April, 2015 - Week 5
Texas cop drives 11 hours to be 'Superman' for Ill. boy with cancer
Senior Cpl. Damon Cole was touched by the boy's story, and decided to do something to help the boy and his family
by Tristan Hallman
DALLAS — Brian Schottel says his 7-year-old son, Bryce, has a tumor in his stomach that's so big, the boy looks like he "could be a 50-year-old with a beer belly."
Dallas police Senior Cpl. Damon Cole saw an online picture of Bryce, dressed up as Superman for Halloween. Cole has a 7-year-old of his own — a daughter — and was touched by Bryce's story. He wanted to do something to help the boy and his family.
One super problem: Bryce and his family don't live around here. Not even close. They live in Smithton, Ill., a town of 3,500 people about 30 minutes outside of St. Louis.
So Cole — who, despite his own affinity for the Man of Steel, can't leap tall buildings in a single bound — hopped in his Superman-wrapped black 2012 Dodge Charger this month and drove up, up and away for 11 hours to spend time with Bryce.
"If I can bring happiness to this family that's going through this very tough time in life, why not do it?" Cole said.
When he got to Illinois, Cole knocked on the Schottels' door in a full Superman costume and greeted Bryce, who was diagnosed with lymphoma Feb. 28 and has been receiving chemotherapy treatments. Cole showed Bryce his car. He gave him his spare Superman cape, an action figure and a keychain.
"All Bryce kept saying was 'Wow,'" Brian Schottel said.
Dad said he was in awe, too.
"We realized how far this guy came up just to see him and make him feel better and brighten his day," Schottel said.
One of Schottel's favorite parts was when Cole told the boy, "No no no, you're the real Superman. We're just people in costumes.'"
Bryce's parents expected Cole's visit to go by faster than a speeding bullet, but Cole ended up staying for hours. The two played a racing video game; Bryce defeated Superman. They also played with Matchbox cars.
Eventually, Cole told Bryce that he had a secret: He was also Iron Man.
"His eyes lit up," Cole said.
The officer disappeared and changed into an Iron Man suit for Bryce. The two bonded before Cole went to a fundraiser for Bryce. Cole also dressed up as Iron Man for Bryce's elementary school.
"People talk about doing stuff all the time, but he came and he was here and already did more than he said he was going to do," said Regina Carlton, Bryce's mother.
Cole has been dressing as Superman for years now. He is part of a cadre of Dallas officers — called "Heroes, Cops and Kids" — who portray superheroes regularly to mentor kids.
But Cole's love of Superman goes back further. When he was a Little Elm cop eight years ago, he had the Superman logo stitched into his bulletproof vest.
"You get some kids who are scared of us because when their parents are out, they'll see us and say, 'Hey, if you don't behave, I'll get that officer to arrest you,'" Cole said. "We don't want that. We want the kid to know he can come to us at any time."
He said he builds a rapport with kids when he shows them the vest. The kids then ask where his cape is.
"I'm like, 'Well, I can't wear my cape with my uniform. It'll get wrinkles,'" he said. "And they believe it, and they eat it up."
Cole, who paid for the trip out of his own pocket, hadn't visited sick kids in costume before his interaction with Bryce, but he wants to do it again.
Lebanon, Ill., police Officer Kurt Schmulbach, Schottel's friend since high school, was also inspired by Cole. Schmulbach said his department, which took up Bryce's cause, plans to start its own "Heroes, Cops and Kids" group.
Cole's generosity "shocked everybody," Schmulbach said.
When Cole finished his visit, he drove from the small town back to the Dallas metropolis. But when Bryce gets better, he said, Superman will return to Smithton.
Carlton said Bryce hasn't stopped talking about Cole since he left.
"I think he understood what was happening," Carlton said of Bryce. "I don't think he understood how far Damon traveled and how much that really meant."
Schottel said Cole isn't the only stranger to help his son. He said people he doesn't know will walk up to him wearing "Team Bryce" T-shirts. And a bank account to raise funds to pay for Bryce's medical expenses has $8,000 in it — mostly from strangers.
But he said Cole is no stranger now. Bryce's mother and father both said Cole will be a friend to them for years to come.
"You don't see it every day — people like Damon who will take time away from their family to help a sick kid," Schottel said. "Even if it's just to hear that 'wow.' If the world had more people like that, we might be in a better place."
Homicide rates drop as Calif. chief builds bond with community
This minority-majority city has recorded its lowest homicide rate in 33 years, and officer-involved shootings are now rare
by Lee Romney
RICHMOND, Calif. — Residents packed the City Council chambers here in 2005, hoisting signs emblazoned with photos of slain loved ones. Eight men had been shot dead in gang-related violence in a two-week span.
Many residents had long had contempt for the Richmond Police Department, with its decades-old reputation of racism and ruthlessness. The community rarely cooperated with officers, making even minor crimes hard to solve.
New to town, City Manager Bill Lindsay believed that change would come only with an overhaul of police practices. He turned to an unlikely reformer: Chris Magnus, the white, gay police chief of Fargo, N.D.
A decade later, this minority-majority city has recorded its lowest homicide rate in 33 years. Officer-involved shootings are now rare: There have been two since Magnus came on board, whereas outside police agencies killed five men inside city limits during the same period.
Community mistrust has gradually given way to collaboration, thanks to deepening bonds between officers and the neighborhoods they serve.
Now, as angry residents riot over use of force in Baltimore -- and Ferguson, Mo., before that -- state and federal leaders are tapping Magnus, 54, to share his approach.
Magnus acknowledges that the gains have involved some luck. But he and outside experts attribute them largely to a hard-won culture change.
Residents have also stepped up.
"We changed some of the ideas the police had about us, and we changed some of the ideas we had about them," said Bennie Lois-Clark Singleton, 80, who participates in weekly street walks to coax at-risk youths to reject violence.
The video went viral. Two officers working the annual Juneteenth festival were showing off their moves to the line-dance hit "the Wobble." Onlookers hooted encouragement.
The resident who captured the scene at the celebration of African American history later called it "awesome" to see how the officers "were interacting with the community." But it wasn't always so.
A shipbuilding hub during World War II, Richmond struggled when jobs vanished. The urban core is still depressed in this city of 107,500 -- more than 80% of whom are nonwhite -- and a dozen gangs remain active.
In 1982, minorities' relations with police boiled over when tactics of officers known as "the Cowboys" came into wider light. Separate fatal police shootings of two black men in their beds led to a $3-million judgment, then the largest civil penalty in the country for police abuse.
A judge noted "significant" evidence of an informal policy that "encouraged and authorized violence and brutality by Richmond police officers against black residents."
As demographics shifted, problems persisted. In 2002, officers clearing a street on Cinco de Mayo roughed up and pepper-sprayed Andres Soto and his sons. In a holding cell, Soto found more than a dozen other Latino men swept up by police. The community protested. The group won a settlement.
"That was the crack in the mirror," said Soto, 59, an environmental activist.
Two interim chiefs followed. Then, in December 2005, Lindsay hired Magnus, who had climbed the ranks in Lansing, Mich., before heading the force in Fargo.
"He just completely opened up the department," Soto said.
When Magnus arrived, he quickly realized he had to craft a command team committed to the vision of "more human relationships," he said.
There were challenges. Soon after he took the post, seven high-ranking African American officers sued, accusing Magnus of making racist comments and bypassing them for promotion. The case dragged on for years. After a three-month civil trial in 2012, the officers lost on all 72 counts.
All the while, the chief was pressing reforms.
He disbanded roving street teams that had focused on arrests, replacing them with neighborhood-based policing. Officers attend neighborhood meetings and give out their cellphone numbers. The department installed monitored street cameras and a gunfire detection system and employed sophisticated software to better predict and prevent crime.
On a recent shift, Officer Chris Llamas edged his patrol car over the railroad tracks. Members of a Norteño gang had entered Sureño territory to leave their tag, which Sureños had crossed out and replaced with their own. It could easily escalate into shooting, the 13-year veteran concluded.
Code enforcement workers now fall under Magnus' command, leading to quicker action on graffiti, drug houses and other blight. The tags would "be gone by tomorrow," Llamas said after making a call. Soon, he and his partner were rousting public drinkers in a parking lot. A new merchants association had asked for help with the loitering, and received it.
Enlisting community members as partners has also yielded benefits.
Richard Boyd, an organizer with Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization, recalled that when he moved to Richmond, shortly before Magnus did, young men loitered in his neighborhood, flashing guns and shooting dice.
"There was no genuine policing, there was no genuine street cleaning, road repair services," Boyd recalled. "They wouldn't respond to any quality-of-life issues."
That soon changed. Though still troubled by violence, the Iron Triangle neighborhood has calmed noticeably, and families with children play in a radically revamped Nevin Park.
"We were able ... to call [the beat officers] directly and say, 'There are eight guys out front gambling,'" Boyd recalled. "And those officers would respond because they could feel our pain."
Through Boyd's interfaith group, clergy lead the weekly street walks and participate in an anti-violence program known as Ceasefire, attending "call-ins" where police are also present to persuade active members to give up gang life.
"I wouldn't call it trust, but they just know each other," said Tamisha Walker, 32, a one-time offender who runs a reentry program for former inmates. "The officers know the guys on the street, they know their families, they know that they have kids, if they've been to school."
But work remains. "It is individual officers and not the department as a whole that is respected," said Walker, who encourages offenders through Ceasefire to give up violence. "We still have officers who we need to be careful about."
Toody Maher concurs. In collaboration with police, her Pogo Park nonprofit transformed a blighted lot into a vibrant park that employs residents as monitors and won a national award.
"Sometimes the events on the ground don't correspond with the vision," she said, "but thank God we have the vision."
The police supervisors gathered for a routine meeting -- to pick apart every incident of force over a two-month period. Each tackle of a fleeing suspect, arm-twist and kick was up for scrutiny, though none had prompted complaints.
A woman outside an apartment where a kidnapping involving a gun was unfolding had refused three orders to move. When an officer sought to arrest her, a physical struggle ensued. The incident, the group concurred, had stoked emotions and proved a poor use of resources.
"It's a good big-picture training point," offered Officer Steve Andretich, the use-of-force trainer. "Maybe [the officer] could have said to the other witness, 'Hey, this is why we want you to move. Can you ask her?'"
Weapons training has also expanded. Shooting-range sessions are held monthly to enhance precision. Quarterly, officers run through role-playing scenarios to help with split-second decisions on when to shoot and when to instead use Tasers, pepper spray or verbal persuasion, said Lt. Louie Tirona, the firearms instructor.
They are also taught to stop when a suspect complies, and Tirona said he has found that rounds fired have "decreased noticeably," contributing to a higher survival rate of suspects. In four of the seven nonfatal police shootings under Magnus' watch, officers fired only one round.
Laurie Robinson, a professor of criminology at George Mason University who co-chaired the Presidential Task Force on 21st Century Policing -- convened in the wake of the Ferguson unrest -- called Richmond's monthly use-of-force reviews "highly unusual." She said role-playing training, although more common in larger departments, puts Richmond on the "leading edge of good practice."
Magnus was one of "the most impressive" of the more than 120 people invited to testify before the task force, Robinson said, because he has forged collaborations with "not just the residents but churches and schools and social services and businesses"
But, she said, it is the combination of reforms -- better training, community policing and new technologies -- that truly set Richmond apart and could prove a model for other departments large and small.
A national expert on recognizing implicit racial and gender bias conducted department-wide training in February. Weeks earlier, officers filled a conference room for a meditation training geared to help them remain relaxed, alert and focused.
Sgt. Robert Gray, a 25-year veteran who proposed the training, said it would have been laughed at a decade ago.
The idea of old-school cops, he said, "was to get the bad guys, get them to comply, and if that takes physical coercion, so be it. That's not the way to be, especially when you serve the community. And that's what we are -- servants."
Last September, after the city had gone seven years without a fatality, a Richmond officer shot and killed Pedie Perez, 24, contending that Perez grabbed for his gun. Perez's family disputes that version and has sued. An investigation is ongoing. Body cameras have since arrived.
Magnus knew community relations were at risk. He informed the public that it could attend the coroner's inquest; posted updates on social media; and was present at Perez's funeral at the family's invitation.
Last winter, the chief joined community members demonstrating in the wake of the Ferguson unrest and held a "Black Lives Matter" sign.
The Richmond Police Officers Assn. bristled, accusing him of illegally participating in political activities while in uniform. Magnus countered that he was merely acknowledging that "all lives matter" and showing respect "for the very real concerns of our minority communities."
Boyd did a double-take when Magnus reached for the sign but said he was not surprised. He had first met Magnus at a march to the scene of a slaying that, it turned out, had occurred in Magnus' neighborhood.
There was this "blond-haired white guy going on about how he had heard the shots from his house," Boyd said. "Sometimes I think he doesn't know he's the chief. He thinks he's one of us."
Obama administration to spend $20M on body cams
Will make $20 million available to cities across the country to expand the use of body cameras worn by police in an effort to improve trust with communities
by John Fritze
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will make $20 million available to cities across the country to expand the use of body cameras worn by police in an effort to improve trust with communities, the Justice Department said Friday.
The announcement, which follows an earlier proposal from the administration to invest $75 million in cameras over three years, comes as Baltimore is still reeling from the events surrounding the death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a spinal injury while in police custody.
Some advocates have called for a rapid deployment of the cameras following high-profile interactions with the police in Baltimore, Ferguson, New York and elsewhere. The cameras, supporters argue, offer evidence that can be beneficial to both suspects and the police.
"Body-worn cameras hold tremendous promise for enhancing transparency, promoting accountability, and advancing public safety for law enforcement officers and the communities they serve," U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who sworn into the post this week, said in a statement.
The Justice Department expects to award 50 competitive grants basis to local law enforcement for the cameras, about one-third of which will be directed to smaller agencies, the administration said. The grants will require cities to match the federal investment with local tax money.
The White House said in December it wanted the federal government to help local police purchase 50,000 new cameras over three years. President Barack Obama mentioned the issue, and the grant program, during a White House press conference on Tuesday.
"We are going to be issuing grants for those jurisdictions that are prepared to start trying to implement some of the new training and data collection and other things that can make a difference," Obama said. "And we're going to keep on working with those local jurisdictions so that they can begin to make the changes that are necessary."
A report issued in March by a White House appointed task force said that the cameras, while potentially helpful, are not a panacea. They raise questions about privacy, for instance, and also the infrastructure needed to retain a massive amount of video data that could be used as evidence.
"Now that agencies operate in a world in which anyone with a cell phone camera can record video footage of a police encounter, [the cameras] help police departments ensure that events are also captured from an officer's perspective," the report said.
"But when the public does not believe its privacy is being protected by law enforcement, a breakdown in community trust can occur."
From the FBI
Death Notification with Compassion
FBI Teams Up with Penn State to Offer Online Training
At an event held last week at FBI Headquarters, the Bureau—in conjunction with its partners at Penn State University (PSU)—announced a new, no-cost training website for law enforcement agencies and other first responders responsible for notifying the family members of those who have died suddenly as a result of a crime, an accident, a suicide, or other type of incident.
This initiative was developed to better equip law enforcement personnel, victim advocates, coroners, medical examiners, chaplains, hospital staff, and others who find themselves delivering death notifications to do so with professionalism, dignity, and compassion. Not only because it's the right thing to do, but also because the way a death notification is made can have a significant impact on a family's grieving process and on potential future prosecutions. Director James Comey, who spoke at the event held during National Crime Victims' Rights Week, said, “We have to be better when we intersect with people at the most painful moment in their entire lives.”
The training is entitled “We Regret to Inform You...” and can be accessed at www.deathnotification.psu.edu.
