May, 2015 - Week 3
Memorial Day National Moment of Remembrance
by Robert L. Schaadt
Memorial Day History -- by the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs Home, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.
Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.
The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.
Local observances claim to be first
Local Springtime tributes to the Civil War dead already had been held in various places.
One of the first occurred in Columbus, Miss., April 25, 1866, when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh.
Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves, as well.
Today, cities in the North and the South claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1866.
Both Macon and Columbus, Ga., claim the title, as well as Richmond, Va.
The village of Boalsburg, Pa., claims it began there two years earlier. A stone in a Carbondale, Ill., cemetery carries the statement that the first Decoration Day ceremony took place there on April 29, 1866. Carbondale was the wartime home of Gen. Logan.
Approximately 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, many of them in the South where most of the war dead were buried.
Official Birthplace Declared In 1966,
Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. There, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored local veterans who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-staff. Supporters of Waterloo's claim say earlier observances in other places were either informal, not community-wide or one-time events.
By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities.
It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars.
In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.
Some States Have Confederate Observances
Many Southern states have their own days for honoring the Confederate dead. Mississippi celebrates Confederate Memorial Day on the last Monday of April, Alabama on the fourth Monday of April, and Georgia on April 26. North and South Carolina observe it on May 10, Louisiana on June 3 and Tennessee calls that date Confederate Decoration Day. Texas celebrates Confederate Heroes Day January 19 and Virginia calls the last Monday in May Confederate Memorial Day.
Gen. Logan's order for his posts to decorate graves in 1868 “with the choicest flowers of springtime” urged: “We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. ... Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”
The crowd attending the first Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery was approximately the same size as those that attend today's observance, about 5,000 people. Then, as now, small American flags were placed on each grave — a tradition followed at many national cemeteries today.
In recent years, the custom has grown in many families to decorate the graves of all departed loved ones.
The origins of special services to honor those who die in war can be found in antiquity. The Athenian leader Pericles offered a tribute to the fallen heroes of the Peloponnesian War over 24 centuries ago that could be applied today to the 1.1 million Americans who have died in the nation's wars:
“Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.”
National Moment of Remembrance
To ensure the sacrifices of America's fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance.
The commission's charter is to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.
The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.
As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It's a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”
Devoted bugler honors deceased veterans with personal touch
by Pia Hallenberg
SPOKANE — Taps is 24 notes that can make the toughest soldier cry.
It's a musical recognition of a life ended, a goodbye that hangs in the air as friends and family wipe their tears, look up and know they must live the rest of their lives without someone.
Since 2001, retired Army Reserve Lt. Col. Philip Kowzan has played taps at military-honor funerals in the Spokane area. His debut came unexpectedly at longtime friend Ivan Brayman's funeral.
“They had a recorder there and I said, ‘No, you're not using that, not at my friend Ivan's funeral,'” Kowzan said.
A lifelong trumpet player, he got his trumpet out of the car, took a deep breath and played for his friend one last time.
“I wasn't in uniform or anything,” Kowzan said. “I'm not even sure I did it right.”
That was the only time he played taps in 2001.
But since then, he's played at 1,259 funerals, sometimes playing at three services in the morning and another three in the afternoon.
“I did seven one day,” Kowzan said. “That's a lot.”
Every funeral Kowzan has participated in is meticulously recorded in a little black notebook, its cover worn from being carried in his pocket.
When he ran out of notebook pages, he switched to a small three-ring binder.
He tries to get the funeral program and the obituary from each service, and he's working on creating a leather-bound scrapbook that will be given to the Washington State Veterans Cemetery.
“It's become my mission,” Kowzan said, flipping through the pages of his notebook, recognizing many of the names.
At 77, Kowzan is long retired, first from the Army and then from a job with a whirlpool-spa company.
He plays in several bands with his wife, Carol Kowzan, and has started picking up the viola, so he wouldn't mind slowing down his bugling career. It's just that he knows of only three other bugle players.
“Once in a while a new person shows up,” Kowzan said. “But we desperately need younger people.”
Kowzan doesn't charge anything, though he doesn't turn down a donation to cover gas and a sandwich for lunch.
His spotless, well-fitting uniform cost him $500.
The Washington State Veterans Cemetery in Medical Lake pays him a $25 stipend — for a whole day.
“It's 23 miles out there, so if I have funerals in the morning and the afternoon, then I don't go home,” Kowzan said, smiling.
Kowzan is not complaining, he's just truly worried that battery-operated, digital bugles with built-in MP3 players will take over, leaving a sterile monotone presentation of a very emotional piece of music.
“Sometimes the batteries die in the middle of everything,” Kowzan said. “It will never be the same as having a real live person play.”
Age has taken many of his fellow buglers away.
“Perhaps people have become complacent?” Kowzan said. “They expect us to be there, but they don't want to do it.”
Rudy Lopez, director of the Washington State Veterans Cemetery, said that Kowzan, Dave Halverson and Paul Manley form the primary group of buglers used by the cemetery.
“He is a very giving individual, and he is passionate about taking care of veterans and their families,” Lopez said, adding that Kowzan was Volunteer of the Year in 2014.
According to the organization Bugles Across America — a nonprofit that supports buglers — anyone who can play the 24 notes of taps in a style that honors the veterans, their families and the burial detail can become a bugler.
“We would love to have high-school students join us,” Kowzan said. “They could do it as a community service project.”
Kowzan is chairman of the Spokane Honor Guard and he said they, too, have dwindling ranks.
Military honor guards are provided by veterans' organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
VFW Post 1435 in Spokane Valley pulls honor-guard members from all the VFW posts in the area, said member J.F. “Gunny” Goffinet.
“To be in the honor guard you would have to have served in some form,” Goffinet said. “You should contact a veterans' organization.”
According to www.military.com, eligible veterans are entitled to free military funeral honors, which consist of at least two members of the armed forces, one of whom represents the parent service of the deceased. The minimum service includes the folding and presenting of the American flag to the family and the playing of taps.
Kowzan is a purist when it comes to taps — he doesn't like the echo version fancied by some.
“It's 24 of the most beautiful notes in the world,” Kowzan said. “No need to mess with that.”
He speaks with reverence of the famous cracked note at President John F. Kennedy's funeral, a slight imperfection that showed the bugler's emotion.
Being a bugler is a solemn and exposed job, Kowzan said.
Standing at the gravesite, in the silence of the cemetery, there's no one to hide behind as the funeral draws to an end and the bugler walks to the head of the grave.
A small man, Kowzan stands straight, loosens his shoulders, takes a deep breath and closes his eyes.
“I see the notes as I play them, one at a time, up and down,” Kowzan said. “And I put them up there in the right place, just like you put cups away in a cupboard.”
There are no official words to the music, but below are some of the more popular verses.
Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hill,
From the sky.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.
Thanks and praise, For our days,
'Neath the sun, 'Neath the stars,
'Neath the sky,
As we go, This we know,
God is nigh.
Fades the light; And afar
Goeth day, And the stars
Fare thee well; Day has gone,
Night is on.
Go to sleep, peaceful sleep,
May the soldier or sailor,
On the land or the deep,
Safe in sleep.
Love, good night, Must thou go,
When the day, And the night
Need thee so?
All is well. Speedeth all
To their rest
Several arrests made as protesters flood Cleveland streets after officer's acquittal
by Fox News
Police in riot gear made several arrests Saturday as protesters stormed the streets of Cleveland after a judge found a white city police officer not guilty in the deaths of two unarmed black suspects killed in a barrage of police gunfire.
The protesters gathered in downtown Cleveland and west side neighborhoods after the acquittal of patrolmen Michael Brelo.
About 150 protesters marched down the middle of downtown Cleveland, temporarily blocking intersections as they chanted anti-police slogans.
The protesters, who were marching behind a large banner that said "Stop murder by police," passed by large crowds leaving a Cleveland Indians game and made downtown vehicle and pedestrian traffic even more congested.
Police tweeted they arrested a male for assault after he threw an object through a window, and the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported that three people were arrested near the Quicken Loans Arena , while officers showed protesters cans of pepper spray as they approached those being arrested. Some police were wearing riot gear.
An Ohio judge said in his written verdict delivered to a crowded courtroom Saturday that Brelo's actions in the November 2012 shootings were justified because he believed that someone in the car containing Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams fired shots at police in the beginning, middle and end of the chase. Brelo is still on unpaid suspension while officials consider administrative charges against him.
The Department of Justice said Saturday it plans to “review all available legal options.”
"We will now review the testimony and evidence presented in the state trial" to determine if "additional steps are available and appropriate," the department said after the acquittal of Officer Michael Brelo on voluntary manslaughter charges.
Vanita Gupta, head of the department's civil rights division said the review is separate from its efforts to resolve a pattern of civil rights violations at the Cleveland police department. A report in December outlined a string of examples of excessive force, including officers who unnecessarily fired guns, hit suspects in the head with weapons, and punched and used Tasers on people already handcuffed.
The acquittal came at a time of nationwide tension among police and black citizens punctuated by protests over deaths of blacks at the hands of white officers -- and following a determination by the U.S. Department of Justice that city police had a history of using excessive force and violating civil rights.
Before issuing his verdict, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John O'Donnell noted the recent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore over the deaths of black suspects but said he would not "sacrifice" Brelo to an angry public if the evidence did not merit a conviction.
"Guilty or not guilty, the verdict should be no cause for a civilized society to celebrate or riot," he said.
Community and city leaders braced for the possibility of unrest in response to the verdict, which came as investigators work toward making a decision on whether charges will be filed in the death of a black 12-year-old boy carrying a pellet gun who was shot by a white rookie officer late last year.
"We will get justice," said Art McCoy of the Black Man Army, a coalition of black leaders. "We are not happy with this verdict."
Shortly after the verdict was reached, about 30 sheriff's deputies stood in front of the courthouse bearing clear shields as protesters with bullhorns chanted. One demonstrator bowed his head with hands folded in front of the phalanx of deputies, praying in silence.
The deputies then moved inside the entrance of the justice center, and the plaza in front of the building was soon cordoned off.
Brelo, 31, faced as many as 22 years in prison had the judge convicted him on two counts of voluntary manslaughter.
O'Donnell spent nearly an hour summing up his conclusion, an involved explanation that included mannequins marked with the gunshot wounds that the two motorists suffered on Nov. 29, 2012.
O'Donnell said that while Brelo likely fired fatal shots in the final seconds of the encounter in a school parking lot, other officers fired fatal shots as well. Brelo could have been convicted of lesser charges, felonious assault, but O'Donnell determined his actions were justified by the circumstances of the chase, which included reports of shots being fired from the beat-up Chevy Malibu that Timothy Russell was driving.
Brelo sat stoically throughout the four-week bench trial, his parents often in the courtroom. Thirteen officers fired at a car with Russell and Malissa Williams inside after a long, high-speed chase, but only Brelo was charged criminally because prosecutors said he waited until the car had stopped and the pair no longer a threat to fire 15 shots through its windshield while standing on the hood of the car.
Russell, 43, and Williams, 30, were each shot more than 20 times. While prosecutors argued they were alive until Brelo's final salvo, medical examiners for both sides testified that they could not determine the order in which the fatal shots were fired.
Brelo has been on unpaid leave since he was indicted May 30, 2014.
The chase and shooting began when Russell's car backfired as he sped past Cleveland police headquarters. Police officers and bystanders thought someone inside had fired a gun. More than 100 Cleveland police officers in 62 marked and unmarked cars got involved in a pursuit that saw speeds reach 100 mph during the 22-mile-long chase.
Authorities never learned why Russell didn't stop. He had a criminal record including convictions for receiving stolen property and robbery and had been involved in a previous police pursuit. Williams had convictions for drug-related charges and attempted abduction. Both were described as mentally ill, homeless and addicted to drugs. A crack pipe was found in the car.
The shooting helped prompt a months-long investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, which concluded last December that the Cleveland police department had engaged in a pattern and practice of using excessive force and violating people's civil rights. The city and DOJ are currently negotiating a reform-minded consent decree that a federal judge will approve and independent monitors will oversee.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine at the conclusion of a probe by the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation said there had been a systemic failure within the command and control structure of the Cleveland police department during the chase. BCI turned over its findings to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office, which presented evidence to a grand jury that led to Brelo's indictment.
The grand jury also charged five police supervisors with misdemeanor dereliction of duty for failing to control the chase. All five have pleaded not guilty. No trial date has been set for the supervisors.
Two years after the deaths of Russell and Williams, a white officer fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice in a Cleveland park after police received a report of a man with a gun. Surveillance video showed the officer firing on Rice within two seconds of his patrol car skidding to a stop next to him.
Revised charges against Baltimore officers raise questions about case
by Timothy Phelps
Subtle changes made in the criminal charges against six Baltimore police officers could reflect weaknesses in the hurriedly filed case arising from the death of Freddie Gray, legal experts say.
A grand jury on Thursday presented its indictment against the officers. Though it largely mirrored the original charges filed by State's Atty. Marilyn Mosby, the revisions renewed complaints that Mosby moved too quickly and overcharged the officers.
The grand jury dropped the controversial “false imprisonment” charges against three of the officers, raising questions about Mosby's initial assertion that Gray's arrest had been illegal.
It also added a lesser charge of “reckless endangerment,” a misdemeanor with a lower standard of proof, against all of the officers. The charge was seen by some as a “backup” in case it became too difficult to prove the tougher charges of assault, manslaughter and, for one officer, second-degree murder.
“It seems to me that suggests a lack of confidence in the other charges,” said Steven H. Levin, a former federal prosecutor in Baltimore. “It's a catchall. Maybe the hope is that if they throw all these charges at the jury, it will convict them of something.”
When she announced the initial charges May 1, Mosby said the arrest of Gray in a poor neighborhood of West Baltimore on April 12 was illegal. A pocket knife found on Gray, she said, was not an illegal switchblade under Maryland law as the officers had asserted.
But she recently backtracked on the knife, which defense lawyers asserted was illegal under Baltimore's criminal code, if not under state law.
Instead, she suggested in a court pleading Tuesday that there was no probable cause to arrest Gray in the first place. Gray was chased down by two of the charged officers because he had run away from them after making eye contact.
Fifteen years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an apprehension in a similar case from Chicago. The grand jury, either of its own initiative or under Mosby's direction, dropped the false-imprisonment charges.
“It was a huge mess for her and also a sideshow,” said David Gray, who teaches criminal law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. “The real issue here is the potential criminal culpability in Mr. Gray's death.”
The reckless-endangerment charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Unlike the manslaughter and second-degree murder charges, reckless endangerment does not require a legal showing that any one officer's conduct led directly to Freddie Gray's death, said David Gray, who is not related to the victim.
At a news conference Thursday, Mosby said the changes in the charges against the officers were routine.
“As our investigation continued, additional information has been discovered, and as is often the case during an ongoing investigation, charges can and should be revised based upon the evidence,” she said.
The officers are scheduled to be arraigned July 2. Defense lawyers said they planned to file a motion demanding details of the prosecution's case within 30 days.
The defense lawyers have also said they will file a motion to move the racially charged case out of Baltimore, which is heavily African American. The surrounding counties are more conservative and possibly more favorable to law enforcement.
At the same time, prosecutors are expected to try to bolster their case by getting one or more of the defendants to testify for the prosecution.
Justice Department releases guidelines on domestic drone use
by Dante D'Orazio
After years of operating in a legal gray area, domestic drone use is starting to amass a number of official rules and guidelines. The US Justice Department is the latest to provide policy guidelines on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). On Friday it published its guidelines laying out how federal law enforcement agencies may (and may not) use the remote-controlled vehicles. So far, the FBI is the only agency within the department to use the drones in missions.
In a five page document, the department says that UAVs may not be used to monitor any activities protected by the First Amendment, such as peaceful protests and demonstrations. In addition, law enforcement must "seek a warrant in circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy," consistent with the Constitution.
