August, 2015 - Week 4
Police investigate motive in ambush of Houston area deputy
HOUSTON (AP) — Investigators were trying to determine Sunday what may have motivated a 30-year-old man accused of ambushing a uniformed suburban Houston sheriff's deputy filling his patrol car with gas in what authorities believe was a targeted killing.
Shannon J. Miles was charged Saturday with capital murder in the fatal shooting of Darren Goforth, a 10-year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff's Office.
Goforth, 47, was pumping gas at a Chevron station on Friday night when the gunman approached him from behind and fired multiple shots, continuing to fire after the deputy had fallen to the ground.
The deputy had gone to the station in Cypress, a middle-class to upper middle-class suburban area of Harris County that is unincorporated and located northwest of Houston, after responding to a routine car accident earlier Friday.
Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman said the attack was "clearly unprovoked," and there is no evidence so far that Goforth knew Miles. Investigators have no information from Miles that would shed light on his motive, Hickman said.
"Our assumption is that he was a target because he wore a uniform," the sheriff said.
The killing has evoked strong emotions in the local law enforcement community, with Hickman linking it to heightened tension over the treatment of African-Americans by police. Goforth was white and Miles is black.
The nationwide "Black Lives Matter" movement formed after the killing of a black man by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, has sought sweeping reforms of policing. Related protests erupted recently in Texas after a 28-year-old Chicago area black woman, Sandra Bland, was found dead in a county jail about 50 miles northwest of Houston three days after her arrest on a traffic violation. Texas authorities said she committed suicide but her family is skeptical that she would have taken her own life.
Hickman and Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson on Saturday pushed back against the criticism of police. There must not be open warfare on law enforcement, Anderson said.
"We've heard Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter. Well, cops' lives matter, too," Hickman said.
Local law enforcement officers were worried after the Goforth killing that others could be targeted, he said.
"It gives us some peace knowing that this individual is no longer at large and that he wasn't somebody that would be targeting the rest of the community," Hickman said.
Miles is likely to be arraigned in court on Monday.
Will New “Respect” Strategy Improve Police-Community Relations?
by Christopher Moraff
F or law enforcement agencies across the nation, 2015 has been a year of intense soul searching. Faced with a mandate to adopt a new mindset of civilian engagement that is often at odds with existing practices and procedures, police officials scrambling for a foothold have found a comfortable fit in the familiar language of community policing.
Unfortunately, two decades of marginal success demonstrate that community policing as usual is ill equipped to effect lasting change in an environment marred by entrenched feelings of mutual mistrust. But there may be a tool, dubbed “RespectStat” (it's a twist on the oft-touted and also controversial numbers-focused CompStat program pioneered by the NYPD), that could be useful in building trust.
A consensus among policing experts is that an overemphasis on crime reduction has led to the subversion of other important goals of community-oriented policing, such as establishing positive relations with constituents. Yet quantifiable measures to evaluate how policing practices impact community perceptions are lacking, even though social scientists have a pretty good idea what contributes to positive engagements with police — including a perception among civilians that they are being treated with fairness, courtesy and respect. The disconnect, says Dennis Rosenbaum, a leading community policing researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is that there's legacy of misunderstanding about what citizens want out of their police.
“For decades all [departments] kept was crime data, because officials thought that that's all the public cared about,” he says. “We now understand that the public cares about the process of policing even more so than the outcome. They care about crime and disorder, but they also care about how they're being treated.”
Rosenbaum recently completed a multiyear trial of the RespectStat tool, and he believes it can support current reform efforts by offering the context and accountability needed to repair decades of community distrust.
Whereas CompStat crunches the numbers on fluctuations in crime by district and holds precinct commanders to task for levels of crime in those districts, Rosenbaum says RespectStat incentivizes positive interactions over arrests. In that way, the program can begin to change policing culture from the inside out.
“Through advances in social science and survey research we now have the ability to give the public a voice in matters that are important to them,” he says. “We just have not paid enough attention to this.”
The engine of the RespectStat system is a new polling metric — the Police-Community Interaction (PCI) survey — that rates civilian encounters with police based on indicators such as an officer's level of respect, helpfulness and competence. According to Rosenbaum, the survey differs from most existing community satisfaction surveys by zeroing in only on people who have had contact with police in the past two weeks.
More than 50 municipalities tested the survey last year, but it got its first workout as an accountability tool under a pilot program began by Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy of the Chicago Police Department.
According to McCarthy, RespectStat data provided the CPD critical insight into community perceptions of police, enabling researchers to map “hotspots” of citizen dissatisfaction and identify differences in community attitudes based on hour, shift or CPD unit, among other things. RespectStat is now fully operational in Chicago, with CompStat-style precinct reports on community trust expected to be released twice annually.
While components of the RespectStat model have been under development for more than a decade, its debut could hardly be better timed. Law enforcement officials who are committed to reform are eager to embrace more evidence-based approaches to the practice of policing, and say tools like RespectStat are a critical resource.
“Mutual trust, respect and confidence between the public and the police is fundamental to effective policing … and surveying the public to develop good evidence of where this relationship stands is an important part of the process to enhance the police-community relationship,” says Daniel Wagner, a lieutenant in the Cambridge Police Department and vice president of the newly formed American Society of Evidence-Based Policing.
Wagner cautions that one challenge of a customer satisfaction survey like RespectStat is to accurately capture feedback from communities where residents feel most disenfranchised. Rosenbaum acknowledges that the system's reliance on police encounters that generate official paperwork, such as car stops, risks excluding marginalized communities that experience the most strained relations with law enforcement from the data.
He says he is currently working on methodologies to address those limitations, but emphasizes that the mere existence of a system like RespectStat can begin to influence officer behavior.
“We're not completely there yet and there's a lot of ways this can play out,” he says, “but when something is measured, it begins to matter.”
Death of a young black man in a Virginia prison sparks outrage
Jamycheal Mitchell allegedly stole $5 worth of junk food from a 7-11. Four months later, he was found dead in a jail cell.
by Lisa Suhay
He's been in jail since April, arrested for allegedly stealing $5 worth of groceries – and now he's dead.
Local activists are incensed over the death of Jamycheal Mitchell, 24, in a Portsmouth, Va., jail this week. Mr. Mitchell had a history of mental illness, said local paper The Virginian-Pilot, and he was being held awaiting transfer to a mental hospital.
Mitchell's body was found at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail four months after he was charged with petty larceny and trespassing. Portsmouth police arrested Mr. Mitchell on April 22 after he allegedly stole about $5 worth of food from a 7-11: a candy bar, a snack cake, and a soda.
Portsmouth Police and Hampton Roads Regional Jail failed to respond to requests for information on this case.
According to the Virginian-Pilot, a judge had found the apparently bipolar Mitchell incompetent to stand trial on May 21 and ordered him into the care of "qualified staff" at a state mental health facility in Williamsburg, about an hour away. For the past three months, Mitchell has remained in jail, waiting for a bed to become available.
He was found unresponsive in his cell about 5:45 a.m. local time on Wednesday, Aug. 19, and he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. "His body failed," his aunt told the British newspaper the Guardian, saying that he had lost some 65 pounds while on a hunger strike.
The official cause of death is still under investigation by the state medical examiner. Master Jail Officer Natasha Perry told the Associated Press that he died of natural causes.
“This is what happens when we jail folks for petty crimes and not aggressively seek the next step in the existing mental health system,” wrote Lana Pressley, founder of the Four Rivers Project, which works to restore the civil rights of former inmates in Virginia, in a Facebook post. “Who dropped the ball, who didn't make the calls, who will bear the blame?"
In an interview, she says, "They say there was no bed at the mental health facility. OK, so how about the next day or the day after that? You see a man wasting away in front of your eyes and you can't find your humanity long enough to call his family? Call a mental health professional? Do something?"
"If his mental health was really the issue, then somebody needed to be on that continuously. He needed to be in a hospital from the very start, not a jail cell," says Ms. Pressley, who is also the president of a local civic league.
Local activist and former candidate for mayor of neighboring Norfolk, Va., Michael J. Muhammad, told the Monitor that he agrees that Mitchell should not have been jailed over the alleged petty crime.
Two issues are at play, he says: race and the failing mental health infrastructure.
“What we're finding is that a young man who is accused of a crime that did not exceed five dollars is being held for four months,” he says. “We are also seeing that white people are not being charged in the same ways as black people in the communities here. White people are given passes or bonds for the same crimes.”
He describes another young person of color who "has been in jail for over a year – which has exceeded the time he would have served for the crime – because he suffers from mental illness," Mr. Muhammad says.
"When a person is found to be mentally unstable or incompetent to stand trial, the proceeding process stops – but they are still held in the process as if they're being punished," Muhammad says. "Mental illness should not result in punishment. It should result in services."
If we charge ranchers and pet owners with criminal neglect for letting their animals waste away, says Muhammad, "what should be the process for a human being? Surely the jail personnel, the sheriff, the people in charge of that jail should have been aware that that young man's situation had become extremely dire."
Pressley disagrees about the role of systemic racism, saying, “This is not a black issue, this is a humanity issue. Somebody needed to find their humanity and look after this young man.”
She asks, "Where are we as a society when a young man is so hungry he steals food to survive and dies in a jail cell of hunger?"
Teen Gets More Than 11 Years for Helping Islamic State Group
by The Assoicated Press
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A northern Virginia teenager was sentenced Friday to more than 11 years in prison for helping another teen travel to Syria to join Islamic State militants and for providing other aid to the group.
U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton said during sentencing in federal court in Alexandria that he considered 17-year-old Ali Shukri Amin's age and lack of a criminal record in deciding the sentence.
With his parents, stepfather, grandmother and other family watching, Amin told the judge that he was taking responsibility for his actions and wouldn't "ask for or expect sympathy."
"I have not attempted to deny or explain away anything I have done," said Amin, who wore a blue jail jumpsuit with the pants bottoms rolled for his 5 foot 10 inch, 105 pound frame.
Amin, who has cooperated with law enforcement, said in a letter to the judge ahead of the hearing that he denounces the Islamic State group for "its violence and the way it twists the core tenants of Islam." He also talked in court about his Muslim faith, saying his "spiritual journey has only just begun." He said in court and in his letter that in his early teens, when he was seeking to deepen his faith and make sense of what he was reading about in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, he turned to the "adults in my life," including imams, but they "could not provide adequate answers" or seemed too "busy to try." He said he got answers through contact with others on the Internet who urged him to "advocate violent jihad."
Though juveniles rarely face charges in the federal system, Amin pleaded guilty in June to conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. As part of his plea, Amin acknowledged using Twitter to provide advice and encouragement to the Islamic State group and its supporters. Through his Twitter handle Amreekiwitness — Amreeki translates to "American" — Amin provided instruction on how to use Bitcoin, a virtual currency, to mask funds going to the group and helped supporters seeking to travel to Syria to fight with the group, court documents said.
Amin also admitted that he helped a classmate, 18-year-old Reza Niknejad, travel to Syria to join the group in January. After taking Niknejad to the airport, Amin delivered a letter and thumb drive to Niknejad's family informing them that they would likely never see him again.
Amin's attorney Joseph Flood had argued that a sentence of about six years was appropriate because of Amin's age. Flood said Amin had been manipulated by older radicals and argued that Niknejad would likely have traveled to Syria even without any assistance from his client. Flood said that Amin's Twitter account may have had several thousand followers but that: "His influence was actually very small." Flood said other than Niknejad, prosecutors can't identify anyone influenced by Amin to travel to join the Islamic State group.
