LACP - NEWS of the Week
on some LACP issues of interest


NEWS of the Week

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


May, 2015 - Week 1


Community Policing: Is That Still A Thing?

by Malcolm McGuire

Anyone who's attended any police academy ever knows that the history of modern law enforcement began in 1829 with the formation of the London Metropolitan Police District. It would also come as no surprise that the first Chief of the London Metro Police was Sir Robert Peel. Peel is credited with establishing regular patrol areas, which many of us now commonly refer to as “beats.” Before 1829, law enforcement only responded after a crime had been reported. Sir Peel placed his officers in specific geographic zones, holding them responsible for not only suppressing crime in their respective zones, but for preventing it when possible. Peel believed that if his “bobbies” were known to the public, citizens would be more inclined to come forward with information regarding criminal activity in the area. He also believed if officers became familiar with the citizens in their “beats” they'd be better able to recognize suspicious people and/or those who didn't normally frequent the area.

Peel in Modern Day
Fast-forward to modern times and you'll see the implementation of several programs that have a lot of the same goals. In January 2015, New York City Police Department Commissioner William Bratton announced his department would be re-deploying hundreds of officers previously working specialty assignments back to street (mostly foot) patrols. The move is an effort to engage local business owners as well as residents in ways they were previously unable to because beat officers are busy responding to emergency calls.

This is really nothing new for NYPD as they've had officers walking beats for years. The Chicago Police Department is another agency well-versed in neighborhood walking patrols. In 2013, CPD Superintendent Garry McCarthy had up to sixteen rookies fresh out of the academy and field training patrolling their respective beats on foot. McCarthy called it a “return to community policing.” Los Angeles Police Department routinely has rookies fresh out of training begin their patrol careers on foot, and the Tulsa (Okla.) Police Department launched a Downtown Impact Team that continues to coordinate with businesses, non-profits and faith based groups in an effort to fix issues for the long term.

Foot patrols are not the only way law enforcement agencies have tried to stay in touch with the communities. In 1987, the Seattle Police Department began the first police bicycle patrol unit which at the time consisted of just two officers. Initially its purpose was simply to serve as an easier way to maneuver through downtown when responding to calls. Today, hundreds of agencies nationwide (including my own) have bike-patrol units and bike-certified patrol officers, based on Seattle PD's initial program.

Community Relations
Yet even with all of these programs intended to bring us closer to the citizens, we seem to be at more of an impasse these days than many of us can recall having been at any other point in our careers as it pertains to community relations. For the most part (with the exception of a couple of the agencies previously mentioned) walking beats have been replaced almost completely with patrol cars screaming down the street, windows up, oblivious to anything other than that call we're headed to.

Even some bicycle patrols have evolved from units designed to—among other things — make patrol officers more approachable to min-narcotic/surveillance units. Don't get me wrong, those are both useful tools but we seem to be getting farther and farther away from the human element of patrol with every passing year. It's frustrating to talk to citizens and have them tell you they “Never see the police in their neighborhood unless someone is being arrested.” I get it, call loads are heavier, manpower is down, and we all have a job to do. This job includes the not-so-popular enforcement side to include arrests and citations.

Increased Efforts
I can't help but wonder how many of us follow up some of those enforcement actions with other kinds of contacts. Are we still checking in on those families we've come to know from being familiar with our beats? Are we making an effort to know something about the citizens in our areas of responsibility? I'm not just talking the arrest records and acquaintances of our habitual offenders. Better yet, how many of us know the history behind a lot of these respective areas, how they came to be or why a particular demographic calls it home?

These are questions I could ask most officers who've been out on their own for 2–3 years and they wouldn't be able to answer. Why? Because young officers aren't being taught community policing, why we've always done it, and why we must keep doing it, especially now.

I remember during my rookie year attending my first “National Night Out,” a community police awareness event that since 1984 has normally been held the first Tuesday of August. (Texas and Florida have the option to hold theirs the first Tuesday in October due to their high August temperatures.) The purpose of the event is to increase awareness about police programs in the communities. In all honesty, they mostly turn into big potlucks. And that's just fine. Normally these events happen in several neighborhoods throughout the city/county and officers get a chance to go from block to block, meeting citizens, learning names, hearing stories (maybe get a little information) and just getting acquainted with the folks who live in the areas we work.

Community Policing was not something I'd been taught very extensively in the police academy. We were taught the “necessities” of the job: Enforcement, law, vehicle operation, firearms, etc. I would submit to you that community policing is indeed a necessity of this job. Or at least it should be. How ironic that we teach officers how to control a situation with body posture and de-escalation tactics, but we aren't teaching them to just talk, or better yet, listen to people. Those are things that come later in intermediate or advanced trainings. In my opinion that's too late. First impressions go a long way, and these officers need to come out of training knowing how to engage the public in ways that don't always end with an enforcement action.

This is the essence of community policing. And we only seem to pull out the “Friendly Officer (insert name here)” when it suits us. We are focusing heavily on the policing part, while simultaneously putting more and more distance between us and the communities we serve.

Time For Action
We assign Community Resource Officers, whose sole duty is to interact with their assigned areas of the community and serve as a liaison between the citizens and the police department. They are tasked with learning the issues of a particular area and forwarding that information to the patrol officers assigned to that beat, district, zone, etc. The issue that arises out of this particular system is that there is now a disconnect between the community and the officers who actually work the area because the officers don't need to actually talk to the citizens in their beats because they rely (very heavily) on the community resource officers to do all the communicating. What officers need to understand is that they (in all actuality) are the community resource officers of their respective areas of responsibility. They are the resource their community needs.

We have to return to this particular thought process. I don't think I even need to get into the current state of public opinion as it pertains to public safety following recent incidents in Florida, Missouri, South Carolina, Oklahoma, etc. The media has always been something outside our realm of immediate control for the most part; nothing new there. What I'm suggesting is that we concentrate on the things we can, in fact, control. Instead of trying to duke it out with the media on their own turf (print, social media, television), how about we get back to going that extra mile when it comes to working in our communities. Let's get back to familiarizing ourselves with the citizens who live and work in our jurisdictions.

Slow those cruisers down, roll your windows down and acknowledge people. Better yet, get out of the car and shake a hand or two. Sounds like a lot of political grandstanding right? Here is how you can differentiate: When you do it, mean it. Remember why we do this job. I'd like to think that it's ultimately because care about our communities and wish to keep them safe. Sheepdogs have a vested interest in the flocks they protect. It's not just about the sense of duty. It also has a lot to do with the fact that minus the badge, gun and all the other toys, we are a lot like those we have sworn to protect. We have to return to that form of thinking. No doubt it takes a bit of a Type-A personality to be a police officer. Most Type-A's may shudder at coming in second, even in name only. But with community policing, the community has to come first. Without the community there is no us.




Fresno's community policing initiatives yield desired results

by Roger Butler

Sustained community policing initiatives like community meetings and distribution of Christmas gifts have significantly improved police-resident relations in gang-ridden neighborhoods in Southwest Fresno. The sustained policing actions are marked by community meetings, Christmas gifts and dozens of neighborhood events.

Officials in Fresno have adopted softer community-policing ethos which were popularized under President Bill Clinton. This ethos does not adhere to the policy of 'zero tolerance'. It rather emphasizes on partnerships and problem-solving instead of mass arrests.

Fresno officials claim that this strategy has yielded positive results as there has been a significant drop in gang-related violence. The official data shows that armed assaults and robberies have considerably decreased by 33% since the community policing program began, dropping from 202 in 2003 to 134 last year.

Also, the officials assert that Fresno, no longer experiences angry protests from public over police brutality, when such similar agitations have rocked many other American cities over the past years.

The Fresno police further states that it is fully committed and insists that community policing has made the streets safer while improving perceptions of police legitimacy.

Fresno officials like Dyer and Garner are credited with the "Bringing Broken Neighborhoods Back to Life" initiative in which the police partnered with local and national community groups.

Mayor Ashley Swearengin told, "We didn't have protests in Fresno last August, and September and October. And that's not by accident. It's because there has been such consistent and constant work between law enforcement and the community".

However, the effectiveness of community policing has been critically examined. The Journal of Experimental Criminology published a study last year which found that these programs in Fresno may do more to increase citizen satisfaction with police than to reduce crime.

It has also been stated by experts that post September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the focus of domestic law enforcement has shifted to homeland security with meager funds being directed for community policing.




Oakland police partnering with safety app

by Bay City News

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Police Department is partnering with a mobile personal safety app police say will bring "real-time community policing" to the city.

Alert-360, a free app, will allow users to instantly receive alerts when nearby emergencies are reported by other Alert-360 users and designated emergency contacts, police said.

The app will simultaneously call 911 when an alert is generated, and it enables nearby alert recipients to report what they see to help first responders.

The app is available to iPhone and Android users, according to police.




2 police officers shot and killed in Hattiesburg, Miss.

by Tim Doherty and Jason Munz

Two suspects were taken into custody Sunday after two police officers were shot and killed during a traffic stop in Hattiesburg, Miss.

Forrest County Coroner Butch Benedict confirmed that both officers had died at Forrest General Hospital. Benedict identified the officers as Benjamin Deen, 34, of the Sumrall area and Liquori Tate, 25, of Hattiesburg.

Hattiesburg Police Department spokesman Lt. Jon Traxler said police have taken into custody and are questioning two brothers, Curtis Banks and Marvin Banks, as suspects in the shooting, which occurred shortly before 8 p.m. Saturday.

