September, 2015 - Week 2
Community holds 'Police Lives Matter' march in memory of slain deputy
by KHOU TV
HOUSTON, Texas -- Community members hosted a march Saturday in memory of Deputy Darren Goforth, who was gunned down at a gas station last month.
Community organizers said the message of the march is that "Police Lives Matter."
Marchers wore blue shirts and carried a banner that read, "Police Lives Matter" and "Undivided we march" with Goforth's image on the front.
Goforth, 47, was in uniform when he was killed while putting fuel in his patrol car. A 30-year-old Houston man is charged with capital murder. Investigators are still trying to determine a motive.
The killing brought out strong emotions in the law enforcement community, with Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman suggesting that it could have been influenced by heightened national tension over the treatment of blacks by police. Goforth was white and the man charged with killing him, Shannon Miles, is black.
Law enforcement officers from around the nation were among 11,000 people who gathered on Sept. 4, for Goforth's funeral.
At the service, Sgt. Shannon Bowdoin, the Sheriff's Office chaplain, talked about Kathleen Goforth's wishes for her husband's memory.
"We are not going to focus on revenge or getting even or repercussions or anything of that nature," Bowdoin said. "What she wants to focus on is ... healing this family, the Sheriff's Office, the law enforcement community and the nation as a whole."
Supporters began marching around 9 a.m. Saturday and planned on marching until 2 p.m. On Twitter people used the hashtag #PoliceLivesMatter to post pictures of the event.
Police Press Ahead With Phoenix Freeway-Shooting Probe
by Jacques Billeaud
Investigators kept pressing ahead with leads about a string of Phoenix freeway shootings as authorities announced that a man questioned in connection with them is not the prime suspect.
A 19-year-old man from a Phoenix suburb who was detained Friday at a convenience store near Interstate 10 is a person of interest, but Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves declined to say what led police to question him. The man has been booked into jail on an unrelated marijuana possession charge.
"This is an open investigation, and we are going to go where it leads us," Graves said Saturday.
The shootings have left the city on edge for two weeks. Many Phoenix drivers have avoided freeways since the 11 confirmed shootings began Aug. 29, mostly along I-10, a major route through the city. Eight of the cars were hit with bullets and three with projectiles that could have been BBs or pellets. One girl's ear was cut by glass as a bullet shattered her window.
Graves said the investigation was moving forward and authorities were not concerned about the public growing complacent now that someone has been questioned. Police were still seeking tips, with freeway message boards across the city continuing to flash a tip-line number.
Motorists have also been calling because they believe they've been targeted. Two incidents of cars that sustained shattered windows while on or near the I-10 were reported Saturday, according to DPS. But officials said one vehicle's damage was caused by road debris and the other by a street sweeper.
The shooting scenarios have varied. Some involved bullets fired at random cars, others involved projectiles and one was apparently road rage, Graves said.
Graves said Friday that investigators were questioning the man "about a number of things" besides the freeway shootings, but he declined to disclose what that entailed. People who answered phones registered to the man's address said they weren't related to him.
The man, who had his initial court appearance on Saturday, is being held in jail without bond because he had a warrant out for his arrest on a probation violation, said Deputy Joaquin Enriquez, a spokesman for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, which runs the county's jails.
The man pleaded guilty a month ago to an endangerment charge. He was set to be sentenced Thursday, but it's not clear whether that hearing took place. Enriquez said the man also was booked in May on an allegation of car racing.
A message left Saturday for Laura Anderson, his attorney in the endangerment case, wasn't immediately returned. He faces a Friday hearing on his probation possibly being revoked.
After being apprehended, the man told Fox 10 in Phoenix (KSAZ-TV) from the back of a squad car that officers surrounded him and his mother, guns drawn, after he bought a pack of cigarettes and a drink at a convenience store Friday. He said officers had been aggressive with him, aggravating his back injury.
Witnesses said law enforcement officers seemed to be waiting for the man to appear and moved in quickly, surrounding his white Chevrolet Tahoe with unmarked vehicles.
Store clerk Sara Kaur said she sold the man cigarettes, around 9:15 a.m., moments before between 15 to 20 cars swarmed in and officers handcuffed him. She described him as a regular customer, and she said she's "never had a problem with him."
Authorities have appealed for help through social media, news conferences, TV interviews and freeway message boards. Many of the thousands of tips proved to be false leads.
Longtime residents still remember a string of random shootings that terrorized Phoenix a decade ago. Nearly 30 people were shot then, and eight killed, including a cyclist who was riding down the street and a man who was sleeping at a bus stop. Two men were eventually caught and convicted.
Department recognized for community policing efforts
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has named the Durham Police Department a finalist for its 2015 IACP and Cisco Community Policing Award for the department's efforts in reducing noise complaints at off-campus student housing.
by Morgan Palmer
DURHAM — The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has named the Durham Police Department a finalist for its 2015 IACP and Cisco Community Policing Award for the department's efforts in reducing noise complaints at off-campus student housing.
The IACP honors departments worldwide that have outstanding community policing initiatives that prevent crime and improve the quality of life in their communities. Durham Police Chief David Kurz said the department was recognized for its “Good Neighbor Initiative,” a program that began in August 2014 thanks to a three-year, $125,000 grant from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice.
The initiative was created after calls for service at off-campus housing were increasing year after year. Kurz said it was clear that there needed to be some creative thinking focused on reducing the incidents of noise violations, intoxicated students and other disruptive behaviors.
“We kept responding to off-campus student housing and the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” Kurz said.
Kurz used the grant to hire an additional police officer, which allowed for a veteran officer to be moved to problem oriented policing (POP) duty. The POP officer spends Saturdays and Sundays meeting with tenants of off-campus student housing who were the subject of noise complaints the prior evening. The concept behind the program is that when the officer speaks with the tenants the next day, the tenants will not be influenced by alcohol and will be less anxious as to what the officers may do and may be able to better understand the impact the noise has on their neighbors.
“We've had some pretty significant success with some dramatic drops in calls for service,” Kurz said. “So I submitted it for consideration if for nothing else than to see what they thought. They liked what we had to say … and we came in as a finalist.”
The department has seen a 70.6 percent decrease in the overall average of demands for police interventions at off-campus housing since the program was implemented.
“The whole essence of community policing is to work with the community to solve a problem,” Kurz said. “In the world of a police officer, routinely we are reactive as opposed to how can we proactively lessen the impact of the police department. The award recognizes our efforts for off-campus student housing. This is clearly having an impact.”
Kurz said he will receive the department's finalist award at the Police Chief Conference in Chicago in October.
Shouldn't We Have Community Policing Czars?
We need to institutionalize improvements in the ways police interact with their communities.
by Samuel Johnson Jr
Last December, amid the civil unrest and national outcry following the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., along with other cases of violence involving police and minority communities, President Obama signed an executive order creating a Task Force on 21st Century Policing. This May, the task force offered 59 recommendations for improvements in the ways law-enforcement agencies interact with their communities.
While the task force focused mostly on responses at the federal level, it did pose an important question: How can we bring unity of purpose and consensus on best practices to a nation with 18,000 separate law-enforcement agencies and a history of a preference for local control?
There are other systemic issues, including those having to do with the institutional nature of our police forces. Over the years, the profession of law enforcement has produced a close-knit bond among its members, often referred to as "the thin blue line." This family-like tradition adds value by providing important support in a dangerous, difficult profession, but it also can create a fraternity-like atmosphere that divides its members from the community and fosters a lack of accountability and transparency.
There is no perfect solution to these problems, of course, but here's an idea: a "community policing czar" for every local government. This would be a cabinet-level position within a local administration. The community policing czar, loosely modeled on the federal position of "drug czar," would have investigative authority, serve as a mediator with community groups and provide leadership and direction in the following focus areas:
• Equity training that focuses on applying the law in a fair and just way. Training that addresses the ethical and sociological issues that police officers will confront in poverty-stricken communities would help to close the disparity gap that creates negative interactions through behavior that dehumanizes citizens.
• Hiring that reflects the community being served. Particularly in areas that have a high concentration of poverty, many police forces are composed primarily of officers who live outside of their jurisdictions and don't have a vested interest in the municipalities where they work. To create a pipeline of future applicants, police need to establish positive interactions with their communities and particularly with young people. Programs like D.A.R.E., Gang Resistance Education and Training, police athletic leagues, Police Explorers and police cadet programs can produce future recruits while also reducing youth violence.
• Data-driven monitoring and feedback. Chicago, for example, is using a data-analysis tool called RespectStat that tracks the quality of police-citizen interactions to provide constructive feedback to command-level personnel.
Institutionalizing community policing czars could go a long way toward creating an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation between communities and law-enforcement agencies, lifting the veil that has long created a sense of isolation and mystery that has not served our communities -- or those who protect them.
9/11 -- reflections
from MJ Goyings: This was written by a girl my daughter went to school with and now writes for the Herald Standard out of Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Excellent!
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I had nothing special to do, other than last-minute preparing for my first class as a graduate student at New York University and waiting to see how the mayoral election turned out that day.
But I was awake early and listening to NPR news on the radio anyway. A plane had crashed.
Local TV news confirmed that someone somehow crashed a plane into one of the tallest structures on the island of Manhattan. What an idiot, I thought. At that point, there was a smoking hole at the top of the north tower, and I tuned in to see how the first responders would manage to safely evacuate the survivors from the building.
