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


NEWS of the Week

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


May, 2015 - Week 4




Now more than ever, we need skilled community policing on urban streets

Strong police-citizen partnerships require a high level of mutual trust.

As a figure of popular mythology, the American police officer never stood taller than in the patriotic aftermath of 9/11. In sharp contrast, the prototypical cop has taken a public pounding in recent months. A cascade of bad behavior — and, in some cases, charges of criminal behavior — has led not only to questions about proper policing in poor African-American neighborhoods but also to larger questions about the perpetual poverty and social isolation of many of those neighborhoods and why more progress hasn't been made.

Fairly or unfairly, the police officer patrolling those streets has become a daily reminder to residents that they and their communities have been left far, far behind. That millions of black Americans have vaulted into the mainstream economy and culture, and that the nation has twice elected a black president, only sharpens the sense of neglect and despair on the most desperate blocks of West Baltimore, South Chicago, North Philadelphia and other isolated urban districts.

For police officers, the irony cuts deep; high crime rates dictate that these are the places where cops are most needed — but, as it often seems, these are also the places where cops are least wanted or appreciated. One reason is that good community policing in tough neighborhoods is very hard to do. These are places where criminals (and many who “pose” as criminals) gain respect through intimidation or violence. But a police department that answers in kind becomes just another street gang. Good community policing defies human nature; it responds to violence and intimidation with reasonable restraint and a capacity for understanding. Even well-trained officers often lack the extraordinary patience and temperament required.

“They give you the tools to answer violence with an equal amount of force,” a Minneapolis officer told us last week. “But that doesn't mean it's the right answer.”

It clearly wasn't the right answer in Cleveland, where an officer jumped onto the hood of a car after a chase and fired 49 shots into the windshield. An unarmed black couple died. The white officer was acquitted last week because a judge couldn't determine whether those shots or 88 other shots from 12 other cops had killed the couple.

President Obama was wise this month to order a partial demilitarization of local police forces by denying them some of the equipment it takes for them to operate as overly aggressive occupation armies. And, on a smaller scale, a federal grand jury may have sent a similar message by indicting Minneapolis patrol officer Michael Griffin on nine counts of assault, signaling that he may lack the proper temperament to carry a badge. Griffin pleaded not guilty to charges that he beat four men in 2010 and 2011 and lied about it during civil suits they filed against him.

As a concept, community policing dates back to the 1820s in London, but it wasn't embraced in big U.S. cities until the 1980s. Its proactive approach and reliance on police-citizen partnerships requires a high level of mutual trust, something that's still obviously lacking in impoverished black neighborhoods and among the officers patrolling them.

Mutual trust seems no problem in more prosperous zones, however. The police officer's tattered image got a complete makeover last week in one such corner of Minneapolis. More than 250 neighbors jammed into a riverfront cafe near St. Anthony Main to celebrate their local beat cop, to heap praise on the Police Department and to fork over $9,000 in private contributions toward supporting their neighborhood police substation.

The atmosphere was festive. It was the 15th annual “keep the beat” event, allowing cops and residents to mingle and trade gestures of mutual appreciation. “This relationship we have with you is important to us,” Kathy Waite, commander of the Second Precinct, told the crowd. “When you see us on the street, stop and say hi, or give us a wave.”

If only that kind of relationship could flourish in every urban neighborhood, no matter income or race. It's something for all sides to work on, starting now. No city should have to wait for the Justice Department to impose constraints on local police, as happened in Cleveland last week. But genuine, lasting improvement will come only when both sides — police and community — understand that they must change.





Anti-cop crusade could erode public safety

by David Andersob

In the 1850s, Sir Robert Peel developed the principles of modern policing in Great Britain that have guided law enforcement for 165 years. "Constables on patrol" (from which, some sources claim, the word "cop" is derived) enforced laws, guided by Peel's principles, in lawless London. Constables were expected to visibly interact with citizens detecting and preventing crime before it occurred. London thrived.

I was a police officer in Portland for nearly 30 years. I worked in mostly minority neighborhoods and witnessed the influx of gang activity in Portland that started in the late 1980s. I saw neighborhoods destroyed by gang activity and crack cocaine. Young men wandered the streets with no father figure in their life. I responded to hundreds of shootings and countless homicides. The victims and suspects had lived in those fatherless homes.

Slowly over decades these neighborhoods were taken back from drug dealers, grifters and other nefarious characters. Day after day, dedicated police officers patrolled areas infested with the worst types of crime imaginable. They enforced new laws that targeted gang members selling crack and carrying or using illegal firearms with harsh mandatory sentences. These new laws were demanded by the public and enacted at the state and federal level and had a dramatic effect on crime. Today in Portland, these formerly crime-ridden neighborhoods are now vibrant places. New restaurants, brew pubs, businesses and homes replaced the burned-out, graffiti-scarred buildings and empty, trash-filled lots.

Over time I have watched police officers become the target of scorn in Portland and in the rest of the nation. Every day tens of thousands of contacts between police officers and citizens happen nationwide — 911 calls, traffic stops and subject encounters. The desperate, drug addicted and mentally ill make up a large proportion of the people a police officer will contact on a daily basis. Perfection is impossible. The sheer volume of incidents guarantees unpredictable, sometimes tragic, outcomes.

Incidents such as those involving Trayvon Martin in Florida, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Eric Garner in New York and Freddie Gray in Baltimore have been amplified by ill-chosen and ill-timed statements by President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, creating a toxic, racially charged atmosphere nationwide directed at police officers. President Obama recently called these events part of a "slow-rolling crisis" in American race relations. Perhaps this crisis began early in the president's first term when he formed the quick opinion, after first admitting he was "not seeing all the facts," that Cambridge police "acted stupidly" when confronted by hostile Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.? Those close to the president seem eager to accelerate the slow-rolling crisis, trying to push events over the precipice, ensuring that other cities in America will experience rioting, looting and violence this summer.

The federal government is in the process of strong-arming local police forces into accepting consent decrees and federal oversight. The very small numbers of high-profile incidents where police actions are questionable are used to justify federal involvement in local issues. A strong and powerful belief is developing in the nation that police officers are not public servants who chose to serve based on altruism and the desire to help communities. Instead, an opinion that police officers come to work every day with nefarious race-based motives is encouraged. Dubious statistical analysis is used to prove that raced-based profiling is happening everywhere.

All over the nation, officers are being forced to make a hard choice. "De-policing," responding only to 911 calls for service, much like firefighters do, or continue traditional proactive police work that potentially exposes them to unforeseen outcomes and constant second guessing. Preventing crime and reducing the fear of crime were the foundations of "community policing" and now are considered problematic police tactics.

Portlanders and Americans nationwide have a choice to make, and they have to make it soon. Do you want cops seeking out crime before it happens? Or do you want unpatrolled cities with police officers waiting patiently at their office for the call for help, leaving your neighborhood to hoodlums, thieves and grifters?

David Anderson, of Camas, retired from Portland's police force recently with the rank of detective sergeant.




Calif. bills reinstating penalties for some crimes fail

Several of the bills attempted to counter voters' approval of Proposition 47, which reduced a range of felony crimes to misdemeanors

by Fenit Nirappil

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A key legislative panel on Thursday shelved several attempts to scale back a ballot measure that California voters approved to reduce penalties for some crimes, including stalling a bill that would have made stealing firearms a felony once again.

They were among bills held by the Assembly Appropriations Committee, which is tasked with deciding whether legislation is too expensive to move forward. The committee was also the end of the road for multiple police overhaul bills introduced in the wake of protests over the slayings of unarmed minority men.

Several of the bills that stalled Thursday attempted to counter voters' approval of Proposition 47 in November, which reduced a range of felony crimes to misdemeanors. Lawmakers of both parties have said the criminal sentencing measure has brought about unintended consequences.

Two bills introduced by Republican lawmakers that would have restored some felony punishments were blocked Thursday.

AB150 by Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, would have restored penalties for stealing firearms valued under $950. That provision was a central point of opposition to Proposition 47.

"They just made it easier for a criminal to do harm to an innocent victim," said Melendez.

AB46 by Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, would have increased punishment for possessing date rape drugs. However, an identical bill, SB333 by Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, advanced Thursday to a floor vote in the Senate.

Law enforcement groups also wanted to continue collecting DNA samples from suspects convicted of crimes that used to be felonies until Proposition 47. The Assembly Appropriations Committee approved legislation allowing them to do so, but limited the DNA collections called for in AB390 by Assemblyman Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, to criminals who were previously convicted of other misdemeanor crimes including sexual assault and domestic violence.

Legislation introduced to increase accountability in investigations of police shootings and to reduce tensions between minority communities and law enforcement continued to struggle Thursday.

The committee shelved AB86 by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, which would have required independent investigations of police shootings with reports made public. It also blocked AB619 by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, to require an annual report about deaths in police custody.

The committee did move forward another Weber bill, AB953, to collect data on police stops across California in an attempt to reduce racial profiling.

Equipping police officers with body cameras has also been promoted as a reform. But a proposal for a grant program for California law enforcement agencies looking to add cameras was rejected when the committee held AB65 by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville.

A separate bill that would regulate police body camera use, AB66 also by Weber, is at a standstill. She has been unable to reach agreement with law enforcement and civil liberties groups over whether officers should be allowed to review footage before making reports.




Ill. house committee approves police body camera measure

Supporters of the bipartisan package say it is designed to help improve relations between police departments and the community

by Nick Swedberg

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois could soon establish statewide rules for the use of police body cameras, but the proposed legislation would not require officers to have them.

A package of police reforms passed the House on Thursday with a 107-3 vote and now heads back to a Senate committee to start final approval.

Supporters of the bipartisan package say it is designed to help improve relations between police departments and the community. But Republicans expressed frustration Thursday with debate being cut off on the crime reform measure before they could speak. The measure was opened back up for more debate and a second vote after passing earlier in the day.

Many of the ideas in it came in response to killings by police in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere. Lawmakers in several other states are pushing legislation for similar reforms. Backers of the Illinois measure said the state would be the first in the country to implement statewide rules for police body cameras.

However, the cameras aren't seen by all as a silver bullet for solving difficulties between law enforcement and the public.

"These cameras will not be the panacea that many people think they will," said Sean Smoot, director of the Police Benevolent and Protective Association of Illinois. "They're not going to be the Pandora's box that officers fear."

Smoot serves on President Barack Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which recently released a report featuring several recommendations that were incorporated into the Illinois measure.

The body cameras run all the time, but officers have to push a button to start recording. Videos would not be subject to viewing by the public except in notable cases, according to the measure, which also mandates how long the videos would be kept and when the camera needs to be turned on or off.

The proposal also prohibits police from using chokeholds, except when deadly force is justified. Last year, a grand jury decided not to indict a New York City officer who used a prohibited chokehold in the death of Eric Garner.

