April, 2015 - Week 3
Ohio Cop Refuses to Resort to Deadly Force: 'I Wanted to Be Absolutely Sure'
by Elizabeth Chuck
(Video on site)
A rookie Ohio cop is being praised for "great restraint and maturity" after he held off using deadly force against a double murder suspect who charged at him, his police chief said.
In a confrontation Thursday with a man accused of killing his fiancee and his best friend, New Richmond Police Officer Jesse Kidder is heard on his body-camera video yelling, "No man, I'm not going to do it!" and ordering the suspect to get down on the ground.
The suspect rushes toward him shouting, "Shoot me, shoot me!"
"Back up!" screams Kidder, holding his gun out. The man finally crumples to the ground just feet away from the officer in the video taken in the Cincinnati suburb of Elsmere, Kentucky.
Investigators say Michael Wilcox, 27, killed his fiancee in their Brown County, Ohio, home, then killed his best friend in Elsmere, reported NBC affiliate WLWT in Cincinnati, which first obtained the body-camera video. A Brown County investigator spotted Wilcox Thursday night at about 8 p.m. and attempted to stop him, but Wilcox claimed he had a gun and drove away, officials said.
He was then followed by New Richmond police on a car chase through multiple counties on the Ohio-Kentucky border before Kidder caught Wilcox and arrested him.
The nonviolent confrontation caught on video has been highlighted as a positive example of police officer encounters nationwide. Their actions have been blemished by shootings of unarmed men, including a deadly officer shooting earlier this month in South Carolina.
Officers' use of force has been the subject of protests since last August, when white police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Wilson was not wearing a body camera, which raised questions about what exactly led him to shoot and whether all police officers should be outfitted with the tiny video recorders.
In the Kentucky case, the suspect was believed to be armed and is heard threatening the officer on the video.
"For him to make the judgment call that he did shows great restraint and maturity," New Richmond Police Chief Randy Harvey told WLWT about Kidder, who's been on the force for a year. "This video footage, it eliminated all doubt that this officer would have been justified if in fact it came to a shooting."
Kidder, who did two tours of duty in Iraq as a Marine and is a Purple Heart recipient, told WLWT that a relative had given him a body camera to use at work after the Ferguson shooting.
During the confrontation Thursday, 911 dispatchers told Kidder that Wilcox could have a gun under his seat and may be threatening suicide-by-cop, according to WLWT. Kidder said since he knew backup was coming shortly, he held off shooting Wilcox.
"I was trying to open a dialogue with him. 'I don't want to shoot you, get on the ground,' but he wasn't having it. He kept repeating, 'Shoot me.' At one point, he said 'Shoot me or I'll shoot you,'" Kidder told WLWT.
The situation escalated: Wilcox put his hand in his pocket and again charged at Kidder — who is seen on the video tripping and falling backwards.
"He got towards my face right as I lost balance," Kidder told WLWT. "I'm thinking at this point that if he goes into attack me, that I'll have to use deadly force to defend myself."
But he waited.
"Law enforcement officers all across the nation have to deal with split-second decisions that mean life or death. I wanted to be absolutely sure before I used deadly force," he said.
Backup arrived just in time, and Wilcox surrendered.
Harvey said he hopes to obtain funding to get body cameras for the rest of the police force.
Dwayne Wenninger, sheriff in Brown County, said in a statement that Wilcox confessed to and has been charged with murder for the death of his fiancee, Courtney Fowler, and is also under suspicion for the friend's death. Fowler died of gunshot wounds, the statement said.
FBI overstated forensic hair matches in nearly all trials before 2000
by Spencer S. Hsu
The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.
Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory's microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country's largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.
The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions.
The FBI errors alone do not mean there was not other evidence of a convict's guilt. Defendants and federal and state prosecutors in 46 states and the District are being notified to determine whether there are grounds for appeals. Four defendants were previously exonerated.
The admissions mark a watershed in one of the country's largest forensic scandals, highlighting the failure of the nation's courts for decades to keep bogus scientific information from juries, legal analysts said. The question now, they said, is how state authorities and the courts will respond to findings that confirm long-suspected problems with subjective, pattern-based forensic techniques — like hair and bite-mark comparisons — that have contributed to wrongful convictions in more than one-quarter of 329 DNA-exoneration cases since 1989.
In a statement, the FBI and Justice Department vowed to continue to devote resources to address all cases and said they “are committed to ensuring that affected defendants are notified of past errors and that justice is done in every instance. The Department and the FBI are also committed to ensuring the accuracy of future hair analysis, as well as the application of all disciplines of forensic science.”
Peter Neufeld, co-founder of the Innocence Project, commended the FBI and department for the collaboration but said, “The FBI's three-decade use of microscopic hair analysis to incriminate defendants was a complete disaster.”
“We need an exhaustive investigation that looks at how the FBI, state governments that relied on examiners trained by the FBI and the courts allowed this to happen and why it wasn't stopped much sooner,” Neufeld said.
Norman L. Reimer, the NACDL's executive director, said, “Hopefully, this project establishes a precedent so that in future situations it will not take years to remediate the injustice.”
While unnamed federal officials previously acknowledged widespread problems, the FBI until now has withheld comment because findings might not be representative.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a former prosecutor, called on the FBI and Justice Department to notify defendants in all 2,500 targeted cases involving an FBI hair match about the problem even if their case has not been completed, and to redouble efforts in the three-year-old review to retrieve information on each case.
“These findings are appalling and chilling in their indictment of our criminal justice system, not only for potentially innocent defendants who have been wrongly imprisoned and even executed, but for prosecutors who have relied on fabricated and false evidence despite their intentions to faithfully enforce the law,” Blumenthal said.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and the panel's ranking Democrat, Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), urged the bureau to conduct “a root-cause analysis” to prevent future breakdowns.
“It is critical that the Bureau identify and address the systemic factors that allowed this far-reaching problem to occur and continue for more than a decade,” the lawmakers wrote FBI Director James B. Comey on March 27, as findings were being finalized.
The FBI is waiting to complete all reviews to assess causes but has acknowledged that hair examiners until 2012 lacked written standards defining scientifically appropriate and erroneous ways to explain results in court. The bureau expects this year to complete similar standards for testimony and lab reports for 19 forensic disciplines.
Federal authorities launched the investigation in 2012 after The Washington Post reported that flawed forensic hair matches might have led to the convictions of hundreds of potentially innocent people since at least the 1970s, typically for murder, rape and other violent crimes nationwide.
The review confirmed that FBI experts systematically testified to the near-certainty of “matches” of crime-scene hairs to defendants, backing their claims by citing incomplete or misleading statistics drawn from their case work.
In reality, there is no accepted research on how often hair from different people may appear the same. Since 2000, the lab has used visual hair comparison to rule out someone as a possible source of hair or in combination with more accurate DNA testing.
Warnings about the problem have been mounting. In 2002, the FBI reported that its own DNA testing found that examiners reported false hair matches more than 11 percent of the time. In the District, the only jurisdiction where defenders and prosecutors have re-investigated all FBI hair convictions, three of seven defendants whose trials included flawed FBI testimony have been exonerated through DNA testing since 2009, and courts have exonerated two more men. All five served 20 to 30 years in prison for rape or murder.
University of Virginia law professor Brandon L. Garrett said the results reveal a “mass disaster” inside the criminal justice system, one that it has been unable to self-correct because courts rely on outdated precedents admitting scientifically invalid testimony at trial and, under the legal doctrine of finality, make it difficult for convicts to challenge old evidence.
“The tools don't exist to handle systematic errors in our criminal justice system,” Garrett said. “The FBI deserves every recognition for doing something really remarkable here. The problem is there may be few judges, prosecutors or defense lawyers who are able or willing to do anything about it.”
Federal authorities are offering new DNA testing in cases with errors, if sought by a judge or prosecutor, and agreeing to drop procedural objections to appeals in federal cases.
However, biological evidence in the cases often is lost or unavailable. Among states, only California and Texas specifically allow appeals when experts recant or scientific advances undermine forensic evidence at trial.
Defense attorneys say scientifically invalid forensic testimony should be considered as violations of due process, as courts have held with false or misleading testimony.
The FBI searched more than 21,000 federal and state requests to its hair comparison unit from 1972 through 1999, identifying for review roughly 2,500 cases where examiners declared hair matches.
Reviews of 342 defendants' convictions were completed as of early March, the NACDL and Innocence Project reported. In addition to the 268 trials in which FBI hair evidence was used against defendants, the review found cases in which defendants pleaded guilty, FBI examiners did not testify, did not assert a match or gave exculpatory testimony.
When such cases are included, by the FBI's count examiners made statements exceeding the limits of science in about 90 percent of testimonies, including 34 death-penalty cases.
The findings likely scratch the surface. The FBI said as of mid-April that reviews of about 350 trial testimonies and 900 lab reports are nearly complete, with about 1,200 cases remaining.
The bureau said it is difficult to check cases before 1985, when files were computerized. It has been unable to review 700 cases because police or prosecutors did not respond to requests for information.
Also, the same FBI examiners whose work is under review taught 500 to 1,000 state and local crime lab analysts to testify in the same ways.
Texas, New York and North Carolina authorities are reviewing their hair examiner cases, with ad hoc efforts underway in about 15 other states.
Community policing is an old idea getting new life
by Joe Sturnick
Perhaps the earliest definition of community policing was made by the "Father of Modern Policing," Sir Robert Peel. In 1829, Peel stated, "The police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence." When you look at these words, you see that essentially we are all one and we have a shared responsibility to attend to community welfare, namely crime, fear of crime and quality of life issues.
A more recent definition comes from the U.S. Department of Justice; "In essence, community policing is a collaboration between the police and the community that identifies and solves community problems." Both definitions require working relationships based on shared responsibility, honesty and trust; and include citizens, police, government, social agencies, schools, businesses, faith communities and health professionals.
Clearly, the police by themselves do not influence the underlying causes of crime which are deeply rooted in lack of education, unemployment, poverty, drug use, disintegration of families, racism and more. What police and all community members need to do better is work in true partnership to identify and address these underlying issues.
Sure, police investigate crimes and arrest the offenders , but only when we attend to issues with the active involvement of the community can we prevent future occurrences of crime.
I know from my experiences throughout a 30-year career in law enforcement that positive relationships with citizens are in play on a daily basis. Every neighborhood I've worked in has far more good, honest people than those causing trouble and this is also true with every police agency. When police and citizens truly get to know each other, the relationships that are formed can last a lifetime and form the basis of real problem solving.
We find it all too easy, especially in this day and age of social media, to form our image of the whole by the actions of a few. This is never a good thing, no matter which group it is applied to. So perhaps, that is the true key to community policing; people truly getting to know each other. Not a new idea at all.
Joe Sturnick is an associate professor in Monroe Community College's Law and Criminal Justice department and former Rochester Police department captain.
How important is racial diversity in community policing?
by Matt Fountain
Police have been under heavy scrutiny since the events in Ferguson, the officer choking death of black Staten Island resident Eric Garner, and most recently, the fatal shooting of black North Charleston, S.C., resident Walter Scott by an officer now facing a murder charge.
In Salinas, many in the community attributed the police killings of four Hispanic men between March and August 2014 to widespread racial profiling.
The New York Times and other media have noted huge disparities between the percentage of minority residents and the percentage of minority officers in many communities. In Ferguson, African-Americans made up 67 percent of the population but only 11 percent of the police force.
Little research has been published on how officer complaints or incident outcomes may differ when police departments match the racial diversity of their communities.
Some experts question whether shared racial demographics are as important to positive community-police relations.
A 2004 study by the National Research Council, a private, nonprofit institution that provides expert advice on some of the nation's most pressing challenges, found that there is no strong statistical correlation between the race of an officer and how that officer treats citizens when they are stopped on the streets. The study found that similar training and on-the-job experiences result in more similarities than differences between officers of any race in their policing.
That said, residents do want a diverse police force, according to Ronald Weitzer, a sociologist at George Washington University specializing in police-minority relations.
A survey that he conducted of about 1,790 people regarding relations with police found that more than 70 percent of blacks, Hispanics and whites believed that police departments should have racial compositions similar to their communities. The survey was reported in his 2006 book, “Race and Policing in America.”
Only about 5 percent of blacks and Hispanics wanted most officers who work in their neighborhoods to be the same race as most residents.
“Ethnic minorities favor reforming police departments so that they reflect the composition of the local population. And this can pay dividends in terms of increasing public trust and confidence in a police department,” Weitzer wrote to The Tribune in an email. “What the public is critical of are departments that are lopsided — like Ferguson's.”
Most people regardless of race prefer to see racially-mixed teams of officers patrolling their streets, Weitzer said.
To help police departments nationwide develop best practices for community policing, the UCLA Center for Policing Equity is undergoing a large-scale project to compile data from local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies that could help them draw conclusions about issues such as racial profiling and police diversity.
Accurate data for things such as police-related shootings has been inconsistent among agencies, and little research exists to say for certain if race relations with police improve when make-ups are similar, said Meredith Gamson-Smiedt, executive director of the Center for Policing Equity.
“There are real disparities in data of who's being stopped, use of force, and then we don't know what is the best method to say whether a department is engaging in racial profiling. Right now there is no gold standard, no best practice,” Gamson-Smiedt said. The organization is gathering the data into one National Justice Database with plans to create best practices for police departments of all sizes. She said they expect to publish their first reports within a year.
“That way we can understand what is working, what policies are promoting fair policing,” Gamson-Smiedt said. “(Matching race) isn't going to be the end-all be-all.”
Police reorganization brings police in neighborhoods
by Michael L. Ciminelli
Robert Kennedy once said "… every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on." That observation is the true genesis of the reorganization of the Rochester Police Department.
Since 2004, the Rochester Police Department has operated out of two large patrol areas — called Divisions — each comprising roughly half of the City, and primarily divided by the Genesee River. Each Patrol Division has been further divided into large patrol areas assigned jointly to multiple officers. While that structure was seen by some to be more efficient, there has been a clear consensus that it reduced opportunities for positive interaction between our officers and the community, and was an obstacle to our community policing efforts.
On Monday, the Rochester Police Department will reorganize its patrol operations into five police sections, each commanded by a Captain. More significantly, we will divide our patrol operations into 37 neighborhood-based beats, each of which will be assigned to individual officers on each patrol shift. There will be an average reduction of about 40 percent in the geographic size of individual patrol areas. This smaller section and beat model will enhance the opportunity for community policing initiatives, and will provide a framework to improve our relationship with community we serve.
The plan that will be implemented is the result of a comprehensive process that was guided by an intensive analysis of patrol workload data. In addition, there was extensive input from our officers and from members of the community. The police-community partnership we hope to attain has already commenced with the collaborative process used to develop the reorganization plan .
Ultimately, community partnership and trust is not achieved by changing lines on a map. Thus, in addition to structural reorganization, we are going to build on our longstanding efforts to interact with the Rochester community, especially our youth. Officers will be walking more, and taking this opportunity to meet and interact with members of the community. We will make an effort to have beat officers attend community and neighborhood meetings. We will involve beat officers in the process to develop and implement solutions to neighborhood problems. In short, our goal is for every beat officer to become part of the neighborhood he or she patrols.
In addition to the community policing goals we seek to achieve with our reorganization plan, we have other goals. We are committed to maintaining and hopefully exceeding the current level of service provided by the Rochester Police Department. We sought to build an analytical model that will enable us to constantly evaluate our workload and staffing, and to make informed decisions about deployment of resources. We also developed a plan that is fiscally prudent, and provides long-term financial sustainability.
We do not expect immediate solutions to our community issues, and we ask for your patience as we adapt to this new structure. We invite everyone's input as we move forward to help us do the best job we possibly can. We also invite everyone to work with us to improve your neighborhood by attending Section-level meetings, or even walking a beat with us in our PAC-TAC program.
As suggested by Robert Kennedy, the community has insisted on this type of law enforcement—a community-based partnership. And the Rochester Police Department will deliver.
Michael L. Ciminelli is chief of the Rochester Police department.
Most SLO County police agencies don't reflect their community's ethnic diversity
Tribune Investigative Report
As the sun set below a multi-colored sky over downtown Grover Beach streets, police Officer Nelida Aceves loaded up her patrol cruiser as she prepared to begin her regular night shift.
Aceves, a senior officer with the Grover Beach Police Department, is one of the city's four Latino officers in a community where Hispanic residents make up nearly a quarter of the population.
It's not something Aceves thinks about regularly, but she said on a recent ride-along that being a Hispanic woman in a career field that is locally dominated by white men can present a few challenges — yet also inspire respect.
“I tend to approach things in kind of a different way and men especially seem to treat me with more respect,” she said.
The Grover Beach Police Department stands out in San Luis Obispo County as the most racially diverse. The department also most closely matches the city's racial demographics, according to data compiled by The Tribune from the county's eight law enforcement agencies and the 2010 U.S. census.
“I think, for the most part, our community is very supportive of our department,” said Aceves, the city's 2014 Officer of the Year.
The topic of race relations and police has been making headlines since the August 2014 shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown at the hands of a white officer sparked massive protests in Ferguson, Mo.
Since then, federal officials including the head of the Justice Department and the FBI have publically acknowledged cases of police bias in communities with an ethnic and racial disparity between the police and residents.
All local law enforcement officials, community organizations and researchers contacted for this story say it's a worthy goal to hire officers with an ethnic makeup that most represents the communities they serve.
But San Luis Obispo County still has work to do.
San Luis Obispo County is predominantly white, according to census data, with Caucasians making up about 70 percent of the populace.
Hispanics comprise about 22 percent, Asians-Americans 3.7 percent, African-Americans about 2 percent and Native Americans 1.4 percent.
The breakdown for Hispanic residents varies widely by city, however, ranging from 9.3 percent in Pismo Beach to 34.5 percent in Paso Robles.
