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.


June, 2015 - Week 1



A Ping Pong Table In a Park May Be Fighting Crime With Tons of Fun

by Doyle Buehler

Some glass-half-full kind of people have installed free ping-pong tables in several ill-reputed parks, precisely to make a change in the crowd who comes to those parks. But there is some evidence that it has actually brought down the crime rates in those areas. So is ping-pong this miracle worker for bad neighborhoods?

Hing Hay Park from Chinatown was the very first one in this series of park ping-pong tables. As the members from the community group who raised the money to buy and install them see the matter, the ping pong tables are “activating” parks.

In their view, playing ping-pong is an activity associated with a calm crime-less lifestyle. And putting such a symbol in a park filled with beer binge drinkers, junkies, drug dealers, homeless people and every once in a while, some prostitutes, might help change the crowd patterns a bit.

And they seemed to believe enough to make it happen . The registered crimes associated with the Hing Hay Park location have gone down from 46 in 2009 to just 16 in 2014. And they think that while the ping pong tables may not have achieved this single-handedly, they must have played a big role in the whole matter.

But if you think about it, bringing squeaky clean people who love ping-pong to a park that is still filled with somewhat dubious characters, might actually lead to trouble. But somehow, that hasn't been documented just yet.

Adding a ping-pong table to a park where people can come and play for free is a delightful idea, but thinking that it might be able to bring down crime rates is somewhere on the thin line between farfetched and downright offending.

Being positive is always the right path and it has the potential to get you to very high places, but this ping-pong theory might not sound as good to the people who wreck their brains and every so often their knees to find ways to keep people safe.

Seattle's Cal Anderson Park was the most recent ones to have one of these miracle ping-pong tables installed. Adrienne Caver-Hall, who made it possible that the table makes it to this particular park thinks that it has the ability to change people's perception about parks, specifically on their reputation of being “dark and unsafe”.

It remains to be seen if this new ping-pong table can work its magic on Cal Anderson Park and “activate” it into a fun-filled family-friendly environment again.




Community policing effort to expand

by Randall Aragon

FAIRBANKS— Earlier this year, our department's transition to a community-oriented policing philosophy initiated with a meeting comprised of a select group of seven highly motivated and “community partnership-oriented” Fairbanks Police Department officers (our community-oriented policing transition team), along with my command staff, for me to elaborate upon our department's shift toward adopting this “preventive policing” approach. Community-oriented policing proposes moving beyond working harder and faster toward working “smarter” through long-term community-based problem solving.

Another way to communicate the importance of adopting community-oriented policing for Fairbanks citizens is this style of policing emphasizes coming up with solutions, by working in partnership with our citizens to prevent crime in the first place, in lieu of just reacting/responding to crimes.

This policing effort required that:

1. only those officers who desire to participate are assigned to perform, and;

2. they complete a community-oriented policing training module followed up with either one-on-one dialogue with me and/or this final orientation meeting; consequently, all officers were not only “on board” and embracing this paradigm shift, but fully cognizant of why this policing philosophy is important to our community and how it should be implemented.

The vision was to initiate community-oriented policing in South Fairbanks (as our “launching pad”) by assigning a Community Policing Officer to work jointly with citizens in their assigned neighborhoods to prevent and control crime and reduce citizens' fear of crime.

South Fairbanks was divided into two community watch neighborhoods. One community/neighborhood watch extended from 23rd Avenue and south to the Mitchell Expressway, which was named by the citizens as the “South Fairbanks Community/Neighborhood Watch.” The neighborhood north of 23rd Avenue to Airport Way was implemented and designated (also by residents) as “The Big Dipper Community/Neighborhood Watch.”

Community Policing Officer Rick Sweet services the South Fairbanks community/neighborhood watch and The Big Dipper community/neighborhood watch falls under the responsibility of CPO Robert (Bob) Johnson. Each CPO has visited those living within each community watch at their residences (only after being previously invited) to introduce themselves to the resident(s) and to also elaborate upon the purpose of community-oriented policing and community watch, and conduct a survey on the needs and priorities of those visited. Also important to this effort is both community watch neighborhoods have a committed and civic-minded citizen serving as a chairperson and several “Block Captains” who assist each CPO with ideas and concerns on how to enhance neighborhood safety and also enhance the quality of life within their neighborhood.

Since this effort initiated, both CPOs, my staff and I have continuously received gracious accolades regarding this community partnership building effort: this is just the beginning of a citywide transition toward community-oriented policing.

Our third community watch neighborhood is already in the works. CPO Nate Werner has been tasked with developing our downtown into a community / neighborhood watch. My vision (and that of the Downtown Association's Executive Director, David van den Berg) is to conduct a community / neighborhood watch kickoff meeting in mid-July. The community-oriented

policing philosophy will remain in place downtown throughout the year, not just during the summer season. This should enhance the overall quality of life for both businesses and residents within our entire downtown quadrant.

Our nation was so concerned about the status of crime and especially inappropriate policing techniques and practices that on Dec. 18, 2014, President Barack Obama enacted an Executive Order establishing the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The task force sought expertise from key stakeholders (judges, academicians, social scientists, police executives, input from the public, etc.) to identify best practices and make recommendations to the President. The task force submitted an initial report to the president on March 2 and released the final report on May 18.

Of the numerous recommendations generated throughout this 116-page document, it certainly is important to note three of the recommendations include the need for police agencies to implement community-oriented policing and also engage communities in efforts such as community/neighborhood watch.

Mayor John Eberhart and I certainly are pleased to know our police agency initiated this most effective proactive policing effort even before the publishing of the task force recommendations.

Conclusion: Preventive policing, also known as community-oriented policing, is not only necessary for our city to prevent and control crime, reduce the fear of crime, develop a partnership between the police and those we serve and insure appropriate treatment of citizens, but also recommended and endorsed by the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

My advice: Continue to work and support our police department's Community Policing Officers, who are committed to working diligently to develop proactive crime control solutions to prevent and control crime in your neighborhoods. Please remember that though our agency has launched our community-oriented policing effort in South Fairbanks, this is just the beginning: the downtown is next and there are more to come.

Chief Randall Aragon has served as the city of Fairbanks chief of police since 2014.



New Hampshire


New Hampshire Health Protection Program promotes public safety


New Hampshire is in the grips of a heroin epidemic. Our challenge now is how to fight back and win. During a crisis like this, it is the responsibility of members of the judiciary to comment on measures that can improve the administration of justice. I believe this is one such time.

Over the past several months, I have attended several forums to address the growing heroin epidemic that extends to every corner of our state. At the forums, community leaders from the Legislature, law enforcement, health care, treatment as well as concerned citizens all agreed, something must be done.

The shocking truth is that New Hampshire has the highest addiction rate in the nation and ranks second lowest in available treatment. Only Texas scores worse. The result? Without sufficient and adequate treatment, many individuals suffering from addiction end up on the streets, committing crimes to support their addiction. They recycle in and out of jail and prison at a great cost to society, compromising public safety and without any improvement in their condition. Indeed, nearly 70 percent of those offenders in jail or prison are suffering from a drug addiction, a mental illness or both, and when released, they continue to commit crimes because their addiction remains untreated.

If we think we can turn the tide on addiction by incarcerating addicts, we only have to look at history to see that as jail and prison populations increase, so have the devastating effects of addiction. Jail does not treat addiction, it cultivates it.

There is a path forward. The way to enhance public safety and to help prevent the perpetual cycle of addiction and crime is to reauthorize the New Hampshire Health Protection Program. It costs taxpayers up to $34,000 per year to incarcerate an offender for one year, and only $8,000 to treat and monitor them in the community. Those offenders who are treated in the community, on strict probation supervision, are significantly less likely to re-offend than those who are released from jail or prison. But treatment needs to be available, and the New Hampshire Health Protection Program is a highly effective way for the state to obtain federal funds with minimum expense to taxpayers to increase the treatment options for offenders.

More than 40,000 New Hampshire residents, who were unable to obtain insurance coverage before the program was enacted, are now covered, and a large percent of those covered are involved in the criminal justice system. Offenders who cost taxpayers money in incarceration, emergency room use and law enforcement response are now able to obtain insurance to pay for treatment – treatment that is more likely to address the underlying causes of their criminal behavior and keep society safe.

Several courageous leaders in Strafford, Grafton and Rockingham counties have funded programs such as drug courts, which are designed to reduce crime and save taxpayers money. If the New Hampshire Health Protection Program is reauthorized so as to remain in place, those counties will see a reduction in the cost of drug courts because the participants will remain insured.

The New Hampshire Health Protection Program was enacted after a bipartisan effort to create a plan that worked for New Hampshire. We have a choice: We can build more jails and prisons to incarcerate the increasing number of heroin addicts and spend millions of dollars in the process, or we can support the re-authorization of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program.

That insurance program will continue our commitment to the taxpayers of this state, and demonstrate to them that the court system and the Legislature will spend their money wisely to assure the best public safety outcomes.

(Tina L. Nadeau is chief justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court.)



From the Department of Justice

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Delivers Remarks At Technische Universität Dresden

Good afternoon and thank you all for such a warm welcome. I'd like to thank Dr. [Eugénia] da Conceição-Heldt for hosting this forum. And I'm particularly grateful to all the students who have taken time away from their studies to join us today. I bring with me greetings from President Obama and from the United States. It is an honor to be here in this beautiful city and a particular pleasure to have the opportunity to speak with all of you at the Dresden University of Technology.

This is my first international trip as Attorney General of the United States and it is fitting that it brings me to this university – an institution of higher learning that takes as its motto the words “Wissen schafft Brücken”– knowledge builds bridges. Throughout my time in government service I have seen this principle in action – from the bridges we build between divided communities to those we create between two nations. The work that you do, particularly here at the School of International Studies, is central to that tradition; it is focused on engaging the world outside your borders; disentangling the complexities of our global society; and drawing nations of common values and shared principles closer together to effect real and positive change.

Germany's partnership with the United States is rooted in this mutual understanding and common cause – a dedication to equal opportunity, a commitment to equal justice and a devotion to the rule of law. In the United States, these principles have inspired untold millions to stand up, to speak out and even to lay down their lives to improve the country they love. We have sometimes fallen short of our goals – but we have never abandoned our march toward that ideal.

In recent years, the United States has made important strides and exciting progress, driven by those fundamental values and fueled by our ongoing pursuit of an ever-more perfect Union. We have advanced the cause of equality for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters. We have fought for individuals whose civil rights and voting rights are being unfairly denied. And we have reoriented our approach to criminal justice to make our system more efficient, more fair and more effective. In every instance, we have chosen understanding over fear, diversity over intolerance and unity over division, guided always by the democratic ideals that have defined our people for centuries and that will continue to light our way forward.

I could not be more proud to represent and to lead the department that is charged with upholding those values and expanding their protections to all. But I also recognize that with that responsibility come real and difficult challenges as we seek to defend our open societies – and our commitment to inclusion – against agents of intolerance, extremism and violence; as we work to prevent attacks on our country and to prosecute those who seek to harm our citizens; and as we endeavor to promote the rule of law that separates us from our adversaries.

This is a commitment that I take extremely seriously and that has been a hallmark of my career. As a federal prosecutor in New York prior to my appointment as Attorney General, I led the successful prosecution in civilian court of al Qaeda operatives like Najibullah Zazi, Zarein Ahmedzay and Adis Medunjanin, who plotted to bomb the New York Subway System and Abid Naseer, who targeted a shopping center in England. Through mutual legal assistance treaties, my office worked alongside countries like the United Kingdom and Norway to obtain evidence and other information we used to win convictions. And we collaborated with Germany in an investigation that led to the successful U.S. prosecution of Abdeladim El Kebir – an al Qaeda terrorist who was plotting to detonate a bomb in Europe. In these instances and in many others, I was determined to demonstrate that our legal system is equipped to adjudicate any case fairly and effectively, including those that implicate threats to our national security. And as Attorney General, I will extend that approach, using legal institutions to achieve our goals within the United States and in our counterterrorism efforts around the world.

An international focus – buttressed by international collaboration – has been and will continue to be, essential to our success. We have seen all too recently how violent extremism continues to impact – and to devastate – the lives of innocent individuals around the world. We saw this in Paris, with the murders of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and the subsequent shooting at a kosher supermarket. We saw it in Copenhagen, where an attack plunged Denmark into what Prime Minister [Helle] Thorning-Schmidt called “a fight for freedom against a dark ideology.” And we are seeing it around the globe, as foreign terrorist fighters, drawn to organizations like ISIL, travel to regions of conflict like Syria and Iraq.

Just a month and a half ago, the Justice Department brought its first case against an individual who traveled overseas to fight and train with terrorists in Syria and came back intending to use those deadly skills on U.S. soil. More recently, we charged another individual who traveled to Syria and pledged allegiance to ISIL. As foreign fighters return home in greater numbers, we must continue to be vigilant to ensure that we can apprehend individuals and prevent attacks. And as these violent extremists move between nations and across borders, the ability of our global community to combat terrorism increasingly depends on a collective approach.