Other reforms include requiring independent review of officer-involved deaths and annual training for officers. It also clarifies the state's eavesdropping law.



Murky Future for NSA Data Sweep as 'Sunset' Looms

by Agence France-Presse

With a key law underpinning US bulk surveillance programs set to expire, the future appears murky for the hotly contested data sweep efforts led by the National Security Agency.

At midnight Sunday, barring any last-minute deal in Congress, a key section of the US Patriot Act which has been used as a legal basis for much of the vast surveillance carried out by the NSA will expire or "sunset."

This would likely shut down most "bulk collection" efforts of US intelligence and law enforcement which have sparked outrage since revelations on the scope of the programs from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

A senior administration official said the switch would be turned off for the bulk collection servers at 4:00 pm (2000 GMT) and any collection after midnight would be deemed illegal, without congressional authorization.

The deadline has led to a frenzy of activity in Congress to keep programs intact for national security investigations, but the outcome is far from clear.

The House of Representatives earlier this month passed the USA Freedom Act which would rein in NSA authority by ending bulk collection, and improve transparency at a secret court which supervises the program.

But the Senate blocked a vote on the bill, and failed to muster support for a short-term extension of the law, Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

Some senators have offered compromise reform measures, but it remains unclear if those bills can garner enough support to win passage in the Senate or prompt the House to reconsider its own measure.

Harley Geiger at the Center for Democracy & Technology, which has led a campaign for the USA Freedom Act, said the compromise bills proposed are far weaker in reining in the surveillance.

Geiger said that if the law expires, even for just one day, it may change the dynamic of the vote process because lawmakers would be reinstating surveillance authority and not simply extending existing programs.

"Civil liberties groups are united in opposing anything weaker than the USA Freedom act," he said.

Members of the House have also warned that they may not accept a different measure from the Senate or extend the existing law.

"If the Senate chooses to allow these authorities to expire, they should do so knowing that sunset may be permanent," said a statement from leaders of the House Judiciary Committee.

Adding to the confusion is a US appeals court ruling which said the government went beyond the intent of Congress with bulk collection and that the program was illegal. This means lawmakers must affirm they want a sweeping surveillance effort which has been fiercely criticized at home and abroad.

Hailing the sunset
Some civil liberties activists welcome the possibility of a "sunset," saying it is better than a weak reform.

"The Patriot Act, rushed through Congress in the wake of a national crisis, included sunset provisions for a reason: The extraordinary new powers created by the law were to be re-examined and allowed to expire if abusive or ineffective. Both of those criteria have been met," said David Segal of the activist group Demand Progress, on behalf of a coalition including Tea Party Nation and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Geiger said an expiration would be a mixed outcome and that a better result would be passage of the USA Freedom Act, even if the reforms are relatively modest.

"If we have a sunset, surveillance authority becomes much more narrow," he told AFP.

"But the downside is that a sunset will cause the intelligence agencies to freak out and security hawks in Congress to claim this is a national security crisis."

A last-minute deal?
The White House is urging lawmakers to step up with an agreement before the expiration, to preserve the ability to keep key national security efforts in operation.

"The administration has been in touch with senators over the last week to urge them to do the one thing that will eliminate unnecessary risk to our national security, and that is to pass the USA Freedom Act," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday.

"I haven't heard a rational explanation for what exactly is going on in the United States Senate right now. There is no good explanation for it."

Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union cautioned against "scaremongering" over the sunset.

"The government has many other tools that allow it to collect the same kinds of things that it can collect under Section 215," Jaffer said on the Just Security blog.

Expiration "would undoubtedly be a significant political loss for the intelligence community," he said. "But there's no support for the argument that the sunset of Section 215 would compromise national security."




Hundreds gather in Arizona for armed anti-Muslim protest

by Evan Wyloge

PHOENIX —About 250 mostly armed anti-Muslim demonstrators — many wearing T-shirts bearing a profanity-laced message denouncing Islam — faced-off against a roughly equally sized crowd defending the faith in front of a Phoenix mosque Friday night.

Violence never broke out, but the clash was often heated, as demonstrators yelled and taunted one another across a line of police separating the two sides.

The event's organizer drew a worldwide spotlight in recent days, as awareness grew on social media. Though actual attendance was far fewer, more than 1,400 people had said on a public Facebook invite that they would attend.

With the nation watching, Jon Ritzheimer, the organizer of the protest, said he wanted to see more demonstrations like his, calling it a patriotic sign of resistance against what he deemed the tyranny of Islam in America.

“I would love to see more of these events pop up in other states,” Ritzheimer said. “I want fellow patriots standing right here next to me. This isn't about me. Everybody's been thinking it, I'm just saying it.”

Usama Shami, president of the Islamic center, said he was not surprised by the event.

“This is not new. Hatred, bigotry, racism — that's old. It's the same thing,” he said. “No different from Nazis or neo-Nazis. They don't believe society should be multicultural or multiethnic. They think everyone should believe like them, I guess.”

Ritzheimer first began publicly demonstrating after two Phoenix residents carrying assault rifles were killed by police outside at a Muhammed cartoon-drawing contest in suburban Dallas earlier this month. In the days following the shooting, Ritzheimer began making and selling the T-shirts. Nearly two weeks ago, he organized a protest at the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, where a few dozen others joined him.

Ritzheimer said he's received threats from terrorists on Twitter, and that he and his family no longer feel safe in their home. He said he asked participants to bring guns in the Facebook invite as a precautionary measure. Some brought two or three firearms, from pistols and revolvers to shotguns and assault rifles. Some wore military fatigues.

“I can't let my kids grow up in a society where tyranny is reigning over. I've got ISIS posting my address. This is terrorism at its finest, right here in America,” he said. ”My family has to go into hiding.”

Ali Yoseph, a 28-year-old Phoenix resident, was among the protesters opposing Ritzheimer.

“We're all American here,” he said. “If this was a Christian church right here, or if this was a Jewish church, I swear to you, I would be right here to protect it. Because this in the end is a house of God.”





Community policing provisions of Cleveland consent decree, to succeed, require a look to mistakes of the past

After a string of deadly Cleveland police encounters with civilians, the custom-made Cleveland police consent decree negotiated by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and the U.S. Department of Justice could be a healing document that protects citizens and police alike.

The proposed 105-page consent decree -- to be reviewed June 12 by Chief Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. of U.S. District Court in Cleveland -- gives the community and city leaders an unprecedented opportunity to reform the department in concert with the police.

That opportunity must not be squandered as it has been in the past.

Cleveland's Police Review Board, established in 1984 after three controversial police shootings, has long since ceased to be a credible review body . Its dysfunction is a warning to the community to make the consent decree and the changes it yields more than a transitory effort .

In its robust and comprehensive provisions for civilian oversight, community input and police transparency, the consent decree promises to effect huge change. Mayor Frank Jackson has said community policing reform will be "part of our DNA."

The decree includes a Community Police Commission, a reconstituted police review board, district policing committees -- which should include everyone from police officers to residents and students -- and a Mental Health Response Advisory Committee, which can include municipal court officials, substance and mental health specialists and community members.

Even the Cleveland police Internal Affairs department is supposed to be led by a qualified civilian "who is not a current or former employee," of the police department, according to the consent decree. Ditto for the civilian Inspector General, who will have the right to review the work of police officers.

Squandering such a golden opportunity to use community engagement to reform the police department cannot be allowed to happen. Too many residents, including 12-year-old Tamir Rice, playing with a realistic-looking toy gun, have been lost in police encounters to go down this road again.

Cleveland has been at these crossroads before: The original Cleveland police review board, one of the first in the nation, was created to review complaints against officers and refer those officers to the police chief for discipline.

However, in its harsh findings on the Cleveland police department's excessive use of force issued last December, the Department of Justice lambasted the police review board for doing more sleeping than working. The board had not reviewed a single use-of-force case since 2012, DOJ found. The board did not invite Office of Professional Standards' investigators to talk to the board, and civilian complaints against police officers often fell into a black hole – most didn't include final rulings in the case file, or an explanation of those decisions if they did.

Now it and all of the other committees , boards and individuals charged with oversight, transparency and with making recommendations for reforms must work at maintaining their independence and vigor in exercising their powers.

The consent decree reconstitutes Cleveland's Police Review Board, which will investigate complaints, by calling for changes to the city's charter to make sure the board is representative and transparent and by requiring that its meetings be open to the public.

The proposed Community Police Commission, which will have 13 members, including three police officers as permanent members, will develop police training and make recommendations to the police department on everything from increasing community engagement to improving the department's accountability.

Meanwhile, the Mental Health Response Advisory Committee will be in charge of "improving, expanding and sustaining" the crisis intervention program that helps police deal with the difficult work of handling people who are mentally ill, according to the consent decree. This work can help save lives.

All of these groups must remain robust and engaged during the lifetime of the five-year consent decree -- and beyond.

More community help is needed in other areas, as well. It bears repeating -- and emphasizing -- that the city will need help from businesses, foundations and charities in paying for retraining, special programs and equipment.

Some organizations recently seemed to indicate a willingness to help fund elements of the consent decree, which is most welcome. But Jackson and the rest of us will be happier when those commitments have been turned into checks.

Still, it's been discouraging to hear police union leadership grouse about the consent-decree reforms. Police should have an easier time doing their jobs -- and police safety should be enhanced -- if police-community relations improve.

Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association President Steve Loomis argued Wednesday that the consent decree's mandate that police write detailed reports could make some officers reconsider using their guns -- and that could get them killed.

But it's hard to believe that officers would put their lives in danger to avoid paperwork. In addition, more detailed police reports on use-of-force and bias-free policing, which will be analyzed to help improve the department, could make officers' lives easier by helping the department build trust and credibility in the neighborhoods.

The more the police can show that they are using force only when necessary and de-escalating situations appropriately, the more they should be able to reduce the suspicion and distrust that currently impede better crime-prevention and crime-solving.

Despite his misgivings, Loomis went on to say that the police are willing to work with the city on the consent decree. Good. That spirit of cooperation by both police and the community must continue.



Lifeline phones should be enhanced to ensure public safety, USC Annenberg urges FCC

The program should provide affordable mobile phones with access to emergency services for all Americans, filing recommends

by Geoffrey Baum

Why can't most inexpensive cellphones receive life-saving emergency weather alerts? Why, unlike people in much of the world, can't Americans listen to emergency information broadcasts on their cellphones? These are not accidents or unanticipated consequences. These are the results of deliberate decisions by the U.S. cell phone system that should be addressed by the Federal Communications Commission.

Based on a series of meetings with high-level participants from government, industry and academia, the USC Annenberg Center for Communication Leadership & Policy recommends that the FCC ensure that cellphone carriers receiving subsidies through the commission's Lifeline program provide affordable mobile phones equipped with emergency services for all Americans.

