LACP - NEWS of the Week - March, 2015
on some LACP issues of interest


NEWS of the Week

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view. We present this simply as a convenience to our readership.


March, 2015 - Week 2


Oklahoma Isn't Alone in Race-Related Fraternity Incidents


Their reputations sullied by race-tainted incidents, many colleges are clamping down on campus fraternities. Despite some swift and tough actions by schools — and in some cases, public humiliation — episodes such as the racist chants by members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at the University of Oklahoma keep surfacing.

In recent years, numerous other fraternities have been suspended and students expelled from school for racially tinged parties or behavior, such as hanging nooses or shouting racial profanities.

"All too often the outcry has been, 'Look at those bad apples we need to root out,'" said Nolan L. Cabrera, a professor in the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Arizona. "When in fact the conversation we need to have is, 'Why is this occurring on such a widespread level throughout the country?'"

Many incidents come to light after the students themselves post pictures or videos online, drawing public attention; others are reported by onlookers or whistleblowers.

Either way, "it's hard to ignore a current on many, many campuses of behaviors that are just offensive and disgusting at the far end and maybe just lack common sense at the other end," said Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, a professional organization.

For example, Sigma Alpha Epsilon suspended all activity at Clemson University in South Carolina in December after white students dressed as gang members at a "Cripmas" party. That same month Phi Delta Theta halted its chapter at the University of Pennsylvania for issuing a holiday card with members posing with what it called a Beyonce sex doll.

Other examples:

—Arizona State University banned Tau Kappa Epsilon last year after its Martin Luther King Jr. Day party had guests flashing gang signs and holding watermelon-shaped cups.

—Kappa Sigma suspended its Duke University chapter in 2013 after students held an international-themed party that mocked Asians.

—Sigma Phi Epsilon shut its doors last year at the University of Mississippi after three of its members draped a Confederate banner and placed a noose around the statue of the school's first black student.

—Lehigh University suspended Sigma Chi in April 2014 and expelled members after racial slurs were spray-painted and eggs thrown at a multicultural residence hall.

Sororities have had similar problems. In 2014, Chi Omega closed its Penn State chapter in connection with a photo appearing on the Internet showing members wearing sombreros and fake mustaches and holding offensive signs — one read, "Will mow lawn for weed + beer." Two sororities at the University of Alabama were accused of denying membership to black women, prompting the university to announce in fall 2013 that more than 20 minority women were being offered membership in historically all-white sororities.

At Oklahoma, the university quickly expelled two students and banned Sigma Alpha Epsilon last week after fraternity members were filmed engaging in a racist chant that referenced lynching and indicated that black students never would be admitted to that university's chapter. Two students identified in the video have apologized publicly.

The national fraternity condemned the incident and started investigating racism allegations at universities in Louisiana and Texas after hearing that young men at two schools sang or knew of the same racist chant.

But the damage was done. The school's president, former Sen. David Boren, D-Okla., said the fraternity "won't be back — at least not as long as I'm president of the university."

Fraternities, both historically white and those mostly made up of minorities, long have been a fixture of university life. Defenders point to the system's charitable works and social and professional benefits for members.

Research by Nella Van Dyke, a professor at University of California, Merced, found that ethnic and racially biased hate crimes are more likely to be reported at predominantly white campuses and those with a large fraternity population. She said the problems are not everywhere, but they do exist.

Beyond racism, fraternities in recent years had to confront issues of sexual assault, binge drinking and hazing among their members. "I think many fraternities have a culture that makes them prone to conflict and kind of bigoted interactions, whether it's against women or against minorities," Van Dyke said.

Matthew Hughey, a sociology professor at the University of Connecticut who studies racial identity, estimated that about 3 percent or 4 percent of the members of the majority-white fraternities and sororities are nonwhite. "We shouldn't be surprised when unequal and segregated organizations say racist things. Of course they do," Hughey said.

The national fraternities are working to eliminate this kind of behavior and to train members to speak up instead of being pressured to conform, said Peter Smithhisler, president and chief executive officer of the North-American Interfraternity Conference.

"It's about the constant re-education of our membership," Smithhisler said. "And we have to be diligent in addressing our community members, sharing with them our expectations, teaching them about our values and acceptable behaviors and holding individuals accountable when they stray from that."

Fraternities have about 372,000 members among 7.7 million male undergraduate college students, according to the North-American Interfraternity Conference. They also have outsized influence on their campuses, with fraternities claiming major college donors, state lawmakers, governors, members of Congress and presidents as members. Nineteen presidents have held undergraduate or honorary fraternity membership, the conference said.

Boren's actions may become the standard among university officials, said West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee, who froze fraternities' activities last fall after the death of an 18-year-old student at a fraternity house.

"We can't blame all the ills in society, or the ills in universities, on fraternities and sororities but we can have a high level of expectation because very often these are students who are leaders on our campuses," Gee said.

Some colleges such as Bowdoin in Maine have done away with fraternities all together, while others have forced changes. In September, Wesleyan University in Connecticut announced a requirement that all residential fraternities become coed within three years. The announcement came after several highly publicized issues at fraternity houses, including allegations of sexual assault.

Others say it's unfair to pin all problems on fraternities that really need to be addressed within higher education as a whole. "It is really a mistake to make a blanket judgment," said Michael Poliakoff, the vice president of policy at the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan told MSNBC that he thinks "the vast majority of fraternities and sororities and their members conduct themselves very well and contribute to their university communities, are leaders on campus, but where we have places where racism is part of the culture, we have to challenge that."




Community policing really matters says retired Cleveland cop once on the frontlines

by Mark Naymik

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Bob Guttu was a Cleveland cop for 31 years, more than 20 of those in city's community policing unit, where he became one of its biggest proponents.

After he retired in 2008, he wrote a handbook about community policing -- a strategy many police experts believe is critical to building trust between officers and the communities they protect.

I sat with Guttu recently to hear more about his days as an officer who embraced community policing, something he notes was not accepted by all his colleagues, Some believed such efforts were unproductive, he notes in his handbook.

Guttu once staffed a storefront police outpost in Cleveland's North Collinwood neighborhood. The assignment put him in touch with residents almost daily. The trust he earned among residents paid off in 1992 after a 14-year-old Vietnamese-American boy was murdered in a robbery gone bad. Guttu tapped his sources, working the neighborhood in plain clothes and, now and then, on his own time. He convinced people to ignore the "snitches get stiches" street code and to share tips that would bring justice. The information he gathered helped detectives catch the killer. Guttu received a commendation for his work.

As city revenues and federal law enforcement grants dried up, the police force shrunk and Cleveland abandoned the neighborhood outposts - known as mini-stations -- and lots of other components of community policing.

Guttu got reassigned. But he still loved community policing. The U.S. Justice Department's recent report on Cleveland police criticized the department for what it deemed superficial community policing efforts, though the report did not consider the city's more recent community policing programs.

I detailed Cleveland's past community policing efforts in the wake of the police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in this December column. And I specifically looked at the DOJ report's analysis of the city's community policing activities in this column. At the time, I asked the city to talk to me about its current efforts. The city did not make anyone available to talk. I asked again this week. I'm still waiting.

As I've said before, community policing takes many forms. It can mean reassigning police officers to foot patrols in neighborhoods, holding regular community meetings led by police officials, running outreach programs such as DARE or staffing mini stations.

Guttu is realistic about the future of community policing. Foot patrols, which disappeared decades ago, are not likely to return. Mini stations likely won't be revived without more cops. And the success of mini stations - as well as any other community policing practices - depends on a true commitment from the city and from the officers assigned to do the work.

Guttu said the city sometimes moved officers from to mini stations to traffic duty during a Browns games or to baby sit abortion protests outside of a clinic. Guttu said such re-assignments, even temporary ones, diminishes the value of community policing.

So, what is that value?

Beyond the obvious intelligence gathering, Guttu said community policing provides a critical front line for dealing with complaints about quality-of-life issues, which include excessive noise, abandoned cars, loitering and barking dogs. He connected residents to city services and helped mitigate problems on the spot when possible.

Guttu said there's another important benefit: Community policing frees up officers assigned to patrol cars to stay focused on investigating and responding to calls about more immediate and serious dangers.

"They are the heroes," Guttu said about patrol officers.

Guttu is staying connected to community policing by working part time with the Cleveland Police Foundation, a small charity that helps support a number of police programs, including the Cleveland Police Athletic League and Cops for Kids. Guttu said the money the foundation raises is spent on activities that bring officers and residents together, such as fishing outings and sports activities.

Here's an example of Guttu's work. Last year, he helped put together a boxing gym at the city's Estabrook Recreation Center. The foundation provided the center with a ring, and Guttu shopped online to buy a heavy bag and large mirrors. He and former Second District Cmdr. Keith Sulzer - who now works in the city's community policing unit - used a police van to pick up the mirrors in the dead of winter. Once assembled, the gym made a big hit with neighborhood kids.

"They loved it," Guttu said. "You'd think we gave them a million dollars."

In December, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams invited Guttu to speak to the latest cadet class about community policing.

Guttu didn't hesitate. He made time on Christmas Eve to talk to them.



From the FBI

Law Enforcement and Race -- Continuing the Conversation

The sometimes uneasy relationship between members of law enforcement and the diverse communities they serve can be a difficult topic to discuss, but FBI Director James B. Comey today encouraged the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) to continue that conversation—and he again called for better reporting of incidents where force is used by police and against them.

During a speech to the NOBLE group in Atlanta, Georgia, Comey noted that the organization's members were “uniquely qualified as law enforcement leaders who are leaders of color” to drive this conversation forward, and he pledged that the FBI would strive to be a more diverse organization to reflect the nation it serves.

In the wake of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the assassinations of two New York City Police Department officers, and other recent racially charged police incidents around the country, Comey last month publicly addressed the contentious issue of law enforcement and race, acknowledging some “hard truths.”

“One of my worries is that we were drifting to a place where we were not having a balanced conversation,” Comey said, and not being honest about how law enforcement and ethnic communities “see” one another. He called on NOBLE members to help “foster a more balanced and open-minded discussion.”

One of Comey's goals is to have better reporting of data about encounters between police and citizens, especially violent encounters. Currently, demographic data regarding officer-involved shootings is not consistently reported to the FBI through its Uniform Crime Reporting Program because reporting is voluntary for local police departments. “In the absence of that data,” he said, “all conversations about policing and policy are uninformed, and that's not a good place to be. We can do better.”

On the issue of diversity within the FBI, Comey acknowledged that the number of minority special agents has been on a slow but steady decline, and he is working on new recruiting strategies to hire more people of color.

“Diversity must be at the core of all of our conversations at the FBI,” he said. “Diversity is about doing the right thing, but also about effectiveness. It's about being good at what we do. We are simply less effective when we are less diverse.”

A more diverse workforce allows the Bureau to connect better to the communities it serves and fosters greater trust with witnesses, victims, and even potential sources. “Diversity gives us credibility,” he explained, adding that he recently added diversity to the list of the FBI's core values. “I want to talk about it and drive it into the conversations we have in my organization every single day.”