Funded under the FBI's Active Shooter Initiative, the 45 minute online learning module—available to first responders nationally and internationally—begins with an impact video featuring Karen Schmoyer, the mother of a Pennsylvania murder victim, who shares her personal experiences of when and how she was told of her 15-year-old daughter's death. The training also features descriptions of a proper four-step death notification process that includes extensive planning and preparation for the visit to the next of kin, the actual visit to deliver the notification, and the follow-up with the family. And it notes that death notifications should always be made in person, even if the family doesn't live in the same jurisdiction.
The training—based on best practice standards and the latest research—covers a variety of considerations, including mass casualty events, foreign national victims living in the U.S. and American citizens living abroad, language barriers and other cultural differences, dealing with children and the elderly, the role of victim assistance, the media, and the impact of social media. It features a resource section with web links, a pocket guide for the death notification team to use, and a grief brochure that can be left with the family after the notification. A second video included in the training involves reenactments of proper death notifications.
An assessment tool is also part of the training, and once users receive a passing score, they will be issued a certificate. Questions on the training can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The FBI's Critical Incident Response Group, Office of Partner Engagement, and Office for Victim Assistance worked together to develop this valuable training with representatives of PSU's Police and Public Safety group and WPSU, the university's public broadcasting entity.
According to Kathryn Turman, head of the FBI's Office for Victim Assistance, there is a nationwide need to provide training for performing proper death notifications so that, echoing Comey sentiments, “victims and their families have the best of us at the worst of times.” She added, “We can never underestimate the power of carefully chosen words delivered compassionately.”
From the Department of Homeland Security
Remarks by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson at the RSA Conference 2015
San Francisco -- Moscone Center
Thank you for inviting me to speak here today. I'm excited to be speaking at the largest cybersecurity conference in the world.
Cybersecurity is a major priority for my boss President Obama. It is a major priority for his entire Administration. It is a top priority for the Department of Homeland Security. For me personally, as Secretary, advancing my Department's cybersecurity capability is one of my top goals in office.
The Department of Homeland Security was formed in 2002, in the wake of 9/11. Counterterrorism is our cornerstone mission. But, the reality is that in 2015, cybersecurity has become a mission of equal importance.
My message to you today is this: government does not have all the answers or all the talent. Cybersecurity must be a partnership between government and the private sector. We need each other, and we must work together. There are things government can do for you, and there are things we need you to do for us.
In private law practice, where I have spent most of my professional life, I was a service provider to private clients. I bring that attitude to cybersecurity.
I am enthusiastic and proud about the direction we are headed.
Under the leadership of Under Secretary Suzanne Spaulding and Deputy Under Secretary Phyllis Schneck, the former chief technology officer at McAfee, we are building an agile and responsive cybersecurity capability.
The Department of Homeland Security is the U.S. government's central interface with the private sector in responding to and mitigating cyber threats. We are also responsible for the security of the federal civilian .gov world.
Central to our efforts is our National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, or the “NCCIC.”
The NCCIC is a busy place.
In Fiscal Year 2014 alone, the NCCIC received over 97,000 cyber incident reports from the private and government sectors, and issued nearly 12,000 cyber alerts or warnings.
Almost continually, an NCCIC team is in the field, making what is in effect a house call on a company to assess a significant cyber incident and helping them fix it. For certain diagnoses, we bring in more doctors, from the NSA, the FBI, or other agencies, to assist.
The NCCIC identifies numerous vulnerabilities. Last year, across dozens and dozens of departments and agencies of the U.S. government, we identified 265 instances of the Heartbleed vulnerability, and in a three-week period reduced them to two. Last year we helped the private and government sectors address Shellshock, BlackEnergy, Havex, BackOff Point of Sale, Lenovo SuperFish, and other vulnerabilities.
My goal is to see the NCCIC move to an even higher and better level.
I am in the hunt to hire a new NCCIC director. I am personally participating in efforts to find a recognized all-star in the cybersecurity field, and I believe we are going to hire such a person soon.
We are realigning reporting relationships so that the NCCIC director has a direct reporting and information sharing line to me, the Secretary. This is the importance I place on the NCCIC in our cybersecurity mission.
We are enabling the NCCIC to provide near real-time automated information sharing to the private sector. I have directed our team to go full throttle on this. As you know, cybersecurity is about speed.
Last week the NCCIC deployed the capability to automate publication of cyber threat indicators in a machine-readable format. We reached this major milestone five weeks ahead of deadline. Today we are sharing indicators with an initial set of companies and are in the process of adding others.
Later this year, we will be in a position to begin to accept cyber threat indicators from the private sector in automated near real-time format.
We have set up the NCCIC as your primary pathway to provide cyber threat indicators to the U.S. government. Yes, the government is trying to make it easy for you.
Today I am pleased to announce that the Department of Homeland Security is also finalizing plans to open up a satellite office in Silicon Valley, to serve as another point of contact with our friends here. We want to strengthen critical relationships in Silicon Valley and ensure that the government and the private sector benefit from each other's research and development.
And we want to convince some of the talented workforce here in Silicon Valley to come to Washington.
The new United States Digital Service provides the option for talent to flow and rotate between private industry and our government teams. This will build capacity on all fronts. I hope some of you listening will consider a tour of service for your country.
Congress is poised to help us in cybersecurity.
Late last year Congress passed the National Cybersecurity Protection Act, which codifies into law that the NCCIC is the federal civilian interface with the private sector for cybersecurity. Late last year, Congress also passed legislation to help DHS hire and pay a highly-skilled cybersecurity workforce.
We want to go further. In January President Obama came to the NCCIC and announced that his Administration supports additional laws to establish the NCCIC as the primary portal through which the private sector should pass cyber threat indicators.
To encourage the private sector to share cyber threat indicators with the NCCIC, the President also announced that we now support legislation that will provide protection from civil and criminal liability to those who share cyber threat indicators with the NCCIC.
President Obama has proposed and supports a national data breach reporting system, in lieu of the existing patchwork of state laws on the subject. He has proposed and supports enhanced criminal penalties for cybercrime.
But, we are not just waiting for Congress to legislate.
The President has been active in issuing a number of executive orders and actions to strengthen cybersecurity.
In February 2013, the President signed an Executive Order to promote information sharing and cybersecurity best practices, by the creation of the Department of Commerce's “Cybersecurity Framework” and the Department of Homeland Security's C 3 voluntary program.
In February 2015, the President signed an Executive Order directing the Secretary of Homeland Security – that's me – to encourage the further development of private Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations, or “ISAOs.”
In February the President also directed the creation of a Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center to be a national intelligence center that “connects the dots” related to foreign cyber threats.
Just a few days ago President Obama signed an Executive Order which authorizes the Secretary of Treasury to impose financial sanctions on those who engage in malicious cyber-enabled activities that are a threat to national security, foreign policy, economic health, or the financial stability of our country.
Two weeks ago I was in Beijing and met with the Minister of Public Security and the Minister of Cyberspace Administration of the People's Republic of China. Though we have sharp differences with the Chinese Government, particularly when it comes to the theft of confidential business information and proprietary technology through cyber intrusions, we and the Chinese recognize the need to make progress on a range of cyber-related issues. As the two largest economies in the world, the U.S. and China have a vested interest in working together to address shared cyber threats, and making progress on our differences.
We have therefore agreed to further cybersecurity discussions. I believe this will allow us to make progress on cybercrime and other shared threats.
The Department of Homeland Security also has a major law enforcement role in cybersecurity.
The Secret Service is known for the protection of our nation's leaders. The Secret Service is actually a law enforcement agency, originally formed by Abraham Lincoln in 1865 to investigate bank crime. This mission has evolved over the years to include the investigation of cybercrime.
In February of this year the Secret Service was the lead investigative agency responsible for bringing to justice one of America's most wanted cybercriminal suspects, Vladimir Drinkman.
Homeland Security Investigations is also involved in hunting down cybercrime.
The United States Coast Guard is involved in cybersecurity – by working to protect our maritime transportation system – a system that contributes $650 billion annually to the Nation's gross domestic product and sustains more than 13 million jobs – from cyber related threats.
These are some of the things your government is doing in cybersecurity.
Now, there are several things I ask you to think about.
First, we are all only as strong as our weakest link. You know this, as well as I do. The most sophisticated companies and government agencies with the best cybersecurity remain vulnerable to the most basic act of spear-phishing, if just one of our employees opens just one wrong email or attachment.
The same is true of companies with whom you do business and are linked with on the internet. There are wide differences in the level of sophistication in American business when it comes to cybersecurity. Yet we are all increasingly interconnected. This is why I am glad to see on the program for this RSA conference a session on “Combating Cyber Risk in the Supply Chain.”
Those of us at this conference must leave here and encourage others to practice good “cyber hygiene.”
Second, I want you to know that, when it comes to the government's cybersecurity responsibility, I am determined to root out any turf battles between government agencies. I am encouraging my people within Homeland Security to work in a cooperative and selfless fashion with our interagency partners at the FBI, NSA, Defense, Treasury, Justice and Commerce.
Now, finally, I have an ask: for your indulgence and your understanding on the subject of encryption.
The Department of Homeland Security has both the cybersecurity mission and a law enforcement/counterterrorism mission for the American people. We have feet in both camps. I therefore believe I have a good perspective on this issue.
The current course we are on, toward deeper and deeper encryption in response to the demands of the marketplace, is one that presents real challenges for those in law enforcement and national security.
Let me be clear: I understand the importance of what encryption brings to privacy. But, imagine the problems if, well after the advent of the telephone, the warrant authority of the government to investigate crime had extended only to the U.S. mail.
Our inability to access encrypted information poses public safety challenges.
In fact, encryption is making it harder for your government to find criminal activity, and potential terrorist activity.
We in government know that a solution to this dilemma must take full account of the privacy rights and expectations of the American public, the state of the technology, and the cybersecurity of American businesses.
We need your help to find the solution.
Homeland security itself is a balance – a balance between the basic, physical security of the American people and the liberties and freedoms we cherish as Americans.
I tell audiences that I can build you a perfectly safe city on a hill, but it will constitute a prison. Two days ago, at the 20 th anniversary of the bombing in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people, I said that terrorism of any type cannot succeed if the people refuse to be terrorized.
In the name of homeland security, we can build more walls, erect more screening devices, interrogate more people, and make everybody suspicious of each other, but we should not do this at the cost of who we are as a nation of people who cherish privacy and freedom to travel, celebrate our diversity, and who are not afraid.
In the final analysis, these are the things that constitute our greatest homeland security.
Thank you for listening to me.
Why Marilyn Mosby's Comments on Freddie Gray Matter
The Baltimore state's attorney gave a much more forceful case for justice than her counterparts in Ferguson, Cleveland, and New York City.
by Emma Roller and Priscilla Alvarez
In a forceful press conference delivered on Friday morning, Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby showed that she is the prosecutor that Baltimore deserves.
Mosby, 35, is the youngest chief prosecutor of any major city in the country. Just four months into her job, Mosby was tasked with the case of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old who died after suffering a spinal injury while in custody of Baltimore police officers.
In the press conference Friday, Mosby walked the public through the details of the case, from the time of Gray's arrest on April 12 to his death a week later. She then listed the charges —including manslaughter, assault, and second-degree murder—against six police officers who were involved in Gray's arrest.
"To the youth of this city, I will seek justice on your behalf," Mosby said. "This is a moment. This is your moment."
The Baltimore Police Union, meanwhile, has maintained that the officers are innocent in the case.
For Mosby, the wrongful death of an unarmed black man like Gray is not an abstract issue. When she was growing up in Boston, Mosby's 17-year-old cousin was shot to death by another teenager after being mistaken for a drug dealer.
Mosby also happens to be a proud descendant of a long line of police officers.
"I come from five generations of law enforcement. My father was an officer. My mother was an officer. Several of my aunts and uncles, my recently departed and beloved grandfather was one of the founding members of the first black police organization in Massachusetts," she said.
There is something to be said, of course, for prosecutors not wanting to bias the outcome of the case. But Mosby's comments drew a stark contrast to her counterparts in New York City, Ferguson, Mo., and Cleveland—other cities that have been racked with unrest over the past year in the wake of police killings.
Demographics are important here. Mosby is young, black, and female; the other prosecutors are middle-aged, white, and male. And while Mosby's response to the case has been as aggressive and empathetic as you'd expect a state's attorney to be, other attorneys' responses were measured to the point of being lackadaisical.
What do these other cases have to do with the death of Freddie Gray, other than the fact of an unarmed black man dying at the hands of white police officers? They illustrate the undeniable tension in any conversation between state law enforcement and black citizens. The way that prosecutors responded to unrest and protests in the wake of these cases is instructive: In Mosby's case, it shows the best possible way to communicate with a pained community.
Staten Island, New York
On July 17, Eric Garner, 43, was placed in a chokehold by a Staten Island police officer and died. Less than a month later, the New York City Medical examiner's office ruled his death a homicide.
Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan received national attention for failing to secure an indictment in the Garner case. Despite public outrage, he has stood by the handling of the case.
After the medical examiner's ruling in August, Donovan told a Staten Island news outlet that he was aware of outrage in the black community about Garner's death, but he said, "that will not sway me to a conclusion one way or the other. The facts and the truth will sway us.
"We don't judge our cases based on how much media attention they generate," he added. "I usually don't have protests outside my door."
Donovan faced criticism for being too close to Staten Island police officers, and he later announced he would hold grand jury proceedings. In December, a grand jury decided not to indict the police officer who killed Garner.
In a New York Times interview earlier this year, Donovan touched on the video that captured the chokehold.
"I can understand why the public, the general public, would read accounts that a medical examiner used the word 'homicide,'" Donovan said. "That they saw a videotape—first of all, any violence looks awful—and see a videotape and hear Eric's last words and say, 'How could this be?'"
Donovan, who is running to replace GOP Rep. Michael Grimm in Congress in an election next week, has seemingly made little mention of the Garner case since February.
On Aug. 9 of last year, Michael Brown, 18, was shot to death by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. Robert McCulloch, the lead prosecutor in Brown's case, faced criticism that he moved too slowly to act, and that his personal bias toward law enforcement—his father, a police officer, was shot and killed by a black man while on duty—could sway the case. Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot Brown, was never arrested for the incident, and was never charged with a crime.
At a press conference announcing his office's decision not to charge Wilson, McCulloch turned the blame on the media and offered the verbal equivalent of a shrug. One reporter asked McCulloch to explain how his office's decision constituted justice for Brown and his family.
"I understand some people have made up their minds—both ways—and are not going to change. There isn't a whole lot I can do," McCulloch replied. "What I would urge them to do is express those feelings, express them in a constructive way, and try to make some changes so that nothing like this ever happens again."
In a follow-up question, McCulloch was asked what changes can be made to prevent such cases from happening in the future.
"It's impossible to answer questions like that because there are so many variables that play into every case. There's just no real way to answer a question like that. So you have to look at every bit of information in every case that comes in. The idea, I hope, is to avoid ever being in that situation," he replied. "I think the people in the community, they need to make their voices heard. And they need to address those issues, so that we get those issues, so that we're never in this position again."
Mosby was asked a similar question on Friday, and gave a more definitive response:
Reporter: what will prevent another Freddie Gray? Mosby: Accountability. R:There hasn't been any for so long. Mosby:You're getting it now.
On Nov. 22, Tamir Rice, 12, was shot to death by a police officer in Cleveland within two seconds of the officer arriving on the scene. Rice died the next day.
The office of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty will present evidence from the case investigation to a grand jury, after which the grand jury will decide whether to file criminal charges against the two police officers involved. As the sheriff's office investigation is still ongoing, the grand jury has yet to hand down a decision.
In a press conference the day after Rice's death, McGinty said he was confident in the grand jury's ability to find justice in the case.
"I think these cases are so serious, so important that there should be a citizen review, not just an arbitrary private review by an elected county prosecutor," McGinty said. "The decision to charge or not charge ultimately rests with the grand jury in these cases.