Even in cases where the use of UAVs is allowed, it appears the Justice Department is keeping a close eye on the use of drones in the US. The guidelines say that the devices "may only be used in connection with properly authorized investigations and activities." And each agency will be responsible for maintaining detailed logs of all UAV missions.
The guidelines also call for yearly summaries to be submitted to the deputy attorney general for review. It also urges law enforcement to use the "least intrusive means to accomplish an operational need," suggesting that UAVs aren't right for all missions. In addition, among other rules, all pilots will have to be certified and information and documentation generated from UAV missions will have to adhere to existing privacy laws.
The Department of Justice's guidelines come just months after the FAA submitted its long-awaited rules for commercial drone use. The department says that its guidelines are consistent with those rules, which call for, among other things, certification and testing for private operators.
Allegheny County makes heroin antidote available to anyone
by Tony Raap
The Allegheny County Health Department on Thursday issued a standing order for naloxone, which reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, allowing any pharmacy in the county to dispense the drug to those at risk of an overdose.
“Heroin and opioid-related use, overdoses and fatalities are on the rise nationally, and Allegheny County is no exception,” Karen Hacker, director of the county health department, said in a statement.
There were 299 overdose deaths in Allegheny County last year; 60 percent of those deaths involved heroin, according to data provided by the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office.
Issuing a standing order for naloxone, also known as Narcan, “will allow individuals throughout the county to have access to what can be a life-saving antidote,” Hacker said.
“Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that those who are struggling with addiction receive the treatment and recovery supports they need to live a happy and productive life,” she said.
Listen: A Conversation on Community Policing
(Go to site to listen to the audios)
Over the past few months, hundreds of thousands of Americans have signed petitions on our We the People petitions platform related to community policing, in the wake of the police-involved deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and others. This week, we invited these petition signers to join a White House call about improving community-police relations.
Yesterday's conversation participants included:
Roy Austin , Deputy Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs, Justice, and Opportunity
Brittany Packnett , Member of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing
DJ Patil , U.S. Chief Data Scientist
David Wilkinson , Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation
During the call, they highlighted new steps we're taking to improve community-police relations through the use of open data, demilitarizing local police forces, and other recommendations from the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
The participants also answered some questions that petition signers submitted in advance of the call -- questions such as what we can achieve by looking at police data on a national level, or how we can change the view of the community to one where police are seen as "guardians" instead of "occupiers."
States retool police training in wake of high-profile shootings
New philosophy was endorsed this week by President Obama's 21st Century Policing task force
by Gene Johnson
BURIEN, Wash. — When prosecutor Dan Satterberg used to visit Washington state's police academy, the seas would part before him. Recruits would snap to attention, backs to the walls, and allow him to pass.
Now, they greet him and start a conversation.
"It takes a lot longer to walk down the halls," said Satterberg, the elected prosecutor in Seattle's King County.
The friendlier attitude reflects a campaign underway here and elsewhere around the U.S. to "demilitarize" the police and produce officers who think of themselves as guardians of their communities, not members of an occupying force.
Calls for demilitarizing law enforcement began a few years ago but gained urgency after the violent protests over the shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer.
The philosophy was endorsed this week by President Barack Obama's 21st Century Policing task force. As part of that change in thinking, Obama curtailed the government's practice of supplying armored vehicles, heavy weapons and other military-style equipment to police departments.
But it isn't just about the gear.
While some critics say that good officers already consider themselves protectors and that police need the best equipment to defend themselves and the public, many law enforcement leaders see a need for a broader change in police training and culture.
That includes getting cops to use their wits rather than their weapons whenever possible, as well as instilling a strong moral compass. Supporters say the approach could reduce cynicism, corruption and maybe even suicides among officers.
"We are at this moment where we have to re-engineer how we recruit, how we train and how we supervise," said Chuck Wexler, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Police Executive Research Forum.
"De-escalation, crisis intervention, better communication skills — all of these things are what the 21st century police officer needs to have in any situation, whether it's talking to a citizen you may have stopped or trying to defuse a situation where a mentally ill person has picked up a rock or a weapon."
For the past few years, the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, which trains the state's local police and sheriff's deputies, has emphasized such skills.
The state academy relies heavily on a curriculum called "Blue Courage," developed by a former Aurora, Illinois, police commander with support from the U.S. Justice Department. It was first used in 2013 at Arizona's largest police academy, after local chiefs listened to a presentation.
"It struck a chord," said Lyle Mann, executive director of the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board. "There was this feeling that the militarization, the focus on officer safety, this whole confrontational kind of thing was morphing in a way that didn't feel good to those progressive chiefs."
The Justice Department has spent $1.5 million so far on Blue Courage, and it has been introduced at the New York City and Baltimore County police departments, as well as academies in Nebraska and Arizona.
Washington state's academy has boosted the training hours devoted to handling people with drug or mental problems, and Blue Courage principles have been incorporated into firearms and defensive tactics classes. Recruits can fail a training exercise if they use force when it may have been avoidable.
Where recruits were once berated by instructors and indoctrinated with stories about police killed in the line of duty, they are now offered lessons from neuroscience about how the brain reacts to respect or disrespect.
They are taught that police can't do their jobs unless citizens see their authority as legitimate — something that is eroded with every questionable use of force, rude interaction or corrupt cop.
They are given copies of the Constitution and challenged to think about it. "In my career, my only training in the Constitution was how to get around it," said Sue Rahr, executive director of Washington's training commission and a member of Obama's task force.
Rahr, a former sheriff, took over the commission three years ago, and among her first priorities was dropping the requirement that recruits salute staff members. Instead, they are required to politely begin a conversation, just as officers might be expected to do with citizens on the street.
"The traditional thinking is you've got to scare the crap out of them so they're ready and they don't get hurt," Rahr said. "I completely understand that. But you can take it too far, to the point where you make them into a soldier and they're viewing everyone as an enemy and a potential threat."
She stressed that Washington's academy remains as physically demanding as ever.
During a recent mock scene, Patrick Barnes, a recruit from the Clark County Sheriff's Office in the Vancouver area, entered a room decorated like a tavern. An intoxicated man, played by a martial artist in a padded suit, was refusing to leave.
Barnes amiably tried to persuade the man to exit, chatting with him about his T-shirt, but the man slapped him. Barnes took him down and cuffed him in a fierce wrestling match.
Afterward, instructor Russ Hicks praised Barnes for trying to avoid using force, but using it decisively when necessary. Another instructor, Tim Fasnacht, reflected on how the scene had changed in recent years: "It used to be more of a beat-down fest. I've seen it where the officers would come in without even talking."
Barnes, the 27-year-old son of a police officer, said he has always known the importance of treating citizens with respect. The Blue Courage classes have crystallized those concepts, he said.
"It is a noble profession, and we should be keeping it that way," he said.
Seattle University researchers began a five-year study last fall to follow new graduates of the academy to measure the effect on their attitudes and how they do their jobs.
Richland Police Sgt. Wayne Dubois, president of the Washington State Tactical Officers Association, said it is fine to stress the noble aspects of policing as long as officers are still getting the hard training that will prepare them for a life-or-death fight.
"At the end of the day, what they're describing is what any police officer worth his or her salt would do," the SWAT officer said. "I've been in multiple situations where legally and by policy I could have shot someone. You know why I didn't? Because it wasn't the right thing to do."
Why Obama's advice to police to ‘abandon warrior mindset' won't work
Every police officer is a guardian, but on the inside there must reside the beating heart of an honorable warrior ready to be summoned at a moment's notice
by Lt. Dan Marcou
President Barack Obama recently announced he was substantially neutering the 1033 program — prohibiting certain armor and weapons from being turned over to law enforcement.
I believe the President will in change his point of view on this issue if and when ISIS attacks our homeland as they have promised. When ISIS hits the homeland there will be a tactical reconfiguration of American law enforcement.
When he announced the evisceration of the 1033 program, the President called for law enforcement to embrace a guardian mindset, while abandoning the warrior mindset.
Guardian and Warrior
After working with and training police officers for 41 years, I have come to believe the majority of police officers are guardians hard-wired to protect the flock. No one has to train them to want to be a guardian. What people in the protected class do not realize is that when you make a person a guardian, you place them immediately in harm's way.
The Bible contains the story of David, who was tasked with guarding his father's flock. The day came when a lion carried off one of the lambs. The boy felt it was his duty to pursue the lion, and rescue the lamb.
He did so, and the future King of Israel defeated the “king of beasts.”
The point is, when you make a person a guardian this comes with responsibilities to be a protector as well. Some guardians faced with a lion would abandon the flock, some would run and sound the alarm, and still others would stand and fight.
American police officers nearly universally are of the stand and fight variety. They look at their communities as the flock they are sworn to protect with their lives, and they do.
The Warrior Mindset
As a trainer I've observed for years that although young recruits at entry level already are steeped in a strong desire to protect, unless they have prior military service, they do not have the skills nor the proper attitude to be able to do so. The skills and attitude needed to win in each and every challenge are not innate — they must be trained.
There is a need to train officers to acquire the skills and mindset of an honorable warrior if they are truly going to be able to guard the communities they serve. If possessing the tools and attitude needed to protect their communities truly alienates the public as the President says, then the public needs to be educated.
The Heart of Warrior
The best example in history of the guardian/warrior mindset took place at Thermopylae (Gates of Fire) when a Persian army of would-be conquerors met 300 Spartans face-to-face. The Persian King Darius thought himself merciful, when he ordered the Spartans to drop to their knees and lay down their weapons.
Any army in the world at that time facing such unequal numbers would most certainly have done as ordered. The Spartans knew that they not only were the guardians of the Greek people, but also the protectors of a new idea called Democracy.
Leonidas and the men stood tall as he responded defiantly, “Molan Labe!” (“Come and get them!”). These Spartans bravely fought — and to a man, died — but they saved Greece and Democracy from disappearing to history.
This Spartan spirit is still alive today in every honorable American soldier and police officer sworn to protect this country and every person in it.
In short, when a police officer takes up the proverbial shield of the guardian there will come a time he or she will eventually have to unsheathe the proverbial sword of the warrior. Every police officer is a guardian, but on the inside there must reside the beating heart of an honorable warrior ready to be summoned at a moment's notice.
Many in this country don't realize that now as much as ever, our guardians must also be warriors, for once again, the Persians are at the gate.
About the author
Lt. Dan Marcou retired as a highly decorated police lieutenant and SWAT Commander with 33 years of full time law enforcement experience. He is a nationally recognized police trainer in many police disciplines and is a Master Trainer in the State of Wisconsin. He has authored three novels The Calling: The Making of a Veteran Cop , S.W.A.T. Blue Knights in Black Armor , and Nobody's Heroes are all available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. Visit his website and contact Dan Marcou
Grand jury indicts 6 officers in death of Freddie Gray
by JULIET LINDERMAN,
BALTIMORE (AP) — A grand jury's decision to indict all six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, who died of injuries suffered in police custody, allows the state's attorney to press ahead with the most serious charges despite criticism she was part of an "overzealous prosecution."
The indictments announced Thursday were similar to the charges Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced three weeks ago. The most serious charge for each officer, ranging from second-degree "depraved heart" murder to assault, stood, though some of the lesser alleged offenses had changed.
Attorneys for the officers have said in court documents they are the victims of an "overzealous prosecution" riddled with personal and political conflicts of interest. At a minimum, they said, Mosby should be replaced with an independent prosecutor because she had a personal interest in calming unrest in the city that followed Gray's death and because her husband is a city councilman who represents the areas most affected by upheaval.
Gray suffered a critical spinal injury April 12 after police handcuffed, shackled and placed him head-first into a van, Mosby has said. His pleas for medical attention were repeatedly ignored.
His death a week later spawned protests that on two occasions gave way to violence and looting. In the wake of the riots, Democratic Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake implemented a curfew and Republican Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency.
Mosby said prosecutors presented evidence to the grand jury for the past two weeks. Some of the charges were changed based on new information, but she didn't say what that was. She also did not take questions.
"As is often the case, during an ongoing investigation, charges can and should be revised based upon the evidence," Mosby said.
Two officers, Edward Nero and Garrett Miller, were indicted on second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office for "failure to perform a duty regarding the safety of a prisoner" and for an illegal arrest, Mosby said. The indictments do not include the false-imprisonment charge both officers initially faced.
"I'm very glad that the grand jury chose not to indict officer Nero on false imprisonment and one count of second-degree assault. I'm quite confident he will be acquitted of the remaining charges at trial," Nero's defense attorney, Marc Zayon, said.
Caesar Goodson, who drove the van, faces manslaughter and a second-degree "depraved heart" murder charge, as well as misconduct in office and second-degree assault. Sgt. Alicia White, Lt. Brian Rice and Officer William Porter are each charged with manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office. Those officers also face reckless-endangerment charges.
Ivan Bates, an attorney for White, said he is "looking forward to seeing Ms. Mosby in court and proving that Sgt. Alicia White is innocent."
Nero, Miller and Rice are white; Goodson, Porter and White are black.
Gray's death became a symbol of what protesters say is a pattern of police brutality against African-Americans in Baltimore. Following Gray's death, the Justice Department announced a civil rights investigation of the Baltimore Police Department to search for discriminatory policing practices and examine allegations that officers too often use excessive force and make unconstitutional searches and arrests.
Gray was arrested in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of West Baltimore. According to court documents, he made eye contact with a police officer and took off running. He was apprehended two blocks away and arrested for possession of a knife that Miller wrote in charging documents is illegal under a city ordinance. Mosby said the arrest was unlawful because the knife is legal under state law.
None of the officers secured Gray's seatbelt in the van, a violation of police policy. Soon after he was placed in the van, Goodson made a second stop during which Gray was secured in leg irons because he was "irate," police said.
After a ride that included two more stops, including one to pick up a second passenger, the van arrived at the Western District police station. By that time, Gray was non-responsive.
The Rev. Cortly "C.D." Witherspoon, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's Baltimore chapter, said he was surprised by the indictments.
"The track record of this city and state's attorney's office and even the grand jury in Baltimore is not to indict in these type cases," he said.
In the neighborhood where Gray was arrested, the news was received Thursday evening more with a shrug than a cheer.
"We ain't worried about the indictment. We want a conviction," said Michael Banks, 44.
Lisa Logan, an HIV-awareness advocate, said she's glad the case is proceeding. But she doesn't understand why the van driver faces more serious charges than the officers who put Gray in the van.
"Something occurred, some law was broken, so justice is being done," Logan said. "But how and who and how it all broke down, we'll have to wait and see."
Equal-justice advocate Noche Diaz, who said he moved to Baltimore from New York to join the protests, called the indictment "only a first step."
"The only thing that got the charges in the first place was when people rose up and then more people around the country stood up," he said. "There's going to be a need to continue and renew that fight."
Unarmed stepbrothers shot by officer in Olympia, Wash. after shoplifting calling, sparking protests
by Jason Silverstein
What began as a call about shoplifted beer in Olympia, Wash. early Thursday led to the police shootings of two unarmed black stepbrothers and, in response, intense street protests through the evening.
Hundreds of protesters stormed the Olympia police headquarters and City Hall, chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace” after the non-fatal shootings of Andre Thompson, 24, and Bryson Chaplin, 21.
Thompson is in stable condition, while Chaplin was critically injured. Both are expected to survive Olympia's first officer-involved shooting since 2012.
The protests over the shootings remained peaceful, and Olympia Mayor Stephen Buxbaum urged citizens in a statement to “not be reactive."
The violent police encounter was sparked by a call from employees at a Safeway store around 1 a.m. Thursday, saying two men had tried to steal beer and threw the brews at workers who approached them.
Officer Ryan Donald, who is white, found the stepbrothers skateboarding near the store and believed they matched the descriptions given to police. Just moments later, he radioed his department to let them know he'd fired shots. Minutes later, he said both men had gunshot wounds to the torso.