I imagined a lot of frightened office workers trudging down flights of steps, wondering where they would report for work the next day. I figured the death toll would be bad, with whole office floors and an entire airplane full of people as casualties.
Then the second plane hit, and fear set in. A plane accidentally crashing into a skyscraper was tragic.
Two planes? That was unprecedented, and damn scary. The news anchor used the word “attack,” and then the third and fourth planes came down on the Pentagon and in Shanksville.
My stomach dropped into the soles of my feet. I had moved into my apartment in Flushing, Queens, less than a month prior. I was alone, except for my cat, and now trapped on an island surrounded by a toxic moat, which was evidently being attacked by airplanes.
I had one friend in the city, and I called her to make sure she was alright. She worked near the Empire State Building, and it seemed as likely a target as any. Fortunately, she had already been sent home. I couldn't call my family in Pennsylvania, only local calls would go through.
The towers weren't just suffering from the wounds of the crash, they were getting ready to fall, and nobody had any idea. When the first tower fell, I saw a fireman on the TV screen take off his helmet and throw it at the ground and then collapse on the sidewalk in defeat and sorrow.
That was when I began to cry.
Invincible, unsleeping, eternal New York was halted. It seemed impossible. The arterial flow of the city, its pulse measured by red lights and train stops, had been interrupted.
People with ashy faces hemorrhaged over the bridges on foot into the outer boroughs and into New Jersey. The towers, and all the people in them, and all the people who ran in to help, were gone.
City of ghosts
For the next few days, the city was a living nightmare. I rode the 7 train from Queens into Manhattan when it was finally possible to do so, and the trip paused regularly as police locked down stations up and down the lines because of potential security threats.
Subways seemed like good targets too, I worried, as I stood trapped in a tube running under the East River.
Once I watched a man enter a train car and sit down in an exhausted heap. He leaned forward with his head in his hands. Strangers sat down next to him and cried with him, telling him, “I'm sorry.”
Any flat, vertical surface in the city normally festooned with handbills advertising clubs or off-off Broadway shows became billboards for communicating missing persons searches.
How many flyers did I read featuring smiling pictures of workers from the towers, captioned with messages like, “I haven't seen my dad since Tuesday, he worked on the 68th floor, please call me if you see him?” It couldn't be counted. Was there a single family in the metropolitan area that didn't have an empty seat at the table? The flyers were so desperate, yet full of blind hope.
And all that hope made me cry, too. I knew the people on the flyers were gone. Hope wouldn't bring them back, but holding onto hope was probably what was keeping all those families alive right then. It broke my heart, every day.
For a while I found myself gravitating toward public places, like parks in and around the NYU neighborhood. Union Square and Washington Square Park were filled with mourners or those trying to cope or make sense of the incomprehensible. More flowers and candles piled up as time passed.
The memorials and candles covered the fire houses too — all of them. Gratitude and sympathy poured forth on the first-responders. People who wanted to help but couldn't would wait on the West Side Highway and cheer for the crews of emergency workers heading in and out of Ground Zero.
I donated blood.
I bought all the leather work gloves in the bin at the hardware store to give to the workers still gingerly removing body parts from the wreckage.
I lit candles.
The whole thing became too much. My classes were in the evening, and I avoided the city during the day, kicking around the north shore of Queens instead. I sat on a park bench near the Whitestone Bridge looking out over the water, aware of the lack of airplane traffic in and out of the LaGuardia.
It was quiet, but the silence was broken by the conversations of passersby, who were talking about the fallen towers. “I heard they found a pair of arms tied at the wrist with wire, and they think it was a stewardess.”
I went back to my apartment.
Moving forward, trying for normal
The city smelled of burning office furniture and hot metal for a long time. All the way out in Flushing, at least 12 or 13 miles from Ground Zero, I could smell it. I covered my face to avoid that toxic melted plastic odor, but also because I couldn't stop thinking the smoke was made of burning dead people too. I couldn't smell it, but I knew the smoke was made of all those things.
There were days when, as I was leaving class, the burning smell swept into my face and almost took my breath away. Once or twice, I think I even felt the heat emanating from the pile of rubble.
The main part of NYU's campus is about two miles from Ground Zero, and classes were interrupted for a few days at the beginning of the semester because a significant portion of student housing was in the restricted zone. People were trying to find temporary housing, and wondering if they would ever see their pets again.
Classes regularly began with professors asking if we wanted to just take a few minutes and talk about what was going on. No one wanted to talk about it though — it was still happening, in a way.
My classmates and I spent a fair amount of time socializing after class, and one night we went to an apartment in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn. My friend Michael wanted to show us some debris he collected that rained down after the towers fell, having floated on the wind across the wide mouth of the East River, over Cobble Hill and landed outside on Smith Street.
He took the tattered and burned bits of paper out almost ceremonially, and we passed them around. There was a calendar page showing a meeting that had been scheduled, but whoever wrote the note wouldn't be attending. There were portions of memos and bits of notes that didn't make any sense to anyone but the person who wrote them, inconsequential little things that make up day-to-day life.
I felt gratitude for still being alive to be annoyed by having to keep a schedule and write notes to myself, for still having a future to worry about.
It would be easy and correct to characterize the weeks and months that followed the attack as desperate and frightening in New York, but what cannot be ignored is that the people of the city, who are all sizes, shapes, ages, origins, and religions, showed strength comparable to the formidable Manhattan schist that forms the bedrock of the mighty city — stone so hard it effortlessly bears the weight of steel and concrete layered sky high all the way down to the subterranean depths of the bottom-most subway lines.
We came together and found a cohesiveness of spirit that made the tragedy easier to bear. We distilled unity out of that fear, and it was magnificent.
for the Herald Standard, Uniontown, Pennsylvania
Victims' relatives gather 14 years after September 11 attacks on U.S
Relatives of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks are due to gather in New York, Pennsylvania and outside Washington on Friday to mark the 14th anniversary of the hijacked airliner strikes carried out by al Qaeda militants.
The ceremony in New York will follow a familiar pattern. The names of those killed will be read aloud at the empty footprint of the World Trade Center Twin Towers toppled by two hijacked airliners on the sunny morning in 2001.
Hijackers crashed two other commercial jets into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The New York ceremony will be punctuated by moments of silence to mark the times when each of the four planes crashed and the towers fell.
In Washington, President Barack Obama is set to observe a moment of silence to mark the anniversary at the White House. Obama also will hold a town hall-style meeting with military service members at Fort Meade, an army base in Maryland.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter is due to host a private remembrance for relatives of those killed at the Pentagon.
Relatives of the 40 passengers and crew members who died aboard United Airlines Flight 93 are set to gather at the newly dedicated Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville.
The passengers are believed to have fought back against the hijackers, who crashed the plane upside down at nearly 600 mph (965 kph).
In New York, the buzz of increased commerce from new residential and business towers has returned a large degree of normalcy to the area known after the attacks as Ground Zero. Next to the 16-acre (6.5-hectare) site where the Twin Towers stood is the newly opened 1 World Trade Center, the tallest skyscraper in the Western hemisphere.
"We are not going to deviate from how it was done in the past. We'll start at 8:46 a.m. and the reading of names by family members won't likely be done for a few hours," Michael Frazier, a spokesman for the 9/11 Memorial in New York, said of Friday's ceremony.
The first plane slammed into the North tower at 8:46 a.m., followed by a second plane hitting the South tower at 9:03 a.m.
The Justice Department said on Thursday a 20-year-old Florida man had been arrested and accused of plotting to detonate a pressure-cooker bomb at a memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, to commemorate the Sept. 11 attacks.
At Ground Zero, 9/11 Anniversary Now Both Public And Private
by CBS News
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — After years as a private commemoration, the anniversary of Sept. 11 at what was then known as ground zero has now also become an occasion for public reflection on the site of the terror attacks.
Victims' families will gather Friday morning for the 14th anniversary ceremony in what has become a tradition of tolling bells, observing poignant moments of silence and reading the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror strike.
The memorial plaza will then open at 3 p.m., three hours earlier than last year. An estimated 20,000 people flocked to the plaza on the evening of Sept. 11, 2014, the first year the public was able to visit on the anniversary.
“When we did open it up, it was just like life coming in,” National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum President Joe Daniels said this week. While the memorial will still be reserved for victims' relatives and other invitees during the morning ceremony, afterward, “the general public that wants to come and pay their respects on this most sacred ground should be let in as soon as possible.”
Nearly a decade and a half after hijacked planes hit the World Trade Center's twin towers, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the anniversary continues to be marked with observances around the country.
The Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville in western Pennsylvania is marking the completion of its visitor center, which opened to the public Thursday. At the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and other officials will join in remembrances for victims' relatives and Pentagon employees.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to observe the anniversary with a visit to Fort Meade, Maryland, in recognition of the military's work to protect the country.
In Washington, some members of Congress plan to spend part of the anniversary discussing federal funding for the ground zero memorial. The House Natural Resources Committee has scheduled a hearing Friday on a proposal to provide up to $25 million a year for the plaza.
The memorial and underground museum together cost $60 million a year to run. The federal government contributed heavily to building the institution; leaders have tried unsuccessfully for years to get Washington to chip in for annual costs, as well.
Under the current proposal, any federal money would go only toward the memorial plaza. An estimated 21 million people have visited it for free since its 2011 opening.