"The men and women who go out every day to protect us, the men and women who go out every day to make sure that we're safe, they were turned on (Saturday) night," Mayor Johnny DuPree said during a brief news conference outside the hospital. "But the person or persons who did this are not safe in the City of Hattiesburg (Saturday night).

Multiple law enforcement agencies swarmed to the scene between Gordon Street and East Fourth Street, crisscrossing throughout the fringes of downtown.

At least one of the suspects took a patrol car from the scene before abandoning it just a few blocks away on the train tracks off Gordon Street. The patrol car and the suspects' vehicle were both taken to Highway Patrol headquarters early Sunday.

Hattiesburg residents Tamika Mills and Pearnell Roberts discovered the two officers who had been shot. The pair got out to check on the officers and called 911.

"Never in my life have I experienced or seen anything like this except on TV and to be in the midst of it, it's shocking and heartbreaking," Mills said. "As we were coming down Fourth Street, we noticed a bunch of lights. As we came on through, (Roberts) told me to turn around because she saw somebody laying on the ground.

"So I backed up. That's when we noticed the officer was down. We just saw that one, but in the course of me being on the phone with 911, I turned and I saw another officer across the street rolling on the ground. (Roberts) ran across the street to check on him. He wasn't all the way alert but he asked her, 'Am I dying? I know I'm dying. Just hand me my walkie-talkie.' "

It marked the first time a Hattiesburg police officer had been killed in the line of duty since Jackie Dole Sherrill was shot on New Year's Eve in 1984.

"Thirty years ago was the last time that this has happened in Hattiesburg, and we've had a lot to happen over the past 15 years with tornadoes and storms," DuPree said. "But you never want this to happen."

Maj. Hardy Sims said two cars had been at the scene, with one unit making the stop and another coming to back the first unit.

At his news conference shortly after 10 p.m., DuPree confirmed that one officer had died and that a second was in serious condition. About 15 minutes later, Benedict confirmed that the second officer had passed away.

"People who believe in prayer, who believe in the power of prayer, I'd ask them to pray for the family members," DuPree said.

At a glance

Hattiesburg police killed in the line of duty

• Officer Jessie James Everett, killed by gunfire March 9, 1952, while investigating a burglary at Ace Weathers Motor Co.

• Officer M.W. Vinson Jr., killed by gunfire March 9, 1952, while investigating a burglary at Ace Weathers Motor Co.

• Sgt. David Anthony, killed by gunfire May 23, 1973, while responding to an alarm call at Citizens National Bank on Broadway Drive

• Sgt. Jackie Dole Sherrill, killed by gunfire Dec. 31, 1984, while serving a warrant on Eastside Avenue



From the FBI

Next Generation Crime Stats -- UCR's NIBRS Can Offer Fuller Crime Picture


“I believe that NIBRS is the pathway to better data—to richer data—that we can all use to have informed conversations about the most important issues we face.”

That statement by FBI Director James Comey regarding the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program's National Incident-Based Reporting System, or NIBRS, was part of a speech he delivered recently to the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives on the topic of law enforcement and race. To help address the issue more effectively, Comey called for better reporting of incidents where force is used by—as well as against—police. He noted that current demographic data regarding officer-involved shootings is not consistently reported to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program because reporting is voluntary for police departments.

The desire to enhance the quality and quantity of the crime data collected throughout the nation is not new. Back in the 1980s, the Bureau—working directly with our law enforcement partners to help us improve UCR—took advantage of a rapidly changing data processing environment to create a system that would capture more detailed information on individual crime occurrences. All of this additional detail would, collectively, paint a more comprehensive picture of crime on a national level.

NIBRS was officially implemented in 1989. While there have been agencies submitting NIBRS data since then—mostly through their state UCR programs—still not enough do so to report on it from a national perspective. Explains Assistant Director Stephen Morris, who heads up our Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division, “The biggest challenge for any agency, whether you're a local police department or a state program office, is the resources needed to convert systems to NIBRS and the personnel needed to oversee those systems.”

The Bureau is undertaking a number of efforts to educate law enforcement and others on the benefits of NIBRS and to increase participation in the program. For example, CJIS is in discussions with its multi-agency Advisory Policy Board about the possible expansion of data to include non-fatal line-of-duty shootings by law enforcement and about transitioning to a NIBRS-only data collection. We have also partnered with the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics on the National Crime Statistics Exchange, or NCS-X, to assist states and agencies interested in submitting their crime data through NIBRS. Said Morris, “You're never going to have 18,000 agencies providing data, but if you have most of the major organizations and they're geographically dispersed, we'll be statistically sound as far a national picture of crime goes.”

Unlike UCR's traditional Summary Reporting System (SRS), which is an aggregate monthly tally of crimes in just 10 offense categories, NIBRS captures—in 24 categories—specific details about crimes and criminals, such as the date, time, location, and circumstance of the incident as well as characteristics of the victim and offender—such as age, race, sex, ethnicity, and any information about their relationship to one another. “NIBRS has the ability to give you the who, what, when, where, and sometimes the why of a crime,” added Morris.

Another key difference between the SRS—which has been in operation since the 1930s—and NIBRS is this: Under SRS, during an incident involving multiple offenses, only the most serious crime is reported (i.e., a murder that took place during a robbery would be counted, but the robbery would not). But in NIBRS, both the murder and the robbery would be reported, giving us a more accurate accounting of crime.

Side by Side UCR Comparison
National Incident-Based Reporting vs. Traditional Summary Reporting



Summary Reporting System

Detailed data collected in 24 categories that include 52 offenses


Aggregate data collected in 10 offense categories




In multi-offense incident, up to 10 crimes are counted


In multi-offense incident, hierarchy rule comes into play—only the most serious crime is counted




Incident-level details captured include the date, time, location and circumstance of the incident as well as characteristics of the victim and offender such as the age, sex, race, and ethnicity


Limited incident-level detail collected for homicides only




Provides a statistical dataset which provides an analysis of the attributes of crime, the correlation of crimes with other demographic factors, and a source of information on a variety of factors affecting crime rates


Does not provide




Detailed data enables agencies to find similarities in crime fighting problems across neighboring jurisdictions which allows them to work together to develop solutions/strategies


Does not enable




Flexible and adaptable to new classifications, modifications, and updates


Cumbersome and inflexible for updates and modifications

When used to its full potential, NIBRS will be able to identify with precision when and where crime takes place, the form it takes, and the characteristics of its victims and perpetrators. Armed with this information, law enforcement agencies can better define the resources they need and apply them where they're needed most. And legislators, municipal planners, academicians, sociologists, advocacy groups, and the public gain access to more extensive crime data as well.

“And at the end of the day,” said Morris, “NIBRS will also be able to provide two important elements to law enforcement agencies that have become so important—accountability and transparency.”




Retired judges will review cases related to San Francisco police scandal

by Bay City News

SAN FRANCISCO -- Three retired judges will be working with San Francisco prosecutors to review roughly 3,000 criminal cases that have potentially been tainted by 14 San Francisco police officers who sent homophobic, racist and sexist text messages, District Attorney George Gascon announced Thursday.

The judges, Justice Cruz Reynoso, Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell and Judge Dickran Tevrizian Jr., were selected to join the district attorney's task force investigating police officer misconduct based on their experience with civil rights and criminal justice reform, Gascon said.

The trio will review criminal cases, arrests and convictions by the 14 officers from the last 10 years for possible evidence bias, according to Gascon.

Cases involving individuals who are incarcerated will be moved to the top of the list, he said.

Gascon said in cases where evidence is in question, his task force will -- and already is -- providing that information to defense attorneys.

Gascon estimated that perhaps 60 or 70 cases involving individuals in custody have already been identified, but he stressed that those numbers are likely to fluctuate as the investigation continues.

The text messages, released publicly in March through a motion by the U.S. Attorney's Office following the conviction of disgraced police Officer Ian Furminger on four felony charges related to the theft of money and property seized from drug suspects during searches in 2009, revealed inappropriate exchanges between Furminger and 14 other officers.

Gascon said that he decided to bring in the judges from outside of San Francisco because of concerns that he and the task force had regarding "deeper systemic issues" within the Police Department.

The judges will be equipped with a team of investigators that will review each case to check for possible racial bias, misconduct, wrongful convictions as well as statistical arrest patterns.

Gascon said the judges will be working pro bono. He said while he hopes their work will be completed by the end of the year, they will continue until all of the reviews have been completed.

The task force also aims to identify officers and department protocols that promulgate a dangerous or biased culture within the police force, Gascon said.

He said a report of the task force's findings will be released to the public upon completion of the investigation.

Gascon said that while the text messages were only made public in March, they had been turned over to the Police Department in 2012, which he said "creates many concerns for us because many people have been prosecuted since December of 2012 that involve some of the officers who were participating in these text messages."

The text messages included racist and derogatory language toward members of the public and police colleagues.

Gascon said the language in the text messages is hateful and that the recent misconduct exhibited by police officers is unacceptable. He explained that bigotry and police misconduct is a major issue across the country.

"As evidenced in events in Baltimore; Staten Island; Ferguson, Missouri; South Carolina and far too many other places, when a police officer engages in misconduct, there are significant implications for public safety and for the public trust, particularly in our minority communities," Gascon said.

"Issues of police misconduct and bias in policing are not limited to far-off places. Usually, San Francisco leads national conversations on equality and fairness, instead of racism, sexism, and homophobia. However, as recent revelations have shown, we are not immune to this epidemic," he said.

