LACP - NEWS of the Week
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.


April, 2015 - Week 1



Community policing highlighted at Boys & Girls Club breakfast

Mayor, police stress benefits in Dorchester

by Jennifer Smith

As she sat with her friend and young daughter in a bustling Dorchester community center Saturday morning, surrounded by officers in uniform, Tineia Andrews felt secure.

“I like that there are police around and that you can see them,” she said. “It gives us a chance to talk about issues before an incident erupts.”


The 23-year-old mother lives a block away from the Humboldt Avenue site where a Boston police officer was shot and his shooter was killed by police on March 27.

“Police work was done, and done well, though a life was lost,” she said.

At the annual Blue Hill Boys & Girls Club community breakfast Saturday, Andrews said an engaged, community-involved police force makes the neighborhood safer for her and her 2-year-old daughter, who played with butter packets at the table beside her.

That was the theme of the breakfast, which centered on the benefits of community policing. It emphasized building a strong bond between Dorchester residents and the District B-3 police who serve their neighborhood.

“The Police Department isn't just arresting people . . . they're reaching out to people,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the keynote speaker. He stressed the importance of having police forces and city representatives that reflect Boston's diversity, and that mentors take care to reach out to at-risk youths who may have “one foot in a different world and one foot in the right world.”

After the point-blank shooting of Boston police Officer John Moynihan and subsequent fatal shooting of his assailant, Angelo West, in Roxbury, the 9 a.m. breakfast was particularly poignant.

“We had a tough week last week with Officer Moynihan getting shot on Humboldt Ave.,” Commissioner William B. Evans said to those gathered in the center. “It's amazing the progress he's made,” Evans said, calling his recovery so far “tremendous.”

Andrews attended the breakfast because her friend Ashley Quan, 23, of Dorchester is a coach for the Boys & Girls Club girls' softball team through the BASE program. Gatherings like this and the commitment to an accessible police force are necessary and helpful, Andrews said.

As a stream of officials spoke on stage, people ate their buffet-style breakfast. The attitude was congenial, attendees acting like they were at “a family reunion,” Pastor William Dickerson said.

Those in attendance were mostly adults — some in police uniform, some in suits, some in sweaters and jeans — though some teens also attended. Most of the youths were members of the BASE girls' softball team there to support their program and student singers with the Studio Heat of Blue Hill Club.

Sisters Yalena, 14, and Nathalye Terrero, 18, of Mattapan are members of the softball team. Both want to go into medicine — Yalena as a veterinarian and Nathalye as a doctor.

Their program is overseen by Officer Jose Ruiz, who they said has provided immense support and fostered a community feeling on the team.

“He told me there's a lot of things we need to do, but I could do it,” Nathalye said, smiling. “Being a doctor isn't an easy task.”

The breakfast was attended by elected officials including Representative Russell Holmes, City Councilor Timothy McCarthy, and Senator Linda Dorcena Forry.

To see so many prominent faces was “kind of nerve-wracking,” Yalena said, but was a crucial part of fund-raising for the club and her softball program.

Former District B-3 commanding officer James Claiborne, who is now deputy chief of the Harvard University Police Department, and the current commanding officer, Captain Haseeb Hosein, spoke on the goals and changes in Dorchester community policing.

The district needs rebranding, they said — a renewed focus on the good in the neighborhood rather than the violence. Making police accessible and their faces familiar in the community is paramount.

“We did not want to be a police department of strangers,” Claiborne said.

After the breakfast, Walsh spoke briefly to a reporter about Friday's Boston Marathon report. He said he will be meeting with the police commissioner to review the report in detail to identify protocol that would warrant fixing.

Walsh said “what happened at the Marathon April 15 — they just weren't expecting that.”

Based on the report and police precautions in place at two Fourth of July celebrations since and last year's Marathon, he is “very comfortable, very confident” police could capably handle a similar situation today.



New Jersey

Road Warrior: A day to reconsider litter

by John Cichowski

Families visiting Paterson's Calvary Cemetery on this holiest of Christian Sundays probably won't be pleased when they see how the spring thaw has uncovered an all-too-familiar eyesore near the long, wire fence separating a Route 20 ramp from the graves of their loved ones.

Snow no longer hides the plastic bottles, plastic-foam trays, paper cups and other trash that now form an unsightly yet highly visible barrier that's trapped in the bushes and in the fencing on the entrance-ramp leading from Lakeview Avenue to three main arteries — Routes 20, 46 and 21. Some manage to overlook it, as if their lifestyles were too crammed with importance to pay much attention to tin cans, cigarette butts and similar petty offenses.

But others cannot, mainly because the sights they encounter on the grassy medians along the roads they rely on each day are much too ugly and far too widespread to avoid.

"A mess!" declared New Milford's Jack Bell as he described exit and entrance ramps from Route 95 near the George Washington Bridge.

"Filthy!" complained David Dragona, a salesman from Fairview, as he assessed his daily commutes to the Lincoln Tunnel along Route 495.

For Alan Friess of Fair Lawn, Route 287 deserves a special classification for the "dismembered … truck tires along with intermittent deer carcasses" he sees each day as he drives from Franklin Lakes to Mahwah.

Calvary's managers and most of the onlookers who endure litter along North Jersey's other highways know crews from the state Department of Transportation will show up eventually to remove these eyesores, at least temporarily. They just don't know when, and they sure don't know if they'll return for a second and third sweep when litter reappears.

Last year, the DOT's pickups exceeded 3,500 tons of debris. Actually, since 94 percent of New Jersey's roads are maintained by county and municipal crews — not the DOT — the statewide figure might be closer to 56,000 tons, a little more than the weight of the Titanic before it sank.

Is it enough to keep New Jersey's roads from sinking into an even sorrier state of decline?

"Litter pickup is part of our maintenance crews' normal weekly routine, however, emergency work takes priority," a DOT spokesman said.

Of course, but as infrastructure ages, emergencies sop up a larger share of the workload.

Is there a better way?

As Fairview reader Cliff Olsen observed, the answer is obvious: "Just make litterers understand that it doesn't take much effort to find a Dumpster."

Easier said than done. Littering in New Jersey continues largely unabated despite an average of 227 tickets issued statewide each month for this offense, which carries a minimum penalty of $200. Police also handed out 85 tickets monthly to truckers for allegedly allowing their loads to spill on state roadways, a violation that usually means a $500 fine.

Should more tickets be issued?

The "broken windows" theory of urban management that gained momentum in the 1980s and flourished in the 1990s seems to suggest that it might work. Under this standard, an ordered and clean environment signals that consistent monitoring of criminal behavior — even if it's as petty as breaking windows, scrawling graffiti, littering or speeding — won't be tolerated.

A small, parallel model now blooming in Paterson suggests that the broken-windows approach has great merit if it relies more on community involvement than direct government control.

Almost every day, clutching plastic sacks in one hand and a shovel in the other, a lone volunteer trudges to Grand Street to begin collecting debris at the Routes 19 and 80 interchange there. If the last nine years can accurately gauge production, the man, whom locals call "Our Highway Angel," will have piled up more than 100 huge bags of litter by month's end for the DOT.

Although he lives mostly on disability insurance in federally subsidized housing, Benny Gonzalez is not content to remain idle simply because he suffered some brain damage in a truck crash as a child. His only payment is the encouragement he receives from honking motorists as well as police and other officials who allow him access to his full-time hobby.

"I want to contribute, to give something back to the community," he said simply when asked why he does what he does.

Although there's only one Benny Gonzalez, there are comparable ways to capitalize on his example, at least in part.

Although there's only one Benny Gonzalez, there are comparable ways to capitalize on his example, at least in part.

If you own or run a business, you can ensure cleanup of a mile stretch of a highway of your choosing by contacting the Adopt-a-Highway program at 800-390-2420. For a monthly fee in the $350 range, the agency will send its trained cleanup crews to the site at least twice a month. In exchange, a sign bearing your company logo will trumpet your highway sponsorship.

Companies ranging from Coca-Cola to Westy Self Storage in Upper Saddle River have bought sponsorships, said Michele Waldron, who runs the regional program in New York and New Jersey.

Unlike Long Island and South Jersey, where businesses have been buying up sponsorships, sales have lagged behind a bit in North Jersey, said Waldron. A recent addition was the Sunrise Gentleman's Lounge in Paterson, which is sponsoring a mile-long stretch of Route 80 through the city.

Individual volunteers may also contact the New Jersey Clean Communities Council at 609-989-5900 or njccc@njclean.org to sign up for supervised cleanups along local streets and waterways. Entire families often turn out for these events, said Sandra Huber, who runs the program. Doing so can be infectious because it often inspires neighbors to participate.

It might be naive to think that some people might be moved to change their sloppy habits because of your participation. But wouldn't it be cynical to think that at least some of the folks who sound their horns for Benny Gonzalez now reconsider their impulse whenever they feel the urge to toss a cup out the window?



From the Department of Justice

U.S. Army National Guard Soldier and His Cousin Indicted for Conspiring to Support Terrorism

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon of the Northern District of Illinois and Special Agent in Charge Robert J. Holley of the FBI's Chicago Field Office announced today that two Aurora, Illinois, men were indicted on Thursday for allegedly conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a foreign terrorist organization.

U.S. Army National Guard Specialist Hasan Edmonds, 22, and his cousin, Jonas Edmonds, 29, were arrested last month by members of the Chicago FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and remain in federal custody. The defendants were charged in an indictment filed yesterday in U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois with one count of conspiring to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization. Both defendants will be arraigned on April 8, at 10:00 before Magistrate Judge Sheila M. Finnegan.

Conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Barry Jonas and John Kness of the Northern District of Illinois, and Trial Attorney Lolita Lukose of the National Security Division's Counterterrorism Section.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.



Philadelphia Woman Arrested for Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIL

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin and U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania announced that Keonna Thomas, also known as Fatayat Al Khilafah and YoungLioness, 30, of Philadelphia, was charged today by criminal complaint with knowingly attempting to provide material support and resources, including herself as personnel, to a designated foreign terrorist organization. According to the complaint, Thomas attempted to travel overseas in order to join and fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

As alleged in the complaint, Thomas posted on Twitter the following statement: “If we truly knew the realities . . . we all would be rushing to join our brothers in the front lines pray ALLAH accept us as shuhada [martyrs].” The complaint further alleges that Thomas applied for a U.S. passport and advised an associate that she had deactivated her Twitter “till i leave for sham [greater Syria]. . . . don't want to draw attention of the kuffar [non-believers].” Thomas then allegedly engaged in electronic communications with an ISIL fighter in Syria, who asked Thomas if she wanted to be a part of a martyrdom operation. Thomas responded by stating, “that would be amazing….a girl can only wish.” Thomas also allegedly conducted online research into various indirect travel routes to Turkey, and allegedly purchased an electronic visa to Turkey. The complaint alleges that Turkey is known to be the most common and most direct transit point for individuals traveling from locations in Europe who are seeking to enter Syria and join ISIL. On or about March 26, 2015, Thomas allegedly purchased airline tickets to fly overseas on March 29, 2015.

If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 15 years' incarceration.

The case was investigated by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Philadelphia Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Trial Attorney Paul Casey of the Justice Department's National Security Division.

A criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.



From the FBI

National Explosives Task Force -- A Multi-Agency Group of Bomb Experts

Bomb threats are not a new tactic for criminals and terrorists, but when scammers used them in a ruse in 2013 to fraudulently obtain pre-paid money cards from retailers around the country, first responders needed to know about it. A bulletin was sent to public safety officials explaining the scheme. The notice advised that although no devices had been found linked to this particular threat, first responders should not automatically assume any bomb threat is a hoax.

The awareness bulletin was a product of the National Explosives Task Force (NETF), a multi-agency assemblage of bomb technicians, analysts, and professional staff that formed in 2011 to quickly analyze and disseminate intelligence related to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other explosive materials in the U.S. The task force, located at FBI Headquarters, includes personnel from the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The arrangement puts some of the nation's leading bomb experts together in the same room.