"The prosecutor's review is only a review to see if criminal charges are appropriate," he continued. "We did not review tactical issues, if tactics were perfect or imperfect, or could be improved or improper. These are policy issues at that point. These cases, whether they regard guns—and most of them regard guns with the individual—or drugs, or whatever the collateral issue is, those are things that we're not discussing today. Those are broad policy pictures for the public, for the political process, or for internal police review."
Still, calling his own role in the Rice investigation "arbitrary" rings a bit odd here. For the state prosecutor looking to save face, employing a grand jury in a sensitive case is a win-win: Turning over the ruling to a panel of citizens gives the appearance of remaining accountable to the public while allowing the state attorney's office to eschew some responsibility for the case's outcome.
In a separate wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Rice's family, the city of Cleveland originally alleged that Rice was "directly and proximately" responsible for his own death—a stance that the city walked back and apologized for after members of the public expressed outrage.
Freddie Gray's case is still ongoing. Six officers have been charged in his death—an unprecedented step in this type of case seen over the past calendar year. But aside from the facts of the case, the simple directness with which Mosby addressed her community was a shocking reminder of how law enforcement can help rebuild trust that has been eroded.
Where Mosby directly addressed the black community, McCulloch, Donovan, and McGinty distanced them with vague calls to "make some changes" and "make their voices heard." Mosby has been the first attorney in a recent case to hear that pain, personalize it, and truly respond to it.
"I heard your calls of 'No justice, no peace,'" Mosby told her city on Friday. "However, your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of Freddie Gray."
If there is to be a turning point in the national conversation on police brutality against unarmed black men, Mosby may have delivered just that.
House Judiciary Committee votes to put a leash on NSA's snooping power
by Steven DiCarlo
When former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the government has been using the USA Patriot Act for the secret collection and surveillance of metadata, the now-fugitive sparked a national debate about the transparency of the American intelligence community. Two years later, the House Judiciary Committee has passed a bill known as the USA Freedom Act, which aims to prevent the government from continuing to prioritize national security over civil liberties.
The House Judiciary Committee showed strong support for the new measure, voting for the USA Freedom Act to pass with a 25-to-2 vote. The House is expected to follow suit and vote to pass the bill, and Rep. Adam Schiff of California told the Times that a bipartisan House vote “will send a strong message to the Senate that in the House, both sides of the aisle want reforms.” Congress will then get a chance to rework the Patriot Act on June 1, when three sections of the bill will be up for reauthorization.
If the Freedom Act gets approved, the NSA will be prohibited from continuing the bulk collection of metadata, and will only be able to access data stored by phone companies if they obtain the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court first. The bill will also mandate the creation of a panel of experts who will help provide the Court with advice regarding civil liberties and technology issues.
“The bill ends bulk collection, it ends secret law,” said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, who was a co-author of the Freedom Act and was the original author of the Patriot Act. “It increases the transparency of our intelligence community and it does all this without compromising national security.”
While the Freedom Act won't limit the retention of data collected about people who turn out to not have had any connection to a legitimate suspect and doesn't change the Drug Enforcement Administration's surveillance programs, it has thus far received widespread support from human rights advocates and lawmakers.
Lawmakers express resentment over reports of Capitol police leaving guns in bathrooms carelessly
by Tasnuva Rahm
Lawmakers became dissatisfied and expressed their resentment over the claims that the Capitol Police left their service weapons in bathrooms and other spots of the Capitol Complex for at least 3 times this year. A recent incident drew the attention of the concerned quarters when a child found a loaded Glock while visiting the Capitol.
In a written statement, House Administration Committee Chairwoman Candice Miller, R-Mich and Ranking Member Robert Brady, D-Pa said, “The fact that dangerous weapons were left in the open, potentially within reach of the general public, is unacceptable,”
According to Fox News, the lawmakers may hold a briefing on the incident in next week.
For the entire security entities, such claim of negligence is the latest embarrassing fact. Already, the Capitol Police and other concerned security bodies are under investigation over a last month incident where a man violated restricted airspace and landed a gyrocopter just next to the Capitol. Capitol Police board is also reviewing the report of misplaced firearms for several occasions.
The newspaper reported about the recent incident that a member of House Speaker John Boehner's detail allegedly left a gun in a bathroom in March which was later found by an 8 year old child.
Earlier, another firearm was found stuffed in a restroom stall in the Capitol Visitor's Centre last January which has been discovered by a Capitol worker. The gun reportedly belongs to one of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's security member. Recently, for the third time, Custodial staffs found a weapon two weeks ago at the Capitol Police headquarters. The most alarming thing is that these firearms are Glocks and do not have conventional safeties, they will fire if the trigger is pulled.
Miller and Brady further said in their statement that “We will be looking for a full briefing on these incidents, how they happened, what corrective action has been taken, and how we hopefully do not have similar instances in the future,”
Their committee is designated to oversee the House security.
Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider said her department takes security breaches very seriously. However, she declined to comment on the specific incidents.
Criminal justice expert suggests ways to keep community/police tension low
by Jason Newton
The goal is to avoid a situation like what happened in Baltimore. The homicide of a man in police custody, leading to an outbreak of protests, followed by rioting from many young citizens, and eventually the arrest of six Baltimore police officers.
“It absolutely has to be a two-way street,” said University of New Haven Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Dr. David Schroeder. “We have to understand the needs of law enforcement and law enforcement needs to understand the needs of the people.”
Dr. Schroeder has a long history of investigating cases of police brutality. As a private investigator he helped investigate the civil case for Rodney King. He says local policing should involve knowledge of culture, both police culture and the culture of the community they police.
“Where it needs to continue onto is the idea of culture that is being policed is represented within the law enforcement community, not just the number of people that fit a certain demographic,” Schroeder said.
Specifically for Connecticut, Schroeder says we have one of the best juvenile criminal justice systems in the country. That fact could help to stop any feelings of discontent from a community.
“If we're going to look at civil unrest led by young, discontented people, it wouldn't surprise me if we have fewer of because of how the juvenile justice system has been operating,” Schroeder said.
None of these suggestions can guarantee that civil unrest won't happen in Connecticut, but statistics show that it can lower the chances.
Revisions to Patriot Act backed by both parties
by Amy R. Connolly
WASHINGTON, May 1 (UPI) -- A bill that would curb the federal government's sweeps of phone and Internet records and overhaul the Patriot Act is gaining traction in the House and Senate, underscoring the shift from the focus on national security at the expense of civil liberties to strike a new balance.
On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would curtail the bulk collection of America's phone records, exposed by Edward Snowden, and is headed to almost certain passage in the House. An identical bill is working its way through the Senate and is quickly gaining support despite objections by Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, who is facing his first policy defeat since taking the reigns as majority leader. Last week, McConnell proposed an overall five-year extension of the Patriot Act. The bill also extends expiring parts of the Patriot Act until December 2019.
"The bill ends bulk collection, it ends secret law," said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., a bill co-author and the original author of the Patriot Act. "It increases the transparency of our intelligence community and it does all this without compromising national security."
The USA Freedom Act would demand that data be stored by phone companies instead of the federal government and could be accessed by federal intelligence agencies only after approval by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court. The act will also create an expert panel to advise the FISA on privacy, civil liberties and technology matters.
The bill is already meeting resistance from groups that include the American Civil Liberties Union leaders, who think lawmakers should let the Patriot Act lapse on June 1. Some also worry that the effort doesn't go far enough to reign in the government spying on Americans.
"Diehards from either end of the political spectrum will want us to march to the brink," said Rep. John Conyers Jr., from Michigan.
Last year, a similar bill overwhelmingly passed the House but fell flat in the Senate. Lawmakers say this year's Freedom Act was drafted after delicate negotiations among the several House committees and supporters in the Senate.
In 2013, Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor exposed information that showed the bulk collection of America's telephone records, among other things.
Letter to the Editor
Community policing is a two-way street
by C. Kim Bracey-mayor of York
Fifty-three years ago, in 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed the law designating May 15 as Peace Officers' Memorial Day, and the week in which May 15 falls as National Police Week. On Sunday, May 3, I will be attending an annual memorial service (something I have done every year in office) at Faith United Church of Christ with our retired and active officers to honor them and their work.
We have come a long way as a community and police department, and we know that there is still more work to be done.
Our police chief, police personnel and committed citizens want a public safety force with a record of excellence, and we will continually strive toward that goal.
In these heady times, we all would do well to take a step back, breathe and reflect. Public safety is not the exclusive domain of officers or government. It is the domain of all of us — as citizens who care, communicate and trust. Our emphasis has been on community policing, which relies on feet-on-the-street, mutual sharing and mutual trust. Community policing is a two-way street. Its efforts are only as strong as our citizens and our personnel meeting halfway.
Through painful cuts, renegotiating union contracts and disciplined spending, we held the line on municipal property taxes in 2013, in 2014, and now again in 2015. We have done so while not sacrificing public safety.
Community policing works. From day one, our strategy was to intensify and grow our Neighborhood Enforcement Units. I grew up in York seeing police officers as members of my church and active in our community — William Smallwood, Denny Smith, and now deceased George Smith, Chief Ruppert, Amos Palmer and Chief Tom Chatman. These officers knew communication, relationships and trust were the best antidotes to crime.
Trust enables the police to gain greater access to valuable information from the community that could lead to the solution and prevention of crimes. It engenders support for needed crime-control measures. And trust provides an opportunity for officers to establish a working relationship with the community. The entire police organization must be involved in enlisting the cooperation of community members in promoting safety and security, and the community must trust the police. Building trust will not happen overnight; it will require an ongoing effort.
Before I came into office over five years ago, I challenged our officers to intensify our existing community policing efforts. Perhaps optimistically, I also said that, together, we can reduce Part I crimes to below 2,000 per year. Part I crimes are the most serious crimes, including murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, larceny, arson and motor vehicle theft.
Five-plus years later, the results are in, and facts are stubborn things. Intensive community policing works. The year 2014 marks the second straight year in which Part I crimes were below 2,000. During our administration, we reduced Part I crimes from 2,652 in 2008 to 1,850 in 2014, and that is a 30 percent decrease.
Community policing and civic responsibility are two-way streets shared by neighbors and our public safety professionals, and it is improving daily in our York. I continue to urge our citizens to use iPads and other devices to text, tweet, stream and be the changes you want to see.
I urge all concerned to work with us so together we can deter crime and save lives. In addition to our anonymous YORKTIPS hotline at 847-411, we offer "Gun Drop Off Amnesty." Under the amnesty, we promise "no asking of names, no judgment and no charge" to people who turn in any gun.
Our new police headquarters on West King Street is open for business. Some $5.6 million in upgrades means greater integrity of our evidence storage and processing system, a stronger security system, renovated locker rooms, new detective interview rooms, new prisoner cells, and a new fitness center.
Upgrades also enabled our department to receive long-sought accreditation by the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association earlier this month. Accreditation helps us evaluate and improve overall performance through best practices and measures of excellence.
Note that upgrades were made possible through a $5 million grant from the state and $600,000 from the WellSpan Health.
We believe in our public safety professionals and thank them for their hard work. We also thank our police retirees for their civic virtue and their loyalty to their brethren. In late 2014, benefit concessions by the retirees enabled us to avert a property tax increase and avoid draconian cuts in our police department.
In a new public-private partnership precedent, WellSpan has pledged a contribution of $500,000 annually for public safety in both 2015 and 2016. Fifty-thousand dollars of this total will be earmarked for South George Street community policing.
Also, at a cost of about $100,000, WellSpan will pay for body cameras for all city police officers. Body cameras are good for our officers and our people. They record accurate evidence and encourage all of us to be on our best behavior.
But all the technology in the world cannot replace meaningful communication, trust and relationships shared by public safety professionals and our citizens.
Community partnership policing is essential because, as the old African proverb says, "it takes a village" to raise a child right and to give her or him the requisite hope from which responsible citizenship and leadership can take root. We all are in this together. Community policing and public safety are two-way streets requiring responsibility, reporting and accountability from all of us.
North Augusta Public Safety to wear body cameras starting Friday
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW) -- North Augusta Department of Public Safety has said starting Friday morning officers will wear body cameras.
Starting on Friday, body cameras will become part of the sworn uniformed officers as part of their issued equipment, North Augusta Public Safety said.
According to North Augusta Public Safety, many hours of research, testing and evaluating have been done to determine which body worn cameras would best meet the needs of Public Safety.
Are the Baltimore Police Using Twitter for Public Safety, or Propaganda?
by Zoe Carpenter
(Postings are on the site)
At 11:27 on Monday morning, as the family of a Baltimore man who suffered a fatal injury while in police custody gathered at the New Shiloh Baptist church for his funeral, the Baltimore Police Department used its Twitter account to spread news of a “credible threat to law enforcement” from gangs, who had allegedly united to “take out” police officers. The police offered little corroborating evidence or information about where the tip came from, but the media took the story and ran. The narrative of the Baltimore police as victims spread quickly, and tinted much of the coverage of the protests later that night.
There had in fact been a report earlier Monday that the Bloods and the Crips and the Black Guerrilla Family had come together—but not for some sort of cop-killing strategy summit. Instead, they were showing respect for Freddie Gray at a demonstration at Baltimore's City Hall. “We did not make that truce to harm cops,” one gang member told a television reporter. “To stop what's going on—that's all we're trying to do. We want justice for Freddie Gray.” A Crips member identified as Charles told The New York Times that he and others tried to protect black-owned businesses from looters—though he admitted they directed vandals “toward Arab- and Chinese-owned stores” instead.
The “credible threat” alert was just one of many pieces of information spread by the Baltimore Police Department via its official Twitter account that seemed to cross the line between public-safety information and propaganda. The feed from Monday night sounded like a dispatch from an urban dystopia in which there are only a few good guys with badges, against everyone else. Many of the tweets are written in language that does more to evoke fear and lay blame than to inform. “In an act of violence and destruction—a group of criminals have set another car on fire at North Avenue and Fulton Ave,” read one tweet. Another: “Groups of violent criminals are continuing to throw rocks, bricks, and other items at police officers.” The word “criminals” appears over and over again, so often that someone reading the feed could be forgiven for thinking that Baltimore really did turn into a scene from The Purge .
Some of the information that the department has provided to its 127,000 Twitter followers seems to have been at best incorrect and at worst deliberately misleading. “A group of criminals have just started a fire outside the library located at Pennsylvania Ave and North Ave,” the police tweeted on Tuesday night. But according to Guardian reporter Jon Swaine, it was the police themselves who caused the fire, when sparks from a tear-gas grenade landed on trash.
Individual tweets were often framed as safety advisories, but together they created a selective narrative of events that later bled into news coverage. On Monday afternoon at 3:01 pm the department warned on Twitter and Facebook about “a group of juveniles in the area of Mondawmin Mall. Expect traffic delays in the area.” Half an hour later the police said that kids had started throwing bricks; 15 minutes after that the department reported that an officer had been hurt. Later, media accounts would describe a violent riot started by teens who were hungry for a fight. But as eyewitnesses pointed out, the cops had shown up in full riot gear just as a high school near the mall was letting out. The police shut down the subway station and the bus lines, effectively trapping the students. “Those kids were set up, they were treated like criminals before the first brick was thrown,” one teacher wrote. Social media functioned as a sort of virtual riot gear, manufacturing the narrative of violence in the digital realm as the police were escalating it on the ground.
“Someone follows the police Twitter feed for two reasons, the first being public safety. I want to know if there's a crime in my neighborhood, or a road blockage,” said Jacob Simpson, the pastor of the Salem Lutheran Church in south Baltimore. “Or, someone follows it as a cheerleader of the police department.” Simpson's impression is that the police are using social media to cater to the latter, and at the expense of safety. “Their job is to provide a basic account of where hotspots are, but they are editorializing…. They're galvanizing people who have this nasty narrative about what's going on.”