CCLP applauds FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's new proposal to expand the Lifeline program to include subsidized access to broadband Internet, which is set for a vote at the FCC's June 18 meeting. Because broadband Internet is increasingly accessed through mobile devices, the CCLP comment also emphasizes the need for the Lifeline subsidy to cover mobile broadband. While broadband Internet access at home is important, mobile broadband is a critical tool for public safety because it is accessible to users at all times — not only when they are at home.

Three recommendations

Lifeline is a government benefit program that since 1985 has provided discounts on monthly telephone service for eligible low-income subscribers to help ensure they can connect to basic services. The program first launched by providing landline phone service to qualifying households, and over the past decade has expanded to include mobile devices. The CCLP report was submitted to the FCC to offer ways that the program could be updated to improve health and public safety for all Americans.

The comment urges the FCC “to the maximum extent possible, and through the appropriate mechanisms, ensure that Eligible Telecommunication Carriers receiving funding from the Lifeline program: (1) provide phones and plans that allow for at least minimum text messaging and broadband; (2) provide phones that are equipped with an activated frequency modulation chip to enable all Lifeline users to receive life-saving information during emergencies when cellphone networks are overwhelmed; and (3) adopt Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and provide phones that are WEA-capable.”

“Each of these recommendations will help to ensure that the United States continues working toward a public safety system that works for all Americans, from every socioeconomic background and in every region of the country,” reads the comment, citing Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, who said, “What we must strive for is an emergency system that leaves no one behind.”

“Mobile phones today offer enormous potential in regards to public safety and emergency preparedness, but current infrastructure and systems present substantial challenges as well,” said Geoffrey Cowan, CCLP director and USC University Professor who co-authored the comment along with CCLP Senior Fellow Adam Clayton Powell III. Cowan is the former dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. He also taught communication law and policy at UCLA, where he was founding director of the university's Center for Communication Policy and argued a landmark case before the FCC.

In 2014, CCLP launched an initiative to research these issues, explore solutions and define minimum capabilities of cellphones for health care, public safety and other public services.

Come together

The recommendations to the FCC result from a Washington, D.C., meeting in January organized by CCLP and The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands. That meeting brought together 20 high-level government officials, top mobile technology industry professionals, public advocates and entrepreneurs to discuss the WEA, Next Generation 9-1-1, FM radio chip activation and the FCC's Lifeline program.

“These CCLP meetings show how industry, government, entrepreneurs and researchers can come together to reach consensus on improving public services — in this case, using cellphones as platforms for public safety and emergency preparedness,” Powell said.

Participants at the meeting included Google Vice President and “father of the Internet” Vint Cerf, and representatives from the FCC, T-Mobile, Emmis Communications, Mobile Commons, AMG Communications, RAND Corp., National Institute of Justice, Food and Drug Administration and Sprint Nextel.

“This is such a vital area,” said David Turetsky, former FCC public safety and Homeland Security Bureau chief. “The stakes are so high on making improvements in an area where you can save lives using technology in smart ways. The focus on what we could do to move that forward and also looking down the road with the help of some of the more technology oriented participants was very useful.




Two arrested, third suspect at large after shooting of Oklahoma police officer

by Fox News

Two people are in custody and a manhunt for a third suspect is underway in Kansas after an Oklahoma police officer was shot in the head during a traffic pursuit late Thursday, police said.

South Coffeyville Police Chief Wade Lamb told the Tulsa World that the incident began when an officer tried to stop an SUV in Rogers County, Oklahoma, but the vehicle sped away. The SUV occupied by three people made a break for Kansas, Lamb said.

As the three drove north toward the Oklahoma-Kansas border, someone fired shots from the vehicle at an Oologah police car that was assisting in the chase, striking an officer in the head, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Dwight Durant said.

The cruiser crashed into a ditch, Durant said. The officer was airlifted to a Tulsa hospital. There was no word on his condition, but Durant told the newspaper that the officer was awake when he was put into the medical helicopter.

Authorities say two of the vehicle's occupants were taken into custody when police used stop sticks to blow the SUV's tires in South Coffeyville, near the Kansas border.

Fox23 reports that an AR-15 and body armor were recovered from the vehicle.

The third suspect fled on foot, carjacked another car and shot the driver before pulling away, Lamb said. That victim's condition was not immediately clear.

The third suspect was able to make it to Liberty, Kansas before crashing the vehicle and fleeing on foot, Lamb said.




Pasco Police To Get Community Policing Training After Fatally Shooting Farmworker

by Eric M. Johnson

SEATTLE, May 27 (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department will provide training to police in a Washington city where officers shot dead a Mexican farmworker in February, as law enforcement tries to rebuild trust in the majority Hispanic community, the federal agency said on Wednesday.

The fatal Feb. 10 shooting of immigrant Antonio Zambrano-Montes in Pasco, a southeastern farming city of some 67,000 residents, underscored a "lack of trust between the community and the police," the Justice Department said in a statement.

"It is absolutely critical that the police department do all it can to strengthen police and community relations and rebuild the community's trust," said Ronald Davis, director of the federal Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, which will handle the year-long training.

Michael Ormsby, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, said in a statement that the training provides "important tools to strengthen and enhance trust and communication between the community and the police department."

Zambrano-Montes' death was captured on video and sparked outrage in the Latino community, which has likened his death to police slayings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York.

The shooting, which occurred at a busy intersection after Zambrano-Montes threw rocks at the officers, triggered protests by demonstrators who complained Pasco police were too quick to use lethal force and helped fuel a national dialog on police use of force against minorities.

The Justice Department will offer "technical assistance and training" to Pasco police in areas such as community policing and problem solving, fair and impartial policing, and procedural justice, the department said.

The training has already started and comes after a request for assistance from Police Chief Bob Metzger and Ormsby. The Justice Department office has worked with police in Ferguson, Detroit, Seattle, New Orleans and San Diego.

A coroner's inquest in Zambrano-Montes' death could begin in June or July, after which a county prosecutor will decide whether to bring charges against the officers. Zambrano-Montes' family and civil rights groups have called for a federal probe.

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services is a non-prosecutorial arm of the Justice Department, but it can refer cases to the Civil Rights Division for criminal investigation, a spokeswoman said.

Metzger said the training was requested shortly after the incident. "We welcome any assistance we can get and are grateful for the assistance of the DOJ," he said.




Civilians get new authority in Cleveland police settlement

by Mark Gillispie

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland's settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice on reforming the city's troubled police department calls for civilians to play influential roles in investigating police misconduct and establishing policies and procedures.

The city and Justice Department announced Tuesday that they'd reached a settlement on a consent decree that a federal judge must approve and an independent monitor will enforce. DOJ officials said in December that an 18-month investigation had found that Cleveland police had engaged in a pattern of excessive force and civil rights violations.

The 105-page agreement details new rules for how officers employ, report and investigate uses of deadly and nonlethal force, to include prohibitions against shooting at moving vehicles, striking suspects in the head with their firearms and using stun guns to inflict pain, examples of which were cited in the DOJ investigative findings. The agreement also requires Cleveland police to make community policing, which requires officers to work with citizens and to help them solve problems when possible, its core principle.

A striking component of the decree is the level of civilian authority in vital areas of police administration and oversight.

The agreement calls for a civilian to head the internal affairs unit, rather than a member of the police command staff. And a civilian will be appointed to the new position of police inspector general. No former employees of the Cleveland police department can hold those positions.

Additionally, a community police commission consisting of 10 civilians and a representative from each of the three police unions will be formed. According to the settlement, the commission will have the authority to review, recommend and comment on police department policies, procedures and performance, along with its adherence required reforms.

"It's fair to say the city has committed in this consent decree a vigorous civilian and community component in the way we're going to police in Cleveland," U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said in an interview with The Associated Press. "An important point to me going forward is that the community and department will be linked in many ways that hasn't occurred before."

A city spokesman said the administration would not comment at this time.

Many large cities and police departments across the nation have internal affairs units, inspector general's offices and civilian review boards that serve as watchdog agencies.

Appointing a civilian to lead the internal affairs unit in Cleveland appears to be tied to DOJ findings that criticized the city for its inability or unwillingness to punish officers for wrongdoing. The report singled out internal affairs, concluding in its findings that the unit "failed to ask key questions and take important investigatory steps."

"In some cases, these flaws prevented the (department) from holding officers accountable for serious misconduct," the report said.

Dettelbach said the head of internal affairs will answer to the police chief and will provide "a fresh perspective" on criminal investigations of police.

The police inspector general will have wide-ranging authority to investigate whatever he or she wishes. Dettelbach described the position as an "internal whistleblower" whose investigative findings are not binding. The consent decree calls for the inspector general to work out of the mayor's office and answer to the police chief.

The community police commission, Dettelbach said, could become an incubator for ideas on how to make the department better.

"The hope is that it will be a body that is saying things that are important and relevant and are backed by data," he said.

A law professor said Tuesday that Cleveland's ceding of police authority to civilians shows that the department and city administrations have long done a poor job of policing the police. Michael Benza of the Case Western Reserve University School of Law said in an interview that the new civilian roles should be about more than community policing, a policy that requires officers to be engaged with the people they serve.

"There's also a need to have the community connected and to feel empowered to make substantive changes in how they want the police department to work," Benza said.




In old photo, ex-Chicago cops with rifles pose over black man who's in antlers

by Ed Payne

(Picture on site)

It's a racially charged photograph.

In it, two former Chicago cops, both of them white, pose as if on a hunting trip. They're down on one knee holding rifles. A black man is lying on the floor between them with antlers on his head.

The message is clear: The officers are the hunters. The man is their prey.

Cook County Judge Thomas Allen released the Polaroid this week over the objections of the Chicago Police Department and Tim McDermott, one of the former officers in it. They said they wanted to protect the identity of the African-American man in it.

The CPD fired McDermott in October, but he wants his job back. A court hearing on the matter is scheduled for next month.

"As far as I'm concerned for that officer, good riddance. You don't belong in the Police Department," Mayor Rahm Emanuel told CNN affiliate WLS. "Our whole idea of a police department is to serve and protect, and the values expressed in that photo are not the values of the people of the city of Chicago."

It's not a new picture, and the details surrounding it are sketchy. It was taken sometime between 1999 and 2003 and was uncovered during an FBI investigation of the other officer in the photo, Jerome Finnigan.

Finnigan was convicted of shaking down drug dealers with other cops and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from them, WLS reported. He was also convicted of plotting to kill another officer.

In a transcript from an internal affairs investigation, McDermott says he only "very, very vaguely" remembers posing for the picture.

"I remember walking through (the police station) and someone saying 'Hey, Timmie, take a picture,' " the transcript says, according to WLS.