All of the county's seven police departments and the Sheriff's Office, with the exception of Grover and Pismo Beach, are comprised of between 80 and 90 percent white sworn officers, according to data provided by each agency.
But Grover Beach, one of the smallest departments with 17 full-time officers, has 11 white officers, or about 65 percent of its roster, closely matching the city's roughly 62 percent white population.
Grover Beach also has four Hispanic officers, or 23.5 percent of its force, in a city which is about 29 percent Hispanic. The department's two officers who identify as Asian-American comprise 11.7 percent of officers, exceeding the city's Asian-American population of 4.1 percent.
In addition, Grover Beach police has the largest percentage of Spanish speakers, with four officers, in a community where 17.8 percent of households speak languages other than English at the home, according to 2013 estimated census data.
Pismo Beach police also ranked high in diversity, with 75 percent white officers in a community that is 85 percent white. It is the only local department where white officers did not exceed the city's white population per capita.
With three Hispanic officers in a department of 20, it also exceeds the city's 9.3 percent Hispanic population, and with one African-American officer, exceeds the city's 0.7 percent black population.
Three officers, or 15 percent of the force, speak Spanish. About 10.5 percent households speak languages other than English.
Cities such as San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay and Arroyo Grande fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, with the percentage of white officers far exceeding that of the population.
San Luis Obispo, for example, has 51 white officers — or 85 percent — in a city that is about 79 percent white. The city also nearly meets the city's Hispanic population of 14.7 percent with seven Hispanic officers.
But if matching the ethnic makeup of a community is a goal, nearly all local departments still have work to do.
Atascadero, for example, which is 76 percent white, has a police force that is 89 percent white. With three Hispanic officers, the department comes in at about 5 percent lower than the city's Hispanic population of 15.6 percent.
Paso Robles police are about 81 percent white in a city where 59 percent of residents are white. Of its 37 officers, seven — 18.9 percent — identify as Hispanic in a city that is 34.5 percent Hispanic. The department has no black, Asian-American or Native-American officers, and only two officers are certified Spanish speakers, according to the department.
The 157 full-time sworn deputies in the county's largest law enforcement agency, the Sheriff's Office, are overwhelmingly white, about 86 percent. The Sheriff's Office serves unincorporated areas of the county, the demographics of which are not fully reflected in census data.
The Sheriff's Office does have black, Hispanic, Asian-American and Native American deputies, though their representation in the Sheriff's Office is lower than percentages of ethnic minority residents.
But diversity extends beyond race. Women are represented — to an extent — in local policing, accounting for at least 10 percent of officers in five departments.
Morro Bay has the highest percentage of full-time women sworn officers, 31.2 percent, or five of its 16 officers. Four of those preceded Chief Amy Christey, who joined the department in 2012. Christey is one of only 24 female police chiefs in a state with roughly 500 police departments, according to the California Police Chiefs Association.
San Luis Obispo has the highest number of women officers, eight, or 13 percent of the department.
“I think it's fantastic that we have a lot of female officers,” Christey said. “We all bring different skills and cultures to the job. As diverse as we can be the better.”
In contrast, Paso Robles and Arroyo Grande both have only one female officer, while the Sheriff's Office has just six out of its 157 full-time sworn deputies. Correctional deputies were not included in those figures.
While local officials say racial and gender diversity in policing is a worthy goal, many say race plays a minor role in hiring.
The reality, some chiefs said, is that fewer people, much less women or ethnic minorities, are applying for local careers in law enforcement.
Recruitment has also been hurt by competition from other agencies, such as the Santa Maria Police Department — which sponsors cadets and pays for their academy attendance — as well as media coverage of police shootings of unarmed minority suspects, some chiefs said.
“We do look at race, but more importantly I look for qualifications,” Grover Beach Chief Copsey said. “I haven't had to seek out Hispanics, thankfully, but we don't want to reverse discriminate when hiring either.”
More important than whether the department matches community demographics, Copsey said, is whether there are enough officers who speak Spanish (they have four), and officers who can inspire respect from residents.
“It's not just race when you're talking about diversity, there are many ways to be diverse — sex, race, sex (orientation) whatever it might be,” Copsey said. “I think those diversities need to be addressed not just in the police but throughout the city as a whole.”
In Morro Bay, Christey said, “Having a department as rich in culture as (our communities) will only enhance our service delivery. It will also help us with relating to different communities.” Bottom line, however, Christey said, her department is looking for professionals who, despite any cultural differences with members of the community, “can do their jobs.” To do the job requires training in more than firearms and tactical driving.
Deb Annibali, director of law enforcement training at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, said the academy requires cadets to complete several courses in community relations and ethics.
Cadets must complete a course on professionalism, leadership and ethics; community policing; cultural diversity and discrimination awareness; and a section on issues involving use of force.
“We try to get them to understand how important things across the country will affect them as a police officer,” Annibali said. “We teach leadership ethics because we have very strong beliefs in public trust and integrity. We want them to know everything that they do is, and any action they take could be, subject to scrutiny.”
Jacqueline Fredrick, president of the Latino Outreach Council of San Luis Obispo County, has lived in the county for 25 years. Over that time, she said, not only have local agencies hired a larger percentage of minority officers, but there is also a stronger relationship between police and the larger Hispanic community.
“I definitely think it's improving. There's a positive desire to learn more about how they can better serve the Hispanic community,” Fredrick said. “But diversity that reflects the makeup of the community — whether it be law enforcement, the judiciary, the DA's Office — yields confidence within those communities.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: We're constantly warning that sexual predators are often lurking in plain sight, and can be found in every community. Here, to prove the point, is a suspect just arrested by LAPD in my own neighborhood. He'd been serving as a coach at my local high school in Highland Park.
Highland Park School Coach Accused of Sex Crimes
The man was a volunteer coach at a high school.
by MIRNA ALFONSO (Patch Staff) April 18, 2015
(On site suspect photo courtesy of Los Angeles Police Department)
A volunteer coach at a Highland Park high school was in custody Friday on suspicion of sexually assaulting current and former students, Los Angeles police reported.
Jaime Jimenez, 46, was arrested about 11:30 p.m. Thursday and was being held on $450,000 bail.
Officer Tony Im said the alleged victims are current and former students.
Jimenez was removed from his post at Franklin High School, 820 N. Avenue 54, Los Angeles Unified School District officials said. They said the LAUSD was cooperating with the Los Angeles Police Department investigation.
Jimenez has coached football since 1998, and investigators believe he “may have victimized former students who are now adults and are urging them to come forward,” according to an LAPD statement.
Anyone with information about the case was urged to contact detectives at LAPD's Northeast Station at (323) 344-5742.
----- UPDATE -----
A volunteer coach at a Los Angeles high school was in custody today on suspicion of sexual assault, authorities said. Jaime Jimenez, 46, was being held on $450,000 bail following his arrest about 11:30 p.m., Thursday, online sheriff's records said.
It was unclear if the alleged assault victim was a student.
Jimenez was removed from his position at Franklin High School, 820 North Avenue 54, in Highland Park according to the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The district was cooperating with the Los Angeles Police Department investigation, officials said.
A district spokeswoman declined to comment further until police release news of the arrest and a call to the detective handling the case was not immediately returned.
Australia arrests 5 for alleged IS-inspired terror plot
by KRISTEN GELINEAU
SYDNEY (AP) — Five Australian teenagers were arrested Saturday on suspicion of plotting an Islamic State group-inspired terrorist attack at a Veterans' Day ceremony that included targeting police officers, officials said.
The suspects included two 18-year-olds who are alleged to have been preparing an attack at the ANZAC Day ceremony in Melbourne later this month, Australian Federal Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Neil Gaughan told reporters.
Another 18-year-old was arrested on weapons charges, and two other men, aged 18 and 19, were in custody and assisting police. All the arrests took place in Melbourne.
ANZAC Day is the annual April 25 commemoration of the 1915 Gallipoli landings — the first major military action fought by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I.
Police said they believe the plot was inspired by the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, and was to have involved "edged weapons."
"At this stage, we have no information that it was a planned beheading. But there was reference to an attack on police," Gaughan said. "Some evidence that we have collected at a couple of the scenes, and some other information we have, leads us to believe that this particular matter was ISIS-inspired."
Australia's government has raised the country's terror warning level in response to the domestic threat posed by supporters of the Islamic State group. In September last year, the group's spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani issued a message urging attacks abroad, specifically mentioning Australia.
Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan said at a separate news conference that the teens had links to Numan Haider, an 18-year-old who stabbed two Melbourne police officers and was subsequently shot dead in September. Haider had caught authorities' attention months earlier over what police considered troubling behavior, including waving what appeared to be an Islamic State group flag at a shopping mall.
Phelan said the teens arrested Saturday were on officials' radar for months, but the investigation was ramped up when it appeared they were planning a specific attack.
"This is a new paradigm for police," Phelan said. "These types of attacks that are planned are very rudimentary and simple. ... All you need these days is a knife, a flag and a camera and one can commit a terrorist act."
One of the teens, Sevdet Besim, appeared briefly in court Saturday on a charge of preparing for, or planning, a terrorist act. He did not apply for bail and was ordered to reappear in court next week.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned that the terrorism threat in Australia has escalated, with one-third of all terrorism-related arrests since 2001 occurring in the last six months. At least 110 Australians have gone to Iraq and Syria to fight alongside extremists, and the nation's security agency is juggling more than 400 high-priority counterterrorism investigations — more than double the number a year ago.
In February, two men were charged with planning to launch an imminent, Islamic State group-inspired terrorist attack after authorities said they appeared on a video threatening to stab the kidneys and necks of their victims. In September, a man arrested during a series of counterterrorism raids was charged with conspiring with an Islamic State group leader in Syria to behead a random person in Sydney.
In December, Man Monis, an Iranian-born, self-styled cleric with a long criminal history, took 18 people hostage inside a Sydney cafe, forced them to hold up a flag bearing the Islamic declaration of faith and demanded he be delivered a flag of the Islamic State group. Monis and two hostages were killed.
Abbott said the latest alleged plot was at an advanced stage of planning, prompting police to swoop in. Still, he urged the public to participate in ANZAC Day events as usual.
"The best sign of defiance we can give to those who would do us harm is to go about a normal, peaceful, free and fair Australian life," he said. "And I say to everyone who is thinking of going to an ANZAC Day event, please don't be deterred. Turn up in the largest possible numbers to support our country."
Oklahoma's capital idea: No needle? Gas will do
by The Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma became the first U.S. state to approve nitrogen gas for executions under a measure Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law yesterday that provides an alternative death-penalty method if lethal injections aren't possible, either because of a court ruling or a drug shortage.
Executions are on hold in Oklahoma while the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether the state's current three-drug method of lethal injection is constitutional. Supporters of the new law maintain nitrogen-induced hypoxia is a humane and painless method of execution that requires no medical expertise to perform.
There are no reports of nitrogen gas ever being used to execute humans, and critics say that one concern is that the method is untested. Some states even ban its use to put animals to sleep.
"Oklahoma executes murderers whose crimes are especially heinous," Fallin said in a statement announcing that she had signed the bill into law. "I support that policy, and I believe capital punishment must be performed effectively and without cruelty. The bill I signed today gives the state of Oklahoma another death penalty option that meets that standard."
The bill authored by Republican Rep. Mike Christian and Republican Sen. Anthony Sykes had passed the state House on an 85-10 vote and cleared the Senate on a 41-0 vote.
Supporters of Oklahoma's plan argue that nitrogen-induced hypoxia - or a lack of oxygen in the blood - is a humane method.
"The process is fast and painless," said Christian, a former Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper who wrote the bill. "It's foolproof."
Opponents say there's no way to know whether the method is painless and effective.
"It just hasn't been tried, so we don't know," said Rep. Emily Virgin, a Democrat from Norman who opposes the death penalty.
The changes come after a botched execution last year in which Oklahoma was using a new sedative as the first in a three-drug combination. State officials tried to halt the lethal injection after the inmate writhed on the gurney and moaned. He died 43 minutes after the process began.
Baltimore meeting between Justice Dept., community gets heated after excessive police force claim
by Maggie Ybarra
Department of Justice officials met with Baltimore citizens Thursday to discuss police misconduct in the wake of new allegations that local police critically injured a man while he was in their custody Sunday, which put him into a coma.
Hundreds of people, most of them blacks, said they were fed up with how the Baltimore Police Department officers have beat them, disregarded their rights, or made them feel afraid. They gathered in Coppin State University's gymnasium to air their woes to Rob Chapman, deputy director of community policing advancement for the department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, run out of the Department of Justice .
The town hall meeting was the first between federal officials and the Baltimore residents. It comes just as fresh turmoil is stirring between the city's police department and the community.
On Sunday, Freddie Gray, a 27-year-old black man, was allegedly beaten by the Baltimore police after trying to flee arrest, and on Monday was in a coma and in critical condition with injuries on the spinal cord.
Witnesses claimed that the police used excessive force, and Baltimore Police Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said the department is looking into the case. The officers involved have been transferred to administrative duties, Mr. Rodriguez said in a press conference earlier this week.
An internal police email, obtained by The Washington Times, shows that officers received an over-the-phone threat several hours before the town hall meeting began Thursday that Baltimore “gangs were going to kill any police” who returned to the area where Mr. Gray was injured.
“Let's not panic, but exercise extreme caution and officer safety,” the Baltimore police chief of patrol instructed fellow officers in the email. The chief then urged those officers to buddy up when operating in the area.
Department of Justice officials have been reviewing the policies and procedures of the Baltimore Police Department — a step toward reforming one of the largest police forces in the nation. The review is just one of many oversight measures that the department is taking in an effort to quell the tension between in fractured communities across the United States.
But Baltimore's frustration is also being directed at federal officials, who some community members blame for stirring that tension by a Justice Department effort to crack down on drug dealers who sell illegal drugs on the streets.
“It is your DOJ drug war that is killing our people,” shouted 55-year-old David Wiggins, a Baltimore resident, at the town hall meeting Thursday evening.
Another man, who declined to give his name, angrily blurted at Mr. Chapman: “I don't expect no justice to come from the Justice Department.”
Mr. Chapman made opening comments, but sat quietly by as Rob Davis, a senior vice president at Hillard Heintze, a security risk management company, called people up to speak and politely tried to cut them off after they spoke for more than three minutes.
Mr. Davis, a former police chief, is assisting the Justice Department with an independent review of Baltimore police use of force and allegations of police misconduct.
The Justice Department is facing a uphill climb in two aspects — first is to win the trust of the community, that the federal audit will right Baltimore police force's wrongs, but also to win over the police force, who are worried their department will be scrutinized as heavily as in Ferguson, Missouri, where the DOJ called for the overhaul of their criminal justice system in a scathing report, said Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.
The report — sanctioned by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder — accused the Ferguson Police Department of engaging in law enforcement practices “directly shaped and perpetuated by racial bias” — a conclusion that sent a wave of “spillover emotions” through the nation's numerous police departments, he said.
“There was a lot of apprehension after Ferguson, regarding the attorney general's position on policing issues,” Mr. Adler said. “There was a sense that he sort of lost faith in law enforcement and law enforcement, in turn, lost confidence in him.”
However, the Justice Department has had some successes with local police departments. On Thursday, its officials celebrated a decision by a Washington state district judge to approve a department-wide training program developed by the Seattle Police Department and endorsed by the Justice Department . That program, known as a tactical-de-escalation training program, would increase officer safety and resolve “a pattern and practice of excessive use of force” by Seattle police officers, according to an April 16 Department of Justice statement.
“All 1,300 sworn officers of the SPD will be trained in tactical de-escalation skills and strategies through the newly approved program,” the statement reads. “The goal of the training is to teach SPD officers that tactical de-escalation is more than a set of specific skills but also an overarching approach to incident resolution and community policing. De-escalation more broadly refers to the strategic slowing down of an incident in a manner that allows officers more time, distance, space and tactical flexibility during dynamic situations on the street.”
The Baltimore Police Department was not able to answer a question by The Times on whether it requires its officers to participate in a tactical de-escalation training program.
Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Anthony Batts initially reached out to the Justice Department in October 2014 for assistance in finding better policing practices and addressing allegations that its officers have used excessive force while on the job.
Two months later, Mr. Batts was tapped to serve on President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which was established after nationwide protests erupted over police abuse of authority and lack of accountability in various police departments.
Improving the Baltimore Police Department 's policies and practices will take time, Mr. Chapman cautioned.
Once complete, however, Justice Department officials will make public their findings on police deficiencies and make recommendations on how to address those deficiencies in a report.
“We'll be back in Baltimore in several months to issue our findings and recommendations,” Mr. Chapman promised the emotional crowd.
California Attorney General Launches Top-Down Policing Reforms
by Alex Emslie
(Audio and statement of Kamala Harris on site)
California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced a package of law enforcement reform efforts Friday as local police agencies struggle to engender and maintain the trust of communities they patrol.
Harris made the announcement at the conclusion of a 90-day review concerning state-level training, bias and use of force (read below).
But new initiatives appear to go much farther than tweaking training for state Department of Justice special agents.
“As a career prosecutor,” Harris said, “I know firsthand that the relationship of trust between law enforcement and the community is critical not only to public safety, but also officer safety. It's critical to having witnesses come forward. It's critical to having victims come forward. It's critical to having jurors sit as they deliberate on criminal charges to have the confidence in believing and knowing that justice occurs in our streets, and justice should therefore occur in our courtrooms.”
The DOJ created a first-ever policy that “expressly prohibits bias on the basis of an individual's race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation/identity, religion, socioeconomic status and/or age,” according to an executive summary of the review. The department did not provide a copy of the policy referenced, and responded to KQED's inquiry seeking the policy with a copy of the executive summary.
State special agents will also be testing a body camera program, Harris said, and the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training is crafting a course on implicit — or subconscious — bias and procedural justice.