The museum charges up to $24 per ticket, a price that initially sparked some controversy. Still, almost 3.6 million visitors have come since the museum's May 2014 opening, topping projections by about 5 percent, Daniels said.
Any federal funding could lead to expanded discounts for school and other groups, but there are no plans to lower the regular ticket price, he said.
The museum's chief curator, Jan Ramirez, said a display up in time for this year's anniversary pays homage to two of the eight children killed in the terror attacks, including 2-year-old Christine Lee Hanson.
The youngest person killed on 9/11, Christine died when her plane crashed into the World Trade Center.
The display includes Christine's beloved Peter Rabbit stuffed animal and 11-year-old Asia Cottom's beloved Winnie the Pooh earmuffs and library card. Asia died when her plane hit the Pentagon.
“When you look at this, you just think of all the promise of all those lives that just never got to be,” Ramirez told CBS2's Andrea Grymes.
Ramirez started at the museum nearly 10 years ago, taking in donations that not only tell the story of one of America's darkest days, but of the resilience that followed.
“It's not a job for everyone because there is a lot of emotion and you hear a lot of personal information that is very sensitive,” she said. “But all told, it is such a testament to human spirit and goodness and love.”
That human spirit comes across in another new exhibit at the museum from Jonathan C. Hyman. He photographed memorials that popped up across the country in the days and years following the attacks, including tattoos.
This year's anniversary also comes as advocates for 9/11 responders and survivors are pushing Congress to extend two federal programs that promised billions of dollars in compensation and medical care. Both programs are set to expire next year.
But some of those close to the events aim to keep policy and politics at arm's length on Sept. 11.
Organizers of the ground zero ceremony decided in 2012 to stop letting elected officials read names, though politicians still can attend. Over the years, some victims' relatives have invoked political matters while reading names, such as declaring that Sept. 11 should be a national holiday, but others have sought to keep the focus personal.
“This day should be a day for reflection and remembrance. Only,” Faith Tieri, who lost her brother, Sal Tieri Jr., said during last year's commemoration.
Florida man plotted Sept. 11 attack in Kansas City, FBI says
by Justin Wm. Moyer
Almost a decade-and-a-half after the Sept. 11 attacks, the anniversary has receded in the minds of many.
Not so for one man in Florida, authorities say. A criminal complaint filed in federal court alleges that Joshua Ryne Goldberg, a 20-year-old living with his parents near Jacksonville, posed as an Australian jihadist and encouraged an attack in Kansas City on Friday — the 14th anniversary of Sept. 11. He was charged with distribution of information relating to explosives, destructive devices, and weapons of mass destruction.
“Hopefully there will be some jihad on the anniversary of 9/11,” Goldberg reportedly told an FBI informant in a direct message.
How Goldberg allegedly came to be radicalized — and adopt the personality of an extremist on the other side of the world — is not clear. But the complaint includes quite disturbing, lengthy exchanges between Goldberg, who authorities said went online under variations of the handle “AusWitness,” and the informant, identified only as “CHS.”
The FBI became interested in AusWitness after someone using that name claimed responsibility for the attack at a “prophet Muhammad cartoon contest” in Garland, Tex., in May on a Web site.
“You might know me for inspiring the attacks in Garland … where two mujahideen entered an event mocking the Prophet Muhammad … with intent to slaughter,” the post said. The author lived in Perth, Australia, he said, and was a refugee from Lebanon “enamoured with the Islamic State's ideology.”
“The Jews are the worst enemies of Allah,” the post read. “When Islam conquers Australia, every single Jew will be slaughtered like the filthy cockroaches that they are.”
Informant CHS and AusWitness chatted in July. As AusWitness said he was “trying to get a mujahid in Melbourne to carry out Jihad, but he keeps delaying it,” the FBI linked his Twitter account to Goldberg's residence in Florida. The conversation grew more serious in the weeks to come.
CHS: “I don't have any bombs. I don't know how to make them.”
AusWitness: “What weapons do you have brother? I can send you guides on how to make bombs if you need help.”
The promised guidance, the complaint alleged, was sent. But where would the bombs be set off?
AusWitness: “Have you decided what kind of attack to carry out on 9/11 … I was thinking a bombing. We could make pipe bombs and detonate them at a large public event.”
CHS: “I'm in the Midwest the closest place is Kansas City if you're familiar.”
Kansas City was settled on.
AusWitness: “Where will the most people be in Kansas City on 9/11? That's where we need to target.”
AusWitness found the “perfect place” — the Kansas City 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, an annual event during which “343 Firefighters will embark on a 110 story climb to the top of the Town Pavilion high rise in downtown Kansas City in remembrance of the 343 firefighters killed on 9-11-2001,” as the event's Web site explained.
AusWitness: “Be careful … When you go there to place the bomb, make sure the bomb is VERY well hidden.”
CHS: “Where do you think would be best near the fire fighters or the crowd?”
AusWitness: “Good thinking … put the backpack near the crowd.”
AusWitness's further advice for the pressure-cooker bomb: use “metal and nails” and “dip the screws and other shrapnel in rat poison before putting them in.” Those hit by them “will be more likely to die.”
Goldberg was arrested at home on Wednesday. He “claimed that he intended for the individual to either kill himself creating the bomb or, if not, that he intended to alert law enforcement just prior to the individual's detonating the bomb, resulting in … credit for stopping the attack,” the complaint read.
The FBI also received information from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) that someone with usernames linked to Goldberg had made comments about “pretending to be ISIS.” An AFP informant described Goldberg as an “online troll.”
“These guys are … keyboard warriors,” Goldberg allegedly said online when asked if he feared his comments would result in an actual attack.
Goldberg's family expressed surprise at the charges. His father told First Coast News he was “shocked.”
“We have no information to give you,” Frank Goldberg said.
A neighbor who spoke to Fox News described the family's son as a bit of a recluse.
“They are active in the neighborhood association and their other kids come to community events, but the older son has never even walked down the street that I'm aware of,” Al Keene said. “I'm not surprised at all if his parents didn't know anything about this. They seem like a great family.”
Goldberg faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
CPD training cadets on community policing
by David Morton
Minority residents are historically underserved by law enforcement agencies, particularly in the South, Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher said.
The second academy of city police cadets recently completed a 50-hour community immersion project. They were sent into neighborhoods on their own, where they had to learn to build relationships with people outside their comfort zones.
Fletcher implemented the program here last summer. Rote presentations to community groups are not effective, so "we started from the ground up," he said.
"We want your police department to be trusted and respected by the entirety of our diverse community," he said.
Thirty-three cadets presented their findings Thursday after spending time with black, Hispanic, disabled and LGBT residents.
"You will love them, and they will love you," Fletcher told cadets. "That's the essence of community policing."
Mayor Andy Berke said the program helps build a better rapport between residents and law enforcement. The goal is to improve community relationships and help officers tap into better intelligence when crimes occur.
"We get better results when we know the people we're serving," Berke said.
Community and police task force to survey residents on policing in city
by Ryan Flynn
NEW HAVEN -- The Community and Police Relations Task Force plans to distribute a survey in October to better gauge public perception of policing in the city.
“We're going to do anything we can to get as much feedback and community participation as we can,” task force Co-Chairman Leroy Williams said.
The 17-member committee is tasked with analyzing community policing in the city with the end goal of submitting a list of immediate short-term goals to Mayor Toni Harp in January. Harp formed the task force in May.
After holding a public hearing in August, which was attended by nearly 100 people but only featured a dozen or so speakers, the task force has decided to split into two subcommittees. The first, headed by Williams, will focus on the city's Community Management Teams.
Each of the 10 policing districts has a management team consisting of local residents and the district manager of that respective policing district. Part of the task force's job is to analyze what these management teams are doing right and where either individual teams, or the group as a whole, are lacking.
The task force also will look at whether 10 teams — one for each district — is enough or whether they should be broken down further. There is a plan underway to create an 11th district over time. Also of interest to the task force is whether alders, who often attend and speak at the management team meetings, should be allowed to use that forum for political reasons.
Williams said the task force will look at best practices nationwide regarding community management teams and use that information to decide how management teams can be more coordinated, structured and better run.
The surveys will be circulated through the management teams. Williams said the surveys may also be available on the city's website and at local stores and restaurants.
“I think everyone has a passion to see the city do better,” Williams said.
The other subcommittee, led by Co-Chairman Eli Greer, will focus on policies and procedures. Armed with hundreds of pages of policy and procedure documents, this half of the board is digging in and learning all it can about the parameters in which police work.
The two subcommittees continue to meet and have been joined by Chief Dean Esserman and Assistant Chief Achilles Generoso, who are helping familiarize them with the way the New Haven Police Department works.
Greer said that it has at times been a “battle” for members of the committee to put politics aside and focus on what can help the city as a whole. He said that he and Williams, however, see eye to eye.
“We will not get the committee get derailed. It's not easy; you're dealing with very smart, strong-willed people around the table,” Greer said.
The task force does not plan to have more public hearings between now and January, but Greer said they'll “remain flexible” and could feasibly change their minds.
“We're trying to do what's best for the whole city. We're not focused on any one community or any one group of people. We want to look at the city as a whole,” Williams said.
Deliberate hit-and-run killed Michigan firefighter
by The Associated Press
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Police in Michigan have arrested the driver of a pickup truck who they believe intentionally struck a firefighter standing in a roadway collecting money for charity, killing him.