That's why we are working with global governing bodies like the United Nations to direct our combined energies toward countering terrorism through international law and transnational cooperation. In a session chaired by President Obama last September, UN Security Council member states came together to adopt Resolution 2178, which requires countries to take concrete steps to address the foreign terrorist fighter threat through measures like effective border controls, information-sharing, prevention of recruiting and financing activities, and enactment of appropriate criminal laws. Through a series of UN conventions addressing terrorist financing, terrorist bombings, hostage-taking, and aircraft seizure, we came together to develop a uniform approach to justice sector cooperation in some of the most complex areas of counterterrorism. And under the Global Counter Terrorism Forum – a group of 30 countries from around the world, operating in partnership with the UN – we worked to mobilize expertise and resources to support civilian-focused responses to terrorism threats, from designing laws that criminalize terrorist assistance to establishing legal frameworks for undercover investigations. In the United States, law enforcement agencies like the FBI are working with Interpol to disseminate information on foreign terrorist fighters, as well as providing Interpol with analytical and logistical assistance. We have encouraged other countries to use Interpol – and Interpol notices – to stem the foreign-fighter phenomenon. And we are actively supporting Interpol's Fusion Cell, which enables information-sharing relating to foreign fighters.

International cooperation also means improving the capabilities of our partner nations to detect, investigate, and prosecute those who intend to harm their citizens. Currently, we have 20 prosecutors working in an advisory capacity at the invitation of host nations to help implement UN and other international conventions and provide a range of technical assistance. We deploy teams of counterterrorism prosecutors, investigators, analysts, and forensic specialists to partner nations that have experienced a terrorist attack or are seeing a large flow of foreign terrorist fighters in order to assist in investigations and prosecutions. And we work alongside our partner nations to help return fugitives, share evidence and advance extradition.

Of course, effective international cooperation requires effective legal frameworks and institutions. Where those are lacking, cooperation falters – and countries are left vulnerable to the destabilizing forces of transnational crime and international terrorism. That is why the Department of Justice is also dedicated to assisting our allies in developing the institutions and best practices for mutual legal assistance and extradition cooperation. Through our Central Authorities Initiative, in coordination with our State Department, experts from the Justice Department are working with our foreign counterparts to help partner countries build fair and transparent justice systems with central authorities capable of bringing terrorists to justice under the rule of law. Current Central Authority Initiative programs are underway now in Asia and Africa and I look forward to continuing this valuable program in the months and years ahead.

These are vital, and in some cases, groundbreaking programs and initiatives, born of successful collaboration with governments and citizens worldwide. We can all be proud of the progress that we have achieved, and the work that we are doing together, to combat terrorism and prevent violence. And this work must go on. In the coming days, I will be attending a series of conferences with my counterparts from the G6 and the EU – meetings that will bring together justice ministers, interior ministers and other officials from around the world to strengthen the framework for international collaboration. We will discuss ways in which we can learn from one another, support one another, and recommit ourselves to the common cause and shared values that bind us together. For all of us – the nations that come together to foster these goals – this task is ongoing and evolving. We are charged with protecting not just our citizens' peace and security, but all our essential freedoms as well. Ultimately, we will seek to build and to bolster the bridges of understanding that allow us to make progress at times of great challenge while holding true to the ideals that animate our community of nations.

Finding this essential balance requires the hard work and thoughtful participation of everyone – government, citizens and students. Our dialogue needs to be open, engaging and allow for the expression of different views from which we can learn. There is no doubt that we will experience uncertain times in the years ahead, just as we have in years past. But I am determined and the United States is determined, to meet these challenges with the engagement of our friends and partners, with the power of the rule of law and with the support of current and future leaders who will carry on this vital work. As I look out at this group of passionate students and thoughtful leaders, I am optimistic that your time – our time – can be defined by cooperation, friendship and progress. And I am hopeful that you will take up this charge and continue this work.

Through your attendance at this School of International Studies, you are already demonstrating your commitment to shaping the world we share, enhancing the mutual support and collaboration we rely on, and rising to the challenges we will face together. As you move forward with your studies, I urge you to continue looking outside yourself; to continue challenging your leaders, your colleagues, and yourselves – to be active citizens, thoughtful problem solvers and conscientious members of our global society.

Thank you once again for the opportunity to speak with you today. I look forward to all that our nations – and our people – will achieve together in the months and years ahead.

And now, I would be happy to answer any questions.



From ICE

ICE, US Marshals arrest 27 international fugitives with Interpol alerts

WASHINGTON — Twenty-seven criminal foreign fugitives with active Interpol alerts were arrested across the United States this week by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS).

Those arrested are from 13 different countries and wanted for crimes abroad. Of the 27, five are wanted for homicide, two for kidnapping, one for raping a child and one for human sex trafficking.

“Criminals who create mayhem here in the United States or abroad should understand that law enforcement is a global partnership,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña. “We will find them, and we will bring them to justice.”

Arrests occurred nationwide in nine states during the three-day sweep, which took place Tuesday through Thursday. Those arrested fell squarely into the agency's enforcement priorities, which ICE officers prioritize and enforce every day.

“The arrest of these foreign fugitives should send a strong message to anyone attempting to avoid prosecution for their crimes here in the U.S. or abroad,” said USMS Director Stacia Hylton. “Our men and women were relentless in their effort to locate and apprehend these criminals. We hope our effort gives victims a sense of comfort in knowing these individuals are no longer on the streets.”

“Information-sharing 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year among U.S. law enforcement agencies like ERO and the USMS, along with the 189 other Interpol member countries and Interpol Washington, ensures transnational criminals have no place to hide,” stated Interpol Washington Director Shawn A. Bray. “By facilitating the sharing of this information with our law enforcement partners, together, we will continue to enhance safety and security for U.S. citizens and the global community.”

Arrests included:

•  On June 2, ERO arrested Nelson Garcia Orellana, 30, and his brother Jorge Garcia Rivera, 23, both natives of El Salvador, in Trenton, New Jersey, and Alexandria, Virginia, respectively. They are wanted by authorities in their home country for kidnapping and are the subjects of Interpol Red Notices.

•  On June 2, ERO arrested Gabriel Collado Gonzalez, 40, a native of Nicaragua, in Miami. Gonzalez is wanted by authorities in his home country for embezzlement and criminal conspiracy and is the subject of an Interpol Red Notice.

•  On June 2, ERO arrested Raul Ortiz Henriquez, 40, a native of El Salvador, in Santa Fe Springs, California. Henriquez is wanted by authorities in his home country for rape of a minor. In November 2013, Henriquez grabbed his victim by her arms and forced her into a van he was driving while she was leaving school. He drove away, parked, beat her in the chest and raped her. He is the subject of an Interpol Red Notice.

The following individuals are all the subject of Interpol Red Notices and remain at-large:

•  Juan Chicas Ramos, 56, a native of El Salvador, is wanted by authorities in his home country on an Interpol Red Notice for homicide

•  Lisandro Medina Gamez, 33, a native of El Salvador, is wanted by authorities in his home country on an Interpol Red Notice for fraud

The ICE National Criminal Analysis and Targeting Center (NCATC) provided critical investigative support for this operation, including criminal and intelligence analysis from a variety of sources. The NCATC provides comprehensive analytical support to aid the at-large enforcement efforts of all ICE components.

ICE credits the combined efforts of the U.S. National Central Bureau-Interpol Washington, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Members of the public who have information about these fugitives are urged to contact ICE by calling the toll-free ICE tip line at 1-866-347-2423 or internationally at 001-1802-872-6199. They can also file a tip online by completing ICE's online tip form.

Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 720 foreign fugitives from the United States who were sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with HSI's Office of International Operations, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the United States.




LAPD chief, watchdog reportedly find police shooting justified

by Fox News

The Los Angeles police chief and his department's independent watchdog have reportedly found that a deadly close-range shooting of a 25-year-old black man by police officers last year was justified.

A department source told The Associated Press Friday the chief and the inspector general both found that evidence support the officers' contention that they shot Ezell Ford because he was trying to grab an officer's weapon.

However, the findings by Chief Charlie Beck and the inspector general are only recommendations to the Police Commission, which will determine after a hearing next week whether the shooting of Ford was within the department's policy.

The evidence included Ford's DNA on the gun, which a previously released autopsy report in the case also supported the officers' account.

However, the inspector general found that the officers' tactics were problematic in the way they approached Ford. The watchdog said the officers should have kept their distance, pulled their weapons and given him instructions instead of engaging him directly.

The findings, which were first reported by the Los Angeles Times, are expected to be delivered in reports to the Police Commission for a closed-door session hearing Tuesday.

Commission President Steve Soboroff acknowledged that he had received the recommendations along with depositions and other evidence, but said he could not legally reveal what they said.

He emphasized that it's the commission's decision in the end whether the shooting was within policy.

"The jury hasn't decided," he said. "The adjudication has not happened."

According to the LAPD, Ford was acting suspiciously when he caught officers' attention in August. He allegedly knocked one officer to the ground and was grappling for the officer's holstered weapon when his partner fired two shots. The fallen officer pulled out a backup gun and shot Ford in the back, Beck said last year.

The killing inspired several peaceful protests and marches through Los Angeles, where demonstrators connected the death with that of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, just days earlier.

Ford's parents believe the shooting was unjustified. They have filed a federal civil lawsuit and $75 million claim against the city alleging the two gang officers knew Ford from the neighborhood and were aware he had mental problems.




Okla. governor signs measure for public release of police body cam footage

The measure signed on Thursday allows for the release of body camera videos — with some exceptions

by The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Legislation that governs the public release of video from body cameras worn by law enforcement officers has been signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin.

The measure signed on Thursday allows for the release of body camera videos — with some exceptions.

A video can be withheld that depicts a death, unless that death was caused by a law enforcement officer. It also allows the redaction of incidents of great bodily harm and severe violence, unless the acts were caused by law enforcement.

It also allows the withholding of footage depicting, nudity, minors, informants, sex crime victims, domestic violence victims, personal information about innocent people and medical information that is not already public.

Fallin says the law strikes a balance between transparency and privacy concerns.




Baltimore Young to Get Volunteer Work Making City Greener Under 50-City Plan

by Jamaal Abdul-Alim

BALTIMORE — In an effort to connect young people in this city to nature — and eventually to jobs in conservation and related fields — the Obama administration announced today that Baltimore has been selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Interior's 50-city Interior Youth Initiative .

The initiative will ultimately provide volunteer opportunities to 10,000 to 20,000 young people in Baltimore — plus part-time, temporary jobs for 34 young adults — as part of a larger effort to provide training and work opportunities for 100,000 young adults on public lands through 2017, officials said.

Even though U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said the deal was in the works before the city's violent protests over the police custody death of Freddie Gray, officials at the announcement drew links between the “challenges” the city has faced since then and the opportunities they believe will arise from the Youth Initiative. The effort in Baltimore is being spearheaded by the YMCA of Central Maryland.

“It's not one person's responsibility to fix the issues and it's not one person's responsibility to serve our kids,” said John Hoey, president and CEO of the YMCA of Central Maryland. “We're all part of this.”

Hoey said a guiding principle behind the initiative — which will rely heavily on volunteerism — will be to give young people a sense of ownership and responsibility for the environment.

“We have a society where we expect others to do the work for us. We have to do the work ourselves,” Hoey said as young people from a number of Y of Central Maryland after-school programs looked on.

“We don't always get paid for it, but we get paid in different ways,” he said.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the initiative will help to pass along values of “teamwork, local pride, and social responsibility to the next generation of Baltimoreans.”

For youth service providers in Baltimore, the initiative represents an opportunity to get involved while the initiative is still being formulated and to potentially tap into government funds, even for existing programs. Twenty-six cities are being chosen to participate in the initiative this year, with 24 more to be announced next year.

“Our focus right now is to get urban youth involved,” said Devin Ray, wildlife biologist at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “It's not reinventing the wheel, but looking at the infrastructure we have now and how we can best serve by putting youth outdoors.

“If you have programs up and running, that works a lot better because you have structure in place,” he said. “It's just us seeing what value we can add to what you have going now, getting you connected with a potential funding source.”

Michelle Becote-Jackson, senior vice president of youth development and social responsibility at the Y of Central Maryland, said the work will range from forestry work to removing invasive species to planting trees and creating gardens.

While the initial phases of the project involve having young people “play, learn and serve” on public lands, the ultimate goal is to create jobs in those spaces, Becote-Jackson said.

The deal involves a $49,000 grant to BRANCHES (Building Resources And Nurturing Community Health and Environmental Stewardship), which already provides part-time employment for 14- to 21-year-old youth who live in Baltimore City public housing.