After the hearing, Flood said he was heartened that the judge had imposed a sentence that was less than the 15 years recommended by prosecutors and federal guidelines. But he said he was disappointed the sentence wasn't less.
In arguing for the 15-year sentence, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Ben'Ary said in court Friday that Amin "wasn't being radicalized." Instead, "he was radicalizing" others. Ben'Ary said Amin knew what he was doing was illegal.
"Today's sentencing demonstrates that those who use social media as a tool to provide support and resources to ISIL will be identified and prosecuted with no less vigilance than those who travel to take up arms with ISIL," U.S. Attorney Dana Boente said in a statement, using an acronym for the Islamic State group. "The Department of Justice will continue to pursue those that travel to fight against the United States and our allies, as well as those individuals that recruit others on behalf of ISIL in the homeland."
From the Department of Justice
Department of Justice Announces Program to Enhance Tribal Access to National Crime Information Databases
Department of Justice Tribal Access Program (TAP) Will Improve the Exchange of Critical Data. Department of the Interior Companion Program to Provide Name-Based Emergency Background Checks for Child Placement
The Department of Justice is launching an initial phase of the Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information (TAP) to provide federally-recognized tribes access to national crime information databases for both civil and criminal purposes. TAP will allow tribes to more effectively serve and protect their communities by ensuring the exchange of critical data.
This initial phase of TAP was announced today in a meeting with tribes held during the 2015 Department of Justice/FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division Tribal Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“Federal criminal databases hold critical information that can solve crimes, and keep police officers and communities safe,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates. “The Tribal Access Program is a step forward to providing tribes the access they need to protect their communities, keep guns from falling into the wrong hands, assist victims and prevent domestic and sexual violence. Empowering tribal law enforcement with information strengthens public safety and is a key element in our ongoing strategy to build safe and healthy communities in Indian country. ”
“The FBI is pleased to participate in this initiative,” said Executive Assistant Director Amy Hess of the FBI's Science and Technology Branch. “This will be a positive step for the tribal agencies to receive valuable criminal information and also for those same tribal agencies to submit criminal information at the national level. Through this partnership, information becomes richer and communities can become safer.”
TAP will support tribes in analyzing their needs for national crime information and help provide appropriate solutions, including a-state-of-the-art biometric/biographic computer workstation with capabilities to process finger and palm prints, take mugshots and submit records to national databases, as well as the ability to access CJIS systems for criminal and civil purposes through the Department of Justice. TAP will also provide specialized training and assistance for participating tribes.
While in the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 Congress required the Attorney General to ensure that tribal officials that meet applicable requirements be permitted access to national crime information databases, the ability of tribes to fully participate in national criminal justice information sharing via state networks has been dependent upon various regulations, statutes and policies of the states in which a tribe's land is located. Therefore, improving access for tribal law enforcement to federal criminal information databases has been a departmental focus for several years. In 2010, the department instituted two pilot projects, one biometric and one biographic, to improve informational access for tribes. The biographic pilot continues to serve more than 20 tribal law enforcement agencies.
Departments of Justice and Interior Working Group
In 2014, the Departments of Justice and the Interior (DOI) formed a working group to assess the impact of the pilots and identify long-term sustainable solutions that address both criminal and civil needs of tribes. The outcome of this collaboration was the TAP, as well as an additional program announced today by the DOI's Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) that provides tribes with national crime information prior to making child placement decisions in emergency circumstances. Under the BIA program, social service agencies of federally recognized tribes will be able to view criminal history information accessed through BIA's Office of Justice Services who will conduct name-based checks in situations where parents are unable to care for their children.
“Giving tribal government programs access to national crime databases through DOJ's Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information is a tremendous step forward towards increasing public safety in Indian Country,” said Assistant Secretary Kevin K. Washburn for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior. “The Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services' Purpose Code X program provides a much-needed tool for tribal social service agencies when they must find safe homes to place children during temporary emergency situations.”
In the initial phase of the TAP program, the biometric/biographic workstations will be deployed to up to 10 federally-recognized tribes who will provide user feedback. This phase will focus on assisting tribes that have law enforcement agencies, while in the future the department will seek to address needs of the remaining tribes and find a long-term solution. The department will continue to work with Congress for additional funding to more broadly deploy the program.
The Department of Justice's Chief Information Officer manages TAP.
“It is our hope that TAP can minimize the national crime information gap and drive a deeper and more meaningful collaboration between the federal, state, local and tribal criminal justice communities,” said Chief Information Officer Joseph F. Klimavicz for the department.
For more information on TAP, visit www.justice.gov/tribal/tribal-access-program-tap.
For more information about the Justice Department's work on tribal justice and public safety issues, visit: www.justice.gov/tribal
For more information about the Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs, visit: www.indianaffairs.gov/
From the Department of Homeland Security
DHS Announces "If You See Something, Say Something™" Campaign With Washington Nationals
WASHINGTON – Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced a “If You See Something, Say Something™” public awareness campaign with the Washington Nationals at the Nationals Park today.
Secretary Johnson threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals game tonight at the Department's first-ever “DHS Night at the Nats” event. The Secretary was joined by approximately 1,100 DHS employees and their families from the National Capital Region. The event highlighted the Department's work to protect the homeland, including continued efforts to partner with the sports industry to ensure the safety and security of employees, players and fans.
“Partnering with the Washington Nationals is another way that DHS is engaging with the American public in our shared efforts to ensure the safety of every fan, player, and employee. I thank the Nationals for hosting DHS and its frontline employees tonight to highlight this important message,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.
This initiative brings the “If You See Something, Say Something™” message to athletes at Nationals Park, as well as employees, spectators and visitors during home games. A Public Service Announcement has aired on the scoreboard every home game. Messages have also been shared on posters throughout Nationals Park, in the Nationals program Inside Pitch Magazine , and via in-game announcements.
The “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign - originally implemented by New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority and now licensed to DHS for a nationwide campaign - is a simple and effective program to engage the public to recognize and report indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime to the proper transportation and law enforcement authorities.
Earlier this year, Secretary Johnson announced the re-launch of the campaign, including new campaign materials with re-designed imagery and a new website. DHS will continue to expand the “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign nationally to raise awareness among America's businesses, communities, and citizens about how they can remain vigilant and play an active role in keeping the country safe.
Learn more about the "If You See Something, Say Something™" campaign, and see how you can help to keep our nation safe.
Police Escort Sends Young Girl To School, Promised To Be There For Her After Father Was Killed
by Ma Carmille Argo
A young girl went to school with her very own police escort on Thursday. The five-year-old girl is the daughter of Justin Winebrenner, a murdered police officer from Akron, Ohio. Winebrenner was killed by an ill-behaved customer at a bar in November 2014, KCTV 5 News reported.
The police officers gathered at the Turkeyfoot Elementary School to send young Charlee on her first day.
"They promised they'd take care of her and be there on the first day of kindergarten, and that they'd be there the day she walked down the aisle," said the girl's grandfather Rob Winebrenner, according to Eyewitness News 3.
"It's a really emotional time for me anyways, but I know that they will always be there for her, and it helps knowing that I don't have her father there anymore to go to, but I have all of these guys behind me to go to," said Alyse Shanafelt, Charlee's mother.
Winebrenner was in the police force for more than seven years and was raised by a retired officer as well.
"If there's any good that comes from this evil, this tragedy, it is when Charlee Ayn is old enough to understand even more than today, that when she hears courage, bravery, duty, honor, she will have a picture of her father," said Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic during the officer's funeral mass, Cleveland 19 reported.
Suspect Kenan Ivery will face the death penalty when sentenced with the crime. The trial will begin on Sept. 8.
Wellfleet to begin community policing classes
by Mary Ann Bragg
WELLFLEET — The town of Wellfleet will hold community policing classes in October and November, according to Police Chief Ronald Fisette.
A class for citizens and police will be held Oct. 3 at the senior center at 715 Old King's Highway, Fisette said. A follow-up class for police only will be Nov. 9 at the fire station at 10 Lawrence Road. The times for both have not yet been determined.
The push for community policing is expected to cost around $7,500 to train 40 to 50 townspeople and 10 police officers, with instructors from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, Fisette said. The town will pay for the training from existing funds, according to Paul Pilcher, chairman of the Wellfleet Board of Selectmen.
Community policing is a philosophy that uses partnerships and problem-solving techniques to address conditions that give rise to public safety issues.
The topic boiled to the surface May 3, 2014, when a local couple were arrested in a traffic stop, in front of a busy restaurant, in an incident that some thought was handled too aggressively by the two responding officers. During the winter, a petition signed by 80 people seeking community policing training for Wellfleet officers was submitted to town officials.
Seattle police buy 'porn-sniffing' K-9 in Subway child-porn case
When FBI raided the home of Subway spokesperson Jared Fogle, they entrusted a K-9 trained to sniff out electronics
by Sami Edge
SEATTLE — When the FBI raided the Indiana home of former Subway pitchman Jared Fogle in early July, they enlisted the help of a 2-year-old black Labrador named Bear specially trained to sniff out electronics.
Next week, Bear will be reporting for duty with the Seattle Police Department (SPD).
Dennis Clark, owner of a company called Tactical Detection K-9 that trained and sold Bear to Seattle police, says the dog will work with SPD child-pornography detectives, sniffing out the same kinds of criminals he's helped put behind bars with his trainer in Indiana.
Bear's talents are unique. He's trained to sniff out a chemical compound emitted from memory-storage devices like memory sticks and SD cards, and point them out to his handlers. In Fogle's house, he helped find evidence related to the child-pornography charges.
Fogle, the longtime Subway pitchman, agreed last week to plead guilty to allegations that he paid for sex acts with minors and received child pornography in a case that could send him to prison for more than a decade. Subway has since ended its relationship with Fogle.
Todd Jordan, Bear's trainer at Tactical Detection K-9 and a fire department investigator in Anderson, Ind., has been training search animals for 18 years. Bear is the first electronics dog he has trained and only one of three or four he knows of in the nation, he says.
The idea to train an electronics dog came about last year, when Jordan and some of his friends who investigate Internet crimes against children mentioned how easy it is to overlook a small hard drive, or SD card that might hold evidence.
Jordan thought a search dog might help.
“They said ‘You can train a dog to do that?' and I said, ‘I think I can, let me try,' ” Jordan said Monday.
Working with a Lab, Tactical Detection K-9 isolated a chemical byproduct emitted specifically by memory-storage devices like SIM cards, memory sticks and SD cards. Then they set Bear to work sniffing out the chemical byproduct, which he declined to name.
On his first test run only two months into training, Bear cased a room that investigators had already thoroughly searched and found an SD card that had been overlooked.
“What investigators do in hours searching a room it takes the dog 10 minutes to do,” Jordan said.
The technique is simple: Bear and his trainer walk carefully through a room. When Bear finds something, he sits down. The trainer says “Show me,” and Bear will point with his nose to the exact place where he's sensing the chemical byproduct emitted by a memory device. Then investigators conduct a thorough search.
“The whole concept is to save them some time and to get the bad guys off the street who are doing this,” Jordan said. “Each micro-SD card holds thousands and thousands of pictures, and each picture is a victim. I guess that's where my passion is.”