Cedric Alexander, president of NOBLE, said he appreciated Comey's candor regarding the issue of law enforcement and race. “His willingness to be part of change in a positive way—and seeking out NOBLE to work with him and take an active role in creating a better public safety environment at all levels—is admirable. He has obviously given a lot of thought to these issues.”

Comey also spoke about the changing terrorism threat and why partnership between local, state, and federal law enforcement is in many ways more critical now than it was after the 9/11 attacks.

“We have taken the fight to core al Qaeda,” he said, and largely diminished their capacity to strike America. But spinoff groups such as ISIL have gotten “very slick at social media” and are spreading a poisonous message through the Internet. “ISIL is issuing a siren song to troubled souls,” he explained, and these homegrown terrorists are more likely to be initially noticed by a police officer on a neighborhood patrol than a federal officer.

The homegrown terror threat is occurring everywhere in the country, Comey said. “In all 50 states, there are people who are in some stage of consuming this propaganda and moving toward radicalization. Our task is to find them and disrupt them.” The only way to succeed at that, he added, is through a unified law enforcement effort.




Chattanooga officers develop 'community policing' projects to address neighborhood problems

by Kendi Anderson

Chattanooga police officer Haley Gregory drives past abandoned houses every night on patrol.

The houses litter almost every block of Highland Park; many are dilapidated.

"Abandoned houses attract a lot of crime," she said. "If it is empty, people are drawn there to cause trouble because they don't think anyone is watching."

The neighbors of Highland Park have been complaining about this problem for years, said Emerson Burch, who lives in the neighborhood.

"These houses are more than eyesores," Burch said. "They are a threat to safety."

Gregory heard residents' complaints and decided to do something. She worked with neighbors to create a way for the addresses of the abandoned houses to be recorded, and arranged for city code enforcement officers to visit the homes and address the problems.

"The project works to reduce the number of abandoned houses," Gregory said. "And hopefully prevent future crime."

Gregory is one of seven officers who recently graduated from the police academy and are working on projects in neighborhoods across the city. The approach these officers are taking, "community policing," is what Chief Fred Fletcher has been emphasizing since he took over the department last summer. Officers are no longer evaluated and praised for the number of tickets they write or arrests they make. Instead, they are expected to know the communities they patrol and be proactive instead of reactive.

"What we are asking officers to do is solve problems," Fletcher said. "Not just take people to jail."

The officers' assignment came from their supervisor, Sgt. Billy Atwell. He told them he expects them to attend community meetings, knock on doors and get to know the residents of the streets they patrol. He instructed them to listen to the neighborhood's specific fears and problems, and begin erasing blight within the community.

"It is important because it forces officers to build relationships," Atwell said. "It also gives citizens power, as they are no longer just victims at home. We are asking the community to come help us solve their problems."

Over the past six months, Officer Celtain Batterson has been working in East Lake to develop a program to reduce the high number of burglaries. In East Chattanooga, Officer Donnis Boochie is spending time in local recreation centers and at school events like volleyball games to meet youth and improve relations between officers and minors.

Officer Zach Crawford patrols an area of East Chattanooga. While working in the community, he saw a high number of domestic assaults and wanted to bring it down.

"I started talking to the community and victims of domestic violence, and wanted to see what we can do as a department to better help them," Crawford said. "Victims told me that we specifically needed to create a better follow-up program."

He listened to victims, and began researching how other police departments handle this crime. He found a department in Maryland that developed a lethality assessment form.

The form provides officers specific questions to ask victims of domestic violence. Depending on the victim's answers, it evaluates how dangerous her situation is, and what could happen next. Crawford has been working to modify the questions so they are specific to Chattanooga, and the police department plans to use the form as a resource for all officers starting this fall.

The city's Family Justice Center will receive the form along with the police report after each alleged crime of domestic violence. Dr. Valerie Radu, executive director of the Family Justice Center, said her staff will call each victim after they receive the form. This process will provide follow-up and offer a variety of resources to victims depending on their situation.

Crawford said this is the collaboration and response he was hoping for when he began the project.

"Most times, you go to a call and handle it and then leave for the next victim," he said. "This form shows victims how serious domestic violence is, and that we as a department take an interest in them as victims and want them to get help."

Mayor Andy Berke said partnerships between police, city agencies and communities are vital, and that citizens are benefiting.

"The police department is doing better work and getting more results because we have teamed up with the community in a joint effort to make our city safer," he said. "... Something we have seen is that if we ask the community to do more, they respond."

Atwell said he plans to continue asking all of his new patrol officers to develop a community project.

"It's the best way to learn community policing," he said. "I think all officers should do it."

Gregory said since starting the project she has noticed a change in Highland Park.

"It will take time before we start seeing a lot less abandoned houses," she said. "But I have gotten to know this community. Now I feel like they recognize me. They trust me."




Community policing on the rise at Villages at Garst Creek

by Amy Friedenberger

Last summer, officers Matt Hicks and Justin Hubbard were sent to check out a domestic dispute at an apartment in south Roanoke County.

They found a typical teenage brother-and-sister argument and a single mother who just needed some help from people to intervene. They also found a blanket spread on the floor in front of the television. There wasn't much furniture, save a couple of wooden chairs. The refrigerator, where bills and late notices were pinned up, was empty.

After sorting out the minor dispute, Hicks and Hubbard left. They didn't exchange words or looks as they walked out of the apartment at the Villages at Garst Creek.

Once they were outside, Hubbard turned to Hicks and said, “I'm going to get them food.”

“I'm going to pay their rent,” Hicks replied.

The two went their separate ways, and when they returned — Hicks having paid two months' rent and Hubbard having purchased groceries, both with their own money — they greeted the family again.

“We told them what we did, and they started hugging each other, and the little boy started crying, who, up until that point, we barely got a conversation out of,” Hubbard said. “Some kids don't like to open up to us anyway, but now he was saying ‘thank you' and crying. He gave us both hugs.”

After that encounter, and after the police department paid the family's electric bill, Hubbard said whenever he walked or drove by the apartment, the boy would give him a high five or ask how he was doing.

Jimmy Chapman, assistant chief of the Roanoke County Police Department, said the story is an extraordinary example of the emphasis on community interactions the department is striving to have.

The Villages at Garst Creek, a neighborhood of apartment buildings near Garst Mill Park, has been one area of focus for the police as they work on building community relations while also attacking crime. The complex is considered one of the police department's hot spots because of its crime statistics and calls for police service.

Over the past year, the complex has had the highest number of calls for service for a single location in the county.

In response, the department placed more officers in the area and is encouraging them to get out of their cars and on their feet to walk through the complex.

It wants officers to build relationships and trust with people so they feel comfortable talking about even seemingly minor crimes, such as evidence of vandalism or a person behaving suspiciously.

“For me, it's how do we help make residents feel like we can increase their safety,” Chapman said. “It's about our officers getting in there and being seen and being visible, and if the people see something unusual or out of the ordinary, they'll call.”

The Villages at Garst Creek, formerly the Sans Souci Apartments and The Mews, transformed into low-income housing in 2005. Accompanying the name change came renovations, including new appliances, windows and doors, and upgraded heating and air conditioning in the units. But neighbors at the time balked at the transition, worried that the complex would drive down property values and increase crime.

In 2007, two and a half years after the complex was sold and renovated, Donna Furrow, the assistant police chief at the time, said the number of reported crimes had remained relatively flat, while calls for service had surged. Chapman said he's not able to definitely answer how much or if crime has fluctuated over the years because of the quality of the data recorded a decade ago.

From March 2012 to May 2013 at the Villages at Garst Creek, police recorded 1,064 incidents ranging from drug offenses and residential burglaries to aggravated assault. From June 2013 to August 2014, police logged 1,219 incidents. While the numbers of some incidents, especially drug offenses and larcenies, have increased, Chapman attributes some of that to increased reporting from residents and more police activity.

Over the past year, the department prioritized where officers should be and how much time they should spend there.

Officers have boosted the number of hours they've spent in the policing zone that includes the Villages at Garst Creek, according to police data. This has helped reduce the number of larcenies from vehicles about 30 percent, Chapman said.

Police have more than doubled building checks at the complex, have initiated more traffic stops and have run radar nearly eight times more often.

“To me, it seems like it works, and it works very well,” Chapman said. “You increase your high-visibility patrol, and it has a direct relationship to those sorts of crimes.”

Managers for the Villages at Garst Creek did not respond to requests for comment.

What has also emerged is a neighborhood watch. The group meets each month at the nearby Garst Mill Presbyterian Church, and officers who patrol that area, as well as Roanoke County Police Chief Howard Hall, usually attend.

“They're usually concerned with crime statistics or other ways to make their area safer: more lighting or cutting shrubs,” said Officer Rick Crosier, crime prevention coordinator for Roanoke County police. “I'll let them know their vulnerabilities, and I'll help point out to them issues.”

Neighborhood watch members shoot ideas around, and Crosier tells them what he can do about them. They mention overgrown shrubs, littering and lighting — only one building has a floodlight, and it was installed in the fall — and a lack of community involvement. About six people regularly attend from a housing complex that has about 500 units.

“I hear your frustrations, but try to get past that,” Cmdr. Kevin Slough said. “I think it's really going to take off for you guys, I really do. It may be slow, but we want to do it correctly.”

Dea Underwood, 74, who has lived in the complex for about seven years, said he finds it comforting, not alarming, to see officers walking around.

“A handful of them one evening were walking behind my apartment,” he said, pointing toward an area where the shrubs had grown tall.

Resident Marsha Craven, 63, who has lived there for about three years, likes to walk her dogs in the evening, which she did after a recent neighborhood watch meeting wrapped up. While a floodlight beamed down in the main entryway to her apartment building, Angel, Craven's miniature dachshund, scuttled out to explore the lit-up grassy patch.

It's a small achievement for the neighborhood watch, members say, but a sign that improvements can slowly be made as long as a group of people speaks up.

“It makes a difference,” Craven said. “And it makes me feel safer.”



Washington D.C.

DOJ will use grants to encourage good community-police relations

The Justice Department will help fight crime while it tries to strengthen the bonds between police and residents of six ethnically diverse cities

by Michael Doyle

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department will help fight crime while it tries to strengthen the bonds between police and residents of six ethnically diverse cities, including Stockton, Calif., and Fort Worth, Texas, under a new program incited by the turmoil in Ferguson, Mo.

The selected cities will receive high-powered technical, research and training assistance designed to "enhance procedural justice, reduce bias and support reconciliation," according to officials who rolled out the program's details Thursday.

A $4.75 million federal grant will fund the effort for three years. By chance, it was unveiled about 13 hours after two police officers were shot and wounded during a late-night demonstration in Ferguson.

"Incidents like the one we have witnessed throw into sharp relief why conversations like the one we convened today, to build trust between law enforcement and community members, are so important," Attorney General Eric Holder said.