The photo doesn't play well on the backdrop of a nationwide string of incidents pitting white officers against black suspects, with many of the confrontations deadly.

"That was very disgusting and disheartening, to watch officers of the law participate in something like that," William Calloway with Black Lives Matter told WLS. "I think this is something that's going inside the Chicago Police Department."




Baltimore residents fearful amid rash of homicides

by Juliet Linderman

BALTIMORE — Antoinette Perrine has barricaded her front door since her brother was killed three weeks ago on a basketball court near her home in the Harlem Park neighborhood of West Baltimore. She already has iron bars outside her windows and added metal slabs on the inside to deflect the gunfire.

“I'm afraid to go outside,” said Perrine, 47. “It's so bad, people are afraid to let their kids outside. People wake up with shots through their windows. Police used to sit on every corner, on the top of the block. These days? They're nowhere.”

Perrine's brother is one of 36 people killed in Baltimore so far this month, already the highest homicide count for May since 1999. But while homicides are spiking, arrests have plunged more than 50 percent compared to last year.

The drop in arrests followed the death of Freddie Gray from injuries he suffered in police custody. Gray's death sparked protests against the police and some rioting, and led to the indictment of six officers.

Now West Baltimore residents worry they've been abandoned by the officers they once accused of harassing them. In recent weeks, some neighborhoods have become like the Wild West without a lawman around, residents said.

“Before it was over-policing. Now there's no police,” said Donnail “Dreads” Lee, 34, who lives in the Gilmor Homes, the public housing complex where Gray, 25, was arrested.

“I haven't seen the police since the riots,” Lee said. “People feel as though they can do things and get away with it. I see people walking with guns almost every single day, because they know the police aren't pulling them up like they used to.”

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said last week his officers “are not holding back” from policing tough neighborhoods, but they are encountering dangerous hostility in the Western District.

“Our officers tell me that when officers pull up, they have 30 to 50 people surrounding them at any time,” Batts said.

At a City Council meeting Wednesday, Batts said officers have expressed concern they could be arrested for making mistakes.

“What is happening, there is a lot of levels of confusion in the police organization. There are people who have pain, there are people who are hurt, there are people who are frustrated, there are people who are angry,” Batts said. “There are people, and they've said this to me, ‘If I get out of my car and make a stop for a reasonable suspicion that leads to probable cause but I make a mistake on it, will I be arrested?' They pull up to a scene and another officer has done something that they don't know, it may be illegal, will they be arrested for it? Those are things they are asking.”

Protesters said Gray's death is emblematic of a pattern of police violence and brutality against impoverished African-Americans in Baltimore. In October, Batts and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake invited the U.S. Justice Department to participate in a collaborative review of the police department's policies. The fallout from Gray's death prompted the mayor to ask U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch for a full-fledged probe into whether the department employs discriminatory policing, excessive force and unconstitutional searches and arrests.

Baltimore was seeing a slight rise in homicides this year even before Gray's death April 19. But the 36 homicides so far in May is a major spike, after 22 in April, 15 in March, 13 in February and 23 in January.

Ten of May's homicides happened in the Western District, which has had as many homicides in the first five months of this year as it did all of last year.

Non-fatal shootings are spiking as well. So far in May there have been 91 — 58 of them in the Western District.

And the arrest rate has plummeted.

The statistics showed that even before Gray's death, police were making between 25 and 28 percent fewer arrests each month than they made in the same month last year. But in May arrests declined far more sharply.

So far this month, arrests are down roughly 56 percent. Police booked just 1,045 people in the first 19 days of May, an average of 55 a day. In the same time period last year, police arrested 2,396 people, an average of 126 a day.

In fact, police did not make any arrests in the triple digits between April 22 and May 19, except on two occasions. On April 27, when protests gave way to rioting, police arrested 246 people. On May 2, the last day of a city-wide curfew, police booked 140 people.

At a news conference Wednesday, Rawlings-Blake said there were “a lot of reasons why we're having a surge in violence.”

“Other cities that have experienced police officers accused or indicted of crimes, there's a lot of distrust and a community breakdown,” Rawlings-Blake said. “The result is routinely increased violence.”

Rawlings-Blake said her office is “examining” the relationship between the homicide spike and the dwindling arrest rate.

“It's clear that the relationship between the commissioner and the rank-and-file is strained,” she said. “He's working very hard to repair that relationship.”

Emergency response specialist Michael Greenberger cautions against blaming the police for the violence. The founder and director of the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security, he said it's more likely a response to Gray's death and the rioting.

“We went through a period of such intense anger that the murder rate got out of control. I think it's been really hard for the police to keep on top of that,” he said.

Lee disagrees. He says rival gang members are taking advantage of the police reticence to settle scores.

“There was a shooting down the street, and the man was standing in the middle of the street with a gun, just shooting,” Lee added. “Usually, you can't walk up and down the street drinking or smoking weed. Now, people are everywhere smoking weed, and police just ride by, look at you, and keep going. There used to be police on every corner. I don't think they'll be back this summer.”

Batts acknowledged that “the service we're giving is off-target with the community as a whole” and he promised to pay special attention to the Western District.

Veronica Edmonds, a 26-year-old mother of seven in the Gilmor Homes, said she wishes the police would return and focus on violent crime rather than minor drug offenses.

“If they focused more on criminals and left the petty stuff alone, the community would have more respect for police officers,” she said.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




Arizona border town residents reportedly feel threatened by Border Patrol agents

by Fox News

Protesters flocked to six Arizona border checkpoints Wednesday as demonstrators complained that the Border Patrol has turned their towns into militarized zones.

The Los Angeles Times reports that protesters briefly stopped traffic in an attempt to shut down the Arivaca checkpoint. However, agents were able to corral the group.

“It seems like a war zone all the time,” Patty Miller told the newspaper. Miller has lived in the area for more than 30 years.

Independent border town community groups took up their concerns in the other checkpoints, the Los Angeles Times reported. Bisbee residents voiced concerns that the border fence affected the environment, while Native American tribes said the Border Patrol was intruding on tribal land. Tucson protesters reportedly focused their demonstrations on the shooting death of a 16-year-old Mexican boy by a Border Patrol agent in October 2012.

Border Patrol Tucson Sector Chief Patrol Agent Manuel Padilla Jr. said the protests were the result of a misunderstanding of the agency's role in maintaining the safety in the area.

“We stop everything here: drugs, smuggling,” Padilla told the Los Angeles Times.

Protesters claim they feel threatened at the check point and have to “hide their fear” when dealing with the agents.




Community policing at center of Cleveland reform plan

Community policing, improved training and policies concerning the use of force are key elements in the 105-page agreement

by Mark Gillispie

CLEVELAND — The centerpiece of an agreement between the city of Cleveland and the U.S. Department of Justice on how to reform the city's troubled police department is creating an organization that is more accountable and engaged with the people it serves.

Community policing, improved training and policies concerning the use of force and more sensitivity in dealing with the mentally ill are key elements in the 105-page agreement filed Tuesday in federal court. A judge must now approve the settlement as well as the city's selection of an independent monitor who will oversee reforms.

The agreement calls for the creation of a community police commission consisting of 10 residents and three police union officials that will make recommendations on practices aimed at making policing free of bias, accountable and transparent. There is an expansive list of items in the settlement aimed at easing longstanding tensions between police and residents, especially in the black community, which makes up more than half of Cleveland's population.

Mayor Frank Jackson said at the news conference announcing the settlement on Tuesday that the Cleveland police department has an opportunity to become a positive example for the rest of the country.

"As we move forward, it is my strong belief that as other cities across this country address and look at their police issues in their communities, they will be able to say, 'Let's look at Cleveland because Cleveland has done it right,'" Jackson said.

The Justice Department in December issued a scathing report accusing Cleveland police of using excessive force and violating people's civil rights. The worst examples in the report involved officers endangering lives by shooting at suspects and cars, hitting people over the head with guns and using stun guns on handcuffed suspects.

The agreement was announced just three days after a white Cleveland patrolman was acquitted of manslaughter for his role in a 137-shot barrage of police gunfire that killed two unarmed black suspects in 2012.

The city is still awaiting decisions on whether officers will be prosecuted in the deaths of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy killed by a white rookie officer while playing with what turned out to be a pellet gun, and 37-year-old Tanisha Anderson, a mentally ill black woman who suffocated after officers put her on the ground and handcuffed her. Both deaths occurred eight days apart in November.

U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach said Tuesday that reforms "will help ensure the many brave men and women of the Cleveland Division of Police can do their jobs not only constitutionally, but also more safely and effectively."

Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, said he and the union's attorneys are studying the agreement.

"I'm hopeful it has reached some good conclusions," Loomis said. "But the devil is always in the details for these kinds of things."

Michael Nelson, co-chairman of the Cleveland NAACP's Legal Redress and Criminal Justice Committee, said it is important that there be "bona fide community participation" on the community police commission, people independent of city officials and agencies. Also, he said the agreement should acknowledge that race has been an issue in Cleveland policing and that such bias must be combated.

The Justice Department has launched broad investigations into the practices of more than 20 police departments in the past five years, including agencies in Ferguson, Missouri, and, most recently, in Baltimore. Both cities were convulsed by rioting and looting in recent months over the police-involved deaths of black men.

Then U.S. Attorney Eric Holder said in December that the Justice Department had intervened in 15 police departments in the country, including eight that are operating under court-ordered consent decrees.




Community policing plan to assign 1 cop to each of Youngstown's 7 wards

YOUNGSTOWN -- Police Chief Robin Lees did not have to move heaven and Earth to get his new Community Police Initiative up and running.

Just a civil service exam.

The new program, which will place one officer in each of the city's seven wards exclusively, will begin sometime after the first of June, Lees said.

Several officers have expressed an interest in taking part in the program, but a final decision on who will be in the unit has not been made yet, Lees said. He also wants to hear from council members who may prefer a particular officer for the position in their ward.

After the officers are picked, they will undergo a training program, which will consist of issues that often pop up in community policing issues, such as animal or housing issues.

The goal of the unit is to have the one officer always in a particular ward instead of answering calls like they would if they were patrolling a beat. That way, they can concentrate on issues that are concerning to residents and also establish a presence in the ward.

“We want a team approach with this,” Lees said. “We want the officer engaged not only with the community, but with the council person in that area.”




Task Force Aims to Improve Police-Community Relations in New Haven

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp has announced a new task force designed to improve the relationship between city residents and the police department.

"New Haven has got to be a place that sees everybody and hears everybody," Harp said during a news conference on Wednesday.

The New Haven Community and Police Relations Task Force announced on Wednesday comprises 17 members and seven ex-officio members, including peace advocates, members of the New Haven and Yale University police department, clergy members and community representatives, according to the mayor's office.