According to media accounts, Bear took part in a search of Fogle's Zionsville, Ind., home in July and uncovered a hidden flash drive that was key to the investigation.
Bear and Jordan worked pro-bono on five or six different investigative cases with the FBI before Bear was listed for sale on the Tactical Detection K-9 website, Clark says. After the Jared Fogle case, demand for Bear exploded, and the SPD was the first to extend an offer for the dog, Clark says.
Seattle police have been reluctant to say much about their newest K-9, saying they will introduce him to the media next week. It wasn't immediately known what Seattle police paid for Bear, but trained dogs listed for sale on Tactical Detection K-9's website go from $3,500 to $7,500.
Jordan has been working with Bear and his new Seattle police trainer in Indianapolis for the past few weeks. As the search dog gets ready for his new life in Seattle, Jordan says it's hard to see him go.
“I'm almost sorry I sold him,” Jordan said. “But what I like about it is it's like a match made in heaven.”
Conn. police 'adopt' schools to foster good relations with students, families
Throughout the school year, officers will visit each school at least a few times a week to mingle with students
by Claire Bessette
NORWICH, Conn. — Funding cuts this spring reduced the number of resource officers in public schools and ended the DARE program in elementary schools, but city police and school officials have found a way to bring officers into all city schools regularly this year.
On opening day Wednesday, officers assigned to daytime patrol duty and community policing started their rounds at their respective public schools, welcoming students and parents on the first day.
Throughout the school year, officers will visit each school at least a few times a week to mingle with students, have lunch, talk to teachers and parents and perhaps mentor individual students.
The new program was devised by school and police leaders in the wake of city budget cuts that left schools with only one full-time resource officer, Stephanie Reichard at Kelly Middle School, and also ended the drug education program at elementary schools.
Superintendent Abby Dolliver said without the new program, she might have asked Reichard to visit the city's other schools at times — seven elementary schools and the new sixth-grade academy — but that would limit her time at Kelly, which is expected to have nearly 800 seventh- and eighth-graders this year.
“We don't want to have to pull her out of the school to visit the other schools,” Dolliver said. “This will bring officers to all the schools at least a few times a week. We're hoping to include mentoring opportunities as well. It's great.”
Police Chief Louis Fusaro called the program a cost-effective way to establish good relations with students and families.
Because the officers will make the school stops as part of their regular patrol shifts, there will be no added cost to either the police or school budget.
About a dozen officers on daytime patrol and community policing shifts volunteered to “adopt a school.”
They will visit at different times of the day, different days of the week, adding an element of public safety to the schools.
“There's a method in varying the times as well,” Fusaro said. “It gives the effect that there's omnipresence if they see the police cars and officers there at various times during the day.”
Judge overseeing Seattle Police reforms asks for accountability 'framework'
Key players were asked to submit their ideas for a comprehensive approach to establishing accountability systems
by Steve Miletich
SEATTLE — The federal judge overseeing Seattle police reforms asked key players in the process to submit their ideas for a comprehensive approach to establishing accountability systems throughout the department.
The request from U.S. District Judge James Robart stemmed, in part, from his strong criticism during a June hearing of efforts to expand the authority of a citizen police-review board without the court's approval.
At Wednesday's hearing, Robart said he wanted to set “basic ground rules” for such changes, to determine how they fit into a broad range of federally mandated reforms already in place to curb excessive force and biased policing.
Robart instructed the city and the U.S. Justice Department, the parties to a 2012 consent decree, to jointly or separately provide a “framework” to him by Sept. 30.
He also directed the citizen board, the Community Police Commission (CPC), established as part of the consent decree, as well as the director and auditor of the Police Department's Office of Professional Accountability (OPA), which oversees internal investigations, to submit responses to the city and Justice Department by Oct.16.
Robart, who noted there are a “lot of moving parts and they all need to mesh together,” asked that all the submissions be filed in the court record, so they can be publicly scrutinized.
Already, the city has sent a 23-page letter to the Justice Department and to Merrick Bobb, the federal monitor who acts as Robart's agent, laying out the proposed role of the CPC and other recommendations to bolster police accountability.
The 15-member CPC, which is made up of citizen volunteers, was designed to serve as a temporary liaison between the community and police department, with the authority to issue reports on the reform process. But it sought to become a permanent body and expand its role last year when it drafted a package of police-accountability measures, prompted by then-Interim Police Chief Harry Bailey's overturning of misconduct findings against seven officers.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray adopted many of the recommendations in November, but proposed legislation stalled over some differences with the CPC. After months of talks, the two sides reached an accord in June with a plan to submit the package to the City Council.
But Robart halted the plan at the June hearing, saying the consent decree can't be amended without the court's approval.
In its Aug. 21 letter, the city has retained key planks of the plan, including provisions, once a sticking point, to strengthen the independence of the OPA director and auditor. Both could only be removed by the mayor for cause, with the agreement of the City Council and input from the CPC.
The mayor also could remove the CPC's executive director only for cause, with the concurrence of the City Council.
The CPC's oversight would be “enhanced and broadened” beyond the time and scope initially set forth in consent decree, the letter said.
In a statement after Wednesday's hearing, Murray noted Robart described reform as a “work in progress,” and that the judge referred to criticism by some that it is not going far enough as premature.
ND bill restricts cops' use of drones to less lethal force
The state passed a law that allows police to use drones equipped with non-lethal devices such as TASERs
by PoliceOne Staff
FARGO, N.D. — Police in North Dakota are legally allowed to use drones equipped with non-lethal devices, according to a report from WDAY.
The bill, which originally banned both lethal and non-lethal devices outfitted on drones, was amended after a push by the North Dakota Peace Officers Association.
House Bill 1328 explicitly states that drones are restricted to non-lethal force like tear gas and a TASER. It also restricts evidence-gathering techniques to make sure privacy laws are respected.
“What I wanted was there to be a very clear line on how our liberties can be protected with the new advances in technology,” Rep. Rick Becker told the publication.
Warrants are now needed for surveillance by drones, with exceptions for border patrol, emergencies and training exercises.
Rep. Becker told WDAY he expects the bill will be submitted again in 2017 to restrict non-lethal force on drones as well.
Vester Flanagan's Apparent Suicide Note Claims Discrimination Fueled TV Shooting
by Erin McClam, Tracy Connor and Tom Winter
A man claiming to be the gunman in the Virginia TV news shootings wrote in a chilling letter that he was pushed "over the top" by the Charleston church massacre and expressed admiration for the killers from Virginia Tech and Columbine.
In a 23-page fax to ABC News and a follow-up call, both after the attack, the man identified himself as Vester Flanagan and as Bryce Williams. He said he suffered racial discrimination and bullying at work and was attacked for being black and gay.
"The church shooting was the tipping point," he wrote, according to ABC News, "but my anger has been building steadily ... I've been a human powder keg for a while ... just waiting to go BOOM!!!!"
ABC said the fax arrived about two hours after a reporter and cameraman were shot to death on live television Wednesday morning in Moneta, Virginia. The gunman killed himself later while he was being chased by authorities.
The sheriff identified the killer as Flanagan, a former TV news reporter himself who went by Bryce Williams on-air. The Virginia station, WDBJ, said he was "difficult to work with" and was fired for anger problems.
Killed were reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27. The woman Parker was interviewing, local businesswoman Vicki Gardner, was shot and was in stable condition after surgery.
The shots were fired during a remote segment on WDBJ's morning show. As he fell, Ward captured an image of the gunman.
Flanagan, 41, recorded video of the shootings and posted them to his Facebook and Twitter accounts hours later, while he was being pursued by law enforcement. Those accounts were quickly taken down.
ABC turned the letter over to authorities immediately. The network said the person who sent it called later in the morning, confessed to shooting two people, said the authorities were after him, and hung up.
In the letter, which ABC described as rambling, the man wrote that he put a deposit down for a gun on June 19, two days after the killings in Charleston. He mentioned Charleston shooter Dylann Roof's desire for a race war.
He expressed admiration for Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the killers from Columbine High School in 1999, and for Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007.
In one part of the document, the man described it as a "suicide note for friends and family."
Community policing program means more neighborhood officers
by Jennifer Walch
Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) -- Policing with the community, not policing the community. It's the new face of the Duluth Police Department.
And as part of this new community policing initiative, you can expect to see more police officers in your neighborhood, starting next year.
The Duluth Police Department knows the time to build meaningful relationships with the community is before a crisis.
"It's no longer just a faceless, nameless police officer,” Deputy Chief Mike Tusken of the Duluth Police Department said. “If it's somebody that they know as a person, we have better relationships as a result.”
From horse patrols, to bullet proof vests, and squad cars, community members are getting to know their patrol officers better at this Kids, Cops, and Car event.
"It's important that we can kind of be on the same level as them, and let our children kind of know that it's a safe place to be,” Kelly Wick a community member said. “Police officers are here to protect us and serve us, and kids learn that they are friendly and kind."
As it stands now, 10 officers are specialists in community policing.
They aren't driven by 911 calls and emergency response. They focus on crime and problem prevention in neighborhoods.
But starting in January, the entire patrol division, more than 100 officers, will be trained to be community police.
"When there is a community problem, we will be able to assign anyone to that problem, to do some analysis of what the issue is, do the outreach, talk to the person who is having the issue and the problem solve," Deputy Chief Tusken said.
It means more officers on the streets of your neighborhood-engaging with kids, families and business owners.
"We'd like to have geographical areas, where we assign people to a specific piece of ground, where they are responsible for the outcomes in that neighborhood,” Deputy Chief Tusken said.
"When you have everybody that is working on a problem, it never becomes a, that's not my job, this is my job over here, and that's their job,” Officer Chad Nagorski, East Area Commander said. “We are younger than we've ever been. These officers in five, 10, 15 years, this will just be there normal."
Officers will receive in-house community policing training, with no additional funds from outside sources.
The citizens review board will also be an integral part of the new community policing initiative.
The board will hear and review reports from community members as well police liaisons, making recommendations if needed.
A Three-Point Plan for Public Safety Built on Youth Success
by Robert Shuler Smith
During the past few months, nearly 50 police chiefs and sheriffs from Mississippi have voiced their support for a three-pronged approach for putting all kids—particularly boys of color—on track for success in school and lives free of the criminal justice system.
Driven by research and common sense, these law enforcement leaders are advocating for quality early education. They are also urging educators to reduce school suspensions and expulsions. And they are determined to improve relations between youth and the law enforcement community.
The law enforcement leaders made their case by joining Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a national crime prevention organization. As a fellow member of the organization, I am also urging Mississippi lawmakers to continue their support for practices with a proven impact on public safety and the success of our kids.
They can begin with continued backing of Mississippi's state preschool program. Mississippi's law enforcement community championed the program's creation in 2013 with a report, Pay Now or Pay Much More Later, that spotlighted studies that followed at-risk kids who experienced high quality early learning several decades into their adult lives. Both studies found that kids who participated were far more likely to graduate from high school and far less likely to become involved in crime.
While this outcome is obviously important to us, we also pushed for the program because quality early learning is especially important for kids from poorer families who cannot afford to spend nearly $4,000, the average annual cost of private preschool here in Mississippi, where 38 percent of kids aged five and under are living in poverty. Equally important, research shows quality early learning can return, on average, a net economic benefit to society of more than $26,000 for every child served, based on reduced costs of crime, special education, grade repetition and other costs incurred by the public.
