February, 2015 - Week 3
Minneapolis Cop Shot in Targeted Attack During Crime Response
by Vittorio Hernandez
A Minneapolis police officer was shot early Saturday while responding to a robbery call on the 1100 block of 24 th Avenue N in the Jordan neighborhood. After taking the statement of the female caller, the cop was shot.
The police cordoned off the area near 24 th and Fremont avenues for several hours after the shooting incident, while police dogs scoured the area for the gunman.
The wounded officer was taken by his partner to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale. In connection with the shooting, police arrested the suspect Andrew J. Neal at 1:30 p.m. at his residence at 1119 Logan Ave. N. He was arrested for violating probation, probable-cause robbery and probable-cause domestic aggravated assault.
A YouTube clip showed Neal being arrested by cops.
It is unclear, though, if Neal - who was jailed previously for first-degree assault and has arrest records - is the suspect in the shooting of the officer. But it was Neal who was identified by the woman in the early morning burglary. The victim said that Neal broke her kitchen window using a hammer.
After Neal left, a friend of the woman chased Neal off the place with a pocket knife. The victim, meanwhile, called the police, which was where the cop was shot as he was standing near the squad vehicle.
Star Tribune identified the wounded officer as Jordan Davis, who is now recovering and did not suffer any permanent damage from the shooting incident.
According to Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau, who visited the wounded officer at the hospital, he was the target of the shooting because he happened to be in the vicinity responding to the burglary call.
Davis finished his police academy training in 2008 and is a patrol officer with the Fourth Precinct. In 2013, Davis was awarded the DWI All-Star for making 110 DWI arrests.
Johnson warns Mall of America patrons
by Eric Bradner
Washington (CNN)Shoppers at the Mall of America need to be "particularly careful" after a terror group singled out the Minnesota super-mall for attacks, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says.
During an interview Sunday with CNN "State of the Union" host Gloria Borger, he offered little reassurance to shoppers who plan to visit the mall that Al-Shabaab included on a list of targets in a video released this weekend.
"If anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they've got to be particularly careful," Johnson said.
"There will be enhanced security there, but public vigilance, public awareness and public caution in situations like this is particularly important, and it's the environment we're in, frankly," he said.
His comments come as the Mall of America implements new security measures -- some of which the mall said in a statement would be noticeable to shoppers.
Al-Shabaab has heavily targeted the Minneapolis area, home to the largest Somali population in the United States, for recruiting. The United States killed the group's leader in an air strike in Somalia last year, leading Al-Shabaab to vow to avenge his death.
In the propaganda video released Saturday, the group also discussed its September 2013 attack on a mall in Kenya, which left more than 60 people dead.
Johnson said Al-Shabaab's threats against the Mall of America as well as major malls in Canada and the United Kingdom come as anti-terror officials focus increasingly on stopping "independent efforts in their homelands."
He said Al-Shabaab and other groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria compete for new recruits and target Western nationals.
"These groups are relying more and more on independent actors to become inspired, drawn to the cause ... on their own, through their effective use of the Internet," Johnson said. "That's why it's critical that we work in the communities where these folks might be able to recruit to develop a counter-narrative."
Johnson also said the latest threats highlight the "reason why I need a budget."
The Department of Homeland Security is just days away from seeing its funding expire, which Johnson said would trigger about 30,000 furloughs -- including 80% the Federal Emergency Management Agency's workers.
"It's absurd that we're even having this conversation about Congress's inability to fund Homeland Security in these challenging times," Johnson said.
Congress is mired in a fight over the department's funding, as majority Republicans insist any bill to pay for its operations must also include provisions that roll back President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration -- and Democrats insist they won't support such a measure.
Because Democrats hold enough seats to keep the Senate from crossing its 60-vote procedural threshold, a House-passed bill hasn't advanced there, and Republicans in the House and Senate don't appear to have agreed on a way forward.
"The thing that, frankly, is frustrating to me -- when I go to the Senate, they say, 'It's not us, it's the House, go over to the House side and talk to them,'" Johnson said. "I go to the House and they say, 'We passed our bill, it's the Senate.'"
"We have four or five working days to get this right," he said.
Grant to bolster ranks of Pittsburgh police
by Brian Bowling
Hiring more cops doesn't guarantee community policing, but it's a prerequisite, said Pittsburgh police Chief Cameron McLay.
“If you keep a police department staffed at the level they need to respond to 911 calls, that's all you're going to get,” he said.
Pittsburgh was one of relatively few police departments receiving grants in 2014 from a 1994 federal program set up to help cities implement community policing. Officials say community policing promotes collaboration between police and the community to prevent and solve crime and other public safety issues.
The city's budget doesn't allow the department to hire the number of officers it needs to implement community policing, McLay said. The $1.8 million grant will pay for 15 new officers this year and bring the city's force to more than 900 people for the first time since 2004.
“I think it's absolutely worthwhile,” McLay said. “Community-oriented policing is not just a program, it's not just a group of officers you put out there, it's a philosophy.”
Out of the 1,296 agencies that applied for funding last year, 215 won grants. The $123 million funded 944 positions of the 3,469 positions departments requested. The applicants said they would have sought funding for 8,069 positions but the program limits the amount they can request.
When Congress established it, the Community Oriented Policing Services handed out about $1 billion a year in hiring grants, with a goal of putting 100,000 more officers on American streets.
It funded other projects, such as technology improvements intended to give officers more street time and less time filling out paperwork.
Then in 2000, Congress cut the hiring grants to $481 million and funding dwindled to zero by 2006. In 2008, Congress put $20 million into the grant program and since then funding has fluctuated.
Last year, the program handed out $124 million for hiring officers. Congress earmarked $134.5 million for the hiring program in 2015.
The COPS program requires the local department to cover part of the cost. Pittsburgh estimated the total cost for 15 positions for three years at $2.97 million; the city will provide $1.1 million.
The Justice Department gave Pittsburgh's application a final score of 133.7. Half the score is based on a community's crime rate and fiscal need. The other half is based on its community policing plan.
The scores ranged from 206.67 for Moore, Okla., to 47.98 for Struthers, Ohio.
Moon, at 114.94, was one of the higher scoring Pennsylvania communities that didn't receive money.
Moon police Chief Leo McCarthy said the grant would have paid for two school resource officers. Since the department didn't get the money, it's working with the school district to split the cost to pay for one officer.
Since Moon has substantial resources and relatively low crime rates, he doesn't fault the Justice Department for sending the money elsewhere.
“I have written four COPS grants in the past. This is the first one I was not successful on,” he said.
The grants helped Moon add 14 police officers, who remain on the force, and enabled it to have police spend more time in communities, he said.
Part of the program's funding problems have come from departments using grants to replace local funding, rather than to augment it, he said.
“You can't just use all these grants as a crutch and not budget,” McCarthy said.
As a grant writer and a taxpayer, he agrees with critics who contend the money should be spent carefully.
“I like the program, but it's not perfect,” McCarthy said.
Another reason for the decline in the program has been a shift in Washington from community policing to anti-terrorism following 9/11, McLay said. Though the two functions aren't inherently incompatible, the mindset of police departments also shifted, he said.
“Instead of seeing ourselves as members of the community, protecting the community, we now see ourselves as extensions of the government, looking for terrorists among our citizens,” McLay said.
The 2014 grant to hire 15 officers is one step toward changing that, he said. As proposed, the officers would have all gone to Zone 5 in the city's East End.
His commanders are working on a plan that's more flexible than “just taking the first 15 cops out of the academy and dropping them into Zone 5,” he said.
The city had placed 13 new officers in Zone 5, reassigning them from other areas to help patrol the higher-crime neighborhoods, but that caused gaps in policing other parts of the city, McLay said. They were redeployed last fall to their original assignments, he said.
Though Homewood remains a key focus, violent crime has escalated in other parts of the city that need beat cops, such as the North Side, he said.
“I'm asking them to not simply make it a Homewood plan,” he said.
The COPS program's regulations capped Pittsburgh's request at 15 positions. The city's application, made before McLay became chief last fall, said Pittsburgh wouldn't have asked for more officers even if the cap were lifted.
McLay said he can't explain that, but a workload study estimating how many officers the city needs for an effective community policing program probably will have a higher number.
“I got a hunch,” he said.
• The Justice Department's COPS Hiring Program provides up to 75 percent of the entry-level salaries and fringe benefits of full-time officers for 3 years. The maximum federal share is $125,000 per position.
• The local department has to provide a minimum 25 percent cash match.
• The number of positions an agency can apply for is capped at 5 percent of their current positions. For agencies with more than 300 officers, there's an additional cap of no more than 25 positions if they cover a population of at least 1 million people and 15 positions if they cover fewer people.
Community marches against police brutality in South Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES -- Community activists, clergy and politicians gathered in front of a Los Angeles Police Department station in South Los Angeles Saturday morning to march against police violence and brutality.
The March for Justice and Unity began at about 10 a.m. at the LAPD Southwest Division in the 1500 block of Martin Luther King Boulevard. Participants could be heard chanting, "No justice. No peace," and "Hands up. Don't shoot."
The protest ended at Leimert Park, where a rally with special speakers was held.
"This is a demonstration of unity on the part of the Los Angeles community that says we are intolerant to the killing and brutal beatings that have been going on in our community for too long," said Danny Bakewell, publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel.
Several protesters pointed to the fatal police shooting of Ezell Ford. In August, the 25-year-old was fatally shot by LAPD officers near his home in South Los Angeles. Family members say Ford was mentally challenged and harmless.
Organizers called for special prosectors to open up investigations into police shooting deaths across the country and for improvements in community policing.
ISIS: Fears grow for missing schoolgirls as experts warn there is no way back for 'jihadi brides'
by David Collins
Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and an un-named 15-year-old flew to Istanbul, in Turkey, from Gatwick airport on Tuesday
The three British schoolgirls who have fled to join Islamic State will find it extremely difficult to return from the clutches of murderous jihadis in Syria, Muslim leaders have warned this morning.
Officers locked in a race against time to trace Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and an unnamed 15-year-old pal believe they could still be in Turkey after catching a flight to Istanbul on Tuesday.
Mussurut Zia, general secretary of the Muslim Women's Network UK, said she had "grave concerns" for the girls and warned it was unlikely they would be able to return home should they join Islamic State in Syria.
She told BBC Breakfast: "Not for a moment do I believe the girls know what they're getting into. I don't think they will be told the true reality.
"I don't think they will be actually fighting on the front line... I think they will be used. Jihadi brides is a notion that's been expressed before - there's no root in that in religion - but quite possibly that is something they would be used for.