Formally dubbed the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, the program's outlines were first announced last September after the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer prompted widespread demonstrations and broader scrutiny of frayed relations between civilians and law enforcement.

The selected cities range in population from Stockton's 298,000 to Fort Worth's 792,000. The other cities in the pilot program are Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Gary, Ind., and Birmingham, Ala.

"This study will be a valuable tool to open the discussion on equitable treatment in major cities," Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said in a statement, calling the program "a tool to strengthen our partnership with the justice system and to continue building relationships in the community."

Crime afflicts each selected city, though to varying degrees. Stockton recorded 1,548 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2012, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports. Fort Worth recorded 587 violent crimes per 100,000 residents that same year.

"We do rank quite high, especially in the area of violent crime," Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones acknowledged in an interview Thursday, "but we see the violent crime rate dropping."

Like Ferguson, the cities selected for the new Justice Department program have significant ethnic minority populations.

Forty percent of Stockton's residents are Hispanic, 21 percent are Asian and 12 percent are African-American. In Fort Worth, 19 percent are African-American and 34 percent are Hispanic.

"African-Americans and Latinos have a sense of distrust about law enforcement," John Ervin III, founder of a Modesto, Calif.-based teen mentoring program called Project UPLIFT, said in an interview Thursday, adding that the Justice Department program could help "as long as it's a joint effort between law enforcement and the community."

Underscoring the heightened attention being paid to the issue, Ervin and other Northern San Joaquin Valley community leaders will participate in an all-day American Leadership Forum conference about community relations with law enforcement Sunday at the University of the Pacific in Stockton.

Jones said Justice Department officials "reached out" to the Stockton department to consider participating in the national initiative; in part, he said, because local officials already have tried innovations such as data-driven policing. One existing program, called Operation Ceasefire, uses data analysis to target gangs and violent youths.

Fort Worth Police Chief Rhonda Robertson said in a statement that her department was "honored" to be selected.

"Upon learning about the project, we immediately realized the opportunity it would present to strengthen our existing community partnerships and to develop new relationships built upon trust within the community," Robertson said.

A consortium with representatives from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Yale Law School, the Center for Policing Equity at UCLA and the Urban Institute will help oversee the work.

"We're talking about the leading experts (and) brightest minds in law enforcement," Jones said, adding that "we've been searching for research partners to help us."

Holder's personal announcement of the program's details likely will be among his last official acts as attorney general. The Senate next week is scheduled to begin debating the confirmation of his replacement, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch. Despite the entrenched opposition of most Republicans, Lynch appears to have the support necessary for a narrow victory.



Ferguson's Mission: Cultivate Community Policing

by Vincent J. Bove

Society can be harmonious only when governmental authority is moral. This is demonstrated when the dignity of every community member is respected.

Legitimate government honors a moral code demonstrated through goodwill toward community members.

Society needs behavior that is moral, reasonable, and just, otherwise authority becomes shameful, abusive, and intrusive.

Positions of trust in every level of American government must have moral principles as the foundation. Respect is the fundamental right of every person and enshrined in our Bill of Rights as

• freedom of speech, press, and religion

• prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures

• the right to peaceably assemble

• citizenship rights, due process, and equal protection of laws

Government must also dedicate itself to the development of the entire community through family, education, health, employment, housing, security, and culture.

It is government's role, understood as both politicians and government employees to serve. Government's dedication to improving the lives of community members—especially those who are marginalized, vulnerable, and oppressed must always be paramount.

A just government dedicates itself to the dignity of the human person. In return, truthfulness, justice, and patriotic participation throughout the community are animated.

Ferguson's Failure of Community

The tragic chaos that unfolded after the lethal shooting in Ferguson was exacerbated due to the failure of government officials to honor principles of reasonable authority, community policing, and human dignity deserved by each and every community member.

A community cannot be harmonious when members are oppressed and dignity is denied.

Government representatives must have a code of ethics that respects the principles of society, authority, and the common good. When these principles are honored, society flourishes. When they are violated, the results are dysfunction, disparities, and disorder.

Effective policing demands moral courage by law enforcement officials that includes the refusal to be pawns of political leaders who, without a moral code, reprehensibly view community members merely as revenue pawns.

Interaction between the community and police officials demands initiatives that cultivate collaboration. This is summarized in this timeless policing principle of Sir Robert Peel:

• Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police.

When this enduring principle is honored, community harmony is promoted. If violated by politicians, government employees, law enforcement officials, or community members, the outcome—as witnessed in Ferguson—is disorder, contempt, and chaos.

Department of Justice: A Scathing Report

On March 4, the Justice Department (DOJ) released findings of two civil rights investigations related to Ferguson.

The DOJ found that Ferguson Municipal Court has the following patterns or practices:

• Focusing on revenue over public safety, leading to court practices that violate the 14th Amendment's due process and equal protection requirements.

• Court practices exacerbating the harm of Ferguson's unconstitutional police practices and imposing particular hardship upon Ferguson's most vulnerable residents, especially upon those living in or near poverty. Minor offenses can generate crippling debts, result in jail time because of an inability to pay and result in the loss of a driver's license, employment, or housing.

The DOJ found that the Ferguson Police Department (FPD) has the following patterns or practices:

• Conducting stops without reasonable suspicion and arrests without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

• Interfering with the right to free expression in violation of the First Amendment.

• Using unreasonable force in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The DOJ found a pattern or practice of racial bias in both the FPD and municipal court, with intentional discrimination by direct evidence of racial bias and stereotyping.

Final Reflection

Ferguson must rise by rebuilding trust, healing hostilities, and building community. A transformation is possible when the bill of rights is respected, a moral code honored, and community policing principles adhered to.

America, take heed as human rights, morals, and ethics must be the order of the day in every level of government, community, and heart of each person.

Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. He is recipient of the FBI Director's Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen To Their Cries.” For more information see vincentbove.com.




Pittsburgh to participate in federal program to improve police-community relations

by Brian Bowling

Pittsburgh is one of six pilot cities picked for a Justice Department program aimed at improving police-community relations, the agency announced Thursday.

The National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice is a $4.75 million partnership between the Justice Department and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Yale Law School, the Center for Policing Equity at UCLA and the Urban Institute.

U.S. Attorney David Hickton and Mayor Bill Peduto have scheduled a press conference for Friday to discuss Pittsburgh's role in the initiative.

The other cities are Birmingham, Ala.; Fort Worth, Texas; Gary, Ind.; Minneapolis and Stockton, Calif.

The program is geared to provide training, strategies, policies and research to mending bonds between law enforcement and the community.




Just as Ferguson Was Making Progress, Shooting Deals a Setback


FERGUSON, Mo. — In her 17 years as a city councilwoman, Kim Tihen has not been afraid to speak against the powers in her own city.

She was mentioned, she said, in the blistering Justice Department report about abusive law enforcement in Ferguson for sharply criticizing the city's municipal judge. She has suggested that community service, instead of fines, be offered to Municipal Court defendants. And although she was once a Ferguson police officer, she said she had consistently supported peaceful protests in the aftermath of the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown.

But Ms. Tihen's good will toward the protesters ran thin after four gunshots early Thursday seriously wounded two officers guarding the city's police station.

“I am beyond outraged by the behavior and lawlessness of the protesters who want nothing more than to destroy our city,” she wrote in an email Thursday. “Enough is enough. The city has done, and continues to do, everything within its power to facilitate the change needed. I implore the residents of this city to stand together and demand an end to this violence.”

The St. Louis County Police Department embarked on a huge manhunt for the gunman, sweeping the residential neighborhood from which they believe the shots were fired but failing to make any arrests by early Friday.

Just as Ferguson seemed to be moving past the stunning abuses detailed by the federal authorities, having shed its city manager, police chief, municipal judge and other officials accused of running a racially biased legal system, those four gunshots threatened to reopen the well of anger, unrest and racial tension that has stifled life here since Mr. Brown's death last summer from shots fired by a white police officer.

“To actually have the police injured by gunshots — that is not even a small setback, it is a real setback,” said Courtney Curtis, a Democratic state representative whose district includes Ferguson. “It takes away the forward momentum the protesters did have.”

As people here reacted with confusion and frustration to the shooting of the two officers, the authorities raided a home and took three people to Police Headquarters for questioning, but later released them. They also vowed to increase security, with the county and state police again assuming the task of maintaining order in Ferguson from the local police force.

Dozens of activists and clergy members gathered Thursday night for a candlelight vigil and a demonstration near the police department to show that they would not let the shootings undermine their movement. Calling for nonviolent protests and denouncing the officers' shooting, they marched for a few hours, then dispersed.

The attack on the officers, who were treated at a hospital and released, drew widespread condemnation from the state capital in Jefferson City to Washington.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the attack “turned my stomach, because in the week since the Justice Department released its pattern-and-practice report on Ferguson, we have begun to see really important signs of progress.”

“This was not someone trying to bring healing to Ferguson,” Mr. Holder said at a news conference in Washington. “This was a damn punk, a punk who was trying to sow discord.”

President Obama, appearing on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” said that “What had been happening in Ferguson was oppressive and objectionable and was worthy of protest,” but called the assailants “criminals.”

There is concern about an increase in hostility. It was only months ago that protests escalated to police officers' firing tear gas and rubber bullets, and protesters hurling rocks and bottles.

“Officers are worried,” Lt. Jerry Lohr, one of the county police commanders overseeing security at the police station, said Thursday night. “I think the spouses, the families of these officers, are extremely worried.”

The shootings renewed debate over how the nightly vigils should play out, or if they should continue. While activists argued that the gunman was not one of them and denounced the attack, others wondered whether protesters, even the peaceful ones, bore some responsibility.

Late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, dozens of protesters had flooded into the street in front of the police department, blocking cars. Things occasionally became tense between the protesters and motorists, some of whom refused to back away when demonstrators lined up in front of their vehicles. On several occasions, drivers inched forward, tapping the knees of protesters who dared them to hit them.

Some of the tensest moments before the shooting came when the protesters fought among themselves. They argued over tactics for resistance and their credibility as demonstrators, with longtime protesters sometimes criticizing those new to the movement. Some took offense to the supposedly new protesters' trying to tell them what to do. At one point Wednesday night, the tussles in the group devolved into fistfights in the street.

Emotions also ran high after the shooting. One Ferguson police officer, standing among the protesters as things calmed down, said, “This is what they wanted to happen.” A protester said that no one wanted violence.

Mark Byrne, a city councilman, said it was unfair to assume the shooter was a protester. Yet protests could unintentionally lead to violence, he said.

“When you have a group, and that group activity is such that you get people angry and more upset, then some people handle that anger better than others, and you create an environment where something like that can happen,” Mr. Byrne said.

Chief Jon Belmar of the St. Louis County Police Department stoked tensions among the demonstrators when he said during a news conference Thursday morning that “protesters were among the shooters.”

He went on to explain the difficulty that officers have in weeding out peaceful protesters from those with bad intentions.

