April, 2015 - Week 4
Declassified: Report on NSA surveillance flares up battle for privacy
In anticipation of the Patriot Act surveillance law's expiration, the White House has declassified a six-year-old report on NSA practices. Some Republican lawmakers are seeking the prolongation of bulk data collection.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has released the redacted report on the National Security Agency surveillance program following a lawsuit filed by the New York Times in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act.
The report was prepared by experts from the CIA, the Justice Department, NSA, ODNI and Pentagon back in July 2009.
The bulk data collection and wiretapping was authorized by President George W. Bush under the ‘President's Surveillance Program' (PSP) approved in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11, 2001.
Although the program's modus operandi had been already partially declassified, the bulky report sheds light upon peculiarities of the ultimately secret program exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013.
For example, a part of the report says that FBI agents had two types of cases: ‘preliminary' and ‘full' investigations. But the Bush administration created a third, lower-level type called an ‘assessment'. At this level agents were told to scrutinize phone numbers believed to be suspicious. It was not necessary to explain why the numbers were deemed so. The agents were warned they should “use the information in legal or judicial proceedings.”
Inspectors, who authored the report confessed they “had difficulty evaluating the precise contribution of the PSP to counterterrorism efforts because it was most often viewed as one source among many available analytic and intelligence-gathering tools in these efforts.”
The FBI analyzed warrantless wiretapping from 2001 till 2004 and came to the conclusion that only 1.2 percent of the data gathered helped in fight against terrorists. Two years later the bureau found no data collected from 2004 till 2006 was useful.
Critics say that many of the 10 provisions of the Patriot Act, such as enhancing domestic security and improving intelligence gathering and sharing, violate the US Constitution.
Now that they are set to expire on June 1, the American lawmakers are looking for new means either to keep the questionable practices going for several years more or to change the conventional surveillance rules altogether.
The FBI is also applying pressure on lawmakers since the agency has surveillance programs of its own used to investigate domestic cases.
Senate Republicans have submitted for approval a new bill authorizing security agencies to go on with collecting recordings of phone calls of practically every American. The legislation simply reauthorizes most controversial sections of the Patriot Act, enabling the NSA to oblige the phone companies to share records of most landline calls inside the US.
There has been a legislation aimed to put an end to bulk data collection, which was in effect supported by President Barack Obama, but it failed last year.
The anti-mass surveillance effort in the US is associated with the USA Freedom Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection and Online Monitoring Act) being prepared by a bipartisan group of House members.
The Obama administration is backing the initiative, with the White House press secretary Josh Earnest saying Friday that “Hopefully, the next place where Democrats and Republicans will turn their attention and try to work together is on this issue of putting in place important reforms to the Patriot Act.”
(Article from June 2014)
NSA targeted just 248 Americans despite harvesting info on millions
Though much is already known regarding the sheer scope of the National Security Agency's harvesting of phone data, a new report reveals that the intel agency was interested in fewer than 250 individuals last year.
In the face of mounting concern regarding the NSA's impressive ability to collect phone data in massive quantities (it has said it is collecting less than 30 percent of Americans' call data, though likely far more in the past) the intelligence agency has argued that it has sifted through that information judiciously.
According to a transparency report released on Friday – the first instance in which the NSA has disclosed statistics of its surveillance – the NSA performed queries of its phone records haul for 248 “known or presumed persons” in the whole of 2013, the Guardian reports.
"This transparency report is significant because it shows for the first time on an annual basis both targets of business-record orders and the number of US persons specifically targeted with these metadata queries," said Alan Butler, a lawyer with the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
The NSA has previously defended the way in which the agency captures such a large swath of telephony information, arguing that the broad scope allows it to effectively identify data relevant to national security concerns.
“It needs to be the whole haystack, ” NSA deputy director John C. Inglis told Congress in October. “It needs to be such that when you make a query you come away confident that you have the whole answer.”
The new transparency report, therefore, seems to confirm at least that the NSA is wholly committed to the approach articulated by Inglis, since 248 queries represents a minuscule amount in comparison to the hundreds of millions of Americans currently being swept in by its electronic surveillance.
Moreover, the NSA's report also reflects the legal complexity used to justify queries over the vast data trove that it maintains. For example, the agency discloses 1,767 orders made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, affecting 1,144 “targets” which might include individuals, groups, or organizations comprising several individuals. Interpreted broadly, those orders could amount to thousands, or potentially millions.
The intel agency also includes the number of National Security Letters – which are invoked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation over phone data – though that does not specify the number of Americans that might have been looked at. The NSA simply records that the FBI issued 19,212 such letters in 2013, with 38,832 “requests for information,” reports the Guardian.
Though critics of the NSA's surveillance programs are likely to find useful information within the agency's latest efforts at transparency, it is likely only to be seen as a first and incomplete step, and one conflated by the legal framework used by various law enforcement interests that access that data.
"The ODNI report calls itself into question by saying they're providing numbers, but immediately saying those numbers are only true to the extent the intelligence community believes it can release them without compromising sensitive information," said Amie Stepanovich of the digital rights group Access.
Police, sorority host symposium to talk community policing
by Chris Stephens
LAWRENCEVILLE — The news has been inundated with stories of police shootings involving mostly unarmed black men.
The Gwinnett County Police Department, partnering with the Gwinnett Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., hosted a youth symposium on Saturday at the Rhodes Jordan Park community center to dispel myths about community policing and share tips on what to do in certain situations. The event saw hundreds of teens and their parents, mostly black, attend.
“The main thing is compliance,” said Lt. Everett Spellman, who works as an instructor at the Gwinnett Police Academy. “Despite whether you feel something you were wrongly stopped, you don't need to try and get justice on the side of the road. That's not a good thing to do. If you feel you were wrongly stopped or profiled, we have avenues to file complaints. That is the better route to go.”
Despite what has happened in places like Ferguson, Mo., Palm Beach, Fla., and other communities around the country, the police department wanted to ensure that just because it happened somewhere else, doesn't mean that all police are bad and out to get them.
“Look at it this way — if a doctor in California is arrested and charged with malpractice, are you concerned about going to see your doctor in Georgia?” Maj. Curtis Clemons said. “So, if a police officer in California does the wrong thing, should you be concerned that an officer in Georgia will do the same thing? That was one officer and one incident, and doesn't speak to police as a whole.”
Spellman also relayed to the students the importance of knowing who is in the car with them, and what happens if there is an odor of marijuana coming from the car.
“If someone tries to get rid of their marijuana and they throw it on the car floor, and the officer asks whose it is, and everyone says ‘not mine,' the officer can legally arrest and charge everyone with possession,” Spellman said. “The law says that if it's within reach, it's yours. That's why it's important to know who's in the car with you.”
Chief of Police Butch Ayers was also on hand and spoke about the use of body cameras and if they are coming to Gwinnett.
“Currently, our motorcycle officers have body cameras and have had them for about a year,” he said. “We're currently looking at models for use throughout our department and will be putting out a budget this summer for 2016. As chief of police, I think body cameras are a good thing. Nationwide, it's the direction we're heading, and something that we do need.”
Kono Smith Sr., who is an administrator at Hopkins Elementary, brought his 16-year old son, Kono Smith Jr. to the event because he is getting ready to get his license.
“With the rash of incidents with law officials and citizens, it's been difficult to distort proper protocol in the event they were pulled over,” Smith Sr. said. “When I found out about this symposium, I was excited because this is something we need in all of our schools. Think of how many teens in our schools get their licenses every year.”
Smith Sr. even went as far to say that to get their license, all teens should have to watch a video about the proper protocol when they are pulled over, and even put a few questions on the state driving test.
“It's such valuable information and something that everyone needs to hear and see,” he said. “We need to get officers in schools to tell students this information. We need public service announcements on television like we've seen when it comes to DUI or the Click it or Ticket campaign.”
Ayers did say the department is in production with multiple public service announcements describing what to do when you are pulled over.
Smith Jr. said that his experience at the symposium helped ease his mind on what he's heard on the news.
“When I heard it on the news, I would think back to history and all of the bad things that happened because of race,” Smith Jr. said. “Seeing the news play out the police shootings over and over frightened me about encountering police.
“However, after being here, I know there are things that I can do to ensure my safety should I get pulled over. I know the right steps to stay alive.”
Those steps when getting pulled over include pulling over to the side of the road, putting the car in park and putting your hands on the steering wheel, according to Spellman.
“Once the officer approaches the window, tell him you need to get your license or insurance so that way you're communicating with him what you're doing,” he said. “Sometimes things can get out of hand just because of a lack of communication. You have to remember that officers want to get home to their families as well and they never know what a driver is going to do. There is no such thing as a simple traffic stop.”
Spellman also had advice for those that aren't sure if it really was a police car behind them or if they were in a dark area.
“Slow down, put on your emergency lights and call 911,” he said. “The dispatcher will be able to communicate to the officer. If you're unsure because of how dark it is, do those things as well and pull into a more well-lit area. The main thing is that you're not weaving in and out of traffic looking like you're trying to get away. By slowing down and putting on your emergency lights, you're showing compliance right there … just make sure you pull over when you get to a lighted area. You're not going to get arrested for eluding police if you follow those things.”
Ultimately, the officers just wanted to show the parents and students that they are there to serve and protect, ensuring that the community remains safe.
“Everyone wants to get home to their families,” Spellman said. “Compliance, no matter if you feel the officer is wrong, is the most important thing.”