The Rev. Amos Brown, a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People board member, said he thinks the addition of the judges to the task force shows that the task force is seeking transparency.

Brown said the "bigoted, demeaning, and destructive texts" speak volumes about the culture in San Francisco and the Police Department.

He said black people are not treated fairly in San Francisco, as exhibited by the high rate of black inmates in county jail and juvenile hall, despite the city's small black population.

He said the task force gives him hope that justice will be delivered to a city that "far too many times has been mute, silent and indifferent in the face of injustice."




Dashcam footage shows Delaware police officer kicking suspect in face

by Fox News

Dashcam video released Thursday shows a black suspect being kicked in the face by a white Delaware police who was charged last week with assault.

The video, recorded August 2013, was released by Dover police after a federal judge ruled last week that it was no longer considered confidential. The ruling came in a lawsuit filed on behalf of the suspect by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Recorded by another officer's dashboard camera, the video shows Dover Cpl. Thomas Webster IV kicking Lateef Dickerson after Dickerson gets down on his hands and knees in response to commands to get on the ground.

Dickerson, 30, was knocked out and suffered a broken jaw, police said in a news release Monday after Webster was charged.

Webster, 41, was arrested Monday and placed on unpaid leave after a grand jury indicted him for second-degree assault. A previous grand jury declined to indict Webster in March 2014, and the U.S. Attorney's Office, after reviewing the case, found no violation of Dickerson's civil rights.

The ACLU subsequently sued Dover police on Dickerson's behalf.

"We believe that the video demonstrates the need for large-scale reform of the Dover Police Department, specifically improvements to their use of force and internal affairs practices, and supervision of their officers," said Kathleen MacRae, executive director of the ACLU of Delaware.

"The people of Dover have a right to know about this incident and deserve a dialogue with law enforcement about how they can create a safe and equitable Dover community for all."

The Webster and another officer encountered Dickerson while responding to a fight at a local service station possibly involving someone with a gun. Court records show that Dickerson has a long criminal history. He was arrested by Dover police last July after a traffic stop for expired tags and was charged with DUI and several weapons charges.

Webster's attorney, James Liguori, said once the dashcam video from Webster's own patrol car and audio from the dispatch center come out, "everybody's going to be satisfied that no crime was committed."

"They've only seen half the movie."

The president of the Central Delaware Branch of the NAACP criticized the police department's decision to release the video, saying he feared it could lead to unrest before his group had the opportunity to meet with members of the community.

"This premature release I don't believe sends the right message, and it places unnecessary risk on members of the community," said La Mar Gunn.

Gunn said the release of the video was an attempt by police to "control the narrative."

Police said they have not received tangible threats of violence, but have notified store owners and local schools that the video was going to be released.

"This is just us being pre-emptive. ... It's obviously a concern with the lawlessness that we've seen across the country," said Lt. Jason Pires, the police department's patrol unit commander.

Mayor Robin Christiansen said at a hastily arranged news conference that the city will honor the First Amendment rights of citizens to protest.

"But I must assure the members of our community that lawlessness and violence will not be tolerated," he said.

Webster was placed on paid leave in November 2013 pending an internal investigation and a review of the case by then-Attorney General Beau Biden's office, which took the case to a grand jury but failed to get an indictment against Webster.

Police have said they "acted accordingly" after an internal investigation found that Webster's action did not comply with department policy, and he returned to patrol duty in June 2014.

Attorney General Matt Denn, who took office in January, reviewed the case last week and instructed prosecutors to present it again to a grand jury.




Justice Department to Investigate Baltimore Police

Probe comes after death of Freddie Gray from injuries sustained while in police custody

by Andrew Grossman

WASHINGTON—The Justice Department plans to announce as soon as Friday that it will launch a civil rights investigation of the Baltimore Police Department, people familiar with the matter said.

The probe comes amid heightened scrutiny of Baltimore's police after the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, from injuries he suffered while in police custody. Six officers have been charged in connection with the incident. A lawyer speaking for the officers has said they did nothing wrong.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Wednesday she had requested the Justice Department inquiry to determine whether the department has a “pattern or practice” of unconstitutional policing. Such inquiries are typically broad and would examine police procedures far beyond those that might have led to Mr. Gray's death.

The investigations often are resolved by what is known as a consent decree, in which the department agrees to make certain changes and have outside oversight for a time to ensure they make those adjustments.

The Justice Department already has said it would conduct a civil rights investigation into Mr. Gray's death.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said Thursday that he welcomes a Justice Department review “with open arms.”

“We have never shied away from scrutiny or assistance,” he said in a news release.

In testimony before a Senate subcommittee Thursday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the department was assisting authorities in Baltimore but that she “had not ruled out the possibility that more may need to be done.”

Mr. Gray was arrested April 12 and suffered severe spinal injuries while under police custody. He died April 19.




Michigan lawmakers seek help for the falsely convicted: 'We can't give them back their lives'

by Kyle Feldscher

LANSING — The criminal justice system failed Thomas and Raymond Highers.

The two brothers, wrongfully convicted in the murder of Detroit drug dealer Robert Karey, spent the best years of their life behind bars. They went in as young men and they left in middle age, their lives stopping while the world outside chugged along.

"(I was) a 20-year-old going into prison and being wrongfully convicted," Raymond Highers said. "Never having a chance to become what you wanted to be, to build a life, a career, all of that was stolen from us. Now, we're 50 year olds starting out like we're 20 year olds. It's breaking you down and it's tough, it's really tough."

Typically, when convicts leave prison they enter the parole system, which helps them adjust to life on the outside.

The Highers, innocent men, had no such luxury when they left prison in 2013. But for the support of their family, they would have been on their own in a brand-new world.

But, a bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers from both chambers of the Legislature is trying to change that.

Two bills, one in the Michigan Senate and the other in the House of Representatives, would provide compensation to those who were wrongfully convicted on all charges they faced and spent time in prison. Those exonerated individuals would receive $60,000 for each year they were wrongfully imprisoned and receive economic damages — including lost wages and criminal defense fees — as well as attorney fees.

It's the sixth time State Sen. Mike Bieda, D-Warren, has proposed similar legislation in the Legislature. He said six is a lucky number for him.

"They come out, they have nothing, their job prospects are substandard," he said. "... It's just an opportunity. We should follow the rest of the states and the federal government to try and make these people's lives (better). We can't give them back their lives, we can't give them that lost time, the opportunities they could have had, and a family. But, we can compensate them at some minimal amount."

Along with Bieda, State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, and Reps. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, and Martin Howrylak, R-Troy, attended a press conference Tuesday supporting the legislation.

Thomas Highers said without family support, it's unknown how he and his brother would have ended up.

As an example, Thomas Highers pointed to Julie Baumer, another one of the wrongfully convicted present at the Capitol Thursday, who worked in the mortgage department of a bank before being convicted of first-degree child abuse. Baumer's infant nephew suffered a stroke while in her care, and doctors incorrectly concluded the blood on his brain was from being violently shaken.

Baumer served more than four years before being released from prison. She now cleans office buildings and serves as an office administrator for a Catholic church, unable to find a similar job to the one she had before going to prison.

Thomas Highers compared the struggle to adjusting to freedom to living life behind bars.

"You can't be scared the rest of your life out here and not doing anything," he said. "So, we keep it moving, just like we did in there."

Since 1989, 55 people have been released from prison in Michigan after being exonerated from previous convictions. The federal government and 30 other states provide compensation in some form for those who are wrongfully convicted and serve prison time.

The proposal in Michigan would not be a judgment of wrongdoing against anyone involved in the case and would keep the state from being sued. The compensation would also be subject to child support payments and debts owed to the state or local government.

Jones, a former law enforcement officer who worked his way up from deputy to sheriff of Eaton County, said it's time Michigan joined the states who take care of the wrongfully convicted.

"It's very rare that it happens," Jones said of wrongful convictions. "But, when it happens, we need to do everything we can to help get them back on their feet."

Chang added the legislation is way to fix those moments when the state fails its citizens.

"That's an injustice," she said, speaking about the stories of those wrongfully convicted. "One I think we should work to heal."

The Highers brothers both have jobs now and they're living as close to a normal life as they can, given the circumstances.

The weight of being locked up as innocent men is no longer on their shoulders. They don't have to "mind their Ps and Qs," as Thomas Higher said, worrying that one false step in the joint will cost them their chance at freedom.

They're no longer fighting to get out of prison, but they said they'll keep up the fight to get what they believe they — and 53 other Michiganders — deserve.

"There are 55 of us ... that's quite a few people," Thomas Highers said. "Let's just hope we get it passed and get some help."




5 things to know about the NSA court ruling and the future of domestic surveillance

by The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court has declared illegal the National Security Agency program that collects data on the landline calling records of nearly every American. The ruling Thursday, the first of its kind by an appeals court, comes as Congress considers whether to continue, end or overhaul the program before June 1, when the legal provisions authorizing it expire.

Five things to know about the court ruling, the program, and the congressional debate about where to go from here:


At issue is an NSA program that for years has been collecting and storing data on American phone calls — a closely held secret until it was leaked by former NSA systems administrator Edward Snowden in 2013. The NSA collects information on the number called and date and time of the call, and stores it in a database that it queries using phone numbers associated with terrorists overseas. Officials say they don't use the data for any other purpose.

The idea is to hunt for hidden domestic terrorists akin to the hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks. But the program has not been particularly valuable as a counter-terrorism tool, and is becoming less so, since, for technical and bureaucratic reasons, the NSA has not been gathering the data on most mobile calls.