"I don't think there is any return for them. I don't see how they would be able to get back."
Detectives are hoping if contact can be made with the trio before they cross the border into war-ravaged Syria, they can be saved from a life of brutality at the hands of Islamic terrorists who may take them as their brides.
Shamima, Kadiza and their friend were spotted on CCTV strolling through Gatwick airport after leaving their homes in East London at 8am – telling parents they would be out all day with “plausible” reasons.
The runaways – described as “bright, straight-A students” at Bethnal Green Academy – are good friends with another 15-year-old girl from the same school who fled to Syria in December.
The girls' departure, unaccompanied by adults, to a country known to be "a staging post to Syria" should have raised suspicions, an expert has said.
"The fact that this is still happening shows that security needs to be stepped up," Emily Dyer, a research fellow specialising in Islamism and terrorism at the Henry Jackson Society, told the Daily Mail.
Police have said they may have been able to intervene before the girls departed had they been notified by the airline.
The Met Police's counter-terror chief, Commander Richard Walton, urged them to return home to their families who are anxiously waiting for news.
He said: “We are extremely concerned for the safety of these young girls and would urge anyone with information to come forward and speak to police.
“Syria is an extremely dangerous place and we have seen reports of what life is like and how restricted their lives become.
“It is not uncommon for girls or women to be prevented from being allowed out of their houses.
“The choice of returning home from Syria is often taken away from those under the control of Islamic State, leaving families here devastated and with few options to secure their safe return.
“If we are able to locate these girls whilst they are still in Turkey we have a good possibility of being able to bring them home.
“We are reaching out to the girls using the Turkish media and social media in the hope that they hear our messages and have the courage to return now, back to their families who are so worried about them.”
The girls left behind no messages for parents or friends before fleeing.
Shamima is thought to be travelling using her older sister Aklima's name, and on her passport. A friend of Aklima said there was no sign the girls were radicalised at Bethnal Green Academy, which was visited by Prince Harry last August in the run up to his Invictus Games for injured troops.
The pal added: “I'm shocked and saddened by this. I have no idea why the girls went out to Syria and I hope the police bring them back soon.
“They weren't radicalised by school, maybe by the internet.”
Shamima, Kadiza – both of Bangladeshi heritage – and their friend boarded Turkish Airlines flight TK1966 which left Gatwick at 12.40pm and landed in Istanbul at 6.40pm local time. It is believed the trio, who have not yet finished their GCSEs, are trying to make arrangements to reach “bandit country” over the Syrian border.
It is a chaotic and bloody region where smugglers mix with IS and members of the Syrian Free Army.
British spies are even wary of visiting towns in the area, such as Akcakale, where the world's most wanted woman terrorist Hayat Boumeddiene fled after planning the Paris terror attacks.
Two days before Shamima vanished, she is understood to have been in contact with IS recruiter Aqsa Mahmood, 20, who left Glasgow to marry a jihadist in Syria. Police believe young women are being lured with glamorous stories of life in the country and money to marry fighters, only to suffer a miserable existence.
Experts at King's College in London said there has been “a big uptake” in the number of UK women going to Syria. Yusra Hussein, 15, of Bristol, fled to Turkey in September after claiming she was going to school.
As many as 600 Brits are believed to have joined IS forces fighting President Assad and rebel groups in the last three years.
Salman Farsi, spokesman for the East London Mosque, said: "They have been misled. I do not know what was promised to them. It is just sad. We have not had anything like this before in our community.
"I do not know what was told to them but if they do go to Syria, it is a war zone and there are serious ramifications for going in to a war zone. Some of the things we have seen happening in Syria are not very nice.
"We just want to see them brought back.
"I think the girls need to know they have done nothing wrong. They have been manipulated."
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: "The idea of 15-year-old British schoolgirls setting off to Syria is very disturbing, and shows that more action is urgently needed to stop young people being drawn into extremism and conflict, and to help families and communities who are trying to counteract extremist recruitment messages."
Dallas DPD Chief Brown's toolbox of community policing pays off
by Sharon Grigsby
We published an editorial today lauding Dallas Police Chief David Brown and Dallas County DA Susan Hawk on recent steps they've taken to make sure they are getting constituents' best thinking on law enforcement.
While the tragedy in Ferguson and other deadly police-civilian confrontations nationwide has raised the stakes for the work Brown and Hawk are leading, one big takeaway for me was that the Dallas Police Department has been hammering away at this issue since Brown took the Top Cop job in 2010.
The community-building is not a reaction to Ferguson et al; it's been a top focus for Chief Brown throughout his tenure. Part of community-building is asking for input about the way police go about their work, and that's the focus of today's editorial. But community policing is much more than that. And DPD has vastly expanded its toolbox of activities. I had no idea how large this effort is — and I'm guessing most of you don't either.
Our Bridging the Gap team began meeting with Brown in 2011 because of a shared goal: How to flood the zones of high-need neighborhoods with ways to stop crime on the front end.
We have devoted a lot of attention to this issue, including this special section. Yet I wasn't aware until this week, during reporting for today's editorial, of how much progress DPD has made.
Below you'll find quite the list of activities that speak to “flooding the zone.” A big hat tip to the Dallas Police for these efforts. While the city saw post-Ferguson protests, I am certain that part of the reason community and police relationships are strong here in Dallas is a direct result of the community-building work that's quietly going on under Chief Brown. I'm not trying to say everything is peachy keen here in Dallas, but this work deserves a round of applause imho.
I was not aware that DPD has teamed up with Mayor Rawlings' GrowSouth initiative, Habitat for Humanity, the Communities Foundation of Texas and Better Dallas Safer Dallas to work toward the very solutions we have urged: A focus on economic investment, home ownership and effective policing. Toni Brinker Pickens founded this partnership, which operates under the name, EPIC, or Economic Partners Investing in Communities.
This is the group that announced Operation Blue Shield fund-raising effort this week.
Chief Brown also has emphasized during his tenure the need to set youth on the right path from an early age — and monitor intensely to ensure that they don't veer off course.
Here's what he told a City Council committee back in 2011: “Some may ask: What does this have to do with crime fighting? Everything. This is front-end work. An arrest is the back end. We want to work with youths so they don't become the criminals we arrest.”
Since then, the police department has hugely expanded its efforts to do just that. Check out this list:
Junior Police Academy , which includes: Basic Academy, aimed at 4th – 7th grades and Advanced Academy, 8th – 10th grades
Explorer Program – aimed at ages 14-2
Junior Explorer Program – aimed at ages 10-13 (started January 2015)
Blue In The School – character education for 4th graders
Police Athletic/Activities League (PAL), which includes MidNight Basketball, Soccer Camp, Boxing Club, Community Biking Program, Fitness Adventure, Tennis Camps, Free Play, PAL Gardening, Robotics, Guitar Lessons, PAL Singers (youth choir), “Movin' In The Right Direction” musical, Male Mentoring, Girl Empowerment/DIVA Mentoring, Chess Club, Stuff The Squad Car (school supply & Christmas toy collection drives), Anti-Bullying Presentations, Career Day Presentations, Summer Internship Program, College Prep Program (beginning Fall 2015), which will include financial education, etiquette, interview skills, college planning and additional classes.
Add to that these community policing initiatives aimed at everyone:
Chief on the Beat Health and Safety Fairs – 9 held last year at local schools and recreation centers; 9 scheduled for 2015.
Coffee With Cops – Held quarterly in conjunction with McDonalds at 7 locations throughout Dallas.
Speaking engagements at local schools, churches, neighborhood associations, senior centers and public events.
Active on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Next Door, Nixle and Instagram.
DPDBeat.com blog, which has been viewed over 1,000,000 times since launching last February.
Just coincidence that crime and tensions are historically low in Dallas? I think not. Under Brown's leadership, DPD has focused on strategies that pay off.
What policing needs today
by Vidda Crochetta
Our nation's police department's primary objectives have to be enforcement of existing law as enacted by the various legislatures of state and federal.
What latitude which is exercised by each department is affected by a dizzying array of various community and police departmental circumstances? There is no template except that which falls back upon established law.
In a real sense, the executive summary and therefore the full report of International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) to the White House Task Force on Community-Police Relations (January 2015) is putting the cart before the horse.
The summit participants "outlined three conceptual elements of building community-police relationships. The report defines those elements (as) communication, partnerships, and trust."
However, the lack of confidence in those three elements actually begins with the legislatures. The legislative branches are in fact the disconnect hurdle that is the most difficult to overcome. There are three distinct elements of lawmaking that cannot be addressed by community-policing — the victimless crime statute syndrome, faith-based moral lawmaking and the judiciary's failure to remain independent of the legislature.
It isn't community-integration-policing that the community needs. It is an independent judiciary that can identify and overturn laws that do more harm than good and are subject to undue political, corporate and religious influence and interests, not common law.
Without the reform and possible overturn of current unjust victimless crime laws, the intimate intent and goals of benign community-policing violate the separation of our innate privacy and community life.
Once an enforcement integrative community is established it will set a precedent not easily amended.
Police are not and should not be community social behavioral workers. Diverse enforcement is a very recognizably different official responsibility that carries an inherent and alienable danger in getting too close to the private lives of people in the conduct of their individual freedoms and interests.
When a community cannot secure for itself the rights and freedoms of self-determination to insure their happiness and tranquility, a state of unsound union will always exist.
Public Safety Committee tables ordinance regulating drone use
by Molly Eadie
TROY >> The City Council Public Safety Committee tabled an ordinance regulating the use of drones Wednesday night out of concern the law would apply to the innocent use of toy planes and helicopters.
The legislation will be amended by city attorneys to exclude the use of toys.
The ordinance is sponsored by Public Safety Committee Chairman Bob Doherty, D-District 4, and at the suggestion of Assistant Police Chief George VanBramer.
VanBramer said he wasn't trying to take kids' toys away, but is concerned with drones flying over large groups of people.
This happened at the Turkey Trot, VanBramer said, showing photographs of a drone flying over a crowd at the annual race, which attracts more than 7,000 runners and even more spectators.
It's unclear who was responsible for that drone. VanBramer said the organizers of the race asked for permission to fly one, but police advised against it.
VanBramer said near large crowds, the drones could be dangerous if they were to fall and hit someone.
The Federal Aviation Administration proposed new regulations last week pertaining to drones and small unmanned aircraft systems. The city's proposed legislation echoes some of those provisions, including limiting flights to line-of-sight operation and limiting flights to an altitude of 500 feet.
Troy's ordinance would also prohibit operation of drones under the influence of alcohol, in the area of 15 people or more, and flying a camera-fitted drone within 200 feet of a person, vehicle, building or structure.