“We are trying to create a common operating picture for the federal government to look and see what the problem set is domestically in terms of explosives and IED incidents,” said Whitney Barnhart, an FBI analyst who has been on the task force since its inception. “And we're using that information to create products to support federal, state, and local bomb technicians and the work that they're doing.”

The NETF's main functions include gathering and analyzing intelligence on explosives, integrating the intel into investigations (to disrupt plots, for example), and pushing information out to partners—which include more than 3,100 public safety bomb technicians on more than 400 bomb squads around the country. The task force is notified every time the FBI or the ATF responds to an explosives-related incident, regardless of jurisdiction, and also reviews explosive incidents reported by public safety bomb squads, military explosive ordnance disposal teams, and other government reporting sources.

“It became apparent years ago that we really needed an interagency task force looking at the intelligence from these IED incidents and trying to quickly pull together joint intelligence products that we can disseminate to the bomb tech community to make sure that everybody is situationally aware,” said James Yacone, assistant director of the FBI's Critical Incident Response Group, under which NETF operates.

Depending on circumstances, the task force might push out a detailed “Quick Look” report (within 24 hours of a major incident), an industry advisory, or an awareness bulletin like the bomb threat scam advisory in 2013. The bulletins typically contain device information and tactics, techniques, and procedures used by the perpetrator(s) to raise awareness among people who most need to know. Last May, for example, the task force sent an industry advisory about the use of chemical reaction bombs after four similar incidents occurred in the Washington, D.C. area. (Fortunately, the perpetrators in these incidents were quickly arrested.) And last October, an advisory sought to bring attention to the dangers of unexploded munitions at recycling facilities after an explosion at one in Illinois killed two employees.

“We're taking information that's coming in to be more proactive about what we're seeing ahead of events and incidents,” said Barnhart, the NETF analyst.

Another example is a system the task force developed to notify key personnel in local jurisdictions when inmates held on explosives-related charges are set to be released in their areas. The Bureau of Prisons notifies the task force, which vets the information and distributes it to ATF field offices and FBI bomb techs. Bradley Cooper, an ATF analyst who helped develop the inmate-release notification with an FBI partner, said the multi-agency approach makes sense.

“When everybody comes together from different agencies to work a common goal, it's remarkable,” said Cooper, whose task force experience includes working alongside FBI personnel after the Oklahoma City bombing 20 years ago.

The full weight of the task force's effectiveness comes into focus when a major event occurs. When multiple agencies gather in a command post, they know each other and they know who has the critical explosives expertise to work an investigation.

“That's the beauty of NETF,” Yacone said. “It brings together all the special mission experts.”



From the Department of Homeland Security

DHS Announces Grant Guidance For Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Preparedness Grants

WASHINGTON—Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson today announced the release of Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Notices of Funding Opportunity for nine DHS preparedness grant programs totaling more than $1.6 billion. The grant programs provide funding to state, local, tribal and territorial governments, as well as transportation authorities, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector, to improve the nation's readiness in preventing, protecting against, responding to, recovering from and mitigating terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies. The grants reflect the Department's focus on implementation of an all-of-nation, whole-community approach to the building, sustainment, and delivery of those core capabilities essential to achieving a secure and resilient nation.

“The FY 2015 homeland security grants demonstrate the Department's continued commitment to strengthening our nation's ability to prepare and respond to a wide variety of emergencies,” said Secretary Johnson. “These grant programs reflect the Department's strong partnerships across all levels of government and the private sector in order to ensure we remain vigilant in an ever-changing threat environment.”

The FY 2015 grant guidance will continue to focus on the nation's highest risk areas, including urban areas that face the most significant threats. For FY 2015, the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) will enhance regional preparedness and capabilities by funding 28 high-threat, high-density urban areas. This represents Congressional intent to limit FY 2015 UASI funding to those Urban Areas that represent up to 85% of the nationwide risk, as stated in the Explanatory Statement accompanying the Department's appropriations act.

Based on consistent feedback from our state, local, tribal and territorial partners regarding the challenges created by a two-year period of performance, the Secretary addressed this concern in the FY 2015 grant guidance by increasing the period of performance for grant awards from two years to three years for all FY 2015 grant programs, except the Assistance to Fire Fighters Grants and the Emergency Management Performance Grant.

Consistent with previous grant guidance, dedicated funding is provided for law enforcement and terrorism prevention throughout the country to prepare for, prevent and respond to pre-operational activity and other crimes that are precursors or indicators of terrorist activity.

Grantees are encouraged to utilize grant funding to maintain and sustain current critical core capabilities through investments in training and exercises, updates to current planning and procedures, and lifecycle replacement of equipment. New capabilities that are built using homeland security grant funding must be deployable if needed to support regional and national efforts. All capabilities being built or sustained must have a clear linkage to the core capabilities in the National Preparedness Goal.

Preparedness Grant Program Allocations for Fiscal Year 2015

Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP)— provides more than $1 billion for states and urban areas to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism and other threats.

•  State Homeland Security Program (SHSP )—provides more than $402 million to all states and territories to support the implementation of risk-driven, capabilities-based State Homeland Security Strategies to address capability targets.

•  Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI)— provides $587 million to enhance regional preparedness and capabilities the nation's 28 highest-risk, highest-threat, highest-density urban areas.

•  Operation Stonegarden (OPSG)— provides $55 million to enhance cooperation and coordination among local, tribal, territorial, state and Federal law enforcement agencies to jointly enhance security along the United States land and water borders.

Since the 9/11 Act, FEMA has required states to ensure that at least 25 percent (25%) of the total funds awarded to them under SHSP and UASI are dedicated toward law enforcement terrorism prevention activities (LETPA). The total LETPA allocation can be satisfied from SHSP, UASI or both. In addition, states must obligate at least 80 percent (80%) of the funds awarded under SHSP and UASI to local or tribal units of government within 45 days of receipt of the funds.

Tribal Homeland Security Grant Program (THSGP) —provides $10 million to eligible tribal nations to implement preparedness initiatives to help strengthen the nation against risk associated with potential terrorist attacks and other hazards.

Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) —provides $13 million to support target hardening and other physical security enhancements for nonprofit organizations that are at high risk of a terrorist attack and located within one of the FY 2015 UASI-eligible urban areas.

Intercity Passenger Rail - Amtrak (IPR) Program— provides more than $10 million to protect critical surface transportation infrastructure and the traveling public from acts of terrorism and increase the resilience of the Amtrak rail system.

Port Security Grant Program (PSGP) —provides more than $100 million to help protect critical port infrastructure from terrorism, enhance maritime domain awareness, improve port-wide maritime security risk management, and maintain or reestablish maritime security mitigation protocols that support port recovery and resiliency capabilities.

Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP)— provides more than $87 million to owners and operators of transit systems to protect critical surface transportation and the traveling public from acts of terrorism and to increase the resilience of transit infrastructure.

Intercity Bus Security Grant Program (IBSGP) —provides $3 million to owners and operators of intercity bus systems to protect critical surface transportation infrastructure and the traveling public from acts of terrorism and to increase the resilience of transit infrastructure.

All preparedness Notices of Funding Opportunity can be found at www.grants.gov. There are some key changes to DHS grant programs this year including a 36-month period of performance and compliance with the requirements at 2 C.F.R. Part 200. Please see the Notice of Funding Opportunity – Key Changes – for each grant program.

The Emergency Management Performance Grant ( EMPG) applications, announced on March 25, 2015, are due no later than April 24, 2015. All other preparedness grant applications – excluding Fire Grant programs – are due no later than May 19, 2015. Final submissions must be made through the Non-Disaster Grants system located at https://portal.fema.gov.

Further information on DHS's preparedness grant programs is available at www.dhs.gov and http://www.fema.gov/grants.




Small Wisconsin Town Serves As Model For Community Policing

by Cheryl Corley NPR

In the wake of fatal police-involved shootings, cities are looking for ways to institute police department reforms. A community policing program in Racine, Wis., calls for police officers to work out of people's houses in specific neighborhoods.


Community policing is getting new attention as protests over police shootings continue around the country. One of the latest incidents happened last month in Madison, Wis. A biracial 19-year-old man was fatally shot by a white police officer. Demonstrations quickly followed.


UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting) Hey, hey, ho, ho. These killer cops have got to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: We're here today to say that this must stop, and it must stop now.

BLOCK: As cities and states look to enact police department reforms, we're going to hear why leaders look to a different city in Wisconsin as a model. Here's NPR's Cheryl Corley.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: Rebuilding trust - that's what many of the proposals aimed at revamping police departments hope to do. Karen Freeman-Wilson, the mayor of Gary, Ind., is a head of a working group of mayors and police chiefs examining police practices. And she says one of their first recommendations is about how to create trust between police and the neighborhoods they patrol.

KAREN FREEMAN-WILSON: There ought to be activities involving the police and the community that don't involve any form of detention or traditional law enforcement actions.

CORLEY: Freeman-Wilson says that can help create relationships that serve both the police and communities when there's a crisis. And she says it's a practice that works.

FREEMAN-WILSON: Oh, absolutely. We've seen it work. We've seen it work in communities where there has been distrust in the past.

CORLEY: One of her examples is Racine, Wis., which was among one of the first waves of police departments to embrace the concept. In the early 1990s, the town of about 80,000, located about 30 miles from Milwaukee, was considered the murder capital of Wisconsin. Now crime is at a 50-year low, and officials credit, in part, community policing.

MICHAEL SMITH: Right now we're on 10th Street. The first community policing location for this neighborhood was over here on 10th and Davis.

CORLEY: Sergeant Michael Smith, the supervisor of Racine's community policing division, is driving to each of the six houses where a community police officer works. The houses are in areas where drug dealing and gangs had been long-standing problems. Police Chief Art Howell, the first African-American to lead the department, says instead of flooding the hotspots with officers, the police department literally moved in.

ART HOWELL: Monday through Friday you have the same officer working out of that house for a period of three years. So that officer gets to know who lives there, who should be there, who should not be there, what the concerns of the neighbors are. And so we became more or less embedded into the community.

CORLEY: We're heading over to the Thelma Orr Community Policing House. Officer Robert Ortiz is waiting inside.

This is your house.

ROBERT ORTIZ: This is my house.


ORTIZ: I take ownership of this.

CORLEY: Ortiz shows off the big kitchen, bedrooms turned into office spaces for probation and parole officers who meet their clients at the house. Ortiz doesn't sleep here, but he knows the area. He went to high school across the street, and he says the job allows him to make good connections with the neighbors.

ORTIZ: I walk around. The kids know me. But at the same time, if you're out there and you're doing bad, you're going to know me, too. You're going to my name, and they do.

CORLEY: It was the city's former police chief, Richard Polzin, who came up with the idea for community policing in the early 1990s. He says it was tough getting buy-in.

RICHARD POLZIN: Because everybody felt being tough on crime was the way to go. And this new thing, community policing, would be a soft approach. And I said, no, it's not. It's about rebuilding neighborhoods.

CORLEY: Police weren't welcome in the neighborhoods at first. The first house was firebombed. Officers were shot at. It's different now. Across the street from the Thelma Orr House, Shativia Cunningham (ph) is walking her dog with a friend. Cunningham used to attend after-school programs at one of the other cop houses when she was younger, and she says the neighborhood has seen the results of Racine's 20-year-plus reform.

SHATIVIA CUNNINGHAM: It' very - it's peaceful now. It's pretty much peaceful. You see a bunch of kids running around playing for the most part. But as far as the fighting and the shooting and things like that that used to carry on, I don't see it no more from back in the day. I don't really see it like that.

CORLEY: Racine officials say they still have much work to do, but the community policing reforms they enacted more than 20 years ago have made for better relationships between the police and the city's residents. Cheryl Corley, NPR News.




Atlanta mayor and police chief host meeting on public safety

by The Associated Press

ATLANTA | Atlanta's mayor and police chief are teaming up to host a town hall meeting to discuss public safety.

Topics on the agenda for the event hosted by Mayor Kasim Reed and police Chief George Turner include the city's commitment to crime reduction and its support for neighborhood-based crime awareness.