Policymakers should also champion efforts such as those underway in Jackson and Biloxi schools to reduce suspensions and expulsions. Led by pragmatic educators, the schools deal with problem behaviors - such as talking back to teachers, using inappropriate language and disrupting other students - within the school environment, thereby keeping kids in school and off the streets. This is important for public safety because data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows out-of-school 12- to 19-year-olds were more likely to get into a physical fight, carry a weapon or engage in risky behaviors such as drug use.
We are especially pleased that these schools here in Jackson are using in-school discipline programs such as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, which utilize peer pressure and rewards systems to foster and reinforce good behaviors. Here too the public benefits, because researchers have found that positive behavior programs can produce net savings of $30,000 per student based on reducing crime and increasing school success.
Lawmakers can further reduce crime by joining efforts to build better relations between law enforcement and youth. While this is obviously important given the widely publicized distrust of police among minority youth in particular, American police academics spend little, if any, time to prepare officers on how to diffuse tension among youth during stressful situations.
In an effort to turn the tide, Mississippi law enforcement organized a Teen Town Hall at Wingfield High School in May. The event featured a panel of young black men alongside several officials from Jackson and Hinds County. The dialogue allowed the youth to speak honestly about their struggles, and reasons for their animosity toward police, while offering law enforcement the opportunity to connect on a personal level with the kids. The dialogue was emotionally powerful for everyone, and I have no doubt that it will inspire more trust and help young people understand law enforcement's desire to protect their safety.
Unfortunately we need to do more than talk. Law enforcement officers nationwide need more training to understand the impact of adolescent brain development on impulsive and sometimes counter-productive behavior. We also need to learn how to de-escalate tensions in police interactions with young people, particularly youth of color, to build the trust we need to effectively protect our communities. And we must recognize that the best way to keep our streets safe is to prevent more young people from turning to crime in the first place. Supporting quality education, keeping kids in school, and becoming better ambassadors for our public safety mission will keep these efforts on track now and in the years to come.
Dothan police chief calls community policing big success
by Ken Curtis
Dothan Police Chief Steve Parrish said Tuesday the department's new Community Policing Program has been warmly received.
He said the initiative is aimed at bringing the public and officers together to build a unified community. “The mentality of give (officers) a badge and gun and train them to go to work is changing,” he told members of the Dothan Kiwanis Club. “It's all about training, education and, above all, helping people we serve, “he said.
Parrish, who assumed the chief's position about four months ago, shared the story of a woman in the Garden District that recently left the back of her SUV parked in her driveway open. “One of our bicycle officers saw it, went and knocked on the door of the home, and told her about it.” Praising the officer, Parrish said his actions are exactly what community policing is all about.
The chief told the enthusiastic crowd that law enforcement has isolated itself from the public. “Officers have their windows up, working on their in-car computers, and talking on the cell phones.
"Technology is good but it sometimes it removes us from close contact with mainstream Dothan but we are changing that,” Parrish said.
Maybe New York City Needs Older Cops for Community Policing
by Jarrett Murphy
Bill de Blasio and Bill Bratton's NYPD is ushering in a new kind of policing, and to do it right they might need a new kind of cop. That was one takeaway from the Times' richly detailed story on Monday about the community policing experiment underway in Far Rockaway.
Community policing as a concept isn't exactly new, but the attempt to introduce it amid high distrust between cops and communities represents a novel challenge. Hence the need for cops who are less interested in making busts than in solving problems—more sociology than Starsky & Hutch.
"The department," wrote reporter J. David Goodman, "wants more applicants who can incorporate a measure of social work into a job that has long been defined almost exclusively by a willingness to face difficult situations and confront dangerous people."
If that's true, it might be time for the NYPD to revisit its age limit on recruits.
Right now, a person can take the NYPD exam only until age 35, although if a person served in the military he or she can extend the age limit for up to six years. The thinking behind the age restriction is pretty obvious: Younger people are more likely to be able to handle the physical requirements of training and, over the course of a career, any job.
That is true, on average. All else being equal, a 20-year-old is probably going to beat a 40-year-old in a foot race, and a 40-year-old is likely going to best a 50-year-old over the same distance.
But being 40 or 50 today is very different from what it was 20 years ago. People are living longer. They are smoking less. Folks who care about their health are eating better and exercising more. Plenty of people in their 50s, even in their 60s, are in extremely good physical condition. There are 40-year-olds playing professional baseball and football, even boxing. If you have run in a road-race recently, chances are someone who was 20 or 30 years your senior finished with a better time. While there is certainly a drop-off in physical assets—especially reflexes and the ability to recover from injuries—as one ages, exercise and diet can slow those declines and prevent steep losses in strength and stamina. I'd bet that many people in their late 30s and 40s reading this are in better shape now than they were in their mid-20s.
An NYPD that permitted older recruits would have to rigorously test the physical abilities of aging members, because being a police officer is, sometimes, a physical job: Police officers have to be capable of stuff like making rescues and prevailing in combat. Their lives and those of bystanders, victims and even perpetrators depend on a certain level of cop fitness.
But that is only one aspect of the job. Defusing tense situations, making decisions under pressure, communicating across lines of class, language and race—these are a more regular part of cop life than fistfights. And these elements of the job will only become more important as community policing takes hold.
Of course, there are young people who are very good at those things. And there are older people who are terrible at them. It also could be argued that older people are more likely to suffer from stone-set stereotypes, while younger people are more open to new views.
But older rookie cops would certainly offer the city some advantages. They'd be more likely to have had helpful life experiences before joining the force, which might allow them to better relate to and talk with the citizens they police. They'd have had time to acquire more education, which can't hurt. They might have a little more of the self-confidence that can be a helpful thing in a tense situation. They may have less interest in the action-packed image of police work, meaning they'd be more likely to feel fulfilled by the sometimes mundane, managerial aspects of the actual job.
On the other hand, physical abilities aren't the only advantage younger recruits offer the NYPD. Younger minds might be easier to mold and more comfortable accepting a paramilitary authority structure. Younger workers are more likely to be able to live on an NYPD salary and less likely to have family responsibilities that make the demands of night shifts, the rigor of weekend and holiday work and the risks inherent in the cop's job even more burdensome.
However, most cops will eventually age into those attitudes, needs and responsibilities regardless of when they start on the force. The underlying truth is that not everyone is cut out to be a New York City police officer. It takes a special person to do the job well, and it seems unlikely in this era, given the evolving needs of modern law enforcement and the changing meaning of age, that a person's time on the planet really bears on whether she or he belongs among The Finest.
What we have learned the hard way over the past few decades is that nothing on a person's birth certificate—neither race nor gender nor ethnicity nor citizenship—really matters when it comes to the ability to protect New Yorkers and uphold the law. The date of birth probably doesn't either.
Federal Juvenile Justice Committee Advises More Funding for States
by Sarah Barr
WASHINGTON — The federal committee of state stakeholders that advises the administration on juvenile justice matters supports updates to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Protection Act — and more money to implement changes.
The Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice on Monday voted 8-2 for a slate of recommendations related to the reauthorization of the JJDPA, the law that sets standards for juvenile justice programs.
States must comply with the law to receive funding for their programs. Legislation that would update the law has cleared a Senate committee and is expected to reach the Senate floor this fall.
The committee's recommendations support many of those updates, such as increased data collection and reporting requirements, as long as additional funding is provided.
The panel also recommended the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention should only consider punitive funding reductions as a last resort if a state is not in compliance with the JJDPA.
The committee has said previously that the law needs to be reauthorized and get more funding, but the new slate of recommendations is more specific.
“We've seen some movement, we're hopeful for movement, so it seemed like the right time to weigh in,” said Jim Moeser, vice chair of the committee and deputy director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, after the meeting.
Data collection and improved accountability are critical, but states vary widely in how prepared they are to collect and report new measures, he said.
“The reality is far from where we need to be, and the expense is probably more than people realize,” he said.
The committee also supported:
phasing out the “valid court order” exception that allows children who commit status offenses — such as truancy or curfew violations — to be detained;
accountability measures for reducing ethnic and racial disparities;
new limits to keep youth under age 18 out of adult confinement facilities, and
an increase in federal funding for juvenile justice programs.
Committee member George Timberlake, a retired chief judge of the 2nd Judicial Circuit in Illinois and chair of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, said during debate on the recommendations that they strike the right balance between encouraging compliance and the need for adequate funding.
“Having been there and our state having been on the grill, I suggest these are reasonable responses,” he said.
How One Group of Moms Is Keeping the Peace on One of Chicago's Most Violent Street Corners
by Lillian Osborne and Jessica Stites
CHICAGO — Safety is what everyone we talk to in Englewood wants — safety and respect from the police. They are not willing to settle for a false choice of one or the other.
On June 29, Mothers Against Senseless Killings (MASK) took a novel approach to countering bloodshed in the South Side Chicago neighborhood of Englewood, the setting of Spike Lee's forthcoming film “Chiraq” and an area the media calls “violent,” “troubled” and “murderous.”
Six days earlier, a shooting on the corner of 75th and Stewart had killed one woman and injured two others.
Hoping to prevent retaliatory violence, the “army of moms” planted folding chairs on the southeast corner of the intersection and spent the afternoon chatting with passersby and dispensing hugs. The next day, they were there again. They plan to return daily from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. until the public school year resumes after Labor Day. So far, there have been no shootings on their watch.
“As a mother, you will do whatever you can to protect your kids,” says MASK founder Tamar Manasseh, 37. A rabbinical student, she was raised in Englewood and has a 16-year-old daughter and a 19-year-old son. “[Even] if that means sitting out on the corner for the entire summer.”
While some other groups that use “positive loitering” as a violence-prevention strategy aim to clear the streets, MASK affirms the right of youth to be on the corner.
They need a “nonthreatening kind of engagement. … It's all just love,” says Damani Bowden, 41, slapping the hand of a passing teenager. A Ford assembly line worker and father of three, he is one of several men who participate in MASK.
“The vast majority of these guys aren't doing nothing wrong — nothing illegal, nothing immoral, they're just hanging out,” Bowden says, pitching his voice to include the teenager, who is nodding. “But they have to suffer because of the perception that everybody out here is on some B.S.”
A week after MASK set up their chairs, newspapers reported something unusual: There had been no shootings in the neighborhood over the July Fourth weekend, a time when gun violence usually spikes. The previous year, there had been 10 shootings in Englewood, two within sight of 75th and Stewart.
MASK wasn't the only group trying to keep the peace that weekend. Police worked 12-hour shifts. Target Area Development Corp, a local social-justice organization, sent 150 neighborhood recruits on round-the-clock patrols.
It's hard to say whether the pause is significant. It was the first peaceful July 3 to 5 in Englewood since 2005. But Asiaha Butler, founder of the 5-year-old Resident Association of Greater Englewood (RAGE), points out that the media sensationalized the July 4 “miracle” as though “someone is shot every day in Englewood, which is not true.”
In fact, there's a murder in the neighborhood about once every nine days, and roughly once a year someone is killed within eyeshot of 75th and Stewart. Yet since the June 23 shooting, the corner has already witnessed another homicide. It was at 4:30 a.m. on July 18, long after MASK members had gone home. The victim, Jemel O'Brien, 29, lived on the block.
The neighbors, though fond of MASK, are skeptical that it has deterred crime. Most violent crimes are not committed in broad daylight. MASK members themselves have differing views: As one says the corner has grown calmer, another shakes his head.