Lawrence Brown, a public health professor at Baltimore's Morgan State University, sees the police department's social media strategy as part of a broader campaign to darken public opinion towards demonstrators and build sympathy for the police. “Why would they tweet this out in the middle of a funeral?” he asked, referring to the “credible threat” announcement. Brown traced a pattern in the communications of city officials, from the police union president comparing protesters to a “lynch mob” to the governor, the mayor, and the city council president's invocation of “thugs” to the police department's repeated use of “criminals.”
“The protesters were winning the narrative in local media and so it seemed like [city officials] were trying to find a way to capture the dominate position,” said Brown. “Once you paint them as the enemy to the media, to the general public, then you can really justify the way you go about treating the people after that.”
The Baltimore Police Department is not the only law enforcement agency to use social media to shape a narrative rather than as a conduit for safety information.
In December, after five football players from the St. Louis Rams walked onto the field with their hands up in a show of solidarity with protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, the St. Louis Police Department used Twitter to declare that an expression of regret from an NFL executive was not good enough.
The Baltimore Police Department did not respond to an inquiry about management and oversight of its Twitter feed. The department's activity on social media over the past several days has raised a number of bigger questions, too, questions that are likely to come up again as law-enforcement agencies increasingly find their narratives challenged by skeptical citizens. What is the purpose of law-enforcement agencies' social-media communications—is it appropriate to use them as tools for publicity and commentary, as well as to distribute public safety information? How can that line be meaningfully drawn? Does using language like “criminals” to dehumanize whole groups of people—who have not been charged with a crime—really promote peace in a community, or instead make it harder to achieve?
Department of Public Safety to launch career-criminal squad in Arizona
by Mark Remillard
PHOENIX -- The Department of Public Safety is working to zero in on repeat offenders with the creation of a career-criminal squad.
DPS Director, Col. Frank Milstead created a similar squad during his tenure as Chief of Mesa police and is taking a page out of that playbook with the creation of a statewide squad.
"They were highly effective in the East Valley," said Deputy Director Heston Silbert.
The multi-agency squad will see help from the Phoenix Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to track down serious repeat offenders.
"We tend with those career criminals who are affiliated with prison gangs, white supremacy groups, street gangs, so what we would call organized and semi-organized crime," Silbert said.
The detectives and supervisors that will be part of the squad are handpicked and have experience apprehending career criminals, according to Silbert.
He said DPS expects the squad to be operational in June.
Freddie Gray death: New narratives question police brutality claim
by Holly Yan
Two new accounts of what happened to Freddie Gray question the narrative that has fueled protests in Baltimore -- the notion that Gray died as a result of police brutality.
The first comes from a relative of one of the officers involved in the arrest. She told CNN the officer thinks Gray was injured while he was being arrested -- before he was put inside a police van.
The second is an account from a prisoner who was in the same police van, as published in The Washington Post. The prisoner reportedly told investigators he thought Gray "was intentionally trying to injure himself."
The new twists to the story come just before Baltimore police are set to release their investigation to state prosecutors, who will decide whether charges should be filed against any officers.
Source: Officer doesn't know how Gray was hurt
The woman who spoke to CNN did so on the condition of anonymity. She is related to the officer, but said the officer didn't request the interview.
She told CNN's Anderson Cooper that the officer doesn't know how Gray was hurt during his arrest.
The relative also gave an explanation of why Gray was not buckled into the police van: he appeared belligerent.
"They didn't want to reach over him. You were in a tight space in the paddy wagon. He's already irate," she said.
"He still has his teeth and he still has his saliva. So in order to seat belt somebody you have to get in their personal space. They're not going to get in his personal space if he's already irate."
Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts has said Gray should have been buckled in.
"We know he was not buckled in the transport wagon, as he should've been. No excuses for that, period," Batts said last week.
As for when Gray suffered the fatal injury, Batts said there was "potential" it could have happened either inside or outside the police van.
Report: Gray was trying to hurt himself, prisoner says
The Washington Post account cites an investigative document written by a Baltimore police investigator.
In it, a prisoner who was in the same police van as Gray said he could hear Gray "banging against the walls" of the van and thought Gray "was intentionally trying to injure himself."
The prisoner was separated from Gray by a metal barrier and could not see him, police have said.
The account is similar to what Batts told CNN affiliate WJZ last week, when the police commissioner said another suspect in the van heard Gray "thrashing about."
But Gray family attorney Jason Downs disputes the notion that Gray caused his own fatal injury.
"We disagree with any implication that Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord," Downs told the Post. "We question the accuracy of the police reports we've seen thus far, including the police report that says Mr. Gray was arrested without force or incident."
An attorney for the local police union has said those moments in the van are critical to understanding the case.
"Our position is something happened in that van," police union attorney Michael Davey said. "We just don't know what."
Regardless of what happened, the police commissioner said Gray should have gotten medical help sooner.
"We know our police employees failed to get him medical attention in a timely manner multiple times," Batts said last week.
Police to hand over investigation
Baltimore police said they plan to hand over findings from their investigation to state prosecutors Friday. But that's far from the end of the case.
"Let me further clear up: When we take our information or our files to the State's Attorney's Office on Friday, that is not the conclusion of this investigation," Batts said.
"That is just us sitting down, providing all the data we have. We will continue to follow the evidence wherever it goes."
And don't expect prosecutors to announce a decision about charges anytime soon.
"I hate to say this, but I think if people are waiting for answers or charges to come on Friday. I don't think that's going to happen based on the way the process works," Gray family attorney Mary Koch said.
"I think that the government officials need to advise people of how the process honestly works and to lower their expectations about what's going to happen this Friday."
Protests spread across the country
Wednesday night, protesters took to the streets Baltimore once again, demanding change and accountability for Gray's death.
For the second night in a row, a 10 p.m. curfew went into effect. And for the second night in a row, the crowd dissipated peacefully, preventing a repeat of Monday night's riots.
But a protest in New York City turned out differently. Police said more than 100 people were arrested during a "NYC Rise Up & Shut It Down With Baltimore" rally.
In Denver, police made nine arrests during a similar protest Wednesday night. The charges include assault of a police officer, robbery, resisting police, disobedience to lawful orders, obstructing roadways and interference.
And more protests are slated over the next two days in Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Seattle, Portland, Oregon, and Oakland, California.
Woman charged with threatening police has legal degree
by Julie Wolfe and Duffie Dixon
EAST POINT, Ga. — The woman accused of threatening to kill white police officers in a post on social media holds an advanced degree in law studies.
Ebony Monique Dickens, 33, was arrested and charged with dissemination of information to facilitate terroristic threats after a Facebook post she made, under the name Tiffany Milan, indicating that white police officers should be killed.
The threat included a call to action and specifics about her plan to "kill at least fifteen tomorrow" and "I can pull it off."
In court Wednesday, City Solicitor Antavious Weemes said Dickens should have known better since she had a criminology degree. Her public defender, Tracey Moran, corrected the judge saying Dickens had a master's degree in "legal services."
That legal knowledge played out in her online threat:
Freedom of speech tho. So when you can absolutely show me in the 1st amendment where it explicitly says you can't say 'kill all cops', then I'll delete my status. Other than that.... NOPE!
The judge disagreed with Dickens' First Amendment argument, setting bond at $10,000. The judge also banned her from all social media activity — insisting that a condition of her bond required her to freeze all social media accounts.
"My client was simply venting ... it was a horrible mistake," said Moran. "The chance of her doing this again is highly improbable."
When police searched Dickens' East Point, Ga., home, they confiscated three computers and a loaded gun.
"If you're feeling this thought and have access to a firearm, potentially you could decide to execute threats that you're speaking of," said Lt. Cliff Chandler with the East Point Police Department.
The case has sparked a legal debate between First Amendment rights to free speech and words used on social media that could be used to incite violence.
"She's walking a really, really fine line," said Derek Gage, a lawyer. "I tend to think she stepped over it with words like 'now.' ... Those words tend to suggest imminent lawless action. And she clearly recognizes that powder keg situation that does exist, not just in Baltimore, but around the country."
Dickens' Facebook post came amid rising tensions across the country surrounding black men being killed by white police officers, including the death of Freddie Gray who suffered a severe spinal injury and died while in police custody.
The U.S. Supreme Court is weighing the argument of social media threats from a Pennsylvania case where a man posted threatening messages about his wife on Facebook. The man's attorney argued that his client was upset and had no intention to harm anyone. Lower courts convicted the man, saying it was enough his wife felt threatened.
A decision from the Supreme Court is expected in June.
U.S. Conference of Mayors Reissues Community Policing Recommendations
Mayors and Police Chiefs Issue Report, Calling for Outside Investigators For Police-Involved Shootings
WASHINGTON, April 29, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the situation in Baltimore continues to unfold, the nation's mayors today are reissuing their recommendations on improving community policing, initially disseminated under the leadership of U.S. Conference of Mayors President Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson at the Conference's 83 rd Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. in January.
The recommendations were unveiled by Gary (IN) Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, who chairs the USCM Working Group of Mayors and Police Chiefs, following a four-month review of policies and best-practices nationwide, during a session titled "Strengthening Community Policing in the 21 st Century.
Participants in that session included Mayor Freeman-Wilson, Director of White House Intergovernmental Affairs Jerry E. Abramson; Philadelphia Police Commissioner and President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing Co-Chair Charles Ramsey; George Mason University Professor and President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing Co-Chair Laurie Robinson; and U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services Office Director and Task Force Executive Director Ronald L. Davis. The session was moderated by Mayor Johnson and included an open question and answer period with hundreds of mayors in the audience.
The Conference's working group was formed by Johnson following the tragedy in Ferguson and an October meeting in Little Rock, AR where over 100 mayors and police chiefs met at the William J. Clinton Center in Little Rock, AR to discuss different community-policing strategies, lessons to be learned from the situation in Ferguson and ways to build trust between law enforcement and city officials. The group was charged with developing a series of recommendations for local and national actions intended to improve policing in America.
The full report of recommendations, which will inform the work of President Obama's Task Force on 21 st Century Policing, is available at www.usmayors.org, but topic areas of focus are as follows:
Building police-community trust;
Improving police department practices;
Assuring timely and accurate communications;
Conducting independent investigations;
Addressing racial and economic disparities;
Providing national leadership.
During the Community Policing session, Johnson said, "Mayors stand at the crossroads of their communities. We are the leaders best positioned to bridge the gaps in trust and understanding our residents, all of whom want what is best for our cities." Johnson also participated in the first public listening session of President Obama's Task Force on 21 st Century Policing on January 13 in Washington, D.C.
Commenting on the work of the USCM Working Group, Mayor Freeman-Wilson said, "Mayors and police chiefs know full well that effective community policing is practiced in a constitutional manner by many police departments, and the vast majority of police officers have developed trusting relationships with the communities they serve. But, we also know there ought to be full confidence with the public in our law enforcement. … If our quest is to achieve a sense of justice in our communities, we have a responsibility to address these issues whenever there is a police-involved death. … This an opportunity for mayors to lead and we can choose to navigate around these issues, or we can create a new landscape in our communities to create a better future for our children."
Of the mayors' recommendations, Chief Ramsey said, "We will use this document to help us in our work moving forward. We need the support of the nation's mayors to help us meet our deadline." The Task Force's report to President Obama is expected by March 2, 2015.
Executive Director Davis spoke of his office's on-going work with The USCM saying, "The COPS office is tasked with supporting the work of the President's Task Force. We know that trust is key to public safety and requires strong relationships. It is a great honor to serve in this capacity and we appreciate the work of the nation's mayors."
During the Winter Meeting, mayors also released the public safety findings results of a Zogby poll, which surveyed public perceptions of local, state and federal government officials in late December. The poll (at usmayors.org) found that:
On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being no trust of local governments to provide public safety and 5 being the highest trust, 54% of Americans polled gave a "trust" score of 4 – 5, while only 19% gave a 1 – 2.
Cities' police departments received even higher ratings in protecting the safety and rights of minorities —62% high and 32% low. This was something—to varying degrees—that all races and ideologies agree upon by majorities, though, minorities' ratings are lower. Whites offer a 66% high to 29% low performance for the police; Hispanics 60% to 34% and African Americans 50% to 43%. Liberals offer 54% to 39%; conservatives 73% to 24%; and moderates 60% to 35%.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are nearly 1400 such cities in the country today, and each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/usmayors, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/usmayors.
Empowering crime victims through community engagement goal of awareness week
by Amy Neal
As Missouri observed national Crime Victims' Rights Week, April 19 to 25, events across the state focused on the role communities play in providing victims with the support they need to pursue justice and recovery.
The theme of this year's awareness week was “Engaging Communities; Empowering Victims.”
In Liberty, this message was highlighted Friday, April 25, during an event hosted by the Western Region of the Missouri Department of Corrections' Division of Probation & Parole at the District 19 office, 910 Kent St.
Employees throughout the region gathered to donate toys to The Children's Place.
“This is for our little victims,” Shelley Day, one of the event organizers, said. “This year we just thought we wanted to focus on the little guys.”
Roxane Hill, vice president of development and communications for TCP, spoke about the nonprofit's work with children from birth to age 6 years.
“We help heal the youngest survivors of abuse, neglect and trauma,” she said. “All of them have had something happen to them that has drawn them out of their (biological) family.”
The center's young clients are in state custody. The staff at TCP is focused on early intervention so these children don't get stuck in the system as they are growing up or end up in the criminal justice system as adults.
Hill said this is the message TCP staff gives to the children: “Our job is to keep you safe. Your job is to let us help.”
TCP also tries to provide the children with life experiences through field trips and birthday observances. The donations from the probation and parole workers will help make that possible.
“We can make sure every child will have a birthday,” Hill said. “They will have a book. They will have a gift. They will have a cake.”
Cherise Pearson, a probation and parole officer from District 28 in Belton, was at the Liberty event. Her office of 17 employees donated seven boxes of toys for the effort.
“It's so good to give back to the community,” Pearson said, adding that the effects of a crime linger for the victims. “They really are still in need, no matter how long ago they were victimized.”
TCP also has a parent educator program, and outpatient therapy is available to anyone in the community.
“We can't break the cycle of abuse until we have parents who have the skills to keep their kids safe,” Hill said. “We try to help the family as a whole and keep that unit strong.”
Crime victim's advocate
Jennifer Miller also spoke to the crowd assembled at the District 19 office.
As a crime victim advocate for the Kansas City Police Department, Miller ensures the rights of crime victims and their families are recognized and that these individuals are treated with compassion, dignity and respect.
“It's not the victim justice system, it's the criminal justice system,” she said.
She is the Kansas City department's only advocate to work with the families of homicide victims, meeting face to face with each family.
“These are extraordinary circumstances that are happening to ordinary people,” she said.
The No. 1 concern they bring to her is how to pay for the funeral. Miller helps connect these families with resources that are available to them, such as funeral assistance and counseling.
“Anything any of us can do to put control back in crime victims' hands is very important,” said Miller, who is also on the board of the Kansas City chapter of Parents of Murdered Children.
While she strives to empower victims to help them deal with the trauma of homicide, closure is not a reality for the survivors, Miller said.
“Don't say, ‘Get over it,'” she said. “You can get through it.”
Miller counseled the probation and parole personnel to take time to take care of their own needs.
“Allow yourself some down time,” she said. “… If you can, unplug for a while. Just make sure you take care of yourselves, whatever that might mean.”
By doing so, Miller said it would help the officers and support staff do their best work and, ultimately, best serve the community.
Regional Administrator Brent Morris closed out the presentations by emphasizing the Golden Rule.
“Everyone we come across,” he said, “we need to treat the way we would like to be treated.”