A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled that the practice was not legally justified under the law its creators cited to implement it, Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. In a unanimous ruling written by Judge Gerard Lynch, the court held that Section 215 "does not authorize the telephone metadata program," despite years of secret legal rulings by an intelligence court that it could.

The appeals court rejected an argument that since the law allows the government to seize records relevant to a terrorism investigation, it was sufficient to declare all the country's phone records relevant. The ruling, however, allows the program to continue, since the provisions expire June 1 and Congress is debating their future.

All three of the 2nd Circuit judges are Democratic appointees.


What the court did not address was whether the program is constitutional. Other legal cases have argued that it is not.

Opponents say the seizure and search of their records from telephone companies violates their expectations of privacy under the Fourth Amendment because the government failed to obtain a search warrant based on probable cause to believe that evidence of criminal conduct will be found in the records. The program's backers rely on what is known as the third-party doctrine, under which the Supreme Court has held that personal records people voluntarily turn over to companies, including phone records and email, are not protected by the Fourth Amendment.


The court's ruling sharpens the focus on the ongoing congressional debate about the program. The Patriot Act provisions in question expire June 1 unless Congress reauthorizes them. Republicans and Democrats in the House have agreed on a bill to do that while also ending the government's bulk collection of the records. Senate leaders are backing a competing measure that would maintain the status quo, but they are open to compromise.

The divisions on the issue don't run neatly along partisan lines. Libertarian-leaning Republicans have joined many Democrats in arguing that a secret intelligence agency should not be storing the records of every American phone call. Some Democrats and Republicans assert that the program is needed now more than ever, given the efforts by the Islamic State group to inspire extremists to attack inside the U.S.

The House Judiciary Committee last month overwhelmingly passed the latest version of a bill known as the USA Freedom Act, which would end the NSA's collection and storage of the phone records. Instead, it would allow the agency to request records held by telephone companies under a court order in terrorism investigations.


Some were arguing Thursday that the court's ruling was a vindication for Snowden, who is under indictment in the U.S. and living in exile in Moscow. Indeed, one of the three judges, Robert Sack, authored a separate opinion that appeared to paint Snowden as a whistleblower.

Many other people, including senior U.S. officials, sharply disagree. They note that Snowden's disclosures about NSA activities were far broader than this single program, revealing espionage that had no implication for Americans' privacy.

Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell served on a task force in the wake of the Snowden leaks that recommended ending NSA's bulk collection of phone records. In a new book, Morell calls Snowden's leak "the greatest compromise of classified information ever" that did "enormous" damage.




In Fresno, a community-policing ethos builds ties between officers and residents

by Wesley Lowery

FRESNO, Calif. — The toddler had just finished having his face painted bright red and white when he barreled toward Jerry Dyer, Fresno's broad-shouldered chief of police. Dyer, his bald head reddening after several hours in the sun, bent to catch the boy.

“You having a good time?” Dyer asked with a smile, as the child's mother whipped out a phone to take a photo. “When you get a little bigger, I want you to grow up to be a police officer.”

Not long ago, the Hispanic residents of this gang-ridden neighborhood in Southwest Fresno would not have voluntarily spoken to a police officer, much less attended a police-sponsored block party and taken photos with the chief. But over the past decade, a sustained policing initiative marked by community meetings, Christmas gifts and dozens of neighborhood events has fundamentally altered police-resident relations.

At a time when other cities were aggressively arresting people for minor crimes, a strategy known as “zero tolerance,” officials in Fresno chose a different path. They embraced the softer community-policing ethos popularized under President Bill Clinton, which emphasizes partnerships and problem-solving instead of mass arrests.

Fresno officials say the result has been a significant drop in gang-related violence — and inoculation against the kind of angry protests over police brutality that have rocked Baltimore, New York, Ferguson, Mo., and other American cities over the past year.

“Our community has been completely transformed,” said resident Carlotta Curti, 66, who moved to Fresno for college and never left. “The fact that these officers are out here, with these kids, every week, makes the difference.”

Nationally, the effectiveness of community policing has long been in dispute. A broad study published last year in the Journal of Experimental Criminology found that the programs may do more to increase citizen satisfaction with police than to reduce crime.

But the study also found that, in many cities, community policing has been more buzzword than implemented policy. And other experts note that after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, federal funds for community policing dried up and the focus of domestic law enforcement shifted to homeland security.

“Most of these programs just faded away,” said Samuel Walker, a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

In Fresno, police say they are fully committed. And city officials insist community policing has made the streets safer while improving perceptions of police legitimacy.

“We didn't have protests in Fresno last August, and September and October. And that's not by accident,” said Mayor Ashley Swearengin. “It's because there has been such consistent and constant work between law enforcement and the community.”

A sprawling city set in the almond groves of California's Central Valley, Fresno still has its challenges. The recession has lingered longer here than in many places, and the city is plagued by a major methamphetamine problem as well as one of the highest per capita homeless rates in the country.

In Southwest, an economically depressed stretch not far from downtown, police say street gangs remain a major cause of violence, including a spike in homicides last year. But armed assaults and robberies have plummeted since the community policing program began, dropping from 202 in 2003 to 134 last year — a 33 percent decrease.

These days, Southwest boasts a new school building, a new mixed-income housing development and a Family Dollar store that ranks near the top nationally for selling fresh produce.

Slowly building trust

It was the gangs that first drew Dyer's attention to the neighborhood. In 2002, Dyer summoned Greg Garner, one of his most respected officers, and asked him to take on a challenging assignment: captain of the Southwest District.

A Fresno police officer since the early 1980s, Garner had a reputation for developing deep, trusting relationships both inside and outside of the department. Now, Dyer hoped he could do the same in one of the city's most troubled communities.

“This area was leading the city in violent crime,” Garner said. “We knew we had to figure out a way to figure out the real causes of crime, the quality-of-life issues, and be seen as a source of help — not just the people who show up to make arrests.”

Garner began by assembling a new unit, funded in part with a federal policing grant. He handpicked five officers, including Oliver Baines, a young black officer who had grown up in Los Angeles and expressed interest in community policing.

As a teen in L.A., Baines had been pulled over time and again as he drove to and from work after school. That experience convinced him that the best way to fix Southwest was by rebuilding the community's trust in law enforcement.

“We drank the Kool-Aid on this community policing stuff,” Baines said.

They reached out to local clergy, then hit upon the idea of a block party to build relationships with the young kids then being drafted into ranks of the city's street gangs.

The first party was an awkward event; residents were skeptical. But the officers kept at it. And as they strengthened their church relationships, the parties drew more people. Before long, police said, they began seeing renewed cooperation even in the toughest neighborhoods.

Baines recalled a fatal shooting in 2006, when a woman was caught in the crossfire in an area then under control of the Dog Pound, a notoriously violent gang.

“Everyone in the community knew who did it,” Baines said. “But most of the time, no one will say anything.”

So Baines was shocked when police got a call from a tipster — someone who now trusted them enough to take a risk. A Dog Pound member was quickly arrested for the killing.

“That would never have happened a few years before,” Baines said. “And a few weeks later, we had a block party there and we began disbanding that gang.”

Keeping it up

Success bred success, and officials found ways to maintain the program — now known as the “Bringing Broken Neighborhoods Back to Life” initiative — even after the federal grant money ran out in 2005. Since then, police have partnered with local and national community groups, such as YouthBuild USA, a national organization that puts young people to work building affordable housing.

“When you respect and empower the young people, they want to build a bridge,” said YouthBuild USA founder Dorothy Stoneman. “It makes them want to improve the community, and that always includes police-community relations.”

Under the partnership, the parties have multiplied, from just one or two annually to more than 20 a year. Today, there's a police block party almost every Saturday throughout the spring and summer. And the parties are now planned by teen volunteers who gather at police district headquarters for regular Tuesday morning meetings.

Volunteer Ismael Barajas, 24, who used to hang out with gang members, said the program has changed his view of police.

“Each time, when I used to see a cop, I'd feel nervousness,” he said. “Now I want to become a police officer.”

With the teens taking charge, police are free to man the grills. At a recent block party in the parking lot of a nonprofit community center, small children munched popcorn and tossed bean bags while teens hung out in groups, gossiping and horsing around. Dyer, the police chief, was one of half a dozen officers wading through the crowd — and the only one in uniform.

The others, clad in jeans and T-shirts, dished out hot dogs and showed off a police cruiser, lifting smaller children into the driver's seat. Nearby, a detective danced with a young girl as Cherrelle's “Saturday Love” poured from amplifiers.

In 2013, Garner moved on. He is now chief of his own department in nearby Selma, where he has begun hosting similar community events.

As for Baines, his faded blue police jacket now hangs in the corner of his City Hall office. After 11 years on the force, Baines was elected to the City Council in 2011 and now serves as council president.

“The narrative around the city is how dangerous and violent Southwest is,” Baines said. “But there's a lot of promise here, and I'm proud of what we're doing.”



ISIS Claims Failed Attack on Texas Art Show that Killed 2

The Islamic State militant group claimed it was behind the attack on a cartoon exhibition of the Islamic Prophet Mohammad in Texas on Sunday in which two of its alleged fighters were killed.

However, U.S. officials expressed doubts on the ISIS' direct involvement in the attack even as investigators continued to look for clues on the botched terrorist attack.

Wielding assault rifles, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi of Phoenix were gunned down by a police officer when they opened fire in a parking lot outside the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest in Garland, a suburb of Texas. An unarmed security guard suffered a minor wound.