The deal also involves funding from a private company for two positions — a community coordinator and AmeriCorps coordinator — for two years.




Texas Juvenile Justice Reformers: ‘Raise the Age' Will Rise Again

by Matt Smith

Supporters of overhauling juvenile justice in Texas cheered the passage of two state bills even as some mourned the failure of a third that would have stopped the prosecution of 17-year-olds as adults.

Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to restructure the state Juvenile Justice Department's network of youth correctional facilities to keep teens closer to their homes in the sprawling state — a method that has been increasingly deployed in large states. And they voted to stop hauling kids into court for truancy, currently a misdemeanor criminal charge.

But a closely watched measure that would have ended the routine prosecution of 17-year-olds in the state's adult court system fell short over the weekend. The House of Representatives had voted to add the “raise-the-age” provision to the Senate's juvenile justice bill, but House and Senate negotiators agreed to strip out the amendment before a final vote Sunday. That leaves Texas as one of only nine states that still regularly prosecute 17-year-old as adults.

“There were really three major juvenile justice bills that people were watching this session, and two out of the three passed,” said Michele Deitch, a University of Texas juvenile justice expert. “We should feel really good about those changes. I think they are certainly moving the state in the right direction.”

While the failure of raise-the-age legislation is disappointing, she said, “I think that it's the obvious next step in the reforms that Texas has been implementing over the last seven to eight years.”

Democratic State Rep. Gene Wu, who got the raise-the-age proposal added to the Senate bill, said he refused to sign the conference committee report in a “symbolic protest.” But he said supporters would keep working to get 17-year-olds out of adult courts between now and the Legislature's next session in two years.

“We understood that Senate Bill 1630 was a very important piece of reform legislation, and we didn't want to jeopardize it,” Wu told reporters Sunday afternoon. The bill “is going to make a huge difference to our juvenile population and especially to our courts.”

But, he added, “We want to treat kids as kids. We want them to have a chance to make mistakes, to learn and to grow from it, and not be saddled with something that affects their lives from then on because of one mistake.”

The main opponent of the raise-the-age measure was state Sen. John Whitmire, the chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee and the lead author of the juvenile justice bill. Whitmire, also a Democrat, told the Texas Observer in April that “a 17-year-old knows right from wrong” and questioned whether they would be any safer in juvenile lockups than in adult facilities, where jailers are required to keep them shielded from older inmates.

Whitmire did not respond to a request for comment on Monday, as lawmakers rushed to finish up their biennial legislative session. But Ana Yáñez-Correa, executive director of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, said Whitmire has told supporters that he would conduct a new study of the proposed bill before the Legislature convenes again in 2017.

“In a lot of states, it takes them a really long time to raise the age,” Yáñez-Correa said. “This is our first time that we've actually done it, and I'm very hopeful that next session, if we get the appropriations necessary, that we're going to be in a position where it becomes a reality.”

Meanwhile, she said, the juvenile justice bill has several provisions “that we really liked,” including the expansion of the independent ombudsman's office to investigate complaints at the county level, a new requirement for using a validated risk assessment tool to better place teens committed to the system and a ban on using refurbishing adult jail facilities to house juvenile offenders.

The bills that did pass have been sent to the desk of the state's Republican governor, Greg Abbott, who is expected to sign both.

In 2013, 17-year-olds made up about 3 percent of adult arrests, according to a report by the state House Juvenile Justice Committee. Nearly half were arrested for theft, marijuana possession or public drunkenness.

More than 500 teens who were 17 at the time of their offenses were sent to prison in 2014, while almost 7,600 more were put on probation in the adult system, the state Legislature's budget office reported. Putting those youths through juvenile courts would have cost the state about $16 million of its 200 billion-plus budget in the coming year, and about $57 million by 2020.

The cost to counties was harder to calculate, the estimate noted. Officials in Harris County, which includes Houston, said they would have to spend nearly $70 million to build a new juvenile detention center and juvenile court while saving about $6 million by transferring youths out of adult lockups. But Yañez-Correa said other states that have raised the age have seen costs come in lower than expected.

Deitch, who teaches at UT-Austin's Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and testified to a House committee on the bill, said the juvenile justice overhaul that did pass will require the state and counties to make “some pretty significant adjustments” as well. It would have made more sense to have included programs for 17-year-olds at the same time, she said.

“Rather than say, ‘OK, make all these changes now, and we'll come back next session and ask you to make another set of adjustments in that session,' let's make all those changes at once and figure out what they need to do this correctly,” Deitch said.



Broken Promises, Broken Lives

by Daryl Khan

The mostly black electorate of Baltimore elected a white candidate to be the next mayor in 1999. My editor at The Boston Globe asked me to go find out why. I was walking the derelict blocks of the city when I came upon the answer: a picture fastened to a splintering telephone pole that residents had turned into a makeshift memorial.

The picture was of Angus Breen, a grinning teenager, much younger looking than his 14 years, who had been savagely murdered — stabbed to death during a robbery over some trifle. White or black, the people I talked to 16 years ago said the meaningless death of that boy represented what was rotting away the core of Charm City: crime.

As mayor, Martin O'Malley inherited a troubled police department. When he departed Baltimore for Annapolis to become governor, many critics say he left behind an organization built on padded numbers, mass arrests, lies and a culture of capriciousness, racial targeting and random acts of violence. O'Malley announced Saturday he was running for president.

Like many other big cities, the late 1990s brought a crackdown on crime that translated into the gradual disintegration of the 4th Amendment and the effective criminalization of black youths in poor neighborhoods.

Freddie Gray was 9 when Angus Breen was murdered and O'Malley rode into office with promises of a safer city. Gray's death at the hands of police last spring after he was stopped for giving a cop a lingering look — an act that passes for probable cause in many big-city police departments these days — didn't come as a surprise to anyone familiar with big-city policing in poor black neighborhoods.

What did come as a surprise, to the city and the world, was the reaction.

Award-winning photographer Robert Stolarik remembers when he drove into Baltimore the night of the riots, looking at the chaos and feeling it might never end.

He raced past one fire after another, one group of young people after another, mean-looking bricks in their hands ready to throw. Civilization seemed like it could disintegrate and never be restored. A fire truck drove past a car engulfed in flames to get to a worse conflagration. As the fire truck passed, rioting youths pelted it with jagged bricks and bottles.

But order did return. Residents made their way out of their homes to take in the devastation, like people who survived a sudden and violent storm, emerging to see what was left.

The young people became an essential part of the cleanup. Many organized groups began the intimidating prospect of restoring a major American city after a civic cataclysm.

Riots are often Rorschach tests. People see what they want to see in the images of burning buildings and looting stores: either as animals who need to be thrown into a cage, or young people in need of jobs, criminal justice reform and an education system that prepares them for something more than street hustling.

Much like many big U.S. cities, Baltimore struggles to deal with its intractable problems of drugs and crime and youth with no prospects. As the Baltimore commissioner of health, Leana S. Wen, reminded us in a recent Washington Post editorial, her city's police department arrests 7,000 juveniles a year. When you add people under the age of 25, that raises the number to one-quarter of the 73,000 people arrested in the city on average a year. Many of those charges are directly or indirectly related to the drug trade. Of the 622,000 people in Baltimore, 62 percent are black. Of those arrested juveniles, 95 percent are black.

Whatever policy prescriptions you might read into the images that played out in west Baltimore earlier this month, those numbers are not going to change without someone doing something. Whether it's reform that takes place in the halls of the State House or more riots in the burning city streets, is up to the political leadership and grassroots organizers to determine.

Recently, a peaceful but impassioned protest suggested that the unrest unleashed in the wake of Freddie Gray's funeral is taking on the shape of a movement. Protesters carrying signs that read “Mr. Governor Education Not Incarceration” and, “Education Over Bondage and Incarceration” temporarily brought traffic to a halt in the Pigtown neighborhood of Baltimore.

The crowd delivered a pointed message that put incarceration squarely in the middle of the conversation over how to rebuild in the wake of the riots. Led by the Rev. Jamal Harrison Bryant, a group of about 40 people blocked exits on Interstate 395, calling for Gov. Larry Hogan to halt a new juvenile facility and put the money into the school system.

New city, same problems

I moved to Brooklyn shortly after the story about crime catapulting O'Malley into office. I spent the next 15 years covering criminal justice in New York City. A lot of times that meant running out to cover breaking stories.

One incident soon after I moved here drove home the fact that things in Brooklyn weren't any different than they were in Baltimore.

As part of a retaliation for some prior confrontation, two gunmen hunted down and killed two young men in the Ingersoll Houses, a cluster of garden apartments located in one of the poorest pockets in the city. One of the victims, Shaun Grant, lay crumpled on the sidewalk in the series of criss-crossing walkways in the projects. I remember a cop at the scene nodding at Grant's lifeless body and turning to me with a grin.

“Looks like that one didn't make the track team,” he said. “And now he never will,” he continued.

In the last year, I think about how the ubiquity of phones has brought what I saw on a nightly basis as a crime reporter to the rest of the world. I have been surprised at how intense the response has been. The spate of killings of young black men at the hands of police in the last year in Ferguson, Mo.; New York; Cleveland, and Baltimore have spawned what many consider a civil rights movement for the 21st century.

Beneath the banner of “Black Lives Matter,” people, many of them young, and many of them parents with young children, have taken to social media and in some cases the streets to demand an end to unconstitutional and often violent policing that disproportionately targets young black men.

But after reporting on the frontlines of this civil rights disaster for more than a decade I have my reservations. I wonder if the real lesson here is that black lives will continue to not matter as long as the same policies and tactics continue to go by new names; and so long as voters continue to elect politicians who do nothing to change the culture that sends the message to the police that when it comes to poor, black neighborhoods anything goes.

Back to normal

On the last day of the Baltimore curfew, police put the media behind tape on Pennsylvania Avenue, where most of the confrontations between officers and protesters had taken place. The acrid smell of smoldering fires still hung in the air, but with the news of indictments of the police officers for Freddy Gray's death, tensions had eased. One protester, wearing a T-shirt that read “Fuck the Police,” remained, a provocateur taunting the officers and refusing to agree to the final night of the curfew.

Officers responded by pepper spraying the young man in the face and slamming him to the ground. One officer in a hooded sweatshirt and a pair of blue jeans held his feet in the air. A uniformed officer hooked his right arm through the cuffed wrists and grabbed the man's pants by the elastic with his left hand. Stolarik snapped a picture just as the officer's face lit up with a broad smile, like a hunter posing with an impressive kill. The officer's face is filled with an almost guileless joy.

Another officer doused the protester's face with a bottle of water as he sat, hands cuffed behind his back. He writhed in agony, wailing an almost inhuman sound, while other officers stood over him.

This all transpired in front of dozens of journalists from around the world. It was almost as if the police were saying things were going back to normal.



How we taught 14,735 people hands-only CPR in a single day

The Bridgeport, Mass. AMR operation trained students in their schools in Mass. and Conn. for the 3rd annual World CPR Challenge

by Caesar Rondina

Our team of educators, providers, and operations staff accomplished an incredible feat for the 3rd annual World CPR by teaching hands-only CPR to 14,735 people at schools in Massachusetts and Connecticut in just 24 hours. This is how we did it.

Team effort

No single person was responsible for our success. It was a dedicated team effort by a great team. One thing 30 years as an educator has taught me, if the planning is perfect, the team will succeed.

We established a CPR Challenge committee, which was led by Aimee Roberts. She was the key element to our success. Our AMR operation also runs one of the largest training centers in Mass. For this year's World CPR Challenge we had over 50 providers, instructors and AMR staff available to us as instructors. We also have a great deal of blow-up CPR manikins, as well as full CPR manikins, which ensured plenty of available equipment.

Leadership support for big numbers and planning

My general manager, Bill Schietinger, and I met and agreed we were dedicated to making large numbers for the CPR challenge. Without his support and guidance we never would have achieved the numbers we did. Aimee and I met weekly, and then bi-weekly, and then everyday one week before the event.

Know the service area and target population

Each operation must know it's service area and where the largest numbers can be obtained for a training event like this. You will not obtain large numbers by going to shopping malls on a weekday. They are busy on weekends, not on weekdays.

Knowing our service area, we knew that to gain large numbers, we had to go where large groups of people gather together at one time. Which for us is schools.

Selling hands-only CPR to schools

We solicited our target audience, schools, with the selling point that children are our future caregivers. Students are out in the world as teenagers and being cared for by grandparents while they are in elementary school.

We identified events, with the help of 911 dispatchers, where a child was credited with saving a life or providing care until the first responders arrived. We used those success stories to market our idea for an in-school training program to school nurses and principals. The training opportunity spread by word-of-mouth because by the time we were halfway through with our marketing the schools were calling us.