Police later said the first shooting happened near Donald's car and the second in a wooded area where the men fled. It has not been confirmed where each man was shot or how many times.
The officer claimed one of them had “assaulted me with his skateboard” and called the stepbrothers “very aggressive," as heard on a recording of his calls, which was released by the department. ("Shot fired" is first heard at 10:26 of the released recording.)
Donald was not hurt, and Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts later said the officer had “the right to defend himself” if he was under attack.
“There's no indication that race was a factor,” Roberts insisted.
Donald, 35, is now on administrative leave, which is standard procedure for the force as a police shooting is investigated. He has been with the department for only three years and previously worked as an Army police officer.
The stepbrothers live in Vancouver, Wash., and grew up in Woonsocket, R.I., according to their Facebook pages.
Both have criminal records dating back at least three years, the Seattle Times reported. Thompson has pleaded pleaded guilty to several charges, including supplying liquor to a minor and and obstructing a law enforcement officer. Chaplin pleaded guilty in 2012 to take a motor vehicle without permission, and has an extensive juvenile court record with robbery, theft and assault guilty pleas.
Their sister, Jasmine Thompson, told the Olympian she saw the shootings on her way home from a hospital visit for a work-related injury. But she thought nothing of it until she got home and saw her brothers weren't there.
"That's when I started to worry," Thompson told the paper. "I thought, 'Did I just see my brother get shot?'"
Hartford Police Earn White House Praise For Community Policing
by Katie Toth
Hartford, Connecticut is one of ten cities being praised by the White House this week for their progress in community policing.
Police departments that use community policing are trying to connect their officers more closely to the neighborhoods they serve. The White House said on Monday that Hartford is doing that, through a program that gives local high school students paid internships and mentors in the city police department.
Maribel Laluz is the spokesperson for Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra. She says that the program is promoting public trust.
"By trying to get as much non-enforcement moments between young people and police, having a workforce that's, you know, that reflects the community it serves," she said.
Laluz says she hopes the program will prepare local students for jobs in the police force and improve the racial diversity of the department. According to an analysis by the Connecticut Mirror, two thirds of Hartford's police are white, while the majority of the city's population is Black or Latino.
Laluz says that's because many police officers in Hartford are not Hartford residents.
Can Batts get the job done?
Police Commissioner Anthony Batts says violence is out of control in the Western District in part because his officers find themselves surrounded by people with video cameras every time they show up to do even the most routine police work. To give him some credit for his first significant public remarks about the three-week-long spate of drastically increased murders and non-fatal shootings, he did not appear angry or mystified at this phenomenon. Rather, he recognized it for what it is: evidence of a community whose relations with the police have passed the breaking point in the wake of Freddie Gray's death and the ensuing riots. Mr. Batts is promising more community engagement as a result, and that's good, but he has been promising that since the moment he arrived in Baltimore nearly three years ago. That his efforts have only brought us to this point calls into question whether he can ever achieve his goals.
While Mr. Batts may have been exaggerating in saying officers are being videotaped by "30 to 50" people on every call, it's clear that the dynamics on the street have changed. Officers are not only being taped but also frequently berated by residents angry not just over what happened to Freddie Gray but also about what they say is a long history of abuse by police officers. Even with the passage of three weeks since the riots, passions have not cooled. Nor is the anger — or the recent violence — contained to West Baltimore. On the same day that Mr. Batts made his remarks, five people were shot, one fatally, along Linwood Avenue in East Baltimore. The city saw its 100th homicide of the year the next day.
From his very first public appearances in Baltimore, Mr. Batts preached the need to foster a "a police organization that remembers that we serve our community." He had a reputation for engaging closely with the community during his tenure as police chief in Long Beach, Calif., and he pledged to take time to learn the culture here. In his confirmation hearing in 2012, he pledged "marked improvement in our systems and our commitment to community." He went on ride-alongs, attended community meetings and chatted up residents on the streets.
On a substantive level, he disbanded the Violent Crimes Impact Section, a plainclothes unit that had generated significant community complaints, and he put more officers on patrol to respond to 911 calls. He created a new community policing division and beefed up internal affairs to investigate police uses of force and allegations of misconduct. He promised to give officers "the tools... so they can be more empathetic." In a Sun op-ed two years ago, Mr. Batts explained his strategy: "Simply put, we continue to target illegal guns and violent offenders, and we have added two factors — additional police presence for the comfort and safety of the community and community engagement, in an effort to build bridges and communication between police and the community." At his one-year anniversary, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she was "proud of his emphasis of getting in the community and making sure everyone understands it's not them against us, which is for far too long what people felt."
But 2014 saw the commissioner and mayor on the defensive about police misconduct after a Sun series on the city's history of police brutality settlements, which came around the same time as a widely publicized video of an officer beating up a man at a bus stop — a video the department had for two months but did nothing about. Mr. Batts and the mayor requested that the Justice Department conduct a "collaborative review" into allegations of brutality and misconduct. "I didn't break it, but I'm here to fix it," he said at the time. By this spring, even before Freddie Gray's arrest and death, Mr. Batts was lamenting the "1950s-level black-and-white racism" in Baltimore and a "visceral hatred of the police department" in the community. After Freddie Gray's death and the riots, the mayor requested that the Justice Department upgrade the collaborative review to a full-scale civil rights investigation.
The commissioner has always been a candid observer of the breakdown in Baltimore's police-community relations. We appreciate that, but acknowledging the situation isn't the same as resolving it. When he first arrived here, Mr. Batts said he would keep driving violent crime down and start driving community trust up. Now violent crime is up — murders by 40 percent and non-fatal shootings by 70 percent over last year — and community trust is perhaps as low as it has been since the 1968 riots. At what point do we stop saying Mr. Batts needs more time for his reforms to work and at what point do we concede that they don't?
Sen. Paul stages 11-hour Patriot Act protest, NSA programs poised to lapse
by Fox News
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., helped bring the National Security Agency's domestic spying programs to the brink of lapsing Wednesday after holding the Senate floor for nearly 11 hours to protest the proposed renewal of the Patriot Act.
Paul, who is also a candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, called the law, which expires June 1, an unconstitutional intrusion on Americans' privacy. His speech underscored deep divisions over the NSA's bulk collection of Americans' phone records, which was revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden in June 2013.
The Obama administration warned Wednesday that the NSA's bulk collection of phone records would have to start winding down by the end of the week if Congress does not act, and several programs under the Patriot Act would lapse at the end of the month, when the act itself expires. With Paul's speech eating up hours of floor time and congressional lawmakers still at odds over the way forward, at least a partial lapse is now highly likely.
"There comes a time in the history of nations when fear and complacency allow power to accumulate and liberty and privacy to suffer," Paul said at 1:18 p.m. EDT when he took to the Senate floor. "That time is now, and I will not let the Patriot Act, the most unpatriotic of acts, go unchallenged."
With a hefty binder at his desk, Paul spelled out his objections to the law, which was signed by former President George W. Bush days after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Paul did not yield the floor until 11:49 p.m., having not sat down or left the Senate chamber in the intervening period. Paul kept control by yielding for questions from several of his fellow senators, including fellow Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, but not yielding the floor.
"This body should be focused on [its] responsibility to protect the Bill of Rights," Cruz said. "So the question I would ask: Is there any excuse for this body not to take seriously its responsibility to protect the Bill of Rights and the Constitutional rights of every American?"
Paul's campaign sent out a fundraising appeal while his longstanding opposition to bulk collection, a pillar of his presidential campaign, stirred social media.
Congress is weighing dueling bills to address the NSA programs.
Last week, the House backed the USA Freedom Act, which would replace bulk collection with a system to search the data held by telephone companies on a case-by-case basis. The vote was 338-88, and House Republican and Democratic leaders have insisted the Senate act on their bill.
The White House also backs the House bill, the result of outrage among Republicans and Democrats after Snowden's revelations, and has pressed for the Senate to approve the legislation and send it to President Barack Obama for his signature.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and several other top Republicans prefer to simply reauthorize the 2001 law. McConnell has agreed to allow a vote on the House bill, but has indicated there may not be enough votes to pass it in the Senate.
However, after Paul's speech, it is doubtful that the Senate would be able to vote on any bill to renew the NSA programs before Saturday. House leaders insist that the lower chamber will adjourn for its recess at the close of business Thursday, which means that any short-term extension approved by the Senate would have to pass the House as well, ensuring it would not take effect until well after the Patriot Act expires.
As Paul made his case, a Justice Department memo circulated on Capitol Hill warning lawmakers that the NSA will have to begin winding down its bulk collection of Americans' phone records by the end of the week if Congress fails to reauthorize the Patriot Act.
"After May 22, 2015, the National Security Agency will need to begin taking steps to wind down the bulk telephone metadata program in anticipation of a possible sunset in order to ensure that it does not engage in any unauthorized collection or use of the metadata," the department said.
If Congress fails to act, several key provisions of the law would expire, including the bulk collection; a provision allowing so-called roving wiretaps, which the FBI uses for criminals who frequently switch cellphones; and a third that makes it easier to obtain a warrant to target a "lone wolf" terror suspect who has no provable links to a terrorist organization.
The surveillance issue has divided Republicans and Democrats, cutting across party lines and pitting civil libertarians concerned about privacy against more hawkish lawmakers fearful about losing tools to combat terrorism.
The Justice Department also said that if Congress allows the law to expire and then passes legislation to reauthorize it when lawmakers return to Washington the week of June 1, it would "be effective in making the authorities operative again, but may expose the government to some litigation risk in the event of legal challenge."
Although Paul called his action a filibuster, it technically fell short of Senate rules since the bill the Senate was considering was trade, not the Patriot Act. A vote to end debate on the trade bill, which requires 60 votes to pass, has been set for Thursday morning.
Chicago Police Supt. McCarthy touts community policing
by CRAIG WALL and JOANIE LUM
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -- Chicago Police are pushing a new anti-crime strategy that focuses on improving safety by improving communication and relationships between officers and the communities they serve.
On Wednesday night, Superintendent Garry McCarthy met with leaders in the Englewood community to discuss the new initiative and to solicit feedback.
“When you develop a community policing strategy, the community has to be involved, so the goal is to walk away from these meetings with more than we came in with,” McCarthy said.
The outreach meetings, which started this week, are expected to last into the summer.
In Englewood it may be particularly important as shootings have more than doubled compared to this time last year, and murders are up 50 percent.
“I have to applaud Superintendent McCarthy for trying to bring some type of collaboration between what's happening in this area and bring a solution to it,” said Oscar Moses, Pastor of Mount Hermon Baptist Church, who attended the meeting.
With murders and shootings up city-wide this year, and with the issue of strained police-community relations a concern across the country, McCarthy said two things keep resonating from these meetings.
“We've got to get the cops out of the cars a little more and just talking to people and not just doing enforcement, and then everybody seems to want us to train, come up with a training program to teach their youth how to interact with police when they get into a confrontation,” McCarthy said.
A principal at the meeting believes one way to help reduce crime is to improve communication and the perception police and young people have of one another, and it needs to start with children in elementary school.
“People have their own opinions of how things should be done, people have their own opinions of who's good and who's bad and what's right and what's wrong, and the resolution doesn't come until we can at least understand and appreciate and value each others opinions on things and then have a conversation about what works best for us,” said Dina Everage, Principal of Wentworth Elementary, who was among those invited to the meeting.
Everage believes the strategy can work, but it will take time. Chicago Police said community meetings will continue into the summer.
The kickoff to the summer season is approaching and the Memorial Day holiday is this weekend.
When the temperatures warm up, gun violence tends to heat up.
On Wednesday morning, Supt. McCarthy was also at another meeting where they discussed how to prevent crime among other issues.
Last year on the Memorial Day holiday, six people were killed in Chicago. CeaseFire workers in the Roseland neighborhood have been out this week, distributing leaflets, talking to residents, and organizing community meetings to make sure the city streets are safe this weekend.
Chicago Police and community policing staffers are doing similar things to build relationships in high crime areas.
At the Wednesday morning meeting, Supt. McCarthy also talked about his listening tour, meetings he's had with community members, and how his policy focuses on how police interact with the public.
He says steps taken to lessen tensions between the community and law enforcement have helped prevent riots that have plagued cities like Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri.
Superintendent McCarthy says he's put more officers on beat patrols that allow them to get to know residents better. He says the patrols build trust between the department and the community.
McCarthy also says a steady drop in officer-involved shootings in Chicago during recent years suggests officers are getting better at diffusing tense situations.
He also says a key reason why the rate crimes have been solved at rose 19 percent in two years is because residents trust police more and cooperate with them.
"Everything is a teachable moment, all police officers have been trained in this," McCarthy said during his morning speech.
Supt. McCarthy says complaints about police are down and police shootings are down. But the department is still fighting the demons left behind by former commander Jon Burge. He thinks his department is doing better and holds commanders accountable at weekly stat meetings.
Although progress has been made, McCarthy says there is always work to be done.
U.S. Attorney General Begins Community Policing Tour In Cincinnati
by Tana Weingartner
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch met with city, police and community leaders in Cincinnati Tuesday during the first stop on a multi-city tour discussing new and collaborative policing strategies.
Lynch picked Cincinnati to start her Community Policing Tour because of the success of the city's historic collaborative policing agreement. The deal was hashed out following riots in 2001 and is now seen as a model for other communities like Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore.
"For a city to live and grow, everyone has to be invested in making it better and everyone has to decide at some point, we're going to sit down and talk to each other," said Lynch. "After we've all talked at each other, we're going to talk to each other. And Cincinnati has been able to do that."
Lynch says it's easy to visit cities when there's a problem, but it's important to stay focused on those communities when the TV cameras are gone and the people are rebuilding.
Before the summit Lynch met with students at a local elementary school where, she said, the large number of students who said they'd like to be police officers is a testament to the city.
"Then I asked them ‘why do you want to be a police officer?' And they said things you would expect like 'to stop bad people from hurting people' and 'to protect the community,' and one little boy, one of the smallest kids in the class, said ‘because I want to be a peacemaker.' And if that isn't the best description of a law enforcement officer I've heard in a long time, I don't know what is," Lynch said.
Lynch announced she'll hold similar meetings throughout the summer in Birmingham, Pittsburgh, Richmond, California, Seattle, and East Haven, Connecticut.
Presidential task force on community policing: How Rockford stacks up?
by Sean Muserallo
ROCKFORD (WREX) - Fighting crime, while building trust: two things police departments here and across the country are asked to do in a community.
How to do it is being debated. A report out this week from a Presidential Task Force is giving Rockford's Police Chief some guidance on what his department, and others across the nation, should be doing to protect and serve their communities better.
Chief Chet Epperson was supposed to be in Washington, D.C., last weekend for a meeting with the nation's leading police chiefs, but he stayed home.
"With the officer-involved shootings and the other shootings we had, I felt it was best I stay here," said Epperson.
One of his officers, now identified as patrolman David Cerasa, shot and killed an alleged suicidal man on Friday. Investigators said the man fired a semi-automatic rifle at police. Cerasa and other officers fired back.
"We don't push the easy button when we have a barricaded subject or someone we can talk to first to deescalate the situation," said Epperson. "We also use the services of Rosecrance. It was a totally different situation with what occurred Friday. That would not have been an opportunity to call in a mental health worker when there is an active shooter."
Chief Epperson cannot comment about the specifics of the case, but he says that is the way it should be. The only comments in an officer-involved shooting like this come from an outside agency reviewing the patrolman's use of force. One example, the chief said, of how Rockford is already instituting 21st Century Policing policies recommended by the President's Task Force.
The President's Task Force was created in light of the Ferguson protests. The group found the justice system along cannot solve many of the underlying problems in a community.
"There are some things we can do additionally in terms of building additional trust within our community and getting in some of the most marginalizes areas of the City of Rockford," said Epperson.
Cerasa is on paid administrative duty pending the outcome of the investigation.