“It's very difficult for the officers to really understand what they're looking at at the time and really to be able to evaluate any types of threats,” Chief Belmar said, noting that no officers had fired their weapons after their two colleagues were wounded. “I think it's a miracle that we haven't had any instances similar to this over the summer and fall, with the amount of gunfire that we would hear.” l

DeRay McKesson, an activist who has been part of the demonstrations since August, said people like him seeking changes to police tactics should not be conflated with violent actors.

“I think people have been looking to discredit the protesters since the first protests,” he said.

On Thursday, Ferguson again began to resemble the city under siege that it was for parts of last summer and fall, with long stretches of streets cordoned off by yellow police tape and large police sport utility vehicles lining the roads. Numerous live news trucks returned. And some locals seemed to be growing weary of all the commotion and attention, just when they had thought it was a thing of the past.

On South Florissant Road, a few blocks from the Ferguson Police Department, several shops remained boarded up, a relic of last year's unrest. Others were open but had few patrons and shut down early. At the ones that were open, the owners were tense, nervous and frustrated.

“We are just afraid we will become targets,” said one bakery owner who did not want to be named for fear of backlash by one side or the other. “I don't know what to think about this. I'm still processing it all.”

In a statement Thursday, Mayor James Knowles III, whom activists have also asked to step down, warned that violence could jeopardize progress toward correcting the ills cited by the Justice Department.

“City leadership is diligently working to make systematic changes necessary to instill confidence in the city, our police and our courts,” he said. “While we respect the right to peacefully protest, we cannot continue to move forward under threats of violence and destruction to our community.”

Even those who encourage people to take to the streets in demonstration are lamenting what the situation might become as a result of the shootings.

“I think we really are at a tipping point, at least to a certain degree, even though we're still very early in this movement,” said Montague Simmons of the Organization for Black Struggle, an activist group. “The idea that this would take place last night is just horrific, because the conversation is really just beginning about what the transformation that we're looking for looks like.”



Obama: ‘No Excuse' for Ferguson Shootings of Police

by VOA News

President Barack Obama denounced the shooting of two police officers in racially charged Ferguson, Missouri, calling it a criminal act, as the manhunt continued Friday for the shooter or shooters.

Speaking on Thursday's late-night "Jimmy Kimmel Live" television program, the president said the police's pattern of violating African-Americans' civil rights in the St. Louis suburb "was oppressive and objectionable and was worthy of protest, but there was no excuse for criminal acts."

The officers were shot very early Thursday morning as a demonstration that began Wednesday evening was breaking up outside the Ferguson police station. A 41-year-old St. Louis County officer was wounded in the shoulder, and a 32-year-old officer from nearby Webster Groves was wounded near an ear.

"Whoever fired those shots shouldn't detract from the issue" of improving community and police relations, Obama continued. "They're criminal, they need to be arrested." People who "disregard and disrespect” the law and civil rights need to be "marginalized," he said.

The shooting came just hours after the city's police chief resigned in the wake of a Justice Department report accusing the department of racially biased policing. Demonstrators had gathered Wednesday evening outside the police department to call for more change.

On Thursday evening, dozens of people gathered near the site of the shooting for a candle-light vigil, and protesters continued their practice of picketing the police station.

On Friday, law enforcement continued their search for suspects in the shootings. Rewards of $13,000 are being offered for information leading to an arrest or arrests.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the Thursday morning attack "an ambush" and said the perpetrator was "trying to sow discord."

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson submitted his resignation Wednesday, seven months after the racial tension began with a white police officer, Darren Wilson, shooting to death an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, after Brown attacked him during a street confrontation last August.

Jackson became the focus of bitter complaints of racial discrimination within his department in the aftermath of Brown's shooting. A report released last week by the Justice Department criticized the Ferguson police department for bias against the city's black majority, including arbitrary traffic stops, arrests and tickets. The report said city officials operated its courts as a money-making venture.

Jackson is the sixth Ferguson official to step down in the wake of the Justice Department report. Ferguson's city manager and a municipal court judge resigned this week, while a city court clerk and two police officers were either dismissed or resigned after they were identified in the report of sending racist emails.

Ferguson is still reeling from the shooting, which set off weeks of violence in the city. Wilson was not charged by the Justice Department with violating Brown's civil rights, and a state grand jury failed to bring criminal charges against him.



The Short Answer -- What to Know About Community Policing

by Gary Fields and John R. Emshwiller

Deadly police encounters are causing a re-examination of tactics used by the 18,000 law-enforcement agencies in the U.S. Community policing is attracting a fresh surge of attention, as described in a page-one article in The Wall Street Journal.

•  What is community policing?

According to the Justice Department, the strategy aims at “preventing crime and eliminating the atmosphere of fear it creates” instead of “simply responding to crimes once they have been committed.” How police departments pursue the idea varies from place to place, but officers usually try to become familiar with a small geographic area and the people who live or work there. Police help residents navigate the criminal-justice system and social-services network. The strategy can build mutual trust, but it is hard to measure the specific impact on crime.

•  Who likes the idea?

•  Community policing is praised by many law-enforcement officials, political leaders and community advocates. “There's nothing wrong with an officer, on a slow Sunday afternoon, pulling the car over and throwing a football around or shooting some baskets,” says John Krupinsky, a Danbury, Conn., police officer who is president of the Connecticut State Fraternal Order of Police. “You need to know each other as people, not as a suspect and not as a police officer.” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter told a White House task force on policing procedures that officers also try to help neighborhoods deal with broken street lights, potholes and blighted lots.

•  When did police start walking the beat?

In the 1800s. The concept was pioneered by Sir Robert Peel in London's police department, and community policing became the modus operandi of many police agencies in the U.S. until the arrival of patrol cars and radios in the 20th century. That boosted the speed at which calls could be answered. Community policing is labor-intensive and can slow response times.

•  Why is community policing attracting new attention?

Police, city leaders and lawmakers are looking for ways to defuse tension amid the outcry over incidents such as last year's shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo. A presidential task force formed in response to the recent police killings of unarmed citizens is calling for increased use of community policing, body cameras and other technology.

•  What happens next?

Final recommendations from the White House task force are expected in April. On Thursday, outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder announced a $4.75 million pilot project designed to build trust between law-enforcement agencies and communities they serve. The project will run in Birmingham, Ala.; Fort Worth, Texas; Gary, Ind.; Minneapolis; Pittsburgh; and Stockton, Calif. “We are redoubling our commitment to restoring faith in the integrity of law enforcement wherever that faith has been eroded,” Mr. Holder said.



U.S. Department of Justice announces community policing plan to Salinas residents

by Monica Jacquez

SALINAS, Calif. - - Voices were strong and opinions were passionate Thursday when more 50 people showed up at Sherwood Hall in Salinas for a community meeting hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Working to rebuild trust in the community, the Salinas Police Department has called on the D.O.J. for assistance.

"I don't know that trust will come to Salinas, but I think that the letter of the law can,” said Pamela Weston, a resident of Salinas.

Weston works in East Salinas and she, like many others at the meeting, has concerns about the D.O.J. stepping in. For the next two years, the D.O.J. will be taking a long, hard look at the city's police department.

“We will look at use of force, every aspect of it. Training, policy, investigation, accountability," said Ron Davis with the D.O.J.

Davis is from the D.O.J.'s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). He took a lot of heat while standing in front of community members, explaining his plan to rebuild trust in Salinas.

But most residents at the meeting were not convinced. After four officer-involved shootings last year, many questioned if trust can be repaired.

"We want our communities to be safe but that requires transparency,” said Ana Barrera.

Barrera has been teaching in Salinas for over nine years. She said the problem is due to poor race relations between the city and residents.

"In the meeting today there was no bilingual translators. In Salinas, the majority of the community, especially in East Salinas, they're Spanish speaking,” said Barrera.

But Police Chief Kelly McMillin, who personally asked the D.O.J. to help, hopes the community will give them a chance to try.



Washington D.C.

Justice Dept. uses grants to encourage good community-police relations

by Michael Doyle

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department will help fight crime while it tries to strengthen the bonds between police and residents of six ethnically diverse cities, including Stockton, Calif., and Fort Worth, Texas, under a new program incited by the turmoil in Ferguson, Mo.

The selected cities will receive high-powered technical, research and training assistance designed to “enhance procedural justice, reduce bias and support reconciliation,” according to officials who rolled out the program's details Thursday.

A $4.75 million federal grant will fund the effort for three years. By chance, it was unveiled about 13 hours after two police officers were shot and wounded during a late-night demonstration in Ferguson.

“Incidents like the one we have witnessed throw into sharp relief why conversations like the one we convened today, to build trust between law enforcement and community members, are so important,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.

Formally dubbed the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, the program's outlines were first announced last September after the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer prompted widespread demonstrations and broader scrutiny of frayed relations between civilians and law enforcement.

The selected cities range in population from Stockton's 298,000 to Fort Worth's 792,000. The other cities in the pilot program are Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Gary, Ind., and Birmingham, Ala.

“This study will be a valuable tool to open the discussion on equitable treatment in major cities,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said in a statement, calling the program “a tool to strengthen our partnership with the justice system and to continue building relationships in the community.”

Crime afflicts each selected city, though to varying degrees. Stockton recorded 1,548 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2012, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports. Fort Worth recorded 587 violent crimes per 100,000 residents that same year.

“We do rank quite high, especially in the area of violent crime,” Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones acknowledged in an interview Thursday, “but we see the violent crime rate dropping.”

Like Ferguson, the cities selected for the new Justice Department program have significant ethnic minority populations.

Forty percent of Stockton's residents are Hispanic, 21 percent are Asian and 12 percent are African-American. In Fort Worth, 19 percent are African-American and 34 percent are Hispanic.

“African-Americans and Latinos have a sense of distrust about law enforcement,” John Ervin III, founder of a Modesto, Calif.-based teen mentoring program called Project UPLIFT, said in an interview Thursday, adding that the Justice Department program could help “as long as it's a joint effort between law enforcement and the community.”

Underscoring the heightened attention being paid to the issue, Ervin and other Northern San Joaquin Valley community leaders will participate in an all-day American Leadership Forum conference about community relations with law enforcement Sunday at the University of the Pacific in Stockton.

Jones said Justice Department officials “reached out” to the Stockton department to consider participating in the national initiative; in part, he said, because local officials already have tried innovations such as data-driven policing. One existing program, called Operation Ceasefire, uses data analysis to target gangs and violent youths.

Fort Worth Police Chief Rhonda Robertson said in a statement that her department was “honored” to be selected.

“Upon learning about the project, we immediately realized the opportunity it would present to strengthen our existing community partnerships and to develop new relationships built upon trust within the community,” Robertson said.

A consortium with representatives from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Yale Law School, the Center for Policing Equity at UCLA and the Urban Institute will help oversee the work.

“We're talking about the leading experts (and) brightest minds in law enforcement,” Jones said, adding that “we've been searching for research partners to help us.”

