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 3


New York

How minor crime questioning led to chokehold death of Eric Garner

New York police officers questioning Eric Garner about an alleged minor crime – selling cigarettes on the street – subdued Mr. Garner using a chokehold banned more than 20 years ago. Seconds later he was dead.

by Patrik Jonsson

Eric Garner, a New York man allegedly selling illegal “loosies” – single cigarettes – outside a Staten Island store, died Thursday after police used an unauthorized street fighting move known as a “chokehold” to subdue the 350-pound man.

The stark contrast between a minor street crime – one which Mr. Garner had been arrested for many times – and the tragic consequence of leaving a widow with six kids has forced New Yorkers to revisit some of the darker chapters for the city's elite but oft-chastised police force, and to rehash what many thought were long-settled issues.

According to Police commissioner William Bratton , chokeholds used by at least two police officers to subdue Garner came after the man pleaded with a gaggle of officers to leave him alone as he was “minding his own business.”

“Every time you see me, you want to mess with me,” Garner can be heard saying. “I'm tired of it. It stops today. I'm minding my business please just leave me alone."

The encounter escalated to the point of a faceoff, whereupon one officer wraps his arm around his neck even as Garner, now on the ground, pleads that he can't breathe. A few minutes later Garner loses consciousness as the officer mashed his face into the sidewalk – the victim of a fatal heart attack.

Enough of the ordeal was captured by an amateur photographer's camera for Mayor Bill de Blasio to rule the death “a terrible tragedy.” A bigger question remained: Why did two veteran officers feel free to employ a tactic banned in 1993, especially given that a civil conversation may have deescalated the ordeal.

It was all the way back in 1983 when the department, following several asphyxiation deaths, banned the practice except in cases of imminent danger to the police officer. In 1994, a year after the city banned the tactic altogether, NYPD Officer Francis Livoti killed Bronx resident Anthony Baez with a chokehold after Mr. Livoti's cruiser was hit by a football being thrown around by friends. Livoti was found not guilty of negligent homicide, but later served seven years in prison after a federal court found he violated Baez' civil rights.

"Chokeholds are prohibited by the New York City Police Department and most departments," Commissioner Bratton said at a news conference Friday. Mr. Bratton also noted that "Mr. Garner repeatedly complained of difficulty breathing as the officers wrestled him to the ground."

Policing experts say that it's fine to ask officers to be more careful with aggressive subjects, but that once an incident escalates into a street fight that all bets are essentially off.

"The hard truth about street policing is there's a tremendous amount of improvisation," Eugene O'Donnell, a former cop and now a criminologist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice told the New York Daily News. "[Officers] get some very generalized guidance, typically, which is not very valuable once you have to make the decision to use force."

The fact that at least two officers utilized it has been enough to spark an inquest and investigation into Garner's death.

The Rev. Al Sharpton held a vigil for Garner amid calls for justice as the widow, Esaw Garner, clung to Sharpton in tears.

The New York Police Department and mayors have fought for controversial tactics that focus on low-level crimes, arguing tactics like the controversial “stop-and-frisks” are not only constitutional but effective in curbing local crime rates. Some courts have disagreed with at least the first notion, forcing the city to largely abandon the policy.

Other major US police departments, including in Atlanta, are putting less emphasis on penny-ante arrests because of the wedge they tend to drive between tougher neighborhoods and the police officers that serve them.



New York

Bratton, de Blasio address use of chokehold by NYPD in death of Staten Island man

by Robert E. Kessler

A 43-year-old Staten Island man died Thursday after a police officer used a chokehold that was apparently not authorized by department regulations, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said Friday.

Bratton spoke about the death of Eric Garner, of Port Richmond, to whom the hold was applied as he was being subdued for resisting arrest. Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at a news conference in City Hall Friday.

The mayor, who called the death "a terrible tragedy," said afterward that he was postponing his family vacation to Italy one day, until Saturday, because "he thought it was important to be here tonight [Friday] and consult with community leaders," according to an administration official.

The official did not identify which leaders the mayor planned to speak with.

But some residents who witnessed the arrest attempt, along with community leaders, said the incident was an example of police brutality and racism toward a victim who was black. They called for strong action by the mayor and police officials.

At the news conference, Bratton said that the apparent unauthorized chokehold was used by two officers who were attempting to take Garner into custody after local merchants complained he was taking away their business by selling, at a small park across from the Staten Island Ferry, "loosies," single untaxed cigarettes.

Police officials have said Garner, who reportedly weighed 350 pounds and was more than 6 feet tall, has a lengthy history of arrests, including for the selling of untaxed cigarettes.

Civilian witnesses, who have spoken to the Staten Island Advance and other media, have reportedly said Garner was not selling untaxed cigarettes, but was attempting to break up a fight between people who fled before police arrived.

"Chokeholds are prohibited by the New York City Police Department and most departments," Bratton said at the news conference. The commissioner added that "Mr. Garner repeatedly complained of difficulty breathing as the officers wrestled him to the ground."

An ambulance was called and Garner went into cardiac arrest while he was being taken to Richmond University Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead, Bratton said. However, he added that the medical examiner will rule on the cause of death.

De Blasio and Bratton said that a final determination of any breaking of law or departmental regulations would be made after an investigation by the Staten Island District Attorney's office and police internal affairs.

Bratton said the two officers involved -- whom he identified as an 8-year and a 4-year department veterans -- have been placed on desk duty.

In a statement, PBA president Patrick J. Lynch said: "Not wanting to be arrested does not grant an individual the right to resist arrest nor does it free the officers of the obligation to make the arrest. In these cases, justice for all involved demands a complete and thorough investigation of all the facts before any conclusions are drawn."



From the Department of Justice

Remarks by Associate Attorney General Tony West at My Brother's Keeper Summer Success Workshop

Good morning. They told me there would be some Huskies in the house -- are there any Huskies out there? I am so pleased to be here at West Prep, here at this incredible school with the faculty and staff. But most of all I am excited to be with all of you -- future role models and leaders of this city, this state, and, no doubt, this country.

Let me thank Principal Eichelberger for welcoming me here today. Let me also thank an outstanding leader in the Congress, Representative Steven Horsford. Thank you, Congressman, for all you do for your constituents and for the American people to make the future brighter for our youth.

I also want to thank the many parents, mentors and business leaders who are here today: the difference you are making with young people everyday will pay dividends not only in their lives, but in the life of this country, so thank you.

I'm not going to talk too long because I came out here to spend time talking with you instead of at you, so let me take just a moment to share something with you -- something my dad told me when I was growing up and still trying to figure things out.

My dad was one of the greatest mentors and role models in my life. He grew up poor, in the racially-segregated Deep South. He spent his childhood working his grandparents' farm, where they labored as sharecroppers. And like a lot of young men today, he grew up without a father in the house.

But even though my dad grew up in a very different time, and in a very different place, I think what he told me is still relevant today. He'd say that each of us, no matter who we are or where we come from -- we all have the power to choose who we become in life. It's a power that no one can take away from us; we can decide, in each moment, how we react to the world around us.

And those decisions we make, everyday -- they can make a big difference.

Now, I know right now, it may sometimes seem like you don't have any choice -- that someone, usually an adult, is always telling you what to do, where to go, how to act. Right?

And, if you're lucky, there is someone older than you who's helping to guide you to make the best decisions.

But in the moments that matter most, it's you who makes the choice. And it's important to recognize those decision points, those times when we can step back and ask ourselves whether the choices we're making are getting us closer or farther away from where and who we want to be.

Whether to take school seriously or cut class. Whether to participate in something you know you and your friends shouldn't be doing or saying "no" and walking the other way. Whether you think twice before texting that inappropriate photo to your friends.

Each of those decision points gives us an opportunity to choose. And I know you all know how to make good choices; you wouldn't be here if you hadn't already made a lot of good choices in your lives.

But I also know, sometimes we make mistakes. I know I didn't always make the best choice. Sometimes I messed up. And when I stumbled, I had people in my life who helped me get back on my feet. Because making the occasional mistake isn't as important as getting up when you fall, dusting yourself off and continuing to move forward.

So I want you to know that there are people in your life who are rooting for you. Parents, teachers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, counselors -- we're all rooting for your success. Because we need you. Each of you has something important to give to the world. Each one of you has a job to do in this world. You weren't put in this world by accident.

Maybe you have a special talent -- maybe you can draw or sing or play an instrument.

Maybe you can stand up in front of a crowd of people and speak eloquently like Kwiesi Davis. Or maybe you can shoot a three pointer like no one else, or you can play baseball or soccer or run track, like I did.

Maybe you love math, or science, or reading or writing. Maybe you have younger brothers and sisters who look up to you because you're a leader in their eyes.

Whatever it is, there is something unique, something special that only you can bring to the world.

And I want you to know there are a lot of adults out there who want to help you do that.

That's why we're here this morning. As I know you've been hearing in your school, My Brother's Keeper is an initiative launched by President Obama earlier this year to help give every young person who is willing to work hard and play by the rules the chance to reach his or her own potential. And we're trying to accomplish that goal by involving agencies throughout the federal government, working with private foundations, state and local agencies, schools, community and faith-based organizations, and Members of Congress like Representative Horsford.

And we're focusing on young people like you, because we know that's where the need is greatest. We know that young people of color -- particularly young men and boys of color -- are more likely to drop out of school; more likely to live in poverty; more likely to find themselves involved in the criminal and juvenile justice systems; more likely to become victims of violent crime.

We know those statistics. And we know we don't have to accept them. We reject those statistics and demand better because each of you has something unique, something special that only you can bring to the world.

That's a big reason why at the Department of Justice – through our Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and our Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships – we are working with underserved and at-risk youth by connecting them with mentors, supporting them if they have a parent who is incarcerated, and working with them to promote responsible fatherhood.

And we know that if we focus on key milestones in your young lives, we can dramatically improve the odds that you'll be able to share your unique gifts with the world.

So we need to make sure all of our young people are getting a healthy start and entering school ready to learn, and that, by the third grade, our kids are reading at grade level.

We need to make sure all of you graduate from high school ready for college and career, and that when you do, you go on to graduate school or training that will prepare you to enter the workforce successfully, compete and win.

And we need to help our youth stay on track and help them get a second chance when they stumble.

And we -- teachers, parents, faith and community leaders -- we will help you do all of those things. But the last thing I'll leave you with is this: no matter how much help you're given, ultimately it's up to each of you to make the decision to succeed.

My Brother's Keeper is about letting young people take responsibility for themselves and realizing success on their own terms. Those of us in positions of leadership -- we need to do our part to make sure you have a fair shot at your dreams; that you're not being held back by bias and discrimination; that the justice system designed to protect your rights is treating you fairly. That's our job.

Your job is to accept that opportunity and make the most of it. Your job is to make the best choices you can for your lives now and in the future; to accept the invitation to fulfill the unique promise that each of you possesses.

We can help you, but you can also help each other. Keep your family and friends close. Help each other up if one of you stumbles and falls. Listen to experienced voices so you know which paths to follow and which to avoid, and listen to your own conscience because deep down, you know right from wrong. Keep working hard and most of all, keep believing in yourselves. Because we will never stop believing in each and every one of you.



From the Department of Justice

Statement by Attorney General Holder on Sentencing Commission Vote Approving Retroactivity of Sentence Reductions for Drug Offenses

WASHINGTON—Attorney General Eric Holder today released the following statement regarding the U.S. Sentencing Commission vote approving retroactivity of sentence reductions for drug offenses:

“The department looks forward to implementing this plan to reduce sentences for certain incarcerated individuals. We have been in ongoing discussions with the Commission during its deliberations on this issue, and conveyed the department's support for this balanced approach. In the interest of fairness, it makes sense to apply changes to the sentencing guidelines retroactively, and the idea of a one-year implementation delay will adequately address public safety concerns by ensuring that judges have adequate time to consider whether an eligible individual is an appropriate candidate for a reduced sentence. At my direction, the Bureau of Prisons will begin notifying federal inmates of the opportunity to apply for a reduction in sentence immediately. This is a milestone in the effort to make more efficient use of our law enforcement resources and to ease the burden on our overcrowded prison system.”