That could augment local efforts already underway. San Francisco Police Department leadership, for example, has been participating in implicit bias trainings through the city's Human Rights Commission since racist and anti-gay text messages sent by current and former SFPD officers came to light in March.
Harris announced the formation of a “21st Century Policing Working Group,” made up of law enforcement leaders from around the state. She said the group is focused on procedural justice, effective training and community policing.
She pointed to Oakland's Ceasefire Strategy as an example of community policing that works. Oakland Assistant Police Chief Paul Figueroa said Oakland has some 55 gangs, six to eight of which are active at any given time. He said the department hosts quarterly meetings with the active groups.
“Even in the midst of gang feuds and gang struggles and the different things that are going on and the dynamics between the gangs, you can still present meaningful choices for them,” he said. “You can help them make different choices in their life in a meaningful way.”
The DOJ's Division of Law Enforcement is also looking to take an expanded role in officer-involved shooting investigations, according to the 90-day review executive summary, which announced a new two-step review process for critical incidents involving state agents.
“DLE will also dedicate investigative assistance to law enforcement agencies in circumstances where they demonstrate an inability to investigate a critical incident due to lack of resources, training, or conflicts of interests,” the summary says.
The working group expects to report on its progress at the end of this year.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said removing built-in bias among officers is an ongoing challenge.
“This is not something you get inoculated against once in your life and that's it,” he said. “This takes constant retraining, constant discussion.”
Calif. Legislation to Overhaul DNA Testing Regime Approved by Public Safety Committee – AB 84
by Christopher Simmons
SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Could thousands of rapes and murders go unsolved in California because of problems with a ballot initiative? asks Assemblyman Mike Gatto. Unfortunately, yes. If the California Supreme Court upholds a lower court decision, California's DNA testing law could be thrown out. The Assembly Public Safety Committee voted 6 to 1 to pass Gatto's (D-Glendale) legislation, which is a rare example of the legislature seeking to proactively fix these problems. Assembly Bill 84 is an omnibus DNA bill that also contains other improvements to DNA collection laws.
In December 2014, a California Court of Appeal struck down California's criminal-DNA-testing program (Proposition 69) in People v. Buza, finding several aspects unconstitutional and dealing a huge setback to law enforcement's ability to solve crimes. In February, the California Supreme Court granted review of the Buza decision. While the Supreme Court considers the case, DNA collection of felony arrestees has temporarily resumed.
“The Buza decision could cripple law enforcement, preventing them from using DNA to solve crime,” said Gatto, who specialized in constitutional law as a lawyer before being elected to the legislature.
“It's time to overhaul the system to make sure that best practices are implemented, the constitution is respected, the innocent are exonerated, and the guilty are brought to justice.”
Gatto's legislation aims to address the court's concerns with Prop. 69 by allowing DNA to be collected from those arrested for serious or violent felonies, and upon court process and a finding of probable cause. To protect the wrongfully accused, arrested, charged, or convicted, the DNA sample can be destroyed if the case is dismissed, or the accused acquitted or otherwise exonerated. These components are expressly contingent on the Supreme Court upholding the Buza decision.
AB 84 also seeks to resolve the controversies engendered by another problematic ballot initiative, Proposition 47. It strikes a thoughtful path, by expanding the collection of DNA from those convicted of very serious and violent misdemeanors, such as assault with a deadly weapon. Currently, the only misdemeanor convictions that require collection of DNA are those that require the convicted to register as a sex offender. AB 84 would expand that list to include 17 misdemeanor crimes that are very serious and preclude an offender from owning a firearm.
This legislation would also establish best practices for allowing buccal swab samples to be taken as a condition of a plea or dismissal of charges, provided that all uses of the DNA sample have been disclosed to the defendant in writing and the defendant has signed a written agreement.
“The people of California are sympathetic to persons who spend years in jail for minor crimes, but we remain sickened by violent criminals who escape justice and reoffend,” said Gatto. “AB 84 is a balanced, comprehensive bill that will improve our state's DNA-testing program.”
Gatto has attempted to reform the initiative process many times, including a proposal for expert legislative counsel to offer amendments to proposed ballot initiatives so that errors can be corrected before a vote takes place.
Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Consumer Protection and Privacy Committee, and the longest-serving current member of the State Assembly. He represents California's 43rd Assembly District, which includes Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, and Silver Lake. www.asm.ca.gov/gatto
Ohio community-police relations task force focuses recommendations on training, accountability and building trust
by Robert Higgs
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A task force charged with improving relations between police agencies and the communities they serve will offer Gov. John Kasich a series of specific recommendations aimed ensuring strong police training, proper oversight of officers' actions and measures that will bolster trust from the community and recognize police excellence.
The Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations, announced by Kasich in December, is still working up specific wording for its recommendations for state action. Those recommendations, though, will center on eight to 10 concepts meant to strengthen police work and build stronger ties between the officers and those they serve and protect.
Among those subjects are community involvement and education, officer training, clear standards for police procedures, accountability and oversight, the hiring and retention of good officers and the judicial process itself.
Those were developed, in part, from feedback gathered in community forums around the state.
Ohio Department of Public Safety Director John Born, one of two task force co-chairs, said Thursday at a task force meeting that the report must provide some specific guidance for the public and for police -- not just broad platitudes.
"If we walk away with no action, I think it is counter productive to the public forums," he said.
Former state Sen. Nina Turner, the other co-chair, said it will be up to the governor to develop policy that implements the recommendations.
"We're not going to be able to solve all the world's problems in four months," she said. But despite the short time the task force has had to develop its report, it must provide strong guidance, she said.
Among the recommendations the task force is considering:
A greater emphasis on training that focuses not just on policing procedures, but also diversity, interpersonal relationships and the issue of race and biases. Training would also focus on de-escalation techniques and alternatives to deadly force, as well as interactions with the mentally ill and others with disabilities. Offices also would learn techniques for personal stress management and stress reduction.
A thorough investigation of the use of body cameras that looks both at how they could bolster transparency and the challenges they present, such as privacy, storage capacity and maintenance of records.
Creation of oversight systems for local departments that reward excellent service by officers and also identify officer misbehavior and provide for independent review of police actions.
Active engagement between the community and their local police, including the use of neighborhood policing, encouraging officers to live within their jurisdictions and maintaining open dialogues through roundtable discussions and community events.
Educating the public about police officers' duties and the nature of their jobs. Suggestions include use of videos of officer stops, allowing the public to participate in ride-alongs and exercises and programs that lead to interaction with youth.
Bolstering recruitment of qualified officers. Efforts might include use of scholarships and internships to bolster minority interest from within the communities.
Enacting anti-profiling legislation at the state level.
Encouraging the Supreme Court to review the judicial process to ensure fairness to both parties in officer-involved deaths. Speakers at public forums raised concerns about the secrecy of the grand jury process and a perception of bias because prosecutors work closely with police. The panel is considering ways to bolster transparency including, perhaps, judicial oversight of the process.
Kasich's executive order creating the task force directed it to report to him by April 30.
The governor announced he was creating the task force after he was approached by Turner and Sen. Sandra Williams, both of Cleveland, and Rep. Alicia Reece of Cincinnati. They sought action in response to cases involving the use of lethal force by police. Those cases included two in Ohio: the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by Cleveland police at a city park and the shooting of John Crawford III at a Walmart in Beavercreek.
The announcement came one day after the U.S. Department of Justice reported Cleveland police are too quick to use deadly force and identified a pattern of using excessive force in violation of citizens' Constitutional rights.
Kasich said then that the task force should not be viewed as an indictment of law enforcement. But he said frustration in communities can't be ignored.
"If there are people who feel that they are being shut out, you have to listen to them," Kasich said then. "When people say 'I don't feel that the system is working for me,' if it's in large enough numbers, you'd better pay attention to it."
During discussions Thursday it was clear that the panel is trying to strike a balance between making specific recommendations that lead to specific standards for police work while not forcing a "one-size-fits-all" approach.
Two members of the task force, Sheriff Vernon Stanforth of Fayette County and former Toledo Police Chief Michael Navarre, both cautioned that mandated procedures would not necessarily fit well with all departments because they vary greatly in size and expertise and their communities and community needs are also varied. What works for a large city like Cincinnati might not work at all for a smaller community like Kirtland.
They urged recommendations that focused on getting departments to follow best practice guidelines that would allow them to tailor policies to their needs.
Ohio Fraternal Order of Police President Jay McDonald, who was in the audience Thursday, offered similar caution, nothing that "70 percent of the police departments in Ohio have fewer than 20 officers."
‘Coffee with a Cop' seeks to build police, community ties
by Lauren Keene
Members of the Woodland community are invited to “Coffee with a Cop” — an opportunity for residents and police officers to meet in an informal, neutral space to drink coffee, discuss community issues and build relationships.
The event begins at 8 a.m. Wednesday, April 22, at the McDonald's at 1500 E. Main St. For more information, contact Lt. Derrek Kaff at 530-661-7813 or email@example.com.
Coffee with a Cop provides an opportunity for community members to ask questions and learn more about the Police Department's work in Woodland's neighborhoods.
Typically, most of law enforcement's contacts with the public happen during emergencies or emotional situations. These are not always the most effective times for relationship building with the community, and some residents may feel that officers are unapproachable on the street.
Coffee with a Cop breaks down barriers and allows for a relaxed, one-on-one interaction.
“We hope that community members will feel comfortable to ask questions, bring concerns, or simply get to know our officers,” Chief Dan Bellini said. “These interactions are the foundation of community partnerships.”
Coffee with a Cop is a national initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services. Similar events are being held across the country, as local police departments strive to make lasting connections with the communities they serve.
The program aims to advance the practice of community policing through improving relationships between police officers and community members one cup of coffee at a time.
Mayor updates council on policing advisory group
by Daniel Carson
FREMONT – Mayor Jim Ellis updated Fremont City Council on the city's plans for a new community policing advisory group, which will include about 20 members and draw from the city's police department and several area civic groups.
Ellis said he wants the group to include members from groups like NAMI, Terra State Community College and the NAACP, as well as clergy, members of the area's domestic violence task force and other community organizations.
The mayor previously said the new group would not replace the city's Community Relations Commission, a group Ellis has criticized in recent months for the way it has handled resident complaints.
Thursday, Ellis said the new advisory group was intended to be temporary, with the idea that it would transition back to the CRC with a new, balanced direction on how to address resident and police department concerns.
According to the mayor, the group will meet together with a facilitator experienced in law enforcement matters to discuss a wide range of issues, including allegations of racial profiling, improvements to the complaint process, and a policy for the use of body cameras.
City Council President Dallas Leake, Ellis' opponent in the Democrats' mayoral primary, said he thought the group was a good idea and noted that there was a group that had been meeting once a month to look into similar issues.
“I'm glad there's a cross section of agencies he wants to get involved,” Leake said.
Ellis said the new group's makeup and ideas were inspired by a Chicago-based community policing initiative.
He said he hoped to have a facilitator in place within the next month, with that person needing a couple of months to reach out to possible group members and get feedback from the community on issues of concern.
Should the Police Be Armed?
by Robert Koehler
The cellphone video "reality footage" just doesn't stop. Black men are shot, killed, handcuffed. The shortcomings of their prematurely terminated lives soon become public knowledge, vaguely justifying the shocking wrongness of the officer's action -- always poisoning the grief.
The family, the loved ones, the sympathetic sector of the American (and global) public demand "justice." Even when they get it, or sort of get it, in the form of an arrest or some official expression of regret, the victim -- the human being they valued -- is still dead.
At least it seems as though nothing changes, but of course change, in the form of outrage, revulsion, disbelief -- and, ultimately, awareness -- is stirring in the collective mind. How it will manifest in the form of specific social policy is, of course, unknown. The status quo, after all, has plenty of defenders -- and they're armed.
And being armed is primarily a liability, a surefire means, so to speak, of increasing one's insecurity. Socially, we cling to this insecurity, roiling matters immeasurably. Given this, how do we even begin to have the serious conversation we need to have about who we are and how we need to change -- a conversation that goes as deep as a bullet?
Here's one place to begin: Should the police be armed?
I ask this mindful of the enormous controversy it instantly sets off. An alternative, but related, question is simply: What sort of policing do we actually want? Right now we straddle a terrifying polarity: community policing, in which officers serve and have accountability primarily to the public they work with and protect; or militarized policing, in which officers have accountability primarily to an entity, "the state" or some other interest, that is separate from the neighborhood they patrol.
The latter is mostly what we have, especially in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. The images of policing in these neighborhoods are mostly the shocking videos that capture instantaneous death sentences handed out for minor misbehavior. But there are counter-images as well, such as that of Chris Magnus, the police chief of Richmond, Calif., joining a protest last December and holding a sign that proclaimed: "Black Lives Matter." He stood holding the sign for four and a half hours, the amount of time Michael Brown's unattended body lay on the sidewalk in Ferguson, Mo.
"The whole point of holding the sign," he said, as quoted recently at Aljazeera America, "was to acknowledge that relationships can be better between police and communities of color, that that happens through dialogue and communication and relationship building."
Dialogue, communication, relationship-building... This isn't what we think of as cop talk. But this is the essence of community-based, community-accountable policing. Can you imagine? Policing based on mutual respect? It's the opposite of racial profiling. It's the opposite of the army-of-occupation scenario the media endlessly purvey. With this sort of M.O., unarmed policing -- the sort of policing that actually exists in Great Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Norway and New Zealand -- becomes, perhaps, imaginable. First, of course, one needs to be able to imagine a source of strength and authority beyond the barrel of a gun.
Community-accountable policing has another problem in the United States as well. I was alerted to it by an offhand reference in an excellent article on British policing by Jon Kelly, which ran in the BBC News Magazine in 2012. Kelly noted at one point: "But to most inhabitants of the U.K. -- with the notable exception of Northern Ireland -- it is a normal, unremarkable state of affairs that most front-line officers do not carry guns."
In Northern Ireland, the British police would be more like an occupying army, making unarmed policing a bit awkward, you might say. Here in the USA, the police tradition is rooted in the control of "enemy" populations, having its origins, as historians have pointed out, in Southern slave patrols, New England and Midwestern "Indian constables" and other armed squads with a mission to suppress non-citizen (and generally non-white) populations within our borders.
Such history is terrifyingly apparent in every video of a police officer shooting a black man in the back that gets posted on YouTube. It's the scenario of an army of occupation in us-vs.-them mode, utterly separate from the community it's "protecting," maintaining a semblance of order through sheer armed domination. This is militarized policing, combined with racism; it's the opposite of community policing.
Complicating these historical roots is modern-day militarism and the war metaphor that acts as a substitute for thought among so many powerful people. For instance: "In 1934," Auandaru Nirhani writes, "FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover would attach the concept of war to policing when he declared the first 'war against crime.'"
Other pretend wars, including the Reagan-era "war on drugs," along with a bellicose foreign policy, have further militarized domestic policing, especially in recent years, as the Defense Department has begun dumping its excess military hardware on local police departments at bargain-basement prices. And police officers turn more and more into soldiers in an occupying army.
"I see the police conducting themselves in a highly militaristic fashion on routine patrol activities -- and I know that's what they're doing because I come from that world," Thomas Nolan, a criminology professor and former senior policy analyst with the Department of Homeland Security, told Travis Gettys, writing for Raw Story. "What I experience and what people on the street experience is a palpable, tangible sense of fear, and that is that we are unsafe if police need semiautomatic rifles to protect us and to keep us safe."
Indeed, when police carry semiautomatic rifles, no one is safe. When we wage endless war at home, especially when we wage war entwined with historical racism, no one is safe. Video surveillance and an overabundance of cellphones are no substitute for a national embrace of community policing, gradual disarmament and a reverence for every life.
- - -
Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound (Xenos Press), is still available. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at commonwonders.com.
An awful grace: Importance of collaboration in public safety
by Gregg Favre
He was probably dead before the first person dialed 911 for help. On a summer evening in 2006, the siren-fueled race from our north city firehouse to the location of the shooting took less than 90 seconds. As I stepped off the truck, medical bag in hand, my crew and I found a young man lying face down in the street. As I rolled him over to begin administering care, we could see that he had been shot more than a dozen times at close range. There was nothing we could do.
In the nearly 10 years since that incident, I have responded to hundreds of violent incidents. Recently, as an ambulance departed with one of three victims critically wounded in a south city shooting, I couldn't help but be disappointed by how another story of our region's violence would again trump its recent accomplishments, including rising employment rates, stronger home sales, and a spike in manufacturing exports.
Like many others in our region, I've thought critically about what can be done to curb the recent increase in violent crime. And, like many, I reflect on personal experience when considering these issues. From assignments on fire department units that have responded to dozens of shootings a year, to working on Capitol Hill as the chief of staff for a multimillion-dollar organization, I have learned to address problems with an idealistic pragmatism — a belief rooted in the idea that solutions are forged not by pointing a finger, but by rolling up our sleeves and taking action. In my opinion, there are three foundational pieces in building a safer city.
First, we need strong leadership at all levels in city government. While the mayor and his team continue to craft a vision and champion the cause, senior leadership in the Board of Aldermen and city departments have an important role in defining expectations and promoting accountability. For department and agency heads, this includes a critical review of organizational objectives. The police department shouldn't hold exclusive responsibility for addressing crime. St. Louis is a diverse and complex environment, and it will require diverse and dynamic problem solving if we are to chip away at systemic issues. City leadership should be encouraged to better define success in the whole of the system and, where appropriate, to engage in innovative collaborations with both public and private entities.
Second, the business community, which has a vested interest in our collective safety, must recognize and advance its important role in regional stability. Philanthropic investments in proven nonprofits like the St. Louis Police Foundation or the St. Louis Lifesaving Foundation demonstrate a tangible investment in our first responders and our region. Companies like BJC, Anheuser-Busch and Ameren are already committed allies, but there are many ways that organizations of all sizes can be great civic partners.