Dennis Rodeman, a seven-year veteran of the Lansing Fire Department, died Wednesday night, Mayor Virg Bernero said.
The 35-year-old Rodeman, who also served in the U.S. Marines in Iraq, according to the mayor, was struck about 3:40 p.m. He and other firefighters were participating in an annual fundraising campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the International Association of Fire Fighters, authorities said.
"This is a shocking and unthinkable tragedy. ... Dennis was cut down in an instant, doing what he loved, what he believed in, what he believed in most: helping other people," Bernero said at a press conference.
Rodeman was married two months ago, and he and his wife were expecting their first child, Fire Chief Randy Talifarro said.
A "traffic altercation" preceded Rodeman being hit, Lansing police Capt. Jim Kraus told the Lansing State Journal (http://on.lsj.com/1UCKEQS).
"The suspect came by, was upset for whatever reason (and) circled back around" before striking the firefighter, Kraus said. "The preliminary investigation is that he deliberately hit the firefighter."
Rodeman was wearing a reflective vest and other gear and was standing in the road's center turning lane.
Tionna Davis told the newspaper she was driving in the area and saw the pickup swerve from one lane to another before Rodeman was struck.
"He literally tried to hit him," she said.
The truck fled the scene, authorities said. The driver eventually stopped the vehicle and fled on foot, but police officers caught him. The 22-year-old suspect's name wasn't immediately released.
Prosecutors could file charges Thursday. Police Chief Michael Yankowski said the suspect was being held on suspicion of murder and felony fleeing and eluding.
Talifarro called Rodeman's death "a tremendous loss."
He described the fireman as a highly regarded colleague with an "unblemished" work record.
"He was a joy to work around," Talifarro said.
'No wonder you people get shot': Florida woman's furious reaction to speeding ticket
by Laurie Hanna
Talk about an over-reaction.
A Florida woman pulled over for speeding told police: “No wonder you people get shot.”
Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office clocked the woman going 51mph in a 20mph school zone near an elementary school.
In the video, the deputy is seen politely approaching the 62-year-old driver to tell her she is being cited for speeding.
But when the deputy hands her the $606 ticket, the furious woman yells back: “You know what? No wonder you people get shot, you're absolute a*****es.”
The officer responds with his thanks, and the woman again aggressively responds: “You're welcome.”
Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said the driver's behavior on Sept.1 left him disappointed and angry.
"This is a deputy trying to make sure that children are safe and don't get killed in a school zone,” he told WPTV.
“He was doing his job. And I think it's totally unacceptable for somebody to talk to a deputy or any law enforcement officer like that, when that's what they are trying to do to protect our children.”
Boynton's MLK Jr. Blvd. to receive community-policing program
by Attiyya Anthony
Boynton Beach city officials say that crime is a problem along the city's Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and now they have a plan to clean up the area.
"We need more of a police presence there," said Vivian Brooks, the executive director of Boynton Beach's Community Redevelopment Agency.
On Tuesday, at a redevelopment agency meeting, the agency's board agreed to rent a 800-square-foot police substation at 404 E. Martin Luther King Blvd. to help deter crime. Police officers may be in the building as soon as next month.
"We hope to cut back on loitering," Brooks said. "We have 'No Trespassing' signs on our properties, but we are not an enforcement arm."
Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. is a street in the Heart of Boynton, a mostly African-American community in the city's downtown. The street is vital to the city's history and redevelopment, but criminal activity is stopping the area's progress, city officials say.
That's where the Boynton Beach Police Department comes in, Brooks said.
Jaclyn Smith, spokesperson for the police department, said that the police chief hasn't worked out the specifics of the program, but the goal is to boost safety.
Brooks said the redevelopment agency and the police department will work closely to monitor the effectiveness of the community policing program.
In August, the redevelopment agency set aside $200,000 to fund the program. Renting the building will cost the redevelopment agency $9,600 for a three-year lease, according to agency documents.
Board member David Merker said Tuesday that he liked the plan.
"It's a wonderful idea," he said. "The people will realize that the city wants to take care of them when they see more police walking the streets."
Mack McCray, commissioner for the Heart of Boynton district and redevelopment agency board member, said a police substation in the Heart of Boynton won't deter crime unless the officers carry out patrols.
"Putting a substation on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd is not going to do anything unless the police officers walk the beat," McCray said Wednesday.
Community policing efforts are being noticed
by Chelsea Washington
You don't have to scroll far through the Oklahoma City Police Department's Facebook page to see that community policing efforts are being noticed by the public.
Captain Paco Balderamma has been with the department close to two decades and says building a healthy bond with folks is what helps keep emotions in check when problems arise.
"We meet literally weekly with organizations like the ACLU and the NAACP and address the issues that come up," Captain Paco Balderamma said.
Growing up as a young girl in Oklahoma City Sergeant Ashley Peters says she saw early on that police where not the enemy which made a job choice an easy one for her.
"I'm very proud to be a part of this department one we are very transparent and I believe that we really care about our community," Sergeant Ashley Peters said.
The department's Citizen Advisory Board, The Police Athletic League, and school resource officers are all a part of the hands on approach.
But many will tell you that some of their most powerful work takes place behind closed doors at the Family Awareness Community Teamwork or F.A.C.T unit.
Staff Sgt. Adam Rosko is one of the four officer assigned to the unit and says interventions with young people and their families offer a no judgment zone and a chance to turn lives around before the streets take hold.
"We talk about hope and what we can do to fix things and it's a beautiful thing that happens in our office doesn't happen all the time but it does happen," Staff Sgt. Adam Rosko said.
To find out more about interventions and weekly programs at F.A.C.T just call 635-0754 or 434-1853.
From the Department of Homeland Security
App Helps Responders Save Precious Time During Missing Person Searches
When someone goes missing, the first few minutes and hours of the search are critical. A key to the success of search and rescue (SAR) teams is an aggressive, well-planned initial response. However, many times, first responders on scene in a missing person search don't have the extensive training and development of initial search plans that specialized SAR teams have.
The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) First Responders Group recently released a mobile app, developed with the support of SAR teams around the nation, that provides step-by-step instructions on search plans for first responders and response teams. It provides search guidance, protocols and strategies used by SAR teams around the nation.
The Lost Person Behavior mobile app was released this spring and is available to download (for a fee) from Apple iTunes, Google Play and Amazon.com. Since its release, the app has received two-five star reviews from the APCO International Application Community and has been used in actual SAR operations in Virginia.
Using data from over 150,000 missing person cases across the country, the app provides guidance, tactical briefings, investigative questions, and statistics for over 40 different scenarios. These include lost hikers, hunters, children, missing vehicles, despondent individuals, dementia patients, and climbers. It also provides guidance for snow and water incidents.
“The Lost Person Behavior app is designed to provide a step-by-step checklist for first responders as well as everyday citizens involved in search and rescue efforts,” said program manager Christine Lee. “The app incorporated the feedback from SAR teams across the country for the development a comprehensive set of data, such as what questions to ask and what resources to use. It provides the knowledge obtained from experienced SAR teams into the hands of someone who may never have had any training at all.”
The app identifies high probability areas where an individual goes missing so searchers can initiate rapid response. It also breaks down the categories of lost people with related behavior profiles and provides a checklist of questions to ask friends and family of missing individuals. Using this data, the app uses the data to provide initial search locations and has filters for ecoregion and terrain.
The Lost Person Behavior app was developed under SBIR initiatives by dbs Productions, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Drivers Distressed Over 9 Possible Freeway Shootings in Arizona
by Dan Good
Drivers along a highway in Phoenix have endured nine possible shootings in the last 10 days in a potential act of domestic terrorism, authorities said.
The freeway shootings have occurred along an eight-mile stretch of I-10.
The spree began Aug. 29, when a bullet shattered the windshield of an SUV, injuring a 13-year-old girl, authorities said. Another shot hit a tour bus, putting holes through the seats. Robert McDonald was driving the bus at the time of the attack and was the only person on board.
“The person almost took me away from my family and almost caused catastrophic injuries to the other motorists on the street,” McDonald said.
Two more shooting incidents were reported Tuesday, including one involving a police sergeant's personal vehicle.
“Both vehicles were hit on the driver side, passenger window by a projectile,” Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead said. “I would call that related.”
Agents with the FBI and ATF have joined the investigation, and drivers in the area are warned to be vigilant.
Community policing is the safety solution the ID needs
by Ben Henry and Sharon Maeda
When Donnie Chin was murdered outside of a hookah bar last July, it sent shockwaves through the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community. Our sheriff, the Protector of the Chinatown/International District (ID), was slain, and we demanded that the outlaws be brought to justice.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's response was to launch an effort to shut down all of Seattle's hookah bars. Eventually, he backed off.
And for that, we are grateful. After all, the solution doesn't lie with closing down all the hookah bars; rather, we must address the underlying cause of the problem: The ID is unsafe due to the fundamental way the Seattle Police Department (SPD) works in neighborhoods.
True justice lies in a shift to culturally appropriate community policing. It's about building a trusting relationship between police and the people they protect. It should be more a partnership than an institution enforcing on a community. Police should be seen as trusted allies making a community stronger, not an outside entity there to keep people in line.
That starts with hiring a diverse police force that grew up, looks and feels like us.
According to an analysis by Governing Magazine, three out of four SPD officers, or 75.3 percent, are white, as of 2013. That means less than 25 percent of the police force are comprised of people of color, compared to 34 percent of the overall population in Seattle. And just 8.6 percent of SPD are Asian, compared to 13.9 percent citywide.