Holder's personal announcement of the program's details likely will be among his last official acts as attorney general. The Senate next week is scheduled to begin debating the confirmation of his replacement, Brooklyn, N.Y.,-based U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch. Despite the entrenched opposition of most Republicans, Lynch appears to have the support necessary for a narrow victory.




Two officers shot, seriously injured outside Ferguson police department

by Fox News

Two police officers were shot and seriously wounded early Thursday outside the police department in Ferguson, Mo. amid protests that followed the resignation of the town's police chief.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told a news conference that a 41-year-old officer from St. Louis County was shot in the shoulder at around midnight local time, while a 32-year-old officer from suburban Webster Groves was shot in the face. Both victims were taken to a local hospital. Belmar said both men were conscious, but had no further word about their condition except to describe the injuries as "very serious."

Belmar said that at least three shots were fired and were believed to come from a house across the street from the police department.

"I don't know who did the shooting, to be honest with you," Belmar said, adding that he could not provide a description of the suspect or gun.

He said his "assumption" was that, based on where the officers were standing and the trajectory of the bullets, "these shots were directed exactly at my officers."

The shooting was first reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Marciay Pitchford, 20, was among the protesters outside the police department. He told The Associated Press the protest had been mostly peaceful until he heard the shots ring out.

"I saw the officer go down and the other police officers drew their guns while other officers dragged the injured officer away," Pitchford said. "All of a sudden everybody started running or dropping to the ground," he said.

Belmar said that some officers had begun to leave the area due to the lack of activity prior to the shooting.

"I've said many times we cannot sustain this [unrest] without problems and that's not a reflection of those expressing their First Amendment rights," Belmar told the Post-Dispatch. "But this is a very dangerous environment for our officers to work in."

KTVI reported that as many as 200 people had gathered to demand more changes in the city's government after the resignation of Police Chief Tom Jackson Wednesday afternoon. The station reported that at least one person had been arrested and that protesters blocked traffic on nearby Florissant Road.

Jackson was the sixth Ferguson employee to resign or be fired after a Justice Department report cleared white former officer Darren Wilson of civil rights charges in the shooting of black 18-year-old Michael Brown this past August, but found a profit-driven court system and widespread racial bias in the city police department.

Mayor James Knowles III announced Wednesday that the city had reached a mutual separation agreement with Jackson that will pay Jackson one year of his nearly $96,000 annual salary and health coverage. Jackson's resignation becomes effective March 19, at which point Lt. Col. Al Eickhoff will become acting chief while the city searches for a replacement.

Jackson oversaw the Ferguson force for nearly five years before the shooting that stirred months of unrest across the St. Louis region and drew global attention to the predominantly black city of 21,000.

Jackson had previously resisted calls by protesters and some of Missouri's top elected leaders to step down over his handling of Brown's shooting and the weeks of sometimes-violent protests that followed. He was widely criticized from the outset, both for an aggressive police response to protesters and for his agency's erratic and infrequent releases of key information.

In addition to Jackson, Ferguson's court. clerk was fired last week and two police officers resigned. The judge who oversaw the court system also resigned, and the City Council on Tuesday agreed to a separation agreement with the city manager.




Police chiefs on community policing: Neighborhood partnerships key

by Jon Collins

(Audio on site)

A number of high-profile police-involved shootings across the country have reinvigorated the debate about what community policing means.

Activists, including those in Minnesota, have asked that police officers receive more cultural competency training. But at its core, the concept of community policing is a partnership between police departments, neighborhood groups or schools rather than a specific policy, said Columbia Heights Chief Scott Nadeau on MPR News with Tom Weber.

"It's a policing strategy that uses partnerships with the community in order to look at crime in a different way," Nadeau said, "to understand that crime is a community issue — it's not just an issue for the police."

Some of the enforcement actions that police are required to perform, Nadeau said, as well as some departments' policies, can get in the way of the goals of community policing.

"To go into a neighborhood that's experiencing problems and just stopping people in the neighborhood because of the fact that they live there, I think we've seen nationally that that ends up having the opposite effect that we'd want to see in community policing," Nadeau said. "That does not go towards the partnership we desire, that does not instill confidence."

Community policing programs in the area are often preventative, and focus on reaching out to young people. The goal, Nadeau said, is not only to give young people positive interactions with police, but to give police positive experiences interacting with civilians.

But even with extensive training, improvements between police and communities aren't apparent overnight.

"There is a big learning curve, there's a lot of training of staff that needs to take place," Nadeau said. "It shouldn't be just a couple officers on your police department that are undergoing all of the community-oriented police activities."




Elkhart councilman Dave Henke touts importance of community policing amid police body cam debate

Community policing, not body cameras, helps address trust issues with the public, Henke said.

by Tim Vandenack

ELKHART — Elkhart City Councilman Dave Henke, seeking re-election to his post, says police body cameras alone won't fix trust issues between police and the public.

“Body cams do not solve our relationship or trust issues,” he said in a statement. “Body cams record that the root issues exist.”

He has questioned the notion of buying body cameras, a current focus of debate among the Elkhart City Council and Mayor Dick Moore. He has noted costs associated with the proposal, some perhaps unseen, and also wondered about government regulations that may be implemented as time passes governing their use.

Rather, he touted the import of implementing the proper policing strategies in addressing trust issues. “We also must insist on community policing where the public directly assist the police department on information gathering and neighborhood watching. Without such a commitment we fall to where we are,” he said.

More broadly, the current state of things in Elkhart “scares some residents away to safer cities” and spurs some “to access weapons as a means of self-protection,” he said. “When guns, drugs and crimes become everyday occurrences in our city, everyone suffers.”

Video from police body cameras won't resolve things. “We solve the issue by naming the problem and take real action as a community to address it, pushing ourselves to actively correct what ails us,” Henke said.

Henke, a Republican, is seeking election to his fourth term in the 3rd District seat on the Elkhart City Council. He faces a challenge in the May 5 GOP primary from Ed Windbigler, who's also questioned the value of acquiring body cameras.



U.S. Looks Overseas for Human Rights Abuses and Ignores U.N. Report Criticizing Its Youth Detention Practices at Home

by Mishi Faruqee

Recently I visited a youth detention center in South Carolina. As I entered the facility, I saw a line of boys in jumpsuits march past with their arms behind their backs. The guard explained to me that they make the boys march to "help teach them discipline and structure."

Although I have visited numerous youth jails and prisons over the last 20 years, I am still amazed at how people who work in youth detention centers delude themselves. Young people, many who have experienced unspeakable trauma, come into these facilities in handcuffs and leg irons, are strip searched, and are put in cinder block cells – where sometimes they are physically restrained or locked in isolation for days as punishment – and somehow they are going to come out OK because they are trained to march in prison.

So it's not surprising that in a report released and presented this week to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Juan Mendez, the U.N.'s special rapporteur on torture, sharply criticized the U.S. model of youth detention where children are at "heightened risk of violence, abuse, and acts of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Even short periods of detention undermine a child's psychological and physical wellbeing. The report points out that children's healthy development requires developing emotional connections to caring adults, a requirement that most institutions consistently fail to meet.

The United State is the biggest jailer of children in the world. More than 67,000 unaccompanied children are locked up in our country's immigrant detention centers. An additional 60,000 children who come in conflict with the law are incarcerated in our juvenile jails or prisons – nearly two-thirds are held for non-violent offenses, including theft, drug possession, or skipping school. And thousands of more children are locked up in adult jails and prisons in the United States. Children of color are over-represented in detention, particularly among youth serving extreme sentences.

Notably, Mendez, who himself is a torture survivor, singles out the United States for being the only nation in the world that sentences children to die in prison. Although the Supreme Court recently banned mandatory life sentences for juveniles, there are approximately 2,500 individuals across the United States who are currently serving life-without-parole for crimes committed as children. In addition to life sentences, "sentences of extreme length have a disproportionate impact on children and cause physical and psychological harm that amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment."

About 40 percent of children are incarcerated in private facilities that are often euphemistically referred to as treatments centers, camps, or learning academies. The U.N. special rapporteur points out that these private institutions often avoid state oversight and regulation, which may lead to rampant abuse.

The report makes several key recommendations including eliminating juvenile life-without-parole sentences for children and the detention of immigrant children. There should be no use of restraints or solitary confinement under any circumstances. No children should be tried in adult court, and all children should be held in age-appropriate facilities.

In addition, because detention hampers the healthy development of children, the report recommends restricting detention to the shortest period of time possible and limiting it only to exceptional cases. In most cases, states should adopt non-custodial alternatives to detention. These community-based alternatives are not only better for children but cheaper and better for society as a whole.

Unfortunately, the U.S. delegation to the Human Rights Council failed to respond to Mr. Mendez report and preferred to highlight human rights concerns abroad. U.S. leadership on the international stage suffers when we decline to constructively engage and fully cooperate with international human rights bodies. As the U.S. seeks another term as member of the Human Rights Council, it should heed Mendez recommendations and live up to its commitments to uphold human rights at home and abroad.




Denver police chief steps up outreach after fatal shooting

by The Associated Press

DENVER (AP) - Denver's police chief is stepping up outreach efforts after the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old girl in January sparked protests.

Chief Robert White was among law enforcement leaders at a forum Tuesday night with young adults at the Denver area church of the national Potter's House network.

"If there is disdain amongst the police, you've got to erase it," he said in his opening remarks. "If there's disdain amongst the public, you've got to erase it. It's not always about agreement. It's about respect."

The crowd of about 600 people, mostly black, was supportive, and Denver Sheriff Elias Diggins received a standing ovation when he said, "This badge does not make you God."

In an interview before the forum, Pastor Chris Hill said he hoped that as leader of a multicultural congregation of 7,000 that includes a large number of police officers as well as teens and young adults, he could help start a healing conversation.

White has attended several such meetings organized by community activists, politicians and church leaders since January, when police say Jessica Hernandez, a suburban Denver high school student, was shot while driving a stolen car in an alley. Four friends were inside the car. According to police, officers approached the car and opened fire after Hernandez drove at an officer, who suffered a leg fracture.

The police department is investigating, and Hernandez's family has called for a federal probe.

Denver has about eight officer-involved shootings a year, according to the district attorney's office. Only three - two fatal - led to criminal charges in the past 40 years.

Under the concept of community policing, officers are encouraged to get to know the residents and neighborhoods they serve. Chuck Drago, a police practices consultant and former police chief in Oviedo, Florida, said community policing works, but shrinking budgets have meant cuts in manpower and time police can devote to building bridges.

"I think we're seeing the symptoms of that across the country" in complaints about police brutality, Drago said.

In Denver, officials note that community policing requires adequate staff in a city that had to freeze training at its police academy from 2008 to 2013.

Hill, the Potter's House pastor, said he believed Chief White had the vision to change policing in Denver, but it will take work. White came to Denver in 2011 after top positions in Washington, D.C., Greensboro, North Carolina, and Louisville, Kentucky.

