number of arrests and reported crimes in the city dipped slightly last year, the first full year since the establishment of the city's community policing unit.

Robberies, assaults and rapes were down while burglaries and larcenies increased from 2012. The number of rapes dropped 38 percent, from 18 in 2012 to 11 in 1013, even as the new, broader definition of rape has led to increases elsewhere.

The only homicide of the year occurred on May 2, 2013: the death of a 13-month-old girl whose mother's boyfriend, Michael A. Rios, was charged with first-degree manslaughter for physical abuse that led to her death. His case is pending.

Norwich Police Chief Louis J. Fusaro said the numbers don't tell the entire story about how well the community policing unit has served to strengthen neighborhood bonds and allowed residents and visitors a sense of safety.

In the past several budgets, Norwich has managed to add numbers to its police force thanks to support from the City Council and city manager and federal grants. The department also used grant money to set up surveillance cameras in several parts of the city, which police believe act as a deterrent and may help solve crimes.

The department has an authorized strength of 98 sworn officers with about 89 slots filled.

The community policing program started in late 2012 with three two-man patrols on the evening shift in Greeneville, Taftville and downtown. Community policing numbers were further bolstered in March with the addition of four more officers.

The unit has 10 officers in total, with seven-day evening coverage, and two-man teams working four days a week during the day. The officers are in addition to regular patrols and usually on bikes in the summer months.

"I think that extra presence in some of the neighborhoods that need a little extra work is showing progress overall," Fusaro said. "Things are not 100 percent, but it's improvement even beyond the numbers. One of the things is reducing fear of crime. It's a quality-of-life issue when people don't feel comfortable. Not only are we looking to reduce crime, we're looking to enhance those neighborhoods in any way we can."

Sgt. Peter Camp, the community policing unit supervisor, said residents and business owners appreciate the increased visibility, especially in the summer months with kids out of school and more outside activity in general. The unit is participating in crime watch meetings in Taftville and Greeneville and in community forums with groups like the Greeneville Neighborhood Revitalization Committee.

"We're building relationships and problem-solving. We can only problem-solve if we have a relationship with neighborhoods," Camp said.

Camp, an 18-year-veteran of the force, said he is a by-product of the 1990s push for more officers on the streets under President Bill Clinton. Camp was hired as part of a community block grant at a time when it was more common for departments to have bicycle and foot patrols. The subsequent decade, however, saw police budgets shrink and "we were forced back into our cruisers," Camp said.

"Now we're seeing that transform again and realizing community policing is walking, riding bikes, getting out of the cars and talking to people. I think we're changing perceptions of some neighborhoods," he said.



States look to gun seizure law after mass killings

As officials across the country grapple with how to prevent mass killings, some are turning to a gun seizure law pioneered in Conn. 15 years agob

by Dave Collins

HARTFORD, Conn. — As state officials across the country grapple with how to prevent mass killings like the ones at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and near the University of California, Santa Barbara, some are turning to a gun seizure law pioneered in Connecticut 15 years ago.

Connecticut's law allows judges to order guns temporarily seized after police present evidence that a person is a danger to themselves or others. A court hearing must be held within 14 days to determine whether to return the guns or authorize the state to hold them for up to a year.

The 1999 law, the first of its kind in the country, was in response to the 1998 killings of four managers at the Connecticut Lottery headquarters by a disgruntled employee with a history of psychiatric problems.

Indiana is the only other state that has such a law, passed in 2005 after an Indianapolis police officer was shot to death by a mentally ill man. California and New Jersey lawmakers are now considering similar statutes, both proposed in the wake of the killings of six people and wounding of 13 others near the University of California, Santa Barbara by a mentally ill man who had posted threatening videos on YouTube.

Michael Lawlor, Connecticut's undersecretary for criminal justice planning and policy, believes the state's gun seizure law could have prevented the killings of 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, if police had been made aware that gunman Adam Lanza had mental health problems and access to his mother's legally owned guns.

"That's the kind of situation where you see the red flags and the warning signs are there, you do something about it," Lawlor said. "In many shootings around the country, after the fact it's clear that the warning signs were there."

Gun rights advocates oppose gun seizure laws, saying they allow police to take people's firearms based only on allegations and before the gun owners can present their side of the story to a judge. They say they're concerned the laws violate constitutional rights.

"The government taking things away from people is never a good thing," said Rich Burgess, president of the gun rights group Connecticut Carry. "They come take your stuff and give you 14 days for a hearing. Would anybody else be OK if they just came and took your car and gave you 14 days for a hearing?"

Rachel Baird, a Connecticut lawyer who has represented many gun owners, said one of the biggest problems with the state's law is that police are abusing it. She said she has had eight clients whose guns were seized by police who obtained the required warrants after taking possession of the guns.

"It's stretched and abused, and since it's firearms, the courts go along with it," Baird said of the law.

But backers of such laws say they can prevent shootings by getting guns out of the hands of mentally disturbed people.