Harp has chosen Dr. Leroy Williams and Eli Greer as the co-chairs of the taskforce.

"I am thrilled that we are now developing this task force to kick it up a notch, as Emeril would say," Mayor Harp said.

The task force will take a more broad-based view of community relations with police, evaluate the current relationship between city residents and the police force and look at ways to improve that relationship, according to the mayor's office.

Among the task force's responsibilities will be to assess and evaluate community policing, to look at policies and procedures and police department protocol, including police use of force.

They will also address the photographing and videotaping of policing, including guidelines for police as well as residents.

The group will also make recommendations to improve community policing.

The recommendations will go to the mayor, as well as the board of police commissioners.




Mayor Frank Jackson, Justice Department agree to Cleveland police reforms

by Cory Shaffer

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cleveland and the U.S. Department of Justice unveiled widespread reforms Tuesday meant to transform a police department that too often used excessive force and failed to conduct thorough internal investigations into a national model for big-city police.

The 105-page settlement avoids a potential lawsuit by the Justice Department after its investigators concluded a nearly two-year investigation in December and found Cleveland police too often used excessive force, failed to thoroughly investigate itself and had suffered from an erosion of community trust.

(Read the full agreement in the bottom of this post)

The agreement goes beyond correcting the Justice Department's complaints and includes extensive data collection meant to curtail racial profiling. The Justice Department and the city reached the agreement after five months of negotiations, with input from rank-and-file police, union officials and citizen groups.

A federal judge must approve the agreement before it officially takes effect. Once approved, the Justice Department and the city will hire an independent monitor to oversee the implementation of reforms.

Northeast Ohio Media Group was briefed on the reforms Monday. Here are some significant reforms included in the settlement.

Use of Force

While the Justice Department credited Cleveland police for already implementing some changes, the consent decree mandates sweeping changes to how officers use force, and how those confrontations are documented and reviewed by supervisors.

The agreement forbids the use of force as retaliation or during verbal confrontations. Hitting people in the head with guns, a practice uncovered in the December report, is now prohibited.

The city has agreed to change its policy to require officers to use de-escalation tactics when possible to avoid using force. If officers do use force, they will be required to provide basic medical care until medics arrive.

The reforms also expand officers' responsibilities to document each type of force used or witnessed. A newly created Force Investigation Team will investigate each use of force, and computer software will track officers' uses of force and complaints about excessive force.


Justice Department investigators described Cleveland's process for investigating uses of force and civilian complaints against officers as "broken." The consent decree strengthens some aspects of the system that were already in place and creates additional layers to hold officers accountable.

The department's internal investigation unit will move under a new Bureau of Integrity Control, which will be headed by a civilian who is not a former or current police officer and will handle both criminal and administrative investigations.

The Office of Professional Standards will continue to probe civilian complaints, but its investigators will be retrained and will produce an annual report that analyzes trends in complaints. It also will be required to reach out to those who file complaints, and the police chief will order officers who witness complaints to comply with investigators.

The Civilian Police Review Board, which rules on OPS investigations, will now disclose rulings at regularly scheduled public meetings.

Community policing

The city has 90 days to establish the Community Police Commission, a 13-member panel representing law enforcement, Cleveland neighborhoods, and leaders of civil rights, religious, business and philanthropic organizations.

Three seats will be dedicated to the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, the Cleveland lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, and the Black Shield, an organization representing black officers.

The group will meet regularly, review police procedures and make policy recommendations to the chief that reflect the needs of people in Cleveland's neighborhoods.

Further, the agreement creates groups specific to each of the department's five police districts to work with officers to identify problems within specific neighborhoods and locations. The groups are expected to craft long-term solutions to address the source of crime in those areas, a practice known as community and problem-oriented policing.

Bias-free policing

The Justice Department said the way Cleveland police stop and search people might be a problem, but stopped short of saying police conduct a disproportionate number of searches and seizures on minorities.

Even so, the city agreed to new requirements that ban officers from stopping someone without being able to specifically say why they found the person suspicious. Officers also are barred from using force against someone whom they didn't have probable cause to stop in the first place.

The city also agreed to develop a reporting system that tracks every stop, search and seizure, as well as whether an arrest was made or not. The city will collect and analyze the data.

Further, officers will be required to undergo training on implicit bias and cultural diversity training.

Mental Health

The Justice Department in December harshly criticized Cleveland police for mistreating and being unequipped to deal with the city's mentally ill residents in crisis.

Cleveland has 180 days to build a Mental Health Response Advisory Committee that brings together police officers, social workers, psychologists and mental health experts that will regularly meet to scrutinize the department's treatment of mentally ill residents.

The police chief will designate a crisis intervention coordinator, at the rank of captain or above, and all the department's officers will get 8 hours of training on dealing with mentally ill people. New recruits will get 16 hours. And officers who volunteer to be specialists will get 40 hours of training and will be deployed to make sure the city is covered.

Training and equipment

Justice Department investigators found police officers in Cleveland were undertrained and not adequately equipped to carry out their daily duties.

The decree increases the scope and membership of the department's Training Review Committee, which will develop a comprehensive plan that requires new recruits to undergo at least 960 hours of training, and current officers to get 40 hours of in-service training every year.

Further, the city will come up with a plan to equip every patrol car with computers that can provide real-time transcription of 911 calls.

The department will also be required to double down on efforts to recruit culturally diverse officers, and the department will check the personnel files of every recruit.

Officer Intervention Program

The Justice Department found lacking the system Cleveland used to identify officers before they began a pattern of troubling behavior.

The department will begin using computer software that tracks an exhaustive list of actions: use of force, injuring to people in custody, chasing suspects and failing to record an incident on the officer's body camera. The department also will track disciplinary actions, civilian complaints or lawsuits and criminal proceedings.

Once an officer reaches a certain threshold, the department will conduct an automatic review, and provide the officer with counseling.




Community Policing at Center of Cleveland Police Reform Plan


The centerpiece of an agreement between the city of Cleveland and the U.S. Department of Justice on how to reform the city's troubled police department is creating an organization that is more accountable and engaged with the people it serves.

Community policing, improved training and policies concerning the use of force and more sensitivity in dealing with the mentally ill are key elements in the 105-page agreement filed Tuesday in federal court. A judge must now approve the settlement as well as the city's selection of an independent monitor who will oversee reforms.

The agreement calls for the creation of a community police commission consisting of 10 residents and three police union officials that will make recommendations on practices aimed at making policing free of bias, accountable and transparent. There is an expansive list of items in the settlement aimed at easing longstanding tensions between police and residents, especially in the black community, which makes up more than half of Cleveland's population.

Mayor Frank Jackson said at the news conference announcing the settlement on Tuesday that the Cleveland police department has an opportunity to become a positive example for the rest of the country.

"As we move forward, it is my strong belief that as other cities across this country address and look at their police issues in their communities, they will be able to say, 'Let's look at Cleveland because Cleveland has done it right,'" Jackson said.

The Justice Department in December issued a scathing report accusing Cleveland police of using excessive force and violating people's civil rights. The worst examples in the report involved officers endangering lives by shooting at suspects and cars, hitting people over the head with guns and using stun guns on handcuffed suspects.

The agreement was announced just three days after a white Cleveland patrolman was acquitted of manslaughter for his role in a 137-shot barrage of police gunfire that killed two unarmed black suspects in 2012.

The city is still awaiting decisions on whether officers will be prosecuted in the deaths of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy killed by a white rookie officer while playing with what turned out to be a pellet gun, and 37-year-old Tanisha Anderson, a mentally ill black woman who suffocated after officers put her on the ground and handcuffed her. Both deaths occurred eight days apart in November.

U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach said Tuesday that reforms "will help ensure the many brave men and women of the Cleveland Division of Police can do their jobs not only constitutionally, but also more safely and effectively."

Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, said he and the union's attorneys are studying the agreement.

"I'm hopeful it has reached some good conclusions," Loomis said. "But the devil is always in the details for these kinds of things."

Michael Nelson, co-chairman of the Cleveland NAACP's Legal Redress and Criminal Justice Committee, said it is important that there be "bona fide community participation" on the community police commission, people independent of city officials and agencies. Also, he said the agreement should acknowledge that race has been an issue in Cleveland policing and that such bias must be combated.

The Justice Department has launched broad investigations into the practices of more than 20 police departments in the past five years, including agencies in Ferguson, Missouri, and, most recently, in Baltimore. Both cities were convulsed by rioting and looting in recent months over the police-involved deaths of black men.

Then U.S. Attorney Eric Holder said in December that the Justice Department had intervened in 15 police departments in the country, including eight that are operating under court-ordered consent decrees.



New Mexico

New Mexico police officer fatally shot; person in custody

It is unknown who reported 'officer down' over the fallen officer's radio after he was shot

by Russell Contreras

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — A police officer in a suburb of Albuquerque decided to make one more traffic stop before his shift finished Monday night. It ended up costing him his life.

Rio Rancho Police Chief Michael Geier detailed the last moments of Officer Gregg Benner's shift during a news conference Tuesday in which police identified a known gang member with an extensive criminal record that included a manslaughter conviction and weapons charges as the man who shot and killed the officer.

Geier said Andrew Romero, 28, was a passenger in the vehicle that Benner attempted to stop just after 8 p.m. Monday near a fast-food restaurant.

"It started out as, for all practical purposes, a routine traffic stop, something our officers do daily," the chief said. "Officer Benner is a hardworking, very motivated officer so I believe he was just following up on inquiries he was making."

After a short chase through a shopping center parking lot, the vehicle stopped near a library and post office. As Benner approached again, Geier said the passenger shot at the officer with a handgun.

Benner was hit multiple times in the torso and didn't have a chance to draw his weapon, Geier said.

Benner fell to the ground and a distress call went out over the radio, according to investigators. Within minutes, residents who were nearby and an off-duty paramedic came to the officer's aid.

He later died at a hospital.

Prior to the shooting, a warrant had been issued for Romero for probation violations. The chief said during the news conference that charges related to the shooting were pending and that Romero could face both state and federal charges.

Romero was taken into custody in the Albuquerque area early Tuesday after he and a group of men were seen robbing a gas station. Bernalillo County sheriff's Sgt. Aaron Williamson said several agencies helped with the apprehension about 20 miles from where Benner was shot.

Authorities said the investigation into the shooting and the robbery was ongoing.

Benner, 49, was a military veteran who had been with the Rio Rancho Police Department for four years. He is survived by his wife and five adult children. He was expecting two grandchildren.

Rio Rancho Mayor Greggory Hull said the tight-knit city was mourning Benner's death.

"Our police officers hold a special place in our hearts as they lay their lives on the line every day protecting our safety and this is a stark reminder of their sacrifice," Hull said in a statement.