Training delivery and reporting

On the day of the event the team leader monitored each location's numbers and needs. Every hour our instructors called into a central location with the numbers of students and others trained. We had people dedicated to move equipment and personnel around the venues as needed. The schools we were at were very impressed with how we worked with them to administer the training, and the kids loved it.

Final thoughts

The planning for our mass hands-only CPR training project started in January. My only mistake I made was underestimating how well it would be received by our EMS providers, instructors, managers, and target audience. We delivered training at 27 schools and next year hope to do more. We have already received calls inviting us back to do this next year.

This was a large undertaking. We had the resources, the equipment, and most of all the support and a team dedicated to succeed.

About the Author

Caesar Rondina is a paramedic and clinical education specialist for American Medical Response of Connecticut.



U.S. government hacked; feds think China is the culprit

by Kevin Liptak and Theodore Schleifer

Washington (CNN)Four million current and former federal employees, from nearly every government agency, might have had their personal information stolen by Chinese hackers, U.S. investigators said.

U.S. officials believe this could be the biggest breach ever of the government's computer networks. China called the allegation irresponsible.

The Office of Personnel Management, which is conducting background checks, warned it was urging potential victims to monitor their financial statements and get new credit reports.

The breach was initially thought to have impacted the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Interior, But government officials said nearly every federal government agency was hit by the hackers.

An assessment continues, and it is possible millions more government employees may be affected.

U.S. investigators: We believe this was China's work

U.S. investigators believe they can trace the breach to the Chinese government. Hackers working for the Chinese military are believed to be compiling a massive database of Americans, intelligence officials told CNN on Thursday night.

It is not clear what the purpose of the database is.

The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal first reported Thursday that Chinese hackers were responsible for the breach.

A spokesman from the Chinese Embassy in Washington objected late Thursday to allegations that the Chinese government may be behind the massive hack.

"Cyberattacks conducted across countries are hard to track, and therefore the source of attacks is difficult to identify. Jumping to conclusions and making hypothetical accusation is not responsible and counterproductive," said Zhu Haiquan.

EINSTEIN detection system

Employees of the legislative and judicial branches and uniformed military personnel were not affected.

There are 2.7 million federal executive branch employees. It's unclear whether this affected all of them, along with former employees, or only a portion of them.

The federal personnel office learned of the data breach after it began to toughen its cybersecurity defense system. When it discovered malicious activity, authorities used a detection system called EINSTEIN to eventually unearth the information breach in April 2015, the Department of Homeland Security said.

A month later, the federal agency learned sensitive data had been compromised.

The FBI is investigating what led to the breach.

"We take all potential threats to public and private sector systems seriously and will continue to investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace," the FBI said in a statement.

The federal personnel office said "personally identifiable information" had been breached, though the office didn't name who might be responsible.

Senator: The breach is 'disturbing'

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, called the breach "disturbing" and said the Office of Personnel Management needs to do a better job securing its information.

"It is disturbing to learn that hackers could have sensitive personal information on a huge number of current and former federal employees -- and, if media reports are correct, that information could be in the hands of China," Johnson said in a statement. "(The office) says it 'has undertaken an aggressive effort to update its cybersecurity posture.' Plainly, it must do a better job, especially given the sensitive nature of the information it holds."

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said hackers are one of the "greatest challenges we face on a daily bases."

"It's clear that a substantial improvement in our cyber databases and defenses is perilously overdue," Schiff said in a statement. "That's why the House moved forward on cybersecurity legislation earlier this year, and it's my hope that this latest incident will spur the Senate to action."




Justice Department's Civil Rights Chief Talks Race And Community Policing At U of C

With so much public attention being paid to policing issues across the country, Vanita Gupta, the head of the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, said there is currently an "unprecedented opportunity" to tackle "fundamental problems" as it relates to police and community relations as well as the criminal justice system.

Speaking Wednesday evening before an audience at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, Gupta also called the recent settlement reached in Cleveland over law enforcement practices a "model plan" that communities across the country could turn to for policing solutions.

The Justice Department and the city of Cleveland announced last Tuesday that they have entered into a consent decree to overhaul the Cleveland Division of Police after a federal investigation found that officers often used unreasonable and unnecessary force, among other problematic tactics.

"The Cleveland agreement, to me, really reflects the commitment by the city and the Division of Police to work with the Cleveland community to transform its police agency into a model of community-oriented policing," Gupta said. "The agreement also, to me, really demonstrates that people can come together across perceived differences to realize a common vision of a safer and more just city."

Among other reforms, the consent decree calls for the Cleveland Division of Police to use de-escalation techniques, rather than force, whenever possible and appropriate as well as the creation of a Community Police Commission comprised of 10 civilian members and one representative from each of the city's three police unions.

The federal probe that led to the consent decree in Cleveland is one among 22 investigations Gupta said the Justice Department has launched into police departments across the country since the start of the Obama administration.

Another notable Justice Department investigation was of the law enforcement practices in Ferguson, Missouri after the police shooting death of Michael Brown last August. Brown's death and other high-profile police killings of unarmed African Americans, more recently Freddie Gray in Baltimore, have sparked a national conversation about policing and racial issues.

In March, the Justice Department issued a scathing report on Ferguson's law enforcement, finding that the city's policing practices "disproportionately harm" African-American residents "and are driven in part by racial bias." The feds also found that the Ferguson Police Department "engages in a pattern of unconstitutional stops" and officers often arrest people without probable cause. Ferguson's "approach to law enforcement, shaped by the city's pressure to raise revenue, has resulted in a pattern and practice of constitutional violations," the report added.

As it relates to Ferguson's focus on generating revenue through policing, Gupta noted that the Justice Department, through its investigation, "observed that even minor code violations can sometimes result in multiple arrests, jail time and payments that exceed the cost of the original ticket many times over."

Gupta highlighted the story of a woman who received two parking tickets back in 2007 from the city of Ferguson that totaled $152.

"To date, she has paid $550 in fines and fees to the city of Ferguson," Gupta said. "She's been arrested twice for having unpaid tickets and she has spent six days in jail. Yet she still, inexplicably, owes Ferguson $541. Her story is only one of dozens of similar accounts that our investigation uncovered."

Since the Justice Department released its Ferguson report, which includes a list of recommended reforms, Gupta said various U.S. communities have started to look closer at their own policing policies and criminal justice systems. Gupta added that she knows several police chiefs who have made the Ferguson report required reading for their officers.

"Cities around the country are beginning to really re-examine their policing and municipal court practices," she said. "And I think that that is a positive step. But, obviously, we know there is much more work to do. In many communities, thoughtful police and city leaders are really working to re-prioritize community policing and rebuild community trust."

In Balitmore -- where Freddie Gray died in April from a spinal cord injury while in police custody -- city officials are also taking steps to address the fractured relationship between the police and community. At the request of Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation, with the support of the city's police commissioner and police union, into the entire Baltimore Police Department.

"Wherever the investigation may lead - and we don't know what we're gonna find, and we won't prejudge the outcome. We have, in fact, had investigations that have led to no constitutional violations - our goal is to work with the community, with public officials, with law enforcement officers, with police unions to help build a stronger and better Baltimore," Gupta said. "And as events in both Cleveland and Baltimore show, the commitment of all of these local actors is critically essential if we're gonna move forward to restore trust where it's been badly eroded, to promote healing and address problems that are common to so many great cities in America."




KCK seeks to hire more minorities and women for public safety jobs

by Mike Hendricks

Wyandotte County crossed the demographic divide a few years ago when minority residents began to outnumber white residents there.

Still, you wouldn't know Wyandotte was the only majority-minority county in the metro area by the skin tones of its police, firefighters and sheriff's deputies.

While non-Hispanic whites account for just 40 percent of the county's overall population, they make up two-thirds of the sheriff's department. Nearly three-fourths of the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department is white, as are four out of every five city firefighters.

Now comes a new report suggesting ways to make the public safety workforce better reflect the community it serves. The changes are aimed not only at increasing minority hiring but also at opening more opportunities for women, who are also under-represented by a wide margin in those departments.

It's far too early to know whether the recommendations will achieve the results Mayor Mark Holland was seeking when he took on the issue more than a year ago. But even addressing that lack of diversity after years of inaction and seeming indifference is seen by some as a positive sign.

“We understand everything can't be done overnight, but it's a very good start,” said Kansas City, Kan., firefighter Terrance Henderson, president of the local chapter of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters.

Longtime civil rights activist Alvin Sykes agreed, but he's not celebrating just yet.

“Five years from now, if people look and see there is no significant change,” he said, “this will be viewed as a failure from the community standpoint.”

Sykes was one of 40 members of the Mayor's Public Safety Recruitment Task Force, which turned in its recommendations this week to the Unified Government Board of Commissioners.

The board approved the measures Thursday night, although some of the changes are subject to passage of the Unified Government budget this summer.

Broadly speaking, the recommendations call for more intensive recruitment of Wyandotte County young people, fewer or relaxed prerequisites for job applicants, as well as more openness about the reasons some job applicants aren't hired and those already on staff are denied promotions.

Currently, many walk away with no explanation.

One significant change suggested: Fire Department applicants would no longer be required to get emergency medical technician certification before being considered for employment.

For some low-income minorities, that can be a deal killer. Without being assured it will lead to a job, many say they cannot afford to pay for the required coursework at Kansas City, Kan., Community College.

The task force suggests letting new hires work toward EMT certification on the job the way some other fire departments already do. Across the state line, in the other Kansas City, training is done in-house, as it was in Kansas City, Kan., prior to 1993.

“We're not lowering the standards at all for our Fire Department,” Holland said. “You'll still need an EMT before you get on a truck.”

But not everyone on the task force supported the change because of the cost involved with training EMTs.

“The city doesn't have the money for that,” said Unified Government Commissioner Mike Kane.

But Holland said the cost would be minimal and might be covered by efficiencies recommended in an upcoming report on the department's finances. The city spends $52 million a year on fire protection, when Topeka, a city of similar size, only spends half that much.

Holland said any savings found in the fire budget could also go toward the $1.4 million to $3 million it might cost to beef up the cadet programs at the fire, police and sheriff's departments.

Those programs make up the most costly recommendation in the public safety report. Most of the others would cost little or nothing and lead to a bigger hiring pool of minority and female applicants, Holland said.

One suggestion that received broad support lowers the minimum age for applying to the Fire Department from 21 to 19.

That's more in line with other fire departments in the area. In Overland Park, 18 is the minimum, while it's 19 in Kansas City.

While the Fire Department is more heavily white and male than the police and sheriff's departments, public safety agencies across the nation are predominantly white and male.

That lack of diversity was one focus of the national discussion set off last summer with the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. It has only intensified since then with each new report of an unarmed black male dying after police confrontations in places like New York, Cleveland and Baltimore.

Holland's concerns arose before Ferguson when he attended a graduation cermony for new firefighters in the fall of 2013. Of the 42 cadets in that class and a subsequent one, all but one graduate (a Hispanic) were white, and there was just one woman.

Holland later learned that only 25 percent of those hires were graduates of Wyandotte County high schools, which to Holland meant that young people in his community were missing out on some good-paying jobs close to home.

Further study with help from the U.S. Department of Justice showed similar challenges in the police and sheriff's departments.

Holland formed his task force last fall. Its members included representatives from all three public safety agencies and people from the community. The goal was to propose reforms that would increase minority job applicants and address real and seeming unfairness in the hiring system.

“One such perception is nepotism,” said task force member William Barajas, a 30-year Kansas City, Kan., police officer who is president of the local chapter of the National Latino Peace Officers Association. “Most people I spoke to during my career asked me who I was related to or knew to get the job.”

Barajas got in on his own, with no one pulling strings.

Holland said the task force found no overt discrimination. But he said some policies, such as the one requiring EMT certification, had the unintended consequence of dissuading some minority applicants from applying for public safety jobs.

The departments also need to do a better job of actively seeking out women and minority applicants, the task force said.

“Recruiting is more than just putting an ad in the paper,” said Henderson, who wasn't on the panel but whose organization was represented.

Sykes said it's a challenge promoting law enforcement as a career when police have such a negative imagine among minorities.

That's not just a Wyandotte County issue, though.

“The big elephant in the room,” he said, “is improving police-community relations to the point that people would feel proud being a member of public safety.”

Several elements of the task force recommendations are aimed at that, such as having dedicated recruiters working more closely with area high schools.

But Holland said it won't be a quick or easy fix.

“It's going to take us a while to get there,” he said.



Police seek third person in Usaamah Rahim's Boston terror plot

by Ben Brumfield and Shimon Prokupecz

The FBI and Boston police made their move on terror suspect Usaamah Rahim on Tuesday, because a bugged phone call with one of his two associates tipped them off that he was about to make his move.

Rahim, 26, was shot dead in a parking lot; one associate, David Wright, 25, was arrested and charged; and late Wednesday, police were on the trail of the other, whom they have not named.