Finally, while political leadership and business investments are important, their combined efforts pale in comparison to the impact of committed citizens. Attend ward meetings for your neighborhood. Introduce yourself to your alderman. Know your neighborhood liaison officer from the police department and call your neighborhood improvement specialist with questions about city services.
It is easy (and popular) to assume that it is “the government's job” to deal with these issues or that the problem is too complex for one person to make an impact, but every individual plays an important role. You don't need to be a CEO to contact the Citizens' Service Bureau with quality of life issues in your neighborhood. You don't need to be an elected official to call 911 and report a crime. The city's CrimeStoppers hotline (866-371-TIPS) and the Neighborhood Drug Activity hotline (314-241-COPS) are both free and anonymous.
The violence in St. Louis is not unique. What can be unique is how we collaborate to fix these issues. As a government, St. Louis must be progressive in seeking out dynamic, measurable solutions. Regional businesses must recognize their value and their responsibility in moving our region forward. Every resident who is concerned about their safety and quality of life must be willing to make their own important contribution. Stand up, be courageous, and make a difference. It will take hard work, but action and pragmatic idealism can strengthen our communities and build a better region for us all.
Gregg Favre of St. Louis is a captain with the St. Louis Fire Department. He is a national security scholar at the United States Naval Post Graduate School.
Court slams ‘America's Toughest Sheriff' in profiling case, could hold Sheriff Joe in contempt
by Dan Taylor
The courts dealt a defeat to self-described “America's Toughest Sheriff” Joe Arpaio of metro Phoenix in Arizona, who failed to overturn a 2013 racial profiling ruling that stunted his efforts to fight against the influx of immigrants into Maricopa County.
It was the latest in a string of defeats for Arpaio, who has become a polarizing figure beloved by anti-immigration conservatives and despised by those who consider what he does racial profiling, according to an Associated Press report.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals made the ruling, and Arpaio and four aides will face hearings next week on whether they will be held in contempt of court for violating a 2011 order by a judge who told Arpaio to stop his infamous immigration patrols.
The sheriff acknowledged that he did commit a violation and has offered to donate to a civil rights group to make amends. However, he denies that his officers are deliberately profiling Latinos.
Arpaio has not been afraid to butt heads with the courts and even the Obama Administration, even going so far as to conduct a very public investigation about whether or not Barack Obama's birth certificate was real, which he eventually concluded wasn't.
The 9th Circuit upheld a ruling by U.S. District Judge Murray Snow, which found that the sheriff unconstitutionally targeted minorities, who were subjected to lengthy traffic stops in the Phoenix area. It also agreed with Snow in saying that Arpaio's officers need to video-record traffic stops and collect data to ensure they were acting within the bounds of the Constitution.
Arpaio did get one victory: a court-appointed official who was investigating misconduct was reined in by the court.
The sheriff's lawyers said that Snow was imposing things on his office that didn't have anything to do with profiling.
Critics: expansion of LAPD Metro teams could hurt community relationships
by Frank Stoltze
Some community activists and police critics said Wednesday Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's plan to assign teams of elite officers to target crime in unfamiliar neighborhoods could hurt community policing efforts.
“It could be a good thing, as long as they don't come out here assuming that everyone they see with saggy pants is a gang member or criminal,” said Kevin Orange with Advocates for Peace and Urban Unity.
During his State of the City speech Tuesday, Garcetti announced plans to double the size of the Metropolitan Division, officers that are not assigned to a particular geography but rather to target crime hotspots.
LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck said the LAPD has used Metro officers in the past to saturate high crime areas with patrols.
The move comes amid the first increase in crime in a decade. Violent crime spiked 27 percent and property crimes went up 12 percent during the first three months of this year compared to last year, according to the LAPD.
Creating four platoons of 50 officers each will give the department more flexibility to move officers into crime hot spots, Beck said.
“Its important we do this,” Beck told KPCC's Airtalk program. “We are seeing an uptick in violent crime, particularly gang crime, which is most successfully impacted by this type of strategy.”
“I think this type of ‘hot spot' policing could end up hurting community policing,” said American Civil Liberties Union attorney Peter Bibring, an LAPD watchdog.
He said officers in these type of special units often are asked to engage in more aggressive policing.
“If the department says: 'we are going to have an aggressive, proactive presence', they're going to stop a lot of people,” Bibring said.
A group of Metro officers certainly took an aggressive approach in 2007, when they swept through MacArthur Park during an immigrant rights rally, firing rubber bullets and beating demonstrators and journalist.
The city paid out $12.85 million to settle numerous civil rights lawsuits related to that incident.
But Orange, who works with gang members in South Los Angeles, said increased patrols in some neighborhoods could "calm down" gang members and make them less likely to "do something foolish" - if they're done right.
“Some areas need a high presence of police cars driving around - but without initiating a bunch of pat downs” of people on the street, he said.
Civil rights attorney Connie Rice agreed success will depend on the execution.
“It all depends on how they do it,” she said. “The approach must focus on building relationships in the community.”
Metro cops have more experience be more physically fit than most officers, and must have a spotless record, according to Commander Andrew Smith.
Beck said the Metro officers would be under the supervision of local captains. He noted some of the officers will have previously worked in the neighborhoods they are assigned.
The chief acknowledged some lower crime areas of the city may see fewer patrols as a result of the shift.
“We hope to make it personnel neutral but in the short term we may have to deplete some of the patrol resources,” Beck said. He said he hopes to hire more officers to “back fill” the patrol positions.
The Metro expansion is only part of the mayor's plan, which also includes gathering 40 officers who already do a lot of community relations into a new Community Policing Division.
Councilman Paul Krekorian, who represents the San Fernando Valley, said he supports the idea of placing officers where they are needed “but only if it's not at the expense of providing adequate deployment in other areas.”
Beck said Wednesday that some lower crime areas of the city may see fewer patrols as a result of the expanded Metro approach.
“We hope to make it personnel neutral but in the short term we may have to deplete some of the patrol resources,” Beck said. He said he hopes to hire more officers to “back fill” the patrol positions.
Some of the changes need approval by the City Council, as part of reviewing the mayor's budget. He'll release that next week.
For instance, the mayor's plan also calls for an additional $5.5 million dollars for the Gang Reduction and Youth Development Office. It currently receives about $22 million a year, according to Krekorian.
“We will evaluate that proposal and weigh it against the cities other priorities," he said.
What is a Community Impact Officer?
Overview of the position
by Courtney Astolfi
There's a new kind of cop in town.
Sure, he drives the same type of cruiser as his fellow Sandusky police officers. Yes, he's still donning the blue uniform with its shiny badge. And, to be honest, he has been at the department for the better part of a decade.
But Officer Eric Costante recently acquired a new mission: essentially reinventing a kind of community policing unseen in Sandusky since the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Costante was chosen by Sandusky police Chief John Orzech earlier this year to implement a new program at the department — he's the city's new “Community Impact Officer,” and his position was made possible by the passage of Issue 8 last fall.
Orzech said Costante's new role will be honing in on “quality of life” issues in the city.
He'll be less focused on responding to emergency calls and more focused on trying to quell budding problems before they escalate.
Just some of Costante's areas of focus:
• Negotiating neighbor disputes, which are often spurred by complaints of loud music, juveniles, trash, parking or other issues.
• Keeping an eye on blight and dilapidation, then working with the housing department to come up with solutions.
• Partnering with community organizations, helping to direct residents toward resources they may need.
• Walking the beat downtown, chatting with waterfront business owners and providing a more-casual police presence on weekend evenings.
• Spending more time in Zone 2, the neighborhoods between Mills Street and Hayes Avenue. This is the portion of the city producing the most 911 calls.
He'll also help other officers with incidents if they need back-up
While the above goals remain high on Costante's priority list going forward, one of the greatest benefits of his new position is its flexibility, Orzech said. As issues crop up, Costante will try to talk things out with Sanduskians and help them come up with solutions — preferably, long before a pair of handcuffs must come out.
“The road patrol is going from call to call to call, especially in the summer. We could go put a band-aid on the problem — but I wanted to attempt to find permanent solutions,” Orzech recently told the Register.
“We had community officers ...when I first started here. I felt they played an integral role in being engaged with residents — they help us to get a sense of what the community wants or needs from us,” Orzech said.
Garcetti's State of the City speech: Drought response, more police, rail and Uber at LAX
by Sharon McNary
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti delivered his second State of the City speech Tuesday, promising to make Los Angeles a safer, cleaner, greener city that welcomes technology and business and pays a higher minimum wage.
On stage at the Valley Performing Arts Center at Cal State Northridge, a university whose 107 buildings were all damaged by the 1994 earthquake, Garcetti said it was a fitting locale for him to call for the city to implement his administration's earthquake preparedness plan.
Among his promises for the coming year, Garcetti said he would:
Create a new 40-officer community policing division. Officers would be assigned to patrol duties, plus community activities like sports coaching for 5-year stints to increase community trust in police. Garcetti called it "Relationship-based policing."
Double the number of officers in the LAPD Metropolitan Division so they could act as a swift response force to trouble anywhere in the city.
Put one Domestic Abuse Response Team in each police division, doubling the current number of teams of specialists who provide medical and emotional support to victims of violence.
Promised to add $10 million in new funding to the city's Affordable Housing Trust fund, funded in part by a tax from homeowners who rent their places to short term tenants via AirBnB.
Announced Step Forward L.A., a partnership to help city residents who do not have proper immigration permits to work legally in the city.
Garcetti did not address how he planned to pay for most of his new initiatives. His budget plan comes out April 20.
In his speech Tuesday night, Garcetti also talked about his accomplishments. He said he stuck to his first year promise to focus on the basics of governance, improving vital services and rebuilding a city whose streets, sidewalks, water systems and other important services are often crumbling.
"Today we are leaving the recession in the rear view mirror and building a Los Angeles that works," Garcetti said. "Our back to basics agenda is delivering results."
But Jay Handal, who serves as co-chairman of the Los Angeles Budget Advocates, an elected position chosen from among the city's 95 Neighborhood Councils, thinks the city has a long way to go.
Handal questioned Garcetti's promises to fix sidewalks and streets with its annual $8 billion budget when the problems amounted to many billions more than that.
"Promises are wonderful, but paying for them is the challenge," he said. "No budget that's ever been passed in the last 15 years included the money for infrastructure."
Garcetti also claimed success on economic promises made last year to lower the business tax rate, improve the city's credit rating, create new jobs and extend tax breaks for internet companies.
"eHarmony realized they were most compatible with our city, and moved 200 jobs to L.A.," he said.
He did not address the midnight deadline hanging over city and union negotiators who are in mediation over contracts for six unions representing nearly 20,000 civilian employees.
The mediation has been extended several times, but the largest bargaining unit, SEIU 721, obtained authorization to strike in a vote completed on Friday. Theoretically, that union could walk out any time its leaders decide negotiations are no longer moving forward.
Local 721 represents about 10,000 sanitation workers, parking enforcement, transportation and other employees.
Public safety and employment
Garcetti made other specific promises around public safety. Along with creating a community policing unit and increase the size of a targeted response team, he said he would increase the GRYD program by $5.5 million to reduce gang-related crime.
He also vowed to continue to reduce 911 response times by having operators send ambulances first to emergency calls, then complete questioning of callers. Garcetti said that tactic was saving an average 18 seconds per response.
Garcetti also asked the council to raise the city's minimum wage - a proposal already under review.
Transportation and housing
Garcetti reiterated a promise to end veteran homelessness in Los Angeles and repeated his pledge to increase housing by 100,000 units by 2021.
Sissy Trinh, executive director of Southeast Asian Community Alliance which has pressed the city for more affordable housing, complained "a lot of [those 100,000 units] will be market rate at $3,000 for a two bedroom. That's not affordable."
But she lauded his other proposals, including his idea of taxing AirBnB landlords' rental fees to pay for subsidized housing.
Los Angeles is the nation's least affordable housing market, according to a UCLA study.
Garcetti praised the new Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX as one of the most beautiful in the world, but said the other terminals were among the worst, and he pledged improvements in coming years.
He also claimed credit for bringing some $3 billion in federal funds to continue construction on five transit lines and promised ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft would be permitted to pick up riders at LAX.
He also announced a data sharing partnership with the traffic app Waze, a traffic and navigation app.
Garcetti repeated his directive of last fall to cut water use by 20 percent and talked up the $3.75 per square foot the city pays residents to replace their lawns.
Garcetti said the city's residents would account for half of Gov. Brown's goal of removing 50 million square feet of lawn in California.
The state is calling for an overall 25 percent reduction in water use.
Garcetti also talked about his Clean Streets L.A. Initiative - approved in concept by the City Council approved a month ago. The plan has no price tag or action plan attached yet.
But it would be run by the Public Works Department and rely on assessment teams to find hot spots for abandoned trash and form "strike teams" to pick it up quickly. It also calls for increasing the number of public trash cans by 5,000, five times the current number.
Garcetti called Los Angeles the number one digital city in America, and lauded a few city employees who were using data-driven innovations.
One was a city surveyor who used his own bicycle and GPS to paint mile markers on the L.A. River bike path in a swift two days, rather than use heavy slow painting equipment that would have taken weeks.
He also praised sanitation truck drivers who urged the city to convert from the heavy, paper Thomas Guide maps to computer tablets.
Full text of the address:
Today, I am proud to report to you that our back-to-basics agenda is delivering results.
Los Angeles and your City Hall are roaring back, and the state of our city is strong.
You can see it across Los Angeles -- from the cranes soaring over Downtown and Warner Center, to the new rail lines that are being laid on Crenshaw, and west to the Pacific.
You can see it in once-empty storefronts -- from Mar Vista to Highland Park-- filled with new businesses and new energy.
You can feel the difference.
Los Angeles is experiencing tremendous forward momentum.
But our city cannot maintain that momentum on its own.
Our challenge is twofold--
First, City Hall must respond to your needs and help drive this economy forward;
And second, our city must work for all Angelenos--in every neighborhood, in every corner of our great city.
Meeting this challenge begins on our streets.
Earlier this year, I went to Boyle Heights to meet with parents at the Oscar de la Hoya Animo school.
I expected to hear about the state curriculum, testing, and graduation rates.
Instead, I heard about trash.
Parents told me they were fed up with their kids walking to school on dirty streets lined with broken TVs and abandoned couches.
They weren't alone. I've heard this all across the city.
Today, I'm announcing our city's Clean Streets Initiative. (or, CSI Los Angeles, as I like to call it…)
Right now, the city has just one thousand trash cans on our streets. We will add five thousand new trash cans over the next four years -- allowing us to pick up an additional ten thousand tons of trash ... enough to fill an entire ten-story building ... every year.
We're deploying an additional Strike Team to pick up more abandoned waste in our neighborhoods.
We'll issue cleanliness grades across the city, street by street, share those reports with the public, and use those assessments to target hot spots.
Our Clean Streets Initiative will help us reclaim our public spaces, just as we have with:
CicLAvia, now the largest urban open space gathering in America,
People Streets, which is turning alleyways and underutilized roads into plazas from Leimert Park to Pacoima, and
Great Streets, our signature initiative that is already underway on streets like Reseda Boulevard, just a block away
Clean streets and great streets must also be safe streets.
We should all be very proud: we reduced overall crime at the end of last year to its lowest level per capita since 1949.
But our city's violent crime numbers were up.
And as long as I'm your Mayor, I won't duck bad news. I'm going to own it and I'm going to attack it.
First, we're nearly doubling the ranks of LAPD's elite Metropolitan Division, so we can quickly saturate a neighborhood with additional officers when crime spikes.
Second, because domestic violence increased in our city last year, we're also doubling the number of our Domestic Abuse Response Teams so there's one in every LAPD division -- and today, I am proud to announce that they will be on the streets by July first, six months ahead of schedule.
DART teams are civilians who roll out with police officers and give victims of domestic abuse the legal, medical, and emotional support they need to break the cycle of violence.
Third, we know that intervention works …when our Gang Reduction and Youth Development workers step in, guns are lowered and lives are saved.
Today, I'm pleased to share that the budget that I'm sending City Council next week will include five point five million dollars more for the GRYD program, so we can cover new territory and 50 percent more gang-related violent crime.
Fourth, we're investing more in prevention.
Marquon Thornton grew up in public housing -- in Nickerson Gardens, in Watts.
Growing up, there wasn't a safe place for him to play.
I remember hearing him describe the raw heat of a bullet that just missed him in his neighborhood gymnasium as a kid.
But when Summer Night Lights -- a program I'm proud to have helped start -- came to his neighborhood, Marquon got a job working at a city park.
He got promoted and became a Peace Ambassador with the GRYD Watts team--even attending college right here at CSUN.
And today, as a program coordinator for Summer Night Lights, Marquon shoots baskets with kids in the same gymnasium where he dodged that bullet.
Los Angeles needs more success stories like Marquon's, which is why I am announcing that we are expanding Summer Night Lights beyond the summer, to cover Friday nights during the school year in key parks.
Because crime doesn't end when the school year begins.
When cops and community members don't know each other -- crime thrives.
But knowing the neighborhood... knowing the people … building trust...
This is the heart of our approach to tackling crime, which we call relationship-based policing.
In the aftermath of Ferguson, Staten Island, and now, North Charleston, relationship-based policing has put us on track to be the biggest city in America to put body cameras on every officer on the street.
Relationship-based policing means that we are expanding our nationally-recognized Community Safety Partnership -- which places officers in specific public housing developments for five-year stints, where they become a part of the community they protect and serve.
These officers don't just patrol the streets, they help kids get to school safely, they coach their football teams, and they teach them leadership and conflict resolution.
And today, with Chief Charlie Beck, I am announcing the creation of a new division at LAPD that centers on relationship-based policing -- the Community Policing Division -- 40 officers whose sole mission will be to build even greater trust and partnerships in our communities.