The meeting is set to be held Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Zoo Atlanta Auditorium.

Atlanta police Deputy Chief Joseph Spillane, zone 3 commander Major J. Glazier and assistant zone 6 commander Captain B. McGee are also set to attend.

The police department says invited guests include Department of Juvenile Justice Deputy Commissioner Sarah Draper, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard and Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Gail S. Tusan.




California cops team up against distracted driving

Study finds leading cause of death for U.S. teens is texting while driving

by Ali Tadayon

For many U.S. teens, death and injury can come in the form of LOL's and emojis.

A 2013 study by New York's Cohen Children's Medical Center found that the leading cause of death for U.S. teens is texting while driving. For years prior to the release of the study's findings, the leading cause of death for U.S. teens was driving under the influence of alcohol.

In an effort to reduce Californians' distracted driving habits, CHP, the California Office of Traffic Safety and Impact Teen Drivers have teamed up with more than 200 California law enforcement agencies for a month-long education campaign.

Office of Traffic Safety spokesman Chris Cochran said though data from the last five years has shown a slight decline in accidents caused by distracted driving habits, they still cause about 300 to 500 fatal accidents a year in California.

“We think more people are giving up (distracted driving habits),” Cochran said. “But there is still a dedicated group that just won't stop.”

Officer Ryan Railsback, of the Riverside Police Department, said the issue is widespread.

“It's something that happens frequent enough that we need to have a prevention month,” Railsback said. “(distracted driving) is not the primary cause of every collision, but it does cause collisions, and just plain unsafe driving.”

The campaign kicked off Wednesday, April 1, with a “high-visibility enforcement date.” Another enforcement date is scheduled for April 15. California Office of Traffic Safety spokesman Chris Cochran said agencies are doing different things for the enforcement dates.

Railsback said the Police Department is increasing it's patrol staff this month to allow for officers to primarily look for people engaging in distracted driving habits.

According to California vehicle code, reading, writing or sending a text message, e-mail or instant message is illegal. It is also illegal to listen and talk on a cellphone that isn't configured to allow hands-free listening. Using a phone's GPS function while driving is not illegal, but Cochran said it is still dangerous.

For people younger than 18, any and all cellphone use is illegal, Cochran said.

Cochran said the base fine for texting and driving is $20, but the total cost of the ticket is $162. Subsequent tickets cost $285.

Cochran said that school visits are important because teens are the most at risk of distracted driving.

“It's most serious for teens because they are so into the mobile device world,” Cochran said. “That's their lives. (Teens') primary means of communication is texting, and they don't even think twice about it.”

Since teens are already inundated with information on distracted driving, Cochran said, the best way parents can teach their children safe driving habits is to practice them themselves.

“The best thing parents can do is to model the behavior,” Cochran said. “Parents should stay off their cellphones when driving, put it out of reach or turn it off. They should also not call or text their kid when they think their kid will be driving ... that text or that call could be the last one that the child gets.”

Railsback said it's important for all drivers to focus on the road.

“Just be responsible and safe by putting your phone away, keeping your music at a lower volume, paying extra attention while your driving, and not letting yourself drive distracted,” Railsback said.

Are you driving while distracted?

The U.S. Department of Transportation defines distracted driving as "any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving." In 2013, the Department found that 3,154 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Here are some habits the the department lists as distractions to avoid:


Using a cellphone or smartphone

Eating and drinking

Talking to passengers


Reading, including maps

Using a navigation system

Watching a video

Adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player




Minnesota County Launches “First of its Kind” Integrated Public Safety System

In Anoka County, Minn., fire departments and law enforcement agencies can now share critical data during a response.

by Justine Brown

First responders in Anoka County, Minn., may feel a little safer responding to emergency calls these days, thanks to a new public safety data system initiative integrating data from 26 county agencies.

The new system, which was designed to improve the safety of responders and citizens by enabling fire and law enforcement agencies to share critical data during a response, was born out of the fire department's need to replace their antiquated dispatch system.

“The fire department's system was pushing 40 years old and didn't include computer aided dispatch (CAD),” said Harlan Lundstrom, deputy chief of the Spring Lake Park/Blaine/Mounds View Fire Department. “Then law enforcement jumped in and wanted to upgrade too. So we started looking at redoing the whole public safety system for the county. We felt that, because we're all in public safety, we should all be on the same page.”

Eventually the county emergency response agencies formed a committee to look for a solution that could benefit all.

“The original vision was that if you had an incident, no matter which agency responded, that incident would carry through and any agency involved would be adding to the incident record,” said Lundstrom. “In the end, you would have all the information under one incident record.”

Lundstrom added that the agencies couldn't realize the original vision exactly because “no one vendor could provide it all.” But their new integrated public safety data system, which combines a CAD Mobile solution with records management system (RMS) software from FDM Software, allows them to come very close.

The county recently went live with phase one of the new system. Now, once an incident is dispatched, incident details are automatically saved into the RMS. Details such as time of dispatch, address and attendees at the incident are available for a later incident report without having to enter them again. The system is expected to reduce duplication of effort and minimize errors that can result from entering the same information twice.

“It has really simplified things. Before, if someone forgot to do an incident report for a call, someone may never catch it,” Lundstrom said. “Now, as soon as someone calls, that report is automatically created within the database.”

The new system also includes Incidents, properties and personnel modules. The Incidents module will capture the details of the situation so that agencies can analyze their response after the crisis, while the properties module will house vital building and contact information that police and fire need before they head into an emergency situation.

“Police going to a crime scene will know if there are hazardous materials on site before they arrive, which is critical to staying safe during a response,” said Ed Colin, president of FDM Software. “Building information is routinely collected and available to fire personnel through their Records Management System, but now certain records will be made available to police as well. For their part, firefighters will have access to particular police records about private homes that were previously unavailable to them.”

Using the new system, for example, firefighters will be able to access police data that indicates they've previously investigated a structure as a suspected drug house, allowing them to prepare appropriately before entering. Conversely, police can access the fire department's building records to get familiar with the layout of a structure and any potential challenges before entering.

“Traditionally there is a lot of secrecy between agencies – they protect their information and don't share it,” said Lundstrom. “But all the agencies have been working together really well so far. Our emergency responders have been pretty open to change and the possibility of sharing data. Our vision is that there should only be one piece of information, and whoever needs it should be able to access it.”

County officials hope the system will help create tighter integration between their public safety response agencies and enable smoother, more seamless and safer responses.

“It's important for everyone in public safety to be on the same wavelength,” said Lundstrom. “There are also cost savings implications because we aren't duplicating data. And when we seamlessly share information, we have a better grasp of what's going on within the county. We're knocking down the barriers between agencies and encouraging an environment where there's better cooperation.”

In a later phase of the project, FDM will implement its analytics module, a business intelligence tool that provides a dashboard view of key incident information.

“Because it's visual and hands-on," Colin said, "this tool makes it easy for chiefs and county officials to understand at a glance what is going on and to drill down for the details they need to make the best possible decisions."

Though this is the first county his company has created this type of system for, Colin said they are already receiving calls from other counties interested in finding out more.



New York

Two Queens women charged with conspiracy to detonate bomb in U.S.


Two Queens women -- described by one of them as "citizens of the Islamic State" -- were arrested Thursday and charged with conspiring to detonate a bomb in the United States, officials and court papers said.

Authorities said Asia Siddiqui, 31, and Noelle Velentzas, 28, were inspired by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings that killed three and injured 260. Siddiqui had stockpiled several propane tanks -- the same devices used in the Boston attack -- and had kept instructions from an online al-Qaida magazine detailing how to turn them into explosives, according to federal prosecutors.

Both were arrested after a search of their apartments in Jamaica, Queens, and charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction against persons or property in the United States. They could face life in prison if convicted.

The duo, both American citizens, "plotted to wreak terror by creating explosive devices and even researching the pressure-cooker bombs used during the Boston Marathon bombing," said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez.

Each studied chemistry, had extensive knowledge of prior terrorist bombings, and had "implied that their goal was to learn how to blow up a bomb from afar rather than conduct a suicide bombing," according to court papers.

The women appeared side by side at their arraignment before Judge Viktor V. Pohorelsky in federal court in Brooklyn Thursday afternoon. Velentzas spoke loudly to the judge, saying: "I understand" and "yes, sir," in response to his question about her waiving a 14-day requirement for a preliminary hearing.

Siddiqui also told the judge she understood the waiver. Neither woman entered a plea.

"My client will enter a plea of not guilty when there's an indictment, and she and I will address everything in the courtroom where it belongs," Siddiqui's attorney, Thomas Dunn of Manhattan, said outside court.

Velentzas' attorney did not speak with reporters.

The FBI's investigation into the women, both of whom are Muslim, was spearheaded by an undercover agent who heard Velentzas "praise" the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and state that "being a martyr through a suicide attack guarantees entrance to heaven," according to court papers.

The background image on Velentzas' phone was a photo of Osama bin Laden with an AK-47, court papers allege, and Velen-tzas characterized the al-Qaida founder as "one of her heroes."

At one point, court papers show, Velentzas also said people should refer to her and Siddiqui as "citizens of the Islamic State,' " a reference to the terrorist organization also known as ISIS.

In December, after the funeral of assassinated NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos, Velentzas appeared to muse about "whether a police funeral was an appropriate terrorist target," the papers said. She also expressed "a preference for attacking military or government targets, rather than civilian targets," the papers said.

"They were the real deal," a federal law enforcement source said of the women, describing them as "radicalized and intellectually ready" to wage an attack.

Two Queens women -- described by one of them as "citizens of the Islamic State" -- were arrested Thursday and charged with conspiring to detonate a bomb in the United States, officials and court papers said.

Authorities said Asia Siddiqui, 31, and Noelle Velentzas, 28, were inspired by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings that killed three and injured 260. Siddiqui had stockpiled several propane tanks -- the same devices used in the Boston attack -- and had kept instructions from an online al-Qaida magazine detailing how to turn them into explosives, according to federal prosecutors.

Both were arrested after a search of their apartments in Jamaica, Queens, and charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction against persons or property in the United States. They could face life in prison if convicted.

The duo, both American citizens, "plotted to wreak terror by creating explosive devices and even researching the pressure-cooker bombs used during the Boston Marathon bombing," said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez.

Each studied chemistry, had extensive knowledge of prior terrorist bombings, and had "implied that their goal was to learn how to blow up a bomb from afar rather than conduct a suicide bombing," according to court papers.

The women appeared side by side at their arraignment before Judge Viktor V. Pohorelsky in federal court in Brooklyn Thursday afternoon. Velentzas spoke loudly to the judge, saying: "I understand" and "yes, sir," in response to his question about her waiving a 14-day requirement for a preliminary hearing.

Siddiqui also told the judge she understood the waiver. Neither woman entered a plea.

"My client will enter a plea of not guilty when there's an indictment, and she and I will address everything in the courtroom where it belongs," Siddiqui's attorney, Thomas Dunn of Manhattan, said outside court.

Velentzas' attorney did not speak with reporters.

The FBI's investigation into the women, both of whom are Muslim, was spearheaded by an undercover agent who heard Velentzas "praise" the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and state that "being a martyr through a suicide attack guarantees entrance to heaven," according to court papers.

The background image on Velentzas' phone was a photo of Osama bin Laden with an AK-47, court papers allege, and Velen-tzas characterized the al-Qaida founder as "one of her heroes."

At one point, court papers show, Velentzas also said people should refer to her and Siddiqui as "citizens of the Islamic State,' " a reference to the terrorist organization also known as ISIS.

In December, after the funeral of assassinated NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos, Velentzas appeared to muse about "whether a police funeral was an appropriate terrorist target," the papers said. She also expressed "a preference for attacking military or government targets, rather than civilian targets," the papers said.

"They were the real deal," a federal law enforcement source said of the women, describing them as "radicalized and intellectually ready" to wage an attack.

"The only question was when," the source said.