The third person's contact with Rahim -- who they believe was radicalized by extremists -- went beyond an "Internet relationship," authorities have said. Officers have raided locations in Massachusetts, where Rahim lived -- and in one Rhode Island in pursuit of person No. 3.

Authorities have yet to reveal what the raids turned up.


Rahim, 26, and Wright, 25, were apparently tight -- Rahim called him his nephew on Facebook, where he thanked him for attending his wedding. Both of them used aliases on Facebook. Rahim went by "Abu Sufyaan" and referred to Wright as "Dawud Sharif Abdul-Khaliq."

And they spoke in coded language, too, the FBI said, but Rahim's meaning in recorded phone conversations with Wright seemed obvious to agent Joseph Galietta, who listened in.

Rahim would come out swinging with a knife soon to kill police officers -- probably Tuesday, Wednesday at the latest, Galietta said in an affidavit.

"I'm just going to, ah, go after them, those boys in blue. Cause, ah, it's the easiest target," Rahim told Wright, according to the affidavit.

FBI listening in

Rahim referred to his planned act of jihad as "going on vacation." Wright advised him to make out a will before he left. He'd be departing soon, Rahim told Wright, with the FBI listening in.

Rahim had recently purchased three military fighting knives on Amazon.com. The FBI had intercepted at least one delivery and X-rayed it before letting it continue on to Rahim. He was originally planning to behead someone in another state, Galietta said.

His target? Conservative blogger Pamela Geller, who had organized a Prophet Mohammed cartoon drawing contest in Garland, Texas, last month, law enforcement sources told CNN. Two men had tried to shoot cartoon participants back then, but an off-duty police officer working security shot them dead.

'Liked' ISIS

The FBI had been watching Rahim for a few years and said his behavior had changed in that time. He had made social media threats to police officers, they said.

On Facebook, Rahim "liked" ISIS as well as a radical cleric and a historic Islamic scholar credited with theology that helped lead to radical Islam.

Anti-terrorism authorities had Rahim under 24-hour surveillance, said Vincent B. Lisi, FBI special agent in charge.

And they had been observing Wright and the other associates as well, who they believed were radicalized.

'I can't wait that long'

Wright waved his Miranda rights and spoke openly with FBI agents, Galietta said in the affidavit. He, Rahim and the third person had met on a Rhode Island beach to talk about the beheading plan.

"Wright indicated that he agreed with Rahim's plan and supported it," the affidavit said.

But Rahim, a security guard, became impatient and needed more accessible targets.

"I can't wait that long," he told Wright over the phone, according to the FBI affidavit.

Dead two hours later

Two hours after the phone conversation with Wright, FBI and Boston police officers confronted Rahim in the parking lot. Their weapons were not drawn, but then things went south. Rahim pulled a military grade knife and went after them, they said. Officers drew and shot him dead.

Over the phone, Wright had told Rahim he should delete evidence data on his smartphone. "Get rid of it, before anybody gets it; make sure it's completely destroyed."

U.S. District Court in Boston charged Wright with obstructing a federal investigation by destroying electronic evidence on Rahim's smartphone. A detention hearing was scheduled for June 19 after prosecutors said he was a flight risk.

Wright faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison if convicted. Wright's attorney, Jessica Hedges, cast doubt on the legal quality of the investigation but did not specify complaints against investigators.

The shooting

Following the shooting, Rahim's brother Ibrahim Rahim posted a claim on social media that police had shot Usaamah Rahim in the back while he waited on a bus and spoke with their father over his cell phone.

Social media lit up with accusations against officers.

But Boston police said surveillance video told a different story, and community civil rights and religious leaders were invited to have a look at it and talk to reporters about what they'd seen.

Rahim was not at a bus stop, not on the phone at the time of the shooting and was not shot in the back, they said. "The information reported by others that that was the case was inaccurate," Darnell Williams, president and chief executive of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts.

Williams said prosecutors want Rahim's family to see the video before showing it to the public.



Sen. Al Franken is demanding information from FBI on surveillance flights

He asked about use of surveillance technology and legality of flights.

by John Reinan and Matt McKinney

U.S. Sen. Al Franken on Wednesday asked for more information about government surveillance flights in cities across the country, including Minneapolis. In particular, Franken wants to know what spy technology is being used by the fleet of small planes, which are registered to fictitious companies in Virginia.

An Associated Press investigation this week definitively linked the flights, which had already drawn media and public attention, to a widespread FBI surveillance program. Scores of aircraft have been used in the program, most of them single-engine Cessnas that can remain aloft at low speed for hours.

The Star Tribune previously reported that one of the planes made several flights last month in the Twin Cities area, including at least one late at night in which it repeatedly circled downtown Minneapolis, the Mall of America and Southdale Center at low altitudes.

Franken, in his letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey, said the public needs to know more about the surveillance.

“Many Americans have been troubled by these reports, and as ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, I believe it is important to ensure that these programs adequately protect Americans' privacy while furthering public safety and national security,” Franken wrote.

Franken asked what surveillance technologies the FBI planes are using, rattling off a laundry list of spy gear including IMSI-catchers, dirtboxes and Stingrays. All are devices used to capture information from cellphones. Franken also asked the FBI to explain its use of infrared cameras and video cameras.

The letter asks for an explanation of the legal authority under which the FBI is conducting the surveillance program, and whether it's on a case-by-case basis or under a broader authorization. “Please provide a representative sample of the applications for these court orders,” the letter states.

Franken also asked about what policies the Department of Justice has developed for the use of these devices, and the retention of data they collect.

“What safeguards are in place to ensure that innocent Americans' privacy is protected during aerial surveillance utilizing technology that collects data and personal information?” he asked.

Franken's letter did not specify a deadline for receiving the information. The FBI and Department of Justice did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday.




Community policing: Belleview

by April Warren

Editor's note: There has been a lot of discussion in recent months — in the wake of what happened in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere — about police agencies and their relationships with the communities they serve. The Star-Banner decided to check some metrics for the key law enforcement agencies that serve Marion County. We asked about the racial makeup of the departments, their record on complaints concerning use of force, and their ideas about community policing. Check out this story and accompanying stories about the Sheriff's Office and the police departments in Ocala and Dunnellon.

BELLEVIEW — With a population of just over 4,600 residents, this city in south Marion County is a place where almost everyone knows each other — and where city police can often be seen chatting with citizens and business owners.

“Obviously we're a small community, so we know just about everybody, just as they know us,” said Belleview police Chief Lee Strickland.

Strickland has been a law enforcement officer since 1977, first with the Ocala Police Department and later with the Belleview Police Department, from which he will retire in July.

“We eat in the same restaurants, we see the same people every day, we encourage the officers to get out and try to meet all the business owners they can,” Strickland said when asked how his officers engage in community policing.

Since the city is small, officers are not assigned to particular zones. Once officers are notified of a possible incident, response time is two minutes, according to Strickland. The agency also makes a point of sending an officer out to the location for every call, instead of just handling the matter by phone.

The force is made up of 13 officers: the chief, one lieutenant, three sergeants, five corporals, one first-class officer and two officers. There is one woman and one Pacific Islander. The rest (85 percent) are white males. Most have five or more years experience.

The city itself is 89 percent white, 7 percent black or African-American and 1.2 percent American Indian and Alaskan Native, according to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

From April 27 through May 27 the agency responded to about 2,000 events, which ranged from writing citations to security at local parks to burglary to backing up other officers and warrant arrests, according to agency data.

“A lot of them are burglaries,” said Strickland of the calls. “I hate to say it, but a lot of it is domestic violence, too. We pretty much have the same type of calls as a larger city, just in a smaller group.”

Strickland said there have been no complaints of excessive use of force lodged against any of the officers. A check of both state and federal court records showed no lawsuits alleging officer abuse.

“We get minor complaints on police officers,” he said, giving the example of a driver who grumbles about a traffic ticket.

In light of the recent publicized conflicts between police and residents in other communities, Belleview police are not doing anything differently.

“We haven't felt the need because we treat everybody fair and we treat everybody with respect and we really don't have those problem areas,” Stickland said.

Shelly Mayer is co-owner of Todd and Shelly's Farm Fresh Produce Market, which opened up inside the city in December. She says so far she hasn't met any members of the police department and hasn't gotten around to stopping by and introducing herself, either. So far she hasn't needed their services.

Summerfield resident Linda Vann has lived in the area since 1995. On Wednesday she sat on a bench near Lake Lillian while her 6-year-old grandson enjoyed the playground. She has frequented Belleview for shopping and recreation over the years and has observed the police presence in the community, which she sees as a positive.

She has also seen police around Lake Lillian and says while she is watching her grandson, it's nice to know someone is looking out for her.

“Because, you know, it's a public place” Vann said before leaving the park. “And sometimes you don't know who is around you.”



Washington D.C.

Questions and answers about newly approved USA Freedom Act


WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama has signed into law the USA Freedom Act, which extends three expiring surveillance provisions of the 9/11-era USA Patriot Act. It also overhauls the most controversial provision, which had been interpreted to allow bulk collection of U.S. phone records by the National Security Agency.

Questions and answers about the bill the Senate passed on Tuesday and the House approved earlier:

Q: What happens with the phone records collection?

A: It will resume for six months, provided that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court orders phone companies to turn over the records and that no court stops it under various pending lawsuits. During that period, the NSA will seek to work with providers to come up with a way to quickly query their records against known terrorist phone numbers, pursuant to a court order. It will be able to collect data for all the numbers in contact with the suspect number, and all the numbers in contact with those numbers. So the NSA will still be rooting around in Americans' phone records, but it won't be collecting all of them.

Q: What about the American calling records the NSA has been collecting for years?

A: Obama administration officials have not said what they will do with those and whether they will continue to search them.

Q: What about the other surveillance provisions that expired?

A: The roving wiretap provision, which allows the FBI to eavesdrop on espionage and terror suspects who discard cell phones frequently, will go back into effect, as will the lone-wolf provision, which has never been used. The FBI will still be able to use Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect a variety of business records in national security investigations. But the new law requires the government to limit the scope of its collection, prohibiting it from grabbing, for example, all information relating to a particular service provider or area code.

Q: What else will change under the USA Freedom Act?

A: The new law gives private companies more leeway to publicly report information about the number of national security surveillance demands they receive. And it requires declassification of FISA Court opinions containing significant legal decisions, or a summary if declassification is not possible. That is designed to prevent secret interpretations such as the one that allowed bulk collection of U.S. phone records.

Q: Does this legislation address the concerns raised by the disclosures of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden?

A: It addresses the most controversial program he revealed, the domestic phone records collection. But it does nothing to affect another major Snowden revelation: the NSA's collection of foreign Internet content from U.S. tech companies, a program that sweeps up lots of American communications. And it doesn't address the bulk of Snowden disclosures about foreign intelligence gathering and the NSA's attempts to exploit technology, such as encryption, for the benefit of U.S. intelligence.

Q: Who are the political winners and losers coming out of this legislative fight?

A: Winners include Obama, who proposed this idea more than a year ago to assuage public concerns about surveillance, and congressional Democrats, who backed it. Also coming out ahead are libertarian Republicans, including Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a presidential candidate who used Senate rules to box in his own party's leaders.

The biggest loser by any measure is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who opposed the USA Freedom Act and thought he could force the House to accept a last-minute extension of current law. But because of Paul and others, McConnell couldn't make that happen. He then saw his proposed changes to the USA Freedom Act defeated.




2 Men In Boston Terror Probe Were Communicating About Attacks In U.S.


BOSTON (CBS/AP) – A man arrested in connection with a terror investigation in Boston will be in federal court Wednesday.

David Wright was taken into custody at his home in Everett Tuesday afternoon, hours after a Boston police officer and an FBI agent shot and killed a man who was under 24-hour surveillance by terrorism investigators in Roslindale.

According to CBS News, Wright and the man killed, 26-year-old Usaama Rahim, were communicating about attacks in the U.S. and that's why he was arrested. Investigators are continuing to look for other people both men were communicating with.

Wright will face federal charges in U.S. District Court in South Boston.

Christina DiIorio-Sterling, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, wouldn't specify the charges, but confirmed they're related to the Rahim investigation.


Boston police said they have surveillance video showing Rahim with a large military-style knife lunging at a police officer and an FBI agent in a CVS parking lot in Roslindale Tuesday morning before he was shot and killed — an account his brother has disputed.

A federal law enforcement source told CBS News Rahim had been on investigators' radar for several months and recently under 24-hour surveillance.

He had allegedly become radicalized and inspired by ISIS' online propaganda and the belief is he wanted to attack law enforcement.

According to a law enforcement source, Rahim “started to act a little differently” Tuesday.

Even though members of the joint terrorism task force did not have an arrest warrant, they wanted to question him.

In the parking lot they moved in before he could make it to a bus. A source told CBS News Rahim was about to get on the bus and investigators wanted to prevent that from happening.