“Service, Pride, and Dedication” is the SPD motto. But the badge is not there to hide behind. It is not just the role of police to protect, but to serve. And that happens by being a part of a community.
True community policing is not a box you check, a tidy program you launch, or shutting down a hookah lounge. It's about transforming the fundamental way you do business.
It might be complex, but community leader Maxine Chan, who served as an SPD community liaison to the Chinatown/ID neighborhood for 12 years throughout the'90s, boils it down to one question.
“What is going to make people feel safe? And that's the key,” she says.
However, it's more than just importing cops to the ID. Yes, Donnie called for more police presence, but the long-term answer is what Donnie did all his adult life: being someone the community could trust who cared about them.
Whether it be the elder in the high-rise apartment or the homeless guy on the street; the tourist or the API families who — despite living all over the region — come back to where their cultures and ethnic identities are not questioned.
“It's great to have police presence, but it has to be in partnership with the community and businesses down here,” Chan says. “Police that come down here have to know what's happening. Donnie always knew what was happening.”
Donnie was deeply involved and empathized with everyone he knew in the neighborhood. But this kind of empathy can also be taught. Chan recalls “cultural awareness, cultural competency game” that used to be part of police basic trainings when she was an SPD community liaison.
Cadets were divided into different “families,” or pods, she remembers. The scenario was like this: the cadets were refugees who just arrived in the U.S. after their home country got nuked. The goal of the game is to get a job, learn the language and support your family. And no one speaks English to you the whole time.
Then the participants get arrested.
“I remember, I watched these people,” Chan says. “In those few hours of simulation, people got what it's like to be a refugee. It started out, people were laughing, and it was fun. Then, people got put in jail. People were no longer laughing; they got pissed. ‘I know it was a game, but I was ready to punch out the jailer,' they would say. That shifting, for that brief second, that gave me hope.”
Donnie's death does not have to be in vain. We urge Mayor Ed Murray and the SPD honor Donnie's gift of building trust in the community by engaging with us. Without this service, true public safety cannot be attained.
Another gun victim, another wound to public safety
It could have been any of us.
But this time, it was someone from the governor's office who was caught in the crossfire of a battle between gangs early Monday morning. Carey Gabay was shot in the head by a stray bullet, one of up to 30 that flew during a Brooklyn gunfight hours before the West Indian Day parade.
Gabay epitomized the story of a self-made New Yorker. A native of the island of Jamaica, Gabay grew up in a housing project in the Bronx and graduated from Harvard University. After a stint at a private law firm, he worked as assistant counsel to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and then for the Empire State Development Corp., the state's economic development arm. His wife is expecting their first child.
Gabay is yet another face, another name, another chapter in the tragedy of gun violence, too often coming from NYC gangs and illegal guns. His work in Albany adds a spotlight, but the story is familiar and heartbreakingly sad.
It comes as crime and policing in NYC remain central in an ongoing debate underscored by intense political crosscurrents. There's been the heated back-and-forth on stop-and-frisk between Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and his predecessor, Ray Kelly. Others debate Bratton's focus on community policing. Bratton has pointed to weak gun laws elsewhere that lead to illegal guns here.
Crime data declines and political slugfests no longer matter when one innocent man becomes a face of the violence. It's up to Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio to move beyond the rhetoric and politics, and address the larger societal issues at hand.
Gabay's shooting came amid celebrations that preceded the West Indian Day parade. Violence has marred the parade in years past; in 2013, a 1-year-old in a stroller was killed. Such incidents detract from heritage celebrations and must stop. The parade should continue, but the related gatherings must be met with increased attention from police officials and the community. New Yorkers must be able to walk down the street, enjoy time with friends and celebrate who they are without being afraid for their lives. Is that too much to ask?
Public safety is not an option; it is vital
Public safety, historically, has always been the focus throughout the country when it comes time to find places to cut municipality budgets.
I say historically because fire and police budgets are usually the bulk of a budget — and rightly so.
If it isn't desperately needed technology, such as radio systems or gear, it is manpower that usually falls under the axe. And once battalions or squads are eliminated, it is practically impossible to restore them.
Rockwall County officials are currently working on obtaining a communications system that will enable fire and police, including the sheriff's office, in the county to communicate with one another.
The tornadoes that touched down in Forney in April 2012 highlighted a need in the areas east of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex for communications systems connecting first responders.
Communications — between firefighters and law enforcement and other agencies and counties — has always been a problem.
Part of the problem has been how to pay for the newest technology that ensures the safety of the people police and firefighters are sworn to protect, as well as themselves.
That cost has never been inexpensive and never will be.
But the question, to me at least, has always been how could you ever put a price on a person's life?
It boggles my mind because I have seen it throughout my career in the communities I have covered.
Police and fire have always been the big ticket items because of manpower, equipment, vehicles and training.
There is no way to get around it.
When communities begin cutting their public safety budgets, response times for police and fire increase, thus decreasing the chances for survival of people suffering heart attacks or those involved in accidents.
Town selectmen in Littleton, N.H., many years ago kept cutting the paid fire department until it no longer was a 24-hour fire department seven days a week.
Response times increased and the reasoning that other unpaid volunteer fire departments could pick up the slack was flawed, especially in a mountainous rural area.
A few decades ago in Amsterdam, N.Y., a city along the Mohawk River and Barge Canal, the council cut back the number of battalions and closed stations, thus increasing response times to several parts of the city.
And Kaufman County's commissioners earlier this year finally gave the go ahead to purchase a new radio system after two of them stalled action, thus costing the county more money because of the delay.
One of the biggest concerns of firefighters, other than saving lives and buildings, has always been their own safety —and that means meeting required staffing levels. But many communities do not provide the funding to meet the national standards — because of the cost.
Because of loss of lives, firefighters' lives, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration created the two-in and two-out rule when firefighters respond to a fire.
When firefighters pull up to a fire, if they do not have staffing to send two firefighters in to a burning structure while keeping two outside, they are not supposed to enter the building.
But many communities have over the years cut back firefighting staffs to save money. That prohibits firefighters from effectively and safely carrying out their jobs.
Rockwall Councilman Scott Milder recognizes the importance of firefighter safety, as well as the mission of saving buildings and lives.
While there is a request of adding three drivers for the fire department at a cost of $295, 614, it is not included in the city's proposed 2015-2016 budget.
Not only did Milder recommend that the request be granted, he suggested an additional three drivers be added to enable the department to safely meet its staffing levels and firefighting requirements.
However, Milder's request met pushback during Monday's council review of the proposed budget. Responses included, “Are lives being lost? Are buildings being lost? No? Then they are doing their jobs.”
Maybe lives and buildings are not being lost, but it is only a matter of time before the city loses buildings and lives — including firefighters' lives — because city officials do not want to spend the money to ensure otherwise.
The firefighters, and community, deserve to know they have the support of city officials to have the staffing to ensure their safety when responding to an incident.
This is not something that is able to be resolved overnight. Nor is it an issue only in Rockwall.
But more firefighters are going to lose their lives until officials step up to the plate and provide the money for additional staffing.
Woman stops by Colo. police station to hug officer
The woman told police she was upset about the deaths of law enforcement members nationwide
by The Associated Press
(Video on site)
ARVADA, Colo. — The Arvada, Colorado, Police Department has posted a photo on its Facebook account of a woman who came into the station just so she could hug an officer.
KMGH-TV reports the woman told police on Monday she was upset about the deaths of law enforcement members nationwide.
She hugged 20-year veteran Officer Chris Steiner, who says he responds to almost every fatality the department handles.
He said it's nice to get a hug rather than observe trauma.
The post has received thousands of likes and generated comments of support.
Colo. PD on alert after anonymous caller threatens to kill cops
The caller threatened to shoot officers who were alone
by PoliceOne Staff
(Audio on site)
AURORA, Colo. — The Aurora Police Department is on high alert after dispatch received an anonymous threat, Fox 31 reported.
Local law enforcement is taking the Sept. 6 call very seriously. The caller threatened to shoot officers who were alone.
“It's time that you guys know we are no longer playing around with the police departments. Aurora and Denver, we are about to start striking fear shooting down all cops that we see by their selves (sic),” the caller said. “Let us catch you by yourself and it's shots fired.”
As anti-police sentiment grows across the nation, the call did not surprise officers
Police told the publication they will continue to do their jobs despite the threats.
“We're not going to go away. I'm not going to quit. As a matter of fact, all you're doing is making me stronger because I know what I have to do is that much more important. If you're willing to kill me who else are you going to kill?” Denver police Det. Nick Rogers told Fox 31.
The call is under investigation, as well as another incident Sunday in which officers were called to a scene and then shot at. Authorities aren't sure whether the two are related.
Authorities assure the public their safety is not threatened.
Bystanders help Fla. deputy beaten during traffic stop
The deputy was knocked to the ground and suspect straddled him, throwing punch after punch to the deputy's face
by Christal Hayes
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — The Polk County Sheriff's Office is thanking three men who helped catch a suspect who they say beat up a deputy during a traffic stop, a sheriff's spokeswoman said Monday.
During a routine traffic stop Sunday morning, deputy sheriff Mike Walsh was knocked to the ground by a man and punched repeatedly, sheriff's spokeswoman Carrie Horstman said. After the man, Corey Johnson, 32, took off on foot, three Good Samaritans came to the deputy's aide and helped catch Johnson.