Police the Fear of Color for the Sake of Building Beloved Community
by Paul Louis Metzger
All too often, difference causes us to retreat from one another and react in ways that further divide us. An African American man runs from a white police officer in a blue uniform because he fears what might happen to him when in custody. A white police officer pulls his gun to shoot and kill an unarmed man of color because he fears for his life, as a recent TIME magazine article notes (“Will America Now Challenge the Standard Police Narrative?”).
Whether or not we think the fears are well-grounded, they are real. The only way we can really remove fear is to foster healthy relationships involving trust, as Jeffrey Harley, Education Chaplain of Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission in inner city Philadelphia, PA claims. Chaplain Harley encourages pastors and police to work together to establish trust in communities. We need to move beyond the fear of color to the love of color.
We need to police the fear of color for the sake of building beloved community. Among other things, this will entail community policing. Chaplain Harley and I agree with Russell Simmons, an American business magnate and peace activist who calls for community policing. Community policing involves the cultivation of relationships. As I noted in an earlier blog post, Simmons calls for the following: “policing needs to come from the community; police sensitivity training is needed (from the police toward the community and the community toward the police); and policing needs to represent the ethnic demographics in a community.” We couldn't agree more.
Mr. Simmons is the co-founder of Def Jam Records. I would assume that as someone working in the world of music, Simmons knows a thing or two about art. No doubt, he understands that difference does not always divide. Novel and beautiful developments in art and music often involve the presence of difference. So argues Pastor Jimi Calhoun, Lead Pastor at Bridging Austin, a Reconciling Community in Austin, Texas. Pastor Calhoun is an accomplished musician and author of the excellent new book, The Art of God: Reflections on Music, Diversity, and the Beauty in You. Great art and music do not discount tragedy, but often incorporate it into the drama with a redemptive hue or tone that defies and blows past the barriers we impose.
It takes time and skill to cultivate relationships between people of different colors and tones to create beautiful communities of love that function as performing arts. It is worth it, as daunting as it might appear, to move past the psychological and cultural barriers bound up with the fear of difference. So, let's learn how to police the fear of color and celebrate the love of racial diversity and harmony in community.
Community and police aim to improve relationships
DENVER - In an ongoing battle to improve relationships between police and the community, Mayor Michael Hancock hosted another forum Saturday as part of his Race and Justice Summit.
The mayor says the summit is meant to bring about recommendations for change from the community. His office says some suggestions have already been made, such as providing a platform for youth voices, increasing community policing, and improving education and communication skills for the community and police.
Saturday's forum featured scenario training that DPD says they put their recruits through. Young people from the crowd act as officers pulling over a "suspicious vehicle." Officer Tyrone Campbell facilitates the demonstration to show the crowd how police should be acting, and how easily things can go awry.
"Only one person gets to ask the questions. Escalation happens sometimes when one person can't get their questions answered. They become tense," said Happy Haynes in a comment period after the demonstration.
Haynes is the President of the Board of Education for Denver Public Schools.
"You're right. It is a position of authority," responded Campbell. "What I explain is, let the officer do what they need to do," he said.
He suggests letting the officer do his or her job and then ask questions. To state the obvious, if everyone remains calm, the encounter goes much smoother.
Not everyone bought into the effectiveness of the role-playing demonstration.
"I really would like to see the role play forcibly accurate to reflect circumstances that exist," said Randle Loeb who came to share his own concerns about the state of policing.
There were many young people in the audience, including Ezekiel Quattlebaum, 14. He believes that some officers racially profile and that it's an issue that will have to be fixed by those in coming generations. But he does feel there is something we can all do now to deescalate negative encounters with police.
"Act just as you would act as if you were talking to a pastor, or your parent because they are an authority. It is their right, and their job to ask questions," said Quattlebaum. "I have never had a bad altercation with an officer because my parents taught me just do what you are supposed to do because they are here to help you."
It was a central solution and theme both police and the community could agree on. Mutual respect between police and the community, between humans, is a good place to start turning the negativity around.
"Respond with respect. Maybe don't make the assumption that the officer is after you. And I think likewise, officers can appreciate that citizens are nervous and perhaps upset about their situation," said Haynes.
The forum went on into breakout sessions with titles such as "Know Your Rights," and "Bridging the Communication Gap."
Living where you police
Toledo finally has a chief willing to promote the benefits of residency to community policing and relations
A series of high-profile police-related deaths over the past year has sparked national outrage and calls for reform: body cameras for all officers, greater transparency in law enforcement, and more cultural and diversity training for police.
To their credit, the Toledo Police Department and Lucas County Sheriff's Office have, so far, responded well. County Sheriff John Tharp announced last week that he has equipped his patrol officers with body cameras. TPD will phase in body cameras over the next two years.
In addition, Toledo Police Chief George Kral has started holding regular community forums. His department is inviting diverse community members to speak to police academy classes.
Chief Kral made another significant move to improve community relations last week. He told The Blade's deputy editorial page editor, Jeff Gerritt, that he plans to offer Toledo police officers incentives to move into the city, such as providing monthly stipends or arranging low-interest housing loans.
Nearly half of TPD's more than 600 sworn officers now live outside Toledo. More than half of the department's force works in field operations or patrol shifts, according to figures provided by TPD spokesman Lt. Joseph Heffernan.
Residency gives officers a greater stake in the community. It deepens their understanding of the city's people and problems, builds relations with residents, and increases visibility in neighborhoods.
By building trust and credibility, residency helps make police officers more effective in fighting and preventing crime. Moreover, the collateral benefits of residency to a large central city with a declining population and tax base are obvious.
Cities across the country, including Toledo, have abandoned once-common residency rules, as courts have struck down such requirements in municipal employee contracts. Nothing, however, precludes police departments from encouraging officers to live in the city.
Residency stipends for officers are not uncommon. The city of Ferguson, Mo., after last August's shooting of an unarmed teenager by a white officer, committed to increasing monthly stipends — from $100 to $300 — for officers who live in the city. In 2011, Detroit started to help its police officers buy tax-foreclosed homes in solid neighborhoods.
Residency is important to many Toledoans. In interviews with Mr. Gerritt for his column in today's Blade on police-community relations, African-American men in Toledo, ages 19 to 62, said they want officers to live in the city that they police.
“When officers live in the same city, it adds a layer of accountability to their actions,” said Travis Williams, 42.
Too often, said Albert Earl, Jr., 49, “the people policing our communities aren't from our communities, and most of them don't have a clue as to how to engage young African-American men.”
Any residency incentives, Chief Kral said, would have to be approved by the police officers' union, mayor, and City Council. Therefore, pay incentives would have to wait until the current police contract expires at the end of 2018.
The mayor and council should approve money used for incentives, but it's unclear whether the department needs to get union approval for a benefit above and beyond the current contract. Chief Kral ought to clarify that issue with city attorneys and, if possible, move forward with incentives now.
That said, Chief Kral, who has been in office five months, deserves enormous credit for taking on an important issue that his predecessors ignored. By proposing modest financial incentives for officers to move from the suburbs to the city, he sent a powerful and constructive message to Toledo police officers that their city, community, and chief value residency and its numerous benefits to community policing and relations.
From the Department of Homeland Security
Fiscal Year 2015 Six Month Border Security Update Statement
by Secretary Johnson
Today I report on the status of our border security efforts mid-way through Fiscal Year 2015. This status update is part of our continuing effort to provide regular updates on our border security efforts.
Border security is a core mission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Department has deployed historic levels of front-line personnel, technology, and infrastructure to the border to reduce the flow of illegal immigrants and illicit contraband while, at the same time, fostering legal trade and travel.
To more effectively secure our borders and enhance public safety, in November 2014, at the direction of the President, I announced a number of administrative actions. As part of these actions, DHS established new Department-wide enforcement priorities focused on securing our southern border as well as the apprehension, detention, and removal of recent border crossers, convicted criminals, and threats to national security. DHS has continued to make significant progress in securing the southwest border through the dedication of unprecedented resources, implementation of our new U.S. Southern Border and Approaches Campaign, pursuit of threat-driven border security and enforcement operations, and as a result of increased cooperation with foreign governments.
During the first six months of Fiscal Year 2015, the number of total apprehensions along the southwest border, which is a strong indicator of total attempts to cross the border illegally, was 28 percent lower than total apprehensions during the same period in Fiscal Year 2014. Longer term, border apprehensions in the first six months of Fiscal Year 2015 are a fraction of where they were fifteen years ago, when, in Fiscal Year 2000, a total of 1.6 million people were apprehended attempting to cross the southern border.
As the chart below illustrates, total apprehensions along the southwest border – comprised of apprehensions of unaccompanied children, family units, and single adults – for Fiscal Year 2015 are at their lowest point in the past four fiscal years. Through March 31, 2015, apprehensions this Fiscal Year are 151,805, down nearly 60,000 (or 28 percent) compared to the same period in Fiscal Year 2014. (For the month of April 2015, we project similarly reduced numbers.)
And, compared to the same time periods in Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013, apprehensions are down 15,669 and 37,259, respectively – despite an improving economy in the United States which has historically been considered a “pull” factor for illegal migration.
This overall downturn in apprehensions on the southwest border is manifesting itself in specific regions as well.  For example, Texas, which represents approximately 61 percent of total southwest border apprehensions, experienced a dramatic decrease in apprehensions across the board, including a 50 percent decrease in apprehensions of unaccompanied children when compared to the first six months of Fiscal Year 2014. Apprehensions in Arizona, which account for approximately 23 percent of total southwest border apprehensions, were 32 percent lower during the first six months of Fiscal Year 2015 than in the first six months of Fiscal Year 2014.