Flight over school property, Rensselaer County Jail, festivals and sporting events would also be prohibited.
Consequences for violating the ordinance could result in a fine up to $250 or up to 15 days in jail.
The legislation makes exceptions for police and fire departments, although neither currently use drones, said department heads at the meeting.
Also during Wednesday night's meeting, Chief John Tedesco also explained some aspects of the department's use of force policy, specifically the relevant paperwork, in a “Response to Resistance Report.”
The report was revised in December 2014 and expanded from one to five pages.
Tedesco said each day, reports from the day prior go out to command staff for review, and every two weeks, the police administration “dissects” the reports.
Doherty said he was impressed with the thoroughness of the process.
Molly Eadie can also be reached at 290-3941.
Justice Department may sue Ferguson PD
Preparation for legal action comes as Eric Holder nears an announcement of the DoJ's findings on police force
by PoliceOne Staff
FERGUSON, Mo. — The Department of Justice may file a lawsuit against the Ferguson Police Department if it does not agree to make changes to its tactics.
CNN reports the preparation for legal action comes as Attorney General Eric Holder nears an announcement of the DoJ's findings after a probe of the police force, which began after the fatal August shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson.
The probe reportedly uncovered a “pattern of racially discriminatory tactics.”
The Justice Department will request court supervision of changes to the department's interaction with the city's minority community if a lawsuit is filed, according to the report.
Mo. measure would keep police recordings from public
Video or audio recorded from any device used by a cop — such as one attached to a car, boat or aircraft — would be exempt from state's open records law
by Alex Stuckey
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Jasmin Maurer believes St. Louis' current climate of police officer mistrust after Ferguson could be alleviated with the use of body cameras — but not if those recordings are kept from the public.
That, however, is exactly what Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff, has proposed. In a measure he outlined Wednesday to the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee, all videos from a police body camera would be exempt from the state's open records law.
Attorney General Chris Koster recently suggested barring public access to body camera recordings as well.
"By not making (the videos) public record, it seems useless to have (body cameras) when the purpose is to create a system to go back and see what's going on," said Maurer, a St. Louis resident representing the Don't Shoot Coalition.
The measure wouldn't exempt just body cameras, however. Video or audio recorded from any device used by an officer — such as one attached to a car, boat or aircraft — also would be exempt.
Libla's measure is one of at least eight addressing police audio and video recordings after the fatal shooting in August of Michael Brown by then-Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson. A video might have clarified the circumstances.
Those in support of Libla's bill cited privacy concerns.
Sheldon Lineback, executive director for Missouri Police Chiefs Association, noted numerous instances in which recordings were obtained by the public and then uploaded to YouTube.
"Individuals may make mistakes and those mistakes ... never come off the Internet," Lineback said Wednesday.
But Maurer and several other people testifying Wednesday noted that guidelines could help prevent that problem.
"I think there are ways to solve the legitimate privacy concerns by mandating guidelines for policies and leaving the Sunshine Law relatively intact," said John Chasnoff, representing Drone Free St. Louis.
Some of Chasnoff's suggestions included informing people they were being recorded, getting consent from crime victims before recording in their homes and prohibiting it during strip searches, for example.
Doug Crews, the Missouri Press Association executive director, said he would be in favor of recordings' being closed until an investigation is completed or declared inactive, as already stipulated in the state's open-record law.
"We should not be in a state where secret police records are the norm," Crews said. "Refusing to release records can only lead to mistrust."
Also under the measure, the state could not require law enforcement agencies to provide and use body cameras.
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said Wednesday he would be in favor of keeping body cameras on continuously should his officers ever be equipped with them. "Having to remember whether to turn a camera off and on creates tremendous problems," Dotson said, noting that officers didn't need more distractions.
But continuous recordings would be problematic, said Jeff Roorda, business manager of the St. Louis Police Officers Association.
"I know people think police are robots, but they do use the lavatory, and I don't know if anyone wants to see that," he quipped.
He said Missouri law requires that at least one party consent to a recorded conversation and that officers would not give their consent.
"It's not consent if it's required by their employer, and if the person being recorded is likely not giving their consent, there's a privacy issue and statutory issue there that nobody seems to worry about much," he said.
Dotson said that between privacy issues and significant storage costs for keeping the large number of videos, he doesn't see body cameras in use here anytime soon.
He said Koster's bill might not be the complete answer but was at least "a start" to address privacy questions.
The bill is SB 331.
Fla. cops save autistic boy's birthday after no one shows up
Police reached out to a boy and his mother after a post on social media caught the attention of the local community
by PoliceOne Staff
ST. CLOUD, Fla. — Police and firefighters in Florida reached out to a boy and his mother after a post on social media caught the attention of the local community.
According to WKMG, 6-year-old Glenn Buratti, who is autistic, invited his entire class to his sixth birthday and no one showed up.
“From the minute he woke up that day he wanted to know how many minutes until his friends came. None of the kids' parents RSVP'd, but I was still holding on to the hope that some of them would show up. It never crossed my mind that it would be zero,” his mother, Ashlee Buratti, told the Osceola News-Gazette.
When his mother took to social media to rant about her son's devastation, members of the community arrived with their children to celebrate Glenn's big day.
The post also reached the Osceola County Sheriff's Office, who flew a helicopter over the boy's home on the day of his birthday.
"One of our friends put him up on their shoulders and Glenn was smiling the whole time and waved. It was amazing," Buratti told WKMG.
Along with the town's firefighters, the department arrived with gifts for the boy a few days later, the Osceola News-Gazette reported.
Cleveland clergy: Bring back police foot patrols, mini-stations and community policing
by Leila Atassi
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Leaders of Cleveland's faith-based community say a federal consent decree to address police use of excessive force should call for officers to return to the tenets of community policing with foot patrols, mini-stations in each neighborhood and frequent public forums.
U.S. Justice Department officials solicited public input in advance of negotiations with city officials on a plan to rectify what federal investigators called, in a 58-page report released in December, a pattern or practice of excessive force by Cleveland police officers.
Private citizens, religious organizations, activists and attorneys are among those who have weighed in with their thoughts.
In a written statement to Justice Department officials, made public Feb. 5, Chairman of the Cleveland Clergy Alliance, Pastor Lorenzo Norris, suggested that the consent decree require at least 1,500 hours of training on community policing methods, constitutional law, interacting with the mentally ill, bias-free policing and the use of technology. (See this written statement and others in the document viewers below.)
Norris recommended that the police department revise its human resources policies to ensure that a prospective officer's references are thoroughly consulted. And he called for the department to increase recruiting efforts in minority neighborhoods using media and newsletters, as well as hosting events to let members of the community meet cadets.
The department should adopt a zero-tolerance policy on racial profiling. And the Civilian Review Board, responsible for investigating allegations of police misconduct, should either be elected or chosen based on a lottery system similar to jury duty, Norris wrote.
To enhance the community policing effort, children should be taught in school how to interact properly with police officers, and the department should hold police-community summits in each ward every 90 days, he wrote.
Another group of about a half-dozen local pastors called for a review of the city charter to determine whether police officers are granted unfair advantages over the citizens they serve and to strike any laws that grant qualified immunity to officers.
The group -- including pastors Larry Harris, Dennis Tatum, Jimmy Gates, Aaron Phillips and bishops Tony Minor and Eugene W. Ward, Jr. -- made a number of suggestions on issues governed by union contract.
For example, the group stated that the mayor and police chief should be empowered to immediately fire officers guilty of misconduct, excessive force or negligence. And officers who are under investigation should be banned from accepting overtime assignments.
Also, promotions should be based on aptitude and job performance, not only on the results of promotional exams or seniority, the group recommended -- adding that the city should abstain from signing a new contract with the police union until the consent decree is finalized.
Citizens' videos depicting police misconduct must be welcomed as evidence either during the internal review process or prosecution of police misconduct.
The group called for greater transparency in how the Office of Professional Standards and the Citizen Review Board handle cases, with periodic public meetings and published reports on the outcomes of internal investigations.
The city also should make public the amount of money paid in settlements or judgments to victims of police wrongdoing or their families, the group said.
The pastors called for sensitivity training for officers working with substance abusers, the mentally ill or people with mental challenges and for better background checks on prospective officers -- their mental health, past employment and social activities.
Greater Cleveland Congregations, a nonpartisan coalition representing more than 40 congregations and 20,000 people, hosted a series of meetings to develop its recommendations on police reform.
The group outlined four suggestions during a public forum earlier this month before formally handing them over to Mayor Frank Jackson and U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach at a packed Olivet Institutional Baptist Church.
GCC wants police to follow clearly established constitutional standards and called for the development and revision of policies on bias-free policing, use of force and stops, searches and seizures.
The group recommended the systematic collection and review of police data to ensure that best practices are followed. GCC also believes a consent decree must require policy changes that would, among other things, lead to a more diverse police force, give all officers specialized training in de-escalation and ensure potential officers are properly vetted.
The group hopes for the implementation of an independent auditor who would ensure new and revised policies are followed, and an online system that would make police data and policies readily available to the public.
GCC called for a consent decree to include technical assistance from the Justice Department that would help Cleveland find the money necessary to implement changes. And the group wants the city to earmark funds for consent decree costs.
Coatesville PD takes a softer approach to community policing
America Responds With Love helps police respond to traumatized children
by Kyle Carrozza
COATESVILLE – The city's Police Department will have some new passengers in their patrol cars from now on, and these passengers will not require handcuffs.
Partnering with the nonprofit America Responds With Love, the police department will now carry teddy bears in their cars to be given out when officers respond to calls involving children.
Police Chief Jack Laufer said that America Responds With Love President and CEO Richard McDonough reached out to the police department to provide teddy bears to children who are affected by events as simple as car accidents to the more trying times such as child abuse or when parents are arrested in front of them.
“There are so many opportunities where law enforcement is put in a negative situation and the children have to view those negative circumstances,” he said. “Ultimately, the goal is to make it better for the kids.”
Laufer said that the teddy bears are a way of reaching out to children during these potentially traumatic events. He thinks that the program plays into the department's philosophy of community policing.
“That's obviously what you want to maintain and you want to try to nurture and foster, is that certain level of innocence at that age,” he said. “Could it potentially maintain and shape them for their future development? I would say yes.”
Sgt. Rodger Ollis, whose daughters helped select the bears, agreed.
“It does speak to our mission; we're protectors,” he said.