When Metro officers keep a crime spike from becoming a crime wave; when we help a woman escape a violent home; when we help a young man avoid a life of crime; when we give our kids pathways to graduation and good jobs -- we don't just make LA safe…
We make LA strong.
Your safety is my highest priority. And that means making sure that when you need help, you get it fast.
From day one, I focused my administration on reducing emergency response times.
With Chief Terrazas, we started hiring firefighters again.
When we looked into our 911 call center, we discovered that it was standard practice for dispatchers to ask a long series of questions before they sent an ambulance.
That made no sense.
So we put a stop to it.
Now, we send the ambulance, then finish the survey.
And we're seeing results -- call processing times are down by 18 seconds in the first quarter of this year, which can be the difference between lives saved and lives lost.
By focusing on the basics, I am working to improve your everyday life in Los Angeles as well.
Take our transportation needs. Here in L.A., we're leading the nation's largest public works project -- five new rail lines and bus improvements to drive our economy forward and get us out of our cars and home in time for dinner.
I've been aggressive, travelling frequently to Washington to bring home our fair share of federal funds for transit. The result so far? Nearly three billion dollars and counting ...
This funding is accelerating subway construction under Wilshire Boulevard.
As a result, we'll be able to ride underground from Downtown to Century City a year earlier.
We see Angelenos at work, building the new Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Downtown Rail Connector, the Gold Line Extension, and the Expo line extension, which will connect the east side to the ocean when it opens next year.
And in recent months, we dedicated two new rapid bus lines that will connect the Valley to the Westside… and Downtown to UCLA, saving fifteen to thirty minutes from your daily commute.
We are testing cutting-edge technology at the Port of Los Angeles, building some of the most advanced terminals in the world, refurbishing our Ports-of-Call gateway next to the USS Iowa, and launching an historic partnership with the Port of Long Beach to share equipment, to innovate, and to protect our environment together.
LAX is one of our country's major economic hubs, but our beautiful new Tom Bradley Terminal, the nicest in the nation, sits next to some of the worst terminals in America.
So as mayor, I have launched the nation's largest airport construction program to redo the entire airport, rebuilding eight more terminals and adding a new international terminal.
And, most importantly, we're finally -- finally -- connecting rail to LAX.
My trade trips have helped us land more than a dozen new daily international flights, each representing hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs for our local economy.
When I was growing up, there just was one non-stop flight a week from LA to China. We now have forty-four, more than any other city in the United States!
It isn't just where we go from LAX, it's how we get to LAX.
Whether it is your daily commute, or getting to and from the airport, we have to make navigating this city more convenient for our residents.
So today, I'm announcing that by this summer, at my direction, ride-share companies like UBER and LYFT will be able to pick you up at the airport.
And to help you get anywhere that you want to go in L.A., I am announcing the launch of a new data-sharing partnership with the traffic app Waze--the biggest collaboration of its kind.
Now, when you open Google Maps or Waze, your smartphone will show you where the city has closed a road for repairs or for a movie shoot. Now you'll have to find a new excuse when you're late to dinner with your mother-in-law...
And we will use the data collected by these apps to find new ways to cut your commute
Today we are ranked the Number One Digital City in America, something we never would have imagined just a couple of years ago.
We're finally moving our Sanitation truck drivers from Thomas Guides to tablets -- something our own Sanitation workers suggested after my administration began meeting with city workers to hear their ideas.
To support city workers that show this kind of creativity, I even established the Civic Innovation Award.
Let me tell you about one of our winners, John Tosto, a surveyor in our Bureau of Engineering.
He was in charge of placing the mile markers on a resurgent L.A. River bike path.
Doing it the old way would have taken three people with heavy equipment and two weeks to complete in the summer heat.
Instead, John applied ingenuity and common sense.
Using his smartphone, Google Earth, and his bicycle, he got the job done by himself in just two days, saving tens of thousands of dollars and changing the way we can survey citywide -- allowing us to save even more money and deliver better service to the people of L.A.
John, your creativity is at the heart of our city's spirit and economy.
You are who we are: innovators, risk takers, storytellers.
And here in L.A., the entertainment industry is a bedrock of our middle class.
I told you last year that I would make expanding California's film tax credit my top priority in Sacramento.
And I delivered -- a one point six billion dollar tax credit that will create 50,000 jobs.
And I want to thank our partners in Sacramento who helped us get the deal done, like Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and the coalition of statewide mayors that I led.
I brought that same focus and collaboration to our port dispute earlier this year, where I jumped in and worked with my fellow West Coast Mayors and the White House to hammer out a deal and get billions of dollars of cargo moving again.
When the railcar manufacturer Kinkisharyo threatened to move out of state, we worked day and night at my office at City Hall to keep them from leaving, and now the rail cars on the Crenshaw, Expo, and Gold Lines will be made here.
We competed for and won fifty eight million dollars in competitive federal funding for advanced manufacturing and aerospace.
And today, Los Angeles has more high-tech jobs than any county in the nation -- more than New York, Boston, and even Santa Clara County in the heart of Silicon Valley.
In my inaugural speech, I said that City Hall was for too long known as a place where jobs went to die. Today, City Hall is a full partner in our economy's success.
Take the case of TIG/M, a Chatsworth company founded by a couple of film industry vets who wanted to build beautiful trolleys and streetcars.
They had early success and even designed the trolley at the Grove, the one that my 3-year-old daughter asks to ride just about every day.
But they didn't rest on their laurels. TIG/M kept innovating. They engineered and built the world's first hydrogen-powered, zero-emission trolley.
When they sought to take this LA innovation and compete globally, they came to my office, and we gave them the help they needed to win contracts around the world in places like Qatar, where they are installing an entire green trolley system.
TIG/M's success is our success -- it brings together green innovation and imagination, and shows that L.A. companies can compete and win anywhere.
And as TIG/M grew, it also doubled its workforce...and they're poised to double it again.
But continuing high taxes and low wages threaten L.A.'s economic momentum.
That's why I made it a priority to cut our business tax, and extend our tax break for Internet-based businesses, to ensure L.A. attracts the best jobs of the future.
We know this works.
Yahoo told us this is why they chose to move into our city. It enticed investment giant Oaktree Capital to renew its lease and stay in L.A.
And eHarmony discovered they were most compatible with our city, and moved 200 jobs to L.A. because of our tax cuts.
I want to thank the City Council for supporting the steps we've taken to reduce our City's business tax so far.
These cuts were just a down payment during hard times. When times are better, we are going to push even further.
Let's lay to rest the myth that you must be either pro-business or pro-worker.
High taxes and low wages conspire to chase businesses away and depress our spending power. We must address both.
Today, one million of our fellow Angelenos live in poverty.
Taken together, they would be one of America's ten largest cities.
That's why I am calling on the City Council to pass a responsible, carefully crafted plan to raise the minimum wage -- now.
Angelenos can't wait. No one should be forced to choose between paying rent and buying groceries.
LA's poverty costs us all--in food stamps, emergency room visits, and after-school programs to provide homework help when parents aren't around.
Our economy does best when everyone can afford to spend into it, instead of being subsidized by it.
So let's raise the wage, L.A.!
Even with a good wage, we're still the least affordable housing market in the country.
It's why I set the goal of building one hundred thousand units of housing by 2021….
It's why I'm fighting so hard in Sacramento and Washington to replace housing funds that were stripped away in recent years.
But we're not going to wait for Sacramento or Washington.
I'm announcing today that my budget includes an additional ten million dollars for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
Half of this money is being generated because, for the first time, we will collect taxes from Airbnb.
And today I call on our state legislators to support Speaker Toni Atkins' plan to increase tax credits and funding for affordable housing this year.
If L.A. can lead the way in tough times, it should inspire California to do the same.
Our city is working again, but we must ensure it works for all Angelenos.
Today, we have an opportunity to boost our economy by three billion dollars by bringing 250,000 Angelenos out of the shadows and making them a legitimate part of our economy.
We have always been a city of immigrants. Nearly 60 percent of us are immigrants or the children of immigrants.
When we exclude immigrants from contributing, creating, and innovating, we waste our city's potential.
That's why I led mayors across the country in going to court to fight for President Obama's executive order on immigration.
We have an historic opportunity to help our city.
That's why I have launched “Step Forward L.A.”, a partnership with the city, county, business and philanthropy to help one hundred thousand hard-working Angelenos work legally in this city by the end of my first term as mayor.
And we've already raised four million dollars to advance that goal.
By going back to the basics, we are doing big things.
We've cut veterans' homelessness in half, and by the end of the year we will end veterans homelessness in Los Angeles.
We more than doubled the number of summer youth jobs in our City…so nearly eleven thousand young people will have a shot at a great future.
We appointed a majority of women as city commissioners for the first time and we commissioned the first-ever study on the status of women in Los Angeles...to get the hard facts we need to close the wage gap.
We secured funds for a new LAUSD initiative to provide every conceivable support to 5,300 sixth and seventh graders through their first year in college to make sure they are firmly on track for success -- as many sixth and seventh graders as there are in the entire city of Boston.
We designed new parking signs you can actually understand -- so you can get to where you want to go, instead of getting a ticket!
We even wrote a new ending for the movie Chinatown -- we ended a hundred year war with the Owens Valley that was costing L.A.'s ratepayers millions of gallons of precious water in the midst of a drought….
We have the highest recycling rate and the most solar power of any city in America...and just last week we issued the country's most comprehensive sustainability plan.
We're hosting the Special Olympics this summer.
We're saving more shelter animals than ever before.
And we've reduced our 311 wait times 84 percent.
And the list goes on.
Each of these successes is important. Together, they are the story of a new L.A -- one that's focused on the basics and believes in itself again.
But none of our successes matter unless we address the fundamental threats that could determine whether our city even has a future.
One hundred years ago, this city's visionaries imagined a future possible only with plentiful water. So they engineered an unprecedented system to bring us the water that made L.A. a great metropolis.
Today, during this historic drought, we will once again reimagine our relationship with water to ensure that our city continues to thrive.
One hundred years ago, water was a challenge for engineers.
Today, it's a challenge for all of us.
Government will lead, but every Angeleno must do their part and be conscientious of their consumption.
Last fall, I issued an aggressive Executive Directive to cut L.A.'s water use by twenty percent.
I directed our city departments to lead by example -- by cutting back on watering, using more recycled water, and planting drought tolerant gardens.
And we increased incentives for Angelenos to take action: free rain barrels, rebates for smart sprinklers, and most significantly, we'll pay you three dollars and seventy five cents per square foot to replace your lawn with drought-tolerant plants.
A few weeks ago, Governor Brown called for the removal of fifty million square feet of lawn in California.
Governor, today I can report that with only ten percent of the state's population, Los Angeles will reach half of your entire statewide goal by the end of this year.
Angelenos never let a good crisis go to waste...we're even using this drought to create jobs.
For example, Turf Terminators is an L.A. company that leverages rebates to replace water-guzzling lawns with beautiful, water-wise plants – like the ones you see on this stage – for free!
The company started with just 3 people last July.
Now it employs more than 450.
These are some of the thousands of new, green jobs that have bloomed since I became mayor.
So tear up that turf, Los Angeles!
Don't let the sink run.
Save the drop!
Cada gotita cuenta!
We‘ll get through this drought because we are a resilient city...a city that prepares for disasters, instead of being caught off guard.
The Northridge quake shook the earth for seven seconds.
The next one--the Big One--could shake the earth for two minutes.
I hope this earthquake will not happen during my time as Mayor, and God willing, not in our lifetimes at all.
But it will happen; it's overdue.
My administration brought in Dr. Lucy Jones, one of the world's foremost seismologists, and she put in a full year of work at City Hall.
Our report, called Resilience by Design, is a plan …of …action. It is the most aggressive earthquake plan in the nation's history. It will save buildings and more importantly, save lives. And the City Council and I are implementing it now.
21 months ago, when I took office, I told you that back to basics would lead to a bold future.
Here in the Valley and across this great city, we see that promise.
Working in partnership with my Council colleagues -- under the extraordinary leadership of my friend, City Council President Herb Wesson -- City Hall is getting things done.
Neighborhoods are on the move.
People are getting back to work.
We are again a city of believers, who see a better day and a better way around each corner.
That belief is borne from the places we call home--the quiet pockets of our city where we gather with our friends at a neighborhood cafe, with our children at a nearby park, or with our fellow worshippers in one of our city's holy spaces.
That belief in our city is handed down from generation to generation.
My great-grandparents and grandparents fled wars, crossed rivers and oceans to settle on our city's Eastside, where they learned to believe in L.A.
They passed on that spirit to my mother and father as they raised their families in Central, South, and West Los Angeles.
And my parents, in turn, passed that spirit on to me, growing up here in this San Fernando Valley.
The Valley is a microcosm of our city and its values: the place where the Brady Bunch was filmed, a diverse cross-section of great neighborhoods and great places to work, where young people are starting companies in their garages, kids are cruising the bike lanes, and fruit trees still grow in backyards.
Here in the Valley, Angelenos designed and built engines that put men on the moon.
When Steven Spielberg wanted to welcome an extraterrestrial to earth, he could have picked anywhere. But he chose Granada Hills.
The Valley is as much the home of the American dream as anywhere—a place where it doesn't matter where you came from, only where you want to go.
I love being your mayor. And I believe in LA.
I love that I am speaking to you here … I grew up driving by the sign here on Nordhoff that reads CSUN in two different directions—no matter which way I was headed, I knew I was home.
I love leading the MTA in a city where I rode the bus home from school everyday--or to the Galleria, to get a hot dog on a stick.
I loved designating Van Nuys Boulevard as one of our Great Streets, because it's the same street I walked with my grandmother to buy ingredients for her Sunday menudo.
I love Los Angeles. The possibility this city offers has always made a believer out of me.
From the Harbor to Hollywood.
From Watts to Venice Beach.
This is our city.
We must make government work for you, not against you…
Shape an economy for everyone, no matter where they live…
Protect against threats and seize our future...
Because we believe in L.A...what it represents...and what we will achieve together.
RIVERSIDE: Police involve community in developing five-year strategic plan
At the latest, on the Eastside, residents ask for more youth programs and discuss lack of trust between police, citizens.
by Ali Tadayon
A group of Riverside community members and activists on Monday, April 13, expressed their concern for the Eastside neighborhood's troubled youth and a lack of trust between citizens and law enforcement agencies.
That said, the meeting's attendees commended the Police Department's relentless efforts to reduce gang activity – a longtime problem on the Eastside – and engage young people.
About 14 people attended a discussion Monday, April 13, at the Cesar Chavez Community Center about how the Riverside Police Department can benefit the Eastside neighborhood with its upcoming strategic plan.
Monday's meeting was one of about 40 that the Police Department will be hosting to get the public involved as department officials develop their 2016-2020 strategic plan. Part of that process involves seeking public input on the strengths and weakness of the department's 2010-2015 strategic plan, Lt. Val Graham said.
Assistant Police Chief Christopher Vicino said the new strategic plan will be unveiled in January, and will build on the current strategic plan. The goal of Monday's meeting was to find out what has been working and what needs to be improved, Vicino said.
“The idea is to get some overarching things, such as reducing crime, and then 10 to 15 very specific ideas as how to accomplish them,” Vicino said. “What this does for our command staff and our police chief is that it gives focus and meaning to the next five years.”
Vicino said what stood out the most to him from the community's suggestions was the desire for more youth programs.
“(The meeting attendees) were absolutely right, we've got to get kids involved earlier, and we've got to have after-school programs,” Vicino said. “That's huge; we've been hearing the same thing in other meetings.”
Another area Vicino saw to be improved was community policing. Vicino acknowledged that recent events in the U.S. have created a disconnect between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. Vicino said including the community in the development of the strategic plan will help bridge that gap locally.
“The whole plan in its aggregate will help solve that problem,” Vicino said. “We sat down with our community and took the time to include them; that builds trust.”
Rosie Bonds, an outspoken member of the Eastside community, said she felt good walking away from Monday's meeting.
“From a true Eastsider, this meeting was a success,” Bonds said.
Resources for Crime Victims
by Jean Reynolds
Communities throughout the US will be observing National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW) from April 19 – 25 this year. Local observances are held across the country, thanks to partnerships between numerous criminal justice agencies, community groups, and private victim rights organizations like the National Organization for Victim Assistance. The week is also marked by the Attorney General's National Crime Victims' Service Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. to honor individuals and organizations that demonstrate outstanding support to victims.
NCVRW was established by Ronald Reagan in 1981 to kick of a national effort to provide expanded services for victims of crimes. In 1982 Reagan signed Executive Order 12360, which established the President's Task Force on Victims of Crime. Ever since then, a week in April has been set aside to focus attention on crime victims' rights and the urgent need to provide quality services for victims.
Crime Victims' Rights Week is sponsored by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), an office of the United States Department of Justice. According to the OVC, this year's theme—Engaging Communities. Empowering Victims—“emphasizes the role of the entire community, individually and collectively, as we support victims of crime and empower them to direct their own recovery.”
Anyone can download the 2015 NCVRW Resource Guide to learn how to host and promote local NCVRW events. Posters and a DVD are also available free. The Guide is a comprehensive handbook with an astonishing range of resources. Its most obvious purpose is to help communities assist victims of crime—but the guide also provides useful information about preparing a speech, working with local media, and developing relationships with agencies, community organizations (such as libraries, churches, schools) and professionals in various fields (healthcare, legal services, counseling, etc.). All materials are in the public domain, so no fees or copyright permissions are need. Spanish-language materials are available.