From the FBI

The Transnational Gang Threat

Joining Forces to Meet the Challenge

community activists, social workers, and police officers from six Central American countries and the U.S. who had arrived in the nation's capital the previous day were now assembled at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door to the White House. Chatting in Spanish and English, they waited for the official start of a two-week training program with an innovative approach to dealing with the problem of transnational gangs.

The FBI-led initiative known as CACIE—the Central American Community Impact Exchange program—unites civic groups and law enforcement organizations to deter gang violence and criminal activity by helping to keep young people from joining gangs. This deterrence model stresses prevention in addition to police intervention, and the 22 CACIE participants are on the front lines of that effort.

The MS-13 and 18th Street gangs are entrenched in many parts of Central America and are notoriously violent. Gang members in their teens are responsible for kidnappings and extortion, trafficking of drugs and people, and brutal murders. Often, a young person must kill someone before being fully admitted into the gang. And these crimes don't heed borders.

“The White House recognizes that violent crime and the illicit flow of drugs and money across borders can be a threat to America's national security,” said George Selim, a member of the White House National Security Staff, which sponsors the CACIE initiative along with the FBI and the U.S. Department of State. “Community solutions, rather than government solutions,” Selim said during CACIE's opening ceremony in April, “are really the spirit behind this effort.”

The training program—the second since CACIE was established in 2013—brings together a cross-section of dedicated individuals involved in the fight against gangs. The goal is to share best practices about how to deter recruitment of gang members, whether through community-based after-school programs, police-sponsored youth corps, or other initiatives rooted in their respective communities. CACIE also promotes long-term partnerships between civic organizations and law enforcement agencies.

“We need to understand the enemy we are fighting,” said Jason Kaplan, the FBI's legal attaché in El Salvador. “Gang members do not pay attention to borders. So we need to develop lasting and meaningful relationships with our international partners to deal with the gang threat.” He added, “We have to establish programs to teach young people about the dangers of drugs and gangs and violent crimes. CACIE is all about prevention, and that is critical, because you can't arrest your way out of the gang problem.”

Following the opening events in Washington, D.C., CACIE participants spent time at the FBI's training facility in Quantico, Virginia; in Durham, North Carolina, to learn about prevention programs that are working; and in Guatemala, where a new emphasis is being placed on community policing to fight the gang threat.

On the first day of their training, Legal Attaché Kaplan encouraged CACIE participants from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, and the U.S. “to walk away from this experience with plenty of business cards and good ideas. Everyone involved in the fight against transnational gangs has to be assertive,” he said. “You will need to be champions for your countries and your communities, and for the young people who are growing up there right now.”

Fighting the Transnational Gang Threat on Many Fronts

Through its National Gang Task Force—with funding from the U.S. State Department's Central American Regional Security Initiative—the FBI supports a number of programs targeting transnational gangs. In addition to the Central American Community Impact Exchange, other programs include:

Transnational Anti-Gang (TAG) Unit: In coordination with our legal attachés, FBI agents lead teams of national police and prosecutors in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to investigate transnational criminal gang activity in the U.S. and Central America and to counter those activities.

Central American Fingerprint Exchange (CAFÉ): This program collects and stores criminal biometric data from Central American countries. Fingerprint records are added to the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division's general database, where they are accessible to local, state, and federal agencies in the U.S.

Criminal History Information Program (CHIP): The FBI provides the Salvadoran and Honduran National Police with the criminal information of non-U.S. citizen gang members deported from the U.S. back to their home countries.

Central American Law Enforcement Exchange (CALEE): This officer exchange program provides Central American and U.S. police officers with hands-on training that emphasizes operational techniques and current gang trends. CALEE encourages relationship-building and innovative approaches for gang investigations.

Central American Intelligence Program (CAIP): Provides U.S. and Central American law enforcement personnel best practices in the areas of collection, analysis, and dissemination of transnational gang intelligence.



Federal government moves to reduce sentences of 46,000 drug offenders

by Timothy M. Phelps

T he U.S. Sentencing Commission voted Friday to slash the sentences of 46,000 inmates serving time for drug offenses, the latest move by federal officials to ease decades-old policies that have clogged the nation's prisons.

If the decision is not blocked by Congress, nearly half of federal prisoners incarcerated for drug crimes will be eligible for sentence reductions averaging more than two years. It would take effect Nov. 1, 2015.

The commission decided in April to reduce future sentences. Friday's vote extends the same approach retroactively to those already serving time.

Atty. Gen Eric H. Holder Jr. originally asked the commission, a group of judges and other lawyers who establish sentencing policies, to take a much narrower approach that would affect 20,000 inmates.

Although Holder has been a strong advocate of sentence reductions, his more cautious approach on this issue reflected strong opposition from some prosecutors to reductions in sentences they had personally overseen, according to a Justice Department official who asked for anonymity in order to discuss the internal deliberations.

But the Justice Department was able to negotiate a compromise that postponed the effective date for a year, allowing a slower, more deliberate approach to weed out inappropriate candidates, the official said.

The change is likely to diminish but not eliminate the opposition within the ranks. “Some hard-liners still don't like this outcome,” the official said.

Holder said Friday that he supports the new policy. “This is a milestone in the effort to make more efficient use of our law enforcement resources and to ease the burden on our overcrowded prison system,” he said in a statement.

Judge Patti B. Saris, chairwoman of the commission, said: “This amendment received unanimous support from commissioners because it is a measured approach. It reduces prison costs and populations and responds to statutory and guidelines changes since the drug guidelines were initially developed, while safeguarding public safety.”

No prisoner would be released until a judge reviews the case to determine whether a reduced sentence poses a risk to public safety.

The House and Senate would have to vote by Nov. 1 to block the plan. But there has been bipartisan support in both chambers for a
broad change in prison policies, and Obama administration officials do not expect a concerted effort to change the commission's new policy.

The movement to reform prison policies has been taken up by Holder with great enthusiasm. But it started in states, including conservative states such as Texas, whose budgets were suffering from the cost of prison construction and housing thousands of inmates.




Local public safety officials prepare for 2015 World Police and Fire Games

International sporting event now less than one year out

by Gregg MacDonald

With less than a year to go before the 2015 World Police and Fire Games are expected to attract in excess of 30,000 visitors to Northern Virginia and the surrounding area, many local public safety officials are working behind the scenes to ensure the games' success.

Outnumbering even the Summer Olympics in terms of competitors, the first-responder-based athletic games — known locally as Fairfax 2015 — will play host to more than 12,000 police, fire and emergency official athletes as they take part in more than 60 sporting events.

The activities will take place in Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., and parts of Maryland, but officials say 80 percent of the games will be held in Fairfax County at various venues June 26-July 5, 2015.

George Mason University is slated to be a large part of the event, with its aquatics center, track and fieldhouse taking center stage.

“We will also be using GMU's baseball stadium,” said 2nd Lt. Tony Shobe of the Fairfax County Sheriff's Office, who is the director of sports for the games. “The suburban setting of Fairfax County presents some challenges because the events are somewhat spread out. Usually the games are held in more of a compact urban setting. Transporting the athletes in particular is challenging.”

The sheer number of events are keeping organizers on their feet.

“Team competitions will include everything from baseball, basketball, softball and soccer to flag football, volleyball, dodge ball, rugby and ice hockey while individuals will compete in tennis, golf, boxing, bowling, swimming, martial arts, running, wrestling, table tennis, darts and more,” said Bill Knight, Fairfax 2015 president and CEO.

Knight said a full slate of more career-oriented events for police, fire and emergency personnel will fill out the competition, including activities such as: SWAT team, muster, orienteering, dragon boat, honor guard, pistol and rifle games, biathlon, ultimate firefighter and Toughest Competitor Alive, among others.

Security is another major concern for organizers.

Major Richard Perez of the Fairfax County Police Department is in charge of security for the games.

“There are best practices and existing security templates for putting together security for a mega-event like this,” said Perez. “We don't disclose too much about the details, but I will say that our security will be comprehensive and will include community input, awareness and participation as well as participation from our federal, state and local law enforcement partners.”

Battalion Chief Jerome Williams of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Dept. and Lt. Bruce Blechl of the Fairfax County Police Dept. have worked together to bring the international games to Fairfax County for nine years.

“Jerome and I met as competitors during the 1999 games in Sweden,” said Blechl. “Our paths had never crossed locally, but we found out that we lived only a few miles from one another. We started working together to bring the games to Fairfax County, and in 2005, we put in a bid for the 2013 games and lost to Belfast, Ireland. We were encouraged to apply again, and then we won the bid for the 2015 games.”

Williams said hosting the games in his hometown is a dream come true.

“Our goal was always to bring the games to Fairfax County,” Williams said. “We wanted to showcase the area and represent both Fairfax County and the United States.”

The games are expected to generate between $80 and $100 million of economic activity to the National Capital Region. Barry Biggar, CEO of Visit Fairfax, said Fairfax County has never before hosted an event of this magnitude.

“It is certainly the single largest event we have ever seen,” he said. “The direct economic impact to the region is $80 million, but if you factor in the indirect economics such as the hundreds of extra people that local restaurants and hotels will employ during the games, and the money from those paychecks that will likely be spent here as well, the real figure is more like $100 million.”

Many other local public safety personnel are also working behind the scenes in a variety of disciplines.

“Producing an event of this magnitude requires an infrastructure that spans multiple disciplines, and we are proud of the team we have assembled to date,” Knight said. “Our social media division, headed by Fairfax County firefighter Craig Lueke, is already miles beyond any prior Games' effort. This bodes extremely well for attracting athletes and volunteers, both of whom comprise the fundamental core of our event.”

For more information about the games or to learn how to apply to be a volunteer, go to www.fairfax2015.com, or call 202-480-9734.



Malaysia Airlines Plane Brought Down by Missile in Ukraine: US Official


A surface-to-air missile struck a Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 298 people that went down Thursday in Ukraine near the Russian border, a U.S. official told ABC News.

The official said U.S. intelligence and analysis of the situation determined that it was a single missile that struck the Boeing 777-200 aircraft while at cruising altitude. It is unclear whether the missile was fired from inside Ukrainian or Russian territory and who fired it, the official added.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 283 passengers and 15 crew members. The airline had earlier said there were 280 passengers.

The pro-Russian separatists who control the area where the flight crashed have agreed to allow investigators safe access to the crash site to recover bodies and gather evidence, according to a statement from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Speaking in Detroit, Vice President Joe Biden said the plane had "been shot down, not an accident. Blown out of the sky."

"We see reports that there may have been American citizens on board," he added. "Obviously, that's our first concern. We're working every minute to try to confirm those reports as I speak."

It remains unclear if Americans were on board the flight. Officials said that 154 passengers were Dutch. In addition, according to the latest numbers released by the airline, 43 were Malaysian, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, 9 British, 4 Belgians, 4 Germans, 3 Filipinos and 1 Canadian. Nationalities of 41 other passengers remain unknown at this time.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak said the plane did not make any distress call. He said the route had been deemed safe by the International Civil Aviation Organization despite the ongoing fighting in Ukraine.

"If it transpires that the plane was indeed shot down, we insist that the perpetrators must swiftly be brought to justice," he added.

Earlier today, Ukrainian officials said a Russian missile shot down the passenger jet. Ukrainian authorities told U.S. Embassy officials that everyone was "believed dead" and that debris was spread out over a 10-mile path near the town of Hrabove in the district of Shakhtars'k.