Ohio measure would provide training for police
Proposal requires schooling in community-oriented policing
by Jim Krumel
COLUMBUS — A bill introduced Tuesday in the Ohio Senate would appropriate $15 million toward the training of law officers in community-policing techniques. However, it stopped short of providing communities with money for the hiring of officers.
Senate Bill 23 would establish a Community Police Relations Commission, require training in community focused de-escalation techniques, and require the collection of data on the use of force and racial interaction in Ohio.
Recent events in Beavercreek, Cleveland, Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City have brought attention to the relationships between police and the communities they are sworn to protect.
“These incidents indicate a deeper systemic problem that requires a long-term solution,” said state Sen. Cecil Thomas, D-Cincinnati, the bill's sponsor.
Community policing has been an issue in Lima in recent months with the local branch of the NAACP as well as a group of black ministers pushing for it. City Council appropriated funds for the hiring of three officers as well as a supervisor. However, funding the program in the long-term could be a problem.
The three-prong approach pushed in Senate Bill 23 would do the following:
•Establish an 18-member Ohio Community-Policy Relations Commission (non-compensated) to investigate and evaluate the circumstances and standards surrounding the use of force in police response to conflict situations and recommend best practices. It would appropriate $700,000 in 2015 to develop the Community Police Relations Commission.
•Requires that peace officers and troopers, as a part of their annual 24-hour continuing professional training, complete a minimum of six hours over a three-year period in each of the areas of de-escalation techniques, mental health and special-condition response, and cultural sensitivity.
•Requires the race, age and sex of one or more individuals be recorded after each officer-related incident if the law enforcement agency requires a report to be filed. It also would require a law enforcement officer who issues a traffic ticket to record the perceived race of the individual.
“This bill is not a final solution to the issues that need to be addressed, but it is a good starting point for our state to work toward better community and police relations,” Thomas said.
Thomas is a veteran of the Cincinnati Police Department, and former executive director of the Cincinnati Human Relations Committee. He was instrumental in diffusing civil unrest in Cincinnati in 2001.
ISIS militants reportedly burn to death 45 people in western Iraqi town
by Fox News
State militants reportedly have burned to death 45 people in the western Iraqi town of al-Baghdadi on Tuesday, just five miles away from an air base staffed by hundreds of U.S. Marines.
The identities of the victims are not clear, the local police chief told the BBC, but some are believed to be among the security forces that have been clashing with ISIS for control of the town. ISIS fighters reportedly captured most of the town last week.
Col. Qasim Obeidi, pleading for help from the Iraqi government and international community, said a compound that houses families of security personnel and officials is now under siege.
The reports come days after ISIS released a video purportedly showing the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians along a beach in Libya, sparking an international outcry, including commendation from Pope Francis, who called the killings "barbaric.”
Earlier this month, ISIS released another video showing a fleet of vehicles flying the black ISIS flag and driving through what is believed to be the streets of Benghazi, Libya. The video shows the vehicles being cheered by men, women and children as they drive by.
On Friday, a media group linked to ISIS released a four-minute video titled "Peshmerga Captives in Kirkuk Province,” which purportedly showed Kurdish prisoners -- imprisoned in iron cages -- being driven around on trucks in Iraq, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute.
The imagery of the prisoner convoy in orange uniforms was similar to the scenes of an execution of a Jordanian pilot. In a video released by ISIS two weeks ago, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh was shown being burned alive in a cage.
Al-Baghdadi, which is about 50 miles northwest of Ramadi in Anbar province, is located about five miles from Ain al-Asad air base, where 400 U.S. military personnel are training Iraqi soldiers and Sunni tribesmen to take on ISIS. The base was raided last week by a small band of fighters, in what some experts believe may have been a probe in preparation for a full-scale attack.
The base has been the target of sporadic mortar fire in past weeks, and the jihadist army has been moving forces from its strongholds in Syria to Anbar Province, possibly setting the stage for a major clash with forces on the base that is now the sole bulwark between ISIS and Baghdad.
There are currently nearly 2,600 U.S. forces in Iraq, including about 450 who are training Iraqi troops at three bases across the country, including al-Asad. Forces from other coalition countries conduct the training at the fourth site, in the northern city of Irbil.
But even if Islamic State militants close in on the base, taking it would require a massive force, that would present a target for airstrikes, retired Col. Thomas Lynch, a National Defense University fellow, told Fox News.
Obama summit aims to battle extremists, Islamic and otherwise
by Kevin Liptak
At this week's summit on combating violent extremists, President Barack Obama hopes to concoct ways to battle a threat made newly relevant by attacks in Western Europe, Canada and Australia.
But in planning and describing the event in Washington, the White House has consistently avoided naming Islamic extremism as its central focus, and officials say the meeting isn't meant to cover only the threats posed by the Islamic State terror group in Iraq and Syria.
Extremists drawn to terrorism "come in all sorts of shapes and sizes," one senior administration official said on Monday, adding the U.S. regards the perpetrators of recent attacks in France and Denmark as terrorists, not members of a particular religion.
"We call them our enemies and we'll be treating them as such," said the official.
The refusal to name Islamic extremism as the central threat has drawn anger from Republicans and confusion from some terrorism experts who say the threat from Muslim-aligned radicals should be addressed directly.
"I think the criticism is understandable -- the terrorists themselves are claiming to be doing this in the name of Islam, and the White House is having to walk this very fine line," said Bobby Ghosh, a CNN global affairs analyst. "It basically risks scorn because people are going to take away from this -- some people -- that the White House is bending over too far backwards and not addressing the problem head on."
Obama and his aides say they're wary of elevating the terrorists who committed attacks in Paris and Copenhagen into religious warriors, even if those culprits were acting in the name of Islam. And officials worry Muslim communities -- most of which reject extremist ideology -- could be further ostracized if the government focuses on radical cells.
"I don't quibble with labels. I think we all recognize that this is a particular problem that has roots in Muslim communities," Obama told CNN's Fareed Zakaria in a January interview. "But I think we do ourselves a disservice in this fight if we are not taking into account the fact that the overwhelming majority of Muslims reject this ideology."
Eric Holder, Obama's attorney general, downplayed the language the administration chooses to describe its efforts against extremism, and characterized the controversy around the matter as a right-wing media creation.
"If Fox didn't talk about this, they would have nothing else to talk about," Holder said at a journalism forum in Washington on Tuesday.
"I don't worry an awful lot about what the appropriate terminology ought to be," Holder said. "I think that people need to actually think about that and think about really, we're having this conversation about words as opposed to what our actions ought to be?"
In organizing this week's summit, officials say a priority is identifying and preventing Islamic extremism in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, even if the official name for the event doesn't spell that out.
The summit, which was announced in the early fall and originally meant for October, was postponed for unnamed reasons. The White House said the January terrorist attacks in Paris, which were perpetrated by Muslim extremists, prompted Obama's aides to put the summit on the schedule. In the months the summit was delayed, Islamists have also committed attacks in Canada, Australia and Denmark.
The gathering is drawing top U.S. law enforcement and counterterror officials along with foreign and interior ministers from Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Spread over three days, the summit is slated to focus both on efforts within the United States to combat extremist ideology and programs being developed overseas.
U.S. officials say they want community and national leaders to share effective techniques used to combat extremist messages, with a particular focus on social or religious communities' ability to counter extremism within their own ranks.
Vice President Joe Biden, making remarks on the opening day of the summit, said on Tuesday the U.S. "needs answers to go beyond a military answer."
"We need answers that go beyond force," Biden said. "Countries -- all of us, including the United States -- we have to work from the ground up and engage our communities and engage those who might be susceptible to being radicalized because they are marginalized."
Obama will make remarks twice: once on Wednesday during a meeting on how specific U.S. cities are handling the threat of extremism, and again to a meeting of foreign ministers at the State Department on Thursday.
Michigan man asked victims if they were Muslim before stabbing them
by Fox News
A Michigan man asked two people whether they were Muslims at a bus stop before stabbing them repeatedly Saturday, the victims told police.
Terrence Lavaron Thomas, 39, stabbed a 52-year-old Detroit man five times and another 51-year-old Detroit man who tried to intervene during the first stabbing, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Police arrested Thomas a couple of blocks away from the incident. He was carrying two knives and marijuana and told police he was a Muslim, Southfield, Mich. Police Department says.
Thomas was arraigned Tuesday on two counts of assault with intent to murder, once count of carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent and possession of a controlled substance.
The FBI is investigating whether the incident violated hate-crime laws, according to a statement from the police department.
An investigation could lead to federal charges if ethnic intimidation was a factor in the stabbing, the paper says.
Lawmakers press Ashton Carter to address sexual assault in the military
by Jacqueline Klimas
As Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter takes over a department plagued by budget cuts and increased threats to national security, lawmakers are urging him not to forget about the battle to end sexual assault within the military.
A bipartisan group of more than 50 lawmakers sent a letter last week to Mr. Carter saying that while previous secretaries have made progress, there is still a lot of work to be done, especially the “unacceptably high” rate of service members who face retaliation for reporting an attack.
“We respectfully request that as secretary of defense, you continue the commitment shown by your predecessors to addressing sexual assault in the military, bringing the full weight of your office to bear on improving the military's response to sexual assault and preventing it from happening in the first place,” wrote the lawmakers, led by Reps. Mike Turner, Ohio Republican, and Niki Tsongas, Massachusetts Democrat. “Our service members must feel safe in reporting sexual assault if there is to be true progress toward ending it.”
While Mr. Carter made no specific mention of making sexual assault prevention a priority in his first message to Defense Department employees, he did promise to focus on the “well-being, safety and dignity” of troops, civilian employees and their families.
An independent report released in December found that sexual assaults across the entire military were decreasing while the reporting of the crimes was up, largely seen as a positive step forward by advocates and members of Congress.
Despite those improvements, however, the report from Rand Corp., an independent, government-supported research center, found that more than 60 percent of those who reported a crime faced retaliation, mostly from peers, though occasionally from supervisors.
A Pentagon report released last week found problems at the military academies, too, where 43 percent of women and 36 percent of men faced retaliation for reporting a sexual assault during the last school year. Fear of retaliation also stopped about 1 in 5 alleged victims from even reporting the crime at the academies, the report said.
When questioned about the high rate of retaliation in his Senate confirmation hearing earlier this month, Mr. Carter told lawmakers he was committed to fixing the problem.
“You can count on that I'm attentive to this issue of retaliation and determined to do something about it,” he said.
Members of Congress are also trying to push changes legislatively.
Rep. Jackie Speier, California Democrat, introduced a bill last week that would require service members convicted of sex-related crimes in the military to register with sex offender databases that would be available to civilian law enforcement and the public.