Obama signs bill creating nationwide alert system for police
by The Associated Press
President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed into law a measure to create a nationwide alert system to help catch anyone who hurts, kills or makes credible threats against police officers.
The new system would be similar to the Amber Alerts used to find abducted children.
The bill is named for New York City police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were shot in Brooklyn days before Christmas by a man who later killed himself. Families of the slain officers were on hand to see Obama sign the bill in the Oval Office.
Obama says it's important for communities to do everything possible to ensure the safety of police officers. He says the alerts could help warn officers when there is an active threat against them.
White House recognizes Boston police for community policing
by Aneri Pattani
The White House recognized Boston as one of 10 cities that have made significant improvements in community policing since President Obama launched a new initiative in December.
Local elected officials, police departments, faith groups, youth groups, and others have come together to make real, noticeable progress since the Task Force on 21st Century Policing was created, the White House said in a statement Monday.
The task force was created in the aftermath of the shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo.
The Boston Police Department was chosen for recognition because it “prioritizes relationships with youth and the community as the key to building trust and creating safe and thriving neighborhoods,” the statement said.
Officers place emphasis on daily interactions through programs such as “Coffee with a Cop,” flashlight walks with residents, and diversion for at-risk youth and their families.
The city is part of presidential initiatives that advocate for comprehensive, collaborative approaches to community problems.
Boston officers are “working every day to build and strengthen relationships with the community,” the White House said.
President Obama applauds revolutionary community policing in Camden, New Jersey
by Jake Flanagin
Remarks by president Obama on community policing, delivered in Camden, New Jersey on May 18, 2015:
So I've come here to Camden to do something that might have been unthinkable just a few years ago—and that's to hold you up as a symbol of promise for the nation. Now, I don't want to overstate it. Obviously Camden has gone through tough times and there are still tough times for a lot of folks here in Camden. But just a few years ago, this city was written off as dangerous beyond redemption—a city trapped in a downward spiral. Parents were afraid to let their children play outside. Drug dealers operated in broad daylight. There weren't enough cops to patrol the streets.
So two years ago, the police department was overhauled to implement a new model of community policing. They doubled the size of the force—while keeping it unionized. They cut desk jobs in favor of getting more officers out into the streets. Not just to walk the beat, but to actually get to know the residents—to set up basketball games, to volunteer in schools, to participate in reading programs, to get to know the small businesses in the area.
Now, to be a police officer takes a special kind of courage. And I talked about this on Friday at a memorial for 131 officers who gave their lives to protect communities like this one. It takes a special kind of courage to run towards danger, to be a person that residents turn to when they're most desperate. And when you match courage with compassion, with care and understanding of the community—like we've seen here in Camden—some really outstanding things can begin to happen.
Violent crime in Camden is down 24%. Murder is down 47%. Open-air drug markets have been cut by 65 %. The response time for 911 calls is down from one hour to just five minutes. And when I was in the center, it was 1.3 minutes, right when I was there. And perhaps most significant is that the police and residents are building trust. Building trust .
Now, nobody is suggesting that the job is done. This is still a work in progress. The police chief would be the first one to say it. So would the mayor. Camden and its people still face some very big challenges. But this city is on to something. You've made real progress in just two years. Violent crime in Camden is down 24%. Murder is down 47%. And that's why I'm here today—because I want to focus on the fact that other cities across America can make similar progress.
Everything we've done over the past six years, whether it's rescuing the economy, or reforming our schools, or retooling our job training programs, has been in pursuit of one goal, and that's creating opportunity for all of us, all our kids. But we know that some communities have the odds stacked against them, and have had the odds stacked against them for a very long time—in some cases, for decades. You've got rural communities that have chronic poverty. You have manufacturing communities that got hit hard when plants closed and people lost jobs. There are not only cities but also suburbs where jobs can be tough to find, and tougher to get to because of development patterns and lack of transportation options. And folks who do work, they're working harder than ever, but sometimes don't feel like they can get ahead.
And in some communities, that sense of unfairness and powerlessness has contributed to dysfunction in those communities. Communities are like bodies, and if the immunity system is down, they can get sick. And when communities aren't vibrant, where people don't feel a sense of hope and opportunity, then a lot of times that can fuel crime and that can fuel unrest.
We've seen it in places like Baltimore and Ferguson and New York. And it has many causes—from a basic lack of opportunity to some groups feeling unfairly targeted by their police forces. And that means there's no single solution. There have to be a lot of different solutions and different approaches that we try.
So one of the things that we did to address these issues was to create a task force on the future of community policing. And this task force was outstanding because it was made up of all the different stakeholders—we had law enforcement; we had community activists; we had young people. They held public meetings across the country. They developed concrete proposals that every community in America can implement to rebuild trust and help law enforcement.
The recommendations were released in March; they were finalized today. They include everything from enhanced officer training to improving the use of body cameras and other technologies to make sure that police departments are being smart about crime and that there's enough data for them to be accountable as well.
And we're trying to support the great work that's happening at the local level where cities are already responding to these recommendations. And before I go further, I just want the members of our task force to stand, because they've done some outstanding work and they deserve to be acknowledged. Thank you.
Now, we've launched a police data initiative that's helping Camden and other innovative cities use data to strengthen their work and hold themselves accountable by sharing it with the public. Departments might track things like incidents of force so that they can identify and handle problems that could otherwise escalate.
Here in Camden, officers deal with some 41 different data systems, which means they have to enter the same information multiple times. So today, we've brought a volunteer, Elite Tech Team, to help—a group of data scientists and software engineers, and tech leaders. They're going to work with the police department here to troubleshoot some of the technical challenges so it's even easier for police departments to do the things they already want to do in helping to track what's going on in communities, and then also helping to make sure that that data is used effectively to identify where there are trouble spots, where there are problems, are there particular officers that may need additional help, additional training. All that can be obtained in a really effective, efficient way.
Today, we're also releasing new policies on the military-style equipment that the federal government has in the past provided to state and local law enforcement agencies. We've seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there's an occupying force, as opposed to a force that's part of the community that's protecting them and serving them. It can alienate and intimidate local residents, and send the wrong message. So we're going to prohibit some equipment made for the battlefield that is not appropriate for local police departments.
There is other equipment that may be needed in certain cases, but only with proper training. So we're going to ensure that departments have what they need, but also that they have the training to use it.
We're doing these things because we're listening to what law enforcement is telling us. The overwhelming majority of police officers are good and honest and fair. They care deeply about their communities. They put their lives on the line every day to keep them safe. Their loved ones wait and worry until they come through the door at the end of their shift. So we should do everything in our power to make sure that they are safe, and help them do the job the best they can.
And what's interesting about what chief Thomson has done, and what's happening here in Camden, is these new officers—who I have to confess made me feel old, because they all look like they could still be in school. The approach that the chief has taken in getting them out of their squad cars, into the communities, getting them familiar with the people that they're serving—they're enjoying their jobs more because they feel as if, over time, they can have more of an impact, and they're getting more help from the community because the community has seen them and knows them before there's a crisis, before there's an incident.
So it's not just crisis response. It's not after the fact there's a crime, there's a dead body, there's a shooting, and now we're going to show up. It's, we're here all the time, and hopefully, we can prevent those shootings from happening in the first place.
But one of the things I also want to focus on is the fact that a lot of the issues that have been raised here, and in places like Baltimore and Ferguson and New York, goes beyond policing. We can't ask the police to contain and control problems that the rest of us aren't willing to face or do anything about.
If we as a society don't do more to expand opportunity to everybody who's willing to work for it, then we'll end up seeing conflicts between law enforcement and residents. If we as a society aren't willing to deal honestly with issue of race, then we can't just expect police departments to solve these problems. If communities are being isolated and segregated, without opportunity and without investment and without jobs—if we politicians are simply ramping up long sentences for nonviolent drug crimes that end up devastating communities, we can't then ask the police to be the ones to solve the problem when there are no able-bodied men in the community, or kids are growing up without intact households.
We can't just focus on the problems when there's a disturbance—and then cable TV runs it for two or three or four days, and then suddenly we forget about it again, until the next time. Communities like some poor communities in Camden or my hometown in Chicago, they're part of America, too. The kids who grow up here, they're America's children. Just like children everyplace else, they've got hopes and they've got dreams and they've got potential. And if we're not investing in them, no matter how good chief Thomson and the police are doing, these kids are still going to be challenged. So we've all got to step up. We've all got to care about what happens.
Chief Thomson will tell you that his officers read to young children in the communities not just to build positive relationships, but because it's in the interest of the community to make sure these kids can read—so that they stay in school and graduate ready for college and careers, and become productive members of society. That's in his interest not just as a police chief, but also as a citizen of this country, and somebody who grew up in this areas and knows this area.
And that's why we've partnered with cities and states to get tens of thousands more kids access to quality early childhood education. No matter who they are or where they're born, they should get a good start in life.
That's why we've partnered with cities, including Camden, to create what we call Promise Zones, where all-hands-on-deck efforts to change the odds for communities start happening because we're providing job training, and helping to reduce violence, and expanding affordable housing.
It's why we're ready to work with folks from both sides of the aisle to reform our criminal justice system. We all want safety, and we all know how pernicious the drug culture can be in undermining communities. But this massive trend toward incarceration even of nonviolent drug offenders, and the costs of that trend are crowding out other critical investments that we can make in public safety. If we're spending a whole lot of money on prisons, and we don't have computers or books or enough teachers or sports or music programs in our schools, we are being counterproductive. It's not a good strategy.
And so, in addition to the work we're doing directly on the criminal justice front, we're also launching something that we call My Brother's Keeper—an initiative to ensure that all young people, but with a particular focus on young men of color, have a chance to go as far as their dreams will take them. Now, over the coming weeks, members of my cabinet will be traveling around the country to highlight communities that are doing great work to improve the lives of their residents.
We know these problems are solvable. We're know that we're not lacking for answers, we're just lacking political will. We have to see these problems for what they are—not something that's happening in some other city to some other people, but something that's happening in our community, the community of America.
And we know that change is possible because we've seen it in places like this. We've seen it, thanks to people like officer Virginia Matias. Where is Virginia? There she is right there. Earlier this year, vice president Biden and I got to sit with officer Matias and rank-and-file law enforcement officers from around the country. And Virginia was talking about how when she was growing up in East Camden, crime was so bad she wasn't allowed to go to the store alone. Her mom was once robbed at gunpoint. When she was 17, her uncle was shot and killed in his own store. Instead of turning away from Camden, she decided she wanted to become a cop where she grew up to help the community she loved. And today, she is a proud member of the Camden County Police Department.
And she's a constant presence in the community, getting to know everybody she passes on her beat, even volunteering in a kindergarten. Officer Matias isn't just helping to keep her community safe, she's also a role model for young people of Camden. And anybody who thinks that things aren't getting better, she says, “I see kids playing outside, riding bikes in the neighborhood, on their porches having a conversation. That's how I measure change.”
That's how we should all measure change. I had a chance to meet with some of the young people here who participated in a little roundtable with the officers, and they're extraordinary young people. And they've got hopes and dreams just like Malia and Sasha, and they're overcoming some bigger barriers than my children ever had to go through, or I had to go through. And they're strong, and they're focused.
But in talking to them, some of them—the reason they've been able to make it and do well is because their parents don't let them out outside. Well, you know what, children shouldn't have to be locked indoors in order to be safe. That's not right. Some of them still have concerns about friends of theirs that have taken a wrong path and gotten involved in the streets and drugs. That's not the environment we need our kids to be growing up in.
I challenge everybody to get to know some of these young people. They're outstanding, and they're going to do great things in their lives. But the point is, is that they shouldn't have to go through superhuman efforts just to be able to stay in school and go to college and achieve their promise. That should be the norm. That should be standard. And if it isn't, we're not doing something right. We as a society are not doing something right if it isn't.
So, ultimately, that's how we're going to measure change: Rising prospects for our kids. Rising prospects for the neighborhood. Do our children feel safe on the streets? Do they feel cared for by their community? Do they feel like the police departments care about them? Do they feel as if when they work hard they can succeed? Do they feel like the country is making an investment in them? Do they see role models for success? Are there pathways to jobs that they can identify? Do they know that if they put in effort, they can make it? Are they going to be treated fairly regardless of the color of their skin or what their last name is?
It's pretty basic. I travel around the country—the one thing that makes me always so optimistic is our children. And what you realize is everywhere, kids are—kids are kids. Sometimes they'll drive you crazy. They'll make mistakes. But there's an inherent goodness in them. They If it's working here, it can work anywhere. want to do the right thing. They just need to be given a chance.
And some of them aren't going to be lucky enough to have the structures at home that they need—in which case then, we all have to pick up the slack. And if we do, they'll respond. They will. But we got to feel like that they're our kids. We got to see our children in them, in their eyes. And we haven't done enough of that. But we can.
This is a moment of great promise; this is a moment of great hope. And if we're seeing such extraordinary improvement in Camden because of the good efforts of a lot of elected officials, and an outstanding police chief and some wonderful police officers, and a community that's supportive, and nonprofit organizations like the Salvation Army and others that are doing some great work—if it's working here, it can work anywhere. It can work anywhere.
On the city hall of Camden you got an inscription by Walt Whitman: “In a dream, I saw a city invincible.” In a dream I see a country invincible—if we care enough to make the effort on behalf of every child in this country.
Camden is showing that it can be done. I want America to show everybody around the world that it can be done.
The president's remarks can be read in full at WhiteHouse.gov.
This May Be a New Model for Community Policing
Camden, New Jersey's police officers are trained to be 'guardians, not warriors.'
by Harry Bruinius
In 2012, crime was so bad and money so tight in Camden, New Jersey, that city officials decided to take dramatic steps to scrap its 141-year-old unionized police department and replace it with a county-based force, one that focused more on putting cops on the street and building better relations with the residents they serve.
President Obama on Monday hailed the nascent Camden County Police Department as a national success story, a model for other departments to emulate as cities across the country continue to grapple with increasingly stormy relations between cops and the minority neighborhoods they police.
“Just a few years ago, this city was written off as dangerous beyond redemption, a city trapped in a downward spiral,” the president said at a community center in Camden. “Parents were afraid to let their children play outside, drug dealers operated in broad daylight, there weren't enough cops to patrol the streets, so two years ago the police department was overhauled to implement a new model of community policing.”
The community policing idea has been around for decades, but in the aftermath of police shootings and the deaths of black men in police custody in cities across the U.S.—many of them captured on video—political leaders and police officials are beginning to refocus attention on such methods as they attempt to reestablish trust in their communities.
“I think there's a clear recognition that police need to reengage and redouble their efforts and work with the community,” says Darrel Stephens, executive director of Major Cities Chiefs, a professional association of police executives based in Salt Lake City. "Once we got Ferguson, New York, and Cleveland and all the others—that's why we're seeing the emphasis on change.”
Camden, with nearly 40 percent of its 77,000 residents living in poverty, has long been one of the most dangerous cities in America. In 2012, after officials were forced to lay off dozens of police officers, there were a record 67 murders as violent crime skyrocketed. Union rules proved unworkable for both crime fighting and the city's meager budget, so the municipal department was simply shut down and replaced with a new county force with a new union contract.
But the new force also changed its tactics, hiring 411 officers—up from 250. There were fewer desk jobs and patrol cars, and more cops were put on walking and bike beats—even as officers began to engage the community with reading programs and other community initiatives. Calls to 911, which used to take up to an hour to get a response, now got police on the scene in less than five minutes.
“The organization that we created was one in which a culture, from day one, was that our officers would be guardians and not warriors," said Chief Scott Thomson to CBS News in April. "Our handcuffs and our service weapons would be tools of last resort.”
“By having officers out of their squad cars and walking their beats and riding bicycles, there is an enhanced level of human interaction between the officer and the residents," Thomson said. “The by-product of that is enhanced relationships, and it sets legitimacy and trust.”
President Obama traveled to Camden to highlight these accomplishments and unveil the report of the White House's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which emphasizes such community policing efforts.