"These three men, who do not know each other or Deputy Walsh, probably had better things to do on a Sunday morning than jump out of their cars to help catch a violent, fleeing suspect," Sheriff Grady Judd said. "We can never thank them enough for their selfless actions … you are our heroes."
Walsh was patrolling Winter Lake Road in Winter Haven when he saw a vehicle go through a stop sign, Horstman said. Walsh pulled the vehicle over on his motorcycle at around 9 a.m. but when he asked Johnson for his drivers license, Johnson got out of his car and started punching Walsh in the face and head, Horstman said.
Walsh was knocked to the ground and Johnson straddled him, throwing punch after punch to the deputy's face, Horstman said. Johnson also allegedly tried removing some of Walsh's equipment from his duty belt. Walsh was able to flip Johnson off of him and Johnson ran off, the sheriff's office said.
George Cooper, Antonio Velazquez and Christopher Carver were driving in the area and saw the attack, Horstman said.
Cooper rushed to help Walsh, who was laying in the road, and then ran after Johnson. Velazquez stopped his vehicle and tackled Johnson as he was running off. At that point, Walsh was able to get up and help capture Johnson, who was fighting with the men, Horstman said.
Carver saw the struggle and also stopped to help.
"Johnson continued to actively resist all four men's efforts to subdue him," Horstman said. "Walsh's Taser and radio microphone headset were broken during the fight. Through the efforts of the three Good Samaritans, Deputy Walsh was able to take the suspect into custody and call for backup."
Horstman said Walsh suffered a few bruises, cuts and a broken thumb from the altercation, but his motorcycle helmet deflected some of the blows to his head.
Johnson was wanted on several charges in Polk County including grand theft and robbery. He was previously booked in the Polk County Jail on seven prior occasions. He is now facing additional charges including aggravated battery on a law-enforcement officer.
Fla. police review board will try to walk thin line between critics and officers
The board will be made up of 11 volunteer civilians appointed by the mayor and city council
by Christopher O'Donnell
TAMPA, Fla. — With Mayor Bob Buckhorn and the city council at odds over who appoints a new police oversight board, missing from the debate has been discussion of whether it can accomplish its goal of making police more accountable to the public.
The board Buckhorn plans to have running by December will be made up of 11 volunteer civilians appointed by the mayor and city council and will have no police personnel — a concern for police unions. It also will lack subpoena power, which gives it no teeth in the view of police critics.
The risk for the city is that the new board will fail to satisfy police critics and yet antagonize police officers who feel civilians lack the expertise to understand policing, said Tod Burke, a professor of criminal justice at Radford University and a former Maryland police officer.
“That's the police officer in me,” Burke said. “If you want to show trust between the police and the public you need to have the police and the public working together not separately.”
More than 120 communities nationwide have some form of civilian review board, according to the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement. That includes nine agencies in Florida.
Most communities have created boards voluntarily. Others, like Ferguson, where the fatal shooting of a unarmed black teenager by a white police officer led to riots, were mandated by the Justice Department.
Civilian oversight is also one of the recommendations of President Barack Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
But the report acknowledges there is little proof that review boards succeed in checking police wrongdoing or improving relations between police and the community. It calls on the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the Justice Department, to conduct more studies.
Pushing for more civilian oversight of the police in Tampa are civic groups including the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union.
It comes in the wake of accusations of racial profiling, in part because the police department disproportionately cited African Americans riding bicycles in East Tampa for minor offenses like having no lights. A U.S. Department of Justice probe into the practice is underway.
Tampa's proposed review board is modeled on one in St. Petersburg, established after a recommendation from the Justice Department after riots reflecting tension between the city's black community and its police department in the 1990s.
The board includes no police personnel and is structured to provide an independent audit or review of police internal affairs investigations.
In recent years, however, more communities have opted for a hybrid review board that allows for more input into internal investigations, according to a 2013 study by California State University's Center for Public Policy.
These include Long Beach, California, where the Citizen Police Complaint Commission works with the police department's internal affairs office to conduct investigations.
Those appointed to serve on Tampa's proposed all-civilian board must agree to serve a four-year term and will be required to complete the police department's Citizens Academy, a one-night-a-week training course over nine weeks that provides an overview of police practices.
They must also spend nine hours doing ride-alongs with officers.
Still, experienced police officers are unlikely to value or appreciate job advice from civilians who they feel do not understand the demands and pressures officers face on a daily basis, Burke said.
“They will think how dare a citizen tell me how I should be doing my job when they've never been a police officer,” he said. “They don't know what it's like on the street.”
As in St. Petersburg, Tampa's proposed board would review cases after an internal affairs review was concluded and make recommendations to the police chief.
For example, the board could conclude that the discipline meted out to an officer who used excessive force to subdue a citizen was insufficient.
But that means the board will be relying on the internal affairs report, a process derided by police critics because officers are investigated by other officers. The chief is under no obligation to follow the review board's recommendation.
“A body that can only review the conclusions of the department's internal investigation is not an independent oversight body,” said Joyce Hamilton Henry, director of advocacy with the ACLU of Florida. “It's dangerously close to a rubber stamp.”
To counter that, Tampa for Justice, a coalition of civic groups including the ACLU and the NAACP, are calling for the review board to have independent investigators and subpoena power.
That's the model that the city of Miami adopted in 2002 in response to a spate of fatal shootings of black men and the indictment of 13 officers who were accused of planting guns on suspects.
Miami's Civilian Investigative Panel of 13 volunteers is backed by a full-time staff of an executive director, two investigators, a lawyer and a secretary.
Independent investigations have made the police department there more thorough in its internal investigations, said Civilian Investigative Panel Director Cristina Beamud.
But the panel often failed to meet a 120-day deadline to conclude its own investigations and has been dogged by internal fighting and accusations of racism, a 2014 Miami Herald investigation found.
The panel costs the city more than $700,000 per year.
Tampa, by contrast, is planning to do its review board on the cheap. Officials have yet to establish a cost of the program but the all-volunteer model proposed by Buckhorn would likely amount to about $30,000 to cover the time of an administrator and the cost of televising meetings.
Still, Beamud said, even an audit board like Tampa's adds transparency and brings cases to the public's attention.
“The value is that it gives the public the opportunity to be heard,” Beamud said. “It gives the chief of police another perspective from which to consider what to do.”
Any move to make Tampa's review board more like Miami's would likely meet a legal challenge, said Vincent Gericitano, president of the Tampa Police Benevolent Association.
He said officers are protected by Florida's Officer's Bill of Rights and added that he does not see a need for any kind of review board.
“They will get hit with one hell of a lawsuit,” Gericitano said. “I think we do a great job policing ourselves.”
Talking Public Safety: Never Forget
by Jeff Durhauer
Do you remember where you were and what you were doing; I do as if it was yesterday.
At the time I was the Deputy Chief for the Osage Beach Fire Protection District. I was in the office early that morning preparing for a final meeting with the Shootout Committee from the race we had just complete a week or so prior. My office phone rang and on the other end was Debbie Gainey, the wife of Captain Don Gainey, asking if I had the TV on. I immediately went upstairs to the day room and could not believe what I was seeing, the North Tower of the Trade Center burning. We were all watching in disbelief when across the screen flew United Airlines Flight 175 into the South Tower…
Over the years I have seen events that have bothered me, but nothing like this. I remember that night sitting on my couch at home watching the news and for the first time in my life actually being afraid, what has society come to and how could we ever feel safe again?
I still do not have the answer to that question and in many ways all of our lives have changed due to that fateful day 14 years ago. This attack took more than brick and mortar, it took our sense of security within our own borders, it made once trusting people now question their fellow citizens of another culture, this attack shook us to our core and the wounds are still present today.
On this day we lost:
2,507 innocent victims; 72 Law Enforcement Officers; 55 Military Personnel; 343 Firefighters
Since 9-11 over 4,000 US Service Members have lost their lives.
Every year on September 11 we hear the phrase “Never Forget”. While in our minds we know what this phrase means, in our hearts what should it really mean?
Never Forget: Those innocent lives lost
Never Forget: The families who still suffer this loss today
Never Forget: The Police and Fire Fighters who sacrificed their life that day to save others
Never Forget: The Military Men and Women who have fought for Justice and;
Never Forget those who still fight today, both home and abroad, in an effort to;
PROTECT YOUR FAMILY
PROTECT YOUR FREEDOM
Do you remember where you were and what you were doing; my hope is that you always will.
Portage Public Safety officers give safety tips for back to school
PORTAGE, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - It's hard to believe, but the kids are headed back to school Tuesday.
Portage Public Safety officers say it's a good time to remind students and drivers alike to be safe.
We often hear the same reminders--obey signs, signals, and crossing guards in the school zones; watch out for buses, and children darting into the street.
But while all that is important, experts say one of the biggest problems are cellphones.
Students and parents are getting ready for the new school year, but drivers also need to get back into the school routine.
Portage Public Safety Lieutenant John Blue says for that reason, the department will beef up patrols the first few days of school.
"We're gonna have extra staff on, patroling, extra patrols of all the elementary schools and middle schools," Lt. Blue said. "Hopefully that will be a visual remind to suddenly get back into school mode."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 327 children were killed in school-transportation-related crashes from 2004 to 2013.
"Kids walking to school and being distracted and especially middle school, teenagers. That's really huge," said Deb Carpenter, with Safe Kids Kalamazoo County.