"I don't think sometimes our young people know the volatile nature of the circumstances these police officers are operating under," Hill said. The police "feel like they're in a war zone. The kids feel like they're in a police state. Everybody's just trying to get home safe."



Washington D.C.

2,059 convicted criminals arrested in ICE nationwide operation

2 targets added to ICE's most wanted fugitives list

WASHINGTON — A five-day nationwide operation targeting convicted criminal aliens subject to removal from the United States yielded the arrest of 2,059 convicted criminals. The operation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

“This nationwide operation led to the apprehension of more than 2,000 convicted criminal aliens who pose the greatest risk to our public safety,” said Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. “Today, communities around the country are safer because of the great work of the men and women of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

The operation, dubbed “Cross Check,” began Sunday, March 1, and ended Thursday, March 5. Hundreds of ERO officers participated in the operation that focused on the arrests of public safety threats. Those arrested are from 94 countries and have a wide array of criminal convictions.

The 2,059 individuals with prior criminal convictions who were arrested included more than 1,000 individuals who had multiple criminal convictions. More than 1,000 of those arrested had felony convictions, including voluntary manslaughter, child pornography, robbery, kidnapping and rape.

Of the total 2,059 criminals arrested, 58 were known gang members or affiliates, and 89 were convicted sex offenders.

The vast majority of misdemeanor convictions were for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI). ICE considers DUI offenders, particularly repeat offenders, to be a significant public safety threat.

In addition to being convicted criminals, five of those arrested were also immigration fugitives who had previously been ordered to leave the country but failed to depart. Also, 476 were illegal re-entrants who had been previously removed from the country. Because of their serious criminal histories and prior immigration arrest records, 163 of those arrested during the enforcement action were presented to U.S. attorneys for prosecution on a variety of charges, including illegal re-entry after deportation, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Arrests include:

•  A Jamaican citizen arrested in Atlanta, Georgia, who was convicted in 2014 of breaking and entering, larceny, speeding to elude arrest and assault with a deadly weapon on a law enforcement officer.

•  A Polish citizen arrested in East Hartford, Connecticut, who was convicted twice for possession of cocaine and other drugs, twice for probation violation and resisting arrest and once for reckless driving.

•  A Finnish citizen arrested in Naperville, Illinois, who was convicted in 2014 of child pornography involving a victim under 13-years-old.

•  A Mexican citizen arrested in Arvada, Colorado, who is a documented member of the Sureños criminal street gang and was convicted in 2014 of possession of a weapon.

Two targets of this operation who were not apprehended were added to ICE's most wanted fugitives list.

“This national operation exemplifies ICE's ongoing commitment to prioritizing convicted criminals and public safety threats for apprehension and removal,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña. “By taking these individuals off our streets and removing them from the country, we are making our communities safer for everyone.”

All targets of this operation fell within the top two priorities established in Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson's Nov. 20 memorandum entitled “Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants.” Priority 1 targets include threats to national security, criminal street gang members, convicted felons, and aggravated felons. Priority 2 targets have convictions for three or more misdemeanors or convictions for significant misdemeanors, including DUIs.

The foreign nationals detained during the operation who are not being criminally prosecuted will be processed administratively for removal from the United States. Those who have outstanding orders of deportation, or who returned to the United States illegally after being deported, are subject to immediate removal from the country. The remaining individuals are in ICE custody awaiting a hearing before an immigration judge, or pending travel arrangements for removal in the near future.

Secretary Johnson has directed ICE to prioritize the use of enforcement personnel, detention space, and removal assets to support the department's civil immigration enforcement priorities. By taking criminals who pose public safety threats off community streets and removing them from the country, ICE addresses a significant security and public safety vulnerability.

ICE began conducting large-scale national operations targeting convicted and other ERO priority aliens in May 2011. Since then, five national Cross Check operations resulted in the arrest of more than 12,440 convicted criminals as well as 774 other priority individuals for a total of 13,214 arrests.

This operation is the sixth nationwide Cross Check operation in the agency's history. The first nationwide Cross Check operation occurred at the end of May 2011 and resulted in the arrest of 2,442 convicted criminals. The last Cross Check operation in August 2013 resulted in the arrest of 1,517 convicted criminals, as well as 143 other priority individuals for a total of 1,660 arrests.

This week's enforcement action was spearheaded by ICE's National Fugitive Operations Program, which locates, arrests and removes at-large criminals. The officers who conducted this operation received substantial assistance from ICE's Fugitive Operations Support Center and ICE's Law Enforcement Support Center, both located in Williston, Vermont.

In fiscal year 2014, ERO removed 315,943 individuals from the United States. ICE enforcement priorities include removable aliens considered threats to national security, those attempting to unlawfully enter the U.S., gang members, felons, and individuals convicted of crimes including domestic violence, sexual abuse, drug distribution or driving under the influence.



From the FBI

Reward Increased to $5 Million in Robert Levinson Case

(Picture on site)

On March 9, 2007, retired FBI agent Robert Levinson went missing from Kish Island, Iran, and today, on the eighth anniversary of his disappearance, the FBI has increased its reward to up to $5 million for information leading directly to his safe location, recovery, and return. Levinson, who will turn 67 tomorrow, is now one of the longest-held American hostages in history.

“Today we mark eight years since Bob disappeared in Iran, and we are increasing the reward for his location and safe return to his family,” said FBI Director James B. Comey. “We ask anyone with information to contact the FBI. It is long past time for Bob to come home.”

Anyone with information regarding Levinson or his captors is encouraged to contact the FBI at https://tips.fbi.gov. Information will be kept confidential and can be provided anonymously.



New York

There Are Lies, Damn Lies and Then There's 'Community Policing'

by Josmar Trujillo

Back in 1994 an increasingly popular policing model was all the rage amongst law enforcement authorities. From the New York Times, January 1994:

Community policing is the most promising trend in urban law enforcement. It aims to involve police departments in crime prevention, not just crime reaction, by assigning more officers to street patrol, exposing them to neighborhood concerns and training them to identify troubled individuals and bring in social service agencies to provide help.

Twenty-one years later the 'community policing' bug has re-bitten a city eager to move past protests and murmurings of a new civil rights movement. New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito last month proudly proclaimed a renewed focus on increasing the NYPD headcount by 1,000 cops for the purposes of 'community policing'. In a statement after our rally that vehemently opposed the move, Viverito responded:

Many of us continue to believe very strongly that this Police Department needs more police officers. And if we put in place effective community policing the way it is supposed to be, you need more officers on the ground interacting with communities.

During a hearing in front of the council's Public Safety Committee recently, other council members weighed in as representatives from the mayor's office and the NYPD testified on the seemingly new 'community policing' push. Councilmember Jimmy Vacca, Deputy Leader of the council, pressed NYPD spokespeople on the details of how they might more efficiently remove homeless people from his commute. His contempt for homeless people on the train flowed freely and openly as he asked what positions (upright versus laying down) a homeless New Yorker had to be in order to eject or arrest them.

Next came Staten Island Republican councilmember Steven Matteo, who casually walked in late -- and left immediately following his remarks. He swooped in, apparently, to simply echo the rationale of Viverito. After proclaiming, amid the shrugs and facepalms of those of us in the audience, his love for Broken Windows policing and explaining that his Staten Island community had a great relationship with cops, he plugged the 1,000-cop/community policing push:

I believe this is a resource issue that we can help solve by putting in what this council's been asking for in 1,000 cops... The fundamental issue here is making sure that public safety is paramount and get more resources to get more cops.

Other members of the council, like Public Safety chair Vanessa Gibson and committee member Jumaane Williams, marveled with interest in the new, refurbished 'community policing' efforts that NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Collaborative Policing Susan Herman was promoting in her testimony.

Gibson asked Herman if 'community policing' was any different than Broken Windows. Herman responded that both were more philosophy than policy, and essentially indistinguishable from one another since the community drives Broken Windows through its complaints. She, in lockstep with her boss, Commissioner Bill Bratton, was slyly tying the massive low-level arrest and summonsing patterns of the NYPD to things like 311 calls. This, of course, is ridiculous to anyone who realizes the 311 system was created almost a decade after Broken Windows policing was implemented in the first Bratton era. St. Joseph College's Ted Hamm also essentially debunked any real links between 311 complaints and today's policing practices when he actually examined 311 call data.

Meanwhile Williams, checking his smartphone, read off a definition of 'community policing' to the audience. Apparently Williams had to refer to the website for the Lincoln, Nebraska police department in order to define this vague model of policing that was being sold to a city with the nation's largest police force. He, like others on the council, obviously didn't have a firm grasp of what 'community policing' was. Queens councilmember Donovan Richards, when he wasn't taking selfies in the middle of the hearing with Brad Lander and Robert Cornegy, announced himself as a full supporter of this new 'community policing' -- oblivious to the fact it's been around for decades. NYPD Assistant Chief Terence Monahan, representing the police department, correctly explained to the council that this neighborhood-friendly policing model wasn't new and had "never left" the NYPD.

Right. We've had 'community policing' the same time we've had the killings of Anthony Baez, Anthony Rosario, Hilton Vega, Nicholas Heyward Jr., Malcolm Ferguson, Sean Bell, Kimani Grey, Shantel Davis, Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, and many more.

This, of course, was beside the point. Both Monahan and Herman described a recycled version of 'community policing' in the form of a department initiative that would give patrol cops some spare time (30 percent of their tour) to spend getting to know the community via meet-and-greets with business owners and even visits to schools (ironic given NYPD's overbearing presence in schools mostly serving Black and Latino kids). This program would be piloted to four precincts out of the department's 98 commands (including PSA's and Transit commands), two in the Rockaways.

This was the big change meant to rebuild the bridge between cops and community that Herman was there to present: a rebranding of an old, vague term that would be rolled out in a fraction of the department.

Herman, sitting next to Liz Glazer from the mayor's office was happy to trot out the department's rebranding effort. Her job and office, the office of Collaborative Policing, was created literally out of thin air by Bratton when he regained the wheel of the NYPD last year for just these purposes. Bratton likely even named the office after his 2012 book, Collaborate or Perish! , which he co-wrote with Zach Tumin -- who was also brought in last year as Deputy Commissioner of Strategic Initiatives (he does Twitter). Zumin is now under fire for tweeting that mentally ill people were "off their meds" and "walking into police bullets" in response to the horrible LAPD shooting of a homeless man last week.

After Herman, Glazer and Monahan's testimony, a panel of experts from John Jay College of Criminal Justice began the "public" testimony section of the hearing. This is usually the part when NGO's and people from academia line up to contribute to the public record while regular people are left last, waiting for hours. But the John Jay panel was intriguing for a couple of reasons. First, Herman, Bratton's Deputy Commish, is married to John Jay College president Jeremy Travis, who himself used to work for Bratton in the '90s. She and the NYPD were quite familiar with this panel of experts. More importantly, their testimony provided a very light criticism of this new 'community policing' push. For these experts, 'community policing' was good -- but it just didn't go far enough.