The surveillance video from a nearby restaurant across the street shows what happened next, according to investigators.

Rahim allegedly pulled out the knife, officers repeatedly ordered him to drop it, according to Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans, but he continued to move toward them with it. He said the officers fired their guns, hitting Rahim once in the torso and once in the abdomen. Rahim was rushed to Brigham and Women's Hospital, where he died.


That description differs from one given by Rahim's brother Ibrahim Rahim, who said in a Facebook post that his youngest brother was killed while waiting at a bus stop to go to his job.

“He was confronted by three Boston Police officers and subsequently shot in the back three times,” he wrote. “He was on his cellphone with my dear father during the confrontation needing a witness.”

Ibrahim Rahim, a former assistant imam at a Boston mosque, could not immediately be reached for more comment Tuesday. In an email to the Associated Press, he said he was traveling to Boston to bury his brother.

Investigators say they are planning to share their video evidence with the Islamic Society of Boston.

The Council of American-Islamic Relations will monitor the investigation, spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said.

“We have a number of questions,” Hooper said. “Why exactly was he being followed? What was the probable cause for this particular stop? Were there any video cameras or body cameras of the incident? How do you reconcile the two versions of the story, the family version being that he was on his normal commute to work at a bus stop?”


Boston voter registration records for Usaama Rahim list him as a student. Records indicate that as recently as two years ago he was licensed as a security officer in Miami but don't specify in what capacity.

Yusufi Vali, executive director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, said the center's security firm hired Rahim as a security guard for a month in mid-2013. Vali said Rahim did not regularly pray at the center and did not volunteer there or serve in any leadership positions.


Authorities also searched a home in Rhode Island, Tuesday, but would not confirm that was linked to the Roslindale shooting.

Shortly Rahim was killed, federal agents and RI State Police showed up at a home on Aspinet Drive in Warwick. Neighbors say officers went into the house with their weapons drawn, but no shots were fired.

Neighbors say a man in his late 20's has lived in the house for quite some time. According to them, the man recently grew a beard, and started wearing robes and acting strange. It is unclear if anyone was taken into custody at the home.

WPRI-TV reported that the Warwick investigation is connected to the anti-terror investigation.




Man dies after struggle with officers in Ky.

by The Associated Press

LOUISA, Ky. — A man died after a confrontation with officers who used a stun gun on him at a police department in eastern Kentucky, state police said.

Billy J. Collins, 56, became combative at the Louisa Police Department after his arrest Friday and struck Sgt. Steven Wilburn multiple times before fleeing into a foyer, where he barricaded himself, according to a Kentucky State Police statement.

Collins was hit twice with a stun gun but continued to be combative, the statement said. Officers had a physical confrontation with him that included "strikes with closed empty hands" and with agency-issued batons before bringing him under control, police said.

Collins was then restrained and put in a sitting position when he began showing signs of a medical emergency, police said. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.

Results of an autopsy weren't released, but police said they are reviewing Collins' prior medical issues as part of their investigation. The preliminary investigation has found no criminal activity on the part of officers, police said.

Louisa Police Chief Greg A. Fugitt said the department is cooperating fully with the state police investigation. He referred other questions about the case to Kentucky State Police.

A state police spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.




Mass. cops allow addicts to turn in drugs if they seek treatment

Unique policy was launched Monday in the Massachusetts city of Gloucester

by Phillip Marcelo

BOSTON — Heroin users seeking help for their addiction won't be arrested if they turn over their drugs and needles to police under a unique policy launched Monday in the Massachusetts city of Gloucester.

Drug addicts — including those abusing morphine, oxycodone and other opioids — will instead be taken by an officer to the local hospital emergency room where they'll be connected with substance abuse clinicians and, eventually, be referred to a treatment facility.

Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello says the program is about trying to change police strategies in the face of a nationwide drug abuse epidemic that's hit Massachusetts and other New England states especially hard.

"It's a conversation changer. That's where we're going with this," he said Monday. "For police officers, it's hard to give up a fight and think of another strategy, but we've made a conscious decision to do that because we did not see our supply-side war on drugs having an effect. This is getting at it from a different angle."

Massachusetts has declared opioid addiction a public health emergency, with policy makers proposing a range of ways to combat the scourge.

Campanello says a citywide spike in drug overdoses this year prompted police to take the unusual step of developing the new police policy.

Gloucester, a historic fishing city north of Boston that's now a popular tourist destination, has already matched last year's total of four drug overdose-related deaths and dozens more people have been treated for drug overdoses, he said.

Daniel Raymond, policy director at the Harm Reduction Coalition, a New York-based group that advocates on drug-related policies, says the effort is unique in the country.

"What the police chief has done is cut right through the stigma and address people not as potential criminals but as people with problems," he said. "I hope that other police departments see what Gloucester is doing and follow their lead."

But Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett has warned the department it may lack the legal authority to promise addicts they won't be charged with a crime. That authority, he suggests, rests with judges and prosecutors.

"While we applaud the general idea of your proposal, an explicit promise not to charge a person who unlawfully possesses drugs may amount to a charging promise that you lack legal authority to make, and on which a drug offender may not be able to rely," he said in a letter to Campanello in late May.

The police chief says the department is on solid legal footing: the mayor's office has vetted and supports the initiative.

Gloucester, like other police departments, also conducts gun buyback and prescription drug disposal days throughout the year, he notes.

And Massachusetts, like other states, has a so-called "Good Samaritan" law that prevents people from being arrested if they are seeking medical help for themselves or another person suffering from an overdose.

"This is not unprecedented," Campanello said. "It's ludicrous to think otherwise."

Gloucester's policy, which the chief says is in effect indefinitely, also gives officers the discretion to refer addicts they encounter in the streets or in the community to the new ANGEL program rather than charge them with a crime. However, those with outstanding arrest warrants and certain individuals with three or more drug-related arrests are ineligible.

As of Monday afternoon, Campanello reported no one had yet come to the police station to turn over drugs and seek treatment.

"All you can do is extend the hand of trust and say this is how far we are willing to go," he said. "We can't force people to come to the police station. But we want them to know that this can be a safe haven for them."



Washington D.C.

Mock explosives, weapons go undetected at US airports

WASHINGTON -- In a shocking lapse, undercover US investigators were able to smuggle mock explosives and weapons through checkpoints at many of America's busiest airports in 95 per cent of the trials, prompting a shake up of the country's Transportation Security Administration.

The spokesperson said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson directed Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to take "a series of actions, several of which are now in place," to address the issues the 'Red Team' tests identified.

Johnson also issued a statement saying that Melvin Carraway, the acting administrator for the TSA, would be reassigned. Mark Hatfield, acting deputy director, will take over until a new acting administrator is appointed.

The move came after an internal TSA investigation showed security failures at dozens of the nation's busiest airports, where undercover investigators were able to smuggle mock explosives or banned weapons through checkpoints in 95 per cent of trials, according to ABC News.

The series of tests were conducted by Homeland Security 'Red Teams' who posed as passengers, setting out to beat the system.

According to officials briefed on the results of a recent Homeland Security Inspector General's report, TSA agents failed 67 out of 70 tests, with 'Red Team' members repeatedly able to get potential weapons through checkpoints.

According to ABC News, in one test an undercover agent was stopped after setting off an alarm at a magnetometer, but TSA screeners failed to detect a fake explosive device that was taped to his back during a follow-on pat down.

Officials, however, did not divulge the exact time period of the testing other than to say it concluded recently.

Homeland security officials insist that security at the nation's airports is strong -- that there are layers of security including bomb sniffing dogs and other technologies seen and unseen. But officials were quoted as saying that these were disappointing results.

This is not the first time the TSA has had trouble spotting 'Red Team' agents.

A similar episode played out in 2013, when an undercover investigator with a fake bomb hidden on his body passed through a metal detector, went through a pat-down at New Jersey's Newark Liberty Airport, and was never caught.

More recently, the Department of Homeland Security inspector general's office concluded a series of undercover tests targeting checked baggage screening at airports across the country.

That review found "vulnerabilities" throughout the system, attributing them to human error and technological failures.




LA County Sheriff's Department seeks to hire 1,300 deputies

Sheriff Jim McDonnell is expanding his recruiting department and launching a hiring push, but it won't be an easy goal to achieve

by The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is looking for more than a few good men and women.

The nation's largest sheriff's department will need about 1,300 additional sworn personnel by July 1, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

To reach that number, Sheriff Jim McDonnell is expanding his recruiting department and launching a hiring push, but it won't be an easy goal to achieve.

For every 100 applicants, only two or three become deputies, sheriff's officials said. Half fail the background check.

So far, they are covering the shortage with overtime, sheriff's officials said.

"We would rather work short than hire the wrong people," Todd Rogers, assistant sheriff in charge of personnel and recruiting, told the Times. "We are not going to compromise our standards just to meet a hiring goal."

That can't go on indefinitely, said Jeffrey Steck, the president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs.

"It puts the deputies in danger, and I think it puts our population in danger, our citizens in danger," Steck said. "There is going to be some tragedy where we're going to look back at that guy who was on duty for 15 or 16 hours and say that was a mistake, say, 'I told you.' "

McDonnell, who replaced retired Sheriff Lee Baca last December, inherited a department saddled with federal investigations of brutality, corruption and racial harassment.

Many of the added deputy positions are needed in county jails after the department settled a lawsuit by promising better supervision and training there to avoid further accusations of inmate beatings and harassment. Sheriff's officials also signed an agreement with the federal government in April promising deputies in the Antelope Valley would no longer single out blacks and Latinos for harassment.

The sheriff's department, with 9,000 sworn deputies and another 9,000 non-sworn employees, is the largest in the nation.

Money is available for many of the needed positions, but the greater task will be finding qualified people, officials said. In addition to those who fail the initial background check, large numbers of applicants also flunk the written test or the rigorous physical fitness test.

Of those accepted into the sheriff's training academy, only about 20 percent graduate.




Getting civilian oversight? Get them Force Science Certified

Because predictable is preventable, your agency must plan now for the probability that a civilian oversight body will be foisted upon you, and that preparation should involve suggested training

by Doug Wyllie

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson recently signed a consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department that gives him — and the public to whom he answers at the voting booth — unprecedented leverage over the Cleveland Police Department. The consent decree was all but inevitable. Jackson had been under tremendous political pressure from citizens of Cleveland — and denizens of Washington, D.C. — to “do something” following a number of officer-involved shootings that made national headlines during Jackson's time in office.

Notable among those incidents was the shooting death of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who had been witnessed brandishing a toy gun in a playground. A community activist named William Myers pointedly said in December that the Rice incident happened “on his watch,” adding that “people will remember the development of the downtown and a whole bunch of other things — but I'm going to remember that a 12-year-old kid got shot.”

So, Jackson gave the people what they wanted — he agreed to a far-reaching consent decree that will impact how Cleveland cops do their jobs on a daily basis for many years to come.

Potential Problems
Perhaps the most startling element of that consent decree is the degree to which civilian oversight will be employed. The Associated Press reported that a civilian — not a police professional — will head the internal affairs unit, and a civilian will be appointed to the new position of police inspector general.

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

Upon reading those words, three things came to mind in rapid succession:

1. How vigorously will these people be trained in law enforcement matters?

This is very probably the future for police in Anytown — and Everytown — USA.

Law enforcement professionals must be active participants in the formulation of the model for the ‘new normal.' If we simply ‘turtle up' and wait for a more cop-friendly political atmosphere, potentially irreversible decisions will have been made without any meaningful input from the people who are actually experts in policing — the police. We have to get ahead of the issue and offer some solid solutions, or we will forever lose the initiative.

A New Normal
Let's start with a fundamental truth. If structured and executed correctly, civilian oversight can be a good thing. If it's done poorly, it can be an unmitigated disaster.

So, let's focus on your city (assuming you don't work in Cleveland), because if you don't think that a similar consent decree could not befall your agency following a high-profile OIS, you're fooling yourself. In fact, it's probably coming to your agency even if you don't make national news headlines.

The only way to limit the risk of having such a thing foisted upon your agency is to execute a plan of action before something lousy cooks off. That plan should involve strategically thinking through how your agency would recommend civilian overseers be trained.

Many police agencies with civilian oversight boards require that those individuals attend a Citizen's Police Academy. That's a start, but it is woefully incomplete. A Citizen's Academy scratches the surface of what people need to know, but a serious and responsible citizen oversight initiative must go much further. I contend that any and all civilian oversight personnel be Force Science Certified.

Solution: Force Science
I am aware of no other training or certification in the world which is better suited to getting a civilian sufficiently up to speed on the dynamics of deadly force encounters than what is provided by Dr. Bill Lewinski and his team at Force Science Institute.