"According to the General Staff of Ukrainian Armed Forces, the airplane was shot down by the Russian Buk missile system as the liner was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters [33,000 feet]," the statement added. "Ukraine has no long-range air defense missile systems in this area. The plane was shot down, because the Russian air defense systems was affording protection to Russian mercenaries and terrorists in this area. Ukraine will present the evidence of Russian military involvement into the Boeing crash."

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko later added, "We are not calling it an accident, or a disaster, but an act of terrorism."

The plane had left Amsterdam at 12:15 p.m. (local time) and was estimated to arrive in Kuala Lampur International Airport on Friday at 6:10 a.m. (local time), according to Malaysia Airlines.

In a tweet soon after the plane went down, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, "Condolences to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in connection with the crash of a passenger aircraft in Ukraine."

A Kremlin statement said Putin opened a meeting with his economic advisers by calling for a moment of silence over the crash.

"This tragedy would not have happened if there were peace on this land, if the military actions had not been renewed in southeast Ukraine," he said. "And, certainly, the state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedy."

President Obama, at an event in Delaware this afternoon, said, "Obviously, the world is watching reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia-Ukraine border. And it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy. Right now, we're working to determine whether there were American citizens on board. That is our first priority, and I've directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian government."

Obama added that the U.S. "will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why. And as a country, our thoughts and prayers are with all the families of the passengers, wherever they call home."

This is the second Malaysia Air plane to be involved

in a crash this year. On March 8, Malaysia Air Flight MH370 vanished with

239 people on board after it took off from Kuala Lampur bound for Beijing.

Malaysian officials said the plane disappeared somewhere in the Southern Indian

Ocean, but no wreckage has ever been recovered.



A Glimpse of Lives Lost: Passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

by Daniel Stacey, Kathy Chu, Stephen Bell and Celine Fernandez

SYDNEY—The passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 included a Dutch senator, a renowned AIDS activist and a yachting enthusiast leading his three grandchildren home for the start of a new school semester.

They joined a mix of tourists, global health officials and two-continent families linked to the Dutch colonization of Indonesia on the plane's final journey before it crashed in eastern Ukraine on Thursday.

The plane was carrying 283 passengers and 15 crew members when it went down, apparently struck by an unidentified ground-to-air missile, with at least 173 of the victims from the Netherlands. The flight manifest also included passengers from as far afield as New Zealand, Canada and the Philippines.

It wasn't immediately clear if any Americans were on board. Malaysia Airlines officials said the nationalities of some passengers was still unknown.

Dutch Sen. Willem Witteveen was among those onboard, the Dutch Senate said on its website. Mr. Witteveen, a member of the Labor Party, was installed in the Senate in January 2013 after serving his first term from 1999 to 2007.

Another well-known person onboard was Joep Lange, a globally recognized AIDS activist who formerly served as president of the International Aids Society.

Mr. Lange was due to chair a panel Sunday afternoon at a major international AIDS conference in Melbourne, Australia, called "A Frank Dialogue on the Future of HIV Treatment: All the Way from the Factory to the Patient," looking at aggressive strategies to increase the use of antiretroviral treatments in poor countries.

Yet as with any international flight, the plane was packed with people from all walks of life. Ninik Yuriani, 56, an Indonesian-born passenger, was traveling to visit her 86-year-old mother in the small Central Java town of Wonosobo, to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday later this month, her younger sister said Friday morning.

Ms. Yuriani moved to the Netherlands 17 years ago with her only daughter to look for a better future, said Enny Nuraheni. She worked as a supermarket cashier and taught Indonesian dance in Amsterdam.

She worked as a supermarket cashier and taught Indonesian dance in Amsterdam.

"She sent me messages through WhatsApp a few days ago, asking me to pick her up at the airport in Jakarta at 9:15 a.m. today," Ms. Nuraheni said.

Another passenger, Albert Rizk, was returning home from a European vacation that he been looking forward to after 70-hour weeks as a real-estate agent and director at Raine & Horne in Sunbury, Australia, a Melbourne suburb of around 33,000 people.

For Mr. Rizk and his wife, Marie, this was their big once-a-year trip with close friends, with stops in Germany and Switzerland before heading home to see their two grown children. Mr. Rizk was expected back at work on Monday.

On Friday, friends and community members stopped into the real-estate office where he worked to drop off flowers and share memories of the Rizks, who had been a fixture of the working-class area, according to Ken Grech, a director at Raine & Horne, who has known Mr. Rizk for 34 years.

Mr. Grech said that the Rizks tried to change their flight to take an earlier one their friends were booked on to avoid a long layover in Kuala Lumpur. When they weren't able to do so, their friends tried unsuccessfully to get seats on Flight 17 to fly home with them.

Yachting enthusiast Nick Norris was wrapping up his own European vacation when he boarded Flight 17 with his three grandchildren to ensure they returned to Western Australia in time for the start of the new school semester.

His daughter, Rin Norris, and her partner, Anthony Maslin, planned to stay in the Netherlands a while longer before returning home to join 8-year-old Otis, 10-year-old Evie and 12-year-old Mo in the southern suburbs of Perth.

News of their deaths was relayed to Rin and Anthony in Amsterdam, according to staff at the South of Perth Yacht Club where Mr. Norris sailed with his wife, Lindy.

Sister Philomene Tiernan, a 77-year-old nun who taught at a school in the affluent Sydney suburb of Rose Bay, was returning from a three-month sabbatical in Europe that included taking a theology course in Ireland. She also made trips to the U.K. and France to pay tribute to some of her heroes in the Society of the Sacred Heart, including Madeleine Sophie Barat, who founded it more than 200 years ago.

"She was so excited about her trip," Hilary Johnston-Croke, the principal of Kincoppal–Rose Bay School, told The Wall Street Journal. "Some of our senior students have been telling stories about her and they just can't believe they'll never see her again."

Relatives were also mourning lost loved ones in Malaysia. Akmar Mohd Noor said her sister was flying home from Geneva to join her family for Hari Raya, the celebrations to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"She was coming back from Geneva to celebrate with us for the first time in 30 years," Ms. Akmar told reporters.

A cousin of plane captain Wan Amran Wan Hussin said the pilot sent his wife a WhatsApp message shortly before the plane left Amsterdam saying he would be home soon.

The cousin, who only identified herself as Ms. Umi and who spoke to reporters at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, said she had come to the airport with Mr. Amran's widow and children. She said his older son, who is 10 years old, understood what was going on but that the younger son, who is 8, seemed confused.

She said she saw Mr. Amran a month ago and that he spoke of the tragedy of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared on March 8.

Possibly the largest group of passengers was a collection of public-health officials en route to the international AIDS conference in Melbourne. The event was expected to attract 12,000 participants, with speeches by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and pop icon Bob Geldof.

One of the health officials, Jacqueline van Tongeren, was excited to be in business class, messaging her good friend and art collector Han Nefkens in Barcelona moments before takeoff to tell him what was on the menu. She was looking forward to trying the Asian cuisine not served on her usual airline choice, Mr. Nefkens said.

Ms. Van Tongeren, a companion of Mr. Lange, the well-known AIDs researcher, had chosen a cheaper business-class fare on Malaysia Airlines, Mr. Nefkens said.

Among those due to meet Mr. Lange was longtime colleague David Cooper, director of the Kirby Institute, an institute specializing in HIV/AIDS research at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

Mr. Cooper described Mr. Lang as a reflective companion who would take him to Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum to look at the works of Russian futurist Kazimir Malevich. Mr. Lange was an avid reader of humanist literature by the likes of Portuguese Nobel laureate José Saramago, Mr. Cooper said.

Mr. Cooper said Mr. Lange was also a firebrand who stood up to pharmaceutical companies, governments and universities in his quest to treat HIV/AIDS in low-income communities across Europe and Africa. Mr. Lange soon made a name for himself by advocating for drugs like AZT to be combined with others for a more effective and less toxic therapy. Along the way, he debunked some of the less-effective antiretroviral drugs rushed to market.

"He was never afraid to speak his mind to anyone," Mr. Cooper said. He also worked with Dutch companies like Heineken International and Royal Dutch Shell PLC to raise money to distribute anti-HIV drugs, he said.

Others took to Twitter to express their sadness at Mr. Lange's death. Seema Yasmin, a medical doctor based in Dallas, recalled how Mr. Lange would often cook for his five daughters while discussing AIDS on conference calls.

"I asked him why he worked so much," Ms. Yasmin said in a Twitter posting. "He said: 'Do you know how much it costs to buy shoes for five girls?' He was a kind man and a true humanitarian."

The Melbourne event was also supposed to be an opportunity for Mr. Lange to catch up with Thai expert Praphan Phanuphak, who carried out Thailand's first clinical trial for an AIDS vaccine in the 1990s. Mr. Lange, Mr. Cooper and Mr. Praphan established the HIV Netherlands Australia Thailand Research Collaboration, or HIVNAT, in 1996.

On yearly retreats with the HIVNAT staff to Thai resort towns such as Pattaya, Mr. Lange would host long dinners which started with passionate speeches and ended with the doctors breaking into impromptu Dutch ballads, Mr. Praphan recalled.

A few months ago, Mr. Lange visited Bangkok to check in on HIVNAT. He pledged to help more local doctors study in Amsterdam, and talked about new drugs. But the old friends barely had time to reminisce because Mr. Lange had to rush back to Amsterdam, Mr. Praphan said.

A week ago, they hatched a plan by email to go to a Dutch embassy reception in Melbourne on Tuesday, and then leave early to enjoy a private dinner and catch up, Mr. Praphan said.




Vancouver community policing program seeks volunteers, will hold training academy in fall

by Susan Green

The Vancouver Police Department is looking for volunteers to join the Neighbors on Watch (NOW) program. The department will accept applications through July 23 for its fall NOW training academy.

NOW volunteers are a "force multiplier" for the police department, the department says, creating a high visibility presence in the city's neighborhoods.

NOW patrol volunteers receive specialized training to assist police.

The volunteers are non-confrontational and do not carry weapons. They carry police radios and patrol neighborhoods, parks, trails, and retail/business areas; keeping an eye out for suspicious activity or problem areas which they then report to the police for follow-up. NOW volunteers also assist with: distributing fliers; in canvassing for missing children and vulnerable adults; detecting and reporting stolen vehicles; and patrolling at community events.

Volunteers patrol in their own vehicles, on bikes and on foot throughout the city of Vancouver. Volunteers always patrol in pairs.

The training academy begins in mid-September. It runs one night a week for eight weeks and one Saturday.

NOW volunteers must be at least 21, live in the city of Vancouver and commit to patrolling at least four hours a month. The screening process includes a criminal background investigation, fingerprints, interviews and a reference check. Applications and more information can be found at the department's webpage or from volunteer coordinator Kelly Cheney at 360-487-7467.

NOW currently includes 112 volunteers who have given more than 39,000 hours to crime prevention and public safety since the program began in 2008, organizers said.




Increased patrols paying off in downtown Johnson City

by Becky Campbell

When 911 received a call about two men walking through the Downtown Square parking lot checking door handles for unlocked vehicles early Wednesday morning, Johnson City Police Officer Mark Williams was already nearby.

When the caller also reported the two men had fled in a vehicle and fired a shot as they left the parking lot, he made a traffic stop and subsequent arrest.

The fast response is an example of what the JCPD is trying to do to curb crime in the downtown area, Chief Mark Sirois said. In fact, he said police efforts have actually driven down violent crime in the area. But that doesn't mean violent crimes are not committed, he said.

“The officer was nearby and he saw the vehicle, based on the description, and pulled over the vehicle,” Sirois said.