“They shouldn't have to wait for a convicted rapist to re-offend before they get the information they need to keep their children safe. This is a frightening loophole and it must be closed,” Ms. Speier said in a statement.
Her bill would establish a Defense Department-wide sex offender registry and require convicted troops to register for it before being released from prison, similar to practices for civilian sex offenders. It would also ensure local law enforcement and the public had access to the registry.
Under current law, military sex offenders are told to register with local authorities after getting out of the service, but many never do so. A recent report found that almost 1 in 5 military sexual assault offenders do not appear in any public registry, Ms. Speier said.
“This is a national security issue,” said Col. Don Christensen, a retired Air Force chief prosecutor and president of Protect Our Defenders. “Because the military doesn't track sex offenders within the ranks, American citizens have been assaulted, raped and even killed because these perpetrators are able to operate in our society without notice.”
North Augusta public safety to add body cameras to uniform
by Travis Highfield
North Augusta officials say the city's public safety officers do everything by the book.
To prove it, they'll be equipping officers with body-worn cameras to add a layer of accountability and protect the North Augusta Department of Public Safety from false accusations of misconduct.
“It just seems to be a hot topic around the country,” Lt. Tim Thornton said about the technology. “Speaking for my department and for the director, we don't have anything to hide. We're a department that believes in being transparent, and we're looking forward to adding the body-worn cameras to our equipment list as another tool at our disposal.”
On Monday, the North Augusta City Council voted unanimously to provide the public safety department with the $50,000 it needs to buy about 50 cameras and storage devices. Since it was a non-budgeted item, the money will come from the city's capital projects fund, which grew this year due to a surplus from 2014, Mayor Lark Jones said.
According to a bid invitation posted on the city's Web site last month, the Digital Ally cameras will be waterproof, record up to four hours on a single charge and store at least 32 gigabytes of data. Thornton expects the cameras to arrive within 90 days.
Though the department has 61 sworn officers, only uniformed patrol officers will be equipped with cameras.
Jones said the cameras will offer more insight on the daily work of the city's public safety officers.
“I think the cameras are going to show our officers operate appropriately and properly 99 percent of the time,” he said. “I think it's going to bear out that they show a great deal of restraint when dealing with the general public.”
The cameras should also add a bit of clarity to incidents that are sensitive in nature, Thornton said.
Last year, North Augusta Public Safety Officer Justin Craven fatally shot 68-year-old Earnest Satterwhite Sr. during an altercation following a vehicle chase. Craven, who has since resigned, still faces a charge of misconduct in office, according to the 11th Judicial Circuit Web site.
“We had the in-car video, but if we had a different view of what was going on then that would have been a major benefit to the officers as well as the compatibility of the witness statements,” Thornton said.
However, strapping cameras to the chest of officers is “just the tip of the iceberg,” Thornton said. Officials will continue to piece together a policy on when the cameras should be used and how long data will be stored.
The technology is already used by the Georgia Regents University Public Safety Division, the Richmond County Board of Education School Safety and Security Department and police departments in Hephzibah and Waynesboro.
In November, the Augusta Commission approved Richmond County Sheriff's Richard Roundtree's request to purchase 420 body cameras and extra memory storage at a cost of $62,000. Lt. Lewis Blanchard said the department is about a month away from deciding on which camera deputies will wear and that the first wave of about 100 cameras should arrive by May. With the equipment, the sheriff's office would become the largest local agency to use body cameras.
Federal judge temporarily blocks Obama's immigration executive action
by Fox News
A federal judge has granted a request by 26 states to temporarily block President Obama's executive action on illegal immigration, allowing a lawsuit aimed at permanently stopping the orders to make its way through the courts.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen granted the preliminary injunction Monday after hearing arguments in Brownsville, Texas last month. He wrote in a memorandum accompanying his order that the lawsuit should go forward and that without a preliminary injunction the states will "suffer irreparable harm in this case."
"The genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle," he wrote, adding that he agreed with the plaintiffs' argument that legalizing the presence of millions of people is a "virtually irreversible" action.
The first of Obama's orders -- to expand a program that protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children -- was set to start taking effect Wednesday. The other major part of Obama's order, which extends deportation protections to parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for some years, was not expected to begin until May 19.
A statement by White House press secretary Josh Earnest restated the administration's position that Obama's executive actions were within the bounds of legality.
"The Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that the federal government can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws-which is exactly what the President did when he announced commonsense policies to help fix our broken immigration system," Earnest said, later adding "The district court's decision wrongly prevents these lawful, commonsense policies from taking effect and the Department of Justice has indicated that it will appeal that decision."
An appeal by the administration would be handled by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
Hanen, who's been on the federal court since 2002 after being nominated by President George W. Bush, regularly handles border cases but wasn't known for being outspoken on immigration until a 2013 case. In his ruling in that case, he Hanen suggested the Homeland Security Department should be arresting parents living in the U.S. illegally who induce their children to cross the border illegally.
The coalition, led by Texas and made up of mostly conservative states in the South and Midwest, argues that Obama has violated the "Take Care Clause" of the U.S. Constitution, which they say limits the scope of presidential power. They also say the order will force increased investment in law enforcement, health care and education.
"Judge Hanen's decision rightly stops the President's overreach in its tracks," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement.
In their request for the injunction, the coalition said it was necessary because it would be "difficult or impossible to undo the President's lawlessness after the Defendants start granting applications for deferred action."
Congressional Republicans have vowed to block Obama's actions on immigration by cutting off Homeland Security Department spending for the program. Earlier this year, the Republican-controlled House passed a $39.7 billion spending bill to fund the department through the end of the budget year, but attached language to undo Obama's executive actions. The fate of that House-passed bill is unclear as Republicans in the Senate are six votes shy of the 60-vote majority needed to advance most legislation.
Others supporting Obama's executive order include a group of 12 mostly liberal states, including Washington and California, as well as the District of Columbia. They filed a motion with Hanen in support of Obama, arguing the directives will substantially benefit states and will further the public interest.
A group of law enforcement officials, including the Major Cities Chiefs Association and more than 20 police chiefs and sheriffs from across the country, also filed a motion in support, arguing the executive action will improve public safety by encouraging cooperation between police and individuals with concerns about their immigration status.
California State Prisoners killed at double the National Average
by Irene Müller
A shocking revelation has been made by an Associated Press analysis of corrections records -- California state prisoners are killed at the double rate than the national average. Another startling revelation was that sex offenders account for disproportionate number of victims.
When the AP cataloged all 78 killings that the correction officials reported since 2007, it was found that male sex offenders made up 15% of the total prison population. They were accountable for around 30% of homicide victims.
The deaths, 23 out of 78, took place despite the fact that special housing units were created in order to protect the weakest inmates. Not the same reason is involved behind killings, as some were killed among the general prison population.
Others are killed within the special units that were created more than 10 years back. Now, officials have affirmed that the special units have created even more gangs of inmates. Efforts were made in 2011 to reduce the population in jails.
In the efforts, lower-level offenders were kept in county jails and a higher percentage of sex offenders and violent gang members in prisons.
James Austin, president of the JFA Institute, a Washington-based consulting firm that works on prison issues, was of the view that issues like violence and homicides would not decline in the state's prisons till the time the prison population level goes well below the level set by the courts, which is 137.5% of the system's designed capacity.
From 2001 to 2012, 162 California prisoners were killed, which is double the national average over the same period. Also, the percentage is much higher than in the other large states, including Texas, New York and Illinois.
As per experts, the state could be able to protect sex offenders if they are separated into their own facilities.
How America's Police Forces Are Solving The Crisis Of Mistrust
by Kate Abbey-Lambertz and Joseph Erbentraut
Raising a black son, Gail Howard couldn't shake the fear that someday, he was going to get shot. She even saw a therapist, who told her the odds were higher that she'd win the lottery. Jordan, an A student and an athlete, wanted her to relax, too -- he told her she treated him like a baby. The 17-year-old spent the entire day of Jan. 5, 2011, begging his mother for permission to walk alone to meet up with friends. Eventually, she grudgingly gave in.
I said, Well see how safe this town is once your eyes are looking down the barrel of a gun, Howard, who lives in Redlands, California, told The Huffington Post. Those were the last words I spoke to him, and then 15 minutes later I get a phone call, hes shot in the eye
Jordan and one of his friends were lucky enough to survive the gang shooting that took place that day; two other boys who were with them at the playground were not. Over the course of the yearlong investigation that followed, Howard -- who had previously had few interactions with police -- began to see local police officers as partners rather than patrolmen, forging bonds that would last far beyond the investigation and inspire her to begin fighting for the city's kids.
They did not stop until they figured out who shot my boy and his friends, Howard said of the Redlands police, who eventually caught the shooters; they were convicted and sentenced to life behind bars. I'm forever grateful to them.
Howards attitude may come as a surprise at a time when relations between many police departments and their communities appear strained. The public remains outraged over the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and the subsequent failure to indict the police officers who killed them. In fact, there seems to be one thing nearly everyone agrees on after the months of protests those killings inspired: The relationships between American police and the communities they protect, particularly minority communities, are in need of serious repair.
The system of policing has earned our mistrust," said Opal Tometi, a New York-based activist and co-founder of the #BlackLivesMatter campaign. In many ways, Tometi's group embodies the recent decline in relations between police and communities.
#BlackLivesMatter protests across the country have called for reforms including increased accountability surrounding police shootings and a reduction in the use of military equipment by local police departments. The shooting of two New York City police officers shortly after the announcement of the Garner verdict further intensified the national debate on policing in America.
But beyond the headlines, many police forces are working to build trust with their communities. Police experts say that improved relations can be attributed largely to common-sense approaches that build on the philosophy known as community policing.
Ordinary, good police work is not terribly newsworthy,â said Gary Cordner, a professor of criminal justice at Kutztown University, "but lots and lots of good, ordinary police work goes on every day just about everywhere.
In the wake of recent police killings, national leaders and local police departments are increasingly turning to the community policing model that cities like Redlands have relied on for years. People like Gail and Jordan Howard are proof that the model can deliver on its promise of helping police and communities work together.
At a time of strained police relations, community-oriented policing offers a different approach -- one that makes good relationships essential to good police work.
The U.S. Department of Justices Community Oriented Policing Services office defines community policing as philosophy that promotes organizational strategies, which support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques, to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder and fear of crime.
Some police departments began emphasizing community policing during the 1970s, in response to the political unrest and widespread protests of the 1960s. The nation was reeling from incidents like the 1965 Watts Riots in Los Angeles, the protests that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, the Stonewall Riots in 1969 and a number of anti-Vietnam War demonstrations that featured violent confrontations between police and civilians. The conditions were, as they are now, ripe for reform.