Compensation & Assistance
All states receive Federal Victims of Crime Act funds to help support victim assistance and compensation programs. The money comes from the Office for Victims of Crime, which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs.
For more information about assistance in Missouri, call 573-526-6516 or visit http://doc.mo.gov/OD/DD/OVS.php.
For information about crime victim compensation benefits, including medial services, counseling, lost wages and other expenses resulting from a crime, call 573-526-6006 or visit http://www.dps.mo.gov/dir/programs/cvc.
An April 23 ceremony at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City also called attention to the rights and protections of crime victims.
“It took determination and hard work to win the legal rights and protections victims have achieved over the last three decades, and we are committed to continuing to work in partnership with crime victims and victim advocates to extend those gains,” said Gov. Jay Nixon in a prepared statement.
The Department of Public Safety administers programs and grants for crime victims and agencies that assist victims, including the Crime Victims' Compensation Program, the Sexual Assault Services Program Grant and the Missouri Victim Automated Notification System.
Missouri has helped provide services to more than 1 million victims of crime since 1993 through grants from the federal Crime Victims Fund.
“One of the most important changes I've seen in my four decades in law enforcement is the way the criminal justice system treats crime victims,” said DPS Director Lane Roberts in a statement. “Because of the impassioned work of the members of the crime victim rights movement, victims won the right to attend and be informed of upcoming court proceedings, the right to restitution and other gains. I applaud their ongoing efforts to ensure the justice system fully serves victims and survivors.”
Baltimore police commissioner: 'The city is stable'
by Donna Leinwand Leger
One night after violent protests that saw buildings burned, stores looted and more than 20 police officers injured, Baltimore enjoyed a night of relative calm Tuesday as police and National Guard troops dispersed protesters and a curfew took effect without any major disturbances.
Shortly after the curfew began it looked as though more violent clashes between police and protesters were in store when members of the crowd hurled objects at police and officers responded by firing pepper pellets and smoke canisters into the crowd.
Yet, the tension quickly eased as the remaining crowd began to disperse and the police maintained a measured response. In all, 10 people were arrested Tuesday night, seven of them for violating the curfew, two for looting and one for disorderly conduct, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said in a news conference.
"We do not have a lot of activity or movement throughout the city as a whole, so the curfew is, in fact, working," Batts said. "Citizens are safe. The city is stable. We hope to maintain it that way."
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced the week-long curfew Monday night in response to the riots that broke out following the funeral for Freddie Gray.
Gray died April 19, one week after being arrested and suffering a severe spinal injury. After Gray's funeral Monday, protests ostensibly against police violence quickly deteriorated into devastating riots. Bands of looters, some armed with crowbars, roamed the city, hurling rocks at police, destroying patrol cars, smashing store windows and torching buildings.
As the 10 p.m. curfew drew closer, a police sergeant broadcast a plea to the thousands of people who had gathered at the intersection of West North and Pennsylvania. While the gathering on Tuesday stayed peaceful, she said, it was time to go home.
"We police ourselves. That's how we do it," she said. "We are showing America we can police ourselves. We are going to fight on your behalf. We are about our neighborhood. We're going to rebuild. We want a better Baltimore. Parents, take your children home."
While some in the crowd left, many remained until the final moments or vowed to stay even as police in riot gear advanced down the street. Dana Briscoe, 33, said he didn't think police had the resources to lock everyone up for violating the curfew. Briscoe, who works for a cell phone company, said he'd stay to make a statement.
"The whole point of the protest is bucking the system," Briscoe said. "It's a part of history."
Thomas Plummer, 28, a tow truck driver, tied a t-shirt over his face to protect himself if police turned to tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowd. He said he planned to challenge the curfew because he wanted to show that police don't have all the power.
"It shows them who is in control, who has the power," he said. "They need to remember they work for us."
A little smoke and tear gas seemed like a minor inconvenience to Shawny Reese, 28, a nursing assistant and student, who served with the Army's 101st Airborne.
"I spent 15 months in Afghanistan. If I can't stand with my people for one night, I'm not worth anything. " she said. "I want justice. I have a father, a brother. I don't want to be afraid for my men every day."
Governor Hogan said Tuesday that 250 people were arrested in Monday's violence. Police said more than 20 police were injured, and Batts said one of them remained hospitalized Tuesday. About 20 businesses and more than 140 cars were burned.
City officials are hopeful that this moment of relative calm after Monday's chaos will extend into the days ahead, aided by the presence of 2,000 National Guard troops and an additional 1,000 law enforcement officers.
"Overall today has been a very good day,'' Batts said. "We're going to be out in strong numbers making sure we have no issues in our city.''
Schools, which were closed Tuesday, will reopen Wednesday. The Baltimore Orioles will play Wednesday's game after cancelling the one scheduled for Tuesday night, although it will be played in an empty Camden Yards stadium, without spectators.
Los Angeles County settles civil rights case with Justice Dept.
The deal comes less than two years after prosecutors found a pattern of discrimination that included excessive force against blacks and Hispanics
by Brian Melley & Tami Abdollah
Los Angeles — The nation's largest sheriff's department agreed to a sweeping settlement Tuesday with the Justice Department over long-standing civil rights abuses by deputies in the Mojave Desert.
The deal approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors comes less than two years after federal prosecutors found a pattern of discrimination that included unconstitutional stops, searches, seizures, and excessive force against blacks and Hispanics in Palmdale and Lancaster.
Deputies harassed and intimidated blacks and others in public housing, showing up for inspections with as many as nine officers, sometimes with guns drawn, the Justice Department said in its June 2013 report.
Under the agreement approved 4-1 by the board, the sheriff's department admitted no wrongdoing, but agreed to be monitored by three outside experts and must meet 150 requirements over the next four years. It also agreed to pay $700,000 to residents who were harmed by alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act.
The agreement is the second major settlement in less than six months since Sheriff Jim McDonnell took office and promised to reform the scandal-plagued department. Former Sheriff Lee Baca abruptly stepped down last year after 18 subordinates were charged with federal crimes ranging from beating inmates and jail visitors to obstructing justice.
In December, supervisors approved a settlement requiring federal court oversight and a new use-of-force policy in a class-action lawsuit brought by jail inmates who claimed they were savagely beaten by guards.
Mr. McDonnell said the latest agreement allows the department "to look to the future, rather than the past," and build upon the third of the requirements it's already met under the agreement.
Among accomplishments he highlighted in a press release were training in constitutional law, racial profiling awareness, and policies regarding traffic stops and arrests.
The Justice Department found that violations of department protocol were tolerated because of accountability lapses at Antelope Valley sheriff's stations. Only one misconduct complaint was formally investigated out of 180 received from residents one year.
The misconduct fueled distrust and created a divide between law enforcement and the community.
Discrimination has festered in the Antelope Valley as demographics shifted from primarily white to black and Latino, who now make up more than two-thirds of the city of Palmdale's roughly 150,000 residents.
Overzealous enforcement of a rental-assistance voucher program, also known as Section 8, for participants in public housing was motivated in part by an uncorroborated perception in the community that blacks had brought gangs and crime to the area, the Justice Department said.
In at least one case, a deputy conducting a housing compliance check apparently helped fuel hatred by sending photographs of luxury vehicles in a home's garage to the person who set up an "I Hate Section 8" page on Facebook.
The family's home was vandalized with a racist message scrawled on the garage door and urine was thrown on their son by someone who called him a racial slur.
The family moved back to inner city Los Angeles to escape further harassment.
City of Cleveland proposing new community policing policy in wake of Baltimore riots
by Frank Wiley
CLEVELAND - In lieu of recent protests across the country, regarding police and the communities they serve, Zone 15 City Councilor Matt Zone told newsnet5.com that he embraces the idea of community policing.
"We have elements of it. We don't have the robust element of community policing that people want,” said Zone. "There can't just be a boiler plate way of policing our community."
Zone discussed a document that was sent to the mayor's office about two weeks ago.
The document proposes plans to improve relationships with the community through volunteer public service, more communicating, and passing out business cards to citizens.
"The vast majority are good, hardworking, honest people,” said Zone.
Not everyone in Zone's ward agrees with increased police presence.
"Some of the actions they take are overly forceful, or unnecessary," Trey Patterson said.
"People run when they see the police, because we don't know if they're going to help us or hurt us,” he continued. "I've got a license and insurance, but I feel like I've got to look over my shoulder when police ride behind me for six or seven minutes."
Zone said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams will share new plans for the City of Cleveland on May 13.
Baltimore riot shows 'crisis' in community policing: Obama
Washington (AFP) - US President Barack Obama on Tuesday condemned rioting in Baltimore, saying there was "no excuse" for the violence, but acknowledged a "slow-rolling crisis" in community policing, especially in treatment of African Americans.
"We have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals -- primarily African American, often poor -- in ways that raise troubling questions," Obama told reporters at the White House.
"I think there are police departments that have to do some soul-searching. I think there's some communities that have to do some soul-searching. I think we as a country have to do some soul-searching."
Obama was reacting to the violence that erupted in Baltimore after the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American man who died after suffering a spine injury while in police custody.
Youths torched cars, pelted police with stones and ransacked stores in the US East Coast port city, prompting authorities to call in the National Guard and impose a nighttime curfew beginning late Tuesday.
"This has been a slow-rolling crisis that has been going on for a long time. This is not new. And we shouldn't pretend that it's new," Obama said, referring to tensions in US communities over police actions.
The president said if the country wanted to solve the problem, it needed not only to invest in police training, but also in early education and criminal justice reform.
"That requires more than just the occasional news report or task force," he said.
Accenture Survey Shows Room For Improvement on Community Policing
Police departments can do more to improve service delivery according to a recent Accenture survey of 2,000 U.S. citizens. Specifically, the survey found that 91 percent of respondents said they feel safe in their neighborhoods but at the same time 70 percent of those same respondents said they also believe that police could improve their services through greater use of technology.
Over 90 percent of respondents said they would like to see the local police provide new ways to report crime. increase information sharing on police services, and collaborate with citizens through community policing programs. 86 percent said they would also like to see more police services online.
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.
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.
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.
“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,” said Jody Weis, a director with Accenture Police Services.
Gary police keep community relations in mind
by Michelle L. Quinn
A s tensions continued to boil over in Baltimore, people packed a Gary Public Library conference room Monday night to hear what the city is doing to avoid such tensions here and to give examples of how their lives have been affected by police.
Gail Thomas, of Hobart, said her black, mildly autistic son was accosted and thrown in jail by a police officer from another Northwest Indiana community after he pulled into his job as a custodian for a condo association. The reason they gave him was that "he didn't use his turn signal," she said.
"His story never wavered from the time it happened to the time he went to court," Thomas said. "When we got to court, the story from the officers had changed."
Gary Police Chief Larry McKinley and Special Operations Cmdr. Brian Evans told the Black Lives Matter forum attendees that policies such as Stop and Frisk policing and sweeps were eliminated when McKinley took the job in 2014. Instead, they've instituted a "hot-spot" policing philosophy.
"When we had several shootings in Glen Park, we sent a large force to the area for the next week. When the situation is corrected (and arrests are made), we move on to the next area," Evans said. "We follow the data. But we don't do the sweeps with other departments, though that doesn't mean you won't see them in the city."
The department also moved its Internal Affairs department out of the public safety facility if people do have issues about how they are treated when they interact with police.
"We did that so people would be more comfortable. Often, they would be afraid of coming in when they might run into the officers they're complaining about," McKinley said.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said she's had a variety of reactions over the course of both her tenure and her life. As a mom, she knows her daughter goes out with her male friends, and that presents a different kind of fear.
"You never sleep easily waiting for your child to come home," Freeman-Wilson said. "But I have a unique perspective: I've seen this system as a judge, a prosecutor and mostly as a defense attorney for 20 years. One of the things I've learned is that we are all a community, and once we create a level of trust, we'll have better communication.
"A dialogue makes it better for both the police and the community, and when the right officers are policing in a humane way that protects everyone's safety, it ensures we can move forward."
Gary Police Commissioner Linda Peterson told the group that part of the solution is education and that everyone should take a Community Policing course in their communities in order to understand what officers go through. But she also assured them that officer complaints are taken very seriously.
"If we have a verified complaint, we do act," she said.
Martinsville Police stepping up community relations
The department is hoping to create a more diverse police force to help serve the diverse community
by Danielle Staub
MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- The Martinsville Police Chief says he is working to create a positive relationship with every community member.
Chief Sean Dunn has already put into place what he calls, community policing.
He's divided the city up into sections so each officer can focus on one area and really get to know that neighborhood.
He is also trying to hire more minority officers because he wants the department to reflect the community.
Aleen Wilson is noticing a change from policing in a diverse community.
"He's put out bicycle patrol, walking neighborhood patrolmen and I feel very comfortable with the police department," Community Member Aleen Wilson said.
The Martinsville Police Department is working to communicate with the community by creating one on one positive relationships with officers.
"It hasn't caused the arrest rate to go up so that right there tells you the difference between living in a community that has responsible policing and living in a community that does not," Martinsville Henry County NAACP President Naomi Hodge-Huse said.
Martinsville Police Chief Sean Dunn did not stop with just community policing. He put into place bike officers just last month.
"We want them to have the opportunity to be out of the police car, in a situation where they seem more approachable, more friendly and yet still tough on crime," Chief Dunn said.
Chief Dunn says the department is working to hire more minority officers and it is a challenge. In a department of 51 people, only 6 are minorities, while Martinsville's population is 45 percent African American.
"We are working very hard. We've looked at our hiring process, our recruiting efforts, in fact we've created a recruiting committee," Chief Dunn said.
But there is a long way to go. The president of the city's NAACP Chapter say this is more than important, it needs to happen now. Without diversity within the department the views and thought processes of those in authority can become skewed.
"They can become monsters and not even realize that they are becoming a danger. Not only to themselves but the community and the stability of a state or a nation," Hodge-Huse said.
Chief Dunn says they are looking to fill two positions that will open up in January 2016.
The Martinsville Police Department is holding a police community summit at Martinsville High School next Tuesday from 6 to 7:30 pm.
Chief Dunn says they want people to come to listen and ask questions. He says the more people know about how they work the more trust they can build.
National Guard arrives in Baltimore as police commissioner admits rioters 'outnumbered us and outflanked us'
by Fox News
National Guard troops arrived in Baltimore shortly after midnight Tuesday, almost nine hours after a confrontation between black youths and police at a city mall mushroomed into riots during which several businesses were looted and burned and over a dozen officers injured.
A few minutes earlier, city police commissioner Anthony Batts admitted that his officers were not prepared for the outbreak of violence that forced Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to declare a state of emergency, activating the Guard, and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to announce a weeklong 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew, to take effect Tuesday.
"Yes, we planned for it. That wasn't the issue," Batts told reporters late Monday. "We just had too many people out there [for us] to overcome the numbers we had." The commissioner added that the rioters had pulled his officers to "opposite ends of the city" and had "outnumbered us and outflanked us."
Rawlings-Blake described Monday as "one of our darkest days as a city" as she surveyed fire damage.
"Too many people have spent generations building up this city for it to be destroyed by thugs who, in a very senseless way, are trying to tear down what so many have fought for," she added. "It's idiotic to think that by destroying your city, you're going to make life better for anybody."
"These acts of violence and destruction of property cannot and will not be tolerated," Hogan said at a late-night press conference. The governor also said he was deploying 500 state troopers and had asked for 5,000 officers from neighboring states to deal with the violence.
Batts said the National Guard would be used to take control of what he called "structures and fixed posts" to support police efforts to regain control of the city's streets.
Baltimore City police said late Monday that two dozen people had been arrested. As the violence grew Monday, officers wearing helmets and wielding shields occasionally used pepper spray to keep the rioters back. For the most part, though, they relied on line formations to keep protesters at bay. After midnight Monday, authorities were still struggling to quell pockets of unrest.