The Syria- and Iraq-based ISIS said on its official online radio station that "two soldiers of the caliphate" launched Sunday's attack in Dallas.

The White House said it was not yet clear whether the two gunmen killed in Garland had ISIS links. Investigators said they were still trying to determine whether the slain gunmen had received orders from ISIS before carrying out the attack.

According to one U.S. official, investigators believed it was possible, if not likely, that ISIS played an "inspirational" rather than "operational" role in the attack.

Even before the Muhammad art exhibit was held, the police in Texas were already prepared for any possible attack.

The extra police security paid off as the two gunmen were killed before they could inflict harm on more people.

The contest was organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which has been tagged by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-Muslim group. The organizers reportedly paid $10,000 for extra security.

According to the Garland police, the event was coming to an end when Simpson and Soofi drove up to the front of the Curtis Culwell Center facility armed with assault weapons and started shooting at a Garland security officer.

The police engaged the gunmen, killing both.

The security officer, Bruce Joiner, sustained a wound to his ankle and was released after treatment.

Police suspected that the car used by the suspects had explosives and detonated several packages inside it. But no explosive devices were found.

Simpson, according to CNN, linked himself to ISIS in a tweet before the attack. "May Allah accept us as mujahideen," according to the tweet.

The Simpson family said in a statement late Monday it was at a loss to explain what happened. "We are heartbroken and in a state of deep shock as we grieve," the family statement said. "We send our prayers to everyone affected by this act of senseless violence, especially the security guard who was injured in the line of duty."

Court documents showed Simpson had been under U.S. surveillance since 2006 and was convicted in 2011 of lying to F.B.I. agents about his desire to join jihad in Somalia.

"I believe that perhaps he might have just snapped when he heard about the cartoon contest," Kristina Sitton, a Phoenix attorney who defended him in the case, told CNN.

Soofi, the other slain gunman, was described by his friends as a popular student at an elite school in Pakistan. However, they said he had difficulty adjusting to life in the U.S. after his family left Pakistan and settled in the U.S.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said, "While all the facts are not in yet, last night's attack serves as a reminder that free and protected speech, no matter how offensive to some, never justifies violence of any sort."

"Finally, in reaction to last night's attack, we urge that members of the public not misdirect anger and suspicion at people simply because of their religious faith," he said.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) condemned the Sunday's attack.

"We also reiterate our view that violence in response to anti-Islam programs like the one in Garland is more insulting to our faith than any cartoon, however defamatory. Bigoted speech can never be an excuse for violence," the council said.

The shooting in Texas resembled attacks or threats in other Western countries against the display of images depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

In January, gunmen killed 12 people in the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo after it printed a caricature of Mohammad in its cover. Such portrayals are considered offensive by Muslims.




LAPD Chief 'Very Concerned' by Cop Shooting in Venice of Homeless Man

by The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Wednesday he has yet to see evidence that would justify one of his officers fatally shooting an unarmed homeless man near Venice Beach.

Beck cautioned that his department's investigation was just underway but told reporters he was "very concerned" by the shooting that occurred Tuesday night as an officer struggled with the man on a block lined with bars and restaurants.

"Any time an unarmed person is shot by a Los Angeles police officer, it takes extraordinary circumstances to justify that, and I have not seen those extraordinary circumstances at this point," Beck said.

Department investigators have not interviewed the officer because he is on medication to treat a knee he hurt during the struggle, Beck said.

The union representing officers criticized the chief's remarks as premature and prejudicial. In a written statement, the Los Angeles Police Protective League called Beck "completely irresponsible" to publicly opine "without having all of the facts."

Tuesday's confrontation began late at night when two officers responded to a 911 call saying the man, believed to be in his 20s, had been arguing with a bouncer who would not let him into a bar and was hassling passersby, police said. The officers spoke to the man, who began walking away but then came back and began struggling with someone on the sidewalk, according to a police news release. The officers tried to detain the man, who was shot during the struggle, police said, and the man died at the hospital. No weapon was recovered at the scene, police spokeswoman Liliana Preciado said.



Warriors vs. Guardians

Trust in local law enforcement is waning across the U.S. That's unlikely to change before policing culture does.

by Shauna Miller

The results of a new Pew Research Center poll on reactions to last week's unrest in Baltimore are worth a close look. A full 65 percent of black respondents attributed the violence to poor relationships between the black community in Baltimore and local police, while 56 percent of white respondents—a clear majority—made the same connection.

Compare that to the results of a USA Today/Pew survey conducted last year in the immediate wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Then, white respondents reported a notably higher level of trust in police-public relationships: 77 percent said they had a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in the ability of local police to gain the trust of local residents. But among black respondents, a full 53 percent said they doubted the ability of police to gain the trust of the communities they patrol.

The contrast apparent in these two survey results suggests that the events of the past year—Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and other black victims of police violence—have had a real impact on how Americans view the state of police relations within their communities. In a new paper for New Perspectives in Policing, authors Sue Rahr and Stephen K. Rice argue that much of what's happened this year is largely due to a "warrior" versus "guardian" mentality ingrained in police training and culture in recent decades. They write:

Despite two decades of aspiring to effective community policing, American law enforcement seems to have drifted off the course of building close community ties toward creating a safe distance from community members... In some communities, the friendly neighborhood beat cop — community guardian — has been replaced with the urban warrior, trained for battle and equipped with the accouterments and weaponry of modern warfare.

Rahr, a 30-year police veteran, former sheriff of King County, Washington, and current member of President Obama's policing task force, developed in 2011 a unique training model for King County's street officers called LEED: Listen and Explain with Equity and Dignity. "Using the LEED model," the authors explain, "officers are trained to take the time to listen to people; explain what is going to happen and how the process works; explain why that decision was made so the equity of the decision is transparent; and leave the participants with their dignity intact."

The authors argue that this empathetic approach creates stronger community connections and bolsters public confidence in officers, which in turn leads to safer communities. "The behavior of the warrior cop, on the other hand, leads to the perception of an occupying force."

At the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's fifth annual America Healing conference, going on now, law enforcement leaders from around the country have gathered to discuss how relationships between law enforcement and communities of color can be improved. Take a look at some of these timely quotes, from Cincinnati Chief of Police Jeffrey Blackwell, who spoke there:

•  "We, as police, have been partly responsible for every major civil unrest incident in this country."

•  "Every city is just one incident away from Baltimore."

•  "We are listening. We hear the cries of this nation to change the way we treat people of color."

•  "We need to lift people up ... I believe strongly that we become guardians in our communities and not warriors. That is a huge paradigm shift in this country."

Blackwell is echoing the language and lessons of Rahr's LEED model of community policing with statements like those. But as Rahr and Rice warn in their paper, nothing about overhauling decades worth of entrenched police culture will be easy:

There are two things cops hate: the way things are, and change. ... [W]e must be prepared for strong resistance. That resistance will be intensified because we are challenging the very core of the warrior identity that many have embraced in the popular culture of policing.



New York


Policing in the Aftermath of Baltimore's Bungles

The mayor mishandled the response to the protests, and the prosecutor has been needlessly inflammatory.

by Howard Safir

Recent events in Baltimore offer lessons for law enforcement and government officials across the country that could have a significant impact on public safety in the future. The death of Freddie Gray in police custody, the bungled city response to the unrest that followed, and the state attorney's needlessly incendiary approach to assigning blame in Gray's death all warrant closer attention.

Much has changed in America since the 1980s and 1990s when crime was out of control. The public demanded that something be done to stop the plague of drugs, violent crime and murder. Mayors like Rudy Giuliani in New York and Martin O'Malley in Baltimore ran on the single issue of reducing crime and won mandates to do so.

As police commissioner in New York in the late 1990s, I can attest to the effectiveness of aggressive and accountable police tactics like the “broken windows” policy of going after relatively minor offenses, which are often committed by those likely to perpetrate worse crimes. Stopping, questioning and frisking potential suspects is another essential tool. These and other tactics enabled police to reverse the terrible tide of crime in America, making cities large and small safer than they had been in decades.

That progress prevails today—hundreds of poor neighborhoods are safer than they have been in living memory, and thousands of residents in those neighborhoods who might have been the victims of violence are alive today as a result.

So why did people in Baltimore's Sandtown-Winchester section burn buildings and cars and injure more than 100 police officers? Social problems and racial tensions exist in communities throughout the country, yet their residents don't riot in response to local news events.

What happened in Baltimore was driven by an inadequate police response dictated by the city's mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Police officers, civilians and private property became “targets of opportunity” for thugs and young people caught up in the feeding frenzy. By failing to act decisively and proactively to secure the neighborhood, the government of Baltimore did a disservice to its citizens.

When you let rioters vent—the Baltimore mayor called it giving “space” to “those who wished to destroy”—you are giving license to violence and looting. In a city where the mayor, the police commissioner, the state's attorney and much of the police force are African-American, it is difficult to make a case that African-Americans in Baltimore are targeted for police action based on race.

With tens of millions of dollars invested in Sandtown to build more than a thousand new homes and renovate more than a thousand more, the city of Baltimore was active in, not absent from, that area. Allowing violence to rage virtually unchecked, through mayoral inaction and inadequate policing, undermined years of hard work and investment.

Justice must trump politics. It was disconcerting to see the local state's attorney, Marilyn Mosby, announce the arrest of six police officers for the death of Freddie Gray using sound bites intended more for the 24-hour news cycle and the Internet than for the courtroom. Her disgraceful conduct will almost certainly result in a change of venue for the trial of these officers.