The main focus, of course, is victims' rights and services. Topics covered in the NCVRW Resource Guide include:
historical overview of victims' rights and services
a sample proclamation
tips for customizing materials and working with a local printer
tips and templates for engaging with media (op-ed column, letter for a newspaper opinion page)
sample press release
suggestions for creating buttons, logos, and magnets
instructions for creating a QR code (a square barcode posted in public places that allows quick scanning for information via a smartphone)
tips for using social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube
sample PowerPoint template
ideas for special events (displays, candlelight ceremonies, billboards, art exhibits, live performances)
a month-by-month list of crime-related observances throughout the nation that could inspire local observances
To learn more and obtain free materials:
Jean Reynolds, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus of English at Polk State College, where she taught report writing and communication skills in the criminal justice program. She is the author of ten books, including Police Talk (Pearson), and she publishes a Police Writer Newsletter. Visit her website at www.YourPoliceWrite.com for free report writing resources. Go to www.Amazon.com for a free preview of her book Criminal Justice Report Writing. Dr. Reynolds is the police report writing expert for Law Enforcement Today.
Report Touts Benefits of NY's ‘Close to Home'
by Gary Gately
For years, many juvenile offenders in New York City had been exiled to upstate facilities — hundreds of miles from families, schools and communities.
This continued despite mounting evidence that keeping such youth closer to home improves the odds of reducing recidivism, continuing their progress in school through their local school systems and helping them successfully re-enter the community.
Now, a report by the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City shows promising early results of a city-state program called “Close to Home.”
The report found that the program, which began in 2012, has helped youths maintain closer ties with families, schools and communities — all viewed as vital to successful rehabilitation. It has drawn strong support from state and city officials as well as juvenile justice experts and advocates.
The report — by the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City — comes at a time of growing recognition that keeping juvenile offenders closer to home improves the odds of reducing recidivism, continuing their progress in school through their local school systems and helping them successfully re-enter the community.
“The things we do know are you accomplish nothing by putting a kid in a faraway facility,” said Jeffrey A. Butts, director of the center and the report's lead author. “There's no benefit to having them there. So you don't get anything from that.
“It doesn't take a real stretch to say if you're working with a kid in a residential bed, if the family can visit a lot, that's good. Also, if that young person can stay in touch with their local school and continue to get credits from their local school and not lose educational progress during a time of residential placement, then that's a good thing,” he said. “And those things are now possible, and they were not before.”
However, Butts said it will take further research to determine whether Close to Home has reduced crime, as juvenile delinquency in the New York City area had been declining years before the program began.
“When justice-involved youth are supervised by local agencies and placed with locally operated programs rather than being sent away to state facilities, they are better able to maintain community ties,” the 44-page report stated. “They stay connected with their families and they are more likely to remain in local schools.
“Increasingly, public officials are reforming youth justice systems by relocating the bulk of their intervention resources at the local level. Many states are investing in community-based alternatives and some are closing down traditionally rural, state-operated youth correctional facilities.”
Close to Home provides a prominent example of what juvenile justice experts call “realignment” in placing youths, which the report called the “latest chapter in a decade-long commitment by New York State and New York City to improve the justice system for young offenders by investing in programs and interventions that allow youth to stay close to their homes and families.”
More evaluation will come after the start this spring of the second phase of the program, which will increase the number of youths and include more serious offenders while expanding the program's focus. The first phase involved about 200 offenders.
Researchers, led by Butts, interviewed numerous experts involved in planning Close to Home and found the program “successfully changed the youth justice system in New York City, and in the way intended by the designers of the reform.”
The report found out-of-home New York City delinquency placements declined from 544 in 2011 to 415 in April 2014, but again stressed those numbers had been dropping before the program began.
The number of youths in state-run facilities that are the report's focus dropped precipitously, from 87 in 2011 to six in 2014.
Mishi Faruqee, who served on planning committees for Close to Home, said its vision “wasn't about a bed transfer; it wasn't about just taking all the beds that were upstate and then building beds in New York City. It was really about expanding community-based options for people after adjudication. It focused on what types of community-based options we should be looking at.”
Faruqee, juvenile justice policy strategist with the American Civil Liberties Union, noted that before Close to Home, upstate facilities did not provide transferable credit for New York City youths. “Education was really about looking at how we could have seamless education for young people who were part of the Close to Home system,” she said.
Before 2010, many youthful offenders in New York had been referred to “evidence-based” family therapy programs when in some cases such therapy might not be what they needed at all, she said. A kid might be dealing drugs to help support his family, for instance, while a youth caught shoplifting may need an apprenticeship or job training, she said.
The best outcome, of course, is not just to keep kids close to home but in their family homes with treatment or monitoring, as necessary, Faruqee said.
Butts said some advocates and officials had expressed concerns that Close to Home could lead to an overall expansion of the system — or “net-widening” — as opposed to merely replacing state placements with local placements, as courts and police became more aware of the local options.
That has not happened, however, Butts said.
The report also said that while the initiative was not designed to reduce costs, “many officials believe it will eventually make youth justice more cost-effective by generating better outcomes and lowering crime.”
Butts said perhaps the only downside of Close to Home is for upstate communities that lose jobs from juvenile facilities.
Man suffers serious injuries after encounter with police
Police encounter caught on camera in west Baltimore
by George Lettis
BALTIMORE —A man suffered serious injuries after a struggle with Baltimore police officers that was caught on video.
Witnesses said police officers used excessive force, but at this point, police disagree.
Friends and family identified the man as Freddie Gray, saying he's in a coma at Shock Trauma in critical condition on life support and with injuries to his spinal cord, including three cracked vertebrae.
Cellphone video shows a screaming man pinned beneath two Baltimore City police officers.
"I hope somebody sees this for what it is, it's police brutality," said a witness who asked not to be identified.
Cellphone cameras were rolling on Sunday at Mount and Presbury streets in west Baltimore moments after, police said, a man ran away from the officers, who tried to arrest him for reasons police would not divulge Monday.
"They had him in a crab-like position, where his legs were bent back and his arms. He was handcuffed, and at this point, they had knees in his back and his head," the witness said.
Witnesses, some of them friends of the man, said as officers lifted him up, his legs appeared to go limp as officers took him into a police van.
"I can't explain it, I'm not a doctor. What I can tell you is that the individual attempted to flee and was able to run," said Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez. "This individual was not able to run when he was transported. At no time -- and I've seen the video a number of times -- did I see a use of force at that moment, but again, the video is a portion of the incident."
Police promise a fair investigation.
"We will follow this investigation wherever the truth leads us," Rodriguez said.
"I'm tired of the police brutality, man. People wonder why we dislike the police. Here you go," the witness said.
Witnesses said they saw the officers use Tasers on Gray, but police said they have no evidence of that.
Napa Police chief seeks 'service mentality' for force
by Howard Yune
YOUNTVILLE — As fatal shootings by police officers have stoked protests and strife in various cities, the head of Napa Police is promising changes to his force that he hopes will regain people's trust.
Police Chief Steve Potter took his message Sunday afternoon to TEDxNapaValley, the annual conference of lecturers in Yountville. Acknowledging the mistrust sown by fatal shootings by police in Ferguson, Missouri, North Charleston, South Carolina, and elsewhere, he outlined Napa Police's efforts over three years — starting before his promotion to chief in January — to win residents' cooperation and help more people avoid slipping into crime in the first place.
“We need a change from a crime-centric model to a neighborhood policing model,” Potter, a Napa native and 34-year law enforcement veteran, told an audience of several hundred at the Lincoln Theater. “We need a philosophical change in the department, for the entire Police Department to act as ambassadors to the community, and we need the entire department to have buy-in.”
Organizers of TEDxNapaValley, a local spinoff of the TED lecture series, said they began arranging for Potter's appearance last fall, a few months after the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson policeman triggered widespread protests nationwide about the use of police force and the treatment of minorities.
“I was very struck by his openness, his frankness, how he wanted to change the department's philosophy,” said Andrew Healy, co-curator of the two-day Yountville conference. “We felt that given the climate that existed — and still exists — in this country, it was important for Potter to share his ideas with the community.”
On Sunday, Potter described the goal of Napa Police's changes as a change in philosophy “from a law enforcement mentality to a police service mentality” — including helping people stay out of trouble.
A key to such trust-building has been the force's division of the city into 26 districts, each covering a neighborhood, housing development or other local unit. Officers have held public meetings within districts, where residents can air concerns and needs specific to each area.
“You can't apply the same policing model to Imola and Browns Valley; they have different characters, different needs,” he said. “We want to customize our approach, give the communities what they need.”
To help keep more vulnerable residents from slipping into petty crime, he added, Napa Police has given a larger role to civilian outreach coordinators, who assist homeless people and others in gaining housing vouchers, Social Security and other forms of assistance.
The department also contracts with a mental health specialist to contact residents in need of such help, and runs a diversion program to enable minors to avoid a criminal record. In addition, Napa Police has overhauled its website and social media accounts to broaden communication with residents, according to Potter.
Afterward, Potter admitted such work requires perseverance through police controversies — not only the Ferguson incident and the North Charleston shooting death of Walter Scott on April 4, but closer-to-home cases like the fatal shooting of James Richard “Hyme” Jimenez in Alta Heights after a motorcycle pursuit last month.
And in January the city settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $700,000 filed by the relatives of Richard Poccia, who was shot and killed by police near his Alta Heights home in 2010. The city settled the suit without admitting liability.
When police have to resort to extreme acts with their guns “it does affect things, but to build trust, you need to build it over years,” he said after the TEDx speech. “I've done this job for 34 years and I've always worked toward positive interaction with the community. The change really began years ago; it's just more formalized now.”
“We have an engaged community, a caring community, a giving community. I believe we can get to that place where you get the service you expect from your police department.”
Public safety chief: 40 people in Longmont have committed suicide in the last three years
by John Bear
Longmont Public Safety Chief Mike Butler opened a Monday night forum at LifeBridge Christian Church with some unsettling statistics regarding mental illness in the community.
Butler said 40 people in the city have killed themselves and police and fire have responded to 2,100 calls where someone was threatening to commit suicide during the past three years.
The department has also processed mental health holds on 800 people in the last two years, Butler said. He added that mental health holds only happen when a person is a threat to himself or others.
"If we had a virus in our community that killed 40 people in three years and affected or impacted thousands of others," Butler said, "the level of conversation, the fury in the media and the community and the number of people asking for conversations would be unbelievable."
Butler has called for a community-wide conversation regarding mental health in the wake of two violent incidents that occurred within 24 hours of one another last month. Both cases involved people believed to suffered from mental illness.
On March 17, police say Omar Martinez stabbed his parents, killing his father, before taking his own life. Less than 24 hours later, police allege Dynel Lane attacked Michelle Wilkins and cut her unborn baby from her womb. Wilkins survived but her baby did not.
Dr. Janine D'Anniballe, who is from the non-profit organization Mental Health Partners, said a misconception exists that mentally ill people commit more crime than the general population.
"People with mental illness are 11 times more likely to be victims of crime because of how vulnerable they are," D'Anniballe said. "We can't make generalizations out of high profile events that have happened."
Jennifer Leosz, also from MHP, said that in addition to the stigma attached to people diagnosed with mental illness, many people are also not very well-informed about mental health.
"There is a stigma, and we need to try to break down those barriers," she said.
Leosz also gave as an example, a belief that talking about suicide with a suicidal person will increase the chance that he or she will carry out the threat, but the opposite is actually true.
"Talking about it is the quickest way to de-escalate the situation," Leosz said.
Leosz said that while some people will actually be diagnosed with a mental illness — nearly 20 percent of the population suffers from some kind of anxiety disorder — most people experience some kind of mental health issue during their lives.
"We can all struggle with mental health issues from time to time," she said. "One in four people will be diagnosed with a mental health issue this year. It's prevalent and somewhat common."
Leosz said it is important for people suffering with mental health problems to seek help, but added that they often don't or wait years before doing so.
"It can be 10 years and beyond," she said. "Early intervention is the key. If we can get people into services early, it is going to make a huge impact on that person's life."
MHP can be reached at 303-443-8500 for anyone who thinks he or she might be in need of mental health services. Emergency psychiatric counselors are also available 24-hours-a-day at 303-447-1665.
Hug a dispatcher - National Public Safety Communicators Week April 13-19
GRASS VALLEY ECC, Calif. - Each year, the second full week of April is dedicated to all the women and men who serve as our public safety dispatchers. Designated by Congress in 1991, this week was chosen to recognize those who are not as visible as those who respond to the scene, but are just as important.
In Nevada County, all calls from landlines and many cell phones are routed to the Nevada County Sheriff's dispatch. The center not only dispatches calls for NCSO, but also Nevada City, Grass Valley and Truckee police departments. The Regional Dispatch Center took in 137,714 calls in 2014. 30,398 of those calls were 911 calls.
All 911 calls not necessitating law enforcement are forwarded to the Grass Valley Emergency Command Center (ECC). The ECC is a joint operation by the U.S. Forest Service and CAL FIRE at the Nevada County airport, right next to the Air Attack Base, on Forest Service property.
Throughout the fire season, the Forest Service staffs the ECC from 7:00 am-7:00 pm and CAL FIRE dispatch center is operated 24 hrs a day. The joint ECC is staffed by 10 dispatchers, daily, during the fire season.
In 2014, the Grass Valley ECC CAL FIRE side handled 30,364 calls for many types of emergencies such as vehicle accidents, structure fires, wildfires, gas leaks, medical aid and other emergencies.
On this Monday afternoon, the Forest Service side of the ECC was dispatching resources for an escaped debris burn (contained at 2 acres), while the CAL FIRE side was dispatching emergency services to an accident on Hwy 20 at Harmony Ridge and pulling together a strike team to be sent to Southern California. Red flag conditions over the next few days have agencies preposition firefighters to quickly respond to any possible starts.
Grass Valley CHP is dispatched out of the Rancho Cordova communications center. Last year, CHP's 25 communications centers, staffed by approximately 900 dispatchers, were responsible for handling approximately 9.3 million calls for service.
Calling 9-1-1 can be intimidating. The following tips from CHP will help callers during an emergency
- Stay as calm as possible.
- Be prepared to provide your name, phone number, address or location and a detailed description of the incident or vehicle being reported.
- Cellular telephones may not tell the call-taker where you are. The location of the emergency may be the single most important information for the dispatcher in case the call is cut off.
- Wait for the dispatcher to ask questions, and then answer clearly and calmly.
- Listen carefully and follow all directions provided by the dispatcher.
- Be prepared to provide a physical description if the emergency involves a criminal suspect.
- Remember, 9-1-1 is for life-threatening emergencies. Misuse of the emergency 9-1-1 system will result in a delay for callers with real emergencies and is punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000.
From the Department of Justice
Justice Department Reminds Taxpayers that No One Is Above the Law or Below the Radar
With the annual tax filing deadline approaching on Wednesday, April 15, the Justice Department's Tax Division reminds U.S. taxpayers across the country and around the world of their obligation to file timely and accurate income tax returns.
“As U.S. taxpayers, we enjoy many benefits, including the security provided by our U.S. military, the ability to travel on public roads and highways, and the beauty and enjoyment of national parks and monuments,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Tax Division. “Those individuals who choose to accept these benefits and yet turn a blind eye to their federal tax obligations by failing to file required returns, filing false and fraudulent returns, and evading the assessment and payment of tax due will be pursued for their criminal conduct. No one is above the law or below the radar.”
The Justice Department works with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and other law enforcement partners to enforce the nation's tax laws fully, fairly and consistently through both criminal and civil litigation. During the past year, the Tax Division's prosecutions have included:
April 2015 – Daniel Porter, a Chino, California, businessman, was sentenced by a federal court in Las Vegas to serve 55 months in prison for conspiring to defraud the United States by promoting and selling fraudulent tax products, including a product called Tax Break 2000. The intended tax loss of the scheme was more than $60 million. Porter designed and sold Tax Break 2000 directly and through other individuals and entities, including NADN, a company in Las Vegas. Alan Rodrigues, NADN's former general manager and executive vice president, Weston Coolidge, the former president of NADN, and Joseph Prokop, a former NFL punter, were convicted at trial in a separate criminal case. In March 2015, Rodrigues was sentenced to serve 72 months in prison, Coolidge was sentenced to serve 70 months in prison and Prokop was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison to be followed by 30 months home confinement.
2015 – Arkan Summa, an owner of Happy's Pizza franchises, was sentenced by a federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan to serve 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $199,847 in restitution for his role in a wide ranging conspiracy to defraud the IRS. The conspiracy involved diverting more than $6.1 million in gross receipts, underreporting wages and understating income and expenses of the pizza franchises. The total tax loss resulting from the scheme was more than $6.2 million. The founder of Happy's Pizza, Happy Asker, was previously convicted at trial, and three others have also pleaded guilty to related charges.
March 2015 – Jon McBride, owner of a cell phone clip company and a real estate investor in Utah, was sentenced by a federal court in Utah to serve 27 months in prison and ordered to pay $174,684 in restitution following his conviction for filing a false return and tax evasion. McBride filed a false tax return for 2005 that failed to report his gross income. He later filed a false amended return for the same year and again failed to report his gross income. McBride created several nominees to conceal his income and ownership in real properties to evade the payment of his taxes for 1999 through 2002, tried to evade the assessment of his 2006, 2007, and 2009 taxes, filed false 2006 and 2009 returns, and failed to file a return for 2007.
March 2015 – Paul DiLorenzo, a doctor from Ocean Township, New Jersey, was sentenced by a federal court in New Jersey to serve 46 months in prison and ordered to pay $304,293 in restitution for structuring cash transactions to avoid reporting requirements and for aiding and assisting in the filing of his own false tax returns. The court also ordered DiLorenzo to forfeit nearly $1 million in illegally derived proceeds.
March 2015 – Yvette Johnson was sentenced by a federal court in Maryland to serve two years in prison for tax evasion. Her husband, Shannon Johnson, was previously sentenced to serve 72 months in prison for his role in the tax evasion and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Shannon Johnson held himself out as a wealthy international investment banker offering financing to businesses and investors, who wired and mailed advance banking fees to multiple bank accounts in different states controlled by the Johnsons. Shannon Johnson received millions in fees and payments, but never provided the promised financing. Yvette and Shannon Johnson filed false claims for refunds for the 1998 through 2001 tax years based on fictitious Forms W-2, and further evaded their taxes for the 2002 through 2006 tax years. The court also ordered Shannon Johnson to forfeit $3.7 million based on fraud committed against investors.