There is certainly other training available for potential civilian overseers, but having personally taken Force Science classes — as well as numerous Citizen's Academies and countless hundreds of hours of other police training — I firmly believe there is no better training for candidates for the job of civilian overseer.

I'm not alone in that thinking. A large police department in the Midwest — which has one of the largest civilian oversight bodies in the country — has committed to having every member of that group certified in Force Science.

Force Science classes are designed to “clearly present, in a practical and understandable fashion, the results of the most cutting edge research into the dynamics of human behavior during life-threatening encounters.”

Police professionals — from line officers to administrators, investigators, IA personnel, critical incident teams, and police psychologists — have benefited from the training provided by FSI. Force Science researchers have examined some of the most controversial issues in law enforcement, including:

How threatening suspects end up shot in the back by well-trained officers making valid, lawful shooting decisions

Why officers continue to fire “extra” rounds in high-adrenaline confrontations after the threat has ended

What popular tactics used by some officers trying to reduce lag time actually put the officers at greater risk.

How perceptual distortions and stress-induced memory gaps can impact an officer's ability to accurately recall incident details

How quickly suspects can launch an attack and why officers and trainers must take Force Science speed studies into account when preparing for a confrontation

What “ready” position is really best for reducing lag time in an armed encounter

Why unsnapping a holster in an attempt to decrease lag time may not be a sound tactical idea

How investigators can best “mine” officers' memories and avoid interviewing mistakes that can put the officer, the investigator, and the entire department in jeopardy

For those who are unfamiliar with FSI, it merits mention that all the research is done by scientific method, using human participants in simulated real-world experiments. That research is then turned into classroom and written material for the furtherance of the study of human performance factors in police work.

FSI's New Digs
I was recently given an exclusive tour of the newly opened, 10,000-square-foot Force Science Training & Research Center in Des Plaines (Ill.), just outside of Chicago and a stone's throw from O'Hare International Airport. Classrooms are equipped with the latest in audiovisual technology and international teleconferencing capabilities. There is a video production space, as well as comfortable break / networking areas.

The space is ideally suited for the education of civilians tasked with oversight of their police. It is a comfortable, protected spot where people can freely share ideas, confront challenges, explore new realms of human performance and, most importantly, to learn.

In the past, Force Science Certification was available only to a finite number of police professionals. The travelling roadshow style the folks at FSI employed was not scalable to accommodate large numbers of civilian participants. The opening of the Center is a game-changer, and it could not come at a better time because now more than ever, people outside of law enforcement need to be trained in Force Science.

It's Easy Math
The calculus on this is simple. Politicians like to stay in office. The people determine whether or not they remain in office. The people want civilian oversight of police.

We cannot allow people who know nothing about police work — particularly the human performance factors involved in high-stress, rapidly-unfolding, deadly-force encounters — to tell officers how to do their jobs. We must embrace the change that is coming and actively participate in it. We must take responsibility for offering suitable training solutions, or it will all be done without us.

Sending members of civilian oversight bodies to Force Science Institute is not the only answer to this question, but in my opinion, it is the best answer.

About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor in Chief of PoliceOne, responsible for setting the editorial direction of the website and managing the planned editorial features by our roster of expert writers. An award-winning columnist — he is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column — Doug has authored more than 800 feature articles and tactical tips on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA). Even in his "spare" time, he is active in his support for the law enforcement community, contributing his time and talents toward police-related charitable events as well as participating in force-on-force training, search-and-rescue training, and other scenario-based training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.




Texas Juvenile Justice Reformers: ‘Raise the Age' Will Rise Again

by Matt Smith

Supporters of overhauling juvenile justice in Texas cheered the passage of two state bills even as some mourned the failure of a third that would have stopped the prosecution of 17-year-olds as adults.

Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to restructure the state Juvenile Justice Department's network of youth correctional facilities to keep teens closer to their homes in the sprawling state — a method that has been increasingly deployed in large states. And they voted to stop hauling kids into court for truancy, currently a misdemeanor criminal charge.

But a closely watched measure that would have ended the routine prosecution of 17-year-olds in the state's adult court system fell short over the weekend. The House of Representatives had voted to add the “raise-the-age” provision to the Senate's juvenile justice bill, but House and Senate negotiators agreed to strip out the amendment before a final vote Sunday. That leaves Texas as one of only nine states that still regularly prosecute 17-year-old as adults.

“There were really three major juvenile justice bills that people were watching this session, and two out of the three passed,” said Michele Deitch, a University of Texas juvenile justice expert. “We should feel really good about those changes. I think they are certainly moving the state in the right direction.”

While the failure of raise-the-age legislation is disappointing, she said, “I think that it's the obvious next step in the reforms that Texas has been implementing over the last seven to eight years.”

Democratic State Rep. Gene Wu, who got the raise-the-age proposal added to the Senate bill, said he refused to sign the conference committee report in a “symbolic protest.” But he said supporters would keep working to get 17-year-olds out of adult courts between now and the Legislature's next session in two years.

“We understood that Senate Bill 1630 was a very important piece of reform legislation, and we didn't want to jeopardize it,” Wu told reporters Sunday afternoon. The bill “is going to make a huge difference to our juvenile population and especially to our courts.”

But, he added, “We want to treat kids as kids. We want them to have a chance to make mistakes, to learn and to grow from it, and not be saddled with something that affects their lives from then on because of one mistake.”

The main opponent of the raise-the-age measure was state Sen. John Whitmire, the chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee and the lead author of the juvenile justice bill. Whitmire, also a Democrat, told the Texas Observer in April that “a 17-year-old knows right from wrong” and questioned whether they would be any safer in juvenile lockups than in adult facilities, where jailers are required to keep them shielded from older inmates.

Whitmire did not respond to a request for comment on Monday, as lawmakers rushed to finish up their biennial legislative session. But Ana Yañez-Correa, executive director of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, said Whitmire has told supporters that he would conduct a new study of the proposed bill before the Legislature convenes again in 2017.

“In a lot of states, it takes them a really long time to raise the age,” Yañez-Correa said. “This is our first time that we've actually done it, and I'm very hopeful that next session, if we get the appropriations necessary, that we're going to be in a position where it becomes a reality.”

Meanwhile, she said, the juvenile justice bill has several provisions “that we really liked,” including the creation of an independent ombudsman's office to investigate complaints, a new program for assessing the risk of teens committed to the system and a ban on using old jail facilities to house juvenile offenders.

The bills that did pass have been sent to the desk of the state's Republican governor, Greg Abbott, who is expected to sign both.

In 2013, 17-year-olds made up about 3 percent of adult arrests, according to a report by the state House Juvenile Justice Committee. Nearly half were arrested for theft, marijuana possession or public drunkenness.

More than 500 teens who were 17 at the time of their offenses were sent to prison in 2014, while almost 7,600 more were put on probation in the adult system, the state Legislature's budget office reported. Putting those youths through juvenile courts would have cost the state about $16 million of its 200 billion-plus budget in the coming year, and about $57 million by 2020.

The cost to counties was harder to calculate, the estimate noted. Officials in Harris County, which includes Houston, said they would have to spend nearly $70 million to build a new juvenile detention center and juvenile court while saving about $6 million by transferring youths out of adult lockups. But Yañez-Correa said other states that have raised the age have seen costs come in lower than expected.

Deitch, who teaches at UT-Austin's Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and testified to a House committee on the bill, said the juvenile justice overhaul that did pass will require the state and counties to make “some pretty significant adjustments” as well. It would have made more sense to have included programs for 17-year-olds at the same time, she said.

“Rather than say, ‘OK, make all these changes now, and we'll come back next session and ask you to make another set of adjustments in that session,' let's make all those changes at once and figure out what they need to do this correctly,” Deitch said.



Washington D.C.

Senate to Take Up Spy Bill as Parts of Patriot Act Expire

by Jennifer Steinhauer and Jonathan Weisman

WASHINGTON — The Senate will reconvene at midday on Monday to consider changes to a House bill that would curtail the government's authority to sweep up vast quantities of phone records after the program, which began after the 2001 terrorist attacks, expired at 12:01 a.m.

Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, blocked an extension of it during an extraordinary and at times caustic Sunday session of the Senate.

Hamstrung by procedural rules that require the consent of all lawmakers, the Senate is unable to restore the lapsed authorities until at least Tuesday. The Senate was on recess last week.

After senators pass a procedural measure on Monday to consider the House bill, they will begin amending it, a process that could take one to three days.

Mr. Paul's stand may have forced the temporary expiration of parts of the post-9/11 Patriot Act used by the National Security Agency to collect phone records, but he was helped by the miscalculation of Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, who sent the Senate on a weeklong vacation after blocking the House bill before Memorial Day.

Mr. McConnell, also of Kentucky, relented on Sunday, setting up a final round of votes on Tuesday or Wednesday that will most likely send a compromised version of the House bill to President Obama for his signature. Even Mr. Paul, using the procedural weapon of an objection, conceded he could not stop that.

“Little by little, we've allowed our freedom to slip away,” Mr. Paul said during a lengthy floor soliloquy.

The expiration of surveillance authority demonstrates a profound shift in American attitudes since the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when national security was pre-eminent in both parties. Fourteen years after that attack, even as American conflicts continue abroad, a swell of privacy concerns stemming from both the vast expansion of communication systems and an increasing distrust of government's use of data has turned those concerns on their head.

While it would represent a retrenchment on the part of the government, it does not end the argument over the dual imperatives of security and individual liberty brought to light by Edward J. Snowden, the former contractor for the National Security Agency. l

The expiration of three key provisions of the Patriot Act means that, for now, the N.S.A. will no longer collect newly created logs of Americans' phone calls in bulk. It also means that the F.B.I. cannot invoke the Patriot Act to obtain, for new investigations, wiretap orders that follow a suspect who changes phones, wiretap orders for a “lone wolf” terrorism suspect not linked to a group, or court orders to obtain business records relevant to an investigation.

However, the Justice Department may invoke a so-called grandfather clause to keep using those powers for investigations that had started before June 1, and there are additional workarounds investigators may use to overcome the lapse in the authorizations.

Mr. McConnell and other national security hawks who failed to continue the program badly underestimated the shift in the national mood, which has found its voice with Democrats and the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. The moment also put him at odds with Mr. Paul, whom he has endorsed for president.

“I remain determined to work toward the best outcome for the American people possible under the circumstances,” Mr. McConnell said. “This is where we are, colleagues — a House-passed bill with some serious flaws, and an inability to get a short-term extension to improve the House bill.”

Mr. Paul's effort clearly angered many of his Republican colleagues, who met without him an hour before the Senate began to vote Sunday night. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who sparred with Mr. Paul on the floor over procedure, said later that Mr. Paul was not fit for the White House job he seeks. “I've said on many occasions that I believe he would be the worst candidate we could put forward,” he said.

Even as senators were trickling into the Capitol from the airport, Mr. McConnell attempted to extend some aspects of the law. He asked senators to consider a two-week continuation of the federal authority to track a “lone wolf” terrorism suspect not connected to a state sponsor and to conduct “roving” surveillance of a suspect, rather than of a phone number alone, to combat terrorists who frequently discard cellphones.

But Mr. Paul objected, and Mr. McConnell denounced from the Senate floor what he called “a campaign of demagoguery and disinformation” about the program.

Mr. McConnell then moved to a second option, a procedural move to take up the bill passed by the House, which he said the Senate would amend this week. It was unclear Sunday how many amendments, including any from Mr. Paul, would be considered and whether any could pass the Senate or be adopted by the House.

The House bill would overhaul the Patriot Act and scale back the bulk collection of phone records revealed by Mr. Snowden. Under the provisions of the House bill, sweeps that had operated under the guise of so-called national security letters issued by the F.B.I. would end. The data would instead be stored by the phone companies and could be retrieved by intelligence agencies only after approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court.

President Obama and his director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., have made dire warnings in recent days about the perils of letting the law expire and called for immediate approval of a surveillance bill passed by the House. The C.I.A. director, John O. Brennan, echoed the president on Sunday during an interview on the CBS show “Face the Nation,” saying there had “been a little too much political grandstanding.”

In a statement issued Sunday night, the White House said: “We call on the Senate to ensure this irresponsible lapse in authorities is as short-lived as possible. On a matter as critical as our national security, individual senators must put aside their partisan motivations and act swiftly. The American people deserve nothing less.”

Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, also urged the Senate to act, citing the threat of groups like the Islamic State. “Al Qaeda, ISIL and other terrorists around the globe continue to plot attacks on America and our allies,” Mr. Boehner said in a statement. “Anyone who is satisfied with letting this critical intelligence capability go dark isn't taking the terrorist threat seriously.”

Mr. McConnell had sought to get a series of short-term extensions passed so that Congress could continue to work on a compromise — like giving the phone companies more time to adapt to the new law — but that effort collapsed under the objections of Mr. Paul and two Democrats, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico. Further, members of the House rejected extending the current law, given the support for their bill.