As for Siddiqui, she once wrote a poem published in an al-Qaida magazine, Jihad Recollections, that said there is no "excuse to sit back and wait -- for the skies rain martyrdom,' " according to prosecutors.

Sometime around 2006 she is also believed to have befriended Samir Khan, a prominent member of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, investigators said. A former Westbury resident who attended W. T. Clarke High School in the East Meadow school district from 1999 to 2003, Khan later became publisher of the Web-based extremist magazine Inspire, which has served as a bombmaking guide for jihadists, including those accused in the Boston Marathon attack.

Khan was killed in Yemen by a U.S. drone strike in September 2011, alongside U.S.- born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

FBI investigators questioned Siddiqui at La Guardia Airport in July 2014, court records show. And in November 2014 the women purchased potassium gluconate -- a potential bombmaking ingredient -- and visited a Home Depot to look at "copper wires, paint containers with the word 'combustible,' small and large metal pipes, a bag of sodium chloride, and heater fluid containers."

The women also looked at fertilizer, which Velentzas said was used to build the bomb that destroyed Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995, according to court papers.

There was no answer Thursday afternoon at the Queens home where records show Siddiqui lived. Seen through windows, the inside of the house appeared cluttered, with items strewn about the place. In one window someone had placed stickers of a mosque, crescent moon and star -- all symbols associated with Islam.

Thursday's arrests came a little more than a month after three New York men were charged in Brooklyn federal court with conspiring to aid the Islamic State.




FAST team reeling in LaPorte County fugitives

Special police squad tracking down suspects

by Stan Maddux

MICHIGAN CITY — They're like modern-day bounty hunters chipping away full time at the large number of people wanted for crimes in LaPorte County.

In a little more than a year of existence, the Fugitive Apprehension Street Team has racked up more than 600 arrests.

Other departments nationwide also have specialized task forces, including St. Joseph County police, and they are very effective in getting suspects off the streets before they can commit more crimes, said Mike Carrington, a retired U.S. marshal once assigned to cover the entire northern part of the state.

He said the U.S. Marshals Service, for as long has he can remember, has sponsored task forces nationwide to improve the odds of locating fugitives.

“They track people down. They're good at it. They're very professional,” said Carrington, also a former criminal justice professor at Indiana University South Bend.

Typically, he said local task forces have at least one U.S. marshal, which gives all members the authority to cross state lines, whenever necessary, to hunt down fugitives.

The structure also creates a network of officers across the country who can contact one another to try to narrow the potential whereabouts of a wanted individual and then go out to bring them into custody for other departments, said Carrington.

Mostly recently, FAST in just one day reeled in 44 individuals, with about half wanted on charges related to selling or using heroin and other drugs, police said.

And, a month ago, members of FAST went to an upstairs apartment in Michigan City, locating 23-year-old Tyrone Stalling, the third suspect in the murder of 29-year-old Berry Williams, who was shot multiple times last September.

“They're doing great work,” said LaPorte County police Capt. Mike Kellems.

FAST was formed in January of 2014.

The group consists of two detectives from Michigan City, one detective from the LaPorte County Sheriff's Department and an agent with the U.S. Marshals Service.

Besides its expertise, the fact that FAST works full time on fugitive apprehension makes it effective, said Michigan City Police Chief Mark Swistek.

“It's similar to what a bounty hunter would do,” said Swistek.

Prior to FAST, tracking down fugitives was limited mostly to officers finding time within their regular shifts to perform the task.

Now, “it's 100 percent focused on LaPorte County,” said Swistek, who pointed out that having a federal agent on the squad provides resources and contacts from other states to find alleged offenders in hiding.

Much of the focus is on finding repeat offenders on the theory that putting those people in jail sooner gives them less time to create more crimes.

“Quick apprehension is where we pride ourselves in reducing the overall crime in our community,” said Swistek.

St. Joseph County police Lt. Matt Blank said his department for a long time has had a U.S. marshal-led task force that includes officers from the county, South Bend and Mishawaka to locate primarily major felons.

Members of the department's warrants division focus mostly on individuals wanted for lower level crimes, he said.

“It's a good way to pool resources and take care of things. It's definitely made a difference,” said Blank.

“With the help of the federal government you get a little bit longer reach of the long arm of the law,” Kellems said.

Carrington said task forces aren't very costly for local departments that often receive federal money to offset expenses such as hiring more officers.

Access to such a wealth of resources nationwide also comes at little or no expense and apprehending fugitives before they commit more crimes is a hidden savings.

“It's cost effective. I think it's a great thing,” said Carrington.




Man charged in shooting of cops in Ferguson discusses it in jail audio

Attorney for the suspect expressed surprise Wednesday at audio of jail telephone calls in which his client appears to confess

by Jim Salter

ST. LOUIS — The attorney for the man accused of shooting two police officers during a demonstration in Ferguson expressed surprise Wednesday at audio of jail telephone calls in which his client appears to confess.

Jeffrey L. Williams, 20, is accused of shooting and wounding the officers on March 12, during an early-morning rally sparked by the resignation of Ferguson's police chief.

Prosecutors say Williams told investigators he fired a gun but was aiming at someone else. KMOV-TV first obtained audio of several of Williams' phone conversations from at the St. Louis County Justice Center. St. Louis County Justice Services Director Herbert Bernsen confirmed the audio is from calls made by Williams and provided The Associated Press with the sound files.

It wasn't clear to whom Williams was speaking. In one call, Williams said he was having trouble with a group of people, prompting an exchange of gunfire.

"Nobody aiming at no police ," Williams says. "I ran up the hill and he (an unidentified person) shot at the car. ... I shot back," Williams said.

In another conversation, Williams expressed concern about a possible lengthy prison sentence.

"Even though I was in the wrong, though, I should have just went the other way," he said. "Oh man, now I'm looking at 10 years."

Williams' attorney, Jerryl Christmas, has said Williams told him he never fired during the protest. Christmas told The Associated Press on Wednesday morning he hadn't heard the audio of the phone conversations, but he stood by what Williams told him.

"My client has maintained to me that he never fired a gun that night," Christmas said. "So until I'm able to see evidence that I can distinctly talk to him about, I have to maintain my commitment to the statements that he has made to me."

Christmas was also critical of the justice center for releasing audio that provides potential evidence against Williams. Inmates are warned that calls are recorded and are public record.

Ferguson has been a focal point since a white police officer fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed, on Aug. 9. A grand jury in November declined to indict the former officer, Darren Wilson, who also was cleared of civil rights violations by the U.S. Department of Justice in March.

But a separate DOJ report found widespread racial bias in Ferguson's policing efforts and the municipal court system, which it said was driven by profit mostly extracted from black and low-income residents.

Several city officials were fired or resigned following the report. Among those was Police Chief Tom Jackson, and his resignation led several dozen people to protest outside of police headquarters. The demonstration was about to break up when shots rang out. A St. Louis County officer was shot in the shoulder; a Webster Groves officer was hit in the face. Both are expected to fully recover.



Washington D.C.

School threats by text, phone apps frustrate police

Spread using apps, social media and Internet phone services, anonymous threats of violence are forcing school evacuations and responses by police

by Kimberly Hefling

WASHINGTON — Threats against schools don't just come written on bathroom walls these days. Spread using smartphone apps, social media and Internet phone services, anonymous reports of bombs or other threats of violence are forcing school evacuations and responses by police or other authorities.

In the vast majority of cases, such a threat turns out to be a hoax. Still, the use of the modern technologies has made it that much harder to determine if a threat is real and to find the culprit.

Just this week, a 16-year-old from Gateway High School in Kissimmee, Florida, was arrested for posting about a bomb threat on Twitter because "she was angry and did not want to go to school," according to the Osceola County Sheriff's Office.

School safety experts say the number of such incidents appears to be increasing — as are the complexity of the cases. The latest figures from the National Center for Education Statistics for the 2009-2010 school year show 5,700 such disruptions.

"They send a great deal of fear and panic throughout a community," said Kenneth Trump, a school safety consultant who is president of National School Safety and Security Services. His group reviewed more than 800 threats reported in the media during the first half of the 2014-2015 school year and found that about one-third were sent electronically using text message, social media, email or other online means.

Complicating matters, the threats aren't just coming from within school walls or even a school's neighborhood.

Last fall, Lakota Middle School in Federal Way, Washington, was placed in lockdown and police responded after an email purportedly from the Islamic State group demanded ransom money and threatened to "shoot and kill" every American, according to a police report. A 14-year-old student was arrested after admitting the email had been sent by her online friend "Ryan" after she told him to "swat" her school because she thought it would be funny, police said.

"Swatting" plays off the idea of issuing a threat that draws a SWAT team in response, disrupting activities at the target of the threat. It appears to have originated with pranksters in the online gaming community.

In a separate case, a 14-year-old in western Michigan was ordered by a judge to pay nearly $8,000 in restitution to the Coopersville Area Public Schools and the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office for his involvement in a swatting incident that put schools in lockdown after a caller using computer-based technology made threats against the schools. Authorities say the call was made by a person code-named "Ransom," whom the teen had met online. "Ransom" is believed to live in the United Kingdom and is suspected in a string of similar incidents from coast to coast, according to law enforcement.

"He will learn from this," the teen's father said, according to the Grand Rapids Press in Michigan.

The motivations of the threat makers vary, just as they did a generation ago when bomb threats were called in by pay phone: avoiding a test, revenge or simply to show off. With swatting, a motivation appears to be thrill-seeking, said Capt. Mark Bennett with the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office.

It's not too difficult for students to figure out how to pull off such an incident, said Justin Cappos, a computer science professor at New York University who studies cybersecurity. "You wander to the wrong parts of the Internet and you can learn how to do it and not get caught," Cappos said.

With each incident, there's a risk when authorities respond, said Detective Jerrad Ely, a digital forensics expert with the Mount Vernon Police Department in Washington who has been investigating a bomb threat case against a school in his community. "They could inadvertently get hurt when police are just trying to do their jobs based on the best information that they have," he said.

Applications such as Burnbook, Afterschool, Yik Yak, Whisper and Kik also have been used by students to make threats anonymously.

In Michigan, Superintendent Timothy Stein of the Flushing Community Schools wrote to parents in December informing them about a posting on Afterschool that said, "Bringing a Gun to School." The posting had been brought to the high school principal's attention by a text message; police quickly determined that it was not a credible threat.

"I encourage you to ask you child to stop using this app and remove it from their phone," Stein said.

Every threat has to be taken seriously even though in most cases the called-in danger is not real, said David Pennington, superintendent of schools in Ponca City, Oklahoma, and president of the AASA School Superintendents Association.

Meanwhile, social media and other electronic means of communication are keeping parents informed about threats. Mindful of past school shootings, they are demanding that children be pulled out of school even as school and law enforcement officials investigate.

"The security of people has been greatly eroded in this country, as you know, just through awful things that have happened," said Mark Davidson, deputy superintendent at the Federal Way Public Schools.




Police cameras to be 'virtual deputies' in Florida's unincorporated zone

Alerted to trouble, a deputy could zoom in, pan left or right, or tilt the camera angle

by Brittany Wallman

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. — Like night watchmen who never blink, police surveillance cameras relentlessly stare at more and more streets and parks in South Florida.

Encouraged by the success of the cameras, Broward County officials have agreed to erect the virtual-deputies in one of the county's most troubled areas — the unincorporated zone.

High-definition video cameras are expected to be erected by year's end and will record traffic and street activity. Deputies can tune in to the pictures from their patrol car laptops, Broward Sheriff's Office officials said.

Alerted to trouble, a deputy could zoom in, pan left or right, or tilt the camera angle. If a crime were reported, a deputy could rewind footage and grab a car's tag number.

In a society where cameras are in the hands of every citizen holding a smart phone, police surveillance video no longer prompts controversy. The idea drew barely a shrug at a Broward County Commission workshop recently. The wireless eyes-on-the-street are expected to come to the city of Fort Lauderdale along Sistrunk Boulevard, at the beach, and in Flagler Village, City Manager Lee Feldman said. The cameras watch for crime in the city of Miami. They're planned in Hollywood to help police keep tabs on neighborhoods there.