Regular patrol units, as well as the department's Community Policing Unit, are doing numerous extra patrols in the downtown area. Community Policing can operate on overtime for officers under the Targeted Community Crime Reduction Project, which focuses efforts on downtown Johnson City and the Mountain Home area, Sirois said.

“This worked well in that they were close by,” he said.

And as it turned out, police were able to remove a convicted felon from the streets of Johnson City. It's not the first time Community Policing officers have helped solve crimes in downtown, he said.

Dylan Coty Torrance, 22, Gainesville, Ga., was arrested after the incident at the Downtown Square parking lot on West State of Franklin Road near South Roan Street.

Police found the vehicle as it exited the parking lot onto State of Franklin and stopped it. Officers found a gun in the SUV and a fired shell casing at the scene. Police said the casing matched the caliber of the gun in the SUV.

Torrance was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, reckless endangerment and public intoxication. He was jailed in the Washington County Detention Center on $20,500 bond and was arraigned Thursday in Sessions Court. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing later this month.

Sirois said while police strive for proactive enforcement, “we can't be everywhere. We can be on one block in an area and something could happen just out of our line of vision further down the block,” he said.

“Had officers been there, hopefully it would have served as a deterrent. In this particular instance, as we always do, we depend on the community,” he said.

As for Torrance possessing a gun, Sirois said convicted felons don't' have much of a problem getting guns illegally.

One thing Johnson City has done to help combat that situation is sending those charges to federal court using a special federal prosecutor whose job is to prosecute cases arising in Johnson City.

“For armed career criminals, we get them up at the federal level for prosecution. In doing that, we're able to get much more stringent sentencing at the federal level than can get at the state level,” he said.

That program was in jeopardy several weeks ago when city leaders only funded half the $80,000 for the position.

“The (City) Commission went ahead and funded $40,000 for 2015. That's half of it and we already had a $19,000 Department of Justice grant that is designated for the special prosecutor. We have also applied for a $21,000 grant that would make $40,000 to go with what the commission funded,” he said.

“That has been a benefit for us for a number of years now. That might be contributing to the downturn in crime,” he said. “The public has concerns about its safety. Our job is to do the very best we can to provide a safe and secure environment. That is what we focus on. If you look at crime rate over time, it has been dropping over several years.”

Homicides in Johnson City, for the most part, involve people who know each other in a domestic manner or who have had problems with each other.

“As far as prevention of homicides, all we can do is provide the best service we can as far as visibility,” he said.

“We've had some pretty good arrests, pretty good visibility down there and had good feedback from people who work and live in the downtown area.”




Federal judge rules California's death penalty unconstitutional

by The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – A federal judge ruled California's death penalty unconstitutional Wednesday, writing that lengthy and unpredictable delays have resulted in an arbitrary and unfair capital punishment system.

The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney represents a legal victory for those who want to abolish the death penalty in California and follows a similar ruling that has suspended executions in the state for eight years.

Carney, in a case brought by a death row inmate against the warden of San Quentin state prison, called the death penalty an empty promise that violates the Eighth Amendment's protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

"Inordinate and unpredictable delay has resulted in a death penalty system in which very few of the hundreds of individuals sentenced to death have been, or even will be, executed by the State," wrote Carney, a George W. Bush appointee.

He noted that death penalty appeals can last decades and as a result most condemned inmates are likely to die of natural causes before their executions are carried out.

Carney also wrote that since the current death penalty system was adopted by California voters 35 years ago, more than 900 people have been sentenced to death, but only 13 have been executed.

"As for the random few for whom execution does become a reality, they will have languished for so long on Death Row that their execution will serve no retributive or deterrent purpose and will be arbitrary," the judge stated.

Gil Garcetti, a former Los Angeles County district attorney, who has become an anti-death penalty activist called the ruling "truly historic."

"It further proves that the death penalty is broken beyond repair," he said, calling for capital punishment to be replaced with "with life in prison without the possibility of parole."

Carney's ruling came in a legal petition brought by Ernest Dewayne Jones, sentenced to die in 1994 after being convicted of murdering and raping his girlfriend's mother.

Jones remains on death row "with complete uncertainty as to when, or even whether, it will ever come," the judge wrote, adding, "Mr. Jones is not alone."

Carney's ruling could be appealed by the governor or state attorney general, who both oppose the death penalty. For now, Jones will likely remain on death row.

Carney noted that "arbitrary factors" such as the manner in which paperwork is handled are what "determine whether an individual will actually be executed."

Another federal judge put California's death penalty on hold in 2006 when he ruled the state's lethal injection procedures needed overhaul.

The judge found that the state's procedures created too much risk that an inmate would suffer extreme pain while being executed. At that time, lethal injections were carried out in San Quentin's old gas chamber, which the judge found too cramped, too dark and too old for prison staff to properly administer execution drugs.

Since then, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has built a new execution chamber on the grounds of San Quentin in Northern California and made a number of changes to its procedures to address the judge's concerns.

A new federal judge has taken over the case and has not ruled on whether those changes are enough to restart executions.

Additionally, the corrections department is drafting a new set of regulations for administering lethal injections. No executions can take place until the new rules are formally adopted.




Answers About Immigration Checkpoints


The arrest of a prominent immigration activist and former journalist at a Texas airport was a reminder of the latitude that the U.S. Border Patrol has in conducting checkpoints.

Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize winner, was detained at the McAllen/Miller International Airport in south Texas this week after being questioned about his citizenship status while visiting the region to attend vigils related to the Central American immigration surge. For many who do not live in border states, the idea of being asked for immigration status while flying within the U.S. seems foreign. Here are some details about why and how the U.S. Border Patrol operates in airports and locations along the country's border.


Border Patrol agents who work at airports within 100 miles of the border are often in plain clothes and work closely with Transportation Security Administration agents to monitor people, even those who are flying within the country. Agents don't typically have offices within the airport, and the Border Patrol will not say how many agents staff airports at any given time.

But they are there.

They check passports, green cards, and other forms of identification while standing over the shoulder of a TSA agent. Essentially, agents are on the lookout for suspicious behavior such as extreme nervousness or appearing to be lost. If an agent sees that such a person presents a green card but looks nervous, the agent would likely question that person. The agent would ask questions such as where the person's mother was born and how long it's been since they entered the country to determine whether the ID they are using is counterfeit.

In the case of Antonio Vargas, Border Patrol agents were standing alongside TSA personnel at the McAllen/Miller International Airport, which is only a few miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, when the activist tried going through. Vargas does not have a government-issued U.S. identification card, and uses a passport issued by his native Philippines. He was arrested after telling an agent that he was in the country illegally. Vargas was released Tuesday on his own recognizance with a notice to appear before an immigration judge.


Yes. The border patrol has dozens of in-land checkpoints around the Southwest and in northern states such as Washington. The checkpoints can be within 100 air miles of the country's border. They are usually located on highways and small roads. For example, there is a makeshift checkpoint on a two-lane road just outside a small Arizona town called Arivaca, where residents are protesting the border patrol's presence. The town is 20 miles from the border.

Arivaca residents, regardless of their citizenship and immigration status, must pass through the checkpoint every time they leave town, which is regularly because the town does not have schools or a large grocery store and many residents work outside the town. They are asked whether they are U.S. citizens. The ACLU says the border patrol can only briefly detain travelers, and they cannot use checkpoints for "general crime control."


Checkpoints are clearly marked. All people who drive through a checkpoint are asked to reveal whether they are U.S. citizens — that is not the case at airports. And while agents at checkpoints are in full uniform, those at airports are more likely to be in plain clothes. One thing they have in common: They use the study of behaviors to determine whether someone might be without legal status or committing a crime. And both are used more as deterrents than they are for catching criminals.


A: There are two immigration agencies that operate at airports. One is Customs and Border Protection, which places agents at all international airports. The other is the U.S. Border Patrol, which falls under the umbrella of CBP. Border Patrol agents work mostly in airports that are within 100 miles of the border. Customs agents use an electronic system to determine whether someone is legally allowed to travel into the United States, and they are the agents travelers typically see when they return from overseas trips.


A: Border agents must have "reasonable suspicion" to detain someone at airport and road checkpoints. For example, if a driver passed through a checkpoint and said he or she was a U.S. citizen but appeared to be very nervous, an agent could have reasonable suspicion that the person is lying and could question them further. If questions are not answered sufficiently and the person cannot prove his or her legal status, an agent is able to place them under arrest, process them and turn them over to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, a separate agency.

Agents often use body language to determine whether someone is acting suspiciously. They're not allowed to racially profile, but agents often become suspicious if the person they encounter does not speak English or has a thick, non-English accent. Civil rights groups argue that racial profiling at checkpoints is inevitable because there are very few other indicators an agent could use to determine culpability.




Holyoke's impoverished areas to get extra police, graffiti-cleaning help thanks to Olde Holyoke Development Corp, donors

by Mike Plaisance

HOLYOKE -- Jose Alvarado outlined the problem and it involved money.

Alvarado, 45, who said he is a former member of the La Familia street gang, said he now works as a street outreach worker. A teen-ager must feel opportunities exist or crime could lure him or her, he said, at a meeting Wednesday that Olde Holyoke Development Corp. held to discuss quality-of-life steps.

"Drug dealer is going to offer him $1,000. What can I offer him?" said Alvarado, who works for Holyoke Safe & Successful Youth Initiative , a state-funded program at 63 Jackson St.

Michael J. Moriarty, Olde Holyoke president, said the latest initiative was a small step to use grant money and donations to fund extra police patrols, remove graffiti from buildings and walls, clean alleys and do minor repairs like fixing park benches.

"I wish I could tell you I had something large behind this, but that's not the case," Moriarty said, in the meeting attended by more than a dozen people at the Holyoke Public Library, 250 Chestnut St.

But, said Moriarty and others, such efforts are important for their cumulative effect.

"We're not the whole puzzle. We're a piece of the puzzle," Moriarty said.

Olde Holyoke Development, a private nonprofit housing provider, held the meeting to outline the program, which includes seeking financial donations, and hear residents' suggestions.

Moriarty said a quality-of-life fund has about $28,000. It consist of $10,000 from the city through the Community Development Block Grant program, $5,000 from Olde Holyoke and donations, he said.

The goal is to address problem spots within the Downtown-Prospect Heights, Flats, South Holyoke, Churchill, Springdale and Oakdale neighborhoods this summer, said Jerry Hobert, Quality of Life Fund coordinator for Olde Holyoke Development.

These areas would get an additional 150 hours of police foot patrols, clean 1,000 square feet of surfaces tagged with graffiti, do weekly alley cleanups and do at least two small public infrastructure repairs a week, he said.

"We're going to make this work," Hobert said.

Marisa Martinez said she lives in the Flats and deals with its residents through her ties to social-service and faith-based agencies. She asked if resources were available to help residents with crisis intervention.

Moriarty said the effort with its limited budget likely must stick to extra police patrols and graffiti and trash clean up.

Holyoke Police Sgt. John P. Hart said at the meeting that police are being trained on crisis intervention with a grant. The funding through the state Department of Mental Health helps equip police officers with crisis resolution and de-escalation skills when responding to persons with emotional disturbances, officials have said.

Also, said Hart, police use the community policing van that parks in problem areas and opens to let officers chat with residents and maintain a presence. Police also have established ties with groups that work in such neighborhoods like River Valley Counseling, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holyoke and CareerPoint, he said.

Gladys Lebron-Martinez, the city councilor for Ward 1, said the discussion could open ways to other kinds of help.

Perhaps police in arresting prostitutes can give them brochures for counseling services, she said. Such steps might have little effect at first but could help in stopping the revolving door that leads to such women after their arrests returning to selling themselves, she said.

"I think that's what needs to be done," Lebron-Martinez said.