"You want to make sure that when people are in crisis ... there is a way to prevent them to get access to firearms," said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the nonprofit Education Fund to Stop Gun Violence in Washington, D.C.

Connecticut authorities report a large increase in the use of gun seizure warrants involving people deemed dangerous by police over the past several years. Officials aren't exactly sure what caused the increase but believe it's related to numerous highly publicized mass shootings in recent years.

Police statewide filed an estimated 183 executed gun seizure warrants with court clerks last year, more than twice the number filed in 2010, according to Connecticut Judicial Branch data. Last year's total also was nearly nine times higher than the annual average in the first five years of the gun seizure law.

Connecticut police have seized more than 2,000 guns using the warrants, according to the most recent estimate by state officials, in 2009.

Police in South Windsor, about 12 miles northeast of Hartford, say the law was invaluable last year when they seized several guns from the home of a man accused of spray-painting graffiti referencing mass shootings in Newtown and Colorado on the outside of the town's high school.

"With all that we see in the news day after day, particular after Newtown, I think departments are more aware of what authority they have ... and they're using the tool (gun seizure warrants) more frequently than in the past," said South Windsor Police Chief Matthew Reed. "We always look at it from the other side. What if we don't seize the guns?"



Foreign airport scrutiny focuses on electronic devices

by Bart Jansen

Don't bring dead phones or laptops to those overseas airports for flights heading to the USA.

Department of Homeland Security officials warned last week that security would tighten at airports where flights head directly to the USA but without providing much detail about how the scrutiny would change.

But security officials said Sunday that the attention is focused on explosives that could be disguised as electronic devices.

The Transportation Security Administration issued a statement Sunday saying that as part of its routine screening at the overseas airports with direct flights, checkpoint officers may ask owners to turn on devices including cellphones.

Devices that can't be turned on won't be permitted on flights, TSA said. Travelers also may undergo additional screening such as pat-downs.

"In this instance, we felt that it was important to crank it up some at the last point-of-departure airports," Jeh Johnson, secretary of homeland security, said on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday. "And we'll continually evaluate the situation."

After earlier threats involving explosives in shoes and liquids, most travelers were asked to remove their shoes for X-ray at checkpoints and larger containers of liquids were prohibited on flights.

Johnson said the latest change is an attempt to anticipate the next attack rather than simply react to the last one. But he said there is no reason to overreact or speculate about it.

"We know that there remains a terrorist threat to the United States," Johnson said. "And aviation security is a large part of that."

The changes announced Wednesday met little public criticism. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the threat from al-Qaeda and other groups is constantly evolving and targets aviation.

"Aviation security is only as good as the weakest link, and it is essential that our allies, the airline industry and airports that serve as last points of departure to the U.S. strengthen and then maintain enhanced security measures," McCaul said.



The Latest Snowden Leak Is Devastating to NSA Defenders

The agency collected and stored intimate chats, photos, and emails belonging to innocent Americans—and secured them so poorly that reporters can now browse them at will.

by Conor Friedersdorf

Consider the latest leak sourced to Edward Snowden from the perspective of his detractors. The National Security Agency's defenders would have us believe that Snowden is a thief and a criminal at best, and perhaps a traitorous Russian spy. In their telling, the NSA carries out its mission lawfully, honorably, and without unduly compromising the privacy of innocents. For that reason, they regard Snowden's actions as a wrongheaded slur campaign premised on lies and exaggerations.

But their narrative now contradicts itself. The Washington Post's latest article drawing on Snowden's leaked cache of documents includes files "described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained" that "tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless."

The article goes on to describe how exactly the privacy of these innocents was violated. The NSA collected "medical records sent from one family member to another, résumés from job hunters and academic transcripts of schoolchildren. In one photo, a young girl in religious dress beams at a camera outside a mosque. Scores of pictures show infants and toddlers in bathtubs, on swings, sprawled on their backs and kissed by their mothers. In some photos, men show off their physiques. In others, women model lingerie, leaning suggestively into a webcam ..."

Have you ever emailed a photograph of your child in the bathtub, or yourself flexing for the camera or modeling lingerie? If so, it could be your photo in the Washington Post newsroom right now, where it may or may not be secure going forward. In one case, a woman whose private communications were collected by the NSA found herself contacted by a reporter who'd read her correspondence.

Snowden defenders see these leaked files as necessary to proving that the NSA does, in fact, massively violate the private lives of American citizens by collecting and storing content—not "just" metadata—when they communicate digitally. They'll point out that Snowden turned these files over to journalists who promised to protect the privacy of affected individuals and followed through on that oath.

What about Snowden critics who defend the NSA? Ben Wittes questions the morality of the disclosure:

Snowden here did not leak programmatic information about government activity. He leaked many tens of thousands of personal communications of a type that, in government hands, are rightly subject to strict controls. They are subject to strict controls precisely so that the woman in lingerie, the kid beaming before a mosque, the men showing off their physiques, and the woman whose love letters have to be collected because her boyfriend is off looking to join the Taliban don't have to pay an unnecessarily high privacy price. Yes, the Post has kept personal identifying details from the public, and that is laudable. But Snowden did not keep personal identifying details from the Post . He basically outed thousands of people—innocent and not—and left them to the tender mercies of journalists. This is itself a huge civil liberties violation.