“To me, being a police officer takes a special kind of courage,” the president said on Monday, “and when you match courage with compassion, with care and understanding of the community, like we've seen here in Camden, some really outstanding things can begin to happen.”
But Obama and police officials emphasize that policing alone cannot begin to address the myriad problems that communities like Camden continue to face.
“When you start getting into places like West Baltimore or neighborhoods in the Bronx, and they have been dysfunctional for generations, you can't just say, 'Now we're going to do community policing and everything will be better,' ” says Edward Connors, president of the Institute for Law and Justice in Williamsburg, Virginia. “You can't just sweep in community policing if the schools are bad, if there are no jobs—it's all so much more connected.”
Community Policing and Drug Overdose: Where You Live Doesn't Have to Determine Whether You Survive an Overdose
by Michael Botticelli
The odds of surviving a drug overdose, much like the odds of surviving a heart attack, depend on how quickly the victim receives treatment. But access to naloxone -- which can reverse heroin and prescription drug overdoses -- varies greatly across the country, even though all drug poisoning deaths have surpassed traffic crashes as the most lethal cause of preventable injury. Because police are often the first on the scene of an overdose, the Obama Administration has strongly encouraged local law enforcement agencies to train and equip their personnel with naloxone.
Yesterday, the President traveled to Camden, New Jersey, a city that's taken steps to create economic opportunity, help police do their jobs more safely, and reduce crime in the process. Yet another area where the Camden County Police Department is taking the right steps is with its creation of an overdose prevention program. This program has reversed 68 overdoses since it started a year ago. Across New Jersey, law enforcement officers have used naloxone to respond to overdoses 888 times since 2014.
By engaging with law enforcement in naloxone administration, we are truly pursuing a 21st-century approach to drug policy and community policing -- one that combines public health with public safety.
Recently I met Corporal Nicholas Tackett, a police officer from Anne Arundel County in Maryland. Corporal Tackett has witnessed about 50 drug-related overdoses in his law enforcement career.
He knows the signs of overdose, the looks on their faces. Now, with naloxone, he has a tool that enables him to save lives. Corporal Tackett brought me to the locations where his use of naloxone reversed the life-threatening overdoses of two people. Naloxone works, and it is an incredibly important tool.
In October 2014, the Department of Justice released a Naloxone Toolkit for law enforcement. This toolkit is an online clearinghouse of more than 80 resources, such as sample policies and training materials designed to support law enforcement agencies in establishing a naloxone program.
In the past year, we have witnessed an exponential expansion in the number of police departments that are training and equipping their police officers with naloxone. They now number in the hundreds and they are saving lives.
The Police Department in Quincy, Massachusetts, has partnered with the State health department to train and equip police officers to resuscitate overdose victims using naloxone. The Department reports that since October 2010, officers in Quincy have administered naloxone in more than 382 overdose events, resulting in 360 successful overdose reversals.
The Vermont Department of Health has been distributing Overdose Rescue Kits with naloxone to State police as well as to individuals through community-based partners. To date, naloxone has been deployed 146 times across the State.
There is also collaboration taking place in rural and suburban communities. In Illinois, the Lake County State's Attorney has partnered with various county agencies, including the Lake County Health Department; drug courts; police and fire departments; health, advocacy and prevention organizations; and local pharmacies to develop and implement an opioid overdose prevention plan. As of February 2015, the Lake County Health Department had trained 828 police officers and 200 sheriff's deputies to carry and administer naloxone, and more departments have requested this training.
To build on these efforts, the President's FY 2016 Budget directs the Department of Health and Human Services to permit the use of block grant funds for naloxone purchases. It also provides funding specifically for law enforcement to purchase naloxone.
Where you live shouldn't determine whether or not you survive an overdose. So our goal is to get naloxone in every community where overdose deaths are prevalent. Combined with evidence-based prevention programs and access to effective treatment, this approach will save the lives of many Americans.
Cleveland police union suggests connections with the community
by the WKYC Staff
The CPPA forwarded a letter to the media that it had sent to the City of Cleveland on April 14
On Monday, the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association forwarded a letter to the media that it had sent to the City of Cleveland on April 14.
Below is the letter:
As you know, since December of 2014 the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association has taken a very active role in attempting to forge new relationships within our community. Current events in Cleveland have thrust us into the middle of national discussions in which Cleveland has been heralded by national news outlets as an example of how to handle these highly emotional and important topics.
Weekly meetings with the community, legitimate community and faith based leaders, and politicians as well as an open door policy with legitimate local, state, and national media outlets has been one key to the success we continue to have in Cleveland,
During our communications we have not tried to change people's minds directly, rather we have attempted to educate folks on these very important issues from OUR (a police) perspective so that the citizens and leadership may make an educated, not emotional, decision on how to best proceed.
These discussions have been sometimes difficult and sometimes not; all involved have learned many valuable lessons as different perspectives are presented and considered. We too have learned valuable lessons and have developed the following recommendations to help achieve our mutual goals with our community. We have presented these recommendations to Mayor Jackson, legitimate community leaders, and now with your assistance to the citizens of Cleveland.
Below are the recommendations:
1) Build Better Communication Skills, While communication is at least 80% of a Patrol Officer's job, developing good communication skills is a very small part of the training we receive in the Police Academy. While our Academy is the best in the state, it has been limited due to time constraints and logistics in its ability to teach communication skills through role playing. We respectfully propose the length of the Police Academy be extended to include an additional 5 weeks of training specifically to develop good communication skills. Week 1 would be CIT training. Every one of our members who have gone through this training has thought it beneficial. We would like to utilize the CIT training received in week 1 to develop good communication skills through role playing (and other exercises) in weeks 2-5. We envision groups of at least 4 cadets being placed in situations that all senior officers have experienced m their careers. Trained observers would critique and advise the cadets as to their performance. Some of the observers might have particular expertise in the subject area being taught. For example, Bill Demhan and his folks could lend their expertise in handling the mentally ill for a week while domestic violence advocates could observe and critique DV training situations the next week. Topics such as felony stops, dealing with drug dealers, and dealing with citizen witnesses could all be part of these role playing models. Teaching the lessons in the Academy in a controlled environment is the key to success. Tbis 5 weeks at the end of the Academy would be extremely beneficial for the rookies hitting the street. When they make a mistake in the Academy they will learn from it and the mistakes are forgiving. Mistakes made on the street are more unforgiving now than ever before in my 21 year career. The entire block should be observed by our Academy staff for tactical, legal and policy accuracy and possibly recorded by body cameras placed on the cadets so they have an awareness of what to expect from the cameras themselves. Perhaps these blocks of training could be considered a crime scene and while one group has completed their scenario and are writing a report to be graded, the next group is going through a scenario. The Academy does a fantastic job of teaching tactical communication skills, (using our police voice and verbal judo), however as of now there is very little time to teach, learn or practice building the communication skills that are crucial to effectively pursuing a 25-year career in law enforcement k this day and social environment.
2) We are strong believers in Community Policing and the benefits derived from these programs. We know there is no way to be effective in our jobs if we do not have the respect, cooperation and an open line of communication with the community as a whole. We must find a way to balance the need for community policing with the safety of our officers. Because of the current very short staffing plans it would be very dangerous for police and public alike for us to be removed from our cars and be placed on foot or bicycles. If one of our officers is calling for help elsewhere, officers on bikes or on foot will usually be far removed and unable to assist. If our officers are not as safe as possible, the citizens cannot be as safe as possible. We suggest that the City embark on a program to equip every Recreation Center, Public Library, Swimming pool, and Elementary School with an office space dedicated for use by on-duty police officers. These rooms would be used by officers to complete reports and other routine administrative matters. Having on-duty officers utilizing these offices in a non-enforcement capacity would be very beneficial in several ways. First and foremost it would allow on-duty police officers to interact with children, teachers and parents alike in a non-enforcement manner. We anticipate relationships between our officers and these folks would develop and eventually flourish and expand. The City would also be able to publicize the fact that at any moment any elementary school, library, pool or rec center in the City might well have one or more on-duty police officers present. Publicized, this would serve as a deterrent to anyone considering committing mass casualty or violent crimes in our schools and as a proactive measure to protect our children. We believe this recommendation could be accomplished quickly and cost effectively. There is no downside to this proposal and it has been very well received by legitimate community leaders, the DOJ (not that that was our goal) and our officers alike. If we could use faculty Test rooms that would be appreciated as well. The installation of intranet city computers would be the most significant cost to the City if this program were to be put in place.
3)We recommend the formation of on-duty foot patrols and bike patrols utilizing officers working their days off. They should be primarily assigned to the parks and pools this summer to start. While we realize this would create an expense for the City this is not the intent of this recommendation. Our intent is to provide the community-type policing the citizens have been asking for at community meetings without taking on-duty officers from their assignments in the already understaffed neighborhoods where they are desperately needed.
4)The key to true Community Policing (in lieu of hiring 250 additional officers) is zone integrity. Every district is broken up into zones. Our recommendation is that every zone be assigned the same two cars on a regular basis during day and afternoon shifts. Having 2 cars in each zone would allow for the "zone integrity" needed for true community policing. Two cars would be able to back each other up allowing them to remain in their zone. The officers in these cars would learn very quickly who the bad guys in their zone are, but more importantly who the good folks are as well. They would become very familiar very quickly with their zone and the normal day to day activities of the citizens and businesses in it. Knowing what is normal will make identifying what is abnormal much easier. Two cars in a zone along with doing everything we can to keep them there would allow our officers the time they need to get out of their cars occasionally and interact with our fellow citizens. Our current staffing plan does not allow us to do anything but go from run to run, many times driving 50 to 100 miles in a shift*
5) We also recommend the issuance of business cards to every member. These cards can be used to develop and maintain relationships within the community. They can also be given to witnesses and citizens who want to help us identify problems or bad guys in our city. During our discussions with our community this issue has come up repeatedly. We cannot imagine a significant expense involved in this proposal.
6) The following are proposals we have submitted to the City for consideration in contract negotiations that we believe can have a significant impact on these issues as well. They are the result of conversations we have had with community groups and legitimate community leaders.
a.We have offered the City the ability to order urinalysis to be completed by our members involved in on-duty use of deadly force incidents and on-duty motor vehicle accidents.
b.We have offered to lower the threshold for positive alcohol tests from 0.04 to 0.03.
c.We have committed to the City that we would begin a pilot program that would include a certain amount of community outreach volunteer work performed by the members of the CPPA. The amount of volunteer time is currently being negotiated as well as the logistics involved in tracking it. An example would be 4 hours of volunteer community outreach per member; this would total approximately 5000 hours.
House hearing on police turns ugly
Partisan mudslinging breaks out, suggesting that lawmakers and cop-reform advocates have a long way to go to find agreement on new police standards.
by Rachael Bade
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte says he “will not rest until we make progress” on policing and criminal justice reform.
But the Virginia Republican's initial public effort to build consensus quickly degenerated into partisan mudslinging on Tuesday, suggesting Goodlatte and reform advocates have a long way to go if they want to find consensus on new police standards or training.
In fact, the first of several planned Judiciary hearings on the rising tensions between cops and black communities turned ugly at times, trailing off into arguments about the use of the word “ghetto” and whether black-on-black crime should get more attention.
“I want us to get to the point where we lament the murder of a black female … at the hand of her abusive husband … just as much as if it was at the hand of a white cop,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), a former federal prosecutor.
Democrats on the panel, many of them African-Americans, spent their time seeking guidance from policing experts about what Congress should do to help and sharing personal stories of being stopped by the police. Republicans, meanwhile, lectured witnesses about the need for the public and Congress to respect local officers — or pointed the finger back at protesters critical of police.
For anyone looking to find agreement, Tuesday's hearing was a rocky start. Goodlatte still has a long way to go to convince skeptical Republicans that federal policing reforms or new standards for local police departments are necessary. Still, Goodlatte, who's been working on possible reforms with his panel's top Democrat, John Conyers of Michigan, said he was going to press on.
“I want to assure all of you that the purpose of this hearing and the ongoing efforts following this hearing is to make sure we're doing everything possible to address the problems that have arisen in recent months to make sure communities are safer, police officers are safer and our citizens' rights are protected,” Goodlatte said. “We will not rest until we make progress.”
Despite Goodlatte's measured tone, fiery rhetoric from a Wisconsin-based black sheriff stole the show. Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke blasted federal lawmakers for getting involved in police issues at all, arguing they are a local matter. Republicans, like conservative Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, were quick to praise Clarke for his work; they asked him how officers are handling the political heat.
“Let's leave that [police] conduct for the public to engage in, not … elected officials who can't resist the opportunity to exploit the emotions of an uninformed or misinformed public simply for political gain,” Clarke said, before suggesting the root of current problems is “black underclass subculture behavior” that has little to do with police practices.
His comments came just a few seconds after Goodlatte and Conyers acknowledged in opening statements what they believe are troubling policing trends; both expressed concerns about the use of force, among other issues.
Since the recent Baltimore riots, Goodlatte and Conyers have been working together, inviting witnesses and talking about next steps. Goodlatte, for his part, was very careful at the hearing not to take sides, carefully walking a line to acknowledge a crisis of public confidence in policing but stop short of openly calling for new mandates on police departments.
The House hearing comes just a day after President Barack Obama released a new law enforcement framework, including new reporting standards and limits on police using military weapons. The program didn't come up too often at the hearing, though Democrats who were asked about the measure praised the administration. Still, they want many of the changes codified in law — just in case a new White House goes in another direction.
By contrast, a Senate hearing on Tuesday was much more sedate. Soon-to-announce presidential contender Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) held a hearing focused specifically on body cameras — a meeting scheduled at the request of Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who's pushing for more federal money for such technology. The panel's exchanges looked nothing like those in the House, with senators drilling down into technicalities: when cameras should be turned on and off on the beat, how much they cost to store, when the public could request footage and how the government could be helpful.
Toward the end of the hearing, Graham asked all the witnesses if they thought it would be reasonable for Congress to create a grant program that included some sort of policing policy requirements that came with the funding. They all agreed.
Witnesses had a much more rough-and-tumble meeting in the House. Gowdy used his time to grill a witness for proposing that an independent prosecutor take the lead in bringing charges against cops.
Gowdy started by listing a number of strangers' names, asking Deborah Ramirez, a Northeastern University professor advocating a number of new requirements for cops, if she was familiar with any of them. When Ramirez replied no, Gowdy told her that they were the names of some of the 340 South Carolina police officers killed in the line of duty.
He then pushed back against her recommendation for independent prosecutors, which she argued would alleviate the perception that police and district attorneys are in cahoots. “We have a process in place if you don't think you can be fair: It's called recusal,” Gowdy said.
He then took Ramirez to task for her assertion that blacks from poor communities often don't get justice, noting that it could also be that it's tough to get urban community dwellers to cooperate with investigations — “even after a drive-by shooting of an 8-year-old at a birthday party,” he yelled, reflecting on his own experience.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) tried to defuse the tension by saying people in the room “may disagree” but “we don't heal when we take each other's pain lightly.” She urged the panel to “work together.”
But a bit later, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) used his time to grill Susan Lee Rahr — who heads the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission and also sits on Obama's policing task force — for saying there needs to be a philosophical change among officers: a move from viewing oneself as a “warrior” to a “guardian.”
“Was Baltimore a time when they should have been more of a warrior mentality, in the face of rock-throwing mobs?” King asked. He said it's the protesters and rioters who need to be investigated, if anyone.
Against this backdrop, Democrats like Rep. Karen Bass of California talked about instances in which a relative, also black, was taken out of his car while driving in well-to-do areas and “stretched out on the ground and asked why he's there.”
She blasted Clarke for calling black communities “ghettos,” saying doing so is insulting. And she told a story about a policeman saying black people die in chokeholds because their neck veins are different from those of white people.
Another African-American Democrat, Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, talked about being stopped for a faded sticker on his car while a group of white teens high on marijuana got off.