"If it will help deter crime," said Central Broward resident Tonya Freeman, "then I guess it's worth a shot."

The cameras are planned in the Central Broward unincorporated zone, site of the Franklin Park, Roosevelt Gardens, Washington Park and Boulevard Gardens neighborhoods. Situated in the heart of the county, the neighborhoods stretch from Broward Boulevard to 16 blocks north of Sunrise Boulevard, and from Northwest 24th Avenue to Northwest 31st. They're troubled by poverty, unemployment rates as high as 44 percent, and crime.

Marquis Curry, a lifelong resident and member of an advisory board for the area, said he raised questions about whether the cameras would be used against homeowners and taxpayers — what he dubbed "the Big Brother type thing."

He was assured they would not.

"If it was to help to deter crime and keep everything within the standards of the law," he said, "I'm all for it."

Farther west, hugging U.S. 441 to the east and the Florida Turnpike to the west, north of Interstate 595, another unincorporated neighborhood, Broadview Park, also is expected to be fitted with surveillance cameras, BSO Capt. Andrew Dunbar said.

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said crime is down in the unincorporated zones, but eliminating crime entirely is impossible.

"It's great to say crime is down," he said, "but you say that to the victims of crimes today, they're happy crime is down, but they were the victims of a crime."

Common crimes in the neighborhood include drug transactions, assaults and burglary, county officials say.

Dunbar suggested the cameras at a meeting where county officials brainstormed ideas to lift up the unincorporated communities, which lag behind average Broward neighborhoods in terms of prosperity. The district commander, Dunbar, said he's seen the cameras work in another of his territories, Lauderdale Lakes.

In Lauderdale Lakes, 12 cameras along the C-13 canal keep watch over Vincent Torres Memorial Park, the Hawaiian Gardens residential complex and other areas, he said. More cameras are planned in that city, including outside businesses whose owners want to team up with BSO, Dunbar said.

Dunbar proposes 13 WildFire brand high-definition, wireless cameras in the central unincorporated area, and eight in Broadview, placed at entry-exit points to the neighborhoods. He has no cost estimate yet. The County Commission must vote to purchase them.

"It's a force multiplier," he said. "It means I have more eyes on the area so we can respond effectively. We can deter people from coming in that have illicit ideas of committing crime."




Cleveland Police Chief: Officers could do more community policing if they weren't 'bogged down' by calls for service

by Leila Atassi

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams told members of City Council Wednesday that residents will have to start filing their low-level complaints and police reports online or at a police station so officers can have more time to practice "community policing."

At Council's Public Safety Committee meeting, Williams said that the department is committed to embracing a community-policing model that would allow officers to interact regularly with residents to solve quality-of-life-problems and improve the relationship between the department and the people it serves.

"But the challenge is to reduce some of those lower-level calls for service that we get bogged down with," Williams added. "Which means more of our residents will have to make more of those reports online or at a police station. That frees up our police officers to do more community policing."

Contacted by phone after the meeting, community policing expert and former Cleveland police officer Bob Guttu said Williams is missing the point of the community-policing concept and that the chief's contradictory comments suggest that the department doesn't have a clear plan for instituting the model.

"If people have to go down to the police station to file a complaint related to a quality of life issue, what are the community policing officers doing?" Guttu said. "What's their job?"

Guttu said that during his two decades in the community policing unit, he and his partners were charged with clearing lower-priority quality of life complaints, such as abandoned cars or excessive noise, so residents wouldn't tie up police lines with those calls.

"The idea was to improve response times for our zone car heroes to handle the more important priority-one assignments," Guttu said.

Williams said during the council hearing that he wants to "make sure that all officers understand what community policing is and how the division will enact community policing."

But he has yet to explain it to the public, media or council members, some of who have called for the city to reopen long-shuttered police mini-stations.

Guttu said Wednesday that the mini-stations, which gave residents direct access to officers embedded in the neighborhoods, were critical to the success of the community-policing program during his years on the force.

Guttu acknowledged that low staffing levels could be an impediment to successful community policing. But more troubling, he said, is that police brass seem generally unprepared to implement the model they say they embrace.

"They do not have a plan," Guttu said. "And that's the problem. They better get a plan together. Because after all that has happened, when it comes to improving the relationship between police and the community, a lot of people out there don't think it can be done."



New Jersey

Letter: Community policing in Camden improving conditions and will work in other urban areas

by Tony Kurdzuk

For many years the City of Camden was considered one of the most violent cities in our country. That proposition is no longer the case; major progress has been made.

When asked, "Why is crime down in Camden?" Police Chief Scott Thomson said, "It is a completely new paradigm of public safety for the city, the country, and the state. The culture of the organization is focused more on community building than conflict."

Thomson adds, "Community policing is at the center of his department's strategy. It means engaging the community on every level, walking beats, and treating residents more like customers or clients than a population that needs to be maintained and controlled. We cannot have our only interactions with the public be when our 911 calls come in. For the public to trust us, they need to know us and the only way for them to know us is if we are interacting with them every single day."

"We actually have children who can come out and play," said Sheila Roberts, a community organizer and lifetime resident of Camden. "Everything has changed. I feel safer."

Statistics are great but they are only indicators. They are not a true barometer of crime in a community. If residents do not feel they are safe, they are not. It is my hope that one day community policing will be the paradigm for urban areas. It is working in Camden.


EDITOR'S NOTE: The quotes in this letter come from a NJ Advance Media blog post at nj.com. William Braker has been championing community policing in Jersey City.




Cleveland City Council releases its report on community-police relations

Residents say Cleveland needs community policing, and the Police Department says it will focus on CPR: Community Engagement in a Professional, Respectful manner


Cleveland City Council's Safety Committee today released a report on its community listening sessions held over the winter. And as WKSU's Kabir Bhatia reports, it's the first of many times council plans to look into residents' concerns about police.

The listening tour took place in the wake of a Justice Department report last year claiming a pattern of unnecessary and excessive force by Cleveland police. More than 600 people showed up to listen and express concerns, and the new council report cites issues like a fear of police and a lack of community policing.

Councilman Matt Zone chairs the Public Safety Committee and says members will spend 2015 drilling down into the findings.

“We'll have focused hearings around training; specialized training. Training for vulnerable populations: people with mental health issues, our LGBT community [and] homeless people. There's a whole bunch of certified, specialized training that we need to be exploring and doing.”

Police plans

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams told Zone and the committee his department plans to place a greater emphasis on community policing, with a new program called “CPR”: Community Engagement in a Professional, Respectful way.

“In my first year, the first thing I would say at roll calls is, ‘I require you to be professional and respectful.' We've developed, basically, an acronym, CPR: community engagement, professionalism and respect. And every officer is going to know that model. We engage the community in professional, respectful way. Period.”

City Council also plans to introduce a bias-free policing ordinance, which focuses attention on crimes and not race.



New York

23 People Charged in ‘Sneakers Case'

Free shoes used to lure poor New Yorkers to unnecessary medical tests, which were then billed to Medicare and Medicaid

by Rebecca Davis O'Brien

The patients were recruited by the hundreds: Medicaid cardholders picked up at homeless shelters and welfare agencies with the promise of free sneakers and shoes, then brought to corrupt clinics for unnecessary medical tests and devices.

Those tests and devices brought in nearly $7 million in fraudulent Medicaid and Medicare billings, according to a 199-count indictment unsealed Tuesday by the Brooklyn district attorney's office.

Twenty-three people, including nine doctors, have been charged in the massive health-care-fraud scheme, which prosecutors say ran from 2012 to 2014 and may have involved thousands of patients.

Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson identified Eric Vainer, a 43-year-old Manhattan resident, and his mother, Polina Vainer, of Staten Island, as the leaders of what his office referred to as the “Sneakers Case” and a “Medicaid mill.”

The Vainers are accused of directing recruiters to low-income neighborhoods and bringing patients to five medical centers in the Bronx and Brooklyn, where they received a battery of medical tests, including cursory foot exams, pain-management evaluations and cardiograms.

Neither of the Vainers could be reached for comment Tuesday. Mr. Vainer was arrested early Tuesday in Florida, Mr. Thompson said. A spokesman for his office said Ms. Vainer is also under arrest and that no lawyers had been named.

There was no answer at the two medical-supply companies and management company named in the indictment, which are affiliated with the Vainers. According to the indictment, many of the patients were left with unnecessary devices supplied by the Vainers' medical-supply companies.

Prosecutors said the Vainers submitted the bills to Medicaid, Medicaid managed-care providers and Medicare, sometimes receiving kickbacks from providers while other times splitting insurance proceeds with them.

“This was all done under the guise of medical treatment, just to defraud Medicaid and Medicare,” Mr. Thompson said. “These defendants exploited poor people to make money.”

Mr. Vainer and the other defendants face an array of charges, including enterprise corruption, money laundering, health-care fraud, grand larceny and falsifying business records.

“Health-care fraud compromises the integrity of the Medicaid program as well as the health-care delivery system, and it wastes taxpayer dollars,” said Dennis Rosen, the state's acting Medicaid inspector general.

In addition to the Vainers, the defendants include four podiatrists, who prosecutors said worked at Mr. Vainer's Bronx and Williamsburg clinics. There they fabricated symptoms and diagnoses for a steady stream of patients, some of whom never even took off their shoes, Mr. Thompson said. The patients were then referred to other doctors in the scheme, he said.

The Vainer clinics offered pain-management services through a doctor who paid Mr. Vainer for referrals, and Mr. Thompson said his office was investigating whether this service dispensed unnecessary prescription drugs to patients.

Psychiatric care was offered by two nurses and a doctor, who charged inflated fees to see patients and referred them to other doctors in the enterprise, prosecutors said. Mr. Vainer allegedly shared the profits from the billings, they said.

A vascular surgeon and two cardiologists were also named in the scheme. Prosecutors said they billed Medicaid and insurance carriers for services that were never performed, or for reviews of unnecessary ultrasounds performed at Mr. Vainer's clinics.

The medical centers, Mr. Thompson said, appeared normal, except one had a box of shoes in the basement. Not all of the staff at the centers were involved in the schemes, but some nurse practitioners and physician's assistants were named in the indictment.

The yearslong probe involved federal and state investigators, wiretaps and undercover agents posing as patients, Mr. Thompson said. In one recorded exchange, a man identified by Mr. Thompson as Mr. Vainer referred to the patients as “guinea pigs.”




Get involved with community policing

by Anna Carrera

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY -- Police want people to learn what their officers do so they can get more trained eyes and ears on the streets. The violence around the community lately has been on the minds of many and people say they want to help. Some are working to start new neighborhood watch groups or things like that.

Another way to learn is to take classes from the Citizen's Police Academy, which starts next week. Some of the things they cover include community policing, Crimestoppers and current laws. There are also special units about crime scene investigation, SWAT teams and drug enforcement. Officers from different departments around Champaign County are in charge of the classes. They say it's a good way to connect with people.

"We need people's eyes and ears in those neighborhoods that understand what police officers need to follow up with the right kind of information so that crimes can be solved and we can work together to solve them," said Champaign Police Deputy Chief Troy Daniels.

Many of the classes are at the Police Training Institute, which is on the University of Illinois campus. But they also go to different places, like for a K9 demonstration or to show people how officers get trained to use tasers.

Officers say these classes can help people be better witnesses if crimes happen in their area. It's free to sign up.

The Citizen Police Academy starts April 9 and runs through June 11, 2015. It meets once a week from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. on Thursdays, and lasts ten weeks. Sessions will be held at PTI, Stock Pavilion, Range and Willard Airport.

Those interested need to contact the Police Training Institute at (217)333-2337. Workers there will then give you information on who to contact. After that, the police department or sheriff's office will run a check and help you get registered.

For more information, click here.




Walmart produces active shooter response video for employees

The video teaches employees and civilians how to respond during an active shooter incident

by PoliceOne Staff

SAN MARCOS, Texas — A new video from the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University teaches civilians how to respond if faced with an active-shooter incident.