February 2015 – Kenneth and Kimberly Horner, who owned and operated Topcat Towing and Recovery Inc., were each convicted by a federal court in Georgia of filing false personal and corporate tax returns. According to the charges and information presented in court, between 2005 and 2008, the Horners skimmed more than $1.5 million in cash receipts from their towing business and deposited that money into their personal bank account without disclosing the income to their tax return preparer or on corporate and personal tax returns filed with the IRS. They owe approximately $400,000 in taxes to the IRS for their unreported income.
February 2015 – Thair Alwan, the owner of a pizza shop, was sentenced by a federal court in North Carolina to serve 12 months and one day in prison and ordered to pay $237,587 in restitution and a $10,000 fine for filing a false tax return for 2008. According to court filings, Alwan skimmed cash from pizza shops he owned, failed to report the cash on the corporate returns and under-reported his income on his personal income tax returns.
February 2015 – Fidencio Moreno, owner of a charter bus company, was sentenced by a federal court in California to serve 41 months in prison for conspiring to defraud the United States. Arturo Moreno, also an owner of the company, was sentenced to serve 28 months in prison for conspiring to defraud the United States, and conspiring to commit wire fraud and mortgage fraud. According to court filings, from 2005 until 2010, Fidencio and Arturo Moreno, along with their co-defendant Elena Moreno, conspired to file false and fraudulent corporate and personal income tax returns, on which they failed to report cash receipts from the charter bus company. The defendants also submitted fraudulent loan applications to purchase or refinance real properties. Elena Moreno was sentenced to serve 22 months in prison in January 2015.
January 2015 – Matthew Libous, an attorney licensed to practice in New York, was convicted by a federal jury in New York of filing false tax returns for tax years 2007, 2008 and 2009. According to court filings, Libous failed to report income from his law practice and tens of thousands of dollars in personal expenses that he caused to be paid by another company he operated.
January 2015 – Michael Stover, a Michigan businessman, was sentenced by a federal court in Michigan to serve 42 months in prison for tax evasion and wire fraud. From 2004 through 2010, Stover was president of a company from which he embezzled more than $2 million, and he failed to report the income on his tax returns.
December 2014 – Jesus Pons, a computer-services manager for Miami-Dade County, was sentenced by a federal court in Florida to serve 51 months in prison and ordered to pay $556,254 in restitution for tax evasion. According to court filings, from 2007 to 2011, Pons, who was in charge of managing information technology projects and county vendors, received illegal kickback payments in exchange for approving payments for consulting work that was never done and failed to report this income on his personal income tax returns.
November 2014 – Joel Field, owner and operator of Cadillac Ranch restaurants and bars in Ohio and elsewhere, was sentenced by a federal court in Ohio to serve 12 months and one day in prison, to be followed by four months in a halfway house and four months of home confinement, and was ordered to pay $349,778 in restitution and a $4,000 fine for tax evasion. According to court documents, Field filed his 1997 through 2001 tax returns but failed to pay the full tax due and owing. While the IRS was attempting to collect his taxes, Field transferred assets into the names of nominees and submitted false IRS Forms 433-A (Collection Information Statements for Wage Earners and Self-Employed Individuals).
October 2014 – Jeffrey Scott, owner and operator of Greenville Loop Seafood (GLS), a seafood distribution company, was sentenced by a federal court in North Carolina to serve 12 months and one day in prison and was ordered to pay $26,263 in restitution and a $25,000 fine for attempting to evade his 2007 taxes. According to court filings, between 2006 and 2010, Scott paid nearly all of his living expenses with checks from GLS, including his mortgage, utilities, insurance premiums, landscaping, home improvements, school fees and a country club membership. Scott also purchased five vehicles for more than $200,000, a $100,000 boat and a $2.1 million waterfront home. Scott did not report these funds as income. He also filed a false corporate tax return for 2011 claiming the painting of his personal residence, plumbing work at his personal residence and vet bills for his family dog as business expenses.
October 2014 – Michael Mangold, a doctor specializing in emergency medicine and urgent care, was sentenced by a federal court in Wisconsin to serve 18 months in prison for tax evasion and making false statements. According to court filings, Mangold earned income working for various hospitals, emergency rooms, urgent care facilities and state and county correctional facilities. From 1997 through 2007, Mangold concealed his income by filing false tax returns and asserting frivolous legal arguments to the IRS.
September 2014 – Nick Jodha, also known as Nick Persaud, an owner and operator of contracting company United HVAC Services Inc., was sentenced by a federal court in New York to serve 12 months and one day in prison and ordered to pay $214,529 in restitution for evading his 2007 through 2010 taxes. According to court filings, Jodha cashed checks written to United HVAC at a check-cashing service rather than depositing them into the business bank account. He failed to tell his accountant about these cashed checks, which were not reflected in the statements that the accountant used to prepare United HVAC's corporate returns, or about the fact that he used a portion of the cashed checks to pay business and personal expenses.
April 2014 – Amberula Levitt, who owned and operated Tax Time Tax Service, a tax-preparation business with multiple locations throughout Atlanta, was sentenced by a federal court in Georgia to serve 21 months in prison, ordered to pay $620,004 in restitution and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service for filing false tax returns for 2004 and 2005, assisting in filing a false tax return for 2006, and failing to file tax returns for 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Additional highlights from the U.S. Attorneys' Offices include:
April 2015 – William M. Weisberg, an attorney from Vienna, Virginia, was sentenced by a federal court in Virginia to serve 12 months and one day in prison and ordered to pay $451,955 in restitution for willful failure to pay tax due and owing. According to court filings, Weisberg filed his income tax returns, but failed to pay his taxes for 2008 and 2010, and paid only a portion of his taxes for 2009. During this time, Weisberg paid approximately $250,000 to rent a house in Vienna, $150,000 for private and parochial schools for his two children, $35,000 for maid service and $130,000 for travel and entertainment. When the IRS tried to work with Weisberg in 2010 to obtain the money he owed, Weisberg falsified a document from his law firm, which told the IRS that the firm was withholding money from his paychecks to give to the IRS, when, in fact, no money was being withheld.
March 2015 – Gwendolyn Muller, a receptionist previously employed by a medical office in Kearny, New Jersey, was sentenced by a federal court in New Jersey to serve 34 months in prison and ordered to pay $556,000 in restitution for embezzlement, using fraudulent credit cards to obtain goods and services and tax evasion. According to court filings, from 2007 through 2011, Muller used her position at the medical practice to take cash and conceal more than $446,000 in checks paid by insurance companies to the medical practice for services to patients. At various times during this same period, Muller also fraudulently obtained 10 credit cards in the name of a principal of the medical practice and used those cards to charge more than $218,000 in goods and services – a portion of which Muller paid for with embezzled funds. Muller admitted to filing a false tax return to evade the payment of taxes on this illegally obtained income.
February 2015 – Don F. Lindner, an attorney from Severna Park, Maryland, pleaded guilty to filing a false return and agreed to pay $341,730 in restitution. According to court filings, Lindner practiced law in Glen Burnie, Maryland, and treated his law practice as a sole proprietorship. For his tax returns for 2007 and 2011, Lindner omitted $1,230,614 in gross receipts from his law practice. He also maintained a rental property and falsely reported on his tax returns that he paid more than $82,700 in repairs on the rental property during the same tax years, when in fact no repairs were done, thereby fraudulently decreasing his purported taxable income.
February 2015 – Rebecca Hoff, a former office manager and accounts payable bookkeeper from Ironwood, Michigan, was sentenced by a federal court in Wisconsin to serve 15 months in prison for filing a false income tax return. According to court filings, Hoff used company checks to pay her personal expenses, which included the purchase of a vehicle, home improvements and mortgage payments. Although the employer did not pursue charges for the embezzlement, Hoff never declared the money she embezzled as income on her federal tax returns, resulting in a tax liability of more than $300,000.
February 2015 – Joel Carlson, an investment advisor, was sentenced by a federal court in Minnesota to serve 42 months in prison for tax evasion. Carlson deposited client investments and additional funds solicited from his father into a Trust Financial Group account, which he treated as his personal bank account. Carlson spent the money on personal items and, when confronted, lied to his clients about the existence of their investments. In addition to misappropriating assets, totaling more than $1.5 million, Carlson failed to file personal income tax returns for tax years 2010 and 2011. Carlson will pay approximately $3.1 million total in restitution, which includes $1.2 million in restitution to the IRS.
November 2014 – Dennis Weiss, formerly a suburban home builder, was sentenced by a federal court in Illinois to serve 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $296,643 in restitution to the IRS for filing a false federal income tax return and making false statements in a bankruptcy petition. According to court documents, Weiss filed false individual federal income tax returns for 2005 through 2009 and failed to file corporate tax returns for both of his companies, Custom Homes by D.R. Weiss Inc. and Reliable Home Solutions Inc. Between 2005 and 2009, Weiss paid personal expenses from a business bank account, accepted cash payments from customers of his businesses and failed to record the receipt of these funds on the books and records of the corporations, resulting in a total federal tax loss of $1,271,280.
October 2014 – Patrick J. Belzner, also known as Patrick McCloskey, a home builder residing in Selbyville, Delaware, was sentenced by a federal court in Maryland to serve 15 years in prison and ordered to pay $19.8 million in restitution on charges of wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud and tax evasion. According to court filings, Belzner worked for the McCloskey Group, a real estate development business, and conspired with others to defraud investors through a fraudulent investment scheme. Belzner admitted that investor funds were used to pay personal and business expenses, as well as to make partial repayments to earlier lenders and to pay fees to some of the victim investors to keep them from demanding the return of their money. In addition, Belzner admitted to stealing more than $1 million from former employers and failing to report those sums on his federal tax returns. He further admitted evading the payment of the tax due and owing by placing his residences, other real estate and automobiles in the names of corporations that he formed, as well as by paying his personal expenses – including his mortgage, ground rent for a vacation home, construction costs on a house that he built, car payments, Baltimore Ravens season tickets and private school tuition – from bank accounts he opened in the names of the corporations or from payments out of the real estate development business. In 2006 and again in 2009, Belzner submitted forms to the IRS falsely claiming that he did not have sufficient income to make any payments on the assessed back taxes, penalties and interest. By August 2013, the total assessed tax, interest and penalties due and owing by Belzner exceeded $2.6 million.
The Justice Department will continue to vigorously pursue and prosecute those engaged in tax crimes. These efforts of the department, the IRS and its other law enforcement partners are critical to the continued integrity of our national tax system, and send a strong message to those individuals who make good faith efforts to comply with their tax obligations that we will hold accountable those who do not.
More information about the Tax Division's civil and criminal enforcement efforts in these and other areas is available on the division's website.
Sharpton thanks mayor, chief for response to SC shooting
Sharpton appeared at Charity Missionary Baptist Church, where mayor Keith Summey and Police Chief Eddie Driggers were in the congregation
by Phillip Lucas
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Rev. Al Sharpton thanked the mayor and police chief in North Charleston, South Carolina for their response to the fatal shooting of Walter Scott during his sermon at a local church on Sunday morning.
Sharpton appeared at Charity Missionary Baptist Church, where mayor Keith Summey and Police Chief Eddie Driggers were among those in the congregation.
Scott, 50, was fatally shot after fleeing a traffic stop on April 4. Former officer Michael Slager initially said Scott was shot after a tussle over his Taser, but witness video later surfaced showing Scott being shot as he ran away. Slager was fired and has been charged with murder.
Scott's death was criticized as another police shooting of an unarmed black man by a white officer under questionable circumstances. In Sharpton's commendation of the city's response, he said the mayor and police chief's swift action could set the tone for handling future questions of police misconduct across the country.
Despite the city's response and Sharpton's praise, there's still a lingering sense of skepticism about whether Scott's death would have been thoroughly investigated without the witness video.
"The mayor and the chief, they did what they had to do because none of us are blind," Keith White, 60, of North Charleston, said before the church service. "Everyone saw the video and they did what they were forced to do once that video became public."
Despite the events leading up to Scott's death, the response by city officials and the local community hasn't been similar to that of Ferguson, Missouri, where protests after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown and a grand jury's decision not to indict the officer who shot him turned violent and exposed striking social rifts between black and white residents in the area.
Some North Charleston residents have said they suspect abuse of power and public trust among law enforcement as issues that may have played a more pivotal role than race in Scott's death.
"It's not about the color of your skin, it's about social justice. When we all practice social justice we're all free," said Mattese Lecque, a North Charleston resident who heard Sharpton preach Sunday. "Sometimes it takes disaster to bring about change, and that's what's happening now."
Before concluding his sermon, Sharpton mentioned that South Carolina is an important state in the upcoming presidential race. He charged the congregation with pressing candidates about their stances on community policing.
"Don't let anybody run for president and come through South Carolina without addressing what they would do as president of the United States about police accountability," Sharpton said.
"Don't let them come through here and eat some sweet potato pie and sing with the choir and then get your vote on the cheap. Make them stand up and discuss your issues."
SC police shooting rekindles body camera debate
In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest suggested that greater use of body cameras could help improve community/police relations
by David Crary
NEW YORK — A bystander's video proved pivotal in the filing of a murder charge against a South Carolina police officer, and also rekindled a fervent national discussion about the use of body cameras by police officers.
The White House seized on the case to make a pitch for wider use of such cameras. So did New York Mayor Bill De Blasio, whose city has experienced wrenching controversies related to police use of force.
And in North Charleston, South Carolina, where a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black man in the back, Mayor Keith Summey said Wednesday that every uniformed officer on patrol will get a body camera. The city already had ordered 101 cameras, and is ordering 150 more in the aftermath of the shooting, the mayor said.
It's unclear how quickly they'll be deployed. Summey said officers have to be trained and a policy for the use of the cameras must be written and approved by lawyers.
In many jurisdictions nationwide, there have been complications and disagreements related to details of such policies. In some states, lawmakers have proposed bills to exempt video recordings of police encounters with citizens from state public records laws, or to limit what can be made public.
Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor who is now a professor of criminal law at Georgetown, said use of a body camera in North Charleston might possibly have spared the life of 50-year-old Walter Lamer Scott, who was shot and killed Saturday by Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager after a routine traffic stop.
"They make both police and civilians treat each other better, because they know they are being recorded," Butler said. "If the police officer knew he was on camera, he may have been deterred from firing his weapon at a fleeing suspect."
In New York City, de Blasio described the South Carolina video as "so disturbing and so painful" and said it fueled his interest in expanding the use of police body cameras in New York.
"We're seeing things in a different light now that we have so much more video," he said. "Things in the past that may have been mischaracterized, we're now seeing very starkly, very honestly. And I believe that will lead to progress."
In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest suggested that greater use of body cameras could help improve community/police relations.
"Even the investigators themselves have acknowledged that when this video evidence was presented, that it changed the way that they were looking at this case," Earnest said. "I do think that is an example of how body cameras worn by police officers could have a positive impact in terms of building trust between law enforcement officers and the communities that they serve."
President Barack Obama has proposed a $75 million program to help law enforcement agencies buy the cameras.
The North Charleston video was provided to the dead man's family and lawyer by a witness later identified by NBC News as Feidin Santana. It shows Slager dropping his stun gun, pulling out his handgun and firing at Scott as he runs away. Scott falls after the eighth shot, fired after a brief pause.
Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon suggested that investigators would have ascertained Slager's culpability without the video, but the images made their job easier.
"Like the family attorney said, once that video came out, things moved quickly," Cannon said.
The swift and forceful response contrasted sharply with how events unfolded after the Rodney King beating and the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York City last July — two other cases in which videos of the police action emerged.
King's 1991 beating by club-wielding Los Angeles police officers was depicted in a videotape made by a man who witnessed the incident from his balcony. After four officers were acquitted in a state trial, the Justice Department filed federal civil rights charges and won convictions against two of them in 1993.
In the Garner case, a grand jury decided not to indict Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who was involved in the fatal confrontation with the 350-pound black man. A video shot by a bystander showed Pantaleo trying to arrest Garner on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes, then wrapping his arm around Garner's neck and — along with other officers — pulling him to the ground.
Garner can be heard repeatedly saying, "I can't breathe," before he goes limp. A medical examiner later ruled that a chokehold, along with Garner's poor health, resulted in his death.
In another explosive case last year — the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white officer in Ferguson, Missouri — there was no video of the fatal shots. As in the Garner case, a grand jury declined to indict the officer.
Paul Butler, the Georgetown law professor, said the South Carolina video may have a profound impact.
"In the African-American community, we've known of episodes like this for decades, but until there's graphic video like this, our stories have not been believed," Butler said. "Now people are seeing what we're talking about ... how police literally treat black people like non-human animals."
When can police use lethal force against a fleeing suspect?
A look at legal issues raised by Saturday's police shooting in South Carolina
by Eric Tucker
WASHINGTON — The law gives police officers latitude to use deadly force when they feel physically endangered, but there's far less legal flexibility when it comes to opening fire at fleeing individuals. Here's a look at legal issues raised by Saturday's police shooting in South Carolina in which video recorded by a bystander shows a black man being shot in the back and killed as he runs away.
Is There A Federal Legal Standard To Judge The Appropriateness Of Police Use Of Force?
Yes. The Supreme Court held in a 1989 case, Graham v. Connor, that the appropriateness of use of force by officers "must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene," rather than evaluated through 20/20 hindsight.
That standard is designed to take into account that police officers are frequently asked to make split-second decisions during fast-evolving confrontations, and should not be subject to overly harsh second guessing. The Justice Department cited that legal threshold last month when it declined to prosecute former Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death last summer of an unarmed black 18-year-old.