Highly publicized incidents like the deaths of Freddie Gray or Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., radically distort the true nature of policing in America. It is difficult to combat the mistaken impression fed by a constantly repeated, retweeted and otherwise rehashed video clip of a suspect being arrested—followed by inflammatory statements by elected officials, activist attorneys or talking heads who make it their job to stoke racial resentment and allege police brutality. But the simple truth is that of the millions of contacts between the police and public each year, less than 1% of these contacts involve the use of force and an even tinier percentage result in injury or death to those who come in contact with police.

During my tenure in New York, we reduced crime by 38% and homicides by 44%. We did more than 300,000 stop-and-frisks a year—yes, they were mostly to people of color, but the stops were based on descriptions of suspects by victims who were also overwhelmingly people of color. The city was in crisis, and it was the most effective tactic in reducing crime.

Despite recent headlines, cities are no longer in crisis from out-of-control crime. Yet many police departments haven't changed to reflect the new conditions and still use the same approach. This isn't the time to abandon the tactics that have served so well. But it is time to modify them. Assertive policing, including constitutionally compliant stop-and-frisk, remains essential. But law-enforcement departments need to step up efforts in community policing to improve relations with residents and gain their trust.

Police officers must engage with the community on a regular basis, not just in response to crimes. They need to be trained in solving community problems, and communities need to see them as a resource.

At the same time, police departments must improve the use of technology to keep crime at its current low rate. Predictive policing software, body cameras and license-plate readers bring capability and accountability. Continuing to interrupt the sale of illegal guns, drugs and gang activity—responsible for 80% of crime in this country—remains the key to future crime reduction.

Policing is a calling. The men and women who police this country put their lives on the line every day. On Monday a New York City police officer, 25-year-old Brian Moore, died from a gunshot wound suffered during a routine stop-and-frisk. More needs to be done to bridge the gaps between law enforcement and poor communities, and public officials need to send a clear message that the only people who need fear the police are criminals. But it would also be worthwhile right now to remember, as the wake for Brian Moore is held on Thursday: Police officers have a very dangerous job.

Mr. Safir, chairman and CEO of Vigilant Resources International, is a former New York fire commissioner (1994-96) and police commissioner (1996-2000).




Event to focus on police, community relationship

by Dan Campana

High-profile police incidents and volatile community responses across the country have put a new emphasis on the oft-strained relationship between law enforcement and the public.

On May 13, the Kane County State's Attorney's Office and U.S. Department of Justice will present an event at Elgin Community College with a wide-range of topics — from civil rights and use of force to community policing and protest crowd control — keyed on a year's worth of turmoil sparked by a deadly police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.

"There is a level of distrust in certain communities with law enforcement," Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon said Tuesday. "This is an opportunity for us to get together and talk about these issues."

McMahon noted that community forums are common in the county's urban centers of Aurora and Elgin, but that a broader gathering of police, community and other leaders is necessary. The most recent protests in Baltimore serve as "further proof we need to be having these conversations," McMahon said.

Members of the Elgin and Aurora police departments, as well as officials from the Department of Justice and Chicago police, will be among the speakers. Participating in a session on self-monitoring police departments will be former Elgin Deputy Chief Cecil Smith. He is currently the police chief in Sanford, Florida, which gained national attention after the Trayvon Martin shooting in 2012.

The event is free, but seating is limited.




Idaho police officer dies after being shot by suspect who stole patrol car

by The Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash. – A northern Idaho police officer shot by a man who stole his patrol car died of his injuries Tuesday evening, police said.

Sgt. Greg Moore died at 5:50 p.m. local time at Kootenai Health in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, police spokeswoman Sgt. Christie Wood said in a statement.

Moore was shot about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday after checking on a suspicious person in a neighborhood, Coeur d'Alene Police Chief Lee White said.

Police arrested Jonathan Renfro, 26, after a car chase that reached speeds of 125 mph. The pursuit ended when a police dog dragged the man from his hiding place underneath a commercial truck.

Renfro appeared in court Tuesday afternoon and was charged with attempted murder, theft of a police vehicle, theft of an officer's gun and being a felon with a gun. Bail was set at $2 million. He was held in the Kootenai County, Idaho, jail.

Moore, a 16-year veteran of the Coeur d'Alene department, called dispatch to get information on Renfro, White said. Not long after, a resident called police.

The resident "had heard a noise that sounded like a gunshot and they shortly after said that there was a body lying in the street," White said at an early morning news conference.

"From the information I've received so far, it doesn't look like an ambush-style attack," the chief said. "This was just a bad guy doing bad guy stuff and our officers doing what they were trained to do -- and that's trying to keep our communities safe."

Renfro has a long criminal record and was on probation.

After Moore was shot, an officer from nearby Post Falls, Idaho, who was listening to radio traffic about the shooting, saw a Coeur d'Alene police car race by about 90 mph, so he gave chase close to the Washington state line, Post Falls Police Chief Scott Haug said.

The officer found the patrol car abandoned, and the Washington State Patrol and Kootenai County Sheriff's Office helped set up a perimeter, Haug said.

A police dog found Renfro about two hours later hiding under a tractor-trailer. He was wedged off the ground between the axle area and the truck, near a Wal-Mart in Post Falls, Haug said.

The officer found the patrol car abandoned, and the Washington State Patrol and Kootenai County Sheriff's Office helped set up a perimeter, Haug said.

A police dog found Renfro about two hours later hiding under a tractor-trailer. He was wedged off the ground between the axle area and the truck, near a Wal-Mart in Post Falls, Haug said.

"He was engaged by the dog when he would not comply and taken into custody," Haug said.

White said a motive for the shooting hasn't been determined.

The Idaho State Police is the lead agency investigating the shooting, said Stu Miller, a spokesman for the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators are collecting evidence from multiple scenes, including dash cam video from Moore's car, Miller said.

Miller did not know if the weapon used against Moore had been recovered.

Miller said the last report from the officer was a radio message that he was checking out a suspicious person in a Coeur d'Alene neighborhood.

"There was no further contact from him," Miller said.

Moore was married and had two children, officials said.




‘Shawshank' Fugitive Arrested 56 Years After Escape

by Nolan Feeny

A fugitive who spent time at the penitentiary featured in prison-escape film The Shawshank Redemption was finally apprehended in Florida after 56 years on the lam.

Authorities arrested 79-year-old Frank Freshwaters, who also used the name Williams Cox, on Tuesday after receiving a tip from U.S. Marshals that he was living in Melbourne, Fla., News13 reports.

“[We] approached him, showed him the 1959 picture, asked if he'd seen that person. He said he hadn't seen him in a long time,” Major Tod Goodyear of the Brevard County Sheriff's Office said of the confrontation at Freshwaters' isolated mobile home. Freshwaters went by aliases since escaping in 1959, but authorities said he had a Florida driver's license, stayed out of trouble and was even collecting Social Security.

Freshwaters served time at the Ohio State Reformatory featured in the 1994 movie but escaped from another state facility in Sandusky seven months into a 20-year-sentence for violating the probation of his manslaughter conviction. He was previously caught in the 1970s in West Virginia but was released after a failed extradition.




Martinsville Police Department holds community summit

The department is working to build a postive relationship with the community

by Daniette Staub

MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- The Martinsville Police Department is trying to earn the trust of the people who live there.

The Martinsville Police Department is working to build community relations and keep their department as transparent as possible.

They want to be professional but friendly and approachable.

Chief Sean Dunn told the crowd Tuesday night, it only takes one poor citizen encounter to ruin the department and that is why they have to be their best, each and every day.

"Oh, I thought it was an excellent program for this evening," Community member Gloria Hylton said.

There was nothing but praise for the Martinsville Police Department.

"Are willing to go the extra mile. to hep ensure safety for our children, for our elderly and for our neighborhoods," Community member William Vickers said.

After holding a community summit to discuss how they operate and how they plan to better the city of Martinsville, the crowd left with high hopes.

"When we have a good police force and we have a good school system, that encourages I think other people to move into the city," Vickers said.

Martinsville Police Chief Sean Dunn discussed the many challenges the department faces every day.

"Our number one organizational challenge is minority recruiting. We do not reflect the community that we serve," Chief Dunn said.

And how he intends to change or work on those problems, through different aspects of community policing.

"To better engage with us. To build relationships. To build positive relationships," Dunn said.

Building a trust to create a stronger community.

"We want your trust and we know we got to earn it and we are gonna earn it. We are going to continue to earn it," Dunn said.

Chief Dunn also spoke about the war on drugs here in Martinsville.

He says there is a huge issue and they are working to fight it.

But whether is it the drug war or just patrolling as a neighbor resource officer. He says it takes the whole community to work together to make Martinsville a better place.




Attorney general visits Baltimore after charges in Gray case

(Reuters) - New Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the head of the Justice Department's civil rights division will travel to Baltimore on Tuesday, the week after the city's top prosecutor charged six police officers in the death of a black man.

Lynch planned to meet with city officials, members of Congress, law enforcement, faith and community leaders, a Justice Department official said.

Lynch was to be accompanied by Vanita Gupta, head of Justice's civil rights division, and Ronald Davis, director of its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS.

The meetings come four days after six police officers were charged in the death last month of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died after injuries sustained while in police custody.

Gray's death followed a string of police killings, including incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City, that triggered protests across the United States.

A night curfew in Baltimore was lifted on Sunday. The city's mayor said the Maryland National Guard would begin withdrawing from the streets over the next week.

Many activists who had participated in the marches demanded more details about what happened to Gray.