After a middle-of-the-night vote for a short-term extension failed on the Saturday before Memorial Day, senators left for a weeklong recess as the clock ticked. Senate Republican leaders sought a compromise that would make a new bill acceptable to both hawkish lawmakers and Mr. Paul. “I still have deep concerns,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine.

Over the week, negotiators on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees had laid out a series of options to revise the bipartisan USA Freedom Act, including the addition of a certification process to ensure that the technology is ready to move metadata storage to the phone companies and allowing for a longer transition to phone company storage of the data. The House negotiators were skeptical of all efforts.

Democrats were critical of Mr. McConnell on Sunday. “The job of the leader is to have a plan,” Senator Harry Reid of Nevada said on the Senate floor. “In this case, it is clear the majority leader simply didn't have a plan.”




Baltimore Sees Worst Month for Homicides in 40 Years

by Justin Worland

May became the deadliest month in more than 40 years in Baltimore after three men were killed Sunday, as the city deals with the fallout of protests and rioting after the death in police custody of Freddie Gray.

In total, 43 people were killed in the month of May, the Baltimore Sun reported, surpassing the 42 murders recorded in the city in August 1990.

The growing number of murders comes as arrest numbers have plummeted in the wake of controversy surrounding the death of Gray, according to to the Associated Press. Six of the city's police officers were charged with a number of crimes in that incident, including manslaughter charges for four of the officers and a murder charge for one.

Lt. Gene Ryan, president of Baltimore city's Fraternal Order of Police, attributed the rise in the murder rate partly to growing confidence among criminals, in an interview with TIME last week. “We've accomplished a lot of things over the last 10, 15 years and now we're going backwards because the criminals are empowered,” Lt. Gene Ryan, president of Baltimore city's Fraternal Order of Police said. “The criminal element is taking advantage of the crisis. They don't believe there's any recourse.”





Finding common ground in community policing

by Jim Lewis

Ferguson? Baltimore? Law enforcement officers came face-to-face with Michael Brown and Freddie Gray, with tragic results. What should we make of this?

I don't have an easy answer, but I may be able to provide some perspective from the community and from the enforcement officer.

Our communities experience hurt and pain. In Ferguson and Baltimore, the neighborhoods of Brown and Gray were struggling, even before the tragic incidents. When incidents happen, people take to the streets in protest, to express hurt and pain, and a few people engage in damage to property and even threats to police. When calm is restored, the pain remains.

This is also hard on law enforcement. A few officers are involved in these incidents, but a cloud is cast over many other officers. There is hurt and pain here, too.

How do we get through this painful period, learn from the difficulty of the moment and get back on track toward our common goal? What is that goal?

"Establish justice," says the preamble to the Constitution. "Equal justice under law," says the inscription over the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Every city deserves an outstanding, world-class police force that works alongside local residents to protect public safety, and every officer deserves the tools, training and support they need to do their jobs as safely and effectively as possible," U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on a recent community policing tour.

Do the community and law enforcement have the same goal? Communities hire their own officers, train them, pay them and then ask them to head directly toward trouble of any kind that may arise — domestic violence, gun crime, general crime, driver safety concerns, just about anything.

The officers come from the community, trying to provide an absolutely essential service. I can't imagine a community without law enforcement, or law enforcement without a community to serve. The community and law enforcement are in this struggle together.

How do we go forward? Each community, each law enforcement department, must answer this. For instance, we've had police-community forums several times in Springfield, sponsored by concerned organizations. We've had coffee with a cop casual discussions. We've had door-to-door community policing, again with casual discussions.

Similarly, other communities are trying to build greater understanding with their officers. There is even a general blueprint for this, leaving it to each community to fill in the blanks. I quote the executive summary of the final report of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing:

"Building trust and nurturing legitimacy on both sides of the police/citizen divide is the foundational principle [for] relations between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve... People are more likely to obey the law when they believe that those who are enforcing it have authority that is perceived as legitimate... Law enforcement cannot build community trust if it is seen as an occupying force coming in from outside to impose control on the community."

To build trust, the report contains nine recommendations and numerous action items, including:

n using physical control as a last resort,

n communicating swiftly, openly and neutrally when there is a serious incident including possible police misconduct, and

n engaging in positive non-enforcement activities in high-enforcement neighborhoods and in schools.

The report also addresses community policing, so that "officers enforce the law with the people (and) not just on the people." It also notes that "Community policing emphasizes working with neighborhood residents to co-produce public safety." Again, the report has several recommendations and action items toward this goal and leaves it to each community to fill in the blanks.

I've run out of space. Next time, I'll discuss some concrete examples of good community policing, aimed at solving a significant community problem.

Jim Lewis is the U.S. attorney for the Central District of Illinois and a 32-year Springfield resident.



Washington D.C.

No. 2 At Justice Warns Growing Prison Budget Detracts From Public Safety

by Csarrie Johnson

Prosecutors usually spend their energy putting criminals behind bars — not urging their release. But racial disparities in the system and the huge costs of locking up so many people are pushing some government officials to call for a new approach.

One of them is the woman who now runs day-to-day operations at the Justice Department. Sally Yates says she's hardly soft on crime: "I'm a career prosecutor."

Yates made her name prosecuting the man who bombed the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. The bomber, Eric Rudolph, appeared on the FBI's Most Wanted List. Eventually he went to prison — where he's serving four life sentences.

"I've been at this for 27 years now," Yates says. "I believe that it's really imperative that we do everything we can to keep our communities as safe as possible but to do that in a way that is just and fair."

The Senate confirmed Yates last month as deputy attorney general. She's using her new platform as the second in command at the Justice Department to warn the expanding prison budget has begun to threaten public safety.

The federal government spends $7 billion a year to incarcerate about 200,000 inmates. That's money she says that could pay for more FBI agents and local police.

"We know that it's the cop on the street that's one of the most important things to be able to keep our communities safe. But yet over the past decade, there's been a 40 percent reduction in the grant money that's available for cops on the street," Yates says.

New Justice Department estimates obtained by NPR suggest the situation will only get worse over the next decade. If nothing changes, the projections say authorities will need to take tens of millions of dollars that could have been devoted to community policing and local law enforcement, and instead, pour that money into federal prisons.

"It is simply not sustainable for us to continue at the present rates that we are now of our incarceration levels," she says.

Yates is taking that message to Capitol Hill. She wants members of Congress to dial back long mandatory prison sentences for nonviolent drug criminals.

Red States like Texas and Georgia launched efforts to overhaul their justice systems years ago. Now a left-right coalition of groups from the ACLU to Koch Industries is advocating for a smarter approach at the federal level too.

Here's what Mark Holden, the top lawyer at Koch, told NPR this year: "We as a people, citizens and our leaders, need to have the humility, the intellectual honesty and the courage to look at what we're doing and change course."

The Obama administration says it has reduced both the violent crime rate and the number of people going to prison.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder, one of Yates's main supporters, crowed about the data in a speech last year: "This is the first time, the first time that these two critical markers have declined together in more than 40 years."

And that's a trend Yates says she and new Attorney General Loretta Lynch want to last, long after they leave the government.

As for the idea that two women are now at the top of the Justice Department, Yates says, "I was in a meeting and one of my staffers, at the end of it said, 'do you realize I was the only man in the meeting?' And I had actually not even noticed that."

She says she hasn't really focused on the issue.

"Maybe, actually, that is the strongest statement of all, is that it's just not as a big a deal today as it was when Janet Reno and Jamie Gorelick were running the department," Yates says.

She and her boss have a little more than a year left in the Obama presidency to make their mark.




Pittsburgh Public Safety Department Wants to Help Parents Prepare Kids for School

by Liz Reid

A week after Governor Tom Wolf stopped at a Harrisburg prison to promote his plan to increase early education funding, Pittsburgh City Council will consider the link between public safety and preschool.

A bill approving the Department of Public Safety's “Promised Beginnings” initiative is scheduled to come up for discussion in Council's committee meeting Wednesday.

The initiative is part of the city's Safer Together Pittsburgh Community Partnership, meant to improve police-community relations.

Public spokeswoman Sonya Toler says the goal is to hold a series of workshops for parents to promote kindergarten readiness.

“Our Safer Together community outreach team interacts with the public on a much more grassroots level, and there was an opportunity that needs to be filled,” Toler said. “In many communities, parents don't know what their children need to be prepared for school.”

In April, the city held a pilot workshop in the East Hills. Toler said they received a positive response from parents and are now moving to formalize the initiative through city council.

The University of Pittsburgh's Ready Freddy program is one of the local organizations tapped to present at the workshop series. Director Aisha White said kindergarten preparedness isn't all about academics.

“Part of the transition process means moving either from being at home with mom only, to being in a classroom of maybe 25 kids, or being in a pre-K setting where you have about a dozen … kids,” White said.

Ready Freddy not only helps parents prepare their kids for school, but also aims to keep parents involved throughout the school year.

“We reach out to them again in the year and try to get them to come into the school for what we call a transition event, where they get to tour the school, meet the staff, visit an actual classroom, talk with the teacher, learn what their kids should know before they start and learn what their kids will learn throughout the school year,” White said.

Toler said the link between early childhood education and public safety may not be obvious, but pointed to studies that show children who attend pre-school are less likely to end up in the criminal justice system .

White said parents can experience similar outcomes.

“When parents receive supports, particularly young parents, and in some cases, single parents … and they learn a little bit about child development, then programs that have gone into the home have shown that they are able to reduce child abuse,” White said.

Additional community partners include The Pittsburgh Promise, Keystone Stars and Pittsburgh Public Schools, among others.





Major point of needle exchanges: public safety

by Dr. Stephanie Mayfield

Hospitalizations and deaths due to heroin overdoses are on the rise in Kentucky. According to the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, the number of Kentuckians hospitalized for heroin overdoses more than doubled from 2011 to 2012.

In addition, deaths from heroin overdoses among Kentucky residents have skyrocketed from 12 in 2008 to 215 in 2013. Kentucky also has some of the highest rates of drug overdoses and acute hepatitis C infection in the nation.

This year, the General Assembly enacted, and Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law, permissive legislation that enables local jurisdictions to establish needle exchange programs (NEP), also known as "harm reduction programs."

To some, a needle exchange may sound like a program that helps intravenous drug users feed their habit. To the contrary, the intent is to protect public health and create a path for heroin users to get treatment while preventing the spread of diseases through the sharing of needles.

One critical role needle-exchange programs play is in reducing the number of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis cases spread within a community. The use or even the accidental stick of a dirty needle can lead to hepatitis, HIV/AIDS infection and other dangerous diseases.

For example, a recent outbreak of HIV/AIDS in a small community in southern Indiana was traced back to needle sharing. As of 2014, about 15 percent of all HIV cases that have occurred in Kentucky have been among injecting drug users. NEPs can assist in stopping transmission of HIV and acute hepatitis C among injecting drug users.

Another important role needle exchanges have is protecting the community at large from accidental sticks from dirty needles discarded in public places. Intravenous drug users submit dirty needles for proper disposal in exchange for clean needles. This arrangement provides an incentive not to leave dirty needles in parks, playgrounds or other public spaces where they could harm the general public.

National and international research studies show that NEPs do not encourage the initiation of drug use nor do they increase the frequency of drug use among current users. The presence of these programs in communities does not expand drug-related networks nor does it increase crime rates. On the contrary, the World Health Organization maintains "there is no convincing evidence of any major, unintended negative consequences" related to these programs.

Needle-exchange programs actually create a path for injecting drug users to get help because the programs offer information on how to find available treatment options. In fact, NEP participants are more likely to enter a drug treatment program than nonparticipants. Researchers have also found that injecting drug users who participated in an exchange were more likely to reduce or stop injecting than drug users who had not participated in a needle exchange.

Studies also show that NEPs provide opportunities for disease testing and education, leading to a decline of at-risk behaviors resulting in HIV incidence dropping as much as 80 percent within this population.

As of August 2012, there were 203 needle-exchange programs in 34 states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia. Kentucky's new law allows a local government to operate a program, but it does not require any community to do so. If the citizens of a community do not approve of a NEP, then local officials can certainly choose not to have one. These programs cannot be funded by federal dollars.

Currently, medical and substance-use disorder experts from the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville Medical Centers, state officials, local health departments and St. Elizabeth Hospital have prepared guidance for communities that wish to start a NEP to ensure the most effective and safe programs are developed. As these programs are implemented, more data can be collected on the effects on drug use and the spread of disease.

Arrest and incarceration of individuals suffering from substance-use disorders are costly and do not necessarily solve the problems created by addiction. NEPs provide communities the opportunity to try something that has been successful in other states. Many Kentucky communities are desperate for the ability to reach out to members who suffer from addiction, to help slow the spread of diseases and provide treatment referrals to people they might otherwise never have the chance to reach. This law gives them that opportunity.