At the shooting scene Tuesday, a maze of yellow crime-scene tape cordoned off the area between the library and post office. A makeshift memorial of flowers and American flags began to take shape by midday as investigators worked to unravel the events that led to the shooting. Dozens of small cones placed throughout the crime scene marked pieces of potential evidence.

At police headquarters in the usually sleepy bedroom community, flags flew at half-staff.

"It's been a jolt to the community," said City Councilor Dawnn Robinson, who noted that people move to Rio Rancho because it's quiet.

The Rio Rancho Police Department was founded in 1981, and its last officer to die in the line of duty was killed in a car crash in October 2014 while responding to a domestic violence call.

Hull ordered all flags in the city to fly at half-staff in honor of Benner and a candlelight vigil was planned for Tuesday night at one of the city's parks.




3 burglars share tips of trade in crime prevention video

The Columbus Police Department recruited the inmates with the help of the state prisons agency and produced a YouTube video in which the offenders share their how-to tips

by Andrew Welsh-Huggins

(Video on site)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Police looking to educate the public about ways to prevent break-ins turned to the experts — a trio of convicted burglars.

The Columbus Police Department recruited the inmates with the help of the state prisons agency and produced a YouTube video in which the offenders share their how-to tips. Most of the suggestions are common-sense warnings about locking up, keeping blinds drawn and not storing valuables in cars.

A few recommendations stand out for originality: "Sometimes set it off so people know it's there. Don't just buy it and never set it off." That's William Coffman, of Franklin County, serving time for burglary and aggravated robbery, on advertising that your home alarm system works.

Or Hardin County burglar Joel Hamlin on the importance of putting valuables in a wall safe, not a small portable safe:

"Little safes? You can easily just grab that and take it on out," he said.

Or Adam Taylor, of Hamilton County, on why the elderly are often targeted: It's easier "to burglarize them and get away with it."

Columbus police and the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction filmed the inmates last year, put the pieces together over the past few months and recently posted the two-part, 24-minute video, called "From the Big House to Your House."

Police Cmdr. Bob Meader likens the impact to a child tuning out advice from a parent but heeding the same tips from a teacher or coach.

"For the police to say, 'Lock your doors, keep your garage door shut, leave the lights on on your porch,' is one thing," Meader said. "When you're hearing it from somebody that actually did it for a living? I think it adds some validity to it."

Criminals-turned-anti-crime consultants aren't new. In 1985, reformed burglar Ray Johnson published "Ray Johnson's Total Security: How You can Protect Yourself Against Crime."

In 2002, the Leonardo DiCaprio movie "Catch Me If You Can" told the real-life story of check forger Frank Abagnale Jr., who impersonated an airline pilot, a doctor and a lawyer before going to prison and then becoming an FBI consultant.

In the case of the three Ohio burglars, they agreed to cooperate in exchange for a letter to the parole board from Columbus police about their participation.

The exercise seemed to help the men process the impact they had on their communities, said Officer Norm Russell, who came up with the idea.

Hardin County prosecutor Bradford Bailey recalled Hamlin as a brazen addict who broke into wealthy people's homes in broad daylight. Charging documents from the day Hamlin was arrested describe him going house to house in February 2006 before fleeing from officers, tossing a bag into a river and throwing away other items as he ran.

Bailey isn't bothered by Hamlin's role in the video.

"We'll take any tips from the good guys, or we'll take them from the bad guys," Bailey said.




Baltimore police: Dozens shot, 8 killed in separate shootings

As many as 19 injuries have been reported due to different shootings since Friday

by The Associated Press

BALTIMORE — Baltimore city police said dozens of people have been shot and at least eight killed in a series of separate weekend shootings.

WBAL-TV reports that a man and woman were shot in a car about 12:30 a.m. Monday. Both were taken to the hospital, where the man died.

Officers responded to another report of a shooting about 1:43 a.m. Monday, and a man from that shooting died at a hospital.

Another man was fatally shot Sunday afternoon. None of those shooting victims has been identified.

Police say at least five more shooting deaths have been reported since Friday as well as at least 19 shooting injuries.

The Baltimore Sun reports that 35 people have been killed so far in May, making it the deadliest month in Baltimore since December 1999.



From the Department of Homeland Security


Inspire others to act by being an example yourself, Pledge to Prepare & tell others about it!

Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States, however not all floods are alike. Some floods develop slowly, while others such as flash floods, can develop in just a few minutes and without visible signs of rain. Additionally, floods can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or very large, affecting entire river basins and multiple states.

Flash floods can occur within a few minutes or hours of excessive rainfall, a dam or levee failure, or a sudden release of water held by an ice jam. Flash floods often have a dangerous wall of roaring water carrying rocks, mud and other debris. Overland flooding, the most common type of flooding event typically occurs when waterways such as rivers or streams overflow their banks as a result of rainwater or a possible levee breach and cause flooding in surrounding areas. It can also occur when rainfall or snowmelt exceeds the capacity of underground pipes, or the capacity of streets and drains designed to carry flood water away from urban areas.

Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live or work, but especially if you are in low-lying areas, near water, behind a levee or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds or low-lying ground that appear harmless in dry weather can flood.

•  Before

•  During

•  After

•  Flood Insurance

•  Spring Flooding: Tools and Resources

•  More Information

Before a Flood

What would you do if your property were flooded? Are you prepared?

Even if you feel you live in a community with a low risk of flooding, remember that anywhere it rains, it can flood. Just because you haven't experienced a flood in the past, doesn't mean you won't in the future. Flood risk isn't just based on history; it's also based on a number of factors including rainfall , topography, flood-control measures, river-flow and tidal-surge data, and changes due to new construction and development.

Flood-hazard maps have been created to show the flood risk for your community, which helps determine the type of flood insurance coverage you will need since standard homeowners insurance doesn't cover flooding. The lower the degree of risk, the lower the flood insurance premium.

In addition to having flood insurance, knowing following flood hazard terms will help you recognize and prepare for a flood.

To prepare for a flood, you should:

•  Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan .

•  Avoid building in a floodplain unless you elevate and reinforce your home.

•  Elevate the furnace, water heater and electric panel in your home if you live in an area that has a high flood risk.

•  Consider installing "check valves" to prevent flood water from backing up into the drains of your home.

•  If feasible, construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering the building and seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds.



Washington D.C.

With ISIS in Cross Hairs, U.S. Holds Back to Protect Civilians

by Eric Schmitt

WASHINGTON — American intelligence analysts have identified seven buildings in downtown Raqqa in eastern Syria as the main headquarters of the Islamic State. But the buildings have gone untouched during the 10-month allied air campaign.

And just last week, convoys of heavily armed Islamic State fighters paraded triumphantly through the streets of the provincial capital Ramadi in western Iraq after forcing Iraqi troops to flee. They rolled on unscathed by coalition fighter-bombers.

American and allied warplanes are equipped with the most precise aerial arsenal ever fielded. But American officials say they are not striking significant — and obvious — Islamic State targets out of fear that the attacks will accidentally kill civilians. Killing such innocents could hand the militants a major propaganda coup and alienate both the local Sunni tribesmen, whose support is critical to ousting the militants, and Sunni Arab countries that are part of the American-led coalition.

But many Iraqi commanders, and even some American officers, argue that exercising such prudence is harming the coalition's larger effort to destroy the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or Daesh, and that it illustrates the limitations of American air power in the Obama administration's strategy. A persistent complaint of Iraqi officials and security officers is that the United States has been too cautious in its air campaign, frequently allowing columns of Islamic State fighters essentially free movement on the battlefield.

“The international alliance is not providing enough support compared with ISIS' capabilities on the ground in Anbar,” said Maj. Muhammed al-Dulaimi, an Iraqi officer in Anbar Province, which contains Ramadi. “The U.S. airstrikes in Anbar didn't enable our security forces to resist and confront the ISIS attacks,” he added. “We lost large territories in Anbar because of the inefficiency of the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.”

It appears that Islamic State troops are taking advantage of restrictions on how the coalition carries out its bombing campaign, with militants increasingly fighting from within civilian populations to deter attack.

In Iraq, more than 80 percent of the allied airstrikes are supporting Iraqi troops in hotly contested areas like Ramadi and Baiji, the home of a major oil refinery. Many of the other strikes focus on so-called pop-up targets — small convoys of militants or heavy weaponry on the move. These have been a top priority of the campaign, even though only about one of every four air missions sent to attack the extremists have dropped bombs. The rest of the missions have returned to the base after failing to find a target they were permitted to hit under strict rules of engagement designed to avoid civilian casualties.

In Syria, the United States has a very limited ability to gather intelligence to help generate targets, although the commando raid there this month that killed a financial leader of the Islamic State may signal a breakthrough. Many Islamic State training compounds, headquarters, storage facilities and other fixed sites were struck in the early days of the bombing, but the military's deliberate process for approving other targets has frustrated several commanders.

“We have not taken the fight to these guys,” the pilot of an American A-10 attack plane said in a recent email. “We haven't targeted their centers of gravity in Raqqa. All the roads between Syria and Iraq are still intact with trucks flowing freely.”

These critics describe an often cumbersome process to approve targets, and they say there are too few warplanes carrying out too few missions under too many restrictions.

“In most cases, unless a general officer can look at a video picture from a U.A.V., over a satellite link, I cannot get authority to engage,” the A-10 pilot said, referring to an unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, and speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid punishment from his superiors. “It's not uncommon to wait several hours overhead a suspected target for someone to make a decision to engage or not.”

To be sure, the air campaign has achieved several successes in conducting about 4,200 strikes that have dropped about 14,000 bombs and other weapons. The campaign has killed an estimated 12,500 fighters and helped Iraqi forces regain about 25 percent of the territory seized in Iraq by the Islamic State, according to American military figures.

It has blunted the advance of Islamic State fighters in most areas by forcing them to disperse and conceal themselves. Allied warplanes have attacked oil refineries, weapons depots, command bunkers and communications centers in Syria as part of a plan to hamper the Islamic State's ability to sustain its operations in Iraq and to disrupt communications among its senior leaders.

But American officials acknowledge that the Islamic State has remained resilient and adaptive. Fighters mingle with civilians more than ever. Islamic State commanders routinely change their methods of communication to avoid detection. Militants used a sandstorm, which made it more difficult for the Iraqis to identify targets, to seize an advantage in the recent Ramadi attack.

“We have always said this fight will be difficult, and there will be some setbacks,” Lt. Gen. John Hesterman III, the top allied air commander, said in a statement from his headquarters in Qatar. “Coalition air power has dramatically degraded Daesh's ability to organize, project and sustain combat power while taking exceptional care to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties.”