Apprehensions of unaccompanied children across the southwest are down significantly as well. Last summer we responded aggressively to stem the tide of unaccompanied children and families illegally migrating to the United States, and the numbers of unaccompanied children declined sharply beginning in mid-June 2014. During the first six months of Fiscal Year 2015, apprehensions of unaccompanied children along the southwest border were 15,627. This number is 45 percent lower than at the same point in Fiscal Year 2014.
Family unit apprehensions recorded in each month for the past six months are also lower when compared to the same period last year. For Fiscal Year 2015, family unit apprehensions along the entire southwest border were 13,911 individuals, 30 percent lower than the 19,830 individuals apprehended in the same period in Fiscal Year 2014.
With respect to single adults, the first six months of Fiscal Year 2015 saw the fewest number of apprehensions over the same six month period in the past four fiscal years. Through March 31, 2015, adult apprehensions this fiscal year are 122,247, down 40,747, or 25 percent, from the same period in Fiscal Year 2014. And, compared to the same period in Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013, apprehensions of single adults are down 28,925 and 45,307, respectively.
The Department's investment in border security capabilities, resources, and technology has grown considerably in recent years. Today's Border Patrol has the largest deployment of people, vehicles, aircraft, boats and equipment along the southwest border in its 90-year history:
DHS investments in every aspect of border security -- from personnel, to border surveillance technology, to air and marine assets, to fencing -- have more than doubled since the beginning of the last decade, and in some cases more than quadrupled. Moreover, key investments in areas such as mobile surveillance systems and unattended sensors have doubled during this Administration.
The Border Patrol is better staffed today than at any time in its history, having doubled the number of agents from approximately 10,000 in 2004 to nearly 21,000 today.
The Administration has maintained these historic levels of Border Patrol personnel. In fact, today approximately 2,348 more Border Patrol agents patrol our southwest border than at the end of the Fiscal Year 2008.
There are 702 miles of total fencing across the southwest border, compared to just 77 miles in the year 2000.
Fourteen years ago Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had few, if any, unattended sensors to detect illegal migration at the southwest border; today CBP has nearly 12,000 of these devices.
DHS continues to invest in detection assets and portable imaging capabilities that increase situational awareness of the Border Patrol. Fiscal Year 2015 investments include:
Approximately 75 percent—or an additional 352—more Imaging Sensors on the southwest border.
Approximately 70 more Remote Video Surveillance System towers and 20 new Integrated Fixed Towers in Arizona over the next few years that will provide increased situational awareness, early detection of border incursions, enhanced identification and classification of threats, and the ability to track items of interest through to a law enforcement resolution.
$46 million to conduct site preparation (including environmental assessment, border patrol station modifications, real estate acquisition, and pre-construction activities) to enable future deployment of approximately 70 new Remote Video Surveillance Systems in Texas.
$44 million will be used to deploy 39 additional Mobile Video Surveillance Systems that will provide both day and night surveillance capability that can be deployed on Border Patrol vehicles.
$11 million to develop a National Border Geo-Intelligence Strategy and establish a Southwest Border Tracking System which will enhance the Border Patrol's ability to identify traffic patterns, improve data collection on key performance measures, and inform daily decisions on deployments of personnel and equipment. This capability is especially useful in remote locations in New Mexico and Texas.
$43.7 million for two King Air Multi-Role Enforcement Aircraft, the most capable new, twin-engine aircraft which support Border Patrol agents and improve air-to-ground surveillance capabilities.
95,000 total flight hours to support the highest priority border security operations. CBP has already expanded flight operations on the southwest border, with 2,805 more flight hours executed in Fiscal Year 2015 to date when compared to the first six months of Fiscal Year 2014.
Our progress in securing the southwest border is further evidenced by the collaboration we see with our regional partners. The President, the Vice President, I, and others have all engaged the Governments of Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to improve collaboration and effectiveness of overall enforcement efforts, increase border management and investigative capacity, and to support awareness campaigns in the region which highlight the dangers of crossing the border illegally.
Our public awareness campaigns in the region provide widespread messages on the dangers of the journey as well as the facts regarding our new enforcement focus on recent and future border crossers. In Fiscal Year 2015, DHS and the Department of State created an aggressive campaign to dispel potential misinformation about our immigration laws and policies in Mexico and Central America, and to dissuade illegal migration to the United States. Our notices could be seen at bus stops throughout Central America.
But, as I have said many times before, we are not declaring mission accomplished when it comes to border security. There is more work to be done as there are still individuals crossing our border illegally. The Department will continue to focus our enforcement resources on recent border crossers, along with public safety and national security threats. We are working to sustain and strategically deploy the added border security that we have put into place and are able to do so more effectively in light of the President's November actions.
The Administration's Fiscal Year 2016 budget request continues our commitment to maintaining historic levels of personnel, technology, and infrastructure to leverage CBP capabilities and resources to better secure our southwest border. The budget request includes:
Funding for 21,370 Border Patrol Agents and 23,871 Customs and Border Protection Officers.
$85.3 million for the Non-Intrusive Inspection program at Ports of Entry.
$373.5 million to maintain and recapitalize border infrastructure and technology (fencing, surveillance systems, sensors, and towers).
In addition to these investments, we have also shifted existing resources to intensify enforcement operations against human smugglers along the border. Beginning in June 2014, DHS and the Department of Justice announced “Operation Coyote.” Focused on combatting, disrupting, and dismantling human smuggling networks that facilitate illegal migration, Operation Coyote targets transnational criminal organizations that prey upon migrants by tracking, interdicting, and seizing their illicit profits.
To date, Operation Coyote has resulted in:
The arrest of 1,356 smugglers and their associates on criminal charges;
870 indictments leading to 643 convictions related to human smuggling investigations, with additional cases pending final disposition;
The seizure of 39 firearms, 190 vehicles and $1,306,540 in U.S. currency.
In Fiscal Year 2015, our strategy to fundamentally alter the way we plan and marshal resources along our southern border moved from concept to reality. On February 6, 2015, our three new Joint Tasks Forces achieved their initial operational capability. Led by operators experienced in their unique land, maritime, and investigative operating environments, we now have in place an actionable, joint operational approach along the southwest border that moves away from stovepipe operations and employs DHS assets—CBP, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Coast Guard, and others—in a strategic way to provide effective enforcement of our laws and interdict individuals seeking to illegally cross land, sea, and air borders.
Joint Task Force-East
JTF-East is primarily responsible for the U.S. southeast and its maritime approaches, and is led by Vice Admiral William "Dean" Lee, U.S. Coast Guard
Joint Task Force-West
JTF-West is primarily responsible for the southwest land border and its land approaches and is led by Commander Robert Harris, U.S. Border Patrol
JTF-Investigations focuses on investigations throughout the nation and with our foreign partners and supports the work of the other two Task Forces. This JTF is led by ICE-HSI Special Agent in Charge David Marwell
DHS Coordinator is responsible for implementation of the Joint Task Force model and serves as primary coordinator on behalf of the Secretary. Peter Verga serves as DHS Coordinator.
Through these new Joint Task Forces, we will integrate capabilities across DHS to interdict individuals seeking to illegally enter our country by land, air, or sea; degrade transnational criminal organizations; decrease the terrorism threat to the Nation without impeding the flow of lawful trade, travel, and commerce; and enforce our Nation's immigration laws.
Our continued message to those who are considering crossing our border illegally is this: Our borders are not open for illegal migration and dangerous criminals. In fact, because of the actions taken by the President and the Department last year, we have made the removal of illegal border crossers a top priority. And we will continue to spread our message which we know is resonating in Central America, where more people are learning that now is not a time to illegally migrate to the United States.
DHS is committed to transparency in its effort to improve border security and reduce illegal migration. This update illustrates the progress made in the first six months of 2015 in accordance with the Department's priorities and the President's Immigration Executive Actions. DHS continues to evaluate its methodology for assessing operational effectiveness of security and enforcement programs and these measures will continue to evolve over time, enabling DHS to more effectively manage operations and answer key questions regarding inflow, interdiction rates, consequences, and deterrence.
Much progress has been made in the months since the President announced his executive actions. DHS will continue to prioritize these efforts to prevent potential border crossers and convicted criminals from entering the country illegally while providing a homeland that is safe and secure, where American interests, aspirations, and way of life can thrive.
 Texas - Border Patrol apprehensions in Texas, representing approximately 61 percent of total Southwest Border apprehensions, were 31 percent lower during the first six months of FY 2015, compared to the first six months of FY 2014. Apprehensions of unaccompanied children in Texas were 50 percent lower through March of FY 2015, compared to the same period in FY 2014. Both family units and single adult apprehensions were lower during the first six months of FY 2015, compared to FY 2014 (down 33 and 26 percent respectively).
California - Border Patrol apprehensions in California, representing approximately 13 percent of total Southwest Border apprehensions, were 11 percent lower during the first six months of FY 2015 compared to the first six months of FY 2014.
Arizona - Border Patrol apprehensions in Arizona, representing approximately 23 percent of total Southwest Border apprehensions, were 32 percent lower during the first six months of FY 2015 compared to the first six months of FY 2014 and were the lowest in more than 20 years.
New Mexico - Border apprehensions in New Mexico, representing approximately 3 percent of total Southwest Border apprehensions, were 19 percent higher during the first six months of FY 2015 compared to FY 2014.
Local chiefs attribute violent crime drops to community policing
WDBJ7 profiles three localities in three different stages of implementing strategies
by David Kaplan
ROANOKE, Va. -- Nearly everywhere you look in our region, crime is dropping.
It's not a new phenomenon, but many chiefs think how it's happening is a throwback to the old days. Community Policing has become a bit of a buzzword, but for three places that employ it, it's working.