It's possible MASK is making an impact in another way: on the police, who keep a tight grip on the corner. Squad cars roll by every five to 10 minutes. Manasseh believes that police refrain from arresting teenagers for minor offenses when MASK is watching, which in turn keeps the kids from getting the criminal records that limit future opportunities.
“It's still very much Alabama in the 1960s,” says Manasseh. “It's very much an overseer, sharecropper kind of deal out here. The police have no vested interest in this community. They don't live here; they don't have parents that live here, or nieces and nephews. They don't care.”
Several MASK members say the police have asked them to leave or told the corner kids not to talk to them, without giving a reason. The Chicago Police Department did not respond to requests for comment.
MASK finds itself at the intersection of two interrelated problems: the violence that frightens neighborhoods and imperils bystanders, and the policing that presumes criminality.
The Black Lives Matter movement is working at this intersection as well. When activists shine a light on police killings of young black men, they are inevitably accused of overlooking the problem of “black-on-black crime.” While this charge often emanates from white defenders of police tactics, Black Lives Matter organizers acknowledge that in order to rein in the power of law enforcement, the movement must offer a radically different vision of safety, one that does not rely on police and prisons.
Safety is what everyone we talk to in Englewood wants — safety and respect from the police. They are not willing to settle for a false choice of one or the other.
In the field of criminology, the jury is out on whether police prevent crime. Most research indicates that the threat of punishment rarely deters criminals and that putting more police on patrol increases crime reports but does not decrease incidents. Studies show that police spend 80 to 90 percent of their patrol time on non-criminal matters, such as traffic violations.
“We'll know Black lives matter when public safety responses aren't defined by arrests or prison admissions but by work to reduce contact with the criminal justice system in the first place,” wrote Nicole Porter of Washington, D.C.-based prison-reform group The Sentencing Project in a Huffington Post op-ed. She notes that preventive community programs like urban farming can reduce crime rates.
MASK's work is in line with these interventions, but this kind of change takes time. What's clear is that it has momentum: Membership has doubled from 10 to 20, residents of the block are joining the effort, and about 15 kids (the “MASKeteers”) return regularly. The group has begun hosting activities like relay races and martial arts classes at 75th and Stewart, and has expanded to another corner, with plans for a third.
RAGE's Butler emphasizes the need for long-term efforts. “No one is going to have the magic formula to solve all of the ills of Englewood.”
“It's about psychology, about why [kids commit crimes] in the first place,” says Manasseh. “They'll tell you, ‘I have a record,' and it just sounds so hopeless. And I hate to hear that in a 19-year-old kid. You have so long to live. … You want to find a job? We're gonna go look for a job. You want to get something off your record? Let's find a way.”
Asked if this could be called street corner social work, she laughs. “That's a mother's job — we're unpaid social workers.”
Ferguson judge withdraws all arrest warrants before 2015
by Greg Botelho and Sara Sidner
The municipal court judge in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday announced sweeping changes to the city's court system, including an order to withdraw all arrest warrants issued in that city before December 31, 2014.
Municipal Court Judge Donald McCullin, who was appointed in June, also changed the conditions for pretrial release. According to a press release put out by Ferguson, all defendants will be given new court dates with alternative penalties like payment plans or community service.
Those caught for minor traffic violations should be less likely to end up behind bars because of McCullin. Under the new policy, they won't be arrested but instead will be released on their own recognizance and given another court date.
These moves come after a year of often emotional protests and an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department after racial tensions exploded over the August 2014 shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson, who is white.
A grand jury declined to charge Wilson in that case, determining that the shooting was justified. A Justice Department investigation further concluded the shooting did not violate Brown's civil rights.
Those decisions did little to quell anger on the St. Louis suburb's streets tied to that incident and others over the years in which some felt police unfairly singled out African-Americans. A separate Justice Department report found many such examples. The report was soon followed by the resignation of Ferguson's then-embattled police Chief Thomas Jackson.
One woman active in the protest movement said she thinks Monday's actions by McCullin show the demonstrations made a difference.
"As an activist you are going to stay mad because you are not going to always get all that you want," said Patricia Bynes, the Ferguson Township Democratic committeewoman.
"But because of the pushing and the pressure that protesters put on Ferguson, I am considering it a win and a very big win. It's an olive branch."
The pressure to change
In March, the U.S. Justice Department civil rights investigation found that Ferguson police and the city's municipal court engaged in a "pattern and practice" of discrimination against African-Americans.
For example, in 88% of the cases in which the Ferguson police reported using force, it was against African-Americans. Also, between 2012 and 2014, black drivers were twice as likely as white drivers to be searched during traffic stops, but 26% less likely to be found in possession of contraband.
Now because of McCullin's move, warrants -- many of which are from traffic tickets and fines people couldn't pay, as well as failure to appear in court -- have been wiped clean.
The court will revisit those cases, with new warrants issued only if a defendant fails to show up in court later, the city explained. And all suspensions of driver's licenses are now null and void.
Ferguson also says the changes go above and beyond a Missouri state bill passed this year to limit the percentage of revenue that cities can bring in from traffic fines and fees.
"These changes should continue the process of restoring confidence in the court, alleviating fears of the consequences of appearing in court and giving many residents a fresh start," McCullin said in a statement.
But Arch City Defenders, a nonprofit legal aid group that has sued Ferguson over its ticketing practices, doesn't think the judge went far enough.
"There are real questions about the legitimacy of the stops in the first place brought up by the DOJ and Arch City Defenders as well," Arch City Executive Director Thomas Harvey said.
"If they want to do something in the interest of community healing they should just get rid of those cases. Blank slate. Start over. And move on."
Harvey also pointed out that McCullin has to retire in six months because of state-mandated age limits for judges. The advocacy group leader worries that -- because the order is voluntary and not part of a decree that would be overseen by a higher court -- there is no guarantee the city will comply.
"You're asking the community to trust you after years of creating distrust," Harvey said.
Ferguson still pumping out arrest warrants
The ticketing and arrest warrant issue didn't necessarily go away with the Justice Department report's release or the new order. An exclusive CNNMoney analysis earlier this month found the city was still pumping out thousands of new arrest warrants and jailing people over minor offenses.
By that point in 2015, the city had already issued more than 2,300 new arrest warrants for the year and thousands of older warrants continued to haunt people -- even as neighboring municipalities are wiping out old tickets or warrants entirely.
Brendan Roediger, a Saint Louis University law professor and attorney who has represented some defending themselves against the tickets and warrants, called the new moves a good start but not the endgame many want and deserve.
"It's real and it's important," Roediger said. "They deserve to be given credit for it. I applaud Judge McCallin. It's meaningful. It's significant.
"But ultimately, it is not the solution. (City officials) may do some good things out of pressure, but without a system that creates full-time professional courts, there isn't a system that is sustainable and fair across the board."
Ferguson's Municipal Court is one of 83 part-time courts across St. Louis County. Too many of those courts, Roediger said, have engaged in similar practices that have disproportionately and unfairly affected the poor and people of color.
"The combination of racial profiling and revenue-based policing creates massive animosity between people in the community and police. It does not increase public safety. "
Louisiana man describes confrontation with suspect in trooper's murder
by The Associated Press
LAKE CHARLES, La. – It was a scene that probably would have made most people run the other way: a bloodied state police trooper lying on the asphalt by the side of a Louisiana country road, the lights from his police cruiser still flashing as a man with a shotgun stood nearby.
Robert LeDoux was just down the road a bit when three men pulled him over and told him not to go any closer.
"'Don't go down there. That guy's got a gun,'" LeDoux told The Associated Press as he recounted how it was that he ended up tackling and capturing the gunman on Sunday.
Instead LeDoux, who had been out for a weekend drive in his Jeep, charged toward the danger. When he pulled up, he found a man with "pure evil in his eyes" rifling through the trooper's pockets. The man was trying to unclasp the trooper's handgun.
"He told me, 'Everything's all right. Mind your own business. You need to go,'" LeDoux recalled.
Instead, LeDoux attacked: "I took off running. I tackled him. We hit the ground. I was on top of him and I called 911."
The man whom LeDoux is credited with apprehending is now charged in the death of Senior Trooper Steven Vincent.
Kevin Daigle, 54, is accused of shooting Vincent on Sunday evening after Vincent found Daigle's truck in a ditch and stopped to offer assistance. Vincent died Monday.
LeDoux said he was out for a drive Sunday when he saw flashing police lights about a quarter-mile in front of him. Three men stopped him and urged him to turn around. They said they were calling 911, but that he shouldn't approach the patrol car because they had seen a man brandishing a gun by the trooper.
After LeDoux tackled the gunman, the other men ran over to help. They handcuffed the shooter and two of them held him down while LeDoux went to help Vincent, using the trooper's radio to call for assistance.
LeDoux said it wasn't until he saw the trooper's name tag that he realized he knew the officer because he was good friends with the officer's brother, also in law enforcement.
Police introduced LeDoux at a news conference earlier Monday but he did not speak to reporters at the time.
"This is a hero," said state police chief Mike Edmonson.
Authorities also suspect Daigle in the death of another man whose body was found Monday at a house where Daigle had been living. Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said authorities originally went to the house Sunday evening because the vehicle Daigle was driving was registered there. No one answered and they had no search warrant, so they left, he said.
But on Monday authorities got a phone call from the man's office saying he had not shown up for work and asking police to check on him.
As authorities were on their way to the house, Mancuso said state police also passed along information from their interview with Daigle that "led investigators to believe there was an altercation at this house."
Upon arrival, a sheriff's deputy found the man dead and signs of a struggle. The man's name was not released.
"We really don't have a lot of answers," Mancuso said.
Authorities have charged Daigle with first-degree murder in the trooper's slaying. But they are still trying to figure out what triggered him. Daigle had a record and was known to authorities already.
"He's a citizen that has a criminal history in our community," Mancuso said. "Everything from some battery charges, some domestic issues, battery on a police officer, DWIs. It's somebody we've dealt with before."
The police have not released the dashboard video, but Chief Edmonson described what he said is on it: Vincent, a 13-year state police veteran in southwest Louisiana and member of a law enforcement family, trying to talk the man out of the truck. Instead, the man came out with a shotgun.
"It was frightening to watch," Edmonson said.
He said the tape shows a shotgun blast, and then Daigle wandering over to Vincent to ask him if he was alive.
"You could hear him breathing, telling him, 'You're lucky. You're lucky — you're going to die soon.' That's the words that came out of his mouth," Edmonson said.
The police suspect Daigle had been drinking and said another type of drug was in his system, but gave no further details.
Vincent leaves behind a wife, Katherine, and a 9-year-old son, Ethan. One of his brothers was a police chief in Iowa, Louisiana, and another brother is a state trooper.
He was a marathon runner who just the night before ran a marathon just for fun, Edmonson said.
"Nobody wore this badge more proudly than Steven Vincent," the state police chief said.
In New York, Testing Grounds for Community Policing
by J. David Goodman
Residents on the street rarely return the greetings of the precinct commander. Officers complain that their overtures are usually rebuffed, but they travel even short distances by car and drive down pedestrian paths in housing developments, cruising past staring faces. Many leave the Queens precinct for meals, some crossing into Nassau County for coffee at Starbucks.
On the other side are young men who say they remain the targets of police harassment and detect no new effort by officers to connect with them.
These are snapshots of the halting progress and enduring hurdles facing the New York Police Department, the country's largest force, as it embarks on an ambitious effort to reshape everyday interactions between its patrol officers and residents of the city after a period of searing tension.