The violence began hours after Monday's funeral for Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who died last week from a severe spinal cord injury he suffered in police custody. Gray's fatal encounter with officers came amid the national debate over police use of force, especially when black suspects, like Gray, are involved. Gray was African-American. Police have declined to specify the races of the six officers involved in his arrest, all of whom have been suspended with pay while they are under investigation.
Gray's family denounced the violence late Monday, saying it was not the way to honor him
"I think the violence is wrong," Grays twin sister, Fredericka Gray, said. "I don't like it at all."
The attorney for Gray's family, Billy Murphy, said the family had hoped to organize a peace march later in the week.
During Gray's funeral Monday, police released a statement saying that the department had received a "credible threat" that three notoriously violent gangs are now working together to "take out" law enforcement officers. A police source told Fox News several gangs, including Black Gorilla Family, Bloods and Crips all had “entered into a partnership to take out law enforcement officers.”
The confrontation that sparked the violence stemmed from an online call for a "purge" that would begin at the Mondawmin Mall in west Baltimore and end downtown. The phrase is a reference to the 2013 movie "The Purge", which takes place in a world in which crime is made legal for one night only.
Alerted to the warning, authorities mobilized police officers to the Mondawmin Mall in west Baltimore, within a mile of where Gray was filmed being arrested and pushed into a police van April 12. The shopping center is a transportation hub for students at nearby schools.
At 3 p.m., the time of the reported "purge," between 75 to 100 students on their way to the mall were greeted by police in riot gear. The students began throwing water bottles and rocks at the officers, who responded with tear gas and Mace.
As the crowds at Mondawmin Mall began to thin, the riot shifted about a mile away to the heart of an older shopping district near where Gray first encountered police.
Emergency officials were constantly thwarted as they tried to restore calm in the affected parts of the city of more than 620,000 people. Firefighters trying to put out a blaze at a CVS store were hindered by someone who sliced holes in a hose connected to a fire hydrant, spraying water all over the street and nearby buildings.
The smell of burned rubber wafted in the air in one neighborhood where youths were looting a liquor store. Police stood still nearby as people drank looted alcohol. Glass and trash littered the streets, and other small fires were scattered about. One person from a church tried to shout something from a megaphone as two cars burned.
Later Monday night, a massive fire erupted in East Baltimore that a mayoral spokesman initially said was connected to the riots. He later texted an AP reporter saying officials are still investigating whether there is a connection.
The Mary Harvin Transformation Center was under construction and no one was believed to be in the building at the time, said the spokesman, Kevin Harris. The center is described online as a community-based organization that supports youth and families.
Kevin Johnson, a 53-year-old resident of the area, said the building was to have been earmarked for the elderly. Donte Hickman, pastor of a Baptist church that has been helping to develop the center, shed tears as he led a group prayer near the firefighters who fought the blaze.
"My heart is broken because somebody obviously didn't understand that we were for the community, somebody didn't understand that we were working on behalf of the community to invest when nobody else would," he said.
The focus of the rioting later shifted back to Mondawmin Mall, as people began looting clothing and other items from stores which had become unprotected as police moved away from the area. About three dozen officers returned, trying to arrest looters but driving many away by firing pellet guns and rubber bullets.
Downtown Baltimore, the Inner Harbor tourist attractions and the city's baseball and football stadiums are nearly 4 miles away from the worst of the violence. While the violence had not yet reached City Hall and the Camden Yards area, the Orioles canceled Monday's home game against the Chicago White Sox for safety precautions.
On Monday night, Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings and about 200 others, including ministers and mostly men, marched arm-in-arm through a neighborhood littered with broken glass, flattened aluminum cans and other debris, in an attempt to help calm the violent outbursts. As they got close to a line of police officers, the marchers went down on their knees. After the ministers got back on their feet, they walked until they were face-to-face with the police officers in a tight formation and wearing riot gear.
In a statement issued Monday, Attorney General Lynch said she would send Justice Department officials to the city in coming days, including Vanita Gupta, the agency's top civil rights lawyer. The FBI and Justice Department are investigating Gray's death for potential criminal civil rights violations.
Many who had never met Gray gathered earlier in the day in a Baltimore church to bid him farewell and press for more accountability among law enforcement.
The 2,500-capacity New Shiloh Baptist church was filled with mourners. But even the funeral could not ease mounting tensions.
UN says 1.4 million people victimized by Nepal earthquake need food assistance
by Fox News
More than 1.4 million people affected by Saturday's devastating earthquake in Nepal are in need of food assistance, a United Nations spokesman said Monday.
Citing Nepalese government figures, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said an estimated 8 million people had been affected by the magnitude-7.8 quake in 39 of Nepal's districts. He added that the United Nations was releasing $15 million from its central emergency response fund for quake victims. The funds will allow international humanitarian groups to scale up operations and provide shelter, water, medical supplies and logistical services.
Trucks carrying food were on their way to affected districts outside the hard-hit and densely-populated Kathmandu valley, and distribution of the food was expected to start Tuesday.
Meanwhile Tuesday, helicopters crisscrossed the skies above the high mountains of Gorkha district near the epicenter, ferrying the injured to clinics, and taking emergency supplies back to remote villages devastated by the disaster that killed more than 4,400 people across the region.
Around noon, two helicopters brought in eight women from Ranachour village, two of them clutching babies to their breast, and a third heavily pregnant.
"There are many more injured people in my village," said Sangita Shrestha, who was pregnant and visibly downcast as she got off the helicopter. She was quickly surrounded by Nepalese soldiers and policemen and ushered into a waiting van to be taken to a hospital.
The little town of Gorkha, the district's administrative and trading center, is being used as a staging post to get rescuers and supplies to those remote communities. Some villages were reachable only by air after landslides blocked mountain roads.
Some women who came off the helicopters were grimacing and crying in pain and unable to walk or speak, in agony three days after being injured in the quake.
Sita Karki winced when soldiers lifted her. Her broken and swollen legs had been tied together with crude wisps of hay twisted into a makeshift splint.
"When the earthquake hit, a wall fell on me and knocked me down. My legs are broken," she said.
After an hour of dark clouds gathering and threatening rain, the wind kicked up in Gorkha and sheets of rain began to pour down.
Geoff Pinnock of the U.N.'s World Food Program was leading a convoy of trucks north toward the worst affected areas when the rain began to pound, leaving them stuck.
"This rain has caused a landslide that has blocked my trucks. I can maybe get one truck through and take a risk driving on the dirt, but I think we'll have to hold the materials back to try to get them out tomorrow by helicopter," he said.
Aid workers who had reached the edges of the epicenter described entire villages reduced to rubble.
"In some villages, about 90 percent of the houses have collapsed. They're just flattened," said Rebecca McAteer, an American physician who rushed to the quake zone from the distant Nepal hospital where she works.
And yet, the timing of the earthquake — near midday, when most rural people are working in the fields — meant most villagers were spared injuries when buildings collapsed, she said. So far, police say they have 373 confirmed deaths in the Gorkha district.
Most those injured, she added, were young people and the elderly, since most young men long ago left their villages in search of better-paying work.
"The immediate need is getting support to where it's needed, but there will be a lot of work rebuilding," said McAteer, who was heading back soon to the center of the quake zone.
Thomas Meyer, an engineer with the International Nepal Fellowship who accompanied McAteer to the devastated villages, noted the disaster's aftermath would stretch long into the future.
"This is a long-term emergency," he said. "This will need major attention for the next five years. People have nothing left."
Across central Nepal, including in Kathmandu, the capital, hundreds of thousands of people are still living in the open without clean water or sanitation. It rained heavily in the city Tuesday, forcing people to find shelter wherever they could.
At Kathmandu airport, flights arrived with emergency aid and helicopters brought in both foreign trekkers and local Nepalese villagers from quake-struck areas. Nepal's economy relies heavily on tourism and trekking, including near Mount Everest, the world's tallest.
Helicopters chartered by trekking companies reached the Langtang area, about 40 miles north of Kathmandu, a popular trekking area.
Dave Gordon, a trekker from San Francisco, California, said he was in the area until Tuesday waiting for the rescue flight.
"Cliffs came down, four or five porters were deceased, buried in the rock fall," he said of the quake. "Trails are completely destroyed. People are stuck. They can't get out. It was very bad."
Buildings in parts of Kathmandu were reduced to rubble, and there were shortages of food, fuel, electricity and shelter. As bodies were recovered, relatives cremated the dead along the Bagmati River, and at least a dozen pyres burned late into the night.
Many of the ornate, historic buildings in Bhaktapur, a key tourist site just east of Kathmandu, collapsed. Residents began returning to collect whatever belongings they could.
The country's death toll rose to 4,355, said Deputy Inspector General of Police Komal Singh Bam. Another 61 were killed in neighboring India, and China's official Xinhua News Agency reported 25 dead in Tibet. At least 18 of the dead were killed at Mount Everest as the quake unleashed an avalanche that buried part of the base camp packed with foreign climbers preparing for summit attempts.
Some 8,063 people have been injured, Bam said. Tens of thousands are believed to be homeless.
Rescue workers and medical teams from at least a dozen countries were helping police and army troops in Kathmandu and surrounding areas, said Maj. Gen. Binod Basnyat, a Nepal army spokesman. Contributions came from large countries like India and China — but also from Nepal's tiny Himalayan neighbor of Bhutan, which dispatched a medical team.
Medical and rescue teams from Russia, Japan, France, Switzerland and Singapore were expected in Kathmandu over the coming days, the Nepal army said.
Fearful of strong aftershocks, tens of thousands of families spent a third night outdoors in parks, open squares and a golf course, bundled against the chilly Himalayan night.
Among them was Prabina Mainali, a 26-year-old teacher who gave birth to a boy Monday in a Kathmandu hospital — a bit of good news in a sea of despair.
"It's hard that he can't be in his own home right now. He should be there, we should be there, but we aren't safe. We're afraid of the aftershocks," Mainali said, feeding the as-yet unnamed infant from a bottle as a half-dozen relatives cooked a meal on a gas cooker outside the tent in a grassy park.
"We're not safe at home. Here we have less to worry about," she said, adding that her house was not seriously damaged, but windows and other glass inside was shattered.
Retired NYPD chief: reform can ease community-police tension
by Lisa Evers
NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -- Not too many people would resign from their job instead of taking a promotion and pay raise. But that is exactly what former NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks III did. Now he is warning that time is running out to heal the rift between cops and the community and that the NYPD must make changes.
Banks, the son of a police officer, proudly wore the blue uniform for 28 years. He earned the reputation of being that rare law enforcement leader who had the backs of his cops and the trust of the community. We saw him on the streets of Harlem last June during the NYPD's biggest gang bust ever.
I met up with him for his first sit-down interview since he told Police Commissioner Bill Bratton he would not accept the position of first deputy commissioner in October, a position Banks feared would sideline him from the streets he loves.
"I think you have a lot of talent within the NYPD," he said. "And I want to be clear I'm putting myself on that side of the equation. Psychologically, I'm not separating myself from that side of the New York City Police Department. Hopefully I never will. But they have to make certain changes."
Those changes were at the heart of his decision to resign. He said the NYPD -- and all police departments -- cannot use 1990s tactics in a 2015 climate of mutual distrust.
"When Commissioner Bratton one came in the first time around, I think he did a fantastic job when he ushered in the CompStat era, but it was heavily focused on enforcement. And I think it was the right model at particular time."
Now he said there needs to be new ways to measure police effectiveness besides the number of arrests or traffic tickets an officer writes. He insisted that lowering crime and improving community relations are not mutually exclusive and the effort to improve has to come from both sides.
"I reject the notion that you can't have community policing and aggressive policing," he said. "I reject that notion totally."
He is concerned about the defiance he sees in some young people towards police and that it could be raising the temperature to a boiling point.
"The tension in the air was the thickest that I've ever felt it," he said.
Despite that tension, during weeks of protests where tens of thousands flooded city streets, there was no major violence or property destruction in New York. Banks said he fears the negative perception of police by some is overshadowing their accomplishments.
"Violence in down, crime is down -- the police department's done a fantastic job," he said.
Banks said he believes a simple step that would reduce conflicts is to have police and the community get to know each other.
The speculation about Banks's future continues to swirl, everything from teaching to running a police department in another city. One thing is for sure: he still sees himself as a New York City cop.
Waterloo police: community needs to help reduce violence
by Brady Smith
WATERLOO — Director of Safety Services Dan Trelka asked members of the community to come forward and cooperate with police efforts to combat a recent string of violent stabbings and shootings.
In a media briefing on Monday, Trelka said he's getting assistance from departments in other parts of the country to learn more about community policing efforts. He's also planning on attending a law enforcement training conference in Washington, D.C. next week to learn more about how to avoid situations like what happened in Ferguson, Missouri last year. But Trelka said even with that training and pushing his officers to connect with the community, there's only so much police can do without assistance.
Trelka said officers are stepping up patrols in violence-prone areas of the city, and he's also asking for a more visible presence from the Black Hawk County Sheriff's Office and the Iowa State Patrol, adding that even those policies can have drawbacks.
“There's a fine balance between being viewed as a military force in a neighborhood, and quelling the violent acts that are occurring, and we're trying to maintain that balance,” Trelka said.
Trelka added that police are making progress on several cases, highlighting their 31 arrests and 11 seized firearms since April 1st. The beginning of the month also marked the start of a series of violent incidents.
• A four-year-old was hit in the stomach by a stray bullet on April 2. Marshon Glover has since returned home and continues to recover.
• Police officers shot and injured a man while trying to break up a fight involving an estimated 40 people outside of a bar on April 5.
• Two people were hurt after three shootings and a stabbing in quick succession in the morning of April 7.
Trelka said the series of incidents — all within seven days of each other — has led to a growing grass roots effort to combat crime. That push has taken shape in the form of a Facebook page called Taking Back Waterloo.
“This group has grown so rapidly, and they're remaining positive,” Trelka said. “If negative comments are popping up on the site, they're eliminating them.” The group had more than 6,700 members as of Monday afternoon.
But Trelka and people like Maxine Turner-Matlock said more residents still need to step up and work with police.
“They can't do everything, they really can't,” Turner-Matlock said of police officers. “They can't be everywhere. The bottom line is, the community is going to have to start helping themselves.”
Turner-Matlock believes change will start with the neighborhood associations, to bring together longtime residents and identify outsiders who are up to no good.
“They're grabbing our young kids because they come in here with money, they have drugs, they have the guns, they bring them in here, and the young kids are infatuated with that,” Turner-Matlock said.
Willie Barney, Waterloo Schools' executive director of supplemental services, said that's where school resource officers play a vital role: identifying at-risk youth.
“We have the ability to sit side-by-side in our administrative meetings at the beginning of the week to talk about, ‘Hey, here are the kids the officers are seeing on the streets and their interactions.'”
Body cameras roll through Public Safety Committee
by Caleb Pritchard
The long march to add body cameras to Austin Police Department's official toolkit took a symbolic step forward Monday night when members of the City Council's Public Safety Committee heard unanimous support from a diverse group of stakeholders.
It was a rare moment of harmonic accord for APD, the Office of the Police Monitor, the local chapters of the NAACP and ACLU, and outspoken activist Antonio Buehler.
Furthermore, all four committee members on the dais — Ora Houston, Leslie Pool, Chair Don Zimmerman and Vice Chair Greg Casar — signaled their support for the program.
None of the principals disagreed over the importance of deploying body cameras to record officers' encounters with the public. High-profile deaths of young black men at the hands of police officers nationwide has sparked an unprecedented interest in the technology that could shine light on situations often obscured by conflicting accounts between officers, suspects, victims and witnesses.