“We can't ignore that we have a problem with the use of force … and when a police officer crosses the line, they are not held accountable. … That leads to distrust,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).
Witnesses' recommendations were just as varied as lawmakers' lines of questioning.
Clarke used his time to blast “catch slogans” like “black lives matter” and “hands up.” He ticked off statistics suggesting black drivers speed more often, so should therefore be stopped more frequently, and argued black males are “disproportionately involved in violent crime.”
“Black crime is the elephant in the room” he said, encouraging lawmakers to look instead at “transforming black underclass subculture behavior … addressing the behavior of people who have no respect for authority, who fight with and try to disarm the police, who flee the police and who engage in other flawed lifestyle choices.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Ramirez pushed for body camera requirements and new data retention and collection. Witnesses in the middle discussed accreditation programs to boost police departments in the eyes of the public — and how costly those are. Others discussed how more funding for training would be useful.
Democrats were disappointed at the reaction from their colleagues across the aisle.
“It was a disingenuous attempt to change the conversation,” Richmond said of comments about rioters and black-on-black crime, adding that he was discouraged by the Judiciary Committee hearing. “On community policing, I don't think we'll see anything.”
Texas Biker-Gang Brawl
by Ed Payne
North Texas is looking a lot like ground zero in a battle royal for rival biker gangs.
A weekend shootout that left at least nine people dead and 18 hospitalized might be just the beginning.
It could get much uglier.
The gathering storm
A memo to law enforcement warns officers warns that members of the Bandidos and Cossacks motorcycle gangs have reportedly been told to arm themselves and travel to north Texas.
With emotions still raw between the rival biker groups, authorities are concerned.
"We would encourage biker groups to stand down," Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" on Monday night. "There's been enough bloodshed. There's been enough death here."
And Swanton warned other biker gang members against coming to Waco to reignite the violence.
"We would encourage them not to, because we have plenty of space in our county jail to put them there,' he told CNN affiliate KTVT .
The turf war
Sunday's brutal beat down at a Twin Peaks restaurant had been brewing for a while.
The gangs knew it. The police knew.
It all boils down to territory, according to an informant, who goes by the name "Charles Falco."
"The Bandidos are the biggest motorcycle gang in Texas, and they don't allow other motorcycle gangs to enter that state," Falco told CNN's Sara Sidner. "They will allow other motorcycles clubs to exist, but they're not allowed to wear that state bottom rocker. If they do, they face the onslaught of the Bandidos."
Not familiar with the bottom rocker? It's the state name on the back of a biker's vest. It kind of looks like the curved bottom of a rocking chair, hence the name.
The rocker can indicate where someone is from, but it's also a territorial claim for that club. That's why the Bandidos and Cossacks aren't getting along, according to Falco.
"The Cossacks decided that they were big enough now to go ahead and wear the Texas bottom rocker, and basically tell the Bandidos that they're ready for war," he said.
Matters are about to get exponentially worse between the two gangs, Falco predicted.
"It's definitely on, now," he said. "As long as they exist, they will be at war."
At least five biker gangs were involved in the violence, a law enforcement source said. In addition to the Cossacks and Bandidos, photos from scene also showed the insignias of the Scimitars and Vaqueros.
Still, it wasn't clear who was involved in the fighting. Authorities wouldn't release the names of the gangs involved.
The United Clubs of Waco billed Sunday's event as the Texas Region 1 Confederation of Clubs and Independents meeting.
A heavy law enforcement presence was there -- both inside and outside -- fearing conditions were ripe for a clash between the rival gangs.
An altercation in the bathroom seems to have sparked the violence. Shots were fired inside the eatery and a brawl spilled onto the patio area, before scores of men flooded the parking lot in broad daylight. Some bikers were beaten with brass knuckles, clubs and chains, while others were stabbed or shot, Swanton said.
When police responded -- within 30 to 45 seconds because of their proximity -- the bikers turned their their weapons on law enforcement, he said.
"Our officers took fire and responded appropriately, returning fire," the sergeant said.
Of the nine deaths, a law enforcement source says preliminary information indicates that four of the bikers were killed by police gunfire. The investigation continues and the ballistics will be analyzed to determine for certain who was responsible for each shooting.
At least 170 people were arrested and charged. More than 100 weapons were confiscated as well, Swanton said.
Even after the chaos subsided, Waco police continued arresting people arriving at the scene with weapons.
Swanton called it "the most violent and gruesome scene that I have dealt with" in three and a half decades of law enforcement.
Scores of suspects remain locked up in the McLellan County Jail, facing charges of engaging in organized crime, Swanton said.
Prosecutors and investigators could level other charges -- and capital murder charges are expected to be among them, given the body count -- but the organized crime charge is "pretty serious," he said.
"It doesn't get much more significant than that," he said.
McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said that bond was being set at $1 million for each of the 170 people in custody.
While the U.S. Justice Department characterizes the Bandidos as a "growing criminal threat" with at least 2,000 members in 14 countries, the motorcycle club's website highlights noncriminal endeavors such as its Easter party in Germany or its toy drive in France.
The Justice Department had no such synopsis for the Cossacks, but the book "The One Percenter Encyclopedia: The World of Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs from Abyss Ghosts to Zombies Elite" says they were founded in Texas in 1969 and have a major presence in Australia.
Bandidos President Jack Lewis was released on $125,000 bond in December 2013 after being charged with the stabbing of two Cossacks outside a restaurant in Abilene, Texas, KTXS reported.
The warning signs
Earlier this month, McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna told KWTX-TV that local police were on heightened alert for possible trouble on Thursday nights, when Twin Peaks hosted bike nights.
Reyna said trouble between two local motorcycle gangs heated up when bikers from the Dallas-Fort Worth area got involved.
There also was a memo earlier this month, pointing to problems between the gangs.
The memo from the Texas Joint Crime Task Force went out May 1 and detailed growing tensions between the Bandidos and Cossacks.
"Violence between members of the Bandidos OMG (organized motorcyle gang) and the Cossacks MC (motorcyle club) has increased in Texas with no indication of diminishing," the bulletin read.
"The conflict may stem from Cossacks members refusing to pay Bandidos dues for operating in Texas and for claiming Texas as their territory by wearing the Texas bottom rocker on their vests."
The finger pointing
Swanton slammed Twin Peaks after the bloodshed Sunday, saying the franchise failed to help avoid trouble and ignored the police department's advice to try to keep biker gangs away from the restaurant.
"Are we frustrated? Sure, because we feel like there may have been more that could have been done by a business to prevent this," Swanton said.
He said Twin Peaks has a right to deny entry to known biker gangs.
"They absolutely have a right to refuse service to people that may be a harm to their patrons and employees," he told KTVT. "They didn't do that, and today is the ultimate aftermath of what their decision was."
The franchise released a statement Monday, saying it was working hard to learn the facts about the shooting, but denied ignoring police advice.
"It is important to clarify that, to the best of our knowledge, law enforcement officials did not ask either the Waco restaurant operator (with whom they spoke several times) or the Twin Peaks franchisor to cancel the patio reservation that was made on Sunday.
"Based on the information to date, we also believe that the violence began outside in the area of the parking lot, and not inside our restaurant or on our patio, as has been widely reported," it read.
In Camden, President Obama Talks Community Policing and Building Trust
by Tara Nurin
President commends police force for dramatic reduction in crime, even as department faces complaints about use of excessive force, cooking crime statistics
Calling Camden a “symbol of promise for the nation,” President Barack Obama used the New Jersey city as the setting to announce several federal initiatives to build trust between law enforcement and the public yesterday. The president, speaking in response to the high-profile police brutality cases that have troubled the nation over the past year, commended the city's reconstituted police department for its dramatically improved crime rates and its role as an international model for community policing.
Since Camden replaced its city police force with a new county force two years ago, the nation's poorest and often most violent city (per capita) has begun to transform. Chief Scott Thomson is using some of the most state-of-the-art crime prevention and detection technology available. He also has made community policing -- an approach that has officers working with the community -- a centerpiece of his crime-fighting strategy. Supporters say safer streets and strong leadership are attracting millions of dollars in corporate investment and contributing to the highest bond ratings in Camden history.
But while the president lauded Camden police for “making real progress in just two years,” not everyone shares his enthusiasm. The ACLU issued a statement yesterday calling attention to the department's number of excessive force complaints, and the White House traveling press corps reported a smattering of protesters holding anti-Camden PD signs along the president's route.
What's more, local journalists questioned Thomson after the president's speech about whether the 47 percent drop in homicides cited by the president was in comparison to 2012, the year that crime skyrocketed because the old city police department had just laid off half its officers.
According to Thomson, “Today was not a declaration of victory as much as a celebration of progress in beginning to build trust (between the police and the public).”
One of the president's recommendations and strategies is the Police Data Initiative (PDI), which puts volunteer technology experts into cities to teach police agencies to amalgamate data in ways that can be shared with the public and alert law enforcement to meaningful patterns.
Noting that the Camden PD labors under 41 different data systems, Obama said that he'd brought the tech team with him to get started right away.
“Departments might track things like incidents of force so that they can identify and handle problems that could otherwise escalate,” Obama said.
The PDI is one component of a report released today by the Presidential Task Force on 21st Century Policing. As part of the report, Obama announced the National Body-Worn Camera Toolkit, an online tool that police departments can use to learn about the advantages, disadvantages and best practices of using body cameras. The toolkit is part of a $20 million partnership program run by the Department of Justice to teach agencies how to most effectively and constitutionally use the cameras.
The justice department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) will spearhead cooperative efforts between a dozen national law enforcement and municipal associations to share best practices and develop projects to address police/community issues like fostering trust between the community and the department; write policies and use technology in ways that reflect community values; solicit public input and engage residents in police training.
COPS will release $163 million in grants to fund agencies that want to adopt the recommendations. In conjunction, the International Association of Chiefs of Police will build a National Center for Community-Police Relations.
Additionally, the administration released new policies concerning the transfer of military equipment to local law-enforcement agencies. Effective immediately, local departments can no longer accept heavy-duty artillery like “tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft and vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers and large-caliber firearms.”
A second regulation, to be phased in over time, requires localities seeking equipment like “armored vehicles, tactical vehicles, riot gear, and specialized firearms and ammunition” to receive permission from their governing civilian body, commit to training standards and general protocols, and collect and disseminate data whenever the equipment is used in a “significant incident.”
“We are without a doubt sitting at a turning point in American policing,” Ron Davis, director of COPS, told reporters on a conference call Sunday.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey co-chaired the task force, consulted the Ferguson, MO, police department after last summer's hostility between the department and the African-American community, and attended yesterday's event. “I think they're great,” he said of the recommendations he helped write. “We're going to implement them.”
In Camden over the past two years, Thomson has doubled the size of the force from its low 2012 numbers, reduced response times from 60 minutes to 4.4, hired civilians to take administrative jobs that were keeping officers behind their desks, and set up regular foot patrols so officers can build relationships with civilians. When the retooled department launched, residents in every neighborhood received a mailing that introduced members of the department and provided phone numbers for various police-related services.
Thomson's staff sends letters to parents of suspected drug users and reaches out to gang members who want to leave gang life. The chief also tries to build communication and transparency by letting the public tap into the city's network of crime-detection cameras and anonymously report tips online.
Brenda Antinore, who runs the She Has a Name outreach center for prostitutes, says that the police are so responsive that formerly intractable open-air drug markets are gone, thanks in part to officers peering into the dark crevices where dealers used to hide.
“There's one block right behind us that was like a McDonald's drive-though. If we begin to see that, all we have to do is make a phone call and they're on it,” she said.
Though it's come to be a cliché in Camden, she says kids really do ride bikes while their parents socialize on front porches in places they didn't feel safe doing so before.
What's more, her mostly drug-addicted clients feel like they're being treated with respect – so much so that they're now comfortable enough to report rapes and attacks. And when police conduct a roundup of prostitutes and johns, they bring suspects right to Brenda's center where they find food and representatives from out-of-state programs to rehabilitate sex workers. If they have a clean record and a willingness to quit the business, chances are they won't get charged.
Antinore said law enforcement's new attitude is, “How can we show that we care? We're not just looking to shake you down and lock you up.”
That's not how everyone feels. An analysis published by the Philadelphia Inquirer last month showed that with 65 excessive-force complaints filed against Camden officers in the preceding two years, the city totaled more than Newark and Jersey City combined. But what troubles the state's ACLU chapter more is that all of those claims were dismissed.
Yesterday, the organization released a statement saying that while policing in the city has improved, it still has concerns over the department's level of accountability and its habit of arresting people for petty offenses like riding a bicycle without a bell.
“(It) has the potential to create a climate of fear, rather than respect, in the community," wrote ACLU-NJ Executive Director Udi Ofer.
“We train our officers that our preferred outcome is a warning,” Thomson said yesterday, before mentioning that he's had conversations with the ACLU. “At the same time as we try to address these quality of life issues you can only issue a warning so many times.”
“It's all propaganda, it's all hype,” said New Jersey's NAACP president, Francis, of the new force.
Francis, a frequent critic of the department, echoes suspicions held by skeptics. Ever since city and state leaders dismantled the old department in what critics see as a union-busting move, they never miss an opportunity to cast doubt on the rosy portrait consistently painted by Thomson, Mayor Dana Redd, Camden-based congressman Donald Norcross (D-NJ), and Gov. Chris Christie, who spent yesterday in New Hampshire, though his administration says he's visited Camden 25 times since taking office.
Adversaries point out that many of their public crime-reduction statistics use 2012 as a baseline even though the numbers from that year were atypically high. Some even believe that the city, crying poor, laid off half of its officers specifically to force public opinion toward the county force by allowing crime to surge. It didn't help city leaders' cause when the public discovered that because the new force is classified as a county, rather than city, department, Camden could finesse its way off the list that consistently ranked it among the most violent cities in the country.
And just in time for the president's arrival, the Inquirer published a story yesterday that exposed an exceptionally high turnover rate within the ranks of young new recruits. Skeptics have maintained that too many older, more experienced officers who lost their jobs during the layoffs didn't come back. To be fair, everyone was invited to apply for new positions, albeit with less favorable seniority rules and benefits.
But inside the Salvation Army Kroc Center's auditorium, the president spoke glowingly about Camden, its leaders, and its potential. He mentioned that Camden had just been selected to join his Promise Zone program that creates direct multiagency channels of communication and grant funding between impoverished regions and the federal government. And his staff said that he'd also selected Camden for participation in his My Brother's Keeper Challenge, which encourages communities to “implement a coherent cradle-to-college and career strategy aimed at improving life outcomes for all young people,” particularly young men of color.
Obama quoted an inscription at the top of city hall written by former resident Walt Whitman, “In a dream I see a city invincible.” Then turning his attention to the nation as a whole, he said something most residents likely never have expected to hear: “Camden is showing that it can be done. I want America to show everybody around the world that it can be done.”
US attorney general starts community policing tour in Ohio
by The Associated Press
CINCINNATI (AP) - U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch will visit Cincinnati to start a national tour promoting community policing and $163 million in grant money available to advance policing recommendations by a national task force.
She'll meet with city officials, including Cincinnati's mayor and police chief, on Tuesday at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. She'll also meet with officers and visit a school where Cincinnati police help mentor children.
The Justice Department says the national tour will highlight collaborative programs and policing practices designed to advance public safety, strengthen police-community relations and foster mutual trust and respect.
The department says the tour and grants are intended to build on President Barack Obama's commitment to work with law enforcement and others to implement recommendations from the 21st Century Policing Task Force report.
Community Policing Doesn't Sit Well With Everyone, Former Prosecutor Says
NPR's Robert Siegel interviews Eugene O'Donnell, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a former NYPD officer and prosecutor, who says not everyone agrees on how police should work.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
More on this subject now from someone who says all the focus on police is bogus.