The idea of community policing isn't new and doesn't look the same from locality to locality.
The chief's interviewed for this story say the best and worst things to happen to policing was the car and radios.
On one hand, it made police more mobile and easier to communicate. On the other hand, the car and radio literally created a barrier between police and the people they're supposed to protect.
The idea of pounding the pavement comes in many shapes and sizes, but has been a success.
An officer walks into a hair salon...
It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it's something the City of Galax is taking very seriously.
"The mark of success of a police department is the perception of the citizen it comes in contact with," said Galax Police Chief Rick Clark.
Clark has tried to implement a community policing model in his 14 years as chief. His officers say it's really taken hold in the past year.
Clark's goal is to have his department knock on every single door, talk to every single person and business owner in the city to find out what's wrong and what needs fixing.
The community policing model is reflected in how new officers are hired, trained and do their job.
"We're the most visible part of the city, you see us 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, and that's universal across the Commonwealth. We should be the person citizens feel comfortable talking to about a problem," Clark said.
"I believe us going out and just getting to know people, it means a lot," said Sergeant Jacob Vaughan.
In the early stages of its renewal, Galax saw a 10% drop in violent crimes last year.
"Too often, citizens see a policeman in their police car, window rolled up and it's a barrier, so having them on bicycles, it kind of takes away that barrier," Martinsville Police Chief Sean Dunn says.
In some ways, it's a survey, in other ways, it's an event that looks like this one in Martinsville. Chief Sean Dunn wanted to introduce the community to the new bicycle police officers.
Why not do it in the center of downtown?
"The better you can partner with your communities, the more your community members feel like you're really there to serve them, that you're on the same team, that you're not opposing forces, that you're really on the same team," Dunn said.
Dunn took over as police chief in May of 2014 and immediately implemented community policing strategies. And that, perhaps is the biggest goal of community policing, the attempt by police to let citizens know that police and them have the same priorities, are on the same team.
Events like the one where WDBJ7 spoke with Dunn are more common. Dunn held an event that introduced the city's new bicycle police force to the community. K-9 officers were also there, giving people a chance to come out and familiarize themselves with the force.
Dunn says going to community meetings, getting out and talking to people mowing their lawn, and letting kids pet the K-9 force all establish a relationship and build trust.
"When the citizens are saying here's a crime problem, if a police department doesn't take notice and doesn't listen, you're doing the community a disservice," Dunn said.
In its first year, violent crime in Martinsville dropped 15%, its lowest point since 2005.
When Chris Perkins took over the Roanoke Police Department, he was a 41-year-old former bike cop who saw the importance of hitting the streets.
He calls community policing a philosophy.
"The idea is respect and treating someone as if they are a legitimate, viable member of the community," Perkins said, regardless of age or race.
All the chiefs we spoke to say police are under a microscope today.
Ferguson, Staten Island, North Charleston, Tulsa; all metropolitan areas where police-citizen tensions have come to a boil in the past eight months.
Perkins, and all of the chiefs say they recognize that tensions and bad officers do exist because they're human.
Perkins says when police recognize and appreciate a community's culture and the community recognizes the police's goals for safety, then crime drops.
But that isn't happening everywhere quite yet.
"People are different. And we've almost got to embrace that and understand that they're not all receptive to what we do," Perkins said.
Even still, the City of Roanoke's violent crime has been cut in half in the past decade.
So three different cities in three different stages of implementing a variety of strategies to develop a better relationship with the community.
Some of the police chiefs say the most important demographic they try to reach out to are senior citizens.
Many of them are home most of the day, so they know if something doesn't look right in their neighborhood, and they're not afraid to call police if they see something that doesn't fit.
All have seen double digit drops in violent crimes, and attribute that success in large part to pounding the pavement.
4 easy ways police chiefs can build rapport for effective community policing
When dealing with the public or attending public meetings, there are simple things you can do to build better relationships
by Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D.
Jim Zalud is an expert in communication, body language, and sales. Sounds like a great opportunity to get his perspective on how police can improve community relations, right?
The problem, Zalud shared with me at the 2015 ILEETA conference, is that many police chiefs think they are doing a good job when they are not building bridges as effectively as they could in public meetings.
"A police officer is a salesman. You bring an agenda, and you need to build trust to sell it," said Zalud.
Zalud offers some observations on commonly overlooked opportunities for better relationships with the public.
1. Attention is fleeting
“You have four seconds to make a first impression and fourteen seconds to make a second impression,” he advises, and within four minutes the other person has formed their judgement. A sincere smile, open palms, and a positive voice will make a good impression.
2. Focus on agenda rather than self-image
Police are well-practiced at posturing for dominance. If a community meeting is for sharing concerns, the officer won't compromise their authority by loosening up a little. Uncross your arms, stop resting your hand on your gun, and curb your habit of taking an interview stance. The goal is relationship — they already know you're the police!
3. Pay attention to proxemics
Many community meetings are set up with the police behind a table at the front of the room with everyone facing them. Zalud recommends circular tables with no more than ten persons each with an officer at each table. Don't appear to be “condescending to grant them an audience,” but join them as a peer.
4. Find “cause to pause”
When conflict arises, take time to increase understanding of the reason for the conflict so you can address it. Resist the temptation for a quick, defensive response.
Building bridges — or rebuilding them — isn't likely to happen if we wait for our citizenry to start the process. We need to create a safe place for a conversation, and do that with skill and salesmanship.
About the author
Joel Shults operates Street Smart Training and is the founder of the National Center for Police Advocacy. He is retired as Chief of Police in Colorado. Over his 30 year career in uniformed law enforcement and in criminal justice education Joel has served in a variety of roles: academy instructor, police chaplain, deputy coroner, investigator, community relations officer, college professor, and police chief, among others. Shults earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri, with a graduate degree in Public Services Administration and bachelors in Criminal Justice Administration from the University of Central Missouri. In addition to service with the US Army military police and CID, Shults has done observational studies with over fifty police agencies across the country. He has served on a number of advisory and advocacy boards including the Colorado POST curriculum committee as a subject matter expert.
Collaboration and coercion in community policing
Collaboration in its rawest and most effective form involves the equality of each participant and an open mindedness that defies conventional police interactions
by Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D.
Collaboration is an essential skill of community policing, but a skill that is seldom effectively taught. Coercion is taught very well, is highly valued, and therefore necessarily shows up where other skills are not balanced and acculturated.
Coercion is modeled by police academy trainers, police academy structure, and training officers — it is the essence and purpose of the law itself. Coercion is forced conformity with behavior predetermined by one who has the power to impose that conforming behavior. It is the substance of police manuals and policy. Many leadership styles are predicated on coercion in one form or another.
Instructors and field training officers work on the trainee's skill in projecting authority and control. Officers learn about eye contact, posture, and voice inflection as means of establishing supremacy in their interactions. Domination and intimidation become such a part of the police persona that officers' personal lives and relationships often suffer.
Coercion should not and will not be removed as a fundamental means of what must be done in policing, but problem solving requires a keen awareness of where coercion tends to show up when we think we're collaborating.
Collaboration, the means of problem solving that we find at the opposing end of the collaboration-coercion continuum, is often mischaracterized in concept and in practice.
Most simply, as the components of the word itself reveal, collaboration is co-laboring, working together. Collaboration doesn't necessarily imply that those working together are of like mind or even desire to be on the same team. Collaboration in its rawest and most effective form involves the equality of each participant and an open mindedness that defies conventional police interactions.
A typical working example of what is thought to be collaboration in police work would be seeking a solution for problems at a public park that has been the subject of complaints regarding crime and disorder. The coercive response in traditional policing would be the imposition of intense law enforcement measures including increasing police presence and making more arrests. A typical community policing response would be take the complaints at face value then assemble interested parties together to work toward a solution under the leadership of the police department.
This model of collaboration fails to achieve its potential. First, by assuming to define and characterize the problem to which subsequent solutions are attached, the police carry the first big stick. The authentic collaborative process begins in collaboration over what the problem is in the first place. Any collaborative process that begins at the point of designing the solution has missed an essential component.
A second failure in our crime-ridden park example results from the default position of coercion embedded in police culture. The police define who gets to be collaborative partners, and who gets to lead the collaborative effort. The assumption that leadership belongs to the police reflects police power.
It is against police culture for the police to be merely a seat at the discussion table.
Police authority, or police veto power over suggested responses, is often reflected by the fact that the police official is leading the discussion, or seated close to the political leader in community decision making. This is often quite appropriate and logical but to assume that it should always be the case is contrary to the essential equality of partnerships in true collaboration.
Honest, open-minded discussion and reflective listening skills are the pillars of creative thinking in collaboration. The metaphor of everyone singing off of the same sheet of music demonstrates true collaboration only if everyone had an equal role in deciding they should sing in the first place.
False ‘collaborators' who force a solution and call it teamwork are applauded by those who give mere lip service to collaboration. Imposing leadership in groups where non-conforming opinions are quickly dismissed may be effective and result in an excellent solution but should not mistaken for collaboration.
If we are to continue in a path of community policing, police training must drastically improve development of collaborative skills and communication. Officers are less likely to resist such training when they see that the tools of coercion will not be taken away and will remain a viable and necessary component of law enforcement. .
Majority of U.S Citizens Want Police to Increase Community Collaboration
The FINANCIAL -- While the vast majority of U.S. citizens feel safe in their neighborhoods, more than three-fourths (76 percent) believe there is room for improvement in how police services are delivered locally, according to results of an Accenture survey of 2,000 U.S. citizens.