Henry LaFortune works for the Hampden County Sheriff's Department as the Ward 1 neighborhood crime watch coordinator. Numerous small steps can improve neighborhoods like Ward 1, he said, and such efforts at least are better than people pointing fingers of blame at each other.

"I call it 'Ward Wonderful' because I think it can be a great place. I grew up on North Bridge Street," LaFortune said.



New Jersey

Bloods allegedly threaten to gun down Jersey City cops assigned to Pulaski Skyway in wake of Officer Melvin Santiago's shooting

Jersey City Public Safety Director James Sheathe dismissed the alleged threats as 'ridiculous,' saying that cops are maintaining a normal alertness level.

by Thomas Tracy

Jersey City police continue to make plans to ward off possible violence from Blood gang members, even as a city official Wednesday said the alleged threats were “ridiculous.”

The Bloods vowed to shoot more cops after career criminal Lawrence Campbell, 27, was gunned down outside a Walgreens in Jersey City Sunday.

Campbell fatally shot Officer Melvin Santiago, 23, as the rookie scrambled to get out of his car.

That prompted other officers to open fire, killing Campbell. The brave cop's wake is Thursday and his funeral Mass will be held Friday.

An internal memo circulated by Jersey City police and obtained by the Daily News warns that the Bloods are planning to shoot cops assigned to oversee construction work on the Pulaski Skyway.

“The cops targeted are those working the DOT Skyway Detail single-man unit,” said the memo.

The Bloods' evil plot included plans to shoot Jersey City EMTS as well because they know they'll rush to the scene the minute a call goes out for an officer down.

“The Bloods are stashing AK-47's in whatever abandoned houses/apartments etc. between Grant and Orient Avenues on MLK Dr,” the memo said.

Cops have been told to respond to calls in pairs. The Port Authority has also been tapped to help with extra manpower for Santiago's wake and funeral.

Jersey City's mayor plans to shut down major streets for both events as well.

But at least one city official found the concern over the Bloods' alleged threats a bit over the top.

According to remarks made to The Jersey Journal and published online at NJ.com, Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea wasn't quaking in his boots.

“The idea that (the Bloods) are an organized group that could send people from city to city is ridiculous,” he told The Jersey Journal, scoffing at the notion that out-of-town gang members will put on a show of solidarity amid criminality.

“Anybody I've ever met who self identifies himself as a Blood is lucky he could tie his shoes, at a mental level,” Shea said.

Jersey City police are maintaining the same level of alertness as usual, he said.

“Everything has been taken out of context here,” Shea said.



New Jersey

Jersey City Public Safety Director questions Bloods' ability to coordinate attacks on cops

by The Jersey Journal

Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea dismissed a recent threat that gang members throughout the state will travel to Jersey City to kill police officers, calling it "ridiculous."

Police across the state are on high alert following an internal New Jersey State Police advisory warning that Bloods gang members might be traveling to Jersey City to target police officers.

While Shea, who oversees the city's police and fire departments, confirmed that the advisory was indeed authentic, he questioned the credibility of the threat and the capacity of the gang coordinating in such a way.

“The idea that they [the Bloods] are an organized group that could send people from city to city is ridiculous,” he told The Jersey Journal today. “Anybody I've ever met who self identifies himself as a Blood is lucky he could tie his shoes, at a mental level.”

This all comes in the aftermath of Jersey City Police Officer Melvin Santiago's death. Santiago was fatally shot in a Walgreens parking lot Sunday morning after responding to a report of an armed robbery at the store, before police shot and killed the gunman authorities said.

“Everything has been taken out of context here,” Shea said during the exclusive interview with The Jersey Journal this afternoon.

Officials said the police officer, who put a version of the memo on Facebook, will be disciplined.

“Every time police officers leave on a job there is potential danger, as Melvin Santiago's death at the hands of this cowardly murderer tragically reminds us," Shea said. "What happened here is one member of our force put the threat out on social media where it was viewed by people who do not have the context to view it and judge it for what it is and they took it at face value.”

Shea added that despite the memo, officers are on the same level of alertness that they always maintain.

“The police officers in the West [District] going out on patrol feel the same way as when they went out, other than with sadness and grief, the same way as when they went out on patrol the day before Officer Santiago's death,” he said.

“We have found no credible corroboration. We've received several vague threats against police. We have received no credible corroboration to them and most have already been washed out.”




Public safety director: Violence an emergency

by Katie Heinz

INDIANAPOLIS - The city's director of public safety said the wave of violence in Indianapolis may soon become an emergency.

Troy Riggs said if crime isn't an emergency in the city now, it is awfully close to being one. He said he was especially concerned looking at next year and five or ten years down the road.

Riggs said one critical way to stop the violence is comprehensive action on the young people of Indianapolis. He said the department is seeing a growing number of younger suspects carrying a weapon and getting involved in violence.

Riggs and Mayor Greg Ballard have testified at the Statehouse for 20-year mandatory minimum sentences for people who commit a felony while using a gun.

Riggs pointed to two murders in 2014 that he says would not have happened if the sentences were in place.

He said that is only one major step in curbing crime and the community needs to find more ways to help young people.

"We're seeing a lot more younger suspects who are getting involved in violence. We're hearing from the pastors on the streets that are saying younger and younger people are carrying weapons. They say they used to talk to individuals being people of the cloth and they had a respect for them -- they're saying that they don't even have respect from a significant number of young people today," Riggs said.

Riggs says the community needs to try to get young people help. Otherwise, he said the city's future will grow increasingly difficult.




Arizona Residents Protest Arrival of Undocumented Immigrant Children

by M. Alex Johnson

With dozens of undocumented immigrant children expected to arrive Tuesday morning at a secluded boys camp in the Arizona mountains, protesters will gather to greet the federal buses i n a potential replay of this month's demonstrations in Murrieta, California — with the support of the local sheriff.

Citing "whistleblowers" at the Department of Homeland Security, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said in a statement and at a public forum that 40 to 60 youths were expected at Sycamore Canyon Academy in Oracle, near Tucson.

DHS didn't respond to requests for comment, but Ike Shipman, executive director of the academy — a state-licensed private facility that houses and treats youths at risk of delinquency or substance abuse — confirmed that "a small number of unaccompanied youth from Central and South America" would be arriving Tuesday.

Shipman told NBC News by email that the academy wasn't taking a position on the immigration debate. The youths are being accepted for temporary housing pending placements with sponsoring families or deportation because "our mission is to improve the lives of youth, and we will continue to fulfill our mission by focusing on our work with children," he said.

As many as 500 demonstrators were expected to be there Tuesday morning to protest the children's arrival, said Robert Skiba, a 50+-year resident of Oracle who's organizing the protest.

Tuesday's demonstration is "going to draw a lot of people," Skiba told NBC News, saying he strongly objected to the "secrecy" of the arrangement.

Residents didn't learn of the undocumented immigrants' placement from the federal government. They learned about it through the statement from Babeu, the local sheriff, who objected that "we don't need unaccompanied juveniles from Central America being flown into Arizona compliments of President Obama."

Skiba told NBC News on Monday: "We're supposed to be having a transparent government, but this deal was cut in the cover of darkness. They never offered to have a public meeting and answer questions.

But even if federal authorities had reached out to him and kept him apprised every step of the way, Skiba said, "I don't think there's anything that would allow us to say this is a good idea."

Oracle is a town of about 3,700 people adjacent to Oracle State Park, with Mount Lemmon towering majestically almost 2 miles high in the background. It's a "pristine, beautiful scenic area" where the government plans to "jam these 40 kids into a very small, confined space," Skiba said.

"Who knows who these boys are, whether they're choirboys or MS-13 gang members?" Skiba said, referring to the infamous Central American Mara Salvatrucha gangs that traffic in drugs, arms and human beings.

"We've got to close that border and keep this kind of thing from happening," he said. "If I was a jihadi terrorist and I wanted to get into America, this is the way to do it, because there's no one watching the store."

The planned demonstration is reminiscent of this month's angry protests in Murrieta, California, where protesters waited for hours in the blistering sun for buses after Customs and Border Protection said it might transfer some undocumented immigrants from facilities in Texas to Murrieta. The buses were blocked by the protesters and rerouted to a U.S.-Mexican border station.

Federal facilities, many of them in Texas, have been swamped by more than 50,000 unaccompanied children who have poured across the border since October — a human tide that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said mean s the government needs even more temporary detention space to bring about "faster, more efficient removals" of undocumented immigrant children.

"We're sending the message that most unaccompanied kids who come to this country will not qualify for any form of humanitarian relief," Johnson told reporters Monday in Washington.

"The message that I and others have been sending is that our borders are not open to illegal migration," he said. "We will send you back."



Will Deporting Central American Kids Faster Keep Them From Coming?

by Jill Replogle

Lawmakers think speeding up deportations for Central American children who cross the border illegally without an adult will help stanch the flow that has brought more than 40,000 of them here since last October.

Southern California Republican Congressmen Duncan Hunter, Darrell Issa and Ken Calvert recently introduced a bill that would allow the government to do that. (Other legislators are planning similar legislation .)

Under current law, the U.S. can deport Mexican children who crossed the border illegally much faster than children who are from countries that don't share a border with us.

In a statement, Issa said: “By promptly returning them home to their loved ones it sends a clear message that will discourage other children from making this dangerous trip.”

But some experts have doubts.

“They'll come back,” Ev Meade, director of the University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute, said.

“If they know they face a more immediate deportation from the United States, when they come back they'll use a more expensive smuggler, take a more dangerous route and they'll actually try and evade law enforcement. We could take a crisis and make it a whole lot worse,” Meade said.

NPR's Carrie Kahn recently interviewed 12 Guatemalan children as they disembarked from a flight full of deportees from the U.S. All of them told her they planned to try again.

In the Rio Grande Valley, Border Patrol agents report that migrant children are seeking them out once they cross into the U.S. in order to turn themselves in.

Creating a cat and mouse scenario involving armed border agents, unscrupulous smugglers and young children could be deadly — especially when the most remote routes are the most unforgiving.

“Particularly in the summertime, [this] can mean kids dying in the desert,” Meade said. “And it puts a lot more stress on Border Patrol agents if they're actually having to chase down people who are trying to evade them.”

Here's the full interview with Meade (edited and condensed for clarity):

Issa and other members of Congress want to amend the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. What exactly does that law say about immigrant children travelling alone who cross the border illegally?

It said that unaccompanied minors from non-contiguous countries (countries other than Mexico and Canada) could only be removed or deported by an order of an immigration judge. What happens to many unaccompanied Mexican children is that they fill out a standard questionnaire and are interviewed by a Border Patrol agent or at the port of entry by a CBP (Customs and Border Protection) officer. If the officer determines that they don't likely have a right to stay in the U.S., they are immediately removed from the country without seeing a judge in a process called voluntary departure.

The other kids are put in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, and their immigration proceedings go on like any other removal proceedings for anyone in the United States. When you have an immigration system like we do now, with a backlog of over 360,000 cases, that means that their cases take a really long time before they are ever adjudicated.

The TVPRA (Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthoritzation Act) of 2008 also simplified the process of applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status — a form of relief available to kids who've been abused, neglected or abandoned.

How is the law relevant to this current wave of Central American children crossing the border illegally without adults?

I would say that, while the legislators didn't anticipate the present crisis, the forms of violence that kids are fleeing, particularly on their journey through Mexico, fit the international definitions of trafficking in persons, and thus the kinds of protections afforded by the TVPRA are entirely appropriate and shouldn't be gutted.

Think about the San Fernando massacre in 2010, where criminals kidnapped and executed 72 Central American migrants passing through Tamaulipas. The sole survivor, and the person who alerted the authorities, was an unaccompanied teenager from Ecuador.

And these protections under the TVPRA don't apply to Mexican kids?