The 101st Precinct in Far Rockaway, an overgrown former beach resort dotted with Robert Moses-era public housing at the city's eastern edge, is an early testing ground of a model of so-called community policing that fell out of favor in the 1990s as crime levels hit all-time highs. The idea is as simple as it is old-fashioned: Rather than chase 911 calls, certain officers patrol only a small area. They are meant to solve problems, not simply enforce the law.
There have been some minor achievements. But breaking through walls of silence and suspicion that often keep officers and residents at a distance is no simple task. The fact that most residents are black or Hispanic and most officers white adds an undeniable hint of distrust.
“People are still hesitant to be seen talking to us in uniform,” said Officer Matthew Ruoff, who came from a unit tasked with rooting out low-level crime and is now a kind of emissary for a different mode of policing. “But it's been a few months and they are starting to open up. My goal is for people to view us as more than just, Oh, those two cops.”
Neither Officer Ruoff nor his partner, Gregory Lomangino, had made an arrest in weeks. Instead, on a recent Thursday, they crisscrossed their corner of the precinct, stopping to chat with a deli worker, a kebab seller and a security guard. At each stop, they radioed to report a “community visit.”
The theory, in part, is that if officers are given ample time and steady beats, they can learn about local concerns, address percolating problems of crime and disorder before they boil over and, in doing so, improve frayed relations with skeptical communities. It has been endorsed on the national level by President Obama's task force on 21st-century policing.
“There's a lot riding on it,” the police commissioner, William J. Bratton, said recently of the concept, which will soon be expanded from four test precincts to more than a dozen others across the city, made possible by the addition of 1,300 officers.
Other departments around the country, from Boston to Los Angeles, have tried versions of community policing over the years with varying levels of success. Now, as pressure builds for the police to ensure public safety in ways other than simple enforcement, law enforcement leaders are watching to see if New York's return to an old idea will bring new and lasting change.
“It will send a message across the country,” said Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington-based research group. “It's a major shift nationally — to have the biggest department in the country talking about problem solving.”
Examples of the early challenges the program faces are clear to anyone who spends time with the officers.
On a recent afternoon, for example, six officers left the station house to attend a community meeting two and a half blocks away. They could have walked through the bustle of Mott Avenue. Instead they drove in a marked police van, parked and went inside.
When it was over, the officers, known as neighborhood coordination officers or N.C.O.s, piled back into the van, made a U-turn and drove back.
The meeting itself left some involved feeling disheartened. “They didn't seem interested in finding out how we could work together,” said Jazmine Outlaw, 20, a resident and the president of the 101st Precinct Community Council, who was at the meeting.
Signs of Progress
But there have been some successes, too. Officers Andrew Hayes, 30, and Glenn Ziminski, 32, neighborhood officers who were formerly assigned to chasing drug dealers in local housing developments, gathered information on shootings in a new way: a local mother who came to an event for children to meet officers.
“It was a shock to even him and me,” Officer Hayes said, comparing it to his experiences in narcotics enforcement. “The only way we knew about getting a confidential informant is to flip a guy because he bought drugs,” he said. The recent breakthrough was different. “That was all based off being an N.C.O., going to a meeting, conversing with people.”
For Officers Ruoff, 31, and Lomangino, 34, a demonstration of what their new jobs could entail came in June when they learned of a woman in the Arverne View apartments who had a FedEx package — lotion and a cellphone case — stolen from the hallway in front of her apartment.
The theft was assigned to the precinct's detective squad, Officer Ruoff said, but as a minor crime it was a low priority. So the officers followed up with the building's security, found video of the thief, and learned that she was known to stand in front of a nearby deli most mornings with a beer. They found her two days later and made an arrest.
Critics of the department remain skeptical that the promise of better police-community relations will be realized through patrol officers. “It's old wine in a new bottle,” said Robert Gangi, the director of the Police Reform Organizing Project. “Most people do not become police officers to do social work.”
In a tacit acknowledgment of that reality, the Police Department is considering how to change its recruitment strategies. The department wants more applicants who can incorporate a measure of social work into a job that has long been defined almost exclusively by a willingness to face difficult situations and confront dangerous people. Mr. Bratton's connection to community policing has its roots in Boston in 1977, when as an ambitious young officer with the Boston Police Department, he was tapped to help implement a consultant's vision of neighborhood policing, one with similarities to the one rolling out in New York: sectors with dedicated patrol cars and officers learning local issues.
“We lost that,” said the consultant, Robert Wasserman, who has remained close to Mr. Bratton over the years and now has an office steps from the commissioner's on the 14th floor of Police Headquarters. “We have to sit down and engage with people on an equal basis.”
Difficult Proving Ground
Inside the 101st Precinct in Far Rockaway, the change was sudden. On Monday, May 18, officers who had been assigned to specialized units were put back on patrol and sent to four newly designed zones — Adam, Boy, Charlie and David — that more or less correspond to existing neighborhoods.
“We kind of flipped on a dime,” Deputy Inspector Justin Lenz, the precinct commander, said in his first-floor office in the aging precinct station house, where, in heavy rain, water pours in from a leaky roof. A 1979 map of the area still hangs on one wall, used to highlight gang territories in what some officers call “Brownsville by the sea,” a reference to the notoriously violent Brooklyn neighborhood.
The precinct, in southeastern Queens, is one of the four — including the adjacent 100th Precinct and the 33rd and 34th Precincts in Upper Manhattan — selected as the first to test the approach.
For residents battered by Hurricane Sandy and a history of high crime, change has been felt more slowly on the street.
Many complain of a crushing boredom — not a single movie theater or sit-down restaurant — punctuated by occasional violence on the one hand and police intrusion on the other.
“This is still what we're experiencing,” said Milan R. Taylor, 26, who heads the Rockaway Youth Task Force, a neighborhood group with a community garden near the Ocean Bay Apartments, historically one of the area's more violent housing developments. He said he had been stopped a half-dozen times at vehicle checkpoints this year by officers from outside the precinct who did not seem aware of the new initiative.
“It's not trickling down,” Mr. Taylor said.
Other young residents said plainclothes officers have mocked them on the street, pumping rap music and throwing gang signs when driving past groups gathered outside. “We could be just like this and they stop,” said Keyshawn Chean, 18, standing with friends near Beach 26th Street. “There's no new program.”
The policing of Far Rockaway is complicated by entrenched challenges — high poverty and a location more than an hour by train from Manhattan — that have been a part of the neighborhood's fabric since Robert Moses and the city cleared the beachfront bungalows and set down big brick blocks of public housing.
Drainage is nonexistent on some residential streets, with huge puddles in the summer and small ice rinks in the winter; the area is dotted with nursing homes and shelters; the only hospital, St. John's, is the biggest employer.
At night, a neighborhood watch team patrols the middle-class houses in an Orthodox Jewish enclave to the east. In some of the housing projects, a group of so-called violence interrupters from a local nonprofit, Sheltering Arms, is getting off the ground with funds from the mayor's office.
The downtown, along Mott Avenue, is marked by a commercial plaza with few occupied shops; businesses elsewhere in the neighborhood close early. “This should be a jewel,” Councilman Donovan Richards Jr., who represents the neighborhood, said as he stood at the open mouth of the large U-shaped shopping center. “We've turned the tide, but we're not out of the dark yet.”
Roughly a mile away, at the far end of an alley without a name by an overgrown lot near the beach, Joanne Rebollo, 29, watched three of her four children and two nephews play in a kiddie pool in front of her rented white bungalow, one of the few remaining, on a sweltering afternoon.
“There's nothing to do with the kids,” Ms. Rebollo said of the area, where she moved in February to escape rising rents in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
The neighborhood where she lives is ringed in purple on the precinct's aging map as the territory of the G.O.A., the Gang of Apes, one of at least nine active gangs in the precinct. Some divide up single housing developments: The front side of Redfern Houses, for example, clashes with the back.
On a recent patrol, Officer Ziminski stopped in the small red-floored foyer of 14-60 Beach Channel Drive in the Redfern Houses where, as a rookie officer eight years ago, he found Rayquan Elliot, a local rapper who performed as Stack Bundles, dead on the ground, a bullet through his skull.
The murder reverberated through the community at the time, sowing despair among those who had seen the young star as a beacon, and his death as another sign of the impossibility of making it out. It remains unsolved. Despite the area's reputation for violence, crime has diminished here recently, and shootings are sharply down this year. Among residents, the most well-known murder this year — the killing of the rapper Chinx, a child of Redfern and a friend of Mr. Elliot's who was fatally shot as he sat in his Porsche at a stoplight — occurred miles away in Briarwood, Queens.
A Less Violent City
In part, the community policing model can be tried again in New York because officers have less crime to deal with. “I think it's a luxury of manageable crime,” Mr. Wexler said. “If Bratton were to have attempted this in the 1990s with 2,200 homicides, it would not have been successful.”
Roughly a third of the major crime in the 101st Precinct, where about 200 uniformed officers now work, occurs among people who know each other, Inspector Lenz said, including robberies and felony assaults.
“It's not your moms walking on the boardwalk and gets beat down and we're trying to find some crazed guy,” he said. “It's people that know each other and then they attack, and there's weapons involved. It is what it is.”
Some officers have complained that the dismantling of most of the specialized precinct units took away what had been a steppingstone to the detective squad or other advanced positions. But the neighborhood officers are given time to make home visits, seen as a way to develop skills needed for detective work.
Indeed, the new approach is rooted in conversations with people in the community. But that has forced officers into interactions that some have found awkward or uncomfortable.
“Their version is somebody wasn't too friendly to them,” Inspector Lenz said. “I go, So what? Obviously I don't want you to arrest them. Just let it go.”
Leaders in the Police Department have yet to settle on a method for gauging the effectiveness of officers who, in the past, were evaluated on their quantifiable activity: arrests, summonses, stops. Many of the new officers come from so-called conditions units, which focused on enforcement and are being disbanded under the program.
“They are looking at ‘soft activity' now,” Officer Hayes said, riding in the passenger seat of an unmarked squad car, with Officer Ziminski behind the wheel. The radio chirped with calls: a reported break-in, a missing 17-year-old, gunshots that turned out to be, on inspection, just fireworks. At one point, they drove past a young man on a street corner, his face partially covered by a mask from what the officers said was a self-inflicted gunshot wound, flashing a middle finger at the car.
“Between the two of us, Glenn and I had at least a hundred collars last year,” said Officer Hayes, who has since joined the precinct's anti-crime unit, a pathway to the detective squad. For a month, neither of the officers recorded any arrests.
On a recent afternoon in Far Rockaway, the six officers sat on couches in the second-floor office of the Rockaway Youth Task Force for a conversation that roamed from the Black Lives Matter movement to strategies for backyard composting to the bureaucracy of the department.
Mr. Taylor and Ms. Outlaw, the precinct community council president, described their concerns about low-level arrests that appeared to be a form of petty harassment to young minorities: tickets for bicycling, for spitting on the sidewalk, for jaywalking.
“We already got the message — we're not doing that petty stuff anymore,” Officer Lomangino said. “We have stopped.”
Mr. Taylor expressed frustration that the new approach seemed limited to a small number of local officers. “What do we do?” he asked. “The great work that you guys are doing is being undone by all these other things.”
“I'm with you,” Officer Lomangino said. “But enforcement will always be there. We're the police.”