Specifically, the survey found that nine in 10 respondents (91 percent) said they feel safe in their neighborhoods, and almost the same number (85 percent) said they are generally satisfied with their local police services. Yet more than two-thirds of citizens (70 percent) also believe that the effectiveness of police services would be increased by greater use of digital technologies by police.
For instance, more than nine in 10 citizens said they want their police forces to provide new ways to report crime (91 percent), increase information sharing on police services (92 percent) and collaborate with citizens through community policing programs (91 percent). Citizens also support the greater use of digital communications to interact with police: Nearly nine in 10 respondents (86 percent) said they want more police services available online, and more than two-thirds (71 percent) said they want better mobile access to police services and public safety information.
The survey findings are being released by Accenture to coincide with a public safety summit hosted by Accenture in collaboration with Leadership for a Networked World and the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center taking place this weekend at Harvard University.
“The survey identified strong citizen support for their local police and an eagerness among citizens to engage and collaborate with police to fight crime,” said Wai-Ming Yu, who leads Accenture's State & Local Policing business in North America. “This highlights an opportunity to improve the level of collaboration, through better information sharing and engagement between police and the public, both in-person and through new digital technologies. Increased collaboration will help local police forces reduce operating costs and increase crime reporting, ultimately enabling them to better protect and serve citizens.”
Respondents between 18 and 34 years old were more likely than older respondents to say that new technologies have the potential to increase police effectiveness – cited by 76 percent of the younger respondents, versus 60 percent of those aged over 55 years. In addition, three-quarters (77 percent) of the respondents aged 18-34 said their preferred method of communicating with police is by mobile device contrasting with 60 percent of respondents aged over 55 years.
The survey, similar to previous studies undertaken by Accenture in 2014 and 2012, identified a strong desire among citizens to play a greater role in community policing. Almost all respondents (95 percent) said they are willing to collaborate with their local police, and two-thirds (67 percent) said they would anonymously report crime and public safety incidents to police using digital communications channels. More than half of citizens (52 percent) said they would participate in a community policing program, such as neighborhood watch.
“The good news from this survey is that the majority of respondents trust their police force and are willing to collaborate with them to fight crime,” said Jody Weis, a retired Chicago police superintendent and a director with Accenture Police Services. “However, citizens say their police forces can improve how they partner with them to problem-solve and reduce crime. Now more than ever, citizens want their local police force to involve them in efforts to reduce crime in their neighborhoods by providing more opportunities for engagement, increased digital services, and a local leadership vision that can drive collaboration and increase trust between police and their communities.”
When respondents between 18 and 34 years old were asked what one action they would suggest their police chief undertake to improve local police services, more than three-quarters of those respondents (79 percent) suggested prioritizing community relations, this contrasts with 6 percent of those respondents aged 35-54 years and 7 percent of those aged over 55 years who viewed community relations as a top priority.
While citizens want more ways to report crime and help support crime-reduction efforts, the survey found that three-fourths (75 percent) of respondents believe that crimes in their neighborhoods are reported only sometimes or rarely. The primary reasons that respondents cited for citizens failing to report crimes are not wanting to become involved in an incident that does not directly relate to them (42 percent) and fear of retaliation from a third-party (29 percent).
National Crime Victims' Rights Week is this week
Observed week means to raise awareness, engage communities, empower victims
by Niki Glispie
The goal of National Crime Victims' Awareness Week (NCVRW), observed this year April 19-25, is to raise awareness about the issues that surround victimization in our society and empower survivors; to engage community leaders, organizations, and local partners in awareness projects; and to educate the public about victimization within our community.
Americans are the victims of more than 26 million crimes each year, and crime can touch the lives of anyone regardless of age, national origin, race, creed, religion, gender, or economic status.
In 2014, Highland County Victim Witness Division served 650 victims of various crimes throughout the year. Of those cases, 10 percent were victims of domestic violence, 10 percent were victims of assault, 3 percent were victims of child sexual abuse, 1 percent were victims of adult sexual abuse, and the remaining 76 percent survivors of homicide, DUI crashes, elder abuse, robbery, and other crimes, including property and financial crimes.
Victims of crime may face many challenges throughout the criminal justice process, but with the support of the community and victim service providers, survivors will feel empowered to face their grief, loss, fear, anger, and shame without fear of judgment and will feel understood and worthy of support.
During NCVRW victim advocates ask that the community commit to ensuring that all victims of crime are offered accessible and appropriate services in the aftermath of crime.
This can be done simply by educating yourself on different types of victimization and the criminal justice process. You can also support or volunteer with local victim services organizations such as Highland County Victim Witness Division or the Alternative to Violence Center, both located in Hillsboro.
Freddie Gray in Baltimore: Another City, Another Death in the Public Eye
by SHERYL GAY STOLBERG and RON NIXON
BALTIMORE — In life, friends say, Freddie Gray was an easygoing, slender young man who liked girls and partying here in Sandtown, a section of west Baltimore pocked by boarded-up rowhouses and known to the police for drug dealing and crime.
In death, Mr. Gray, 25, has become the latest symbol in the running national debate over police treatment of black men — all the more searing, people here say, in a city where the mayor and police commissioner are black.
Questions are swirling around just what happened to Mr. Gray, who died here Sunday — a week after he was chased and restrained by police officers, and suffered a spine injury, which later killed him, in their custody. The police say they have no evidence that their officers used force. A lawyer for Mr. Gray's family accuses the department of a cover-up, and on Tuesday the Justice Department opened a civil rights inquiry into his death.
But as protests continued Tuesday night — with hundreds of angry residents, led by a prominent pastor and Mr. Gray's grieving family, chanting and marching in the streets — the death has also fueled debate on whether African-American leadership here can better handle accusations of police brutality than cities like Ferguson, Mo., and North Charleston, S.C., with their white-dominated governments.
“Unlike other places where incidents like this have happened, they understand what it means to be black in America,” said City Councilman Brandon Scott, an ally of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and a frequent critic of Police Commissioner Anthony Batts.
“They understand how something like this can get out of hand very quickly,” Mr. Scott said. “They understand the community's frustration more than anyone else. But at the same time they also understand the opposite — they understand the need to have law enforcement in neighborhoods. So it puts them in a bind.”
This week the mayor and police commissioner have appeared repeatedly in public promising a full and transparent review of Mr. Gray's death. On Tuesday, the police released the names of six officers who had been suspended with pay, including a lieutenant, a woman and three officers in their 20s who joined the force less than three years ago. Officers canvassed west Baltimore, looking for witnesses.
Mr. Batts turned up in Mr. Gray's neighborhood, chatting with residents and shaking hands. And Ms. Rawlings-Blake said in an interview that she had asked Gov. Larry Hogan for help in getting an autopsy on Mr. Gray performed by the state medical examiner made public, even piecemeal, as quickly as possible. The mayor said she supported the Justice Department inquiry.
Chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice for Freddie,” protesters marched Tuesday evening on the block where Mr. Gray was arrested. The Rev. Jamal Bryant asked for a moment of silence. Mr. Gray's relatives — including his mother, her head shrouded in the hood of a sweatshirt — paused quietly.
Mr. Gray's arrest, which was captured on a cellphone video that shows him being dragged, seemingly limp, into a police van, has revived a debate in this city over police practices.
“We have a very challenging history in Baltimore,” Ms. Rawlings-Blake said, adding that she had worked hard “to repair a broken relationship” between black residents and the police. She called Mr. Gray's death “a very sad and frustrating setback.”
Ms. Rawlings-Blake and Mr. Batts had been talking about the problem long before the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in August spawned national protests and the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. But the officials' actions are doing little to assuage angry residents here. Rosa Mobley says she witnessed Mr. Gray's arrest from her bedroom window, and heard him screaming as the police dragged him into a transport van. “We got this so-called black mayor, but she don't care nothing about us,” Ms. Mobley said as Mr. Batts pulled up in the neighborhood in a black SUV just before noon on Tuesday. “They don't come around here. Just because we're poor, we don't need to be treated like this.”
Because there are no national statistics on police-involved killings, it is impossible to say whether their numbers are increasing. But the growing prevalence of cellphone and police video, coupled with heightened scrutiny by the news media and the public after Ferguson, has focused intense attention on such cases, especially when officers are white and victims are black.
The police here did not release the racial breakdown of the six suspended officers. Now the Justice Department will look into whether they violated Mr. Gray's civil rights. Such inquiries are not unusual; in Ferguson, the department did not find Mr. Brown's rights were violated. However, a second broader Justice Department review of the Ferguson Police Department resulted in a scathing report detailing abusive and discriminatory practices by the city's law enforcement system.
In Baltimore, police-community tensions date at least to 2005, when the Police Department, following a practice known as “zero-tolerance policing” made more than 100,000 arrests in a heavily African-American city of then roughly 640,000 people.
In 2006, the N.A.A.C.P. and the American Civil Liberties Union sued the city, alleging a broad pattern of abuse in which people were routinely arrested without probable cause. The city settled in 2010 for $870,000, agreed to retrain officers and publicly rejected “zero-tolerance policing.” Ms. Rawlings-Blake became mayor that year.
In 2012 she brought in Mr. Batts, who had run the police department in Oakland, Calif. In 2013, he proposed that police officers wear body cameras to capture encounters like the one that injured Mr. Gray; plans are now in the works for a pilot project.
Ms. Rawlings-Blake has also eliminated a police unit that had a reputation for treating suspects harshly. Last year, she and Mr. Batts asked the Justice Department to investigate after The Baltimore Sun reported that taxpayers had paid nearly $6 million since 2011 in judgments or settlements in 102 lawsuits alleging police misconduct. That investigation is ongoing.