Stop here.

This is the point where it becomes incredibly important to truly distinguish between reform and rebranding -- which works against reformers. And at this point I'm going to call out 'community policing' for what it is: complete bullshit and spin.

In his 2001 book, Illusion of Order , Professor Bernard Harcourt systematically discredited Broken Windows theory. In it he also remarked that in essence 'community policing' was too vague a concept to seriously discuss. He noted that surveys of police chiefs across the country had shown that upwards of 90 percent of them had responded that they were implementing 'community policing' in their departments. These responses, made over 15 years ago, flew in the face of local (NYPD) and even national efforts at repurposing the term as somehow a step forward in the aftermath of massive protests.

This week the US Department of Justice released an interim report (i.e. they rushed it) coincidentally around the time that it announced it wouldn't pursue a civil rights case against Darren Wilson, the Ferguson cop whose killing of teenager Mike Brown set off nationwide protests. The report, produced in conjunction with President Barack Obama's "Task Force on 21st Century Policing", mentioned 'community policing' 76 times as it laid out recommendations for national reform.

The task force is chaired by Philadelphia top cop Charles Ramsey and former DOJ prosecutor Laurie Robinson. The group's executive director is Ron Davis, head of DOJ's COPS office -- and a former cop as well. Also included on the Task Force is one Connie Rice, cousin of former Bush Secretary of State Condi Rice and the former ACLU lawyer who penned an influential op-ed in the Times that praised Bratton and greased the wheels of his return to New York last year.

In other words, the task force is headed by cops and includes at least one sellout.

Obama's group is promoting, as are local politicians, this canard of 'community policing' in an attempt to turn the anger in the streets into a passive leap of faith right back into the arms of law enforcement. In fact, they'd like for communities to be even closer to police. Cops that will be more courteous and respectful (once sarcastically described as "Officer Friendly" by Bratton) have been promised for decades. The reason given for 1,000 more guns and badges in New York City now (at a cost of about $90-$120 million -- annually) is that these friendly cops will be forging closer ties to our clergy and business owners so they can be more efficient crime-fighters.

This push is a nearly naked attempt at two things: to create a more larger pool of informants and complaints that'll serve to legitimize the NYPD's bread and butter, Broken Windows; and a public relations makeover for a department unwilling to change, co-signed by politicians of all stripes unwilling to force them to. This is why a Staten Island Republican and a homeless-hating Democrat fall in line with 'progressive' Speaker Viverito's 1,000 cop agenda.

This is also why Herman, in her testimony, couldn't truly separate 'community policing' and Broken Windows. She's being honest, in fact. The so-called academic experts that testified that 'community policing' was "antithetical" to Broken Windows, are not. It's not that 'community policing' isn't good enough, that there isn't enough of it, or that it's not being done in the right way; it's that 'community policing' is and always was just a cover for Broken Windows.

Bratton, in his 1998 memoir, Turnaround , describes his time at the Boston Police Department in the 1970s and his involvement with "one of the first community-policing initiatives in the nation." He talked about a small program he and others spearheaded called the "Boston-Fenway Program". It would "develop a partnership among private institutions and the police and neighborhoods and the area's deteriorating situation." Focused on one area of the city, district 4, the program's "Neighborhood policing plan" included establishing a relationship with people who'd complain, according to Bratton, about "the constant irritants, the stuff in their faces everyday: prostitution, graffiti, filth in the street, noisy parties."

Years later when he would read George Kelling and James Q. Wilson's "Broken Windows" magazine article, it all fit together and the philosophies would merge. 'Community policing' melded right in with Broken Windows' obsession with disorder and low-level crime.

Those of us who want to uproot the racist roots of Broken Windows here in New York and abroad should explicitly reject 'community policing'. Like Jim Crow, everything that is old is new. A movement that looks to actually separate community and policing for our own safety also understands that this can practically be done by replacing the role of cops with non-cop solutions to problems as well as programs of social uplift. As East New York organizer Asere Bello explained at a rally for Akai Gurley recently, "the answer to community problems is community building."

Cops will never reform themselves. The attempts to bring them closer to us by quite literally packaging us in this same, tired concept of 'community policing' is a spin that no one seeking justice should fall for.




Cybersecurity attack targets local public safety communications systems

Attack may be linked to officer-involved shooting

by Channel 3000

MADISON, Wis. -- The city of Madison was alerted to a credible cybersecurity threat potentially targeting city and local government and public safety communication systems, according to a release from Dane County Emergency Management.

Officials said the city started experiencing a high volume of Internet activity consistent with an outside cyberattack, and the city's website and email system have been affected.

“Similar Internet based security attacks have occurred in other communities subsequent to tragic incidents like the one Friday night on Williamson Street in Madison,” the release said.

The attacks are affecting Internet-based connections to city government, including mobile data public safety computers used by law enforcement, fire and emergency medical agencies, according to the release.

Officials said the access issues are affecting agencies across all of Dane County, not just in Madison.

Lt. Kelly Donahue with Madison police said the department was having some issues with squad computers earlier Monday night, but the issues did not affect their service.

Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said the primary concern was to make sure that, if there was an intended attack, it didn't affect public safety communication.

"There were IT specialists from various departments who were monitoring what was an interruption in service this evening to make sure that it didn't interrupt public safety," Mahoney said.

Mahoney said there was never any impact on public safety or any public safety outages, but there was a temporary reduction in services that the city of Madison experienced, which had some minor impact on the county because they share portals.

“It isn't known how long this activity could occur or who is responsible for it,” the release said. “Law enforcement officials believe the individuals responsible are attempting to breach local government and public safety communications information security systems.”

Public safety officials are monitoring the situation, and the Dane County Emergency Operations Center has been opened as a result of the cyberattack, officials said.

According to the release, local utilities have also been notified, as past cyberattacks in other communities have also targeted utilities.




MSP gets to use drones in public safety efforts

The Michigan State Police has received permission to fly a drone to support public safety efforts and so far, it's been used at a fire investigation.

The Federal Aviation Administration has granted the state police's request to fly an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) — commonly called a drone — to support public safety efforts. The device can be used for possible search and rescue, crime scene and crash investigations.

On Wednesday, the department used its Aeryon SkyRanger over a fire investigation near Jenison. The device collected both video and photographs of the structure to help investigators determine the origin and cause of the fire.

This authorization will allow the state police's Aviation Unit to support requests for service from any law enforcement agency within the state.

The state police purchased the device in September 2013 with “an eye on the future potential of this technology to support law enforcement missions,” department spokeswoman said.

This device was selected because of its high rating in the federal Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety survey, which evaluated different systems for safety, capability and reliability. Since that time, the state police has worked closely with the FAA to meet all safety and training requirements, as well as to develop policies and procedures for the safe and effective implementation of this equipment, department leaders said.

The state police received a certificate of authorization in February 2014 from the FAA to conduct training flights with the UAS near the state police's training academy.

The state police has strict policy regarding the operation of the drone. That policy calls for it to be flown by a two-person crew, with one acting as the pilot and the other as a safety observer. The FAA certified pilot has received specific training from the manufacturer in the safe operation of the Aeryon SkyRanger.

The device must remain below 400 feet and always be within line of sight of the crew. Many additional safety factors are included with the design of the device.




Internet safety, communication stressed at community meeting

Communication still remains key to Internet safety

by Nick Longworth

The Internet and its plethora of social media platforms are so continuously changing that by the time a parent is typically keen to what sites their child are conversing on, odds are they've already left it behind.

It used to be a two-horse race, primarily dominated by the likes of Myspace, and then Facebook. But the "curse of the cool" is that once your parents adapt to it, it is no longer cool.

Today Myspace is all but vacated by students around the nation, and left primarily for musicians to spread their work on. Similarly, since everyone's aunts, uncles and grandparents are now on Facebook, it's become old news, and an unfavorable medium to youth culture. Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, Vine, and so many more are now widely popular.

With their continued popularity and reinvention, parents need to know how to still keep their students, and themselves, safe. That's why Internet safety and social media were the topics for discussion at an informational program held at the Prior Lake High School on Thursday, March 5. The meeting was led by Minnesota Department of Public Safety Internet Crimes Against Children Training and Education Coordinator Karina Hedinger.

Attended by 40 or so community members, the meeting included a near hour-long presentation by Hedinger, followed by a brief question-and-answer session with the audience.

Throughout, Hedinger stressed the fact that it is nearly impossible for a parent to monitor absolutely everything their child does over social media with the prevalence of platforms and devices capable of running those platforms, especially while still maintaining a relationship based on trust.

What's more important, she said, is for a parent to be on the same page with his or her child as far as expectations, standards and safety are concerned.

"I know what it's like to be a parent trying to keep up with all of this crazy technology," Hedinger said. "Communicate with your children about technology, what personal information they share, and who they share it with. New technology emerges on a daily basis — don't wait for an incident, but instead incorporate messages about safe behavior online into the daily conversation. Teach your children to make good decisions, no matter what device or application they're using."

Topics also included types of cyber bullying, including both direct attacks and also anonymous ones done by students creating anonymous accounts. Hedinger said that often anonymous profile account attacks usually flush themselves out in the hallways of the school over five days due to the fact that students "like to talk." Cyber bullying attacks can also come via way of someone knowing a student's passwords, and cyber bullying by proxy.

A parent of two, Jennifer Wells agreed with the potential ramifications that can come with being too lenient and apathetic with communication between parent and child.

"It's so huge right now. There are so many ways to be violated that you don't realize," said Wells, a member of the Savage Police Department's Volunteers in Police Service program who volunteered to help with the event. "It's good to know how to keep yourself safe, and it's good to know how to keep your children safe. That's the important part; I know a fair amount of ways to protect myself, but teaching my children that in our age is something that is incredibly important."

The Q and A conversation included parents asking about specific apps such as Tinder, and the searching capabilities for different ages.



Many localities see themselves in Ferguson

by Gene Johnson

SEATTLE – Felix Vargas read the Justice Department's report on Ferguson, Mo., and thought some of it sounded awfully familiar: a mostly white police department overseeing a mostly minority town; questionable uses of force; officers ill-equipped to deal with mentally ill residents.

They're the same issues his heavily Hispanic community, the agricultural Washington city of Pasco, has confronted since the fatal police shooting of an immigrant farmworker last month.

“We know Pasco is only the most recent area where this has happened,” said Vargas, chairman of a local Hispanic business organization called Consejo Latino. “We have a national problem. We continue to struggle with this issue of policing.”

Ferguson has become an emblem of the tensions between minorities and police departments nationwide since Darren Wilson, a white officer, shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, last summer. The Justice Department cleared Wilson of criminal wrongdoing, but in its report last week, it made numerous allegations against the city's police department that included racial disparities in arrests, bigotry and profit-driven law enforcement – essentially using the black community as a piggy bank to support the city's budget through fines.

Though the report centered on Ferguson, its findings have resonated beyond the St. Louis suburbs as residents in some communities across the country say they feel they face the same struggles with their police departments and city leadership.