REAL ID to be Enforced at Federal Buildings Beginning in October
by Anthony Kimery
While 10 states and the District of Columbia have been issuing driver's licenses to illegal aliens as of the summer of 2015, according to a report by Pew Charitable Trusts, and advocates for illegals continue to protest voter ID laws and mandatory use of E-Verify by businesses, beginning October 10, security screeners at nearly 200,000 federal buildings may deny access to visitors who present a driver's license or identification card from a state non-compliant with REAL ID rules.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) just released its guidance for federal agencies for this phase of REAL ID enforcement. The guidance, REAL ID Act of 2005 Implementation: An Interagency Security Committee Guide, contains a list of approved federal and state issued IDs.
According to DHS, a passport or ID specially approved by the federal government can be used as proof of identity.
The 2005 REAL ID Act prohibits federal agencies from accepting driver's licenses and IDs that do not meet standards set by DHS. One purpose of the REAL ID Act was to strengthen the security of federal facilities from terrorist attacks.
The act established minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver's licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the act's minimum standards. The purposes covered by the act are: accessing federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and, no sooner than 2016, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.
“One of the Department of Homeland Security's priorities is the protection of federal employees and private citizens who work within and visit US government-owned or leased facilities,” the guidelines state. “The Interagency Security Committee (ISC), chaired by DHS, consists of 54 federal departments and agencies, and has as its mission the development of security standards and best practices for nonmilitary federal facilities in the United States.”
The new DHS guideline clarifies how identity card clearances are to be uniformly applied to protect federal employees and private citizens who work within and visit these buildings.
According the Government Services Administration, there are 275,195 buildings that are owned and leased by the federal government as of 2014. But there's only been REAL ID enforcement at 217 of these buildings. This next phase of enforcement will include "semi-restricted" federal facilities with Federal Security Levels 3, 4 or 5. Federal buildings where no ID checks currently occur -- like museums, benefits offices and government hospitals -- will not be among those covered by the increased enforcement, according to DHS.
"States or territories that are not REAL ID compliant or have not received an extension by DHS to comply will be most impacted,” reacted Keeping IDentities Safe President Brian Zimmer. “Residents of New Hampshire, Minnesota, Louisiana and New York are already being denied access to a few hundred federal facilities. Of these, only in New York does the governor have the authority to direct the state Department of Motor Vehicles to comply. The other three states require legislative action to remove anti-REAL ID barriers.”
Zimmer said that, “Adding as many 200,000 federal and military buildings with access restrictions will increase incentives for states to comply with REAL ID requirements. This REAL ID enforcement guide demonstrates that positive measures are being taken to protect federal employees and our soldiers on military bases from suicidal shooters and terrorists."
Keeping IDentities Safe is a 501(c)(3) non-partisan, not for profit crime prevention education public charity, supported by donor contributions from across the United States. Keeping IDentities Safe is a member of the Document Security Alliance and the American National Standards Institute.
Homeland Security Today reported in its May report, REAL ID: Broken Promises, Little Progress to Secure Driver's Licenses, Group Says, that May 11 marked 10 years since President George W. Bush signed the REAL ID Act into law, and yet it still hasn't been fully implemented because numerous postponements and waivers have kept key provisions from taking effect."
“Not only are less than half of states compliant, but a growing number of them have enacted legislation to put licenses in the hands of illegal aliens, a practice that is thoroughly antithetical to the 9/11 Commission's recommendations," said Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) President Dan Stein in a statement at the time. "From a national security standpoint, it is fair to say we are regressing, not progressing even as terrorist threats mount."
“REAL ID was intended to carry out key recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, which revealed that our nation's permissive system of issuing driver's licenses was a glaring vulnerability that was exploited by the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon,” a FAIR statement said.
Among the legislation's provisions are measures that were designed to prevent illegal aliens from obtaining state-issued driver's licenses and safeguards requiring that applicants for licenses and other documents prove their identity, birth date, legal status in the US, Social Security number and the address of their principal residence.
Stein said, "REAL ID is a textbook example of what happens when the vital interests of the American people run up against the interests of powerful business interests, the illegal alien lobby and bureaucratic foot-dragging. The interests of the American people – even the security of our nation – get sacrificed.”
There's little doubt that privacy rights advocates see a Big Brother like “national database,” while states see the REAL ID Act as an unfunded mandate, since the cost of recreating and re-issuing millions of licenses and ID cards falls on the states.
DHS's new "ISC guide details the purpose and background of the REAL ID Act of 2005, and outlines the phased implementation schedule for enforcement,” the DHS guide said. “The guide also contains options in accordance with the act for creating access control procedures, communicating those procedures and establishing alternate access control procedures if necessary. Lastly, the guide contains appendices which reference information on the act, a list of acceptable forms of identification, visual references for acceptable forms of identification and a flow chart aid for developing access control decisions.”
“Consistent with Executive Order 12977 (October 19, 1995), [the] REAL ID Act of 2005 Implementation: An Interagency Security Committee Guide is intended to be applied to all buildings and facilities in the United States occupied by federal employees for nonmilitary activities,” the guide says, noting that, “These include existing owned, to be purchased, or leased facilities; stand-alone facilities; federal campuses; individual facilities on federal campuses; and special-use facilities.”
Continuing, the guide stated, “Implementation of the REAL ID Act of 2005 creates an opportunity to develop and promote a common set of access control procedures for federal facilities. This document outlines guidance for federal departments and agencies, including the Department of Defense and Facility Security Committees (FSC), specifically with regards to alternate access control options for individuals who are unable to present a driver's license or identification card issued by a REAL ID compliant state.”
The act was enacted to implement the 9/11 Commission's recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance…of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses.”
It also “established minimum security standards for license issuance and production and assigned responsibility for determining whether a state is meeting these standards to the Department of Homeland Security,” the guide continued. “DHS issued the REAL ID regulation on January 29, 2008, and began issuing compliance determinations on December 20, 2012. The act prohibits federal agencies from accepting for official purposes driver's licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the act's minimum standards. Official purposes defined in the act and regulations include: accessing federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants and boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft. In early 2013, the National Security Council Staff convened an Interagency Policy Committee (IPC) to develop a plan to ensure that enforcement of the act's prohibitions is done fairly and responsibly. This plan, announced by DHS on December 20, 2013, defined the initial enforcement phases and established a schedule for their implementation …”
For more on the different phases of REAL ID enforcement, see DHS's REAL ID F&Q.
ANALYSIS: 'Martini Terrorism' Finding a Useful Metaphor in Old TV Advertisement
by Dr. Dave Sloggett,
In the 1970s and 80s, one way of selling a product was to create an image of a lifestyle that was seen to be fashionable, and often involved exotic pictures of people on beaches in remote and far-flung places around the world. If you owned certain furniture, or drove a particular kind of car you, were considered to be part of an exclusive club.
This also applied to the way the drinks industry marketed their products. One stands out -- the Martini advertisement. The jingle that went along with it implied that to have this modern, luxurious lifestyle, a person just had to drink a Martini “any time, any place and anywhere.” It was, the advertisement suggested, the drink that would enable you to feel you were part of an exclusive minority of society.
This idea of any-time, any-place and anywhere is something that can also apply to a description of contemporary terrorism. It could be called “Martini Terrorism.” It's old on the basis of the person becoming involved being a member of an exclusive club -- jihadis. Images portraying the lifestyle of those who become involved in terrorism in Syria and Iraq also have an impact; they seduce vulnerable people into thinking they are becoming part of an elite group. Many persons who have travelled from all over Europe to become involved in jihad genuinely believe they're entering on a journey that is exclusive and only open to a few who hear the call to arms that is so carefully published on jihadi social media.
Today, of course, it is social media that now consumes a great deal of the television marketing budgets. Organisations seeking to market their brand have to be present in those areas of the media where their target audiences are most likely to be present. For trans-national terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda, they simply have to have a presence on social media or run the risk of being thought out of touch.
It is through social media that these terrorist groups convey a number of simple messages. One of them is an encouragement for anyone to become involved in jihad. They attempt to make vulnerable people chose a pathway of violence. If those attracted to this message feel they are not able to make the journey to Iraq and Syria, then they are encouraged to undertake operations “wherever they live.” The aim is to make such operations spontaneous so as to keep security authorities off balance.
This kind of messaging first started with Al Qaeda with the arrival of their magazine, Inspire . It was a vehicle for spreading the idea of what today may be called “lone wolf terrorism.” The aim was simple: While major plots were being planned and developed, a range of single, apparently isolated attacks, would continue to take place, creating a drum-beat of fear in society underpinned by the less frequent major events such as the attacks in London or Glasgow Airport.
This call to arms initially sent out by Al Qaeda almost went un-noticed in many quarters. The headline terrorist events in Madrid, London, Mumbai and Boston were of sufficient magnitude to drown-out any isolated incidents had they occurred – which they did not. This lack of appetite for terrorism led to a number of commentators actively bemoaning the “cowardice” of some individuals. A favourite question of the time was, “what is holding you back?”
Notwithstanding the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, Al Qaeda has largely sunk from view as an international terrorist group. Its ability to conduct operations in the Western world has been severely hampered. The Pakistani Army, American drone strikes and a leeching away of support from Al Qaeda to ISIS has created a situation where the organisation is in danger of becoming irrelevant. Its leader seems to be on the run and unable to pause long enough to generate even a basic message claiming to be behind the attacks in Paris.
Meanwhile, ISIS has moved to center stage. It is the organisation that everyone who wants to be involved in jihadist terrorism now aspires to join. It is the one jihadi group on social media showing images of what it is like to live under the banner of ISIS. Markets are full of food, people can now holiday in ISIS's own luxury hotel in Syria and ISIS rewards them for their contribution with stipends of $1,000 dollars a month.
Those who join also get a sense of purpose in life. They feel they are contributing to the creation of a new caliphate – rolling back history to the time in the 12th and 13th century when Islam dominated the world and Baghdad was arguably the center of contemporary developments in algebra, art and pharmaceuticals. This is a fight that is worth, in their minds, sacrificing their lives if it becomes required. And, if open source reporting is to be believed, thousands already have make that ultimate sacrifice.
As ISIS becomes increasingly ubiquitous and former Al Qaeda franchises flock to its flag, the dangers for the West increase. The message from ISIS to become involved in lone wolf attacks is gaining traction in the West. Examples from Dallas to New York, to Ottawa and a number of incidents in France before Christmas and Copenhagen all show the threat from the lone wolf has escalated.
This presents an important challenge to emergency services. A single individual armed with guns or knives can create mayhem in a carefully selected location where many people are present in a relatively confined space. In China, knife attacks by supporters of transnational terrorist groups in 2014 killed nearly 30 people and well over 100 were severely injured.
This kind of action can readily be nick-named “Martini Terrorism.” It is being actively encouraged by ISIS and some of their adherents are responding. The examples quoted above did occur at random using a variety of different means. Knives, cars, bombs and guns have all been used.
The looming problem is, it won't be long before we see improvised chemical weapons being added to jihadists' portfolio as a way of conducting larger scale terrorist attacks.
To take a slight variation on the historical marketing jingle, this is Martini Terrorism that can occurs “any time, any place, and anywhere.”