William Murphy Jr., the lawyer for the Gray family, said Tuesday in an interview that “the commissioner's heart is in the right place,” and that the mayor — whose father, Pete Rawlings, was a civil rights advocate and powerful Maryland politician — “understands police brutality and the extent to which it has a cancerous effect on our society.”
But Mr. Murphy said they had inherited “a dysfunctional department” whose officers “had no probable cause” to arrest Mr. Gray, who was stopped early on the morning of April 12 after a police lieutenant made eye contact with him and he ran away. That lieutenant was one of the six officers who were suspended.
“He was running while black,” Mr. Murphy said of Mr. Gray, “and that's not a crime.”
At a news conference Monday, Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said Mr. Gray “gave up without the use of force.” Mr. Gray, who was apparently asthmatic, then asked for his inhaler, but he did not have one; he was conscious and speaking when he was loaded into the van to be taken to the police station, Mr. Rodriguez said.
In interviews on Tuesday, witnesses gave various accounts. Michelle Gross, who took cellphone video of the arrest, said she saw two officers standing over Mr. Gray as people said: “He's just lying there? Why don't you call an ambulance? Why don't you get him some help?”
Another witness, Kiona Mack, who said she took the cellphone video that showed Mr. Gray being dragged into the van, said she saw officers “sitting on his back, and having his leg twisted.”
Members of Mr. Gray's family have said he suffered three fractured vertebrae in his neck and that his larynx was crushed, according to The Baltimore Sun; Mr. Murphy, the lawyer, said Mr. Gray's spinal cord was 80 percent severed. Those details have not been confirmed by doctors or authorities, but experts on spinal cord injury said even less obvious neck trauma could be life-threatening.
“It doesn't necessarily take huge force to fracture or dislocate a vertebra, and have a traumatic compression of the spinal cord,” said Ben A. Barres, professor of neurobiology at the Stanford School of Medicine. “It gets worse very rapidly if it's not treated.” And, he said, “moving the person, like lifting him into a van, or even the ride in the van, could make the injury much worse.”
The police have said they will complete their inquiry by May 1 and turn it over to the state's attorney in Baltimore — Maryland's name for local prosecutors — who will determine whether to bring criminal charges. Ms. Rawlings-Blake has said she will also convene an independent commission.
In Mr. Gray's neighborhood, which is adjacent to a public housing development called the Gilmor Homes, people remembered him Tuesday as a likable young man who sometimes got into trouble with the law — Maryland court records show he had at least two arrests for drug-related charges since December.
Mr. Gray had a twin sister, and a brother who died, friends say, and he also suffered lead poisoning as a child. They are furious about his death, and particularly about police conduct.
“He wasn't out causing any trouble,” said Roosevelt McNeil, 26, who had known Mr. Gray since Mr. Gray was a child. “He had some arrests, but he wasn't a big drug dealer or something like that. He was a great guy over all — he didn't deserve to be handled like that. Why won't the cops say how they ended up going after him, from that to him having his neck broken?”
Police sergeant fingers ‘Sheriff Joe' for obstruction in dramatic contempt hearing
by Dan Taylor
A former supervisor who handled the human smuggling unit for Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County in Arizona accused the self-billed “America's Toughest Sheriff” for obstructing his attempts to comply with a court's order to stop immigration crackdowns.
Arpaio, a showman who had never shied from the spotlight and has reveled in his reputation as a lawman who will get tough on criminals and round up illegal immigrants in sweeps, if facing contempt charges for ignoring a court order in a 2007 racial profiling case. Sergeant Brett Palmer told the U.S. District Court in Phoenix that he had tried to get deputies to comply with the court order, but Arpaio obstructed those efforts and continued to conduct immigration crackdowns in defiance of the courts, according to a Reuters report.
Arpaio has admitted to the violations and offered to pay $100,000 in restitution to civil rights groups, but that may not be enough for Judge Murray Snow, who has ordered Arpaio to appear in court along with a number of members of the sheriff's office.
Palmer said that the reason why Arpaio obstructed his efforts was simply because it was “contrary to the goals and objectives of the sheriff.”
Palmer also criticized the sheriff for trying to look good in the media and in the public, and said that it was his job and the job of everyone in the sheriff's office to polish his image, according to the report.
Snow had issued a preliminary injunction years ago, mandating that Arpaio's office could not simply round up individuals based solely on a suspicion that they were in the country illegally. However, in apparent defiance of this order, Arpaio is accused of continuing his crackdown for another 18 months.
The sheriff is also accused of failing to turn over audio and video recording evidence to the plaintiffs.
Contempt hearings will continue through Friday, and then testimony will pick up again in June.
Community leader wants more police to patrol Chicago's West Side
by Tisha Lewis
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -- Seven people have been killed in Chicago's Austin neighborhood this year alone. However, this time last year there were just two murders.
“We don't just want the police to come out and arrest everyone that they see. They have to find the people that are really effecting this community,” said Kyle Smith.
Smith's 32 year old son, Kyle Matthews, was fatally shot in Austin four years ago. Smith said since his son's death, violence is worse in the West Side neighborhood and 1st District Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin agrees.
“We'd like to see the mayor reach out to the sheriff's police and ask the sheriff's police to actually police alongside the Chicago Police Department,” said Boykin.
Boykin said Austin is under-policed and the increase in violence and homicides are evidence. He wants to saturate Austin with nearly 100 deputies.
“In the Iraq war they talked about the surge and they talked about having these overwhelming numbers of individuals because when you show force, if someone gets shot downtown, the next day, you see a big force of police,” said Boykin in an interview with Fox 32's Tisha Lewis.
Boykin shared the ambitious plan with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.
“I met with Sheriff Tom Dart and he's willing to do it. In fact, they're going to come into Austin,” said Boykin in an interview with FOX 32 News.
“Now, they'll come in for about a week or so to ten days, but we want to see sustained policing,” he added.
CPD had the following to say:
"We already enjoy a productive working relationship with the CCSO. It's worth nothing Chicago currently has more officers per capita than any major U.S. city, and our work to continue reducing crime is about much more than just the number of officers alone. Over the past four years we have made community policing and fostering stronger relationships with residents the foundation of our policing strategy, we have put more officers in high crime areas, and the city has significantly increased its investments in prevention programming.
Ultimately, what's needed are better state and federal laws to keep illegal guns off our streets and out of the hands of dangerous criminals.
Through March, Chicago Police recovered more than 1,500 illegal guns, a 22 percent increase from 2014. And while overall arrests cross the city continue to decline, arrests for illegal gun possession were up 39 percent for the same time period compared to 2014."
Seattle police connect with community online
by Natalie Swaby
SEATTLE - Seattle police are taking a tailor-made approach to crime reduction. The department unveiled its micro community policing plans on Tuesday.
Seattle police are working with Nextdoor.com to connect with more people in the community.
Jeremie Beebe is Nextdoor.com's Director of Partnership. He describes the website as "the private social network for neighborhoods."
Beebe said Nextdoor.com has joined forces with hundreds of law enforcement agencies, including Sacramento Police. The California police department reported a nearly 15 percent reduction in crime last year, crediting Nextdoor as one of the strategies that made a difference, according to a press release issued by Sacramento police.
Now Seattle police are unveiling their partnership.
"I think this is going to be that great connection to get down into the micro levels," said Sgt. Adrian Diaz, Seattle Police.
Seattle police have divided up the city into 55 communities, each with its own policing plan. Crime trends and alerts will be posted for Nextdoor.com members to see.
ICE tracks non-immigrant students in the US
The United States attracts and welcomes foreign citizens to our nation's higher educational institutions. In fact, according to a recent Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) report, there were more than 1.1 million nonimmigrant students studying in the United States as of February 2015; the majority of whom were from China, India and South Korea.
Who tracks these students? In 1996, Congress directed the Immigration and Naturalization Service, a legacy agency of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to set up an automated system to track nonimmigrant students enrolled in U.S. institutions of higher education.
In the wake of 9/11, it was determined that one of the 19 hijackers entered the United States on a student visa. As a result, Congress then authorized funding to expand the nonimmigrant student automated tracking system.
Today, ICE uses the web-based Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) to maintain information on students who are in the United States on F (academic) and M (vocational) visas, as well as SEVP-certified schools that enroll them.
SEVIS also maintains information on U.S. Department of State-designated exchange visitor program sponsors and J-1 visa exchange visitor program participants. SEVIS is a critical tool in SEVP's mission to protect national security while supporting the legal entry of F, M and J nonimmigrants to the United States for education and cultural exchange.
To this end, SEVP holds rigorous outreach initiatives. In 2014, SEVP participated in more than 60 conferences, webinars and teleconferences. Most attendees are designated school officials (DSO) who, by law, keep SEVP up-to-date on school and nonimmigrant student information in SEVIS. DSOs serve as a link between nonimmigrant students and SEVP; they play a central role in helping their school comply with regulations and their nonimmigrant students maintain status.
To ensure critical information is widely disseminated, SEVP also posts pertinent information on the Department of Homeland Security Study in the States website. Compliance requirements, regulatory trends and program updates are posted so that stakeholders are better equipped to prevent regulatory noncompliance, detect erroneous SEVIS data or student status noncompliance and report potential fraud involving schools and nonimmigrant students.
In January, SEVP presented at the 6th Annual International Flight School Operators Conference. Flight school owners, business managers and chief flight instructors attended the event and got an in-depth look at how flight schools are certified by SEVP as well as how to remain compliant with federal regulations.