O'DONNELL: All right, so it's review day today. Everybody's up for the review?
SIEGEL: Eugene O'Donnell teaches law and police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. It's part of the City University of New York. He used to be a prosecutor and, before that, a police officer. I met him on a visit to John Jay last week. O'Donnell says before you can talk about community policing, you have to ask, what does the community want?
O'DONNELL: Literally, block-to-block public housing, building-to-building, floor-to-floor - people don't agree on what they want the police to do and how they should do it.
SIEGEL: I mean, some people might say I want the cops here. I want protection, to see the police showing that they're here. And others might be saying the police are here. They're going to get my kid in trouble or they're going to stop me in the street for no reason.
O'DONNELL: You - I was a liaison in public housing in the DA's office, and you'd have a floor where people had zero tolerance - zero tolerance for misconduct. And the floor upstairs, you might have people that have felony convictions. There are - drugs are being dealt out of the same building, so how do you reconcile those issues? And they're the heavy-lifting issues. The simplistic notion that the cops just have to be nice to people is silly, and that's a lot of the conversation. We just keep going back to that kind of...
SIEGEL: Well, is community policing - is it sometimes a dressed-up way of saying police should be nice to be people, or is there a real body of tactics and strategy implied by that that's different from non-community policing?
O'DONNELL: Generally, the community policing that people like, elected officials like, is the community policing that sort of frays the hard edges of policing and makes it seem as though everything can be done in a happy way, blunts the adversarial nature of the police job and kind of suggests that people can get along well and there's no room for conflict, when, in fact, police are a job that involves conflict. When you pull somebody over and you ask them for their license, they're under arrest. Police are not equal with people in that situation, and you're not free to leave. That's not somebody's opinion. That's not a political issue. That is just a reality that the police deal with, and the whole conversation which demonizes individual police people, for me, has been extremely disingenuous.
SIEGEL: Eugene O'Donnell says data collection can make police work less effective. He contrasts policing today with an older time, when an officer could use discretion, especially when it came to enforcing laws against relatively minor offenses.
O'DONNELL: In my era, things came in and went out and weren't documented. Now you have the rise of data, so people say to the commander of the precinct, what are you doing about these complaints? Now, to the great credit of the City Council of New York, they're now in the process of making things civil, so a lot of these quality-of-life offenses are going to be civil, so this is good for the police. We don't need to have police wrestling around in the street with people. We don't need any physical contact, handcuffing. Somebody is urinating in public, riding their bicycle in public, selling loose cigarettes - that should all be diverted. We should hand people a piece of paper and say, go to court.
SIEGEL: Let's say I sell loose cigarettes for either a living or a sideline, and somebody calls in a complaint and I'm given a summons instead of arrested. And I put the summons where a lot of scofflaws put their traffic tickets, and I get another summons and I put it in the same place and I get another summons.
O'DONNELL: But it's going to make it better for the police 'cause the police are going to be much less likely to be cited as profiling people, picking on people. They might still have some of that, but the deeply personal attacks on the police that we saw in the last year won't happen anymore. Blame the judge. Go get the judge.
SIEGEL: And as for body cameras on police officers.
O'DONNELL: Terrible idea - worst idea you can think of. And I - as an elite opposing it, again, I'd like to talk to the neighborhood and see what they think. I'd like to hear the community's view on this. Is this the kind of relationship you're going to want with the cops? Everything you do is going to be on video. Everything they do is going to be on video. Everything is going to just be yes, sir, no, sir. The cops will be on 8th Street when the problems are on 5th Street, which is a huge problem in the country which seems to go under no attention. The City of Baltimore has 250 murders a year. More than half are not solved - 2,400 murders in 10 years. You put that on a map, it will knock you off your seat. Cops in Baltimore on any given day - not only are they face-to-face with a lot of felons who've been criminalized with the drug war, they're face-to-face with a lot of un-apprehended killers in Baltimore. If you do the math...
SIEGEL: If there are that many unsolved murders.
O'DONNELL: A thousand unsolved murders - you know, some did a few, but that's a lot of people that killed and got away with it.
SIEGEL: Well, professor O'Donnell, thanks a lot for talking with us.
O'DONNELL: Thanks a lot.
SIEGEL: That's Eugene O'Donnell. He was a police officer and a prosecutor. We spoke with him last week at his office at John Jay College of Criminal Justice where he teaches criminal law. We'll hear from other faculty members and some students from John Jay later this week.
From community policing to ‘relationship policing': LAPD expands foot patrols
by Frank Stoltze
Taking a stab at "relationship policing," the LAPD on Monday announced a small expansion of foot patrols in the Hollenbeck Division on the East side of the city.
“I want the officers to be known by their name,” said Captain Martin Baeza. “And I think the timing is right.”
Already three pairs of beat cops walked areas of shops and other businesses. Now it'll be eight pairs along North Broadway Blvd., Whittier Blvd., Soto Street and five other commercial corridors. Officials said property crimes are have increased there, so the added foot patrols should help prevent and solve those crimes.
“Our mission is to build relationships,” said Officer Eric Perez, who has been walking the streets since November.
Relationship-based policing requires staying in a neighborhood. It is an increasingly popular term among criminal justice experts and civil rights activists who say police have become too disconnected from the communities they police. The Los Angeles-based Advancement Project is one proponent.
The LAPD, which has fewer officers per capita than many big city police departments, has used foot patrols on a limited basis on Skid Row, in Venice and elsewhere. The sprawl of Los Angeles makes it hard to patrol effectively and efficiently by foot.
The increase comes less than a month after the LAPD announced it's quadrupling the size of its elite Metropolitan Division to 200. In contrast to the foot patrols, Metro cops are assigned to swoop into high crime areas with an eye toward making a lot of stops and arrests. Some worry that effort could hurt community policing efforts.
“This is probably going to be a far more effective tool than having those high speed guys respond to put out the fires," Perez said.
He said foot patrols have the benefit of being stealth and unexpected. He recalled walking up on some rival gang members who looked like they were about to start shooting.
“They were like, ‘honestly, we didn't see you coming,' ” he said, chuckling. No gun was found.
Many local residents said they like seeing men and women in uniform walking the streets, instead of hidden away in their cars where they are “more intimidating.”
“When they're standing, you're more likely to go ask a question to just say hello and shake their hand,” said lifelong Boyle Heights resident Margarita Amador. She recalls seeing foot patrols growing up in the neighborhood four decades ago.
“We would run to the officers and we'd get a baseball card,” she said. “We felt safe talking to the police.”
Foot patrol officers typically make fewer arrests.
“I like to think of it as more preventing crimes,” said Officer Joe Romo, who may be the most veteran foot officer in the city at 16 years. “It's a more positive way to police.”
He said he arrests about ten people a year. Officers in patrol cars responding to radio calls arrest five to ten people a month, he said.
“I'm not expecting these guys to be hauling people in left and right,” said Baeza, the area captain. “I am expecting them to build relationships and partnerships with the community.”
Foot patrols do create other kinds of risks, Romo said.
"You are a little bit more vulnerable since you are out of your car,” he said. “In today's environment, you don't know if someone is going to come up behind you and try to attack you.”
Standing on her porch with her parents around the corner from Mariachi Plaza where police announced the foot patrols, Kimberly Duenas, 20, expressed skepticism of cops.
“We see a lot of cases where the cops kill innocent people and we're afraid of that,” she said. Then she thought more about seeing officers walking on the streets.
“It could be good cause we're not going to generalize everybody as much - there are corrupted cops and good cops,” she said.
At a police department that has a history of priding itself on aggressive policing, Perez said maybe foot cops like him who focus on relationships will be seen in a new light.
“Maybe we'll be considered the heroes,” he said.
'Commish Chat' Podcast Hopes to Brighten Philadelphia Community-Police Relations
by Kevin Pulsifer
The Philadelphia Police Department's new podcast gives the community the department protects “an inside look at the issues, challenges, and successes of policing.”
Hosted by Denise James, strategic communications director for the Philly PD, the podcast sets out to increase police-community relations, build trust and invite public questions and comments.
“It's just one additional way to get info out into the community from police, and to glean info from the community,” said James.
On Monday, the Police Department posted the second episode in the series to its Facebook page. The episode, which is also available on Soundcloud, touched base with Commissioner Charles Ramsey in regards to the riots in Baltimore and some of the underlying issues with police-community relations.
In the podcast, Ramsey explained that the level of unrest in Baltimore was due to “a tremendous lack of trust, not only for police, but government in general.”
“No one in police custody should be injured,” added Ramsey. “They should be safe. Period.”
The commissioner continued by discussing the idea that protesters can be both beneficial and harmful for a society.
“[We have to] Allow people to peacefully protest because they have the right to do it constitutionally, and quite frankly, the way in our country that change occurs is through protest,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey stressed the importance of dealing with both types of protesters, and mentioned that people will fill in the blanks when accurate information isn't provided.
James told NBC10 that they were hoping to put together about one episode per month, pertaining from a mixture of scheduled topics and current events.
In an effort to change the culture of trust between police and the communities they protect, the Philly PD is setting out to perform more hands-on training, using real cases, minus associated names. This allows for better preparation, and hopefully a higher probability of sound judgment in the field.
“There are changes that needed to happen long ago in policing,” Ramsey admitted. “It took something like this unfortunately to make it happen.”
According to James, they have already received more than 10 email responses to the podcasts from viewers, and would love to set up a live chat in the future.
Want your question answered on the podcast? Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org, and your question could be answered on a future podcast.
From the Department of Homeland Security
by Dr. Kathryn Brinsfield, Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs & Chief Medical Officer
The Department of Homeland Security is proud to recognize Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week – an opportunity to focus on the important work of our EMS providers and thank them for their service and protection. These individuals, who often put themselves at personal risk to help others, play a critical role in our Nation's homeland security.
In the DHS Office of Health Affairs (OHA), we continue to do our part in supporting EMS providers. For example, over the past year our Chemical Defense program completed the “Patient Decontamination in a Mass Chemical Exposure Incident” planning guidance for communities. This guidance is intended to support state and local civilian first responders and health care receivers, along with emergency managers, public health practitioners, law enforcement officials, and risk communications experts who are the nation's first line of defense.
We at DHS work to prepare all first responders for emergencies to ensure they have the tools and knowledge to protect and care for our communities in stressful and challenging circumstances. For our DHS responders, we are continuing our efforts to develop training focused on resilience and peer-support. Each day the men and women of DHS take on difficult tasks in order to keep our Nation safe; we can do our part by offering programs and support to keep their strengthen their resilience.
We believe strongly in the balance of work and family life, and encourage all responders to do the same. Take time to spend with families and friends – these moments are important to overall well-being.
To all EMS providers, please take care of yourself so that you can continue to take care of others. You serve an important role in your communities and we thank you for that!
Obama will restrict grenade launchers, military equipment from local police
by Evan Perez and Allison Malloy
The Obama administration plans to prohibit federal agencies from providing to local cops certain kinds of military equipment such as grenade launchers, high-caliber weapons and bayonets, in the wake of controversy over a "militarized" police response to unrest last summer in Ferguson, Missouri.
The new prohibitions are part of an executive order President Barack Obama issued for federal agencies to review the types of equipment they provide to local and state police.
Obama plans to travel Monday to Camden, N.J., to highlight crime reduction and community policing tactics that the administration hopes can be a model around the country. A spate of officer-involved shootings and the deaths of African-Americans in confrontations with police has made policing an issue the administration is forced to grapple with.
Agencies including the Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security departments help provide equipment to local police.
The banned list includes: tank-like armored vehicles that move on tracks, certain types of camouflage uniforms, bayonets, firearms and ammunition of .50 caliber or higher, grenade launchers, and weaponized aircraft.
The presidential order will establish a "controlled equipment" list, with tightened requirements before federal agencies can transfer equipment to local cops. These will include riot control equipments and drones. Federal agencies will also require local police to provide more data so the government can better track equipment.
Local police can still bypass the federal restrictions and bans by buying the equipment from private sellers.
The President will visit the Camden Police Department where he will tour a tactical operation center, as well as meet with officers and young people from the community, according to Eric Schultz, Deputy Press Secretary.
On a conference call with reporters Sunday, Valerie Jarett, President Obama's senior advisor, said the President chose to visit Camden because its implementation of initiatives have already proven to help the once deeply troubled city.
"There is still work to be done in Camden and across the country," Jarett said. "It's more important than ever that communities look inward to build."
In December Obama signed an Executive Order to create the Task Force on 21st Century Policing to determine ways to strengthen public trust and better relationships between local law enforcement and communities.
The President, who has been vocal on the issue since unrest was seen following police incidents in Baltimore and Ferguson, will highlight how communities such as Camden are adopting recommendations made by a White House Task Force examining 21st Century Policing.
The Task Force released its final report Monday with a "blue print" for law enforcement and communities to utilize including recommendations of how to promote trust within the community, such as police embracing "a guardian- rather than a warrior" mindset to build legitimacy. Other recommendations include creating a diverse police workforce, implementing policies that reflect community values and better training for officers.
Earlier this month Obama announced a spin-off of his already-existing "My Brother's Keeper" initiative into a new, non-profit foundation to address the lack of opportunity that young minority boys face.
At the announcement of the initiative, President Obama said that blacks were getting pulled over by cops for "no reason", which has since angered some members of the law enforcement community.
Foot Patrol: A Catch-22 of Community Policing
by Victoria Bekiempis
“BALTIMORE: The Greatest City in America.”
So reads the white lettering on a bench in the West Baltimore neighborhood of Sandtown-Winchester, where 34 percent of residential properties are reported to be vacant or abandoned. Booze and snack refuse dot gutters. In a garden enclosed by a chain-link fence, a tangle of weeds nearly conceals an unexpected, much-needed burst of beauty: three bunches of crimson flowers. The Western District police station, a boxy institutional structure, stands amid this landscape, surrounded by metal barricades on a recent April day.
It was in the Western District area that Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man, suffered a spinal injury related to an arrest April 12, and then died on April 19. His death was part of a succession of police-involved fatalities of black men across the U.S. in recent months, sparking mass protests. On April 27, rioting and looting erupted in Baltimore.
Against this backdrop, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) and other U.S. law enforcement agencies have been attempting to bolster their community-policing efforts, to improve relations with area residents.
Foot patrol is an essential component of the BPD's initiative. While walking the beat has always been part of the BPD's policing, the department recently mandated that officers spend at least 30 minutes of every 10-hour shift on foot, chatting with members of the community.
“We're pushing every police officer to get out of their cars for 30 minutes no matter if it's in a residential area, commercial area, to engage in the community,” Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts told Baltimore Sun reporter Justin George. (Following a BPD strategy released in 2013, Batts wanted to increase foot patrols, “training officers to feel comfortable interacting with individuals with a wide array of backgrounds,” George also reported.)
Even the Baltimore police union president, Gene Ryan, got on board—despite high call volumes. “I really think it's a good idea,” Ryan told George. “That's one way to improve the relationship with us and the people of Baltimore.”
Renewed interest in foot patrol isn't unique to Baltimore, amid the nationwide push for community policing. In St. Petersburg, Florida, Police Chief Anthony Holloway launched a program called Park, Walk and Talk several months after starting his job in August. His program requires all officers in the St. Petersburg department to park their cars, walk a neighborhood and talk to people there for an hour a week. Officers must log their hours, so supervisors can confirm their participation.
In Cleveland, where the police department was criticized for “a pattern or practice of unreasonable and unnecessary use of force” by the U.S. Department of Justice in December, both clergy leaders and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio called for foot patrols to improve police-community relations. ACLU Ohio said in a statement that the Cleveland Police Department should “require officers to patrol neighborhoods on foot as much as possible.”
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a progressive who made police reform key to her campaign for the job, wants to put 1,000 more cops on the street and to allot more resources to community policing. Though Mark-Viverito's proposal would leave the cops' deployment up to the department's discretion, foot patrol might be one of the techniques, a staffer for her office told Newsweek .