Can Police Officers Shoot At Fleeing Individuals?
Only in very narrow circumstances. A seminal 1985 Supreme Court case, Tennessee vs. Garner, held that the police may not shoot at a fleeing person unless the officer reasonably believes that the individual poses a significant physical danger to the officer or others in the community. That means officers are expected to take other, less-deadly action during a foot or car pursuit unless the person being chased is seen as an immediate safety risk.
In other words, a police officer who fires at a fleeing man who a moment earlier murdered a convenience store clerk may have reasonable grounds to argue that the shooting was justified. But if that same robber never fired his own weapon, the officer would likely have a much harder argument.
"You don't shoot fleeing felons. You apprehend them unless there are exigent circumstances — emergencies — that require urgent police action to safeguard the community as a whole," said Greg Gilbertson, a police practices expert and criminal justice professor at Centralia College in Washington state.
Gilbertson said he thought the video of the shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina, was "insane" given what he said was the apparent lack of justification.
Though the legal standard has been established, courts continue to hear cases involving use of force against fleeing felons under a variety of circumstances. Just last year, the Supreme Court sided with police officers who were sued over a high-speed, two-state chase in Arkansas that ended with the deaths of the fleeing driver and his passenger.
In Cases Where Police Officers Are Not Supposed To Use Deadly Force Against A Fleeing Person, What Should They Do?
Each case involving a suspect who flees the police, whether in a car or on foot, poses a balancing test for an officer, said Chuck Drago, a police practices expert and former Oviedo, Florida, police chief.
"Am I creating more of a danger by chasing this person than if I let this person stay at large?" Drago said. "Especially in a vehicle pursuit, is it worth risking everyone on the road to catch this guy?"
In a pursuit on foot, the more reasonable option might be to call for backup, including perhaps with a police dog, so that other officers can set up a perimeter and trap the suspect, Drago said.
In the South Carolina case, the former lawyer for the North Charleston officer, Michael Slager, said Monday that Slager felt threatened and had fired because Scott was trying to grab his stun gun — an older model that would have had to have been manually reloaded. But if the stun gun was on the ground at the time Scott fled, Drago said, then "there is no longer a threat. The threat is gone."
There's also no indication on the video that after the physical encounter between the men, where the officer has said he believed Scott had tried to get ahold of his stun gun, that he shouts any instructions.
Is There A Role For Federal Involvement In The Investigation?
The FBI and the department's Civil Rights Division are working together to examine the case. Though the officer faces a state murder charge in South Carolina, the federal government will be looking at the shooting for potential civil rights violations.
That means federal agents and prosecutors will be looking to establish not only that Slager killed Scott, but that the officer willfully deprived Scott of his civil rights and used more force than the law allowed.
The Justice Department often investigates police use of force, though not all investigations result in prosecution. In some cases, such as in the 1991 beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, federal prosecutors have moved forward either with their own investigation or prosecution after the conclusion of a state case.
10 deputies on leave after scuffle with man who stole horse
San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said Friday that the video "disturbed and troubled" him and appeared to show an excessive use of force
by Tami Abdollah and Any Taxin
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Ten sheriff's deputies in Southern California have been put on leave after several of them were shown on video kicking and punching a man following a 2½-hour chase involving a stolen horse.
San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said Friday that the video "disturbed and troubled" him and appeared to show an excessive use of force.
McMahon announced the action after 30-year-old Francis Pusok was arrested Thursday by deputies in a violent encounter filmed by a KNBC-TV helicopter (http://bit.ly/1H8UC3D). Pusok fled by car and then on the horse, traveling several miles while deputies chased him on foot after trying to serve a search warrant in an identity-theft investigation.
The video shows Pusok, dressed in bright red clothing, falling from the horse as a deputy ran up and fired a Taser. McMahon said the Taser was believed to be ineffective because of Pusok's loose clothing.
As pursuing deputies reached him, Pusok was face down with his arms and legs outstretched and hands behind his back. One deputy kicked him in the head or shoulder area and punched him, and another kicked him in the crotch. Other deputies arrived moments later.
McMahon said internal and criminal investigations are under way. The FBI announced Friday it was starting a civil rights investigation.
"I'm asking for some patience while we complete a thorough and fair investigation," McMahon said. "I am disturbed and troubled by what I see in the video. It does not appear to be in line with our policies and procedures.
"I assure you, if there is criminal doing on the part of any of our deputy sheriffs or any policy violations, we will take action."
McMahon said the department received multiple threats after the video was aired. He said names of the deputies, including a sergeant and a detective, won't be released until the threats are checked out. The deputies were place on paid administrative leave.
Attorneys for Pusok told KNBC-TV Friday as they left the jail that their client has a badly swollen eye, marks from the beating over his face and body, and is in pain.
"He remembers being beat, and he remembers that he wasn't resisting, that he laid still, he complied immediately. He says that he didn't even move a muscle because he didn't want to be continuously beat, yet it still happened," attorney Sharon Brunner said.
After the beating, a deputy whispered in his ear: "This isn't over,'" attorney Jim Terrell said.
"And that's why he's scared to death for himself and his family right now," Terrell said.
The beating is the latest in a string of recent videotaped incidents involving police officers using extreme force on suspects, including the shooting death of an unarmed man as he ran from a police officer last weekend in North Charleston, South Carolina.
Ken Cooper, a New York-based use of force expert who trains police, said it appears the San Bernardino deputies allowed their emotions and adrenaline to get the best of them.
"When chasing a fleeing suspect, in high stress, you have to control that," he said. "The justification for using force is to gain compliance from the suspect, and the suspect seems to be complying. So what this looks like is those blows are not justified, they're not necessary and they're not professional."
Cooper said the officers should be disciplined, retrained to deal with stress, and the video should be used for training.
Pusok has a slew of vehicle code violations and pleaded no contest to several criminal charges, including multiple instances of resisting arrest, attempted robbery, animal cruelty and fighting or offensive words, according to San Bernardino County Superior Court records.
McMahon said deputies had previously been called to a home where Pusok allegedly made threats to kill a deputy and fatally shot a family puppy in front of his family members. "We were very familiar with his aggressive nature," McMahon said.
Pusok is being held on suspicion of felony evading, theft of a horse and possession of stolen property.
Why our best police officers are altruists
Because ‘real police work' can include dealing with truancy, family issues, traffic safety and control, community health, and neighborhood disputes, many of the most effective police officers are those who are altruistic
by John Hein
A public servant is a government employee at any one of several levels who provides some type of service which benefits the general public — particularly the disadvantaged. A police department provides a public service and can be considered a social service agency because of the myriad issues addressed by police officers — recall that most police issues are not crime related.
‘Real police work' can include dealing with truancy, family issues, traffic safety and control, community health and safety, neighborhood disputes, and many other issues.
Because of this, many of the most effective police officers are ones who are altruistic.
Motivated Toward Good
Altruism is selfless, genuine concern for the well-being of others. An altruist who performs a service for others does it for their own personal gratification. An altruistic police officer feels a sense of fulfillment when he or she risks their life to help others. An altruistic police officer is one who is approachable by citizens, is easy to meet and uses his or her ‘game face' only for the chosen few who deserve a stern attitude and face of authority.
Arrogance, aloofness, being overbearing and a cynic are not traits of an altruist — although on occasion being overbearing is appropriate for any officer. An altruist is not detached, disinterested, or unconcerned. An altruist is compassionate, involved, and engaged with the matter at hand, whether that is a victim's plight or a citizen's concern.
Whether an officer responds to social issues or criminal violations, maintaining order requires a certain mindset that develops and keeps an interactive relationship with citizens served. Many reports of police misconduct portray officers as applying their authority arbitrarily, being insensitive and caustic to others, and exhibiting an attitude that their authority gives them privilege and entitlement. Unfortunately, many department leaders ignore reports and fail to learn from mistakes.
Countering Others' Misdeeds
The occurrence of police misconduct — or the perception of misconduct — which can be caused by insensitivity of officers, (among other reasons) cannot continue if a police department is to be successful in maintaining order. An entire department must understand the culture of the people it serves even if that culture is markedly different from their own.
All officers may not be altruists, but all officers must know they cannot successfully serve the public without civil intercourse and vigilant respect along with discipline and professionalism.
About the author
John F. Hein is an adjunct instructor of criminal justice for the American Public University System and a retired executive of the former U.S. Customs Service. Hein served 35 years in civilian and military security and law enforcement agencies. He is a member of ASIS International, an association of security professionals, and is a Certified Protection Professional (CPP). Hein supported, supervised or conducted employee internal investigations for the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, then for the former U.S. Customs Service, Office of Internal Affairs, and, as a reservist, the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations. He was a deputy sheriff prior to his service as a federal criminal investigator. He is the author of Inside Internal Affairs: An In-Depth Look at the People, Process and Politics, published by Looseleaf Law Publications, Inc.
Girls Fare Better in Open-Door Justice Programs
Programs that keep troubled girls from entering juvenile detention residences are lowering recidivism rates as well as costs. An advocate points to increased homelessness and poverty, saying they result in more runaways.
by Crystal Lewis and Angeli Rasbury, with Annie Geng
NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS) -- If a girl in New York State gets arrested by the police and winds up in a juvenile detention facility her horizons quickly close in.
Just ask Marsha Weissman, executive director of a group called the Center for Community Alternatives, which has locations in New York City, Syracuse and Rochester.
"Our work with adult women . . . provides the most haunting picture of girls in the juvenile justice system," Weissman told the New York City Council several years ago. "Most women in the criminal justice system first appeared as girls in the juvenile justice system."
Weissman, in a recent phone interview, said increasing poverty and homelessness is causing more girls and young women to run away from home and into "not-so-good situations or the streets." That in turn, Weissman said, raises the odds of getting drawn into law-breaking behaviors and getting arrested.
The Center for Community Alternatives and other programs like it are offering young people an alternative to what happens after arrest.
Instead of incarceration, these programs allow participants to stay in their own homes and communities while accessing educational, mental health and behavioral services. For girls, the programs that are single sex are proving most beneficial.
Such alternatives to detention (ATDs) or alternatives to incarceration (ATIs) are part of a growing effort to fight the dire statistics that loom over children who enter detention and confinement facilities.
Last year, in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo granted $5 million for 23 such programs for adults and teens in a push for de-incarceration in New York State.
And little by little, a space in these programs is being carved for girls stuck in a system that was made for males.
Girls make up 19 percent of those in juvenile facilities in New York State and 29 percent of juvenile arrests.
More often than for boys, girls are confined for "status offenses," acts that would not be illegal if they were performed by an adult, such as truancy, rather than violent crimes.
Sixty-six percent of boys and 49 percent of girls who come out of a detention or confinement facility were rearrested within two years, according to a 2011 New York State Office of Children and Family Services study.
Alternative programs appear to be lowering recidivism.
In the first 11 months after participating in one such a program, Youth Advocate Programs, based in Harrisburg, Penn., less than 10 percent of the young people enrolled were arrested after being released, according to a 2012 report.
At the New York City-based Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services, known as CASES, less than 15 percent of the graduates of their court employment project have a further criminal conviction within two years of graduation.
Costs are also lower. Enrollment in ATI programs cost between $2,500 and $15,000 a year per child, compared to $200,000 a year for those in placement, according to a 2008 report from New York State's Office of Children and Family Services.
"We need to change our lens," said Judy Yu, associate director of LGBTQ Youth Issues at the New York City-based Correctional Association of New York, in a recent phone interview. "A lot of issues teens in the juvenile justice system face don't need to be criminalized. Instead, we need to fix a system that is too quick to punish youth of color, and we need to provide educational opportunities and better responses to poverty as a way to help these kids."
Yu's Correctional Association of New York is the oldest criminal justice reform organization in the state. Her group and other advocacies are backing alternative programs that give judges in the state options beyond incarceration or probation for teens who commit crimes.
Most girls who participate in alternative programs are mandated by the court.
"There are judges who are eager to have evidence-based programs that have good outcome rates, 'keep the community safe' and show the girls' progress," said Maris Schwartz, supervisor of an alternative program, The New York Foundling's Families Rising initiative, based in New York City.
And for girls, who have a particularly hard time in custody, alternative programs are especially beneficial when they are single sex and provide the chance of girl-to-girl bonding and support.
In her City Council testimony, Weissman said girls with the Center for Community Alternatives have done better since the program began taking a gendered approach. The number of girls leaving the program unsuccessfully--either by dropping out or getting back into trouble with the law--dropped to 15 percent from 25 percent two years after initiating such programs.
Weissman said the percentage of girls and young women in the center has increased to 20 percent today from 10 percent five years ago. She attributes the jump to the increasingly difficult lives of these young girls and women. The organization serves 40 to 50 teen girls.
The center offers training programs exclusively for young women. Topics include leadership skills, sexualized violence, building healthy relationships with partners and reproductive health.
Receptive to Gender-Specific Programs
Soffiyah Elijah, executive director of Correctional Association of New York, says policymakers are increasingly receptive to gender-specific programs.
"It's important that any programs that are developed for girls and young women are sensitive to the kinds of experiences they may have had before," she said. "There is a real need to build the capacity of staff to be sensitive to the issues that impact young girls and women."
She also points out the importance of programs that recognize that in their early lives many young women have been subject to trauma that can impact how they experience the criminal justice system. One major trauma is sexual exploitation.
Over the past 10 years Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, based in New York City, has helped girls and young women across the city who are commercially sexually trafficked. The organization fights to end the normalization of incarcerating victims of prostitution-related crimes by providing legal support and advocacy.
Girls in the juvenile justice system need trauma support not just because they have gone through traumatic experiences, but because "going through the legal system itself is traumatic," said, Rukia Lumbumba, director of youth programs for CASES.
Girls who end up in juvenile placement in New York State facilities have often suffered physical and emotional abuse, as reported by Human Rights Watch and the ACLU.
In custody, these re-traumatized girls often lack necessary mental health services, according to a 2010 Congressional Hearing on meeting the needs of girls in the juvenile justice system. And when they try to move back into their communities, such teens can have a hard time re-enrolling in school or finding employment.
In the alternative programs, counselors often try to flip the discouraging narratives surrounding these girls. Instead of focusing on their misbehavior, they strive to identify the strengths these teens had to develop to survive amid trauma and poverty and build on that.
One such program came about in 2010 through a collaboration between New York State's Office of Children and Family Services and an ATD program called Youth Advocate Programs, which works with youth internationally and in 18 American states, including 15 counties across New York State.
The effort arose in response to concerns about girls in detention facilities acting out physically in all directions; sometimes trying to harm themselves, sometimes directing their hostilities at staff and other girls. In addition, many residential facilities throughout the state were being shut down, making alternatives to detention a necessity.
"The mental health issues these girls faced were not being addressed and were escalating, so we added programs specifically for girls," said Stephanie Hart, president of Youth Advocate Programs' New York division.
Girls began participating in a 20-hour program called a Girls Circle designed to help participants open up about the hurt in their lives and connect with other girls in nonviolent ways.
Star Jones, 16, lives in the Bronx, attends the High School for Fashion Industries and is a member of Youth Advocate Programs.
"I was very negative and spent time around a lot of negative people who weren't really my friends--people can break you," she said.
Star said the conflict resolution helped her prepare for her future. "It helped me . . . deal with my anger," she said. "It prepared us for society, and helped me not let others ruin my day."
Hart said she believes such programs are especially important for girls because they tend to do "very poorly" in facilities and receive little after-care once they are released from juvenile detention facilities.
The girls also each have a mentor, or "advocate," who plans how to best help the girl she is working with.
"We use an individualized approach to make sure that our mentors have more in common with these girls than that they are female," said Shaena Fazal, national policy director of Youth Advocate Programs, in a phone interview. "We build upon these girls' strengths and interests. So if a girl is interested in cosmetology, an advocate can take them to the hair salon to learn, or even get them a job."
Star said she felt her advocate was like "family" to her. "Me and my mentor went to a lot of places and did a lot of activities together," she said. We would get our nails done, go around the city . . . She helped out a lot with school and if I had any problems."
'Path Toward Stability'
CASES runs eight programs across four boroughs for court-mandated young people.
These programs include mental health and substance abuse counseling and educational services that provide high school equivalency exams, college prep and paid internships that give youth not just job experience but "essential" positive encounters. About 10 to 20 percent of teens enrolled in their programs are female.
Rather than focusing on punitive measures, CASES provides services that establish a relationship with the girls enrolled in their programs.
"We don't ignore the crime, but we highlight the behavior behind it," said Lumbumba from CASES. "We're going to focus on what we can do to put each youth on a path toward stability, making each one feel as comfortable as possible in the process."
Despite the governor's recent funding support, finances are a chronic problem and threat to many alternative programs.
In the past few years, several programs, including at CASES and Youth Advocate Programs, have lost funding for services. One of them, GirlRising, was a girls-only ATD program offered as part of CASES' Court Employment Project that started in 2002.
"When the project started, we had 30 to 40 girls enrolled. But by the last year, we had about 10 girls, so we lost funding," Lumbumba said. She added that she's "unsure" why the numbers dwindled.
Lindsay Rosenthal is a 2013-2014 Ms. Foundation fellow whose advocacy work focuses on girl survivors of sexual and physical abuse in foster care and the juvenile justice system. Rosenthal said that although New York and many other states have made progress on many general juvenile justice fronts, there is inadequate focus on gender at every level, from the municipal to the federal.
"There are great programmatic responses, but often state and federal policy responses have left girls out," Rosenthal said. As an example she cites a New York State Office of Children and Family Services' juvenile justice reform initiative that fails to address gender.
Rosenthal said more data is needed about girls in the juvenile justice system, especially to determine how alternative programs affect recidivism. "Most of the research on the juvenile justice system hasn't included girls," she said.
"One of the greatest injustices is how invisible this population is," she added. "Having programs and services meant for girls is an equity issue--we need to give them every chance to get back on the right track."