Too many of them are glued to their cellphone.
"Surveyed the kids and said how many kids have cell phones? And this was elementary school. And probably half of the gym raised their hands," Carpenter said.
Carpenter says parents need to encourage their children to put down the devices, take out the earbuds, and pay attention to their surroundings--especially when crossing the street.
As for the teenagers and other drivers in school zones, Lt. Blue has one piece of advice.
"Throw the cell phone in the trunk," he said.
The school zone speed limit in most areas in 25 miles an hour. Police say driving even 35 miles an hour makes a big difference.
"Speed is a tremendous factor in reaction time in the distance that you travel before visually seeing something, applying the brake and actually coming to a stop, of how much real estate you cover in a vehicle and it is amazing," Lt. Blue said.
Safe Kids Kalamazoo County also recommends children who take the bus stay three giant steps away from the curb, and always cross at the corner, in a crosswalk.
If you're carpooling, you're urged to make sure all children are in the right child seat, if needed.
Rochon proposes Public Safety changes in response to RA protests
by Aidan Quigley
In response to campuswide discussions regarding alleged racial aggression by Public Safety officers, President Tom Rochon acknowledged the issue in a statement to the campus community Sept. 6 and announced Ithaca College is planning on creating a new community review board for the campus to report Public Safety concerns and is researching the purchase of body cameras for officers.
In a statement, Rochon said it was a “college-wide issue that needs ongoing attention.” According to the announcement, the review board would be an impartial avenue to report concerns. Both officers and students suggested to Rochon that body cameras be purchased, he said.
Resident assistants have been protesting alleged racial aggression by Public Safety officers, stemming from experiences of members the African, Latino, Asian and Native-American community on campus and two comments made by officers during the RA training Aug. 18.
According to RAs who attended the meeting, Officer Terry O'Pray said racial profiling does not occur at the college, and Officer Jon Elmore showed RAs various weapons, and when he showed a black BB gun, he said he would shoot anyone he saw with one on campus, implying that it was indistinguishable from a real gun. RAs believe this alluded to the November 2014 shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was shot while carrying a black BB gun.
A group of RAs is requesting to directly address O'Pray and Elmore, but neither has been made directly available to them in two subsequent meetings, one held Aug. 25 and the other held Sept. 2. RAs protested the Sept. 2 meeting.
The college is also planning on completing work on new guidelines to increase the hiring of diverse faculty and staff.
Rochon said the college expects all members of the campus community to treat others with respect and compassion.
“This applies especially to Public Safety officers and all others in positions of authority,” he said. “Ithaca College is an environment for learning — for open and thoughtful interaction with each other. Incidents of bias and racism, while unacceptable in any setting, are especially intolerable on our college campus.”
Two other ongoing initiatives mentioned, which the college had already announced, were the hiring of an external consultant for a new campus-climate survey and the recent establishment of a Council on Diversity and Inclusion, which is co-chaired by Belisa Gonzalez, associate professor in the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity, and Linda Petrosino, dean of the School of Health Science and Human Performance. The committee will begin meeting this fall.
Benjamin Rifkin, provost and vice president for educational affairs, has been charged with overseeing initiatives.
In the announcement, Rochon acknowledged that the college needs to do better.
“It is not enough to say that issues of disrespect, insensitivity and racial bias exist everywhere,” he said. “We need, all of us, to do better in adopting an empathetic, humble listening posture on the experiences and perceptions we each bring to our learning community. It is only in this way that Ithaca College will become the community of learning, personal growth and mutual respect that it is intended to be.”
Philly's police commissioner talks 'Black Lives Matter' on Fox News
Charles Ramsey told the reporters that people are missing an opportunity to make a difference
by Alex Wigglesworth
PHILADELPHIA — Protesters who hurl anti-law-enforcement invective are missing opportunities to make a difference in community-police relations, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said during an appearance on Fox News Sunday.
Ramsey was on Tuesday forced to cancel a community discussion at the Eastern State Penitentiary after demonstrators from the Black Lives Matter movement interrupted him with shouts of "racist police."
"I think it's ignorant to do things like that," Ramsey said Sunday after host Chris Palmer played a video clip of the confrontation.
"But I also think the people that are serious in this movement are missing an opportunity to really make a difference," Ramsey continued.
"If all you want to do is get up during a meeting and yell and scream and shout and then walk out, then you're not going to get too far because there's no opportunity for dialogue."
Ramsey appeared on the show along with Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn to discuss heightened tensions between law enforcement and the communities they serve in the wake of several high-profile police-involved shootings and officer deaths.
Here Are Some Other Points Philly's Top Cop Made On The Show:
Crime isn't just affected by policing tactics – there are other major drivers that need to be dealt with in order to stem its tide.
Ramsey: "If they want to really deal with the issue of black lives and the number of homicides that take place, then you have to look at the crime that takes place on the streets of our city, black on black crime. If you don't address that, if you don't address the drivers of crime, then this is just going to not result in anything at all positive."
The media distorts the view of what's going on in policing by disproportionately focusing on incidents of police misconduct.
Ramsey: "There are hundreds of thousands of interactions that occur between police and community every single day that you don't know about because they absolutely went well. We've taken 2,000 guns off the streets of Philadelphia without a shot being fired by a police officer. Now, these are illegal guns being carried by a person. Those arrests are made; no one is injured. I mean, nobody talks about that sort of thing."
The 5 percent bump in Philly's year-to-date homicide rate is cause for concern but must also be viewed in light of the fact that murders here had declined dramatically in the years leading up to last.
Ramsey: "We've had historically low numbers in terms of homicides and shootings for several years now. And so our numbers are being compared to that and we're starting to have an upward trend, which is something to be very, very concerned about. We don't want to go in that direction. But I also think it's important to remember just exactly what we're being compared to."
Though Philadelphia's crime statistics show no evidence of a so-called "Ferguson effect" – a theory advanced by some that officers have pulled back from enforcement due to a fear of violence and perceived lack of community support, emboldening criminals in turn – that doesn't mean these issues aren't at play here.
Ramsey: "There is a problem out there, no question about it. Certainly Ferguson has had an impact on us in policing. To what extent? I don't know."
Police: DC has had it's 106th homicide in 2015
The number is one more than all of 2014
by The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — District of Columbia police say a 22-year-old man was killed and two others were injured in a shooting in northeast Washington.
The slaying of Davon Wade was the 106th homicide in the nation's capital this year. That's one more than in all of 2014. Homicides have increased by more than 40 percent over the same time last year.
Wade was shot late Friday night in the Langdon neighborhood, about 5 miles from downtown Washington, along with two other men. All three were taken to hospitals, one of them in a private vehicle. The other men were admitted with serious injuries, while Wade died at the hospital.
Police haven't released any further details about the circumstances of the shooting or a possible motive.
Las Vegas shooting: Officers ambushed at traffic light, police say
by Tony Marco and Catherine E. Shoichet
A man with a semiautomatic handgun ambushed two officers who'd stopped their patrol car at a traffic light in Las Vegas on Sunday, police said.
An officer who was shot in the hand was being treated at a hospital, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Sgt. John Sheahan said. He was in good condition.
Police haven't released the identity of the suspect, who was later arrested by the officers.
The officers were in a marked patrol car, police said, responding to a disturbance call at a local business.
"They were ambushed on the way to that call," Sheahan said.
Undersheriff Kevin McMahill praised the officers, saying they showed "remarkable restraint" when they took the suspect into custody.
"These officers are going out there and being attacked while they are sitting in a police car, and we didn't fire a single shot back at him," he told CNN affiliate KSNV.
McMahill said his department has changed the way it deploys officers, sending out two-officer units "because of the narrative of violence against police across the country."
"We are certainly working on pins and needles," he told KSNV. "(That is) part of the reason we doubled them up. So we have two officers available immediately whenever an incident occurs."
Why One Woman Wrote a 'Thank You' Note to a Police Officer Who Gave Her a Speeding Ticket
Well, this isn't something you see every day.
by Marlisse Gepeda
Saying 'thank you' to someone goes a long way, whether that person is your mailman or your best friend. But one woman's gesture of gratitude recently went viral after she said she was thankful for something no ever likes to experience.
According to the Department of Public Safety of a suburb in Atlanta, GA, police recently stopped a woman for committing a traffic violation. The cop gave her a citation, she signed it, thanked him and he walked back to his car soon after that.
Before the officer reached his vehicle, the woman called him back. At that point, she gave him a handwritten note and drove away. The letter read:
Shame on me for speeding. There is a lot of publicity (negative) about police officers and your job is very dangerous. I want you to know that my family and I feel very blessed to be protected by wonderful people like you. So thank you!
Caring Alpharetta resident!
The note moved the department so much, they posted a picture of the letter on Facebook. Sure enough, it received quite a lot of attention in a matter of hours.
While some commenters wondered how she had time to write the note, another Facebook user summed up the incident nicely saying, "Well done, all around." Indeed!
Police cars' 'In God We Trust' decals draw complaints
A police department in a Texas Bible Belt community has placed large "In God We Trust" decals on its patrol vehicles, drawing criticism from a watchdog group
by David Warren
DALLAS — A police department in a Texas Bible Belt community has placed large "In God We Trust" decals on its patrol vehicles in response to recent violence against law enforcement officers, drawing criticism from a watchdog group that says the decals amount to an illegal government endorsement of religion.