The video is a collaboration between ALERRT and Walmart and will be used to train 1.5 million Walmart employees, reported KXAN.

The video, which is part of a Walmart Active Shooter Awareness Campaign, is intended to train employees and civilians. According to ALERRT research, about half of active-shooter incidents are over before law enforcement arrives.

Learn more by watching the video and visiting: AvoidDenyDefend.org




Pharmacist group says members shouldn't aid in executions


SAN DIEGO (AP) — In a move that could heighten the hurdles faced by states attempting to execute prisoners, a leading association for U.S. pharmacists has officially discouraged its members from providing drugs for use in lethal injections.

The policy adopted by American Pharmacists Association delegates at their annual meeting Monday makes an ethical stand against providing such drugs, saying they run contrary to the role of pharmacists as health care providers.

The association lacks legal authority to bar its more than 62,000 members from selling execution drugs, but its policies set pharmacists' ethical standards.

Pharmacists now join doctors in having national associations with ethics codes that restrict credentialed members from participating in executions.

"Now there is unanimity among all health professions in the United States who represent anybody who might be asked to be involved in this process," said association member Bill Fassett, who voted in favor of the policy.

Compounding pharmacies, which make drugs specifically for individual clients, only recently became involved in the execution-drug business.

Prison departments turned to made-to-order execution drugs from compounding pharmacies because pharmaceutical manufacturers refused to sell the drugs used for decades in lethal injections after coming under pressure from death penalty opponents.

But now the compounded version is also becoming difficult to come by, with most pharmacists reluctant to expose themselves to possible harassment.

Texas' prison agency scrambled this month to find a supplier to replenish its inventory before getting drugs from a compounding pharmacy it won't identify.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark said Monday that he had no comment when told about the ruling.

After a troubling use of a two-drug method last year, Ohio said it will use compounded versions of either pentobarbital or sodium thiopental in the future, though it doesn't have supplies of either and hasn't said how it will obtain them. All executions scheduled this year were pushed to 2016 to give the state more time to find the drugs.

Other states are turning to alternative methods.

Tennessee has approved the use of the electric chair if lethal-injection drugs aren't available, while Utah has reinstated the firing squad as a backup method if it can't obtain the drugs. Oklahoma is considering legislation that would make it the first state to allow the use of nitrogen gas as a potential execution method.

Fassett, a professor emeritus of pharmacy law and ethics at Washington State University, said the united front by health professionals might force people to finally face the death penalty's harsh realities.

Lethal injections have created a sterile setting for executions, he said.

"It's like we're not really executing. We're sort of like taking Spot to the vet. We're just putting him to sleep, and that's not true," he said.




Violence in Springfield as community policing efforts increase

A 23-year-old was stabbed to death during a house party Saturday

by David McKay

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – There have been nine homicides in Springfield in the first three months of this year. Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri has said residents helped make 5 arrests in this year's killings, and there's a warrant for a sixth.

Most of the homicides have occurred in the overnight or early morning hours in several Springfield neighborhoods. Most recently, a 23-year-old was stabbed to death during a house party on Cambridge Street early Saturday morning.

Business owner David Glantz told 22News that the violence was worse during the 90's, but he thinks community policing is helping.”I don't see any effect during the daytime, but after 6 o'clock downtown Springfield is like a ghost town there's nobody around,” Glantz said.

The Springfield Police Department has launched a new C3 initiative, that they hope encourages businesses and residents to help identify issues and help put an end to crime, but many residents say it's easier said than done.

That's why more people are turning to local programs that help troubled youth. Jose Alvarado is an ex-gang member and now a counselor at the Safe and Secure Youth Initiative out of Holyoke. He says that more young men need to realize there are greater opportunities. “That so called glamoured life they put out there. It's not what you see. You're giving up your life for something that's not there,” Alvarado said.

Springfield police will talk about another new initiative called “Partner with Nextdoor” Tuesday morning. It will enable police to communicate with residents via a secure website.




How police, community interact - and why it matters

by Amanda Van Benschoten

What, exactly, does a healthy relationship between police and the community look like - and why does it matter? Cincinnati, Covington police chiefs to tackle that question at April 16 forum.

When Ferguson, Missouri erupted in violence last summer after an unarmed black man, Michael Brown, was shot to death by a police officer, it showed just how quickly things can get out of control when police and the community they serve aren't on the same page.

And that was our community, once: It's been 14 years since April 9, 2001, when Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood erupted in four nights of violence following the shooting of Timothy Thomas, a 19-year-old black man.

One of the changes enacted in the wake of those riots was in how police officers engage with the community.

But what, exactly, does a healthy relationship between police and the community look like? And why is it important?

An upcoming forum, "To Protect and Serve: Community/Police Relations in Northern Kentucky," will take an in-depth look at those and other questions. The event is sponsored by Northern Kentucky Forum.

The panel will include Greater Cincinnati's top experts on the subject: Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell and Covington Police Chief Michael "Spike" Jones.

Blackwell has made community relations a central focus in the Cincinnati Police Department, to the extent that new officers dedicate a week to public service before they ever hit the city's streets.

"While police officers certainly have a responsibility to focus on 'enforcement,' they also should spend considerable time and energy on 'engagement' … transparent and authentic community engagement," Blackwell said.

Just across the Ohio River, Covington's approach to community policing has been adopted as a national model by the U.S. Department of Justice.

As a young beat cop, Jones "embedded" himself in the city's Westside neighborhood, where he worked with community groups and city leaders to earn residents' trust — and then work with them to eliminate crime. As chief, that community policing mindset is one he's taken department-wide.

Joining Blackwell and Jones on the panel will be Jerome Bowles, president of the Northern Kentucky NAACP, and Lt. Col. Robert McCray, retired assistant police chief in Newport.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 16 at the Joseph U. Meyer Center for Workforce Development in Covington. It is free and open to the public.

Want to join the conversation now? Click here to take NKY Forum's survey.



International adoptee faces deportation

Long-abused South Korean adoptee served prison time, may get more punishment

by Scott Hewitt

Adopted from South Korea into the United States at age 3, Adam Crapser of Vancouver is now facing possible deportation to a country he can't remember.

Because he was forced to protect himself in one abusive situation after another, he says, and survive against all odds as he grew up — and because that led him to commit crimes along the way, he admits — Crapser is a convicted felon. Because both families that legally adopted him failed to pursue citizenship for him, Crapser never became a naturalized citizen.

Now, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is looking to return Crapser to South Korea — a place he has no connection with beyond his birth name, Song Hyuk Shin, and a few childhood photographs. He has no family in South Korea. He doesn't speak the language.

"I've lived my whole life in America. It's all I've ever known," he said during an interview in the east Vancouver apartment he shares with his new wife, Anh, and their two children. A third child is due in May. Anh is studying electrical engineering, and the couple would like to move to Hillsboro, they said.

But on Thursday, Crapser's 40th birthday, he will go before an immigration judge in Portland for an initial hearing on removal from the country.

Adoption and immigration advocates are pressing for leniency and searching for congressional sponsors of an amendment to the 2000 Child Citizenship Act that would pull people like Crapser — adopted and raised by American citizens but never naturalized as American citizens — out of the crack they've fallen into.

"International adoptees like me have been talking about this for years," said Kevin Vollmers, editor of the adoptee magazine and website A Gazillion Voices, based in Minneapolis. "We can't believe this is still happening."

"It's a crazy system that we've been working to fix for years — ever since we learned you have this group of international adoptees whose parents never completed the immigration process," said Chuck Johnson, executive director of the National Council on Adoption. "Adam is entitled to his citizenship."

Unfinished business

On Jan. 31, Crapser was shocked to learn from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that "removal proceedings" had begun against him — because he's an alien with a criminal record — and that he must appear before an immigration judge in Portland.

"Many adoptees have found that although they were legally adopted and have been legal permanent residents for most of their lives, they are not U.S. citizens," says a State Department website on Intercountry Adoption. "Some discovered this as young adults when applying for their first jobs, registering to vote, applying for a U.S. passport — or unfortunately, when getting into trouble with the law and facing removal to a country they may no longer call home."

Fifteen years ago, a new federal law aimed to close this loophole — mostly. The Child Citizen Act of 2000 bestowed citizenship on foreign-born children who were legally adopted into the U.S. and who were not yet 18 on Feb. 27, 2001, when the law took effect. Those children automatically became U.S. citizens then.

The law didn't cover Adam Crapser. Born in 1975, he was nearing age 26 on that day.

How many like him are there? The government doesn't track those numbers, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement public affairs officer Andrew Muñoz. Vollmers and Johnson both estimated "thousands."

They're calling for prosecutorial discretion in such cases. And they're supporting an amendment to the 2000 Child Citizen Act that would eliminate the need for parents legally adopting foreign-born children to go through the additional step of naturalizing them — a bureaucratic step that Vollmers calls "rigmarole."

Ironically, Crapser said he never crossed paths with any Korean natives in America until this story started getting out; lately there's been outcry on his behalf via social media, and advocates like Vollmers' A Gazillion Voices Magazine and 18 Million Rising, an advocacy group for Asian Americans.

"Adam's children need him. His wife needs him. This country is his home, and he should not be deported because his abusive adoptive parents failed to complete his naturalization paperwork," declares the 18 Million Rising website.

Violent homes

Crapser knows little about his early childhood in South Korea, other than that he was 3 years old and his sister 4 when they were deposited at an orphanage near Seoul in October 1978.

In March 1979, the siblings were adopted into the United States by a Michigan family who moved to Oregon. It was a violent situation, Crapser said, and both siblings were relinquished to the state. They were separated after that. (Crapser finally located his sister again, in Northeast Portland, in 2012.)

Eventually Crapser was placed in the home of Thomas and Dolly-Jean Crapser, who lived in Keizer, Ore., with several foster and adopted children as well as their own biological son. Everything looked great when he went there in 1987 at age 12.

But he was immediately introduced to a paddle named "Big Red" and given "the most vicious whupping of my life," he said. That was the pattern for years, he said.

The state launched an investigation in June 1991. The Crapsers were arrested in September 1991 and initially charged with 34 counts of rape, sexual abuse and criminal mistreatment across six years. The case went to trial in Marion County Circuit Court in June 1992. Testimony reported in The Salem Statesman Journal was that eight children had been kicked, punched, gagged, bitten, burned, slammed into walls and beaten with garden tools and belts.

Convicted on 12 counts, Thomas Crapser was sentenced to 90 days in jail, a fine and probation; Dolly-Jean Crapser's 90-day sentence was suspended, and she was ordered to perform community service. An investigation report had recommended years in prison for both. The state unsuccessfully appealed the sentences.

Thomas Crapser did not respond to a Columbian request for comment.

Criminal record

Adam Crapser said middle school bullying was so bad that he wound up lashing back and serving time in juvenile jail. By his late teens, he was living in a car and fending for himself.

Over the next couple of decades, he tried to live a good life, he said, but he racked up several more criminal convictions — starting with burglary for breaking back into the Crapser home to retrieve childhood keepsakes like his Korean Bible. For that, he spent 25 months in prison. Back outside and fearing for his safety, Crapser said, he got hold of a gun — strictly forbidden for a convicted felon — and wound up in prison again.

He decided he had to turn himself around. He studied cosmetology and auto mechanics. He earned his G.E.D. and worked as a collision-repair estimator. "I've worked so many jobs for 90 days at a time," he said, because every employer faced a deadline to require proof of legal status. Crapser's permanent legal status — his Green Card — had long since expired. He couldn't get a new one without documents that he said the Crapsers withheld.

Finally, in 2012, he had what he needed to apply for a new Green Card. But his application appears to have triggered the investigation by Homeland Security.

"I know that my criminal record makes me look a certain way on paper," he said. "I know that I'm still responsible for my actions, and I will deal with that and take whatever is coming to me. At the same time, I don't think I should be punished twice for things I've already paid for."

"I realize that life isn't about 'fair,' " he said, but when you compare Thomas' and Dolly-Jean's sentences to his own, he said, "it doesn't make sense."