The air campaign has averaged a combined total of about 15 strikes a day in Iraq and Syria. In contrast, the NATO air war against Libya in 2011 carried out about 50 strikes a day in its first two months. The campaign in Afghanistan in 2001 averaged 85 daily airstrikes, and the Iraq war in 2003 about 800 a day. American officials say targeting is more precise than in the past, so fewer flights are needed.A major constraint on the air campaign's effectiveness, critics say, has been the White House's refusal to authorize American troops to act as spotters on the battlefield, designating targets for allied bombing attacks.

Some members of Congress, including Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, have advocated this idea.

The absence of air controllers is a particular complication for battles in urban places like Ramadi, where Islamic State units cannot always be readily identified by American pilots flying overhead.

The administration is considering training a cadre of Iraqi troops to designate airstrike targets from allied fighter jets.

Canadian special forces advising Iraqi troops are designating targets “on a case-by-case basis,” said Ashley Lemire, a spokeswoman for the Canadian defense ministry. “This is seen as a high-end military capability that the I.S.F. does not currently have,” she added, referring to the Iraqi security forces.

Administration officials stand by their overriding objective to prevent civilian casualties. Civilian deaths from airstrikes during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were sometimes unacknowledged or understated by the military and caused a lot of ill will, which is one reason for the United States' caution now. Underscoring that goal, the military's Central Command on Thursday announced the results of an inquiry into the deaths of two children in Syria in November, saying they were most likely killed by an American airstrike. It was the first time the Pentagon had acknowledged civilian casualties since it began the air campaign. A handful of other attacks are under investigation.

“The U.S. has indeed put in place rigorous policies and procedures to minimize civilian harm, but with no combat troops on the ground it is hard to evaluate how successful these policies have been,” said Federico Borello, the executive director of the Center for Civilians in Conflict, an advocacy group.

The American-led coalition has imposed other conditions on its use of airstrikes. During the operation in March and April to liberate Tikrit, the United States initially refrained from bombing runs because of the involvement of Iranian-backed Shiite militias in the fighting who were not under Iraqi government control. Once those militias failed to retake the city, they pulled back, and the Americans began bombing before Iraqi security forces and the militias advanced.

Iraqi officials have praised those airstrikes as an important component in the liberation of Tikrit. But many of the Iraqis involved in that operation complain that the Americans refused to strike targets that they had provided.

One army commander in Salahuddin Province, of which Tikrit is the capital, said he had passed along a long list of potential targets, including weapons caches, training centers and the homes of local Islamic State leaders.

“The least important 5 percent of them were targeted,” said the officer said, who was not authorized to speak publicly and did not want to be identified as criticizing Iraq's ally. “We also asked the U.S. coalition to attack ISIS convoys while they were moving from one place to another, but they either neglected our requests or responded very late.”

These same Iraqi commanders drew criticism on Sunday from Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, who said on CNN's “State of the Union” that Iraq's troops had shown no will to fight in Ramadi and had abandoned the city.

Civilians from Raqqa, who were interviewed in Turkey and often go back and forth across the border, said the Islamic State offices were well known around the city and had not been targeted by coalition airstrikes. Locals assume that this is because the Islamic State holds civilian prisoners in each location to deter the coalition.

The Islamic State's primary security office is known as Point 11 and is inside a soccer stadium, where its central prison is also believed to be. The extremists' Islamic court is in a building that used to belong to the Syrian Finance Ministry; it, too, holds prisoners, residents say. The office of the militant group's so-called Islamic police is also near Point 11 and contains a small jail.

An American military spokeswoman declined to comment on specific targets in Raqqa.

Civilians who now rely on the Islamic State for services often come and go from the offices, according to a middle-age real estate agent, who still lives in Raqqa and spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of the extremists.

“The civilians like the coalition because it doesn't hit civilians, but ISIS hates it because it targets their fighters,” he said.

But even residents who oppose the Islamic State said they could not imagine the group's leaving Raqqa at this time, because it had learned to deal with the airstrikes and there was no force on the ground to challenge it.

“If they had acted when ISIS was small, they could have stopped them, but now it has settled and grown and people have gotten used to it,” said an aid worker from Raqqa who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he travels in areas controlled by the Islamic State. “As long as there is no plan to get rid of them, they are staying, and it is clear that there is no plan.”




On edge, Cleveland reaches policing deal with Justice Department

by Nick Gass

Cleveland has reportedly reached a deal with the Justice Department over the city police's record of alleged excessive force and civil rights violations. The deal could be announced as soon as Tuesday, a senior federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press.

The settlement comes after months of incidents involving the police's alleged misuse of force, including the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot and killed while playing with a toy gun in a city park last Nov. 22.

It also follows the Saturday acquittal of a Cleveland officer charged with manslaughter in the 2012 shooting of 137 rounds that killed an African-American couple after officers mistook a car backfiring for gunfire. The acquitted officer, Michael Brelo, fired 49 of those shots, prosecutors said.
That decision prompted a day and night of protests in Ohio's second-largest city, raising tensions among protesters and the officers sworn to protect them. Police said officers arrested 71 people on Saturday, mostly on charges of aggravated rioting and obstructing justice.

Under the new arrangement, federal law enforcement officials would monitor the agency's practices, a government official briefed on the arrangement told the Los Angeles Times.

The Justice Department's report, released in December, found an alarming number of shortcomings in the Ohio city's police force. Investigators found a pattern of “unnecessary and excessive use of deadly force,” along with the overuse of less lethal force like tasers. It also uncovered a pattern in which excessive force was applied against mentally ill people or those in crisis, including instances where officers were doing a welfare check.

The report also found that the pattern of unreasonable force put officers and civilians at “unnecessary risk” in cases where such force would be usually unavoidable.



HANO officer shot, killed while patrolling Central City construction site, NOPD says

by Michelle Hunter

An officer with the Housing Authority of New Orleans was fatally shot in his patrol car while working a security detail at the construction site of the Guste Homes public housing complex, according to New Orleans police officials Sunday (May 24). Authorities have not yet identified the male officer, who had been with the HANO department for about two years, HANO Police Chief Robert Anderson said.

"It is truly a sad day for our department," Anderson said. "We've never had an on-duty death in the department's history."

HANO police found the officer's body about 7:10 a.m. Sunday in his patrol car, which came to a stop at the intersection of Erato and Freret streets after striking the curb, NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison said. They suspect he was shot in the 2300 block of Freret Street.

The officer had been working an overtime detail at the construction site, which sits in the shadow of the Guste high rise. Investigators don't yet know when he was killed.

NOPD also can't say whether the officer had been directly targeted. "We don't know what happened, and we don't want to speculate," Harrison said. The New Orleans coroner's office will perform an autopsy to determined the exact cause and time of death.

The immediate area where the officer was shot isn't populated. "No one lives in that block," Harrison said. But NOPD officers are canvassing the neighborhood to speak with anyone who might have seen or heard something connected to the shooting.

Crime scene technicians combed the street where dozens of green evidence markers scattered the ground. Harrison asked that anyone with information about the shooting contact authorities.

Meanwhile, NOPD made the department's grief counselors and psychologist available to HANO staffers, Harrison said.

Of the officer killed, Anderson said, "He's a young officer who was taken away too soon."

. . . . . . . .

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call NOPD Detective Shawn Jenkins at 504.658.5300. The public can also call Crimestoppers at 504.822.1111 or toll-free at 877.903.7867. Tips can be texted to C-R-I-M-E-S (274637); text TELLCS then the crime information. Callers or texters do not have to give their names or testify and can earn a $2,500 reward for information that leads to an indictment.



New York

Airline phone threats put a scare in the air

by The Associated Press

NEW YORK - Anonymous telephone threats against commercial airliners yesterday, possibly from the same source, caused a scare involving at least six international flights at airports in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Authorities said the threats did not appear to be credible. They described searches done on the jets as a precaution.

In one instance yesterday morning, U.S. military jets escorted an Air France flight into New York City after someone claimed a chemical weapon was aboard the aircraft, the FBI said.

"Out of an abundance of caution, Air France flight number 22 was escorted to John F. Kennedy Airport by U.S. Air Force fighter jets following a phone threat," the FBI said in a statement. "There were no incidents or hazards reported on board the flight by either the passengers or its crew. The plane has been cleared."

A Saudi Arabian Airlines flight arriving at Kennedy also was being checked out because of another threat, authorities said.

A third threat was made against an American Airlines jet flying from Birmingham, England, to Kennedy while it was still in the air, airline spokesman Kent Powell said. Authorities initially told the pilot to land and taxi to a remote area away from the terminal but later radioed that the threat was not credible and cleared the plane to go to the terminal, Powell said.

At Newark Liberty International Airport, passengers were removed from a United Airlines flight after it arrived from Madrid, United spokeswoman Mary Clark said. The plane was inspected yesterday afternoon at a spot away from the terminal.

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc. said two of its international planes were threatened: a Paris-to-Boston flight and a London-to-Newark flight.

A threat made against a Paris-to-Boston airliner was deemed not credible, Massachusetts Port Authority spokesman Matthew Brelis said, but he didn't say if that was Delta's plane. He said he didn't know the circumstances of the threat or if the plane was searched.

Maryland State Police said they received an anonymous call at the McHenry barracks in the western part of the state threatening commercial aviation about 6:30 a.m. yesterday and referred it to the FBI. They declined to comment further.



Washington D.C.

No Class Warfare This Memorial Day

As Rolling Thunder shakes D.C. this weekend, it's a powerful reminder that we're stronger when we ride together.

by Gov. Jon M. Huntsman / Sen. Joe Lieberman

Forty years ago, the United States entered the Vietnam War, which would bitterly divide the nation. We would spend years on a bombing campaign that, to this day, cannot be called a success. And, most shameful of all, we would snub our returning combat-weary veterans, almost all of whom were drafted without the power to refuse service, creating a generation of temporarily forgotten patriots.

This weekend the nation's capital will vibrate under the humming engines of thousands of motorcycles as they ride through Washington for a run named for the bombing mission itself, Rolling Thunder. Riders hail from all over the United States, and the haunting sound of roaring engines becomes an undeniable force in the city, honoring our Vietnam vets, and expanding to include the ever-growing numbers of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Rolling Thunder has become a symbol of American spirit, of our ability to rise above political differences and honor those forgotten soldiers who went to fight knowing they had very little support back home. The noise of the engines drowns out the differences among the riders, and the rest of us, and when they roll through town, they are all part of a larger community, one that has chosen to honor and recognize fellow Americans.

Today this notion of community is in a fragile state, and likely to fray more in the tensions of an upcoming presidential campaign. The message of Washington politics has trickled down onto main streets across the U.S. and threatens the sense of community so uniquely American. It's time that divisive message stops.

The message is that we are too different, that disparities are the fault of a particular group of people, pitting citizens against citizens, and dividing the nation instead of uniting communities.