Yeah, well, it's a tricky question. They don't have to apply. In that initial screening with law enforcement on the border, if law enforcement thinks, for example, that a child from Mexico is a victim of trafficking or that they may face persecution in their own country, or have a possible asylum case, they can enter the federal unaccompanied minor program and be put into our custody. And if you look at the program's website, you will see that they do have a small percentage of Mexican children within their population.

It's just that the vast majority of Mexican kids are immediately returned to Mexico.

So why was the law changed in 2008 to require Central American and other non-Mexican kids to appear before an immigration judge?

The change was made because of a bunch of concerns that children who might have been victims of serious crimes were removed from the U.S. without any serious scrutiny of their cases. I think that some of this is, in part, due to law enforcement's recognition that it was really hard in an initial screening to make that determination.

Some of it was anecdotal evidence from immigration lawyers who ended up representing someone's case pro-bono who didn't really show all the signs of being a trafficking victim or being a crime victim, or being abused, neglected and abandoned, or any of the other avenues for relief they have under U.S. law. But once the lawyer built a rapport and got to know a child, the stories kind of came tumbling out.

And not only were most of them not represented by counsel, but they didn't have their parents or family members to represent them, either. They're basically standing alone in front of immigration officials. In a case like that, everyone thought it was better — much, much better — and provided much better protection for children to have to get a removal order from an immigration judge in the United States.

What do you think the consequences would be of putting Central American kids in the same category as Mexican kids, and looking to deport them immediately?

Well, I think what would happen is that border agents might end up removing a bunch of kids who might actually, under current U.S. law, have a pretty good claim to remain here. I don't want to prejudge their screenings, because it may be that they try to put in other procedural requirements that slow the process down a little bit. But I think that you can assume that there would be people who have valid asylum claims, who might be victims of trafficking or violent crime, and might be abused, neglected, and abandoned, who are removed without that ever coming out.

What message do you think sending Central American kids back more quickly will send to others in those countries?

This is the key point, I think. The logic of the policy change is deterrence. The idea is that once people in Central America see a few planeloads of kids coming back, the word will get around that they won't be welcomed in the United States, and in fact, be returned more quickly. That's the operating principle that the president has laid down and most — even his critics — in Congress are on the same page.

The problem is that everything we know from the migration phenomenon, and everything we know about kids who come from Mexico and Central America is that this won't work.

Another thing, I think, is that we can't just push this off on Mexico and the countries in the region and tell them to harshen up their immigration enforcement. They've already done that. For the past 15 years we've given money, training, support, and encouraged all the countries in the region to reinforce their borders and pass more restrictive immigration laws.

For example, on Mexico's southern border, starting in 2001, they locked down some of the main transit routes. And what happened? People started crossing in more remote areas; were more subject to violent criminals; the prices that smugglers charged went up; trafficking and abuse of children went up in those areas; corruption by immigration officials, unfortunately, went up; and it just made the whole journey a whole lot more dangerous.

The other thing is, if, we've actually had a policy of deterrence in Central America for about 15 years now and it obviously hasn't worked. So, I think we seriously need to question what we are after with a policy of deterrence.

What has been done in those 15 years to try and deter Central Americans from coming to the U.S. illegally, can you give me an example?

The U.S., Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador have participated in a bunch of joint operations that included public information campaigns telling people the danger of the crossing, the kinds of abuses that smugglers commit against them. But people have real fear and knowledge that a lot of people from their communities who have headed to the United States have been robbed, kidnapped, held for ransom, raped, and in some cases disappeared or been killed.

Measure a public service announcement talking about that stuff to the real experience that people already have knowing that that happens.

People already know of the risks and yet they're willing to come. We can't talk about these things in a vacuum as if what's happened in the last three months has no history to it.

If you were in Congress, what would you do to resolve the crisis?

We need more immigration judges so we can reduce the general backlog but also deal with the [children's] cases more quickly. We also need more asylum officers and more legal representation for these children. And it probably should be court-appointed counsel or some kind of public-private partnership. If you look at what that costs compared to the general cost of border enforcement, it's not very much.

We need to make sure every kid has competent counsel. Why? And wouldn't that just encourage more people to come? Well, what I would say to that is, first, if you have competent counsel, it discourages fraud. Immigration cases are really hard to win. The evidentiary standard is high, and the fraudulent cases just won't wash out.

Second, it discourages absenteeism. You hear all these fear that kids are going to get these court dates years in advance and they're never going to show up. Well, if you talk to immigration attorneys, and there's a good study by the Vera Institute of Justice that proves this, if people are represented by their counsel, they are far, far more likely to show up at their hearings.

Third, it can help to reduce the backlog, because if you have competent counsel screen the kids beforehand, a significant proportion of them could be taken out of the immigration court system altogether because, in some cases, they're going to go into the asylum system and ask for asylum, and in other cases, they've been abused, neglected or abandoned and they're going to go to a family court, and in other cases, counsel will look at the case and say, ‘look, there's really no good avenue for legal relief, you should probably go back to your home country. We should make an agreement to do that' and it doesn't need to go through the immigration court system.

The last thing is that adjudicating these cases could give us first-hand evidence of why people are coming and what's going on in their home countries that we can then use to inform our policy-makers.

But we already know a lot of the reasons they're coming, don't we?

We tend to know it in an oversimplified fashion. If we're going to make a policy response that's tailored to indigenous communities that are in conflict with the Guatemalan government, that's going to be a different policy response than, say, in San Salvador, where what we're dealing with is forced recruitment into criminal gangs, or governments targeting people living in neighborhoods run by gangs on the presumption that they're gang members. That's a totally different phenomenon and it requires a different policy response.




2 officers linked to KKK

by The Associated Press

FRUITLAND PARK, Fla. - Two police officers are no longer with the city department after a law-enforcement report tied them to the Ku Klux Klan, an official said Monday.

Deputy Chief David Borst resigned and Officer George Hunnewell was fired last week, City Manager Gary La Venia said.

The link surfaced in a report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement based on information from the FBI, which learned about the connection during a broader investigation, La Venia said. He didn't know what it was focused on.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said she couldn't say what was in the report since it is "active intelligence."

An FBI spokesman in Jacksonville didn't immediately respond to a voice mail.

The State Attorney's Office told city officials that pending cases from the officers will be reviewed, although Borst's job was primarily administrative and didn't involve much patrolling, La Venia said.

The city of 5,000 residents is about 40 miles northwest of Orlando. Fruitland Park was once known for its citrus groves and is in Lake County, where KKK violence in the 1940s and 1950s was chronicled in the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Devil in the Grove .

La Venia said residents were surprised. "This city is diverse, tolerant. It's a welcoming community," he said.

A phone number listed for Borst was disconnected. Hunnewell's number was not listed.




Community Police Program Turns Around Once Crime-Ridden Park In San Francisco's Mission

by Anna Duckworth

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— A once crime-ridden park in San Francisco's Mission District is now teeming with community activity and the credit is going to a new unit within the police department.

On any given day Garfield Park's playground, nestled between Harrison, Treat and 24th and 25th streets, along with its basketball courts and soccer field are filled with children. Until its recent transformation, it wasn't always this way.

“Before we used to have a lot of violence, a lot of shootings back to back,” said Gaynor Ansiataga. She has a nine-year-old son. In 2004 she moved into the Bernal Dwellings Housing Development across the street from the park.

“With that kind of life you have kids who are afraid to come out,” she said.

Last September the SFPD's new Youth and Community Engagement Unit began stationing officers in the park for their entire shifts.

Lieutenant Colleen Fatooh heads the unit and said she now has an office in the park's clubhouse. “It's working very well. The park's very activated. We get lots of kids to come out here to play.” She said not only does the constant police presence and patrol keeps the criminal element that used to dominate the park at bay, but it helps the department build trust with families in the area—a key area of community-based policing.

“It's cops working with kids; changing the perception of the police with the community and just building relationships,” Fatooh said.

One 13-year-old girl, who's lived in the neighborhood her whole life, said she feels a lot safer and now brings her little brother to the park.

One community group— Mission Education Project, Inc.'s director, Rita Alviar, said in the past she wouldn't even bring her summer program children here. Now they come almost every day.

“As long as I see it like it is now, we will continue coming,” she said.

The police unit is planning a similar presence at a Sunnydale playground this week.




Chambersburg Borough Council restores Special Emergency Team

by Lauren Cappuccio

CHAMBERSBURG -- After a heated debate between fellow council members and the chief of police, the Special Emergency Team was reinstated after a 5-4 vote during Chambersburg Borough Council's meeting Monday.

The SET unit, which handles tactical and hostage negotiation, was disbanded in September 2013 by a 5-3 vote from council.

A special committee was formed, with some newer members of council, to revisit the issue and the last discussion took place in March when the committee was tasked with presenting a report.

The team has 16 members, who are also among the 33 full-time police officers, according to Chief David Arnold.

During the meeting, Arnold spoke for the team, stating its importance and said that in 2013, the department received 18,000 calls, up about 500 calls from the year before.

"It is the most efficient and effective tool I can use to respond to incidents," said Arnold.

Since the team was disbanded, Arnold said that officers spent 111 hours doing general foot patrol, policing downtown and in the housing authority area.

Councilman Thomas Newcomer said that the number was not significant compared to the total 50,000 hours officers do every year.

To reinforce its importance, Arnold mentioned three incidents in particular that the team would have responded to, including a high-risk search warrant execution and a high-risk arrest for a murder suspect.

Some members of council voiced their opposition to re-establishing the team.

Council member Elaine Swartz said she has always been a supporter of the police department, but feels that a balance exists between having more community policing and having a special team with the available resources.

"My issue is having more officers on the street and having a SET team," she said. "There needs to be a compromise."

Coffman said that community policing might be more effective and brought up part of the Downtown Visioning survey that is being conducted with members of the community and said that there had been some discussion about not feeling safe downtown.

"If that is the perception, that is reality," he said.

There was some discussion about the fact that councilman William McLaughlin was absent and there was some debate whether or not that council should vote on the topic.

Council member Heath Talhelm called the whole ordeal a "circus" and said that McLaughlin "didn't have the decency" to show up to a meeting that was scheduled two months in advance. Swartz said that McLaughlin is out of the area celebrating an anniversary and it wasn't done to keep a vote from being done.

Council member Jeremy Cate said he felt the team was effective before and will be effective if the team were to be re-established.

Cate called for a vote to return the team and be funded with $60,000 a year for three years.

Louisa Cowles, Talhelm, John "Sean" Scott III, Cate and Bradley Elter voted for the team and Newcomer, Allen Coffman, Sharon Bigler and Swartz voted against.

Many members of council said they don't believe the issue is over, however.

"We're going to vote and nothing changes," said Bigler. "We're right back where we started from."

Borough Manager Jeffrey Stonehill said the $60,000 a year for the team will be taken from the borough's fund balance, which has a budgeted amount of $615,000 for the year.

Previously, it had been calculated that the team cost $47,766 for half the year they were active in 2013 and $99,653 was spent in 2012.

Arnold said he was pleased with the decision and will use the money to re-instate the team.

"We'll make it work," he said.



United Kingdom

UK gun crime: Should police retry gun sensor technology?

by Ed Ram

WATCH: ShotSpotter's operators show their gun detection in action

San Francisco is scaling up its use of an intelligent gunshot sensor system - but when the same scheme was trialled in the UK it was abandoned after two years. However, the technology of the sensors has improved, so is it time to retry the system?

It sounds like a no-brainer. A tried and tested network of listening sensors are placed around a city and can instantly pinpoint where a gunshot has come from within seconds of the weapon being fired.

ShotSpotter promises to save police having to hunt door-to-door in the vague vicinity of a blast. It analyses the way the sound waves from the gun firing radiate out reaching microphones at slightly different times.