Adam Crapser has been "failed," said his attorney, Lori Walls of Seattle. "Without minimizing his criminal history, it is undeniable that the guy has been failed by several systems and agencies and families. There's something really troubling about the U.S. government now basically saying he doesn't even belong here."


Adam Crapser's American citizenship and his criminal record ought to be completely separate questions, advocates argue. But they're not. Closing that loophole in the Child Citizenship law is popular in Congress when it comes to adoptees who haven't broken the law, they say — but not for criminals, regardless of how long they've been here.

"We could probably fix this tomorrow for adult adoptees who haven't committed any crimes. We've run into problems because no one wants to allow criminals to stay in the country," said McLayne Layton, the founder of Equality for Adopted Children and a former Senate staffer who worked on the 2000 law and supports amending it now.

Building political support for a law that looks like it's going easy on criminals is "a really tough battle, with the whole recent immigration debate coloring the whole thing," she said.

"Adam's story is unique in many ways, but what people need to ask is, who's really at fault here?" Vollmers said. "What these parents did is egregious on so many levels.

"He's a victim. He's a survivor. He has served his time. He shouldn't be deported," Vollmers said.




Shots fired after driver uses SUV to ram gates at National Security Agency headquarters outside D.C.

by Sasha Goldstein

Police shot at an SUV after its driver used the vehicle to ram a set of gates at the National Security Agency's headquarters in Fort Meade, Md., according to a report.

It's unclear if anyone was injured in the Monday morning incident or why the person drove at the gates on the secure campus, some 22 miles northeast of Washington, D.C.

Photos from the scene show the damaged SUV and a damaged white police SUV, alongside an ambulance. NSA police are on scene investigating, WTTG-TV reported.

One photo shows a white sheet covering an apparent body lying on the roadway next to the damaged SUV. Another shows a uniformed man being taken into an ambulance on a gurney.

Earlier this month, a former corrections officer was arrested for shooting at the NSA building at Fort Meade among several other buildings he fired on, police said.



From the FBI

Progress Report -- Panel Conducts Review of FBI Since 9/11 Commission Report

A congressionally mandated panel charged with reviewing the FBI's implementation of recommendations contained in the 9/11 Commission Report in 2004 today issued its findings.

The release of the 9/11 Review Commission's report, The FBI: Protecting the Homeland in the 21st Century , followed 14 months of research, interviews, briefings, and field visits by commissioners and their 13-member staff. The commission—which included former Attorney General Edwin Meese, former Congressman Tim Roemer, and Georgetown University professor Bruce Hoffman—began its review in 2013 at the FBI's request after Congress called for an appraisal of the Bureau's progress since the 9/11 Commission issued its recommendations in 2004. A classified draft of the Review Commission's report was sent to Congress and to other agencies mentioned in the report; the FBI released the unclassified version for the public.

That report, which can be found on FBI.gov, concludes that the FBI has “transformed itself over the last 10 years” and “made measurable progress building a threat-based, intelligence-driven national security organization.” The commission also makes recommendations on where the FBI can improve.

In a press briefing today at FBI Headquarters, Director James B. Comey was joined by the report's commissioners to discuss the findings.

“This has been a tremendously valuable thing to me as a new Director,” Comey told reporters. “My take, I can divide it into three buckets: Overwhelmingly, I agree with their findings and their recommendations; there's a small group that I need to study to understand better what it might mean for us; and then there's a very small group where I respectfully have a different view.”

The Director said the report provides an effective roadmap to keeping the FBI a premiere law enforcement and intelligence organization. “I think being world-class means knowing you are good but never being satisfied that you are good enough,” he said. “I believe the FBI is world-class. [The report] shows us ways that we can be better.”

The report's key findings center on the Bureau's transformation since the attacks in 2001. Commissioners focused on elements of how the FBI has adapted over more than a decade, such as the creation of a cadre a skilled intelligence analysts to analyze threats, the retention of good leadership, and the development of cyber capabilities to thwart agile hackers and online threats.

“This has been a major transformation of the FBI in which the intelligence function—which as the Director said has always been there—has been expanded and brought up to date in terms of the threat in a way which was almost exponential,” said Commissioner Edwin Meese. “Some things are necessary, we feel, that will keep pace with the accelerating threat we find around the world.”

The commissioners issued 12 findings, along with recommendations. Topics include information-sharing, cyber security, technology, the Bureau's legal attaché program, and the FBI's role in countering violent extremism.

“During the decade and a half after 9/11, the FBI has changed,” said Commissioner Roemer. “It is currently changing, but must urgently and boldly accelerate this change. What we've laid out, I hope, is a blueprint for the FBI over the next quarter-century. Over the course of this next century, hundreds of Americans' lives will depend on it.”

Comey said the FBI's progress has been extraordinary and that the Bureau was up to the task. “I think this is a moment of pride for the FBI,” he said. “An outside group of some of our nation's most important leaders and thinkers has stared hard at us and said, ‘You have done a great job at transforming yourself.' And they've also said what I've said around the country: It's not good enough.”




Lawmakers, chiefs clash over keeping names of cops in shootings secret

Governor has until Monday to sign or veto the bill

by Bob Christie

PHOENIX — Arizona lawmakers thought they were doing police a favor when they passed a measure that would keep secret for two months the name of any officer involved in an on-duty shooting.

But police chiefs say the proposal would serve only to hamper their ability to manage complex police-community relations, and they are asking the governor to veto the measure. Civil-rights groups and community activists also want to see the bill rejected, saying that adding another layer of secrecy will only deepen the divide between law enforcement and some segments of the public, especially in minority communities.

Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor wrote to Gov. Doug Ducey in his role as president of the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police urging the veto.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, he said it would be wrong to ignore "the elephant in the room" of poor police-community relations that has been the highlight of much law enforcement news coverage in the past year.

"And the one resounding message that has come out from that is that we need to build and repair the trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve," Villasenor said. "Enacting legislation that would hamper that trust by not allowing officers' names to be released is not in my opinion the best way to improve or repair that level of trust."

Police unions support the measure that is on Gov. Doug Ducey's desk, calling it a common-sense idea based strictly on safety.

The bill does not preclude "the community's right and desire to know what their police department is doing," said Joe Clure, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association.

The bill was prompted by police use-of-force incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City that drew intense criticism to the officers involved. Republicans who sponsored Senate Bill 1445 said they simply wanted a time-out to allow for investigations to proceed.

"The simple fact remains that we live in a world where misinformation can put everybody in jeopardy, especially police officers," state Sen. John Kavanagh said this week. "And until we get those facts straight, we need to shield those cops and their families from being assassinated by lunatics or political zealots."

State legislatures across the nation have been looking at police-transparency laws since the Aug. 8 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, whose name was released a week after the incident. Several states are considering requiring police to wear body cameras or mandating that shooting investigations be done by outside agencies.

But Arizona is apparently the only state looking at tightening up rules for releasing the names of officers, according to Ezekiel Edwards, director of the Criminal Law Reform Project at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Currently, Arizona public-records laws require the release of an officer's name as soon as possible, unless the agency cites specific reasons for a temporary delay. In practice, agencies typically release the name within several days but can hold off indefinitely if the officer's safety is in jeopardy.

Proponents of the Arizona legislation cited the release of officers' names following separate shootings last year as particularly worrisome. One involved a Phoenix officer who shot and killed a mentally ill woman, the other a Pinal County deputy sheriff who shot and killed a suspect following a chase.

Both shootings triggered outrage but later were ruled justified.

Clure said the release of the Phoenix officer's name a week after the shooting led critics to threaten to protest at the officer's home.

"Keep in mind what the law does allow. Everybody's going to be told what happened, where it happened, how it happened, why it happened," Clure said. "They're going to be given the officer's work history. They're going to be given the officer's discipline history to the extent that it doesn't expose the officer's identity."

Villasenor said a drafting error in the law could keep all those records secret.

Indeed, that's also the view of a lawyer for Arizona's largest newspaper, The Arizona Republic, who urged Ducey to veto the measure as unnecessary and problematic.

Republic attorney David Bodney said the last-minute provision detailing what could be released would actually shield any officer's name in any disciplinary report or action forever.

"Simply put, this provision represents either a colossal drafting error or a surreptitious effort to gut the transparency of the law enforcement disciplinary process," Bodney wrote.

The sponsor of the bill, Republican state Sen. Steve Smith, said Bodney is reading the statute incorrectly.

"That person is categorically wrong either in his interpretation of that language, or he's completely falsifying what that bill actually says," Smith said. He promised to work to change the law if the bill is signed and if the newspaper and the police chiefs' group are correct about their criticisms.

Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said the governor was still reviewing the legislation, which passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support. The governor has until Monday to sign or veto it.



After Lockup, a Question of Care

by Lynne Anderson

This story is an introduction to the new Juvenile Justice Resource Hub section on Re-entry.

Louie Chagolla was in and out of trouble with the law for most of his teenage years. He was in lockup twice and, when not in lockup, he was on probation.

Possession of a deadly weapon made the scared but tough-acting kid feel secure on the streets of Los Angeles. And, it solidified his sense of belonging to his surrogate family, his gang.

The first time he got into trouble with a deadly weapon, he was in middle school. That led to lockup. Then there was vandalism. That led to probation.

In 2011, at age 17, he was working the graveyard shift, helping to support his mother, being the man of the house. Nothing he had learned while locked away taught him ways to return safely to his community. Soon, he wanted back with his old gang. Having a gun was expected in the group.

A few weeks later, Chagolla was arrested again for possession of a deadly weapon. He was back in a juvenile correctional facility.

Chagolla, now 20, is out for the second time, and, he claims, for good. Things are different after this release. Chagolla has a mentor. He has job training. He has a high school diploma. He is attending Los Angeles Community Community College. He has a wide network of other young adults also locked up as juveniles who are working to stay healthy, law-abiding and responsible.

These things didn't happen because of any efforts by the state of California to help him re-enter the community.

Chagolla's case shows holes in the system that exist in almost every state, advocates say. Currently, most states do not make re-entry plans for youth leaving facilities so they can continue with their education, rebond with their families, train for jobs, find housing and get crucial benefits they may be eligible for, such as food stamps or TANF.

With the help of an organization that aims to support juveniles charged as adults who serve time in adult prisons, Chagolla is receiving instruction, help with schooling and employment, and — if it's not too strong a word — love, which he lacked during many of his growing-up years.

“This wasn't something I'd ever thought of before,” Chagolla said of the care he is receiving now.

That's because the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, founded by former movie producer Scott Budnick, has made not just a world of difference but a community of difference.

“I get job training, I have a place to live,” Chagolla said. “I have a mentor.”

Right after his release, Chagolla moved in with his aunt because he could not afford a place to live. He was only able to find piecemeal work.

“Graveyard work,” he said. “Demolition work.” In other words, back along the path he had been down before, possibly to another dead end. He couldn't get a steady job; no one would hire him. He couldn't even think about opening a bank account; he didn't have enough money.

He was wondering what to do next when he heard about ARC, which also helps juveniles in detention.

“They talked to me about going to college,” said Chagolla — and helped him apply. He is studying mathematics. He applied for an internship at ARC. He got it and learned office and communication skills, one of the program's goals. Most importantly, “I see everyone in there as a mentor. They are family.”

Chagolla is like many of the 60,000 youths in residential placement each year whose mental health, educational, social, employment and housing needs often go unaddressed, according to the National Juvenile Justice Network. Growing consensus has emerged that locking kids up in harsh juvenile facilities or, worse, in adult prisons — has been a fiasco.

Rearrest rates for juveniles have been as high as 75 percent. Also, studies show that two-thirds of juveniles released from detention do not return to school. Education in juvenile facilities often fails to meet the needs of youth, about 70 percent of whom have been found to have learning disabilities, according to the NJJN.

Strides have been made in many states, with programs such as the federal Second Chance Act providing money to state and local governments and nonprofits to reduce recidivism. Since 2009, about 600 Second Chance Act grants have been made. From July 2009 to June 2013, more than 17,000 juveniles received support and other services through Second Chance grants. During those four years, more than 20 percent of the $165 million in federal grants has gone to agencies and organizations serving youth, according to a report from the NJJN.