The critique is plausible—but think of what it means.

I never thought I'd see this day: The founder of Lawfare has finally declared that a national-security-state employee perpetrated a huge civil-liberties violation! Remember this if he ever again claims that NSA critics can't point to a single serious abuse at the agency. Wittes himself now says there's been a serious abuse.

The same logic applies to Keith Alexander, James Clapper, Michael Hayden, Stewart Baker, Edward Lucas, John Schindler, and every other anti-Snowden NSA defender. So long as they insist that Snowden is a narcissistic criminal and possible traitor, they have no choice but to admit that the NSA collected and stored intimate photos, emails, and chats belonging to totally innocent Americans and safeguarded them so poorly that a ne'er-do-well could copy them onto thumb drives.

They have no choice but to admit that the NSA was so bad at judging who could be trusted with this sensitive data that a possible traitor could take it all to China and Russia. Yet these same people continue to insist that the NSA is deserving of our trust, that Americans should keep permitting it to collect and store massive amounts of sensitive data on innocents, and that adequate safeguards are in place to protect that data. To examine the entirety of their position is to see that it is farcical.

Here's the reality.

The NSA collects and stores the full content of extremely sensitive photographs, emails, chat transcripts, and other documents belong to Americans, itself a violation of the Constitution—but even if you disagree that it's illegal, there's no disputing the fact that the NSA has been proven incapable of safeguarding that data. There is not the chance the data could leak at sometime in the future. It has already been taken and given to reporters . The necessary reform is clear. Unable to safeguard this sensitive data, the NSA shouldn't be allowed to collect and store it.




More Than 60 Shot, 9 Dead in Chicago's Bloody Holiday Weekend


Independence Day celebrations were marred by multiple shootings in Chicago that reportedly left at least nine dead and 60 injured.

The first fatal shooting occurred around 2:30 a.m. Friday, kicking off a violent weekend for the city.

Corey Hudson, 34, was killed after a car pulled up and someone inside shot him and a friend on the street. According to ABC News station WLS-TV in Chicago there were also three police-involved shootings on July 4th alone. At least one suspect involved in one of those shootings was killed.

The most recent shootings occurred Sunday night, according to WLS-TV.

They city has been actively combating gang and shooting violence in recent years after a bloody year in 2012, when it was the only city in the nation to record more than 500 homicides.

To bring down the high murder rate, police have been dispatched by the hundreds in dangerous neighborhoods and government officials have worked with community leaders to try to combat violence.

"We will keep building on our strategy, putting more officers on the street in summer months, proactively intervening in gang conflicts, partnering with community leaders," Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said in a statement.

The strategy appeared to be working, with the number of homicides falling to 415 in 2013 from more than 500 the year before. However the murder rate was still higher than many other U.S. cities. By comparison New York City, which is more than triple the size in population recorded less than 350 murders in 2013.

As of June 30, there were nine fewer homicides in Chicago than during the same period as last year, according to The Associated Press.

The Chicago Tribune updated its tally of Chicago shooting victims today, bringing up the total of those shot to 1,129 so far this year. According to the Tribune, there were 2,185 shooting victims in Chicago last year.



NATW & National Night Out

National Association of Town Watch (NATW) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the development and promotion of various crime prevention programs including neighborhood watch groups, law enforcement agencies, state and regional crime prevention associations, businesses, civic groups, and individuals, devoted to safer communities. The nations premiere crime prevention network works with law enforcement officials and civilian leaders to keep crime watch volunteers informed, interested, involved and motivated. Since 1981, NATW continues to serve thousands of members across the nation.

The introduction of National Night Out, “America's Night Out Against Crime”, in 1984 began an effort to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back. NATW's National Night Out program culminates annually, on the first Tuesday of August (In Texas, the first Tuesday of October).

NATW's Executive Director, Matt Peskin introduced National Night Out in 1984.The first National Night Out took place on Tuesday, August 7th 1984. That first year, 2.5 million Americans took part across 400 communities in 23 states.

The seed had been planted.

National Night Out now involves over 37.8 million people and 16,124 communities from all fifty states, U.S. Territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide.

The traditional “lights on” campaign and symbolic front porch vigils turned into a celebration across America with various events and activities including, but not limited to, block parties, cookouts, parades, visits from emergency personnel, rallies and marches, exhibits, youth events, safety demonstrations and seminars, in effort to heighten awareness and enhance community relations.

Peskin said, “It's a wonderful opportunity for communities nationwide to promote police-community partnerships, crime prevention, and neighborhood camaraderie. While the one night is certainly not an answer to crime, drugs and violence, National Night Out represents the kind of spirit, energy and determination to help make neighborhoods a safer place year round. The night celebrates safety and crime prevention successes and works to expand and strengthen programs for the next 364 days.”