Its maker SST says it can distinguish the sound of a bullet being fired from fireworks and other types of explosion, count how many shots were fired and even deduce how many gunmen were involved.

San Francisco is scaling up its use of the tech - and it's also been deployed in Miami, Boston, Puerto Rico and Rio de Janeiro.

But an effort to use it to combat gun crime in the UK was abandoned when authorities in the city of Birmingham reported "technical difficulties".

So, what went wrong - and would it be worth reconsidering?

Privacy concerns

In December 2010, West Midlands Police were optimistic about what the innovation could achieve.

The cost of investigating a single murder could run to £1m. By contrast, installing the system cost £150,000 and a further £21,000 a year to maintain.

"We're delighted to be the first city in the UK to secure this technology," said Ch Supt Chris McKeogh at the time.

Some residents expressed concern that their conversations might be picked up - a previous effort to install hidden CCTV cameras in the city had proven controversial and had to be abandoned - but the police assured them this would not happen.

But just 20 months later ShotSpotter was judged to be a second failure.

In August 2012 West Midlands Police said of 1,618 alerts produced by the system since November 2011, only two were confirmed gunfire incidents.

What's more, the force added, ShotSpotter had also missed four confirmed shootings.

Its conclusion was that resources would be best spent elsewhere.

Ch Supt Clive Burgess said the system had "struggled to work" and that in future officers would instead focus on day-to-day community policing, anti-gun education programmes and the work of the counter-gang task force.

Air gun problem

Now that the dust has settled, SST is willing to discuss what went wrong.

James Beldock, the firm's senior vice president of products, said the figures quoted two years ago were misleading.

"There were only two cases of an actual firearm shooting being missed [by SST] over an 18-month period," he said.

"The other two were air guns, which ShotSpotter is explicitly not designed to detect."

He acknowledged there were "technical problems", which caused the system to be less accurate than normal, but suggested this could have been avoided if the city had been more committed to the idea.

"SST originally proposed a density of ShotSpotter sensors of approximately 10 per square kilometre," he said.

"Such sensor densities are standard for our international deployments - Brazil, South Africa, Panama, etc.

"Unfortunately, budget constraints pushed West Midlands Police to reduce that density. We take partial responsibility for permitting the budget to drive the decision, along with West Midlands Police."

The firm had learnt from this mistake and made other changes to improve the system.

SST staff now monitor all the sensors deployed worldwide through a central base in the US to confirm the cause of each explosion, rather than leaving such a judgement to local law enforcers on the ground.

And a new generation of sensor - with approximately 10 times the processing power - has now been introduced, Mr Bedlock said.

Even so, Birmingham - and other UK cities that eyed ShotSpotter - might be wise to remain reticent.

ShotSpotter is optimised to handle the very specific noises, frequencies and decibel levels created by conventional weapons.

But while such weapons may be relatively easy to come by in the US and parts of Latin America, they are less common in the UK.

As a result, criminals in Britain often resort to other types of firearms, including ones that shoot pellets and electric stun guns.

A review of the 22 injuries caused by guns in Birmingham's west and central areas between April 2011 and March 2012 reveals that the majority were the result of air-rifles and BB air guns.

"A higher sensor density might permit such modified weapons to be detected, but the economic equation would, again, need to be reviewed," said Mr Bedlock.

It's not impossible that ShotSpotter will return to the UK. The Home Office notes that it is "down to each regional police force" as to whether it invests in the equipment.

But for now it seems this is one instance where the traditional trumps cutting edge tech - at least where British cities are involved.



FCC broadband initiatives for schools, rural areas could impact future public-safety strategies

by Donny Jackson

On Friday, FCC commissioners approved items designed to bring broadband to underserved rural areas, as well as to the nation's schools and libraries. On the surface, neither of these initiatives have anything to do with public safety, but my belief is that they could have significant impact in some key areas that have been troubling first-responder communications for years.

Now, there are questions surrounding some administration of the programs, as well as some politically charged procedural issues regarding the manner in which the item regarding E-Rate—the program designed to ensure that schools and libraries can be connected to the Internet—was handled before it was voted upon. For those interested in these nuances, there are plenty of online articles that provide those details, but this column will focus elsewhere.

The bottom line is that these votes underscore the fact that both the Universal Service Fund (USF) and the E-Rate program are now designed to provide broadband connectivity—not simply copper-wire connectivity—throughout the nation to underserved areas, schools and libraries. As we have noted before in this space regarding next-generation 911, to provide effective broadband to these areas means that some kind of fat pipe (usually fiber, but sometimes microwave) needs to be deployed in the area.

In other words, there should be new backhaul options to deploy LTE in locations that skeptics previously have dismissed as impossible, because there was not enough broadband demand to make deployment economically viable. For FirstNet, the more backhaul options that are available—particularly in remote locations—the better.

And, if a single backhaul option (maybe with redundancy, to avoid having a single point of failure) funded with government money can be used to help support multiple broadband programs, taxpayers certainly like that idea more than building the separate pipes for each program to serve the same area.

Another intriguing aspect of the FCC's actions on Friday was the stipulation that a significant chunk of the $1 billion per year in the E-Rate broadband program for schools and libraries should be used to fund the deployment of Wi-Fi in these facilities.

Given the fact that Wi-Fi routers are not that expensive to begin with—and likely are much cheaper when purchased in bulk via GSA pricing, as the FCC enables—the notion that every school and library in the country will provide Wi-Fi access appears realistic in the foreseeable future.

What are the implications of this for public safety? For one thing, it could help identify the location of a 911 call—or text—if the location of working Wi-Fi access points is known, based on technology such as the one proposed by TeleCommunication Systems (TCS) and Cisco Systems at last month's National Emergency Number Association (NENA) conference.

Today, 911 calls from inside a school or library means someone has to make a call from a landline at the front office/front desk to give the public-safety answering point (PSAP) location information automatically. While this provides a dispatchable address to the front desk, that may not be the best location information, particularly at a large high-school campus and the incident occurs somewhere away from the front office. In this scenario, it's also less than ideal to have to lose time trying to convey an emergency message to the front office/front desk when seconds may count.

Meanwhile, the location problems associated with 911 calls made from cell phones has been a hot topic of late, so I won't repeat all of those issues.

Virtually all mobile devices today have Wi-Fi capability, so the user devices would not be impacted. And the nice part about the proposed solution from TCS and Cisco Systems is that it does not require the user to be logged into a Wi-Fi network at the time. The user only needs to have Wi-Fi connectivity on—so that something shows up under “Choose a network” on Wi-Fi settings—for the nearby Wi-Fi access points to calculate location information.

With the FCC making indoor-location accuracy for 911 calls from mobile devices a priority, finding an effective and cost-effective solution is important. Some sort of Wi-Fi-based technology certainly is not the only approach, but it is worthy of consideration, especially if Wi-Fi becomes ubiquitous within schools, where far too many emergency incidents like shootings have occurred in recent years.

Potential FirstNet partnerships and 911 are not the only aspects of public-safety communications that could be impacted by Friday's FCC actions. We'll talk about other potential implications in this space next week.



From the Department of Justice

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Attorney General Holder at the Community Relations Service 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Ceremony

Thank you, Tony [West], for that kind introduction – and thank you all for being here today. It's a pleasure to stand with so many good friends, valued colleagues, and passionate public servants as we celebrate the 50 th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And it's a special privilege to join the men and women, past and present, of the Community Relations Service in reflecting on half a century of exemplary work as “America's Peacemakers” – and rededicating ourselves to the challenges ahead.

I'd particularly like to recognize Director [Grande] Lum for his exceptional leadership of this critical component, and for his lifetime of service in mediation and conflict resolution. And I want to thank each of the distinguished panelists and guest speakers we'll be hearing from this afternoon – including Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Ambassador [Andrew] Young, for lending your voices to today's discussion. It is a privilege to share the stage with you.

Of course, I am also mindful today of the leader and civil rights champion who was taken from us late last week. John Seigenthaler was a passionate, lifelong journalist; a fierce advocate for civil rights and equal justice; and a courageous leader who put his life on the line assisting Freedom Riders in Alabama as a top aide to my predecessor, Attorney General Robert Kennedy. Later, as a newspaper editor, he helped call attention to the growing civil rights movement at a time when many Southern journalists preferred to turn a blind eye. And he never slowed down or let up, fighting to defend the First Amendment, shining a light on those in need, and working to hold those in power to rigorous account every day of his long and storied career. I will always count myself as fortunate to have known John Seigenthaler, and want to express my condolences to his family today – as we recommit ourselves, here in the Great Hall, to the work that defined his life and the cause that's now ours to carry forward.

Fifty years ago this month, when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law, he declared it not an absolute victory – or a panacea for all racial injustice – but a challenge to the nation: “a challenge to work in our communities and our states, in our homes and in our hearts,” to bring justice and hope to people across the country.

In addition to outlawing many forms of discrimination – and instituting vital voting and employment protections – the Civil Rights Act created a new Community Relations Service to address tensions, to assist vulnerable populations, and to help heal communities torn apart by hatred and discrimination. And in the decades since then – through passion, through engagement, and through steadfast leadership at the national level – the dedicated public servants of CRS have consistently risen to that considerable challenge.

From this Service's earliest days – in your extensive efforts with Dr. King and other leaders of the Civil Rights Era; in your mediation during incidents like the takeover at Wounded Knee; and in your continuing work to address school segregation and religious intolerance wherever they are found – CRS has repeatedly proven its ability to enable diverse groups to come together constructively, to foster inclusive dialogue, and to bridge longstanding divisions.

Fifty years and countless conflicts since its inception, the men and women of the Community Relations Service are still working to address some of the most intractable issues and urgent threats we face. And particularly since 2009, CRS has taken important steps to expand the reach and enlarge the impact of its work – enhancing your ability to build upon the history of progress that this organization has done so much to shape.

Five years ago, when President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law, he called on CRS to broaden its mission by preventing and responding to hate crimes that target individuals based not only on race, color or national origin – but also gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion and disability. Since then, you have answered this call with swift and determined action, deploying CRS conciliators to thousands of hate-based conflicts in communities across America.

When unspeakable tragedy struck a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin – in 2012 – CRS mediators rushed to the scene, providing timely assistance to state and local authorities and offering training and insight to community leaders. In that case as in so many others that have arisen over the last few years, you stood among this Department's first responders to a crisis as it unfolded – helping to find common ground in some of the most volatile and emotionally-charged situations imaginable.

Today, with 15 offices around the country, CRS is better equipped than ever to intervene in moments of difficulty and help communities move forward from tragedy and division. Under Director Lum's leadership, CRS is taking part in an unprecedented number of mediations. Earlier this year, you launched a groundbreaking transgender law enforcement cultural professionalism training. And I know a similar training initiative, focused on the needs of individuals with cognitive disabilities, is being developed as we speak.

By encouraging respectful dialogue about sensitive issues, opening lines of communication, and tearing down barriers to healing and reconciliation – all in the strictest confidence and without any expectation of recognition or public thanks – today's CRS is acting in accordance with the finest traditions established by your predecessors. By improving mediator training and partnering with an ever-expanding group of stakeholders, you are also taking new and innovative steps to enhance this agency's capacity to serve as an impartial observer, a steadfast ally, and a consistent advocate for victims of intolerance and bias-motivated violence. And as a result, the impact of your work is felt not just across this Department but around the country, in every conflict you help resolve and every community you help strengthen.

Of course, there's no denying that a great deal remains to be done. And the very nature of your mission means that it will never be complete.

We come together this afternoon at an important juncture – in a moment defined by challenge as well as great opportunity – with remarkable achievements stretching behind us and critical work unfolding ahead. And as we reflect on the first 50 years of this Service's extraordinary history, I believe we must also look toward the next 50. We must reaffirm our determination to meet intolerance with understanding, to confront ignorance with informed dialogue, and to promote opportunity, access, and inclusion – in every community and circumstance.