The decision by police this month to unveil the phrase in Childress, an agricultural community of some 6,100 people at the southern edge of the Texas Panhandle, follows a similar move by dozens of other police agencies elsewhere in the country.
Police Chief Adrian Garcia said he decided to add the decals in response to recent attacks on law enforcement personnel that have received broad attention, including the Aug. 28 killing of a sheriff's deputy who was shot 15 times at a Houston-area gas station.
"I think with all the assaults happening on officers across the country ... it's time we get back to where we once were," Garcia told the Red River Sun newspaper. He did not respond to an Associated Press request for comment.
The Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund notes that eight officers have been shot and killed in the U.S. in the last month — and four died in the span of 10 days — but shooting deaths of officers from January through September of this year were actually down 13 percent compared to the same period last year.
Other law enforcement agencies have cited different reasons for adding the phrase to their vehicles. Mark Nichols, the sheriff of Randolph County, Missouri, said he had it added to his department's fleet in July out of a sense of patriotism.
"It's our nation's motto and we want to be patriotic toward our country," Nichols said.
He said the Missouri Sheriff's Association previously voted to support adding "In God We Trust" to sheriff's vehicles across the state.
In fact, of the dozens of complaints about the decals lodged in recent months by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, about half were sent to law enforcement agencies in Missouri. Departments in Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Virginia and elsewhere also received complaints from the foundation, which says it will consider suing but acknowledges it can be difficult finding a plaintiff willing to be publicly identified as challenging the use of the phrase.
Gary Parsons, the sheriff in Lee County in Virginia, said his office spent a total of $50 to have the decals added to about 25 vehicles. He said many people feel their belief system is being trampled and that adding the phrase is a way of pushing back.
"It's not only a symbol of moral values but also a symbol of patriotism," he said.
In its letter to Nichols, the foundation said, "Statements about a god have no place on government-owned cars. Public officials should not use their government position and government property to promote their religious views."
The letter cites the Pew Research Center when it goes on to say that 23 percent of Americans identify as "nonreligious," up 8 percentage points from 2007.
Rebecca Markert, a senior staff attorney for the foundation, said the First Amendment prohibits government from establishing or even preferring a religion. The growing number of law enforcement agencies adding the phrase to vehicles amounts to a violation of separation of church and state, she said.
While Nichols and other leaders say their communities have been supportive, Markert says it's important to protect the interests of those whose views may not be broadly supported , such atheists and agnostics.
"The Bill of Rights was passed to protect minority rights against the tyranny of the majority," she said.
Jeremy Dys, senior counsel for the Texas-based Liberty Institute, a law firm that specializes in issues of religious liberty, said the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts have repeatedly allowed the phrase and other religious overtures as "part of the country's history and heritage."
This is why courtroom oaths are protected along with legislative prayers, the Pledge of Allegiance and other acts steeped in religious symbolism, he said.
Charles Haynes, vice president of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute in Washington, D.C., explained "In God We Trust" began appearing on federal coins in the Civil War era, and Congress in 1956 approved it as the national motto.
The foundation notes in its letter to Nichols that the history of the motto has "no secular purpose," explaining that it was adopted during the Cold War as a reaction to the "godliness" of communism. It says the country's original motto, E Pluribus Unum, was purely secular.
Haynes said pitched battles over religious phrases likely will increase as groups like Freedom From Religion become better funded and gain broader support.
"I think we're going to see a growing number of fights over these symbolic references to god by government," he said.
Body camera study: Denver police see drop in arrests, UOF complaints
According to a summary, officers involved in the study district were 18 percent less likely to make an arrest when compared to other Denver cops
by Cole Zercoe
The University of Cambridge, in partnership with the Denver (Colo.) Police Department, has released their findings after studying the effects of body-worn cameras on officers and the community in which they police.
105 officers assigned to the city's downtown business and entertainment district (one of the busiest in the city) were outfitted with TASER Axon body-worn cameras from July 1 to Dec 21, 2014, which TASER International loaned to the agency for the purpose of the study. During the course of the study, 23,060 police interactions were recorded.
According to Denver Police Commander Magen Dodge, who heads the department's body-worn camera program, the agency chose the district because of the traffic volume (high number of work commuters and extensive nightlife) and the likelihood that officers assigned to the beat would capture the full range of incidents cops respond to while on patrol.
Prior to the commencement of the study, the DPD conducted awareness campaigns consisting of PSAs, press releases, and media coverage to inform the public that they were implementing a body-worn camera program.
Although arrest and use-of-force rates decreased city-wide , according to an executive summary of the findings, police officers involved in the study district were 18 percent less likely to make an arrest and 8 percent less likely to use force when compared to Denver police officers outside of the district (who were not equipped with body cameras).
“It's been well-documented that behavior changes when people know they are being recorded. We encouraged our officers to let people know they were being recorded if they believed it would help diffuse the situation,” Dodge said.
Denver's laws do not require an officer to inform a subject that they are being filmed.
In some instances, Dodge said, informing a subject that they are on video has been found to aggravate an encounter, so officers in the district were given full discretion to decide whether or not to inform a civilian about the cameras. Dodge said in many cases, officers reported back a positive change in a subject's demeanor after they were made aware of the presence of a camera.
The study concluded that while body-worn cameras did not significantly impact the occurrence of use of force in comparison with other districts, it did have a large impact on inappropriate force allegations. Officers in the district were 35 percent less likely to be the subject of a use of force complaint compared with other Denver police officers.
“One thing we were expecting was a decrease in use of force. But we were glad we didn't see a huge decrease – it shows our officers are judicious in their use of force and reporting on those incidents,” Dodge said.
The study also found misconduct complaints were 14 percent more likely to occur with officers in the study district, and concluded that the outcome of those complaints was affected by use of the cameras. The technology resulted in a 47 percent decrease of "not sustained" complaint outcomes and a 41 percent decrease in the amount of investigation time spent on complaints.
The department plans on outfitting all of its officers with the technology in the near future, and recently secured a $6.1 million contract to purchase the cameras for its police force.
Ohio couple calls out heroin in teen daughter's obituary
Such deaths have nearly quadrupled nationally over a decade
by Dan Sewell
MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — Confronted with the sudden death of their 18-year-old daughter, Fred and Dorothy McIntosh Shuemake made a defiant decision: they would not worry about any finger-pointing, whispers or family stigma.
They directed the funeral home to begin Alison Shuemake's obituary by stating flatly that she died "of a heroin overdose." They aren't the first grieving American parents to cite heroin in an obituary as such deaths nearly quadrupled nationally over a decade, but it's rare, even in a southwest Ohio community headed toward another record year in heroin-related deaths.
"There was no hesitation," Dorothy said. "We've seen other deaths when it's heroin, and the families don't talk about it because they're ashamed or they feel guilty. Shame doesn't matter right now."
Her voice cracked as she sat at a table covered with photos of Alison: the high school diploma earned this year, awards certificates, and favorite things such as her stuffed bunny named Ashley that says "I love you" in a voice recording Alison made as a small child.
"What really matters is keeping some other person, especially a child, from trying this ... We didn't want anybody else to feel the same agony and wretchedness that we're left with," she said.
She and Fred, a retired Middletown police detective who investigated crimes against children, want to promote a potentially preventive dialogue about what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls an epidemic. In Butler County, where the Shuemakes live, the coroner's statistics show heroin-related deaths jumped in two years from 30 to 103 in 2014, with 86 recorded already through the first six months of this year.
Their decision has drawn a wide outpouring of support, both locally and on social media, with online comments and emails from around the world.
Scott Gehring, who heads the Sojourner Recovery Services addiction treatment nonprofit in Butler County, praised the Shuemakes' "strength and foresight" to draw attention to heroin's role.
"That's something that needs to happen. People die of overdoses and it gets swept under a rug," Gehring said. "Until we as a society are willing to acknowledge that it is here and affecting all of us, we're going to continue to see the death count rise."
A search of "heroin" on the Legacy.com site with obituaries from more than 1,500 newspapers found only a handful, including Alison's, in the last month. One was from the Ventura County Star in California, describing Cameron Kean Crawford's turquoise eyes, his talent in art and technology and his placid demeanor until "heroin unraveled his life, causing his shocking demise from an overdose on ... his 34th birthday."
Alison's obituary calls her a "funny, smart, gregarious, tenacious and strong-willed teenager with gusto." Dorothy smiled as she talked about Alison's love for "sparkle," which she said also described her personality.
Alison had recently joined a salon staff after being recruited by a manager who admired the way she did her hair and makeup. She and her boyfriend Luther both had two jobs and moved into an apartment together a few weeks ago. Alison, who had been in rehabilitation months earlier for alcohol and marijuana abuse, seemed happy and proud, her parents said.
They were expecting the couple over to do laundry the night of Aug. 25. When they didn't show up, Dorothy phoned and texted without answer. At about 3:30 a.m., their roommate called: "Something's wrong."
She rushed over to the apartment and saw immediately both were "definitely gone." She spotted a needle on the floor.
As police, paramedics and the coroner's investigator did their work, she sat with Alison's body and sang to her their special song, drawn from the children's book "Love You Forever."
Before Alison's obituary was published, her mother called her boyfriend's family to let them know of the plan to name heroin in her obituary. They had no objection.
A few days later, his was published.
It began: "Luther David Combs, 31, of Middletown, passed away Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, of a heroin overdose."