In practice, community policing involves forming partnerships with community organizations, prioritizing transparency, actively pursuing feedback and establishing programs that allow police to engage with residents outside of the law enforcement arena. At its best, the practice allows community members to feel heard, respected and empowered to help police control crime in their neighborhoods, rather than feeling that officers are solely there to enforce laws through aggressive stopping, questioning, arresting and incarcerating.
You can't arrest your way out of community problems,â said Scott Nadeau, police chief of Columbia Heights, Minnesota. Nadeau took over the police department in 2008, and oversaw a shift to a community-focused approach. Thats something that I think is important for us as a community and us as a police agency to understand," he said. "Enforcement is a piece of the puzzle, but it's only one piece.
Columbia Heights, an inner-ring Minneapolis suburb, was battling high crime rates when Nadeau took over, bringing with him a background in community-oriented policing. Four years later, the department won an international award for community policing after crime hit a 25-year low.
All officers in Nadeaus department are required to perform at least 10 hours of community policing activities every year, though he said most devote closer to 40 hours to the work. Officers are encouraged to choose activities that match their skills and interests. There are many choices: conducting CPR trainings, answering questions at classes for recent immigrants, serving food at a churchâs community dinner or holding Coffee with a Cop open hours, where residents are free to speak their minds with officers.
Nadeau said that community policing "wasn't always popular with [officers], it took months or years for some people to see the value." He noted that the department took care to introduce new initiatives slowly. But I think even the officers we had that were more traditional saw the changes in the relationships between our police department and the community," he said.
Through the programs Nadeau has implemented, police hope to gain the trust of residents. But the officers themselves may also come away with a better view of community members.
Law enforcement officers, many times, end up having ... a jaded view of police and community contacts just because of all the negative experiences that they have as a result of just doing their jobs, Nadeau said. I think that having these positive interactions ... helps them to maybe refocus somewhat on the fact that the majority of the people in our community are great citizens and those relationships are important to both sides.
Building trust between police and the community has to start from an early age.
When Nadeau first came to Columbia Heights, youth crime rates were high, and a school board member told him that police had an especially rocky relationship with kids. Now, under Nadeau's leadership, a major focus of the citys community policing efforts is on youth. The department offers a variety of programs -- from open gym hours to one-on-one mentoring -- and officers visit each first-, second-, third- and fourth-grade classroom in the citys schools at least once a school year, building community trust from an early age. Since 2008, juvenile arrests in Columbia Heights have dropped by more than half. (Nationwide, juvenile arrest rates also fell during this period, though not as steeply.)
Officer visits to classrooms give students a chance to see that familiar face, that this is a person that works in our community that cares about kids and families said Michele DeWitt, principal of Highland Elementary School. This, she noted, is particularly important for students who have had negative experiences with law enforcement, like seeing family members be arrested.
Nadeau approached DeWitt a few years ago about the possibility of police doing more youth outreach. They started by getting the department involved in a bullying prevention program, in which officers would read anti-bullying books and discuss them with classes. The mentoring program followed soon after. And theres the annual visit when police let kids check out squad cars -- not surprisingly, a student favorite.
It was a really concerted effort, DeWitt said of Nadeaus school involvement initiatives. It wasn't just, Letâs try this and then weâll move on and try something else, it was the police chief really thinking outside the box and saying, 'What can we do to just inundate this community with a positive message?
Nadeau himself mentors a student once a week. He said that when police would walk into schools several years ago, they were greeted with alarm from teachers and fear from students, who saw their presence as a sign that something was wrong.
Now when we walk down the hallways, the teachers smile, they're happy that you're there, the police chief said. I probably get about 50 to 60 high-fives from some of the kids in the school. The fact that itâs no longer unusual to see police officers in the schools has fundamentally changed our relationships with these kids.
Many local departments adopted community policing in response to a federal push in the 1990s.
By the 1990s, the philosophy of community policing had become widely known in law enforcement. DOJ's Community Oriented Policing Services office was formed in 1994 as part of President Bill Clintons sweeping crime package. Created to support local agencies community policing efforts, COPS sought to get 100,000 officers hired and distribute billions in grants. COPS Principal Deputy Director Sandra Webb told HuffPost that the office has provided community policing funding for about 70 percent of law enforcement agencies nationwide.
But while community policing can and does occur without federal support, Webb explained that attention for COPS efforts waned after Clintons initial investment, and the departments budget declined significantly, from a high of $1.6 billion in 1998 to just $208 million for 2015. (In 2009, $550 million was budgeted, but the stimulus package also allocated a separate one-time $1 billion for hiring officers). The George W. Bush administration actually proposed completely eliminating the COPS program in all eight of its annual budget proposals, though it was never successful in accomplishing that.
According to a Justice Department survey, the late 1990s saw a marked increase in the number of dedicated community policing officers specifically tasked with building relationships in their assigned neighborhoods: In 1997, 34 percent of all departments used such officers, while by 2000, the number had jumped to 66 percent. Similarly, there were 17,000 dedicated community policing officers in local departments in 1997, compared to 103,000 in 2000. But the survey found that starting in 2000, the number of community policing officers began to decline sharply, and had dropped by more than half by 2007.
But aggressive policing tactics gradually became more commonplace.
Mike Scott, director and founder of the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, says that by the turn of the millennium, a confluence of factors had contributed to a turn away from a community-oriented approach toward more aggressive policing.
These included the gradual militarization of even small local departments, which began to use SWAT team-style tactics more regularly, as well as a tougher response to political protests in light of the violent showdown between police and protesters at the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle. Police also began to rely more on strategies associated with the war on drugs, such as stop-and-frisk. In addition, "broken windows" policing, a controversial approach in which police departments aggressively pursue low-level crime, became more common in the late 1990s. Finally, after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, federal funds previously devoted to community policing programs were redirected to fund counterterrorism and surveillance efforts.
Starting in 2008, the Great Recession also contributed to the shift, with many police departments seeing slashed budgets -- in Redlands, for example, department staff was cut by a third. Once the federal support for community policing began to disappear, Scott argues, many cash-strapped departments that were less invested in the concept turned their attention to areas where more federal dollars were coming in, particularly counterterrorism and disaster preparedness. Cities like Redlands, which were genuinely interested in community policing, didn't change their philosophies, though they had to carry them out with fewer resources.
Though many law enforcement agencies have turned to more aggressive strategies, they haven't necessarily created safer communities or better relationships.
The result, Scott says, was a rise in aggressive policing that eroded much of the progress that community policing had made, particularly among minorities. As critics of broken windows have pointed out, there is little evidence that aggressive policing has made most communities significantly safer.
Scott argues that the coexistence of community policing and the aggressive approach grew increasingly schizophrenic, essentially canceling each other out. A departmentâs community policing arm might take a softer, problem-solving approach in a neighborhood during the day, only to have that goodwill undone by SWAT-style tactics in the same neighborhood that same night.
If we've learned nothing else over 200 years or so of policing, it's that police will never gain either the trust of the public or improve their personal safety solely by aggressive policing, Scott said. It's a failed strategy. It's a natural kind of reaction, but it's the wrong reaction.
With a renewed focus on community policing, plenty of cities can serve as models for others looking to adopt the philosophy.
The Justice Department has acknowledged the problem: Amid protests over Brown's and Garner's deaths, DOJ last fall announced the launch of a new three-year initiative to study racial bias in the criminal justice system and restore community trust in the police. In December, President Barack Obama again called for investment in community policing, proposing a $260 million funding package that would in part go toward providing training and resources for police reform.
Across the country, many local police departments are also renewing their efforts to change the way they interact with communities. When the U.S. Conference of Mayors convened last month, it addressed the deaths of Brown and Garner and issued recommendations that cities use community policing to improve residents trust. From Chatham, New Jersey, to Sacramento, California, police departments are testing out new ways to improve their relationships with the communities they serve.
Redlands is one of the places where the community approach has become a fundamental part of policing. In 1993, then-Police Captain Jim Bueermann was tasked with overseeing a transition from traditional to community-oriented policing in response to strained relations between the department and the public.
Bueermann, who became police chief in 1998 and served until 2011, was known for the partnerships he made and his heavy reliance on evidence-driven strategies. Under his leadership, Redlands housing, recreation and senior services departments were consolidated into the police department as part of a program to identify risks for young people. Though the city eventually separated the departments again, the collaboration -- involving schools, hospitals, the probation department and businesses -- gave police the ability to make quality-of-life services and crime prevention a core part of their community policing approach.
Police and community have to co-produce public safety said Bueerman, who now heads a nonprofit dedicated to innovations in policing. That's probably one of the strongest pieces of community policing that frequently gets missed by practitioners. They have to reach out to the community and say ... How are we, all of us, going to solve this problem?
Ed Gomez, a history professor who has lived in Redlands for 11 years, commends Bueermann for promoting peace, balance and trust in the community. Gomez chairs the citys Human Relations Commission, a volunteer advisory board that works with city officials to address residents' concerns and protect their rights. The board, Gomez said, doesn't often hear complaints about the police department. Gomez believes current Chief Mark Garcia, who took over from Bueermann in 2011, has continued his predecessors legacy. But, he cautioned, community trust can't be taken for granted.
That's something that will go away if it's not held sacred by the citizens and the police department itself, Gomez said. I believe Chief Garcia is doing what he can to keep things in place the way they were, so I hope he will continue that and maybe even take a more active role. It will also be up to the community to hold his feet to the fire.
Current officers say they're dedicated to continuing a legacy of trust with residents.
I think the community has a high expectation of us, and we have a high expectation of them back, Redlands Police Commander Chris Catren said. When significant crime, especially, occurs, their expectation is that weâre going to do everything we can to solve it, and our expectation conversely is that they're going to assist us, and they do.
And when tragedy does strike, it's easier for the community to recover when everyone is working together.
Redlands approach was put to the test when Gail Howards son and three others boys were shot in an unprovoked attack at a playground. Throughout the subsequent investigation, police treated the shooting as a tragedy not just for the victims and their families, but also for the department.
Lt. Mike Reiss told me that night at the hospital, This is personal, they shot my son, they shot my boy, Howard said. Reiss had been a football coach for Jordan before the shooting. Jordan, now 20, is healthy and still plays football.
The week after the shooting, the police department partnered with faith groups to lead a vigil for the victims. About a thousand people marched alongside officers from the location of the shooting to nearby Micah House, an after-school program for at-risk kids and one of the police departments partner organizations.