We must recommit ourselves to the legacies of visionary leaders and courageous citizens who made the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and the creation of this agency, possible. And we must resolve to keep moving forward together – as one nation and one people – driven by the needs that remain unfulfilled, determined to transcend the barriers that still divide us, and dedicated to the enduring promise of equal justice under law.

Fifty years ago this month, when President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act and officially launched the Community Relations Service, he did so out of a lifelong belief that conciliation is always stronger than confrontation. Half a century later, CRS is continuing to put that belief into action. You are moving forward to fulfill the “high responsibility” he outlined. And you are, and will always remain, America's Peacemaker – devoted to building the more just and inclusive society that all of our citizens deserve.

I thank you all, once again, for your commitment to these efforts, your passionate engagement with those at risk and in need, and your exceptional courage and leadership in the face of unspeakable challenge. I am proud to count every one of you as a colleague and a partner in advancing the work that must always be our common cause. And I look forward to everything we will do and achieve together in the months and years to come.



From the FBI

Dog Fighting Ringleader Pleads Guilty -- Multi-State Criminal Enterprise Shut Down

In 2011, our Mobile Field Office had received some disturbing reports about a possible high-stakes dog fighting and gambling enterprise based in Alabama with activities spanning several nearby states. So in April of that year, the Bureau—in conjunction with our law enforcement partners in those states—opened an investigation.

By August 2013, this broad and coordinated investigative effort—which involved sophisticated techniques like court-authorized wiretaps and confidential sources—had led to the indictment and arrest of 10 individuals on federal dog fighting and gambling charges. Several others were subsequently charged.

A key figure in this group of co-conspirators—Donnie Anderson—recently pled guilty in the case. In addition, nine others involved have pled guilty thus far.

In his plea agreement, Anderson admitted to organizing and holding dog fights—mostly in the Auburn, Alabama area—from 2009 to 2013, as well as charging spectators an entrance fee of between $100 to $150 (although owners of dogs fighting at that particular event got in for free). He also said that dog owners and spectators were betting on the outcome of the fights, putting up a total of anywhere between $20,000 and $200,000 per fight. And, Anderson admitted to not only hosting the fights but—along with his co-conspirators—buying, selling, transporting, housing, and training the dogs used in the fights.

Dogs involved in these matches are treated very poorly—they are neglected and abused, living primarily in cages or in chains without adequate food and water. During training, they're taught to attack live bait (often times stolen pets like cats, rabbits, and small dogs). After a fight, the losing dog is often killed.

And dog fighting (as well as cock fighting) is usually always accompanied by other illegal activities, like gambling, illegal firearms activity, and drug trafficking. During the August 2013 takedown of Donnie Anderson's operation, law enforcement personnel seized guns, illegal drugs, drugs used to treat and train dogs, and more than $500,000 in cash.

Along with the round-up of Anderson and his co-conspirators on that day, 367 dogs were rescued with the assistance of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States. Most of the recovered dogs were in pretty bad shape, with plenty of evidence showing they had been subjected to fighting activities. But after medical treatment and rehabilitation, many of the dogs have been or are in the process of being placed into loving homes.

Federal enforcement of dog fighting activities in general got a boost in 2007 when the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act—which targeted individuals directly involved in fighting activities—was passed. This law prohibits the interstate trafficking of animals that will be used for fighting and also strengthens imprisonment penalties.

But a word of warning to spectators at these events—this past February, a new federal provision made it a crime to knowingly attend an animal fighting event and to knowingly bring a child under the age of 16 to such an event.

In recognition of their actions that led to the rescue of hundreds of mistreated dogs, two FBI agents and a former agent—along with an Auburn Police Department detective and the U.S. Attorney and Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama—were all recently recognized with an award from the Humane Society.



Governors wary of White House plan to place immigrant children with states

by Fox News

State governors from both parties have reacted cooly to efforts by the Obama administration to gain their support for placing thousands of unaccompanied Central American children with friends or family members.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell met privately with dozens of governors Sunday at the National Governors Association summer meeting in Nashville. According to those who attended the meeting, the governors expressed particular concerns about the costs to states, including that of providing public education for the children. Burwell left the meeting through a side door without talking to reporters.

"Our citizens already feel burdened by all kinds of challenges. They don't want to see another burden come into their state," said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat. "However we deal with the humanitarian aspects of this, we've got to do it in the most cost-effective way possible."

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad were among the most vocal Republican critics. They seized on the administration's plans to place the children with friends or family members without checking on their immigration status.

Under current law, immigrant children from countries that don't border the United States and who cross into this country by themselves are turned over to HHS within 72 hours. From there, they often are reunited with parents or placed with other relatives already living in the country, while they wait for an immigration court to decide their future. The court process can take years.

Neither Burwell's agency nor immigration officials check the immigration status of relatives who take custody of the immigrant children.

Since Oct. 1 more than 57,000 children have crossed the border alone. Most are from Honduras, El Salvador or Guatemala.

"We want to make sure they're placed in a safe and supportive home or placement, but also, it should be somebody that is legal and somebody that will be responsible to see that they show up for the hearing," Branstad said.

According to data from the Justice Department's Executive Office for Immigration Review, about a quarter of immigrants facing deportations hearings don't show up as ordered. The no-show rate for the juvenile immigration court docket is about 46 percent.

Amid the debate of what is causing the ongoing crush of child immigrants and how the government can stem the flow, two key lawmakers said President Barack Obama can take administrative action to relieve much of the crisis without waiting for what is likely to be a contentious and lengthy Congressional battle.

At issue is a provision in a 2008 human trafficking law that puts the fate of these immigrants in the hands of immigration judges. The Obama administration has expressed some interest in asking Congress to change the law to give the administration more leeway in dealing with the crisis.

But Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday that wholesale changes by Congress may not be necessary and that Obama has the authority to return the children to their native countries.

Obama "has tools in his toolbox" to deal with humanitarian issues and deter more children from coming to the U.S., Rogers said.

"We can safely get them home," Rogers said on NBC's "Meet the Press." He said, "And that's where the president needs to start. So he needs to re-engage, get folks who are doing administrative work on the border. They need to make sure they send a very clear signal."

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the author of the provision in the human trafficking law, said a change in regulations, not the law, could speed the children's return.

The law already allows HHS and the Homeland Security Department to write regulations to deal with "exceptional circumstances" that would allow officials to return the children more quickly to their home countries, Feinstein said Thursday at a hearing on a $3.7 billion emergency budget request from the White House to deal with the growing crisis on the border.

Some of the money would go to help fund about 40 additional immigration judge teams. Federal immigration courts have a backlog of more than 375,000 cases.




Residents learn to aid police in keeping city safe

by Rebecca Burylo

Keeping a neighborhood safe is not just a job for the police; it also is the responsibility of those who live in the community.

That's what participants of the Citizen Police Academy learned last week — ways they can make their block and their city a better place.

One participant, Jack Dismukes, started the 11-week course in May with about a dozen others with the hope of sharing what he learned with his neighbors.

Participants learned one way to create a safer neighborhood is by creating a Neighborhood Watch.

Cpl. David Hicks of the Montgomery Police Department's community policing division explained that anyone can start a watch program by contacting the department. An officer for that neighborhood's district then will come out and help contact the residents in the area about participating in the program.

This is oftentimes the most difficult part, said Dismukes, who is the Neighborhood Watch block captain and watch coordinator for the Brentwood community.

“The problem is getting the volunteers,” Dismukes said.

The next step is establishing a meeting in which everyone can introduce themselves and set an agenda, job responsibilities and a way to contact each other with information or to report suspicious activities.

Hicks said residents also can call the Police Department and request a safety evaluation of their homes. The most common problems officers find are faulty locks, large shrubs hiding the house and poor lighting.

The same thing can be done for businesses.

Hicks, who works with Business Watch officers, explained the Police Department can provide businesses and nonprofit organizations with safety suggestions, evacuation and robbery action plans, and training to combat workplace violence.

CrimeStoppers is another way residents can help police in criminal cases.

Tony Garrett, community development director for Central Alabama CrimeStoppers, explained that police have dozens of pending criminal cases each week, and without help from residents calling in tips, many would remain unsolved.

CrimeStoppers releases photos and information concerning a case to media outlets, which then share it with their audiences. Residents can call 215-STOP or go online with anonymous tips that could lead to cash rewards.

Garrett also described the One Place Family Justice Center as another community resource. The center helps those in domestic violence situations get the help and legal advice they need.

Dismukes said he had heard of CrimeStoppers and One Place Family Justice Center but didn't know much about them.

“You don't realize how much goes on in the Police Department,” Dismukes said. “It's a lot more than cops going around and arresting folks and putting them behind bars.”

Another way police bridge the gap between the department and the community is through the Volunteers in Police Service or VIPS.

Those older than 50 can join VIPS to help police with neighborhood patrols, clerical work, records, escorting and managing applications. VIPS applicants must pass a background check.

Armed with only a radio and a whistle, VIPS can be found working at the Criminal Investigations Division, the city jail, the police shooting range and One Place Family Justice Center.

Joining VIPS is something Dismukes said he might be interested in pursuing in the future.




FBI foils Utah man's plan to bomb police station

FBI agents and police in Tremonton arrested John Huggins on Thursday on a charge of possessing an unregistered destructive device

by Michelle L. Price -- Associated Press

TREMONTON, Utah — Authorities arrested a 47-year-old Utah man that they say had been plotting to kill police officers and blow up a police station with the hope the attacks would cause an uprising against the government.

FBI agents and police in Tremonton arrested John Huggins on Thursday on a charge of possessing an unregistered destructive device, U.S. Attorney's Office of Utah spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch said in a statement Friday evening.

Huggins made an initial appearance in federal court late Friday and will remain in custody until a detention hearing Tuesday afternoon, Rydalch said. It was not immediately clear where Huggins was being held.

If convicted on the unregistered-device charge, Huggins could face 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Huggins built an improvised explosive device and possessed explosive materials and instructions for making bombs, FBI Special Agent Steven Cadiz said in court documents.

In February, a "concerned citizen" contacted Tremonton police to report Huggins threatened to blow up a Bible study group and had buried bombs around the city of Ogden, Cadiz said.

Police later determined that information was incorrect, but Huggins had threatened to blow up the Tremonton Police Department and wanted to assassinate two officers before the bombing, according to court records. He also planned to blow up bridges and other infrastructure to prevent emergency responders from being able to help, the court records state.

Huggins stated he believed the attacks would cause the community to rise up against the government, investigators said.

It's unclear in the court documents where and when Huggins made the threats.

Local investigators were helped by the FBI and a confidential informant, who met with Huggins on multiple occasions, Cadiz said. At one point, the informant bought a USB thumb drive from Huggins that contained instructions on how to manufacture drugs, bombs, booby traps and other information.

The informant told investigators that Huggins had videos of himself blowing up a vehicle.

All of the information was kept on a computer in a trailer, where Huggins also later manufactured shrapnel and explosive devices, the informant told investigators.

An undercover FBI agent later met with Huggins and discussed bomb making, Cadiz said in court records. Huggins later offered to make a bomb for the agent, according to court records.

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, the confidential informant told Tremonton police that Huggins had been making explosive devices and shrapnel to put inside them.

Huggins met with the undercover agent and the confidential informant at a Tremonton restaurant on Thursday, Cadiz said. After more discussion of bomb-making, Huggins was arrested, Cadiz said.

Investigators searching Huggins' trailer later found a homemade explosive device similar to a grenade and other explosive material, Cadiz said.

Rydalch said the investigation was ongoing and Huggins could face additional charges when the case is presented to a grand jury.