In July, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will go into effect, requiring local workforce areas to spend at least 75 percent of their funding on “disconnected youth.”

Still, tens of thousands of juveniles in lockup nationally are not getting the education, health care, psychological help and vocational help they need. And that's a pity, experts say.

Research into brain development in the past two decades has shown that some of the same developmental factors that cause adolescents and young adults to act impulsively also mean they are more flexible. That means that young people have a great capacity to change, explained Peter Ash, forensic child and adolescent psychiatrist at Emory University and director of the Psychiatry and Law Service at Emory.

“From a rehabilitation perspective, adolescents have a lot more possibility for significant rehabilitation” than adults do, Ash said. While not all young people can be rehabilitated, he said, “what's critical is re-entry.”

Re-entry refers to a plan that is — or should be, experts say — developed as soon as a youth is confined.

Research indicates that strong educational plans need to be in place from the moment a youth enters confinement, with developmentally disabled youth receiving special help, and superior coordination to help youth retain educational credits and return to school when they leave. Discharge planning that helps to maintain benefits — e.g., to assure continued access to medication — is crucial. Mental health care is essential, experts said.

However, most youth leave facilities without a plan or assistance — some of them in worse shape than they entered, some studies suggest. They fall behind not only in their education but also in important developmental ways, as they miss the “normal” interaction and experiences of teenagers. They miss vocational training. They often receive suboptimal care for mental health and substance abuse issues, being prescribed drugs normally used to treat mental illness but given to them so they will be easier to handle, or to help them sleep.

It's hard to get a precise figure on how many juveniles are receiving re-entry or aftercare help. States vary not only in how they decide whom to lock up and for how long but also in the way they keep data on the juveniles locked up and how they follow them afterward.

Today, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges says about 61,000 juvenile offenders were in residential placement in 2011, with about one-fourth of those in state-operated, long-term secure facilities. The one-day count for 2012 was 57,190, the lowest since 1975, the National Council of Juvenile Justice says.

Several states, some under direction from the Department of Justice, have looked for ways to keep youthful offenders out of adult prisons and also out of juvenile detention centers.

Several federal programs have been focused on re-entry. The Department of Labor awarded grants to 28 community-based organizations in 2013 to help improve the job market prospects for youth in the juvenile justice system. The services include mentoring, education and leadership training. Some groups that received grants will also work with nonprofit legal services to help youth expunge their records.

Also, Job Corps provides career development help to youth aged 16-24 who are considered at risk, including youth who have been involved with the court system. They are eligible so long as they do not require face-to-face court or institutional supervision. Training is provided in automotive and machine repair for those who will not go on to college. For those who do, there is help to prepare for entrance into community colleges. There is also help to prepare for military service.

Studies have suggested that keeping juveniles closer to home and focusing on re-entry is working. For instance, a study conducted by the Council of State Governments on efforts to keep juvenile offenders close to home in Texas showed that public safety did not worsen when youth were kept out of state-run secure correctional facilities.

As for the youth themselves, more and more studies have confirmed that they have great ability to learn and to change, Ash and others said.

“We used to call it hormones,” Ash said of the impulsive, sometimes irrational behavior that teens and young adults indulge in. “And while hormones are a piece of it, there is a delay in the brain centers that tamp down the emotional centers. At age 14, they can and do make rational decisions, assuming they have the time to think about it. But in an emotionally charged situation, they act impulsively.”

Ash said a good way to think of a teen brain in an emotional situation would be this: Think of an automobile with a heavy foot on the gas and brakes that don't work well.

As their brains mature, teen brains go through what many neurologists call “synaptic pruning,” in which extra connections naturally wither. Thanks to other organic processes in the juvenile brain, it's not until age 24 or 25 that the human brain fully matures, according to some experts. Add trauma, neglect and drugs to that natural mess of a mix, and a juvenile brain can lead a teen to disaster. Put several together, adding peer pressure, and they can and do make bad choices.

This knowledge has helped doctors, teachers, counselors, judges and other experts who work with juveniles understand what is happening in their brains. But it hasn't yet helped show how to help those youth recover from disastrous choices, such as crime.

And if youth are locked up, then what happens when that juvenile is released? There are few solid plans — and poor coordination among agencies, such as educational systems, Medicaid, other health care systems and providers, experts said.

“One of the most sensitive issues is the labor market issue,” said Jeffrey A. Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay School of Criminal Justice at City University of New York. “We have essentially disrupted those years during which they would gain the knowledge and skills to be able to have a job, to learn to accept authority, to learn to get along with co-workers, to learn a skill. We have removed them, and they come out at 21, and they can be more explosive, more angry than ever.”

Youthful offenders have problems returning to a home where relationships were tense and communication skills lacking. They also are at risk if they go back to a dangerous neighborhood without training to help them learn better decision-making skills.

Chagolla feels fortunate to have connected with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition. After having been incarcerated previously, he knew the pitfalls. And he didn't want to go there.

That's why he has been thrilled with the ARC program. He has made friends with other young men who are considered “members” at ARC. He has learned that they have all had major setbacks in their lives before they landed in trouble.

Talking honestly with his mentor and his friends — there's a special Facebook page that only other ARC members can join — has helped him process complicated feelings. As a result, “I've learned sympathy, and I've learned empathy,” Chagolla said.

Having feelings and understanding for juvenile offenders goes a long way toward helping them, said Cheryl Bonacci, a mentor at ARC and member services director.

“Almost all have experienced abuse, trauma or serious neglect, and they have failed collectively — educationally, with their families, learning communications skills,” she said. “Not until that pain is turned outward do we want to pay attention to it. Until we address that underlying trauma and pain, it's going to come out sideways.”

The mentoring process helps, she said, but being able to share the experiences they have been through with others in recovery and learning new emotional skills may be ARC's most important benefit.

“We as mentors can empathize, but the greatest gift is for them to be able to know guys who have walked their walk and been in their place,” Bonacci said. “I hear them say that ‘I don't want to be in another program,' and I ask them if that's what got them there in the first place. And I tell them that other people here will recognize what they've been through. They ask, ‘How will they know?' and I say ‘They'll see it in your eyes.'”

The changes that need to happen to help youth reshape their lives depends not only on changes within the juvenile justice system, said Butts and other experts. Employers, faith-based groups, landlords, neighbors, neighborhood centers, those harmed by crime and the youths themselves need to reconsider how they view a youthful offender.

For example, should youthful offenders have to admit on housing and job applications that they have been in detention? What would it take for society to trust that a youthful offender will not harm again?

A key goal of re-entry is to help make life back in the community and with families as normal as possible, Butts said. That can be challenging. Some of it is a management problem, he said, with the need to coordinate resources but to do that without the court system being in control.

“You want normalizing experiences,” Butts said, including such things as youth sports, after-school art programs and such. “But you don't want it to be seen as under court order.”

Some of the problem comes in the language society uses to describe youths who make mistakes and commit crimes, Butts said.

“We call people ‘high-risk offenders' and [sometimes] what we really mean is that they may have committed a property crime, or smoked crack,” Butt said. “It's a labeling problem, and it makes it easy for people to flip the switch and say this person is dangerous.”

The whole concept of “risk” is not only misused but often misunderstood, he said.

“People think of ‘risk' as ‘dangerous,'” said Butts, adding that there is no data that show who actually commits crimes — and who of the youthful offenders might go on to become violent offenders. Thus, youthful offenders who might never make a second bad choice get mislabeled — and mistreated.

“Maybe we could call them ‘bad choice-makers,' or” said Butts, hesitating. “‘adolescents.'”



UN Report Faults Practices Common in U.S. Juvenile Justice

by Gary Gately

WASHINGTON — The United Nations top investigator on torture has delivered a scathing criticism of juvenile justice practices common in the United States, including routine detention of youths, solitary confinement and sentences of life without parole for children.

In a presentation of his report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Special Rapporteur Juan E. Méndez called on countries to rely on alternatives to detention, which he said should be a “last resort” for “exceptional cases” for the shortest possible period of time when in the “best interest of the child.”

“The detention of children is inextricably linked — in fact, if not in law — with the ill-treatment of children, owing to the particularly vulnerable situation in which they have been placed that exposes them to numerous types of risk,” Méndez told the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The report said children deprived of liberty are at “heightened risk of violence, abuse and acts of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

Méndez, a 70-year-old torture survivor and a native of Argentina, did not single out the United States or any other country. But his 21-page report took direct aim at practices common in this country.

The report recommended that children:

•  Never be tried in the adult criminal justice system, never be subjected to adult sentences and never be sentenced to life without parole for crimes committed as youths.

•  Generally be kept separated from adults in detention and be allowed to be held together with adults during daytime hours only under “strict supervision.”

•  Be able to maintain contact while in detention with the outside world, particularly families and legal representatives.

•  Have access to educational, vocational and recreational opportunities and to green space when detained.

•  Be subjected to use of restraints only as a last resort when all other options have been exhausted and a child poses an “imminent threat” to himself or herself.

•  Should not be detained in law enforcement establishments for more than 24 hours.

•  Never be subjected to police questioning without the presence of a lawyer.

•  Have access to pediatricians and child psychologists knowledgeable about the effects of childhood trauma and to specialized medical screenings in places of detention to detect torture and ill treatment.

The report also said places of detention must respond to the specific needs of “groups of children that are even more vulnerable to ill treatment or torture” such as girls, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children as well as children with disabilities.

Mishi Faruqee, juvenile justice policy strategist with the American Civil Liberties Union, said the U.N. report underscores the need for a fundamental shift in how the U.S. juvenile justice system treats children.

“The U.S. uses detention to a degree that you don't see anywhere else in the world for young people,” Faruqee said. “For kids who are currently in the juvenile justice system, there's a feeling that it's OK for them to go to facilities that closely resemble adult prisons even though all the research says that that model has totally failed and sending these young people to these large, prison-like facilities produces horrible recidivism rates.”

She noted more states are moving toward the “Missouri Model,” emphasizing smaller, nonprison-like facilities closer to offenders' homes, and that nationally, youth incarceration has declined by almost half in the past 15 years.

But Faruqee said on any given day, some 60,000 youths are in locked residential placement in the country, two-thirds of them for nonviolent offenses. (Some are placed in locked treatment facilities as opposed to prison-like detention centers.)

“The message of this U.N. report is that even these so-called ‘treatment facilities' are depriving a child of their liberty by removing them from their families, removing them from their community, and that in itself is intrinsically harmful for young people and intrinsically undermines their healthy development,” she said.

Often, Faruqee said, youths are placed in locked facilities to get them services like mental health treatment that may be lacking in their communities or to get them away from a chaotic home life.

“We really need to dramatically reduce the number of young people who are detained, who are placed — whatever descriptive term you want to use — and really make sure that the supports and the services that those young people and their families need are available in their communities, and that should be the norm.”

Faruqee pointed to the nonprofit Youth Advocate Programs Inc. (YAP) as a model community-based program.

YAP, based in Harrisburg, Pa., provides community-based alternatives to out-of-home placements for troubled youths in 19 states, with interventions including intensive support for youths and their families in their homes, communities and schools.

Shaena Fazal, national policy director for YAP, said she strongly supported the U.N. report's recommendation that locked facilities should be a last resort for young offenders.

“I think the overarching thing is that we have to overcome our institutional bias for detention and incarceration and instead have a bias for families and communities as the best way to achieve youths' well-being,” Fazal said.

Advocates at YAP work with youths and their families on a wide range of needs, including education, health and mental health, aimed at building on kids' strengths.

YAP focuses heavily on strengthening families.

“We know that kids always gravitate back to their natural families regardless of what has happened in the home, and so the onus is on us to really make that family stronger and a supportive system for the youth,” Fazal said.

She said research shows children who are in conflict with the law are “frequently expressing some type of hurt or behavioral issue, and they need us to help them and not to punish them” when possible, without resorting to incarceration.