The President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, meanwhile, is charged with determining the best ways police can reduce crime and build trust with communities. In early March, the task force published an hundred-plus page interim report that emphasizes community policing as a way to achieve these goals—in fact, “Community Policing & Crime Reduction” is one of the six listed “pillars” in the report. Some of the recommendations in this section seem almost tailor-made for foot patrol proponents. Police must communicate with people at times other than emergency calls or crime investigations, the report recommends. Law enforcement agencies must allow officers time “to participate in problem solving and community engagement activities” during patrols, the report says.
Foot patrol sounds like an even better idea when you look at the data. Research has indicated it both improves police-community relations and fights crime. Though these positive outcomes make foot patrol quite an appealing policing tactic today, they happened before a year that saw the police-involved deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice and Walter Scott—and, most recently, Freddie Gray.
While man-on-the-street interviews wouldn't provide quantitative data, I had been looking into foot patrol for a while, including earlier reporting on St. Petersburg's initiative, and I had traveled to Baltimore hours before the city burned to try to find out whether residents thought the requirement would work, both in general and in light of Gray's death. In interviews, the general sentiment was that foot patrol, like other community-policing techniques, was either a pipe dream or a paradox: Foot patrol could build much-needed trust in communities of color, but not until trust had first been restored. Residents conceded, however, that restoring trust probably wouldn't happen if successful community-police engagement programs, such as foot patrol, weren't already in place.
Sure, this doesn't mean that foot patrol wouldn't work, but it suggests that officials' enthusiasm for foot patrol might be too glib—and that a lot of people supposedly poised to benefit from this kind of community policing absolutely do not want more cops on the streets right now.
On a stretch of sidewalk empty save for a few shuffling seniors, neighborhood resident Thomas Thornton says Baltimore's foot patrol program isn't inherently ill-conceived but is an awful idea given recent events. Before Gray brought police-community relations to a breaking point in Baltimore, resentment had long been building, explains Thornton, who works as a janitor. He says police routinely stop him and others in the neighborhood and ask, “Where are you going?” and “What are you doing?” Residents “see the uniform as a threat,” and that perception has intensified, he says.
“At this time, I don't think it's a good time to walk around—at all,” says Thornton, 45, speaking of foot patrol. “Maybe eventually, but at the present time, I wouldn't recommend it. Not right now. Because it's so tense.”
Marguerite Johnston, also a neighborhood resident, doesn't think all police are bad based on the behavior of a few; she was raised not to judge people like that, she says. Johnston, 61, says the bad ones have nothing better to do than pick on people. Police officers should get to know their community, she says, recalling a time when a uniformed cop used to walk her neighborhood and even knew her by name. Maybe this kind of familiarity would build relationships, she says, and would make things better. Foot patrol is a good idea, she agrees, just not any time soon, given the present tensions.
“Maybe down the road? Probably sometime at the end of the year?” Johnston says. “It's a catch-22. The police should probably try harder to gain the community's trust before doing these projects.”
Then there was outright pessimism—a lot of it, actually.
“It's only going to make it worse,” says Kyree Brown, who was sitting on a stoop with friends near the police station, talking about foot patrol. “It's them against us.”
Could people trust police, then, if the programs that are supposed to engender trust don't work?
“That's the problem: You can't gain trust with people who feed you a bunch of bullshit,” says Brown, 24, whose wide smile belies this pessimism. “They've already had their chance, and they've blown it.”
Reached by phone a week after the riots, Brown's position had only intensified.
The world's first modern police department is considered to be London's Metropolitan Police, which formed on September 29, 1829. Sir Robert Peel, England's home secretary, is responsible for its creation: He convinced Parliament to green-light it largely because the prevailing system of policing—disorganized night watches and parish forces dominated law enforcement — did little to preserve safety or order in the growing city. In contrast, Peel's new model for policing was a “full-time, professional and centrally-organised” force, according to department histories penned by Parliament and the Metropolitan Police.
Peel charged the original force of 895 constables, 88 sergeants, 20 inspectors and eight superintendents with preventing crime. The emphasis on prevention represented a major development in policing philosophy, which, until Peel's initiative, focused on crime detection.
“Foot patrol was what the very first police officers did when they walked out of the doors on September 29, 1829,” explains Jerry Ratcliffe, a professor of criminal justice and director of the Center for Security and Crime Science at Temple University, and a Metropolitan Police alum. “That was just a part of what policing was all about.”
By the mid-20th century, technological and philosophical changes in policing prompted the decline of foot patrol in the U.S. The radio car and the 911 system “essentially changed the nature of policing from preventative policing to one of reactive policing,” Ratcliffe says. As citizens started calling police to report crimes and emergencies, dispatchers responded by deploying cars via radio. In turn, the metrics by which law enforcement agencies and agents were assessed changed, he explains.
With time, the role of a patrol officer evolved into something of a “human pinball,” Ken Peak, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Nevada, Reno, and Emmanuel P. Barthe, an associate professor of criminal justice at the same university, write in the December 2009 edition of The Police Chief magazine.
“Police officers were expected to remain in their ‘rolling fortresses,'” they say, “going from one call to the next with all due haste.” Officers “were often judged on how many miles they drove, how many tickets they wrote, or how many arrests they made during a tour of duty. The crime rate became the primary indicator of police effectiveness.... If a citizen were to get any face time with an officer, it was typically as the officer drove by at 35 miles per hour and waved.”
Because law enforcement agencies had begun operating with “the sole goal of controlling crime,” non-enforcement activities fell by the wayside.
The social unrest of the late 1960s spurred departments to reconsider enforcement-driven policing. Many agencies bolstered community engagement, and foot patrols regained traction in the 1970s and early 1980s. (Foot patrol waned again when crime surged later in the 1990s, prompting police departments to abandon hearts-and-minds campaigns for crackdown tactics.)
Several studies were conducted on foot patrols to measure their impact on police-community relations and crime, and, depending on what researchers were looking for, the results were generally positive.
The Newark Foot Patrol Experiment, conducted from February 1978 to January 1979, examined eight foot patrol beats in the New Jersey city. While the method wasn't considered to have much of an impact on crime rates, compared with beats without foot patrol, residents in areas with foot patrols felt safer and more satisfied with the police, according to the researchers.
“The Police Foundation found that introducing foot patrol in a mix of police strategies significantly enhances the citizen's perception of safety in the neighborhood,” the organization wrote. “This is something no other police strategy had been able to do.”
Another paper titled “The Impact of Foot Patrol on Black and White Perceptions of Policing” examines a program that Flint, Michigan, launched in 1979. Researchers interviewed residents in 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1983 to describe both black and white perceptions of policing in foot patrol areas, and to see whether foot patrol changed their viewpoints. According to the researchers, the foot patrol program “improved police/community relations and reduced the disparity in perceptions of police performance between blacks and whites.”
In 2009, Ratcliffe, along with other researchers at Temple University, partnered with the Philadelphia Police Department to determine whether foot patrols could deter crime. They identified 120 crime hot spots and deployed foot patrols to 60 that summer. After three months, the results were striking: In targeted foot patrol areas, violent crime dropped 23 percent, the study claims. Even taking into account displacement—in essence, when crime crackdowns in one area push criminal activity to another location—the study claims foot patrols prevented 53 violent crimes during the experiment.
The rub? The Philadelphia Foot Patrol Experiment concluded that while targeted foot patrol can deter crime, there's a potential risk to police-community relations. That's because “pedestrian field interviews”—when police stop someone on the street and often conduct a search (basically stop and frisk)—went up 64 percent in target areas, the study said.
In departments that are dedicating resources to foot patrol, as in St. Petersburg and Baltimore, the efficacy of small-scale initiatives is also unclear. Ratcliffe says it's “probably a good idea” but adds that criminologists need to study “sufficient dosage”—that is, how much foot patrol is necessary to have a positive impact—before making any claims. He agrees that there might be qualitative benefits to these smaller programs.
“It may change the perception of the police in the eyes of the community, but equally it may change the perception of the community in the eyes of the police,” Ratcliffe says. “I think that second one is probably as important—it will be a chance for police officers to meet the decent people in the community.”
Brett Stoudt, an assistant professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who has researched extensively the impact of “aggressive and discriminatory” policing on communities, has very strong doubts. Not only is he skeptical that increased foot patrol can mend community-police relationships, but he also thinks it could exacerbate angst by appearing to be a surveillance tactic. Communities of color already feel police disproportionately cite or collar them for minor matters, he says. (Data largely support this sentiment.) More boots on the street might make residents feel as if police are just lying in wait.
“One thing that we hear over and over and over again in our studies is that people living within these communities, where there's a lot of police, feel like they're not able to go about their day with dignity,” Stoudt explains.
In response to the New York City Council speaker's push to put an additional 1,000 police on the street, more than 50 progressive groups sent a joint letter to her with the same argument: This will only make things worse in communities that already feel over-policed.
Seema Iyer, associate director of the Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore, which studies the city's neighborhoods, offers a view specific to the metropolitan area. Foot patrol officers serve as liaison between neighborhood law enforcement and the police department. This won't make communities more trustful if they don't see change from the top down, regardless of how they feel about their neighborhood beat cops.
“That's what communities don't see,” Iyer says. “They could have a great relationship with their foot patrol officer, but where does it go in the system? That's the key point.”
Great relationships seemingly were on display during an afternoon I spent with Holloway, St. Petersburg's police chief. As we ambled down a stretch of South 16th Street, where in 1996 race riots raged after police killed an African-American teenager, a random motorist hollers to Holloway before zooming off, “You're doing a great job so far!”
When we enter Against the Grain Barber Shop, one of many African-American-owned businesses on this strip, store owner Derrick Thomas shouts an easy “Hi, chief!” to Holloway, who makes a point of wearing the department's uniform instead of a suit. A customer in the orange-painted shop interrupts their conversation, asking, “Can I get a picture with the chief?” A chuckling Holloway agrees, with a friendly warning: “This isn't going to help you with traffic tickets.”
It's surprising, to the point of bizarre, that police, let alone top brass, would still receive such a warm welcome in this era of fraught relations between law enforcement and communities of color.
Holloway, who also instituted this strategy in his previous role as chief of the nearby Clearwater Police Department, effectively has the same philosophy as the BPD: Foot patrol can help smooth things over between cops and communities. He doesn't want people to interact with police only when something bad happens—when they're victims of crimes or being arrested or even just watching an arrest. Park, Walk and Talk creates “positive contact” between cops and communities, fostering trust, he says of the program.
“When I came here to St. Pete, we were talking about ‘How do we build relationships in our community?' So I started Park, Walk and Talk throughout the city,” explains Holloway, who is black. “What we saw in the African-American community was, Wow. Now people are really giving us information. ‘There's a crack house. There's this. There's that.'”
But this walk-along was in February. Before things hit a breaking point. Again. Even then, the uncertainties of Holloway's initiative were very apparent when I walked around without him.
When I returned to South 16th Street without Holloway, many residents didn't buy into Park, Walk and Talk. In fact, the idea of police being anything but antagonistic seemed outright laughable to many. Several interviewed wouldn't give their name for fear of reprisal. The general sentiment seemed to be that police targeted only black neighborhoods in South St. Petersburg for drug busts, even though the people there were too poor to be significant players in the trade.
“Ain't no black folks got no keys of cocaine or keys of meth,” one man scoffed.
As Mario Harding waited for an order of ribs at Connie's Bar-B-Q—a takeout restaurant where tender slabs of meat come slathered in a Carolina-style, mustard-based sauce—he expressed a middle-of-the-road opinion of law enforcement. Narcotics officers are “out of control,” he says, and while some of the regular police “overdo it,” most are fine and do their jobs. He mostly tries to stay out of their way.
Asked about Park, Walk and Talk, the 25-year-old landscaper replies, “I didn't even know that existed,” before dismissing the program.
Harding doesn't offer specific reasons, but he espouses a sentiment expressed over and over that day: That this was yet another way the cops would target the black residents of South St. Pete. “It's gonna make it worse,” he reflects.
“'Cause, man, shit.”
Had any opinions changed post-Baltimore?
Thomas, the barbershop owner, still has faith in Holloway's initiative. If cops are more familiar with people they police, then maybe fatal interactions could be prevented, he said over the phone a week after the riots. And from what he's seen, other neighborhood residents still think it's a great idea and will work.
Harding, on the other hand, feels even more negative about Park, Walk and Talk. Freddie Gray just reminds him that “the same shit can happen to us that happened to him,” despite the trust-building initiative.
“It might lead to a conversation: ‘Oh hey, how are you doing?'” says Harding of Park, Walk and Talk, during a phone conversation. “And then it's like, ‘Oh, what do you have in your pocket?' What the fuck do you need to look in my pockets for?”
“It's more fear for us,” he says flatly. “We can't fight back.”
Back in Baltimore, as I watched flames engulf a police van and people charge a CVS store on North and Pennsylvania Avenues, pilfering everything from toilet paper to peanut butter cups, I felt more than a little stupid about asking earlier that day: “So what do you think about foot patrol?” That feeling of stupidity only deepened when rioters later set fire to the CVS, and then it got worse Tuesday morning, when reports indicated that fires had struck more than a dozen buildings and more than 100 vehicles overnight.
A lot of people have had it with the police. That manifestation of frustration didn't justify the violence, of course, and there were plenty of peaceful protesters before and after the riots. But the very destructive anger further put to question the potential efficacy of foot patrol for the near future. Given the previous night's events, especially the attacks on police officers, it wasn't surprising that law enforcement agents at the intersection of North and Pennsylvania Avenues donned riot gear Tuesday.
Yet the many Baltimoreans who traveled there that morning to clean up the streets—something totally benign—were confronted by the same image of the police: as invaders who, they say, had long antagonized them. This isn't an issue of picking sides, but it's almost too obvious to say the pepper pellets and tear gas canisters deployed after the curfew that evening easily reinforced this sentiment.
The city's police department still requires its officers to complete 30 minutes of foot patrol at the beginning of their shifts, a spokesman tells me. But it remains unclear how we'll get to the point where foot patrol, which does have a lot of positive potential, has a chance of really working.
President to share post-Ferguson policing ideas
by Aubrey Whelan
President Obama's speech in Camden on Monday will focus largely on that city's improvements in policing and crime reduction, but it also will touch on several federal initiatives aimed at improving policing nationwide.
Among them is the release of the final report of the 21st Century Policing Task Force, chaired by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey.
The report's recommendations revolve around helping departments to build community trust, improve diversity on their forces, and increase transparency in use-of-force incidents. Among dozens of other suggestions, it calls for allowing independent prosecutors to investigate police shootings, training officers to recognize and minimize bias, and granting civilians some oversight of their communities' police departments.
On Monday, Obama will announce federal programs to help departments implement the recommendations, the White House said Sunday in a statement.
After the task force's interim report - which is almost identical to the final version - was released earlier this year, Ramsey said he supported all of its recommendations and was working to put them in place as quickly as possible.
On Monday, the Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) will launch a grant program that will provide funding for police departments to adopt those recommendations.
The COPS office will partner with national police organizations such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and the Police Executive Research Forum to launch countrywide projects that dovetail with the report's recommendations.
The White House said Obama plans to highlight a number of other policing initiatives designed to increase transparency and spread the practice of community policing. Philadelphia is participating in many of those initiatives, including an open-data project that will release previously sealed information on officer-involved shootings and police stops.
The president is expected to touch on a new report on federal programs that have transferred military-grade equipment to local law enforcement agencies - one that recommends improved checks and more serious federal oversight over such transfers. The report concluded that the federal government should completely prohibit the transfer of items such as grenade launchers and .50-caliber or higher firearms, and heavily control equipment such as specialized firearms, explosives and riot gear.
Law enforcement agencies that want to receive such items from the federal government should be required to provide training for its officers, adopt "robust and specific written policies" on community policing, and provide "a clear and persuasive explanation for the need of the equipment."