President Barack Obama addressed the issue Friday on the eve of the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” when police beat scores of people at a civil rights march in Selma, Alabama. While not typical, the issues raised in the Ferguson report also were not isolated, he said.

On Saturday, protesters took to the streets in Madison, Wis., after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black 19-year-old by a white police officer, chanting “Black Lives Matter.” Authorities said the police officer fired his weapon after he was assaulted. The officer was placed on administrative leave pending results of an investigation by an outside state agency.

“These communities are vulnerable because they don't believe the law is there to protect them,” said Kevin Jones, a black, 36-year-old Iraq war veteran who lives in Saginaw, Mich. a once predominantly white city that's now about half black. He recalled being pulled over and arrested in 2011 for having his music too loud in the wrong part of town. The noise complaint was dropped when an officer failed to show for his hearing, but Jones said he still had to pay to get his car back.

Saginaw's police force, which is three-quarters white, came under scrutiny after officers killed a homeless, mentally ill, black man in 2012 when he refused to drop a knife. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has called for the Justice Department to conduct a review of the department's practices. The city meanwhile established a citizens committee to try to improve relations with police.

Community leaders in Anaheim, Calif., have also been seeking a federal review of their department. Demonstrators rioted over two officer-involved shootings in 2012, and residents said Hispanics seemed to be singled out by police in a city that had gone from mostly white when Disneyland was built to mostly Latino.

Jose Moreno, president of Los Amigos of Orange County, a Latino community group, said he didn't believe the overt profiling uncovered in Ferguson occurred in Anaheim, but unless there's a federal investigation he may never know.

“I think it is great the Department of Justice decided to do it somewhere. It just begs the question: Why not here?” he said.

In Pasco, where Vargas lives, the racial makeup of the city has changed over the years and now it's more than half Hispanic, but only one in five of its police are. Even fewer speak fluent Spanish.

In February, three officers – two white and one Hispanic – fatally shot Antonio Zambrano-Montes, a 35-year-old Mexican immigrant, near a busy intersection after police said he threw rocks at them. Vargas said Zambrano-Montes may have suffered from mental illness or substance abuse.

Mayor Matt Watkins said Pasco is open to a federal or state review of its policing and he'd be interested to see more data on arrest rates or other potential indicators of discriminatory policing.

That's something police everywhere should be looking at, said former Seattle U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, who helped oversee a federal investigation that found Seattle police were too quick to use force.

“At this time in our history, every police department in America should be reevaluating their relationships with the people they serve,” Durkan said. “But it doesn't fall just to the police departments. We all have to look hard at the economic disparities that cause some of the inequality, at how we deal with mental illness, and at what we want the role of our police departments to be.”

San Diego State University Professor Joshua Chanin, who has studied Justice Department efforts to reform police departments, said departments could more systematically collect and publish arrest, traffic stop and citation data by race. That could help deter biased policing, because police would be more sensitive to what their statistics show, and it could help validate – or dispel – notions in the community that some groups are singled out.

Even when investigations bring reform, perceptions can be slow to change.

In Miami, the Justice Department came in after seven black men were killed by officers over an eight-month period ending in 2011. The controversy forced out the police chief and brought changes on how police use deadly force, though some say there still aren't enough blacks among the department's brass.

In Liberty City, an impoverished, mostly black neighborhood, suspicions remain.

Standing outside the salon and tattoo parlor where he works, Ronnie Bless put it this way: “If you fit a certain profile, they can do what they want to you.”



Did ISIS Supporters Hack U.S. Websites Over the Weekend? FBI Investigates

by Steve Neavling

The FBI is investigating the hacking of several business websites in the U.S. that showed a black ISIS flag on the homepage.

NBC News reports that the home pages showed the words, “hacked by ISIS, we are everywhere,” with a link to a Facebook page that doesn't exist. What appeared to be an Arabic song played in the background.

The targets included Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, owned by NASCAR star Tony Stewart, and a Goodwill center in St. Louis, among others. “The FBI is aware of the reported incidents and is contacting the impacted parties,” the agency said. But some suspect a hoax. “There are no indications that the individuals behind these latest hacks have any real connection to ISIS, and these defacements have taken place amid a spate of recent attacks where ordinary hackers have cynically used far-fetched references to ISIS as a means of attracting media attention,” Evan Kohlmann of Flashpoint Intelligence, a global security firm and NBC News consultant, said.



The Coalition for Public Safety

by Robert L. Woodson Sr.

Promising possibilities from unlikely allies.

It has been said that a crisis can create unlikely allies. Well, the nation's criminal-justice system has reached a crisis point. We have a prison population of over 2 million — including many serving sentences for nonviolent drug offenses — accounting for 25 percent of the world's incarcerated people. In response, the Koch brothers, champions of conservative principles, and the American Civil Liberties Union, a stalwart liberal organization, have joined with others across the political spectrum to launch a collaborative new organization, the Coalition for Public Safety, to promote reform of the criminal-justice system.

The unexpected collaboration has elicited expressions of hope but also skepticism from commentators, including those quoted in a recent Slate article, who have voiced doubts about the likelihood of its success.

One purported weakness of the coalition is the difference in motivation and priorities of the players, which, the skeptics believe, could make it impossible for the Left and the Right to actually join forces to pass legislation. In fact, the key to the Coalition's prospects for success will be to go above the arena of debate about intentions and motivations and to focus solidly on solutions.

An example from the annals of my work with the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise (CNE) provides evidence that a broad-based collaborative effort to address the problems of those who are most in need is possible and that it can result in the passage of legislation that accomplishes its goals.

In the early 1980s, seven low-income leaders of residents of public housing in cities around the country made national headlines when they successfully drove the drug dealers from their properties and confronted the incompetent management of the local housing authorities. With the cooperation of those housing authorities, they took on the role of managers themselves and established and enforced codes of conduct that brought about dramatic improvements in the quality of life for themselves and their fellow residents.

The St. Louis tenant-management initiative was profiled on CBS's 60 Minutes, featuring an interview with Bertha Gilkey, the dynamic and fearless leader of public-housing residents at the Cochran Gardens housing project. Sitting in the development's courtyard, where children played freely and unafraid, Bertha told Morley Safer: “We are a neighborhood, not a project. We didn't just fix it up, we changed the people — we changed the thinking of the people.”

Upon hearing about this effort, then-congressman Jack Kemp sought out these leaders and played a key role in forming a bipartisan coalition that brought about seven amendments to the 1987 Housing and Community Development Act, empowering the residents to manage their own properties. D.C. mayor Marion Barry played a pivotal role in this process. The legislation's cosponsors in the House were Republican representative Kemp from Buffalo and Democratic representative Walter Fauntroy from Washington, D.C. In the Senate, William Armstrong (R., Colo.) and Alan Dixon (D., Ill.) were the cosponsors. The legislation passed 93 to 0 in the Senate and had only one dissenting vote in the House. It was signed into law by President Reagan — flanked by the resident–management leaders.

That collaborative accomplishment was celebrated in a White House meeting by none other than President Reagan and Mayor Barry — the epitome of unlikely bedfellows.

So today's Coalition for Public Safety has an impressive predecessor that shows that it is possible for concerned citizens across the political spectrum to craft and pass legislation to address their goals. Taking a page from the playbook of the collaboration that moved resident management forward, the new coalition should focus on identifying existing models of strategies that work. A good start would be to look among CNE's network of grassroots organizations that have developed effective and replicable programs to deter and reduce youth violence and provide an alternative to juvenile detention, as well as initiatives that have provided opportunities for those reentering society after prison terms to become agents of change in their communities and successful entrepreneurs.

Robert L. Woodson Sr. is the founder and president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise.



South Carolina

Police, first responder interactions with autistic individuals focus of training

by Melissa Boughton

It doesn't take much for an interaction between police and people with autism to escalate, but a state organization is trying to change that.

The South Carolina Autism Society, for the first time, is collaborating with the Mount Pleasant Police Department to put on a free training session in May for all Lowcountry law enforcement and first responders, including firefighters, emergency medical personnel and school resource officers.

“Law enforcement treating individuals on the spectrum like any other person in a situation may escalate,” said S.C. Autism Society President Kim Thomas. “One of the potential issues is the lack of communication people on the spectrum have — they sometimes can't communicate with officers and law enforcement may take that as a sign of something else and not know they're on the spectrum.”

There are behaviors related to autism that could easily lead to a bad outcome if officer's are untrained or uneducated, Thomas said.

People with autism can have difficulties following verbal commands, reading body language, and have deficits in social understanding, according to autismspeaks.org.

“I realize (public safety officials) have a job to first keep the community safe, but I also feel that we have a responsibility to educate,” Thomas said. She doesn't blame law enforcement and first responders, she wants to work together for better emergency responses with autistic individuals.

She said that May's training session will be taught by people in law enforcement and public safety who have a great deal of experience working with the autism community.

Lt. Peter Farrell, of the Charleston Police Department, said many of the city's officers have been specially trained by a “crisis intervention team” to respond to calls involving individuals with mental illness or developmental disabilities.

“What we've done is kind of developed a multi-pronged approach,” he said.

The officers work with places such as Charleston Mental Health Center and the Charleston Disability Board, and they use verbal de-escalation techniques in addition to working to find alternatives to arrest, Farrell said.

Officers' training involves role-playing scenarios and practice, and includes guest speakers who are experts on teaching about individuals with developmental disabilities.

A lot of that training was used last week when an autistic man was reported missing by his grandmother in Charleston. The man was found unharmed, but Farrell said in a situation like that, there is a sense of urgency because officers are dealing with an individual with somewhat of a diminished capacity.

Farrell said national attention has been put on police departments after a number of officer encounters with people who had special needs went sour.

For example, in February, a prosecutor said police officers in Greenville were justified when they used a stun gun to shock a 34-year-old autistic man after he ran away as they were investigating a report of gunshots.

Solicitor Walt Wilkins said at a news conference the man was walking at 11:50 p.m. Christmas Eve when officers who heard gunshots seconds before they shined a spotlight on the man to question him.

Wilkins says Anderson putting his hands in his pocket and running was enough reason for the officers to detain him. Witnesses say Anderson was on the ground crying for his mother after he was shocked with a stun gun and handcuffed.

Other officers have been cleared in cases that ended much more tragically, such as one in Maryland involving a man with Down syndrome who died of asphyxia after he was restrained by deputies.

Farrell described circumstances like that as “lawful, but awful,” and said it's one of the reasons his department takes training so seriously.

“It's awful for all involved when a situation ends tragically,” he said. “We look for every opportunity to avoid a tragic outcome.”

He said the department also does community outreach to interact with individuals with developmental disabilities in a friendly environment and educate the public.

The Charleston Police Department currently has a questionnaire and emergency release waiver online so that families can register information about a relative with special needs or disabilities that includes information about their behaviors, reactions to lights and sirens, propensity to run away or wander and ways to calm them if they become agitated.