Assistant Chief Jason Dusterhoft opened Monday's briefing with an update on the department's initial research into the devices. In November, APD posted a formal request for information to solicit details related to “capturing video and audio, data storage, usability features, security features, environmental durability, battery, connectivity, accessories, warranties, implementation, and any other additional features available.”
Dusterhoft said the department is currently reviewing and evaluating formal replies from 17 different vendors. He explained that the next step would involve developing a proposal for purchase, which he said could take up to two months. Subsequent reviews, testing and ultimate deployment could then take as long as two-and-a-half years after that, Dusterhoft said.
“This is a soft timeline,” he told the committee. “Now, if Council comes back and says, ‘We need this done immediately,' obviously we're going to work as quickly as we can. Our only concern is that we want to do it right. We don't want to do something hasty and then not have it work to the standards that we like.”
Dusterhoft predicted that the ultimate cost of the program over five years could land near $7 million. Nearly half of that would go toward the infrastructure needed to store the huge amounts of digital video data.
He mentioned pending bills in the Texas Legislature, including SB 158, which would provide state money to help local law enforcement agencies cover the cost of body cameras. However, he also cautioned that the city should not hang all its hopes on the state, a notion seconded by Police Monitor Margot Frasier.
“For one thing, don't rely on the Legislature to fund these things,” Frasier told the committee before citing a previous pledge from lawmakers to pay for local agencies' dashboard cameras. The bulk of that money, Frasier said, ended up going to Department of Public Safety vehicles.
Frasier went on to explain the importance of deploying body cameras as a means of adding “incredible transparency” to police operations. Like Dusterhoft, she stressed the importance of putting in place an effective policy for the cameras before the program starts. However, she also struck one note of disagreement with APD.
“I get a little scared when I hear the timeline that's being laid out by the Austin Police Department,” Frasier said. “I don't think this needs to be a two-year process.”
Subsequent speakers echoed that sentiment, including American Civil Liberties Union -Texas volunteer Debbie Russell, local NAACP chapter president Nelson Linder, and Buehler, the activist acquitted in a high-profile case stemming from his recording a 2012 encounter with Austin police.
Russell delivered a presentation that outlined the unusual common ground the ACLU-TX shares on body cameras with the Police Executive Research Firm, a law enforcement advocacy group not necessarily inclined to break bread with civil liberties groups.
Linder also knocked APD's timeline and noted the high stakes in play.
“The reality is we are talking about lives,” he said. “Folks have lost their lives. There have been some very bad practices.”
Linder added that the cameras are an excellent tool, but he told the committee it would not be a silver bullet.
“Bottom line is, until you treat people like human beings and hold officers accountable, no technology is gonna stop this problem. It's gonna help us see things,” Linder said. “I love that. But I'd much rather have police officers treat people as human beings so we don't have to have this conversation. Because once someone is hurt and killed, we can't bring them back.”
Casar agreed with Linder and suggested that the body cameras will be only one tool in the city's toolbox. He mentioned that Council could also focus on other programs, including economic opportunity initiatives.
“No one thinks this is going to be a panacea,” Casar said.
Buehler unsurprisingly offered his ringing endorsement of the technology, but also urged several key restrictions in order to preserve the integrity of any evidence recorded by the body cameras. He told the committee that APD has a culture in place that is hostile to recorded encounters and warned of possible tampering.
Buehler implored Council members to include a rule that would require officers to write all police reports before viewing body camera video. He also called for strict punishments for officers who turn off their cameras during encounters, including automatic dismissal for incidents that involve the use of force.
When Zimmerman asked Buehler if he thought APD could deploy body cameras within a year, Buehler did not hesitate to respond.
“I definitely believe it's doable. The technology is there,” he said. “And I want it to happen. The quicker, the better. But we have to have safeguards and protections to ensure the police don't treat this like dash cams, or they don't treat it like people filming in the streets.”
Rioting Is a Threat to Public Safety. Police Unions Are a Worse One.
How much does a lack of police accountability and transparency contribute to the anger that helps turn protests violent?
by Ed Krayewski
Protests in Baltimore over the Freddie Gray's unexplained death while in police custody from a fatal spine injury are turning violent. As usual, authorities blame outsiders for the violence, a spurious claim.
In a press conference Saturday, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the city "gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well." Today, her spokesperson insisted the mayor didn't mean she give room for vandals to destroy, but that in providing space for peaceful protests, space is inevitably provided, too, for rioters. Another spurious claim.
Nevertheless, it ought to go without saying that assaulting residents and destroying residential or commercial property has nothing to do with the cause of police reform. Perhaps the destruction of police property does, and there's been a bit of that too. Authorities say at least seven cops have been injured so far.
The protests turned violent this weekend, about a week after Freddie Gray's death. Initially protests were exclusively peaceful. But at that time, the police union compared protesters to a "lynch mob" because some protesters were allegedly calling for the six officers involved in Gray's arrest, who have been suspended with pay, to be "imprisoned immediately." The union, of course, insisted there had been no criminal wrongdoing on the part of the officers.
Yet there are still few answers as to why Gray died. Those who could provide answers—the six cops involved—have union privileges that protect them from answering questions about Gray's death immediately. In fact they have 10 days to do so. It's a frustrating reality. Someone is dead and the people who could be responsible, and who are in fact charged with enforcing the law on the rest of us, aren't having the law enforced on them in the same way. Not only that, but after someone died while in their custody, they continue to draw paychecks paid for by city taxpayers.
None of this justifies violence against residents or the destruction of personal or commercial property, but it should provide some perspective as to why there's so much anger. That anger, in turn, provides cover to the kind of element that would enjoy a good riot whether or not that anger existed. There are people who would riot given any excuse—it's why riots are so common after sports championships, and the kind of anger elicited by the total lack of accountability for the death of Freddie Gray provides similar cover.
Incidents of police violence tend to become so controversial because of the lack of accountability and transparency even when the incidents may not be questionable. In many jurisdictions, thanks to union and other protections, it's very difficult to fire a cop.
Last year, a former Baltimore police officer sued the police department for allegedly failing to protect him when he tried to report a fellow officer for brutality. The city of Baltimore hasn't acknowledged a problem exists but is instead fighting the allegations in court. City council meetings about the Baltimore police tend to be full of complaints about the police department. Baltimore's political leaders insist they are improving the police department and have in the past been resentful of residents who question that claim.
But the city is limited in what it can do to improve its police department, largely because of the union rules protecting cops. It took three years (!) for the department to be able to fire a cop who berated a teenaged skateboarder in an incident caught on video.
Are the six officers who arrested Freddie Gray criminally responsible for his death? That's up to a judge and jury to decide. But the absence of a conviction should not preclude termination. Baltimore's mayor appeared to claim police-community relations were improving prior to Gray's death. That's doubtful. Firing the cops involved in his death, rather than giving them a paid vacation, could go a long way to improving those relations. Union protections prevent it. Requiring the cops involved in Gray's death to answer investigators' questions immediately might've gone a long way to prevent today's violence. Union protections prevent it.
The union called peaceful protesters a "lynch mob" days before the first protester hurled the first rock at a Baltimore cop. How much has the Baltimore police union contributed to the current situation in Baltimore. And if police union rules prevent the city from dismissing bad cops or cops whose actions harm police-community relations, aren't they a threat to public safety?
Cincinnati Law and Public Safety Committee votes to repeal private police law
by Taylor Mirfendereski
CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati City Council's Law and Public Safety Committee voted Monday to repeal a law that's been on the books for decades that allows the city to hire private police officers.
After its fourth meeting on issue, which arose earlier this year after a Hamilton County prosecutor said he was not going to prosecute those arrested by private officers, the committee voted 3-1 to repeal it. Only Councilman Charlie Winburn voted against the repeal.
Since 1983, the city law has allowed Cincinnati's police chief to grant specially-trained citizens full police powers, including the ability to make arrests. Businesses and organizations have used private officers -- who receive Cincinnati police training -- to provide security at various venues including the Ensemble Theater, the Regional Chamber of Commerce, Avondale Town Center and some apartment complexes.
There are two groups that employ the private officers: Cincinnati Special Police and the Cincinnati's Private Police Association. Combined, they employ 10 people -- seven of whom are commissioned officers.
The vote is expected go to council for a full vote on Wednesday.
At issue is concern raised by the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office that private officers do not receive adequate training and some have made erroneous errors on reports.
Hamilton County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Richard G. Gibson wrote a letter sent to the county's clerk of courts in January outlining his concerns, which sparked the debate. In part the letter stated:
"We have recently had criminal complaints signed, and arrest and investigation reports completed by such officers which were legally erroneous, factually deficient, and almost completely unintelligible.''
During Monday's committee meeting, Peter Stackpole, a lawyer in the Cincinnati City Solicitor's office, said the city would not be legally protected in the event of wrongdoing by the private officers. He showed a video of the recent killing of man in Tulsa, Okla., by a reserve police officer there who confused his firearm for a Taser.
"Make no mistake…the county of Tulsa will be named defendant because of inadequately trained and inadequately supervised reserve deputy sheriffs….I'm trying to avoid this tragedy. The reserve deputy Sheriff in Tulsa, Okla., is in virtually the same position as these private police officers," Stackpole said. "The economic impact of one tragic incident caused by an unaccountable, less well trained, private police officer could be incalculable ."
Lester Slone, chief of the Private Police Association, said the group's six officers are not a liability. Private officers must pay for special insurance in order to operate. He said Stackpole's Tulsa example is not relevant to his group.
"I'm disgusted with that….We understand what we're allowed to do and why we're not allowed to do, and then they throw up this video like we do this all the time, like we run out and shoot up and chase these people and so forth and so on. That's far from it. They're just trying to sensationalize it with a video like that," he said.
That Oklahoma case is under review.
Lt. Bruce Hoffbauer, the Cincinnati police traffic unit commander who oversees private cops, said the purpose of those officers has changed over time.
"Many many years ago, it was more to help the Cincinnati Police Department with riots, natural disasters, civil unrest, those type of things. They didn;t take a role as a police officer, but were the eyes and ears of the city.… I think we have gone past that. I think we have outlived that youthfulness. It has developed into a police department or police organization with the same arrest authorities as i have."
Private police officers must meet minimum physical, psychological, training, background and criminal history standards established by the chief of police.
They're required to go through a basic police academy sponsored by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission and complete eight hours of firearms training with Cincinnati Police Department staff.
But that rule doesn't apply to private police officers who were commissioned before May 30, 2006 -- the last time the rules were updated. That means some private officers who have just 120 hours of training are working alongside private officers who have trained for more than 500.
But even with more training, some committee members said Cincinnati police wouldn't have the resources or time to give proper oversight if they did agree to keep the private officers.
"I feel very sorry for all of the different companies that are going to want private police organizations, and they're not going to get them at this time," said Slone. "We're always hopeful. We hope that Wednesday,
Throng Marches in Baltimore Over Man's Death in Police Custody
by VOA News
Thousands of demonstrators marched Saturday through the streets of the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore, Maryland, vowing to shut down the city over the death of a young African-American man in police custody.
At least 1,500 people had gathered by midafternoon at the spot in West Baltimore where Freddie Gray, 25, was detained after a foot chase April 12 and placed inside a police transport van.
Baltimore's police commissioner said Friday that Gray had been denied timely medical attention for a spinal injury suffered after police apprehended him. Police have not explained how he sustained the injury.
Gray died April 19, and people continued to demonstrate in Baltimore since then, demanding justice. On Saturday, as two police helicopters circled overhead, many demonstrators carried signs reading "Stop racist police terror'' and "Jobs not police killings,'' and chanted ``Shut it down.''
Baltimore's mayor has joined the voices calling for answers. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Friday that she wanted to know why police officers did not call for medical assistance after Gray asked for it.
"If necessary, we will hold the appropriate parties responsible," she said.
Baltimore police said they would release information on their investigation of the incident late next week.
A family attorney told VOA that Gray's spinal cord was nearly severed after police took him into custody.
Baltimore police acknowledged Thursday that Gray was not wearing a seat belt while in the back of the van that took him to the police station. Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said officers were slow to recognize that Gray, who apparently had asthma, needed medical attention.
But Batts on Friday refused calls to resign. Six police officers, meanwhile, are on paid leave over the incident.
Gray reportedly was arrested when he ran away after making eye contact with a police officer. He was caught with a switchblade on his hip and was dragged into the police van.
"All [police] said was, 'He looked at us, and ran, and then we chased.' That doesn't meet any legal standard for stopping or arresting somebody," said Judge William Murphy, Jr., a lawyer representing Gray's family. "The only thing this kid did wrong by running from the police was that he didn't run fast enough."
Residents of the Sandtown neighborhood, where Gray was arrested, told VOA police have long mistreated the black community.
“They have been given badges to be bullies," said a young woman named Melissa, who said she lost her cousin in an unsolved stabbing last year. "They have been given badges to terrorize."
There is no justice, Melissa believes, even in the decision to place the officers on leave.
"Suspended with pay? What is that? You giving them a paid vacation for killing somebody?"
Shawn, another Sandtown resident, said he grew up fearing police. “This is the reason why we run — because we already know it's a 90 percent chance that if you don't run, you're going to get locked up for something," he said.
“It's sad that we had to take this death, to get this type [of] publicity from the outside, when we've been calling for this for years," Shawn added.
The U.S. Department of Justice said this week that it also would review the case, which follows a string of high-profile police-involved killings that have raised allegations of abuses against minorities around the country.
"We can't bring Freddie back," Murphy, the family's attorney, told VOA. "But we can use this tragedy as an opportunity and as a stimulus to doing the right thing. Although that wouldn't be a fair exchange for a human life, it would mean that he didn't die in vain."
Downside of Police Body Cameras: Your Arrest Hits YouTube
by Timothy Williams
Police departments around the country have been moving with unusual speed to equip officers with body cameras to film their often edgy encounters with the public. But the adoption of these cameras has created a new conflict over who has the right to view the recordings.
In Seattle, where a dozen officers started wearing body cameras in a pilot program in December, the department has set up its own YouTube channel, broadcasting a stream of blurred images to protect the privacy of people filmed. Much of this footage is uncontroversial; one scene shows a woman jogging past a group of people and an officer watching her, then having a muted conversation with people whose faces have been obscured.
“We were talking about the video and what to do with it, and someone said, ‘What do people do with police videos?' ” said Mike Wagers, chief operating officer of the Seattle police. His answer: “They put it on YouTube.”
But YouTube video from other police body cameras can be violent and disturbing.
Scenes unfold slowly, in cinéma vérité style, as officers go about their work until a moment arrives when someone is suddenly shot and killed. Sometimes words are exchanged before the shootings, but often they occur in silence. The footage has little in common with the stylized deaths in Hollywood movies: There is often no sign of bleeding, and bodies lay twisted as if they have been broken.
In Bremerton, Wash., the police chief, Steven Strachan, is wary about making such footage public. After testing body cameras last year, he decided not to buy them for his 71 officers because he feared that the state's public records laws would require him to turn over the film.
Requests for footage, he said, would create an unwieldy administrative burden for his small department and could potentially violate privacy.
“We hit the pause button,” Chief Strachan said. “Our view is we don't want to be part of violating people's privacy for commercial or voyeuristic reasons. Everyone's worst day is now going to be put on YouTube for eternity.”
Since the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager who was fatally shot during an encounter with a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in August, departments around the country have begun requiring officers to record their interactions with the public to hold them accountable for their behavior, as well as to protect them against false charges.
Most big city police departments — including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia — are still testing body cameras, and it could be at least a year before a significant number of officers in those cities are wearing them. But the battle over who has the right to see the film is well underway.
At recent public forums, including in Los Angeles, advocates for the cameras have pressed the police to make the footage public. They pointed to police killings of unarmed black men and boys that did not lead to criminal charges, saying recordings could provide a fuller view of events than police accounts or even witness testimony.