Susanna Warner, section chief for the SEVP Analysis and Operations Center said that SEVP's flight school presentations are typically centered around M-1 nonimmigrant student regulations; the requirements of which are much different and more restrictive than F-1 nonimmigrant student rules. SEVP, therefore, communicates to flight schools that it's important for them to adapt their programs of study to these regulations.
"SEVP wants flight schools to leave these conferences knowing that we are partners with them in ensuring nonimmigrant students entering the United States for flight training successfully complete their programs of study and leave the United States with a positive experience," said Warner. "We also want them to know that SEVP is here, not only to monitor their compliance with rules and requirements, but as a resource to help ensure schools and students do not violate federal regulations."
Further, ICE's Homeland Security Investigations' (HSI) Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit (CTCEU) is the first and only national program dedicated to the enforcement of nonimmigrant visa violations. The unit's SEVIS Exploitation Section (SES) works to prevent terrorist or criminal exploitation of the nation's immigration system and refers leads to HSI field offices for criminal investigation.
SES developed and maintains an academic outreach program known as Project Campus Sentinel (PCS). PCS is used to establish communication channels between HSI special agents and school officials while also creating innovative ways to identify potential SEVIS exploitation, national security threats and campus radicalization. To date, HSI special agents have conducted more than 2,100 outreach visits in all 50 states as well as Puerto Rico and Guam.
ICE's aim is to ensure visiting students pursue their educational goals in the United States, while also preventing those with nefarious intent from exploiting the nation's visa system.
Further information about these programs is available on the SEVP and CTCEU websites.
From The Department of Homeland Security
Statement by Secretary Jeh C. Johnson on U.S. Airport Security Enhancements
Today, I am announcing that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will take additional steps to address the potential insider threat vulnerability at U.S. airports. These steps follow a 90-day Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC) comprehensive review conducted at my request in January 2015. I also asked the ASAC to identify other trends to determine if additional risk-based security measures, resource reallocations, new investments or policy changes are necessary.
I made this request after an incident in Atlanta that occurred in December 2014 which raised questions about potential vulnerabilities regarding the screening and vetting of all airport-based employees. Immediately following the incident in December 2014, TSA increased the random and unpredictable screening of aviation workers at various airport access points to mitigate potential security vulnerabilities.
As a result of the recommendations contained in the ASAC report, I have directed the TSA to take the following immediate actions:
Until TSA establishes a system for “real time recurrent” criminal history background checks for all aviation workers, require fingerprint-based Criminal History Records Checks every two years for all airport employee SIDA badge holders.
Require airport and airline employees traveling as passengers to be screened by TSA prior to travel.
Require airports to reduce the number of access points to secured areas to an operational minimum.
Increase aviation employee screening, to include additional randomization screening throughout the workday.
Re-emphasize and leverage the Department of Homeland Security “If You See Something, Say Something™” initiative to improve situational awareness and encourage detection and reporting of threat activity.
I have also directed TSA to continue analyzing the recommendations of the ASAC report, and identify additional mitigating measures for future implementation.
Furthermore, the ASAC concluded that 100 percent physical employee screening would not completely eliminate potential risks, but would divert critical resources from other critical security functions to mitigate other risks.
I want to thank the ASAC for their work in developing their recommendations in such a short time frame. Their recommendations validate TSA's risk-based approach to passenger screening and will help strengthen the overall security of our commercial aviation network. I am confident that the potential insider-threat posed by aviation industry employees will be significantly mitigated as a result of these recommendations.
The Aviation Security Advisory Committee review can be read here.
Established in 1989 in the wake of the crash of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, the ASAC provides advice and recommendations for improving aviation security measures to the Administrator of TSA. The ASAC is composed of members representing nine key stakeholder groups affected by aviation security requirements. These membership categories include victims of terrorist acts against aviation, law enforcement and security experts, aviation consumer advocates, airport tenants and general aviation, airport operators, airline management, airline labor, aircraft and security equipment manufacturers, and air cargo. ASAC's mission is to examine areas of civil aviation security and develop recommendations for the improvement of civil aviation security methods, equipment, and procedures. The ASAC enhances TSA's security posture through consultation with key partners concerning potential risks to infrastructure, passengers and cargo. In addition, ASAC gathers input from stakeholders on the effectiveness of security procedures and develops recommendations for possible improvements. Members serve up to two-year terms from the date of the appointment.
In terror arrests, a question of public safety
by Bob Collins
We'll find out more later this morning about the arrests of several people in Minneapolis and San Diego in a continuing investigation of the recruitment of potential terrorists.
NBC News reports those arrested are suspected of supporting ISIS. Four were arrested in Minneapolis and two in San Diego; all are members of the Somali community, according to NBC.
In every news report so far, federal authorities are stressing this point: “There was no danger” to people in the U.S.
How could this be? Perhaps someone will answer that question today because it takes an abundance of hate to support ISIS, which over the weekend released another video showing the killing of Ethiopian Christians, USA Today reports.
A masked fighter wielding a pistol says Christians must convert to Islam or pay a special tax prescribed by the Quran, before the captives in the south are shown being shot dead and the captives in the east are beheaded on a beach.
In January, militants loyal to the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS and ISIL, claimed responsibility for an attack on the Corinthia hotel in the Libyan capital of Tripoli that left 10 people including an American and four other foreigners dead.
It takes a particular brand of subhuman to execute people.
As NPR reported over the weekend, the Christians, the Druze, the Ismailis and many other minorities in Syria, are caught between the murderous regime and ISIS, which considers their views heretical.
In the Salamiyeh area of central Syria, the Ismaili community is still reeling from a recent massacre committed by ISIS in one of their villages. One survivor, Ali, still cannot believe he escaped with his life.
“They knocked on my neighbor's door, just 10 steps away. Of course they killed him and his wife,” he told NPR via Skype, withholding his family name for fear of his safety.
Ali was terrified, waiting with his father and sister from 11:30 p.m. until the next morning when ISIS withdrew. He says that by the time the paramilitary National Defense Forces arrived from the neighboring village of Saboura, it was too late: “Whoever was kidnapped was kidnapped and who was killed was killed.”
The 51 victims included Ismailis and Alawites, as well as Sunnis.
If indeed, this is attractive to people who live among us, how are they — how is that hatred — not a threat to us?
We trust that question will be asked today.
Rochester Police working under new reorganization plan
by Allison Norlian
Rochester, N.Y. (WROC) - Rochester Police began their first full day of working under the new five-section community policing reorganization model Monday.
The department is now broken up into five patrol sections- Central, Lake, Clinton, Goodman and Genesee.
The new model is expected to put officers back into the community. They are each signed a section where they will respond to calls and they are expected to interact with neighbors and local businesses.
Officer Michelle Brown said always practiced community policing but she believes it'll be a great thing for other officers.
"They have taken large portions that were hard to maintain and chopped them up so we can get more services in there," Brown said. "It's better than having one police officer manage an unmanageable amount of space."
The new model replaces the old two-division model-- which was never popular with residents or officers. The new model gives officers a smaller area to patrol but now they have to get in and out to interact with the public. Under the new plan, there will be no more officers added to the force.
Mike Mazzeo, the Police Union President says the reorganization is good on paper but without five physical locations for officers to report to and more officers added to the force it won't work. He said response times to calls won't get shorter and officers won't have time to interact with community members.
"If you're talking about having the city divided into five sections than that section would be its own entity," Mazzeo said. "It would have a physical location where all officers assigned to that section would be housed and would work out of. What you're currently seeing is officers assigned to car beats in a neighborhood but every other function they need in terms of support is located out of the area."
Police Chief Mike Ciminelli said the five sections may eventually have their own police station.
"What we're doing is for beat officers, it's now part of his or her regular duty to get out of the car," Ciminelli said. "We used to do that but we moved away from it so the same number of patrol officers but there is going to be more focus. Some days, it'll be busy and they wont be able to get out of the car and other days they will have more time to."
The cost of the reorganization was more than 4-million dollars but the city says the annual operating costs will only go up about 300-thousand dollars.
Public safety at center of Eric Garcetti's new $8.57-billion budget
by Peter Jamison
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday released his proposed $8.57-billion budget for the next fiscal year, a spending plan that would take advantage of a modest boost in tax revenue from the reviving economy to invest in public safety and city infrastructure.
After his State of the City address, which focused on new policing initiatives, the mayor's budget proposal is further evidence that combating rising crime will be a priority for his administration as it enters its third year.
In addition to millions that would be devoted to improving the city's trees, streets and sidewalks — all part of the “Back to Basics” agenda Garcetti championed during his first two years in office — more than $6 million would expand programs that target gangs and domestic violence.
“In this budget we're strengthening the basic services that mean the most: crime prevention, intervention and enforcement,” Garcetti said Monday.
Such spending is enabled in part by a local economy that after years of recession appears to be on the upswing. City revenue from sources that typically rise and fall with the economy — such as property, business and sales taxes — grew 4.9% from last year, according to budget documents.
City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, whose staff worked with the mayor's office to produce the budget, said the city is on track to wipe out its year-over-year, or “structural,” budget shortfall by 2018. He said the budget also carries out common-sense financial practices that haven't always been the norm, such as setting aside reserves and money for capital projects.
“This is the strongest budget that certainly I've experienced,” said Santana, who has worked at the city for six years.
City officials nevertheless cautioned against exaggerating the breathing room they've been given by rising revenue. The new budget had to make up for a $165-million shortfall through various cost-saving measures. It also assumes no new raises or pension concessions will be given in contract talks with unions representing more than half the city's civilian workforce.