"There is definitely a camera overlooking Penn and North (streets). Let's see the footage," Deray McKesson, a leading voice among the anti-police activists, said on Twitter.



Obama forms charity for minority teens, says unrest is due to harsh police tactics

by Fox News

In a deeply personal response to outbreaks of racially motivated protests, President Barack Obama on Monday blamed a lack of opportunity in minority communities and harsher treatment of black and Hispanic men by police for fueling a sense of "unfairness and powerlessness."

The country's first black president called for a nationwide mobilization to reverse inequalities and said the cause will remain a mission for the rest of his presidency and his life. "There are consequences to indifference," Obama said.

Helping launch a foundation to assist young minorities, Obama said the catalysts of protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and in Baltimore were the deaths of young black men and "a feeling that law is not always applied evenly in this country."

"They experience being treated differently by law enforcement – in stops and in arrests, and in charges and incarcerations," Obama said. "The statistics are clear, up and down the criminal justice system. There's no dispute."

The new organization, My Brother's Keeper Alliance, is an outgrowth of Obama's year-old My Brother's Keeper initiative, which has focused on federal government policies and grants designed to increase access to education and jobs.

While the effort predates the tensions in Baltimore that erupted after the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, the significance of the new private-sector alliance has been magnified by the spotlight the riots placed on low-income minority neighborhoods.

"Folks living in those communities, and especially young people living in those communities, could use some help to change those odds," Obama said.

Obama repeatedly drove home the point during his 10-hour visit to New York, echoing the same themes from his speech at Lehman College in the Bronx to high-dollar Democratic Party fundraisers in Manhattan to an appearance on CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman."

"For far too long, for decades, we have a situation where too many communities don't have a relationship of trust with the police," he told Letterman. He said he wants young minority men in particular to know "we're going to invest in you before you have problems with the police, before there's the kind of crisis we see in Baltimore."

He tied the call for justice with an economic message for the 60 donors who paid $10,000 to see him at an expansive, art-filled Upper East Side apartment – including actor Wendell Pierce, who played a Baltimore police detective working in drug-ridden projects on "The Wire."

"If we are going to be successful over the long haul, if we are going to win what will be a very competitive 21st Century, we've got to have everybody on the field," Obama said, adding the economy "can't leave entire communities behind."

Obama later held a discussion with about 30 donors contributing up to $33,400. That event was closed to the media.

Despite his criticism of inequities in criminal justice, Obama praised police officers for putting their lives on the line and singled out Brian Moore, a 25-year-old New York City police officer shot in the head over the weekend while attempting to stop a man suspected of carrying a handgun. He said police "deserve our gratitude and our prayers, not just today but every day. They've got a tough job."

"We ask police to go into communities where there is no hope," he said at Lehman College. "Eventually, something happens because of the tension between society and these communities, and the police are just on the front lines of that."

Obama described the plight of young minority men as a struggle he's intimately familiar with, alluding to his own youth raised by a single mother.

"I grew up without a dad. I grew up lost sometimes and adrift, not having a sense of a clear path," he said, adding that he was lucky because he was in an environment where people cared for him.

"Really, that's what this comes down to — do we love these kids?" he said.

With high-profile names and an ambitious focus, the alliance is a possible building block for Obama's post-presidential pursuits. Obama has less than two years left in his presidency and the new institution would likely sustain its work well after he leaves the White House.

The White House sought to distinguish the operation of the organization from Bill and Hillary Clinton's family foundation, whose financing has attracted criticism. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said decisions about who could give to the group and the reporting of donations would be made by the board of directors.

"The White House will not be involved in determining what their fundraising policies should be," Earnest said. He said the board would be "well aware of the priorities the president has placed on transparency."

The new alliance will be led by Joe Echevarria, the former chief executive of Deloitte, the giant accounting and consulting firm. The alliance already has obtained financial and in-kind commitments of more than $80 million from such companies as American Express, Deloittte, Discovery Networks and Fox News parent company News Corp., the White House said.

The alliance board is a who's who of the sports, corporate and entertainment worlds. Singer-songwriter John Legend is the alliance's honorary chairman; former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning is a member of the board. The alliance's advisory council will include former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Attorney General Eric Holder and Sen. Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat; the mayors of Indianapolis, Sacramento and Philadelphia; and former NFL player Jerome Bettis and former NBA standout Shaquille O'Neal.



Washington D.C.

US Community Policing Force Includes Protesters From Ferguson, NY

WASHINGTON — The US Community Policing Force put in place in December 2014 after the police killed African Americans in Ferguson and New York included protesters from those two cities, US President Barack Obama said in a speech announcing the new non-profit organization My Brother's Keeper Alliance.

“One of the many things we did was put together a task force for community policing,” Obama said. “It included some who had led protests in Ferguson and New York.”

Obama explained that sheriffs and county officials joined community protesters from Ferguson and New York to come up with proposals to make their communities safer.

Obama also said that community police deserve a better quality of life and the United States should not just try to contain social problems, but understand and solve them.

Such communities particularly include those that have had 30-40 percent unemployment, even before the Great Recession started in 2008.

“There are communities that don't have enough investment or opportunity,” Obama said. “If there's no shortage of people blaming you for the plight of the community, I'm not interested in blame but results and responsibility.”

Obama concluded that the feeling of powerlessness among African Americans and Latino Americans, which has fuelled the protests and riots in places like Ferguson and Baltimore, needs to be stopped in order to correct the racial issues still inherent within the United States.

My Brother's Keeper is a community challenge to call to action all members of US communities to implement a “coherent cradle-to-college-and-career strategy” to improve the outcomes of young people, according to the White House.



From the Department of Justice

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Statement on the Ongoing Situation in Baltimore

I'd first like to address the ongoing situation in Baltimore and the actions that we here at the department are taking to address it. I have been in direct contact with officials in Maryland, including the Governor and I have directed this department to provide any assistance that might be helpful in restoring calm and resolving the unrest that broke out across the city. I also want to express my deepest condolences to the family of Freddie Gray. The Civil Rights Division and the FBI are already conducting a full and independent investigation into the tragic death of Mr. Gray. And both the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and the Community Relations Service have been working to defuse tensions as that process continues. Vanita Gupta, head of the department's Civil Rights Division and Ronald Davis, director of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), are meeting with faith and community leaders in Baltimore and they visited a police officer last night who remains hospitalized after being injured in the conflict. They told me he seemed to be in good spirits and I want to convey my best wishes for his speedy recovery.

I want to make clear once again that these senseless acts of violence are not only a grave danger to the community – and they must stop – but they are also counterproductive to the ultimate goal here, which is developing a respectful conversation within the Baltimore community and across the nation about the way our law enforcement officers interact with the residents they are charged to serve and protect. That is a conversation that I am committed to advancing. I am heartened that the unrest seemed to ease last night and that members of the community are trying to come together to clean up their city and I am hopeful that progress will continue in the coming days.

Let me add something else. As we watch events unfold in Baltimore, it is easy to view Baltimore as a symbol of issues that we must all deal with. And of course, the difficult situation there highlights so many issues that are part of our national debate. But I'd ask that we remember that Baltimore is more than just a symbol. Baltimore is a city; it is a great city; it is a beautiful city; it is one of our cities. Like so many cities, Baltimore is struggling to balance great expectations and need with limited resources. It is dealing with balancing the challenges of public safety and community expression. And it is home to more than 620,000 people. It was their home that the peaceful protesters were trying to make better. And it was their home that the injured officers were trying to protect.

Let us keep all the people of Baltimore in our thoughts and prayers in the coming days.

Watch the video of Attorney General Lynch's remarks.



Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Delivers Remarks at the Criminal Division's Cybersecurity Industry Roundtable

Thank you, Leslie [Caldwell], for that very kind introduction, and thank you all for being here this morning. While I'm eager to talk about the important cyber security issues you've come here to discuss, I'd first like to address the ongoing situation in Baltimore and the actions that we here at the department are taking to address it. I have been in direct contact with officials in Maryland, including the Governor and I have directed this department to provide any assistance that might be helpful in restoring calm and resolving the unrest that broke out across the city. I also want to express my deepest condolences to the family of Freddie Gray. The Civil Rights Division and the FBI are already conducting a full and independent investigation into the tragic death of Mr. Gray. And both the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and the Community Relations Service have been working to defuse tensions as that process continues. Vanita Gupta, head of the department's Civil Rights Division and Ronald Davis, director of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), are meeting with faith and community leaders in Baltimore and they visited a police officer last night who remains hospitalized after being injured in the conflict. They told me he seemed to be in good spirits and I want to convey my best wishes for his speedy recovery.

I want to make clear once again that these senseless acts of violence are not only a grave danger to the community – and they must stop – but they are also counterproductive to the ultimate goal here, which is developing a respectful conversation within the Baltimore community and across the nation about the way our law enforcement officers interact with the residents they are charged to serve and protect. That is a conversation that I am committed to advancing. I am heartened that the unrest seemed to ease last night and that members of the community are trying to come together to clean up their city and I am hopeful that progress will continue in the coming days.

Let me add something else. As we watch events unfold in Baltimore, it is easy to view Baltimore as a symbol of issues that we must all deal with. And of course, the difficult situation there highlights so many issues that are part of our national debate. But I'd ask that we remember that Baltimore is more than just a symbol. Baltimore is a city; it is a great city; it is a beautiful city; it is one of our cities. Like so many cities, Baltimore is struggling to balance great expectations and need with limited resources. It is dealing with balancing the challenges of public safety and community expression. And it is home to more than 620,000 people. It was their home that the peaceful protesters were trying to make better. And it was their home that the injured officers were trying to protect.