This class warfare is a tool; it's the knife pushed on us by politicians. But it is we who fray the fabric uniting us, destroying our sense of community. The idea of class warfare is a popular political tactic because it's a convenient way to lay blame elsewhere. How very easy to divide the American public into “us vs. them,” to vilify “the 1 percent,” and to applaud “The Other 98 percent.” But it doesn't provide a solution to any of our nation's problems.

As election season ramps up, we will see some candidates go for the easy kill; they will grab onto this message and try to divide the nation based on income inequality, based on wealth and riches and haves and have nots.

After all is said and done, after the lines are drawn and the teams created in the “us vs. them” game, no matter how the game plays out, there are no winners. That's because there is no game plan. It's rhetoric. It distracts from the truth. And the truth is, as a united front, the American people are strong indeed, and can, together with their leaders, find real solutions to the national challenges of too little economic growth and too much income inequality.

When Americans visit Arlington National Cemetery this weekend, or the countless other eternal resting places for our fallen soldiers, we will not ask of the name on the stone, “are you too rich to deserve remembrance? Are you too poor? Did your economic status negatively impact me before you left without return?” Instead, in true American fashion, our citizens will honor men and women, young and old, from every socio-economic background, every faith, from all fifty states, and come together as a community, as one nation.

The powerful rumble of Rolling Thunder in D.C this weekend is only achieved through the large community that participates—a reminder to us all that we are greater than the sum of our parts, and that we are louder, and stronger, when we ride together. Class warfare is a dangerous political tool. But because we as a nation are tougher and smarter than that, class warfare usually doesn't work. While the presidential campaign kicks into high gear, we must remember that our ability to form a community is what makes us a great nation. We must demand more from our politicians, from our candidates, and from ourselves.

It is time to set goals, to get to work solving America's problems, and rebuild a larger sense of community.

Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. is a former Governor of Utah and Joe Lieberman is a former U.S. Senator from Connecticut. Both serve as national chairmen for No Labels.



New York

7 Rikers Island Guards Raped, Sexually Abused Inmates: Lawsuit

by Jonathan Dienst

Seven correction officers at Rikers Island raped and sexually abused female inmates over a two-year period, according to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Legal Aid Society.

Two of the female inmates were in pre-trial custody, and they allege they were "repeatedly raped and sexually abused" by an officer who warned they would be punished if they resisted or reported him, the lawsuit said.

Legal Aid Society attorney William Gibney said there is credible evidence to back up the inmates' claims, including clothing from one woman that contained DNA material from an officer proving a sex act took place. In another case, he said, an inmate became pregnant.

“We are seeking an injunction requiring the city and the Department of Correction to take all necessary steps to prevent women in their custody from being raped and sexually abused by correction officers,” Gibney said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Correction said in a statement: "We do not comment on pending litigation. Speaking generally, DOC has a zero tolerance policy with regard to sexual abuse and assault, and there is no place at DOC for the mistreatment of any inmate."

The lawsuit specifically named one officer, who has since been placed on modified duty, according to a DOC official. Officers on modified duty do not interact with jail inmates.

A spokesman for the Correction Officers Union did not immediately respond to questions about the allegations contained in the lawsuit.

In the lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan, the women alleged numerous sex attacks took place inside the Rose M. Singer Center on Rikers, which houses female inmates. The incidents allegedly took place in 2013 and 2014, and some were reported immediately after they happened, Gibney said.

In one case, a female inmate alleges she became pregnant from one of the alleged rapes. In another case, an inmate alleges an officer molested her in front of other officers and was terminated only after he was arrested for smuggling marijuana into the facility.

The rapes allegedly took place in an inmate's cell or the "officers' station," the complaint alleges.

Despite rape allegations and complaints to the office of Inspector General, several officers still work at the facility, Gibney said. One woman who complained was assigned to "punitive segregation" and some inmates were allegedly paid to beat up any woman who complained of a sexual assault.

The women were only identified as Jane Doe 1 and 2 in the lawsuit due to the alleged abuse. Several other inmates have also provided statements to Legal Aid and filed complaints with the inspector general.

In addition to punitive damages, the lawsuit says the system for reporting officer on inmate abuse is "grossly inadequate" and needs to change.

Last month, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James proposed new rules that would amount to a zero-tolerance on sexual assault in the 11,000-inmate system, citing federal statistics showing that two Rikers lockups have some of the nation's highest rates of reported attacks.

A 2013 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey found 5.9 percent of Rikers inmates housed at the all-female Rose M. Singer Center said they were assaulted by staff compared to a national average of 1.8 percent for all jails. An additional 5.6 percent of inmates at a second Rikers facility alleged staff sexual misconduct, the survey shows.

Another 5 percent of women in the Rose M. Singer Center said they were victimized by another inmate, compared to a national average of 1.6 percent, the survey found.

City officials said at the time they would review James' proposed rule changes but added they've already begun efforts to make sure city jails are compliant with PREA standards, such as training jail health workers on how to properly handle reports of sexual abuse.



New York

NYC Official Seeks Rules to Stop Sexual Assaults in Jails

New York City's public advocate is proposing tough new rules to crack down on sexual assaults in city jails, citing federal statistics that show two Rikers Island lockups have some of the nation's highest rates of reported attacks by both guards and fellow inmates.

Letitia James told The Associated Press she plans to announce Thursday that she's asked the city's jail oversight board to consider broad new rule changes that would amount to a zero-tolerance on sexual assault in the 11,000-inmate system.

New rules would require better training of investigators to verify assault complaints, restrictions on contact between older and teen inmates, background checks of jail staff for past allegations of sexual misconduct and more power to fire staffers who sexually abuse inmates.

"Every moment we wait we undermine our city's moral and legal responsibility to administer a safe and humane criminal justice system," said James, an elected official whose office serves as the city's official watchdog.

The Board of Correction, which is charged with overseeing the jails, could vote in May on whether to start the process of changing city rules to include the proposed regulations and other rule changes.

James' proposals mirror the standards detailed in the 2003 federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, which states are required to comply with in order to receive federal funding. Local lockups such as Rikers aren't required to show such compliance, a loophole that experts say might mean sexual assaults in city and county jails go underreported.

After corrections officials only reported seven total instances of alleged sexual assault of teenage inmates in 2011 and 2012, the government expert used by federal prosecutors to review conditions for adolescent Rikers inmates "expressed concern as to whether allegations of sexual assault are being consistently reported and investigated in compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act," according to a scathing federal report.

James also noted that corrections officials didn't provide her office data on both alleged inmate-on-inmate and guard-on-inmate assaults

The city's health department reported 107 inmate complaints of sexual assault last year, though it is not known how many of those complaints were substantiated.

A 2013 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey found 5.9 percent of Rikers inmates housed at the all-female Rose M. Singer Center said they were assaulted by staff compared to a national average of 1.8 percent for all jails. An additional 5.6 percent of inmates at a second Rikers facility alleged staff sexual misconduct, the survey shows.

Another 5 percent of women in the Rose M. Singer Center said they were victimized by another inmate, compared to a national average of 1.6 percent, the survey found.

"Given those metrics we had to act, we had to respond," James said.

City officials said they will review James' proposed rule changes but added they've already begun efforts to make sure city jails are compliant with PREA standards, such as training jail health workers on how to properly handle reports of sexual abuse.

Jails Commissioner Joseph Ponte "is deeply committed to protecting the safety of all our inmates," a jails spokeswoman said, noting correction officials are currently using a $1.2 million Department of Justice grant to make sure city jails are PREA compliant.

Brenda Smith, a professor at the Washington College of Law at American University who served on the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, said codifying the PREA standards into city law was a practical way for officials to improve conditions.

"To the extent this is important for a city, which is doing the work it needs to do in a place that's troubled, then working on PREA is a good thing," she said.



Washington D.C.

Police: Bomb squad destroys pressure cooker found in vehicle on National Mall; 1 arrested

by The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – A bomb squad safely destroyed a pressure cooker found in an unattended vehicle parked on the National Mall near the U.S. Capitol and the vehicle's owner was found and arrested, a U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman said.

Police Lt. Kimberly A. Schneider told The Associated Press that Capitol Police officers on routine patrol spotted the parked, unoccupied vehicle on a street on the mall west of the Capitol around 5 p.m. Sunday.

"Further investigation revealed a pressure cooker, and an odor of gasoline was detected," Schneider said, adding a Capitol Police bomb squad was called in because the vehicle was deemed "suspicious in nature."

Authorities have noted that pressure cookers have been used in the past to create explosive devices. Three people were killed and more than 260 others wounded in April 2013 when two pressure-cooker bombs were set off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Schneider said the bomb squad destroyed "items of concern in the vehicle including the pressure cooker" Sunday around 7:45 p.m. after temporarily closing off the area on the long Memorial Day holiday weekend. She did not immediately identify the other items but said only that "this safe disruption produced a loud bang."

Schneider also said a follow-up search of the vehicle found nothing hazardous. Her email said the suspicious vehicle was investigated during a concert in Washington though it was unclear how many people were nearby at the time.

The vehicle's owner was found and identified as Israel Shimeles of the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, Schneider said. Shimeles was arrested and charged with "operating after revocation," Schneider said. Schneider didn't elaborate on the charge. It wasn't immediately known if he had an attorney.

Schneider also said the city's Metropolitan Police, U.S. Park Police, the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force were assisting Capitol Police.

The FBI did not immediately return a call for comment late Sunday.




‘Little slugger' teaches officer community policing can be painful

by Scott Wise, Marcus Cooper and Jasmine Norwood

(Video on site)

RICHMOND, Va. — Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham stressed the importance of community policing when he was named to lead the police department earlier this year. Community policing is the idea that police officers should be involved with community events and community members not just during difficult times, but all of the time.

One police officer learned community policing can be a painful practice when he came upon the birthday party for four-year-olds Tyren and Tyion Harvey Saturday night in Richmond's Forest Hill Park, according to the twins' uncle who recorded the interaction.

It began when the officers jumped into a game of whiffle ball with the birthday boys. The first officer's pitch resulted in a swing and a miss. But when the second officer pitched, little slugger Tyion swung for the fences. The ball rocketed off the bat and hit the officer square in the chest. Judging by the laughter at the end of the clip, we're going to assume everyone is ok.

WTVR CBS 6 caught up with the man who pulled out his cell phone and pressed record.

“I wanted the nation to see what Richmond Police were doing and how my nephews were interacting with them,” the twins' uncle Jamaur Law said. “We need to bridge the gap between police and black youth.”

The Richmond Police officers who appeared in the video were surprised and pleased with their new found internet fame.

“It is kind of funny because we were shocked Sunday morning when we found out. We had no idea we were being recorded,” Richmond Police officer Carrie Griffith said. “It was just something we decided to do, I mean kids playing baseball in a park? How could you not want to join in?”