The estimate for the city's surplus in fiscal year 2018-19, which would be its first after years of deficits, has also been scaled back. Instead of the $23 million projected last year, Santana said he now expects the city would have a $2.6-million surplus. The worsened forecast stems in part from a cumulative 8.2% raise the city agreed to give police officers in negotiations with their union last month.
The mayor's budget would set aside $4.1 million to expand street cleaning and install new trash bins, as well as $1 million for cleaning park bathrooms. Tree trimming would be expanded. The budget also includes $31 million to begin fixing city sidewalks as required by a $1.3-billion legal settlement this month.
Garcetti proposes spending $5.5 million to expand the long-running Gang Reduction and Youth Development program and $567,000 to expand Domestic Abuse Response Teams. The latter are groups of civilian workers who accompany police officers on domestic-violence calls.
The public safety measures, which Garcetti announced last week in his State of the City speech, come in response to a surge in violent crime after more than a decade of declining crime. In March, the LAPD reported a 27% rise in violent crimes and a 12% rise in property crimes compared with the same period last year.
To see Garcetti's entire budget proposal, visit www.lamayor.org/openbudget
Baltimore seeks answers in Freddie Gray's death in police custody
by Ben Brumfield
Freddie Gray was in perfect health until police chased and tackled him in Baltimore over a week ago, his lawyer said. Less than an hour later, he was on his way to a trauma clinic with a spinal injury, where he fell into a coma.
On Sunday he died, hours after protesters in front of Baltimore police headquarters raised signs and hands in the air and cried, "Justice for Freddie."
On Monday, police may reveal details of what happened to him when they hold a news conference.
Two witnesses hit record on their cell phones during what looked to be the 27-year-old's arrest. Police told CNN affiliate WJZ that they also have surveillance video of him.
But there appears to be a gap of some minutes left to account for.
When cell phones began recording, Gray was already on the ground with three officers kneeling over him. And he let out long, painful screams.
Officers had encountered him a minute earlier, on April 12, police said. They were working an area where drug deals and other crimes are common, Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said.
They thought Gray may have been involved in a crime.
But there was no evidence that he committed a crime, Gray family attorney William Murphy Jr. said, and WJZ reported late last week that police had not said what their suspicion was.
When officers approached Gray, he ran. They pursued and caught him quickly, at 8:40 a.m., according to a timeline police passed on to WJZ.
The officers called for a prisoner transport van. Cell phone video taken from two separate positions showed officers lifting Gray, whose hands were cuffed, up by his shoulders and dragging him over to the back of the van.
He legs dangled behind him listlessly as he wailed.
Officers put more restraints on Gray inside the van, police said, while surveillance video recorded him conscious and talking. The video has not been released to the public.
The 30 minutes
That was at 8:54 a.m.
At 9:24 a.m., police called an ambulance to pick Gray up at the Western District police station. Murphy wants to know what happened in those 30 minutes in between.
The ambulance took Gray to the University of Maryland Medical Center's Shock Trauma Center.
"He lapsed into a coma, died, was resuscitated, stayed in a coma and on Monday underwent extensive surgery at Shock Trauma to save his life," Murphy said. "He clung to life for seven days."
Tubes, wires and supports protruded from Gray as he lay in his hospital bed in a photo Murphy passed on to the media.
Frustration and questions
Police have not released the incident report or said how many officers participated in Gray's arrest. They have been placed on administrative duty, they said.
Murphy has accused police of sitting on details of Gray's treatment by officers to cover for them.
On the evening of Gray's death, Baltimore's mayor, police commissioner and deputy commissioner promised to get to the bottom of the case.
"I understand the frustration of the community," said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. "I want citizens to know exactly how it happened, and if necessary, I will ensure that we hold the right people accountable."
Officers and Gray investigated
But no one promised quick answers.
Rawlings-Blake said that she wants to see a thorough inquiry and that the city will release additional details as investigations are completed.
There will be two criminal investigations, said Deputy Commissioner Rodriguez -- one to determine if the arresting officers broke the law, and one that pertains to Gray.
Police have not grilled the arresting officers on what happened for legal reasons, Rodriguez said.
"We cannot interview an officer administratively and compel them, if an officer is the subject of the criminal investigation. Every person has the right against self-incrimination, so for us to compel an officer to provide a statement, that could potentially taint the criminal investigation," he said.
Investigators will submit their results to an independent review board, he said. There will also be a separate administrative investigation.
Family declined meeting
Police officials have attempted to speak with Gray's relatives to explain the investigation process, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said.
But they have declined to meet.
"A mother has lost her son," Batts said, extending his condolences to the family.
He hopes that in interactions between police and residents, everyone goes home safely, he said. "All lives matter."
Authorities Make 6 Arrests in 2 States in Terrorism Probe
by AMY FORLITI
Six people were arrested Sunday in connection with a terrorism investigation in Minnesota, where authorities have been tracking youths who have traveled or tried to travel to Syria to fight with militants, including the Islamic State group, authorities said.
A spokesman for the Minnesota U.S. Attorney's Office said the arrests were made in Minneapolis and San Diego but there is no threat to public safety. Spokesman Ben Petok did not give details about the charges. He said more information would be released Monday.
The U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI planned a news conference Monday to announce details. The news conference was billed in a press release as an announcement of a joint terrorism task force operation.
Kyle Loven, spokesman for the Minneapolis office of the FBI, said six people were arrested Sunday but gave no further details. An FBI spokesman in San Diego referred questions to Loven.
Authorities say a handful of Minnesota residents have traveled to Syria to fight with militants within the last year. At least one Minnesotan has died while fighting for the Islamic State.
Since 2007, more than 22 young Somali men have also traveled from Minnesota to Somalia to join the militant group al-Shabab.
Four Minnesotans have already been charged in connection with supporting terror groups in Syria, including the Islamic State group.
One man, 19-year-old Hamza Ahmed, had been stopped at a New York City airport in November as he and three others were attempting to travel to Syria. Ahmed has been indicted on charges of lying to the FBI during a terrorism investigation, conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State group, and attempting to provide material support. He has pleaded not guilty.
But there have been no public charges filed against his three companions, and little information had been released about them. An FBI affidavit said they are all between the ages of 19 and 20 and live in the Twin Cities.
4-hour town hall focuses on solving black-on-black crime, community policing
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Local and national leaders continued the discussion about race relations and community policing in the Lowcountry and across the U.S. during a four-hour town hall Sunday.
The town hall led by attorney Malik Shabazz came three weeks after a North Charleston police officer shot and killed 50-year-old Walter Scott.
"Shooting -- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 times -- what is going on in his mind? What kind of culture feels comfortable letting their officers do that?" asked Muahiyidin D'Baha, a youth activist.
But the conversation on Scott's death led to a deeper discussion of black-on-black crime.
"For just as we want white police to stop killing black people in our community, we got to put down the arms, put down the guns and stop killing ourselves, which is an open door for other people to come in and kill us," said Minister Deandre Muhammad.
In a five-minute speech, Muhammad told the crowd filling the International Longshoremen's Hall that it was a waste of time to point fingers and place blame.
"We're not living in a post-racial America, we're living in a time that we as a people must recognize that we must pool our resources, look within and start doing something for ourselves," he said.
The conversation even turned to education as speakers talked about the discord within the schools that lead to higher-than-average suspension and drop out rates for black boys.
Muhammad described the problems created in those early years that led to expulsion and drop outs as a pipeline into the prison system.
As community members lined up to 'testify,' in the words of Shabazz, panelists like state Rep. David Mack encouraged people to unite and get involved.
"Be an agent for change in your community, on your rural road, in your social club, fraternity, sorority, church, family members. Get people registered to vote," he said.
Members of Black Lives Matter called on elected officials to be present when things -- positive and negative -- happen in the community. "We don't need you in the office, we need you with the people."
And the group also announced the beginning of a new project called "We are watching you," in which they call on people to use their cameras and follow police, recording their activities.
St. Paul youth public-safety conference aims to counter extremist messages
by Mara H. Gottfried
Teenagers who could have been outside enjoying a game of basketball on Saturday spent much of the day inside, learning at a youth conference hosted by the St. Paul police.
It was worth it, said Amin Ahmed, 15. He and his friends said they learned more about the public-safety career paths they're interested in -- Amin wants to be a lawyer, 16-year-old Mahamed Dahir is thinking about a career with a federal law enforcement agency and 17-year-old Ali Salah aspires to become a judge.
They were among a group who attended the East and West African Youth Summit in St. Paul. Between teens participating and adults who contributed to the day, about 120 people attended, said Assistant Police Chief Todd Axtell.
The conference continued work the police department began 11 years ago to reach out to the East African immigrant community, working to establish trust, Axtell said.
"We've focused on building relationships ... and making sure that they understand how to access all city services and especially access the police department," Axtell said, "so they understand that we are here as public servants and not what they may be used to from their homeland, where law enforcement agencies and police were basically occupying forces."
On Saturday, teens heard about Internet safety, youth programs and employment opportunities.
"This lets them see themselves on the other side of the table, that they could work for the FBI, CIA or police," said Hashi Shafi, Somali Action Alliance executive director, of the booths set up with career information.
Mohamed Ahmed spoke at the conference about social-media awareness, sharing the message of Average Mohamed, the nonprofit organization he started. He creates videos that are designed to be shared on social media to counter the messages of extremist groups.
In the face of stories about people who have been radicalized and left the Twin Cities to fight with extremist groups, an event like Saturday's was an important way for teens to see they're part of something positive, Shafi said.
"We want them to know they're not alone, they're part of the solution, they're part of the city, part of the society and Minnesota at large," Shafi said.