Contributing Writer Dr. Dave Sloggett has spent over 40 years working with the United Kingdom military forces as a scientific advisor and analyst analyzing international security issues. He is a recogniZed authority on counter insurgency operations and is used as an advisor by NATO to lecture on this subject in support of training missions seeking to help countries establish their own military forces. His most recent books are, Focus on the Taliban , and, Drone Warfare.
How to Help the Students With No Homes?
by Kelly Field
The scars on Christine Banjo's arms are still there — faint marks from the bed bugs that bit her when her family was living in a motel room during her high-school years. "Battle wounds," she calls them: a faded but constant reminder that the college junior has been chronically homeless since she was 7.
During the school year, Ms. Banjo, who is 20, lives in the dorms at Norfolk State University. But on summer vacation and during other breaks, she has no set place to go. There's no room for her in the rooming house where her parents live, so she crashes with friends or sublets space in a cramped apartment. Most days, her only meal is the sandwich and fries she gets during her shift at McDonald's. She returns there on her days off just to have something to eat.
Ms. Banjo says she tries not to dwell on her status but "to put it in a box and act like a normal person." She avoids calling her parents, because she doesn't like to be reminded that they're still struggling. Her father works as a valet at a hotel, but her mother is schizophrenic and can't work.
"I have my depressed moments, but I pull myself out if it," she says. Still, she adds: "I sometimes wonder if it's ever going to end."
Her situation is not that unusual. Nationwide, close to 60,000 "unaccompanied homeless youth" receive federal financial aid as independent students. There are probably thousands more who aren't applying for aid or who are receiving aid as financial dependents, advocates say.
Some of them, like Ms. Banjo, grew up homeless. Others fled abusive homes as teenagers or were disowned by their families because of their sexual orientation. They include students who are living in shelters, sleeping in cars, and commuting from campgrounds. They also include students, like Ms. Banjo, who live on campus most of the year.
The challenges that homeless students face extend well beyond shelter to food insecurity, sleep deprivation, and poor health. Many must choose between educational expenses and food, according to Feeding America, a national network of food banks.
Yet homeless college students remain a largely invisible population — often indistinguishable from their peers and overlooked in policy debates. They get less attention than former foster youth and are often excluded from programs and policies benefiting such students. Many hide their homelessness from professors and peers out of shame or fear of being pitied.
Many college administrators aren't even aware that homeless students are present on their campuses. Advocates say there's a lingering misperception that a homeless person is someone who lives on the side of the road, not someone who "couch surfs" during breaks.
"Everybody has a picture in their mind of what a homeless person looks like," says Cyekeia Lee, director of higher-education initiatives at the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth. "They struggle with the fact that they don't have to be on the street, or under a bench."
That's starting to change, if slowly. On some college campuses, administrators are taking a broader view of what it means to be homeless, and they are responding with programs aimed at getting more homeless students into — and through — college. Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA — Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, says colleges are catching on to the challenges those students face and taking steps to help them secure food during the year and shelter during breaks.
"Two years ago, I thought food insecurity meant, I don't like beets," he says. Now, he says, the topic comes up often at his group's meetings.
If colleges have been slow to help homeless students, it may be because they know so little about the population. States keep tabs on the number of homeless students attending their public schools, but once they graduate high school "they fall off the map," says Barbara Duffield, director of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth. Policy makers have only one statistic to turn to: the number of homeless students granted status as independents on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or Fafsa. But there's no measure of how many enroll or make it to graduation. Research on the population is almost nonexistent.
For Ms. Banjo, who first became homeless in second grade, even graduating from high school was a challenge. Kept awake by the bed bugs, she often fell asleep in class and nearly failed the 11th grade. It wasn't until she drew a "Help" sign in class and a friend showed it to the principal that her school connected her with a community organization in Richmond, Va. She ultimately graduated with a 3.3 GPA.
Because many homeless students move frequently, they're often at an academic disadvantage to their peers. Each time they switch schools, they have to adjust to new teachers, new peers, and often, new curricula. They may miss stretches of school during relocations. Once on campus, they often wrestle with feelings of self-doubt and loneliness. Some have lived with their families for so long in cramped motel rooms or shelters that they're afraid to be alone in their dorms, says Ms. Lee, who answers her association's homeless-student hotline. Others can't accept that they're finally in an apparently stable situation.
Marcy Stidum, associate director for counseling and psychological services at Kennesaw State University, says she knows of one student who packs her bags nearly every Saturday night in anticipation of moving. Ms. Stidum has helped the student purchase a meal plan and get federal work-study support, but she hasn't been able to convince her that she won't be evicted yet again.
"She told me that it's hard to believe that somebody is not going to knock on your door and tell you to leave," Ms. Stidum says.
Ms. Banjo has lots of friends, but says she doesn't feel she can share her struggles with them "because they wouldn't get it, and it would make me mad," she says. "I miss that — having someone to talk to."
Financial desperation can deepen feelings of isolation. Homeless college students don't qualify for the $5,000 education-and-training voucher that the federal government provides to former foster youth, and they aren't eligible for most state tuition waivers.
That disparity may be partly due to differing perceptions of the two populations, says Amy Dworsky, a research fellow at the University of Chicago's Chapin Hall who studies foster youth. While foster youth are often viewed as victims, homeless students are sometimes seen as "troublemakers who should just go back home," she says. "They don't get the same level of public sympathy."
So while homeless students may receive enough aid to cover tuition, they're often left scrambling to find ways to pay for books and food. Ms. Lee says she's gotten calls from women who were considering prostitution to pay for books. Once she heard from a young man who was stealing from wishing wells to buy food.
"He said he felt like he was stealing people's dreams," she says. "A lot of times, students have told me, ‘I've had to do things I'm ashamed of.'"
But the calls Ms. Lee gets most often are about navigating the Fafsa. Eight years ago, Congress expanded the definition of "independent" student to include "unaccompanied homeless youth," allowing homeless students to obtain aid without their parents' signatures or financial documentation. But many homeless students still struggle to prove they qualify. In part, that's because their colleges don't believe them.
Under federal law, financial-aid administrators are supposed to grant independent status to students, age 21 or younger, who check a box on the Fafsa indicating that they have been declared unaccompanied and homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Such a declaration can be made by a high-school or district liaison, the director or a federally funded emergency shelter or transitional housing program, or the director of a center or living program for runaways or homeless youths.
Aid administrators are not required to verify a student's status unless they're aware of conflicting information. Even then, a written statement from, or conversation with, one of these declaring authorities is sufficient proof. An aid administrator can even grant independence to a student based only on an interview with him or her.
Those are the rules. But in practice, many financial-aid administrators demand additional evidence from students, treating their cases as matters of "professional judgment," advocates say. Others will deny students independent status based on their own notions of homelessness, rather than the federal definition: "lacking fixed, regular and adequate housing."
Older students face even more hurdles. Because the law defines unaccompanied "youth" as individuals who are 21 or under, applicants who are older than that have to seek an override of their status as dependents. To do so, they must provide information that demonstrates their "unusual circumstances."
Jennifer Martin, director of training initiatives for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, says some campus financial-aid officers are "a little uncomfortable" with the minimal documentation requirements for unaccompanied youth. "It kind of scares people, because they don't think it's enough," she says. "There's a concern that students are trying to work the system."
Given the consequences of getting a determination of independence wrong — wasted resources, a potential federal audit — many administrators err on the side of caution and deny requests, Ms. Lee says.
Students can appeal colleges' decisions to the U.S. Department of Education, but advocates for homeless students say they face long odds. A spokeswoman for the department, Denise Horn, says the agency doesn't know how many students have won appeals or even filed them.
Even students who gain independent status as freshmen must reapply each year, convincing their colleges that they're still homeless. Because public-school liaisons and shelter administrators can't vouch for students they are no longer serving, most sophomores, juniors, and seniors must seek homeless determinations from their financial-aid offices.
Nancy Guzman, a 20-year-old sociology major at the University of California at Santa Barbara, calls the annual approval process "draining." Ms. Guzman, who says she left home in high school because her mother's boyfriend was abusing her, had to submit a personal statement and letters from a counselor and social worker to qualify as an independent her freshman and sophomore years. This year, her application for aid was initially rejected, and she had to appeal.
"I don't like having to explain myself to a different person each year, opening up my deep, dark secrets," she says. "They should just ask you: Has your situation changed?"
With Congress scheduled to take up a renewal of the Higher Education Act as early as this fall, advocates are pushing lawmakers to make it easier for homeless students to qualify as independents. Their wish list is reflected in a 2013 bill by Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, that would abolish the annual recertification process and expand the federal definition of "youth" to include 22- and 23-year-olds. The measure would also compel financial-aid offices to interview students who lack outside documentation stating that they are homeless.
In the meantime, the Education Department has reminded aid administrators of the "sensitive nature of these situations." In July, the agency issued a warning that some colleges are "unnecessarily restricting applicants' access to aid" by asking them to "justify" their status rather than simply prove they are homeless or at risk of becoming so.
Sitting in a circle at the front of a conference room in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in June, 10 homeless students, some clutching tissues, described what it is like to grow up with no sense of stability or security. They told congressional aides, many of them not much older, how it feels to always be the new kid at school, to get in trouble because your uniform is dirty, to be bullied because you haven't seen the latest episode of That's So Raven, to do your homework in a campground.
The students had all received scholarships from the association for the education of homeless youth, which had brought them to Washington to share their stories. Those stories were deeply personal and deeply felt: Students discussed how they'd been caregivers to younger siblings and to mentally ill and addicted parents, and wept when they recalled how they'd been abused.
Nearly all said college was their ticket out of poverty. Yet some felt conflicted about going.
"It almost feels selfish" leaving siblings behind, said Ms. Guzman. "It's tough because they're still in the situation that I had to deal with."
Feelings of survivor's guilt are common among homeless college students, says Ms. Lee. Homeless students with siblings "often feel that they've abandoned them to better their lives." To help out, they'll send home portions of their student-aid refunds, or let family members crash in their dorm rooms.
Several of the students who spoke in Washington said they didn't trust people to help them and didn't want to be looked down upon. "I don't ask many people" for help, says Ms. Banjo, "because they'll think I just want pity, or they'll say, Do it yourself."
When she does reveal that she's homeless, her friends are typically "shocked," she said, later. "I have to tell them what it means," she said. "I have to tell them, Don't feel sorry for me."
That's a common sentiment. Quinton D. Geis, a graduate student at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, interviewed several homeless college students for his graduate thesis, and he found that most just wanted to be treated as "normal, regular students." They said they felt disconnected from their peers and got little support from their institutions. Yet the students he interviewed were also determined to finish their degrees, seeing them as paths to a more secure future.
Rashida Crutchfield, an assistant professor of social work at California State University at Long Beach, interviewed homeless students for her doctoral dissertation and is now conducting a research project to determine the number of students across the system's 23 campuses who don't have enough healthy food to eat.
Many of the homeless students she spoke with "didn't want to feel like they were begging for support, and they wanted to be self-reliant adults that don't need help," she says. "They were incredibly resilient and determined."
Still, Ms. Banjo wishes colleges would do more to lend a hand. Better access to food, clothes, and counseling "would be helpful," she says.
With two years of college left, she's struggling to balance school with her fast-food shift. But she's determined not to drop out, like her older brother did. Her goal is to become a social worker so that she can offer to other homeless youth the support she has lacked.
"Homelessness has made me feel as though I were an outcast and isolated from society," she wrote in her application for the advocacy group's scholarship. "If I can help one child avoid even half of what I've endured, I would be truly happy."