Several of the killings have been captured by surveillance cameras or by bystanders with mobile phones. They include the death of Walter L. Scott, who was shot several times in the back by a police officer in North Charleston, S.C., this month.
“If the public doesn't have the opportunity to view the video on their own, they are left with the police version of what happened, and as we've seen recently, their version isn't always what happened,” said Laniece Williams, spokeswoman for the Philadelphia Coalition for Racial, Economic and Legal Justice.
“Even in cases where there isn't a fatal shooting,” she continued, “there are instances where police brutalize people and the public should be able to see the video.”
Some state legislatures, though, are coming out against broad disclosure policies. Among a flurry of 87 bills related to body cameras that have been introduced in 29 legislatures, 15 states are moving to limit what the public is allowed to see from the recordings. In some cases, lawmakers have sought to remove the videos from public records laws, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“The issue challenges the assumption that everything that happens in public should be public,” said James McMahan, policy director for the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. “But I don't know that we want a woman standing there with bruises and scratches and other signs of domestic violence to be posted on YouTube. The instance of her being posted online forever might be a greater crisis than the original incident.”
In Philadelphia, where officers have fired at suspects at a rate of nearly once each week during the past eight years and where the city has paid out millions of dollars to victims of police brutality, residents have strongly called for officers to be equipped with body cameras.
Activists like Ms. Williams say they fear that much of the video will never be seen publicly. They point to the department's refusal to publicly release surveillance camera footage of the death of Brandon Tate-Brown, 26, who was shot by the police in December after being stopped for driving with his headlights off.
The Philadelphia police said that they had shown the video to Mr. Tate-Brown's family, and that the department had not yet devised a policy on the release of video from body cameras.
In Florida, the Sarasota Police Department has temporarily halted its body camera program after an American Civil Liberties Union of Florida lawyer sued over the cost of obtaining footage. The city said it would charge $18,000 for 84 hours of video to be placed on DVDs — about $214 an hour of video.
Some of the most intense public discussion of the issue is taking place in Washington State, where state law allows anyone to file a public records request to obtain body camera recordings.
In Bremerton, Chief Strachan tested body cameras last fall before deciding not to purchase them. He said the demands the department had received for video during the testing period had been too burdensome.
“We got a request for any and all video shot by a police officer,” he said. “It's pretty much impossible.”
In nearby King County, Sheriff John Urquhart said he would not equip his deputies with cameras until lawmakers reworked disclosure rules.
“I'd do it in a heartbeat,” he said, “but if the public wants body cameras, they're going to have to give something up on public disclosure.”
Legislation being considered in the State House of Representatives would generally limit access to the recordings to civilians directly involved in the encounter. Representative Drew Hansen, who introduced the bill, said there had been public records requests for “anything interesting,” including barroom fights.
But Mr. Wagers, the chief operating officer of the Seattle police, said he understood that the proliferation of body cameras had whetted the public's appetite for access to the footage. The department, he said, is testing 12 body cameras but plans to outfit 900 patrol officers in 2016.
He said the ultimate goal was to post online every moment of officers' body camera recordings.
“What's the purpose of collecting the data?” he asked. “To move to accountability and get to the truth.”
"Choke-hold law:" How chiefs can combat ill-informed legislative police policies
Chief Steven Casstevens spoke at ILEETA 2015, urging leaders to stay aware of efforts in legislatures across the country that are making ill-informed policy decisions for local police
by Chief Joel F. Shults
In Illinois, there are four — count ‘em — four bills introduced that would prohibit, in the words of one proposal "a method by which a person holds another person by putting his or her arm around the other person's neck … and includes, but is not limited to, any pressure to the throat or windpipe…."
The name of the quoted bill is the “Officer Chokehold Prohibition Act”. The bill provides an exemption for an officer who would be justified in using deadly force. The penalty? Minimum five years in prison for the officer.
Who's choking now?
Chief Steven Casstevens of the Buffalo Grove, (Ill.) Police Department spoke to trainers gathered for ILEETA's opening ceremony and urged the membership to stay aware of efforts in legislatures across the country that are making ill-informed policy decisions for local police.
Casstevens, on the executive board of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and seeking a Vice-Presidency in the International Association of Chiefs of Police, urges chiefs to vigorously educate their legislators about law enforcement.
Legislators Rely on Chiefs for Input
A state representative once confessed to Casstevens that with the hundreds of proposals every session, if a police related bill isn't actively opposed by law enforcement, the assumption is that it is a good law. An example is an “anti-quota” bill that became law. Casstevens explained that the bill would make it illegal for him to send an officer to a citizen's complaint of speeding in the neighborhood. If a chief instructs the officers to write tickets, he risks breaking the anti-quota law.
The so called “choke hold” law would have dangerous consequences. Casstevens notes that a struggle on the street for a resisting arrestee can't be choreographed to avoid the possibility of contact with a suspect's neck. He noted that every high school wrestler would be able to do what a police officer would face felony charges for.
Chiefs Must be Informed on Pending Legislation
The chief emphasized that these bills are not just political posturing. The representatives supporting them fully intend and expect that they will become law. Legislative policy-making as a “knee-jerk reaction to a specific incident” ignores the layers of accountability that already exist.
“Local elected officials are the oversight,” says Casstevens. He points to accreditation and the courts as providing appropriate accountability without legislative micromanagement.
Casstevens also urged police leaders to interact with line officers to inform them of potentially adverse legislation, and to ask them how a proposal would affect their ability to do their job. This is important information he can share with representatives and with law enforcement lobbyists.
Police Leaders Must Prioritize Public Education
Citizens' academies, ride-alongs, and ‘coffee with cops' programs have an impact. Invite your state and local officials. Casstevens reminds us that traffic contacts are the number one police-citizen interaction. Building trust and professionalism there creates millions of opportunities. “Every single officer can make an impact.”
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.
A cop's shoot/no-shoot: When is a 'good decision' a 'deadly hesitation'?
The current climate in the press and the public may be making our officers — whether consciously or unconsciously — more fearful of life after the deadly-force encounter
by Doug Wyllie
Video recently surfaced of newly-minted New Richmond (Ohio) Police Officer Jesse Kidder backpedaling away from a rapidly approaching subject — 27-year-old Michael Wilcox — who was charging him with one hand in his pocket and repeatedly yelling “shoot me!” Officer Kidder backpedaled up the street away from Wilcox, and ended up tripping and falling to his back — gun in hand — before recovering to his feet. The suspect — almost inexplicably — surrenders and is taken into custody almost immediately thereafter.
Wilcox had been charged for the fatal shooting of his 25-year-old girlfriend, Courtney Fowler, and is a person of interest in a second slaying in Kentucky. According to reports, Kidder was advised by dispatchers prior to arriving at the scene that Wilcox was potentially suicidal.
No shots were fired, and the suspect was peacefully taken into custody. The video has been lauded by some and derided by others.
Stopping Short of Second-Guessing
It's impossible for anyone who wasn't present to know exactly what was happening at the incident in Ohio, but I will offer these three opinions:
• Would Kidder have been justified in shooting Wilcox, according to the Supreme Court's reasonableness standard and existing Court precedents? Yes.
• Would Kidder have been in the fight for his life had the subject attacked him rather than turned around and disengaged in that critical instant? Yes.
• Would Kidder have been skewered by the public and the press — who know nothing of the Court's standards or their meanings for police training and tactics — had he shot Wilcox? Yes.
Let's focus not on the Kidder-Wilcox confrontation, but on the broader issue of hesitation on the part of our officers in potentially life-threatening confrontations, and how it may be affected by recent high-profile current events.
This topic was discussed numerous times in the halls at ILEETA 2015 on the first day of the law enforcement training event, and the consensus to all of the abovementioned questions was — and is — yes.
It comes down to this: Are officers putting themselves in greater peril because of the scrutiny brought about by Ferguson? Are the long-term ramifications of Ferguson — and events like it — a deadly degradation in an officer's willingness to use reasonable and justifiable force necessary to subdue an attacking subject for fear of what fate may befall them thereafter?
Sadly, again, yes.
The current climate in the press and the public may be making our officers — whether consciously or unconsciously — more fearful of life after the deadly-force encounter than losing their life in the deadly-force encounter itself.
Have some politicians and press so severely hijacked the narrative of police shootings that no matter what, a cop who has to defend himself or another — against fear of death or great bodily harm — will think not of the deadly threat before them in a gunfight, but think instead of being labeled a fascist or a racist (or some combination thereof) thereafter?
If the answer is ‘yes,' then we have failed. And whether or not those thoughts went through Officer Kidder's mind during his recent encounter, the answer for many cops, is yes.
Looking to (and Learning from) History
Perhaps now is a good time to review the videotape in which Laurens County (Ga.) Sheriff's Deputy Kyle Dinkheller was gunned down by a motorist at a traffic stop on a quiet country afternoon.
Dinkheller was not as burdened with today's “gotcha-video technology” or “first-person journalism” but he was so hesitant to squeeze the trigger on his firearm, he died at the hands of a deranged killer.
Dinkheller politely pleaded with his attacker to drop the weapon — “Sir, drop the gun now!” — and in the end, Dinkheller was killed because of his restraint.
The confrontation between Kidder and Wilcox isn't exactly comparable to that of Dinkheller, but Dinkheller absolutely had the reasonable right to open fire until the threat was ended and he could go home safely to his loved ones.
But he didn't.
He died on that roadside.
When the cop-killer was finally put to death — just a few months ago, and a full 17 years after murdering Trooper Dinkheller — the Washington Post framed the event within the following headline:
“Vietnam veteran Andrew Brannan executed for murder after PTSD defense fails”
The article went on to say that Brannan “lost his temper … after driving 100 mph on a country road and getting pulled over by the officer.”
The headline should simply have read:
“Cop killer executed by lethal injection”
This is one clear example of media failing to help citizens understand policing.
Attendees at ILEETA agreed that the Dinkheller dash-cam video teaches us clearly and completely that being “officer friendly” while in contact with a violent offender can result in death for that officer. That lesson was paid in blood, and to ignore it is to disrespect Dinkheller in the worst way conceivable.
Police officers' actions in deadly-force incidents are almost universally exemplary. Any agency that allows its officers to wander down the dark tunnel of pre-incident self-doubt about what's going to happen after a deadly-force incident is allowing the naive — and often willfully ignorant — press and public to dominate your training about justifiable police use of force.
About the author
Doug Wyllie is Editor in Chief of PoliceOne, responsible for setting the editorial direction of the website and managing the planned editorial features by our roster of expert writers. An award-winning columnist — he is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column — Doug has authored more than 800 feature articles and tactical tips on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA). Even in his "spare" time, he is active in his support for the law enforcement community, contributing his time and talents toward police-related charitable events as well as participating in force-on-force training, search-and-rescue training, and other scenario-based training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.
Answering the question: "How would a world without police look?"
You can't 'coexist' with people who are trying to kill you, rape you, maim you, and take from you all that you hold dear — that's why we have police officers to protect us
by Doug Wyllie
Competition for the title ‘Most Asinine Assertion About Police in America' is heating up.
In addition to Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers saying, “My ISIS is the police” and the activist group “Disarm NYPD” trying to, well, disarm the New York Police Department, we have Claire Van Fossen, who apparently believes that “the negative effects of policing outweigh the benefits.”
Ms. Van Fossen — a nonprofit professional and self-avowed activist “deeply dedicated to a vision of a socially just Milwaukee” — has a blog on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Purple Wisconsin project page. While I generally ignore most anti-cop Op-Ed blogs, the piece Van Fossen penned last week all but screamed for a response.
While the anti-police group Copwatch wants to create “no-cop zones,” Van Fossen seemingly wants to do away with all law enforcement, writing on her blog that “a just and free world means a world without police.”
Chew on that for a moment — a world without police.
Van Fossen opened her anti-police argument thusly:
“Whether we call them because of a dispute between neighbors or a robbery, a shooting or sexual violence, the police rarely meet our needs. They don't help us heal. And they don't prevent future harm.”
According to this line of “thinking,” have the police who recovered an elderly woman's most treasured memento of her late husband — her simple gold wedding band — not met her needs?
Have the officers who arrest the gang members — on both sides of a gunfight — that left an innocent woman dead while shielding her children from the hail of gunfire, not helped those children on their long road to healing?
The cop who arrests a man guilty of domestic abuse — and the prosecuting attorneys who see that arrest is converted into a conviction involving incarceration — has not prevented future harm?
Has the multi-jurisdictional task force that dismantled a human trafficking ring in which countless victims suffered heinous abuse not prevented future harm?
Has the patrolman arresting a drunk driver — who blew a deuce — not prevented even the potential for untold fture harm?
I need not go further in exposing how Van Fossen's “logic” is false on its face — you get the idea.
Upon reading Van Fossen's blog post, PoliceOne Columnist (and retired cop) Dick Fairburn said, “Officers arguably have the most difficult job of all, being called upon to serve in roles ranging from marriage counselor to SWAT sniper. In Ms. Van Fossen's idyllic world with no cops, a rape victim would be twice wronged knowing her attacker would never be brought justice.”
It gets better — or worse, depending on how you want to look at it — when she adds that:
“...there is virtually no system of accountability of police to their ‘clients' or the public.”
What? Virtually no system of accountability? From civilian oversight boards to municipal risk pools to an often-overeager media, the police profession is more closely watched — and held accountable — than just about any other human endeavor.
When an officer screws up — as human beings sometimes do — the incident is on the nightly news for an indeterminate period of time (usually until something else sensational happens). Then the department pays out a sum of money in settlement. The cop may even end up losing the career of service they have committed their lives to — and love as much as life itself.
As one might expect, Van Fossen's true agenda is more about her politics than police policy. She writes:
“Rather than serve as advocates for true justice, they use their nearly limitless power to reinforce the oppressive status quo. They threaten us with violence and incarceration and target the most oppressed and vulnerable people in our society. By blaming “crime” and “criminals” instead of systemic oppression for society's ills, the police exacerbate societal problems, harm citizens, and bar the people from liberation by maintaining the capitalist social order.”
“In a perfect, utopian society there would be no police because there would be no need for them. If Ms. Van Fossen can point me to that paradise, I'll be moving there tomorrow,” said Fairburn.
Lieutenant (ret.) Dan Marcou added, “If this naive woman's wish came true and all the police magically disappeared overnight, it would be painfully obvious within 24 hours of taking such action why police are needed. Chaos would reign. I hope this woman is never able to turn this … gibberish into a reality, for her anarchist's dream would instantly become a national nightmare.”
Van Fossen says that without cops, people would naturally just work out their differences.
“By eliminating the involvement of the state in social conflicts, we increase our opportunity to practice methods of conflict resolution like mediation, dialogue, and reconciliation.”
Van Fossen quotes Luis Fernandez — Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northern Arizona University — as saying that “most of our human interactions are already outside of the purview of police officers... Most social relationships between people do not require police intervention.”
This is true. But police exist because “most interactions” doesn't equal “all interactions.”
“Most” people have never committed a crime — nor would they.
But some do.
“Most” people have never been so horrified that they dial 911 with fumbling fingers and plead for help in vibrating voices.
But some do.
Newsflash: You can't ‘coexist' with people who are trying to kill you, rape you, maim you, and take from you all that you hold dear — that's why we have police officers to protect us.
Fairburn put it perfectly when he concluded, “Ms. Van Fossen, if you think there is some good in everyone, you haven't met everyone.”
Police are the heroes who run toward the gunfire when “most” people flee in panic. Those law enforcers do so with valor and honor and to denigrate them is a disgrace.
For some, life in a world without police would look like a cross between Mad Max and The Purge.
For some, life in a world without police would be as Hobbes described: nasty, brutish, and short.
We can — and will continue to — do a hell of a lot better than that.