Let us keep all the people of Baltimore in our thoughts and prayers in the coming days.

And now, I'd like to turn to another of my priorities for this department: the safety and security of our cyber networks. It is a pleasure to be here with all of you today and a privilege to join so many dedicated colleagues, skilled professionals and committed partners in our shared mission as we seek to thwart cyberattacks, defend America's ingenuity and innovation and protect everyday consumers. I would like to thank each of you for participating in today's inaugural roundtable conversation and for bringing a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the vital topic we are here to discuss.

Each of you was invited to participate today because you are a leader in cybersecurity. The clients and companies that you advise, inform, or represent stand at the forefront of our global business community and serve as the engine of our American economy. Their activities and actions have a real impact on the lives of countless hard-working American families. And as a result, they are all faced with combating a clear and evolving threat to the financial security of the United States: organized criminal enterprises seeking to steal consumer data.

Theft of consumer information and valuable intellectual property is not just a threat to our economy – it is also a danger to our national security. Just last year, we saw an attack against Sony pictures entertainment that should serve as a wakeup call to all major companies. While the information stolen from Sony may have been fodder for gossip magazines, as you know, these kinds of breaches are no joke. And we need to use every tool in our tool box to stop them.

That's why these meetings are so important. We have a mutual and compelling interest in developing comprehensive strategies for confronting this threat and it is imperative that our strategies evolve along with those of the hackers searching for new areas of weakness. But we can only meet that challenge if law enforcement and private companies share the effort and work in cooperation with each other. I am committed to working with you in order to strengthen our defenses against cyber breaches, prevent damaging crimes before they occur and bring wrongdoers to justice.

As many of you know, this is an area in which I have firsthand experience. As the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, I oversaw a number of significant cybercrime cases, including the prosecution of several defendants who committed an international bank heist that inflicted $45 million in losses on the financial system in a matter of hours. What I have learned in my experience is that the speed and complexity of cybercrimes make them unique among the threats that the Justice Department confronts – and we must adapt, just as we have in our fights against organized crime and terrorist networks. I firmly believe that cybersecurity must be among the highest priorities for the department of justice – and that is why, as Attorney General, I will seek to build on the already outstanding work of the women and men of the department who have joined us here today.

For many years, the Criminal Division has worked together with the FBI and the U.S. secret service to successfully investigate and prosecute the most serious cyber intrusions. And just last December, the Criminal Division created a new cybersecurity unit within the Computer Crime And Intellectual Property Section to support partnerships both within government and between private entities and law enforcement, to help potential targets of cyberattacks prevent data breaches and to provide assistance and support when incidents do occur. This groundbreaking initiative has already increased collaboration in this area and I believe that it will continue to produce significant results, and inspire renewed progress in the battle against cybercrime.

This kind of cooperation and innovation is the focus of our gathering today. During this inaugural roundtable conversation, you will discuss the obstacles you have faced, and the successes you have achieved. You will share best practices to common challenges and emerging threats. And you will talk about ways that the Department of Justice, and law enforcement more broadly, can help you to protect American consumers from harm while also safeguarding their privacy.

Of course, this conversation will not end at the conclusion of this meeting. Our door at the Department Of Justice is always open to new partnerships and new approaches to combating cybercrime. On a personal level, I am deeply committed to this work and acutely mindful of its importance. I intend to do everything I can to help you keep your clients, your customers and all Americans safe from exploitation and abuse. Through roundtables like this one and through conversations going forward, I aim to ensure that all of you have the resources and the support that you need to promote a secure and healthy marketplace. And with the dedication and the passion of the talented individuals in this room, I am excited about all that we will achieve together in the days ahead.

Thank you again for joining us at today's roundtable conversation. I wish you a very productive meeting.

Watch the video of Attorney General Lynch's remarks.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell's Remarks at the Criminal Division's Cybersecurity Industry Roundtable

Criminal Division Guidance on Best Practices for Victim Response and Reporting Cyber Incidents



From ICE

ICE joins Instagram

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced the launch of its official Instagram account.

On Instagram, ICE will share images from across the agency to showcase the important work carried out every day by our more than 20,000 dedicated employees.

ICE's Instagram account features behind-the-scenes photographs of the agency's day-to-day operations, including a broad array of investigations and priority removals.

With today's announcement, ICE continues its efforts to use digital media and innovative technologies to communicate directly with the American people about the agency's mission, goals and accomplishments.

ICE joins other DHS component agencies such as the Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency who have established presences on this social media tool.

Follow ICE online at www.ice.gov , www.ice.gov/twitter , www.ice.gov/facebook , www.ice.gov/youtube and http://instagram.com/ICEgov .

Links to DHS social media accounts can be found at www.dhs.gov/social .




Vice President Biden Touts Community Policing at NAACP Event


Vice President Joe Biden has told a crowd at an NAACP event in Detroit that law enforcement officers and the people they are sworn to protect need to "see each other" to know one another.

Referencing outrage over the treatment of black men by police, Biden pointed to the successes of federally funded community policing programs that required officers to meet with residents and business owners in their patrol areas.

"Everyone has a right to be treated with dignity and respect and the only way that happens is if we see one another. And that only happens if we know one another," Biden told a crowd attending the Detroit branch of the NAACP's 60th annual Fight for Freedom Fund dinner. According to NAACP officials, the dinner draws around 10,000 people each year.

Community policing grants required local officers to get out of their squad cars and get to know people and business owners in the areas they patrolled, Biden said. He added that federal funds for those programs have been cut back over the years.

Biden said black mothers are "worried that their child may be presumed to be a gang banger — that some authority will see them as a profile and not as an individual."

A national dialogue has been ongoing since 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer in August in Ferguson, Missouri.

The vice president said minority and struggling communities need thriving neighborhoods, educational opportunities and jobs to heal some of their ills.

Detroit exited the nation's largest municipal bankruptcy in December, eliminating or restructuring $7 billion in debt. Another $1.7 billion will be used to improve basic services for residents in the city.

The Obama administration has steered $300 million to Detroit to help tear down thousands of the city's blighted and vacant houses and fund other improvements.

Biden lauded Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan for his work in turning the city around.

"Mayor you turned the lights back on," he said. "Buses are moving. The streets are plowed. The trash is picked up."

Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree delivered last year's keynote. Other past speakers have included U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and former President Bill Clinton.

Democratic U.S. Rep. John Conyers of Detroit was among four people honored at the dinner.




Signs of success from community policing workshops

by Harriet Hibbard

The shooting death of Michael Brown Jr. on Aug. 9 by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson brought cries from people all over the world that law enforcement professionals needed community policing training. Less than four months after Brown's death, more than 25 St. Louis metro area police departments participated in a series of community policing workshops offered by Child Safety Day.

Police officers learned why they had a disconnect with black youth. They were also taught the importance of immediate and complete transparency and what they needed to do to build positive community relationships. The results were amazing. Using Bellefontaine Neighbors as an example, their police department is launching a day camp for 35 children. It starts June 15.

Bellefontaine Neighbors' Sgt. Peggy Vassallo and Officer David Owens got the idea of the day camp after having attended the Child Safety Day workshop in March. This class was taught by Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell, who told them about the 2001 riots in his city after a white police officer shot and killed a black man. Blackwell talked about his department's collaborative agreement with Cincinnati residents and youth-focused programs that might work in St. Louis.

The Child Safety Day community policing workshops have gone really well. Police officers are energized when they leave the classes. They are motivated. But they can't do it alone. They need you to partner with them.



New York

A 'crisis of police abuse' is 'dehumanizing' communities of color

At a time when police seem to hold such an exalted place in society that they are beyond the justice demanded by common citizens, it's no surprise that few give any credence to the man who attempted to blame the victim last week by declaring that Freddie Gray intentionally tried to injure himself.

Actually, many expected something like this would emerge, to deflect responsibility from the Baltimore police — and justify the use of force with impunity.

But the fact is that, as I write this column, two weeks after Freddie Gray, 25, died while in Baltimore police custody, no officer has been fired, arrested, or prosecuted — although Friday the State's Attorney, Marilyn Mosby, said that Gray's death had been ruled a homicide.

“We have probable cause to file criminal charges,” she said. The whole country will be watching Mosby to see if in fact she takes the necessary action to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“We face a profound crisis that extends far beyond simply trust between police and communities — one that notions of ‘community policing' or body cameras alone will not resolve,” said Priscilla González, spokeswoman for the New York-based Communities United for Police Reform. “There is a crisis of police abuse and violence that is perpetuated by a policing culture that dehumanizes our communities and provides impunity for it.”

According to a recent FBI report a white policeman killed a black person almost twice a week in the U.S. between 2005 and 2012. The report shows that 18% of the African-Americans killed during those years were under the age of 21, compared with 8.7% of white victims.

Last December, a Daily News investigation found that in New York there were 179 deaths involving on-duty NYPD cops in 15 years, but only three of those cases led to indictments and — hard as it may be to believe — just one conviction.

The deaths of Gray, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and so many others are not aberrations but symptoms of a deeper problem: The racism of our laws and police officers who don't value the lives of people of color.

González is right on target when she asks for criminal justice reform that “deals with fixing the failed police culture and systemic lack of accountability that perpetuates these abuses and killings.”

As long as this doesn't happen, the senseless deaths of young blacks and Latinos will continue, and so will the protests of a citizenry not willing to passively watch the killing of their children and the rampant abuse of their communities.