The fact that they pulled together and put on a march right afterwards showed a desire to pull the community together, and it did pull the community together, said Dianna Lawson, a Micah House program coordinator. It just made a difference.
Community policing means working proactively and building relationships in the face of tension and issues.
In the aftermath of the shooting, there was concern from residents that police weren't dedicating enough resources to the area where the incident occurred, on Redlands' north side, which Gomez described as the historically poor part of the city. Garcia said the department responded by increasing their presence in the neighborhood, stationing a community policing officer at Micah House and conducting regular meetings with local citizen groups to exchange information.
And though Howard was appreciative of the police's efforts, as the investigation dragged on, some of the relatives of the other victims accused the department of not putting enough work into the case. Howard said they and some others in the black community believed the case was not getting sufficient attention because the victims were black. She thinks this notion is false, though she acknowledged that Redlands' efforts hadn't fully erased minorities' distrust of police.
I do feel like I'm in the middle of something, that a lot of people in the black community want me to actually hate the police, and not like the police, but I cannot feel that way,she said, referencing the national protests over police brutality. You've got to understand where I've been and how much they've done for me.
Since her sons close call, Howards relationship with police has helped her find ways to get more involved in the community. She took charge of the Shop with a Cop program, which allows needy kids to go holiday shopping while fostering relationships between children and police officers.
Some of these kids, the only contact they have with police is seeing their parent be wrestled down to the ground and handcuffed, and we want them to know that there's good officers out there. ... I want kids not to be afraid to approach that police officer,Howard said.
The crazy thing about it is at the end, you see the officers giving the kids their phone numbers, If you need something or someone to talk to, give me a call, she added. And to me, that's a success, because now it's personal.
Each year since the shooting, Howard has held a vigil to remember the victims. She noted that the police chief or members of the force have attended every march.
But building trust isn't easy for minority groups who have long felt the police have failed them.
Even amid the best of intentions, the shift away from traditional policing can be difficult to implement. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to the community policing approach is fostering trust among minority groups.
A 2014 Pew Research poll found that while most Americans hold a generally favorable view of their local police, blacks and Latinos have much less faith in their police forces than white Americans do.
Bridging that gap by reaching out to minority groups is a key part of community policing, and the Columbia Heights police department has made it a priority. Dana Caraway, a pastoral assistant at the multicultural Church of Nations, said that her church has a robust relationship with local police. But it's difficult to surmount the historic tensions that some minority groups perceive between racial justice and the very institution of policing. The pervasiveness of those tensions came to the surface in Columbia Heights several years ago, when the Church of Nations discovered that minority members felt uncomfortable about the presence of patrol officers idling in the church parking lot.
The city of Madison, Wisconsin, began implementing community policing in the early 1980s. At that time, David Couper, who served as Madisonâs chief of police from 1972 until 1993, pushed his department to work in a more community-oriented, decentralized way, and also sought to diversify what was then a mostly white, entirely male department. Couper essentially invented what has been dubbed in some circles as the "Madison way" of community policing. Under his watch, the first officer focused on community policing took to the streets of Madison.
Today, the department maintains a number of community policing initiatives, including a citizen police academy, black and Latino youth academies, teams of mental health officers and community policing teams dedicated to each of the cityâs neighborhoods. An Amigos en Azula team works in the departments Hispanic-majority South District to erode the barriers between officers and the citys Latino residents.
But although the department was an early adopter of community policing and has been heralded as a success story, statistics show the Wisconsin capital still has a long way to go. The city has an overwhelmingly high disparity between arrest rates of black and white residents, with black residents estimated to be nine times more likely to be arrested than whites.
Some solutions may be perceived negatively by those for whom police mistrust is difficult to discard.
That disparity was at the heart of an open letter penned last month by an activist group called the Young, Black and Gifted Coalition, which discussed the issue of arrest rates as well as the deaths of Brown and Garner.
In the letter, the group criticized Madison's community policing efforts as ineffective, called for vast reforms to the local criminal justice system and outlined its preferred form of policing in minority neighborhoods: None whatsoever.
Although Madison's model of community policing and attempt to build trust between the community and police, even acting as social workers, may be a step above certain other communities, our arrest rates and incarceration disparities still top the nation, the letter read. Our ultimate goal is finding alternatives to incarceration and policing, and our steps forward as a community should reflect the values of community control and self-determination.
Anthony Ward, a former Madison police officer who now works with at-risk African-American boys, acknowledged that the department has its heart in the right place when it comes to using community policing in minority neighborhoods. But in practice, he argued, the strategy results in a much higher number of officers in squad cars driving through communities of color and poor areas, which Ward believes sends a strong message to residents.
While community policing sounds fine and dandy, what is actually happening is community seizing, Ward said. Weâre not saying we won't call the police when we need help, but people in minority neighborhoods don't need to see them every time we look over our shoulder as if the community doesn't know how to take care of themselves, like we're savages and need a police presence to be civilized.
Mike Koval, Madison's current chief of police, admitted that his department has played an undeniable role in minority communitiesâ negative impressions of the way people of color are policed. However, Koval said that instead of pulling back at this tense moment, he wants his department to double down on its commitment to a community-oriented approach. He thinks the time is right for officers to take on the role of problem solvers, rather than simply law enforcers.
Right now, it's almost a calculus of a perfect storm for when community policing can really make some inroads on rebuilding some community trust, Koval said. To me, this only creates an even greater challenge for our officers to prove our critics wrong.
Ward hopes the department will do a better job pairing officers with neighborhoods they genuinely care about and ensuring that all officers are trained in cultural awareness. Only then, he said, can an effective partnership between communities of color and police officers be formed and the disparity in arrest rates and community trust be meaningfully addressed.
I believe minority groups are going to be the ones who are going to change our community, who are going to make it better and we can do that in conjunction with police officers, but not with them at the helm, he said.
It's a difficult task, but the conditions are ripe for change.
Like some of the skeptics in Madison, Tometi, the #BlackLivesMatter co-founder, is hesitant to embrace community policing, which she describes as euphemism for more surveillance of minority communities. Tometi considers community policing on its own to be "empty rhetoric," unless it is accompanied by meaningful community investment and the altogether rejection of "broken windows" policing. She is hopeful that the demonstrations led by #BlackLivesMatter and other groups can help inspire such reform.
Training will not help if officers do not have a fundamental shift in how they understand their roles as public servants, not as racial profiling agents, Tometi said. For us, an end to broken windows is healing. Community investment is healing. Not more police or policing technologies for more surveillance and racial profiling.
Despite the challenges, some experts are cautiously optimistic for change.
Couper, who today is an Episcopal priest and maintains the blog Improving Police, said he is hopeful some departments with wise leaders and probably wise mayors in their cities will take advantage of what he sees as an opportunity for police to take a new approach.
We're at a position where we can take the more comfortable way and the way we do that is to maintain the status quo. The argument for the status quo is they haven't done anything wrong and to wait until it blows over, Couper said. Or, we can show some leadership and ask: Why is it that we're so mistrusted, why are we losing support and blaming the messenger on this?
Change is (hopefully) coming, but from my experience it will take a long, long time,â Couper said later, when asked specifically about the racial tensions in Madison. But why not start now?
And sometimes even small gestures end up going a long way.
You can't always solve them, but people need to see police trying to solve the problems that the people who live there regard as problems, to see them working on their behalf as opposed to pursuing their own interests or something else, said Cordner, the Kutztown professor. You can't just repaint the police cars or hire a new police chief.
Policing is frequently not pleasant, sometimes it's very complicated and just messy, Bueermann said. A police departments ability to weather a controversial incident -- it's almost always involving use of force -- is a direct function of the trust and confidence the public has in that department.
Nadeau acknowledged that the national focus on police brutality and mistreatment of minorities has had an effect on residents impressions of police in Columbia Heights. But he believes that a fundamental part of his job is to engage those concerns, and to actually implement the feedback he gets. So, when Caraway told police that residents were responding negatively to officers idling in the church parking lot, the department ended the practice and met with the congregation to address the concerns. It was a small act, but an example of the philosophy that, over time, may be one of the best chances to repair the damaged relationships between police and the public.
Community policing will help South Fairbanks
by Randall Aragon
FAIRBANKS — This is my debut article of what will be a monthly column in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. My key objective will be to ensure that readers within our community are provided what I consider as the most important information relating to our law enforcement agency's efforts relating to:
1. How we are attempting to prevent and control crime;
2. Reducing citizens' fear of crime; and finally,
3. Key tips on crime prevention.
Before moving on about our agency's transition to community-based policing (also known as community-oriented policing) I wish to express how honored I am to be part of the Fairbanks community. I have mentioned at each of my meet-and-greet meetings since my appointment in November about how kind, considerate, and pleasant I have been treated since my arrival in Fairbanks. Our city's motto “The Golden Heart City” is not a myth: I am deeply honored to have been selected to serve and protect its fine citizenry.
Even before considering my move to the Last Frontier, I discerned our police agency as one with tremendous potential that was already delivering superb services; however, because it did not employ widely acclaimed preventative crime-control strategies, our department was not achieving its full performance capability. Mayor John Eberhart and Chief of Staff Jim Williams were and are still unquestionably interested in our agency delivering community-based policing services which has indeed been fruitful on a national basis.
Community policing is a new effort, not an old program warmed over. It is much more than just the idea of the old “beat cop.” This new concept has as its basis the idea of direct, personalized services to our community by officers (Community Policing Officers) who not only patrol an assigned neighborhood but who also are tasked with reducing crime and solving neighborhood problems within their assigned neighborhood. Not all of our department's Officers will assume this role: only those who embrace this philosophy and volunteer to be assigned to this duty will be considered; with that said I am so delighted that several Officers have already “thrown their hat in the ring” and committed to being a part of this proven policing philosophy: more on this will follow herein.
In conducting my research on the city's needs and priorities for community policing I realized that it would be a sound measure to target the Bjerremark Neighborhood as it is already undergoing an “Improvement Plan,” as requested by Mayor Eberhart, and led by our city's Environmental Engineer Jackson Fox. Jackson and I collaborated and we certainly are on the same page relating to enhancing the overall quality of life by reducing crime and the fear of crime for this neighborhood: which is essentially “South Fairbanks.” In my workup I personally contacted numerous residents who attended the Bjerremark Neighborhood Improvement Plan meetings to inquire whether they were interested in our agency initiating community policing — which would require their assigned Community Policing Officer (CPO) visiting with them at their residence. I received an astounding “yes” from all 10 residents I contacted. In fact, most stated they wish this type of effort was enacted many years ago as it was greatly needed to bring their community into a proactive partnership with the police department to work on preventing crime and other neighborhood problems/concerns rather than being reactive.
After consulting with key members of my staff it was decided that the boundary of our first target area (South Fairbanks) would almost mirror the Bjerremark Neighborhood Improvement Plan's area with one exception: it would extend further to the east and include the Richardson Highway; consequently, our initial community policing effort would consist of Airport Way on the north, Mitchell Expressway on the south, Richardson Highway on the east, and Lathrop Street on the west. To start our effort we sliced this segment in half right at 23rd Avenue and the area from that street and below will be what we will consider “South Fairbanks — South.” The upper half of that quadrant would be deemed “South Fairbanks — North” and effort on that segment would begin soon after developing South Fairbanks — South into a community watch neighborhood.
Those officers interested in community policing (and my command staff) have received their community policing training and received necessary guidance and our goals and objectives. Officers Rick Sweet, Robert Johnson and Andrew (“Ace”) Adams volunteered to be our first CPOs. On Feb. 2 the final aspect of training involved my demonstrating “introductory visitations” to CPO Sweet and CPO Johnson in South Fairbanks — South (Rick will be the CPO for this neighborhood and eventually Robert will take over in the northern segment). We visited two families — each was certainly grateful and quite surprised to see their police officers in a “different light.” Our brief 10-15 minute discussion and survey in their residence was well accepted (one family offered to have us to partake in their dinner meal.) They each had indicated concerns within their neighborhood; CPO Sweet took down such information, indicated he and the department would work on addressing the concerns and get back to them when they were resolved.
The next phase in this effort is to conduct a Community Watch Kickoff Meeting for the “South Fairbanks — South Neighborhood” which is scheduled for 6 p.m. March 3 at the J.P. Jones Community Development Center, 2400 Rickert Street. Residents residing in the “South Fairbanks—South Neighborhood” boundary (listed above) are urged to attend this important meeting where we will implement a community watch for this neighborhood. My Community Policing Transition Team, Mayor John Eberhart, Chief of Staff Jim Williams and other key officials will attend.
The traditional style of policing, “call a cop, send a car, make an arrest,” must give way to this more effective and proven style of “preventive policing,” which proposes moving beyond working harder and faster toward working smarter via long-term community-based problem solving. Chief Walter McNeil, who served as the 2012 President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, stated it in another manner: “In short, we now realize that we simply cannot arrest our way out of crime problems in our communities; we must all work together to include prevention.”
It is incumbent upon peace officers and our citizenry to understand that in our modern world a community-based policing philosophy that stresses developing creative solutions to prevent crimes from occurring in the first place is really the “magic bullet” in preventing and controlling crime, restoring and maintaining order, and reducing citizen's fear of crime.
Chief Randall Aragon serves as the Chief of the Fairbanks Police Department.
Hundreds protest fatal police shooting in Wash.
Coroner has decided to order an inquest, which would be open to the public, in hopes of calming "some of the fears and outrage of the community"
by The Associated Press
PASCO, Wash. — Hundreds gathered in southeastern Washington on Saturday to protest police brutality in the wake of a deadly shooting of a man who had been throwing rocks at the police.
Before the midday rally, children and adults hand-lettered signs, calling for justice for Antonio Zambrano-Montes, who witnesses say was running away when police fired on him Tuesday in a busy intersection.
A large sign hanging over the bandstand at Volunteer Park said, "Stop Police Brutality: It was just a rock!!!" Hand-lettered signs said, "Use Your Training, Not Guns," and "Good Police We Respect You."
Speakers from the community called for a full review of the Pasco police department and its policies.
Felix Vargas, chairman of Consejo Latino, a group of primarily Hispanic business leaders, called for a federal investigation into the shooting.
After the rally ended, KNDO-TV reported that a smaller group of demonstrators blocked traffic in the area of 10th and Lewis streets. Officers took control of the intersection with no resistance. There was no word of any arrests or further problems.
Four people have been shot and killed by police since last summer in this agricultural city of 68,000, where about half the population is Hispanic.
Following the gathering at the park, the crowd chanted and marched to Vinny's Bakery, where the shooting took place. The march was led by members of Zambrano-Montes' family.
The family of the orchard worker, who was a citizen of Mexico, has filed a $25 million claim with the city of Pasco, the first step toward a lawsuit.
Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel has decided to order an inquest, which would be open to the public, in hopes of calming "some of the fears and outrage of the community."
While an inquest won't proceed until police finish gathering evidence and witness statements, "it's going to make this whole investigation transparent," Blasdel said.
Denver cops told not to interfere as protesters vandalize police memorial
Denver Police Union President Nick Rogers says protesters went too far and officers should have been allowed to intervene
by The Associated Press
DENVER — Denver police are upset after they were told not to interfere with protesters who vandalized a memorial for fallen police officers during a march against police brutality.
Denver Police Union President Nick Rogers says protesters went too far and officers should have been allowed to intervene when protesters threw red paint on the memorial located outside of the department's headquarters on Saturday.
According to KCNC-TV, police Cmdr. Matt Murray told officers it is department policy not to engage protesters.
Two men were arrested and are facing charges of criminal mischief. They were not identified.
Some protesters held signs in support of Jessica Hernandez, a teenager who was shot and killed by Denver police last month while she was driving a stolen car that ended up striking an officer.
Panel recommends delays in Seattle police body cams
Community Police Commission issued a statement saying the new technology may have unintended consequences
by The Associated Press
SEATTLE — A committee has recommended Seattle delay its plan to equip police with body cameras until privacy issues can be considered and public comment heard.
The Seattle Times reports that the city's Community Police Commission issued a statement saying the new technology may have unintended consequences.
The 12-member commission has struggled for months to come to agreement on the issue. The group supported a plan to try out the camera in the East Precinct, but it is now saying the department should pause the plan to make the cameras permanent until more study can be completed.
Seattle officials had planned to equip every patrol officer with the small cameras by 2016. Other police forces across the country have already adopted police body cameras.
Many law enforcement officials support cameras' use and say they are effective. The police department in Rialto, California, found after a yearlong University of Cambridge study last year that the cameras led to an 89 percent drop in complaints against officers, possibly reining in misbehavior on the part of the public and officers as well as ultimately limiting department liability.
But Ron Smith of the Seattle Police Officers' Guild says there hasn't been enough public input on the idea.
Not all wounds are visible
I was state certified in law enforcement, graduated from state police crime scene search academy, held an associates degree in criminal justice, possessed a national emergency medical technician certification, and was fifteen years into my police career in the town where I grew up. I was physically fit, at the top of my game, and felt there wasn't anyone or anything I couldn't handle.
One of the crimes I responded to and investigated involved the murder of a pregnant mother and her two children inside their home. The mother had been tied spread eagled to the four posts of her bed, raped, and then shot twice in the head.
Her children, a girl age 7 and a boy age 5 were drowned in separate bathtubs. The young man who committed these senseless acts was apprehended, tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison.
I had responded to many events in which young people were either killed or seriously injured and felt I was processing them all extremely well, including the Gustafson family murders mentioned above. Sure I wasn't sleeping well and having some bad dreams, but don't all of us who work in emergency services do that?
In an attempt to get back into a normal sleep cycle, I went to my primary care physician and received prescription medication to help me sleep. This did little to get me back on track, so on my own I doubled my medication. My ability to sleep improved but I started to feel very tired in the morning, so I went back to the doctor and got another medication to help me get going.
Two events happened to me during this time that seemed puzzling and proved to be the starting point of a downward spiral that almost cost me my career. The first involved a young person passing by me at a police sponsored youth basketball game wearing a yellow tee shirt, identical to the one the seven-year-old murder victim was wearing when we removed her body from the bathtub.
As a result, I went into a trance in a gymnasium filled with kids and my world went silent. I'm not sure how long I remained in this state, which was broken by a youngster pulling on my shirtsleeve asking me a question.
The second occurred just a few weeks later while playing with my two-year-old granddaughter. My gaze became fixed upon her coveralls, green in color with a specific logo; exactly the same as the five-year-old murder victim. Again I went into a trance and my world went silent. After discussing these two events with my doctor, and his desire to know why I needed excessive amounts of medication, prompted him to send me to see a psychologist.
With this new doctor's help, I learned that my two “world gone silent” events were panic attacks and that I was suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder. I found out that I wasn't processing the horrific part of my professional life properly, especially tragic events involving young people.
I had heard of post-traumatic stress disorder but didn't know too much about it. Thus began a two-year face-to-face confrontation with a variety of images stored away in a mind specifically trained to take it all in, document it, and remember it. I was simply doing my job.
During my many visits to the psychologist's office I noticed a large bright red liquor sign across the street which seemed to seek me out, letting me know that instant relief was just a few feet away.
I was being weaned off prescription medications, was told by my psychologist to stay away from booze, and had seen many lives destroyed by alcohol misuse. I was tempted more than once, but never walked into the liquor store.
I was never a big drinker anyway, but one drink in the condition I was in could have ended my career, my marriage, and perhaps my life. Approximately 65% of about 100 suicide victims I had investigated were legally intoxicated. I knew from experience how fine the line became in making good decisions when alcohol was involved.
I read as much as I could about the classifications of post-traumatic stress disorder in an attempt to understand the condition and better understand my mind. I started an exercise program that included walking three miles every day. I started to become addicted to a new and healthier medication: fresh air.
I built a large stone wall around my home and took up playing two musical instruments. I found that doing things that made my mind concentrate on a specific task was good for me. I found I could exercise my brain just like I could my body.
During my two-year recovery period I remained on the job. In fact no one knew I was seeing a psychologist. There was, and still is, a certain social unacceptability that walks hand and hand with post-traumatic stress.
Had I broken my arm on the job I'd be viewed a hero. Had I broken my mind, which I had, I could be terminated. So I kept my problem to myself. The often-typical reaction of the human species to attack what can't be easily understood was my basis for secrecy. Small town politics held no exemption.
I survived my bout with post-traumatic stress and went on to complete a very rewarding career. I came to realize that children get killed. Death shows no mercy for age or no concern for those who have to attend to those matters.
Most important, I found out, at least in my situation, post-traumatic stress was nothing more than a very normal mind trying to cope with the horrific. Simple analogy? I guess, but breaking down the complex is often key to better understanding the problem, even if it takes a couple years.
William May retired as Chief of Police from the Townsend Massachusetts Police Department after thirty years of service. He is the author of “Once Upon A Crisis” which takes a close look at post-traumatic stress in emergency services from the inside out. http://www.amazon.com/Once-Upon-Crisis-Post-traumatic-Emergency/dp/098831620X