September, 2015 - Week 3
Civil rights legends preach activism at MTSU
by Sarah Grace Taylor
MURFREESBORO — Two still-fiery civil rights movement legends shared the stage and preached on social activism in front of a packed Middle Tennessee State University Tucker Theatre on Thursday afternoon to highlight the university's annual Constitution Day activities.
Los Angeles-based the Rev. James Lawson, 86, and Atlanta-based the Rev. C.T. Vivian, 91, share a lifelong commitment to civil rights activism and in particular nonviolent resistance, first joining forces to lead the 1960 sit-in protests that resulted in the desegregation of Nashville's lunch counters.
“The Constitution is the most daring document written in human history,” Lawson said. “It was written in the midst of a world system that was largely top-down with very heavy oppression, and (it) insists that we the people are empowered by creation so that we can govern ourselves.”
In a program titled “No Voice, No Choice: The Voting Rights Act at 50,” moderated by MTSU doctoral public history student and activist Aleia Brown, Lawson and Vivian discussed their parts in nonviolent protests for voting rights. Vivian famously was struck and knocked down by an Alabama sheriff on national television while leading a group attempting to register to vote, then promptly picked himself back up and continued the charge.
He also stressed to attendees the importance of using those rights.
“Civic discourse is a sign of democracy — that's why we use nonviolent protests to stand up for what we believe,” Vivian said. “A democracy cannot exist without a thriving group of people expressing themselves to and through their government.”
Said Lawson, in part addressing modern-day protest movements such as Black Lives Matter: “I read a lot of magazines and newspapers, and the intellectual conversation, even the political conversation, is not one that will ignite a movement. We have too much ‘activism' in the United States and too little visionary, strategic thinking.”
Fifty years after the Voters Rights Act was passed on Aug. 6, 1965, to prohibit racial discrimination in voting, Lawson blames the lull in American progress for equality on the four worst kinds of what he calls “spiritual wickedness” — sexism, racism, violence and “rich get richer” socioeconomic practices that he referred to as “plantation capitalism.”
When asked by an audience member how college students could stir proper conversation to incite a movement to fight such inequality, Lawson said, “To create change, you have to become a mirror of the change you'd like to see.
“We must believe that we are all created, and we are all created equally,” he continued. "That we live in a world where we all are gifted, and we must use our giftedness on the side of truth and justice. That's critical for the new world that is being born."
As for the Voting Rights Act itself, Lawson said: "Voting, as critical as it is, is not the primary responsibility of citizen engagement. Being a learned, loving, passionate, caring person who sees all other human beings as human beings is the first task.”
In a call to action to the nearly 1,000 university students, faculty and community members in attendance, Lawson said, “We who are the graduates of a higher education, who will become the power brokers across this nation, somehow must use that experience and that learning in ways that help the United States and show the world an effective illustration of civility.”
Added Vivian: “Having the ticket in your pocket won't get anything if you don't use it.”
Minnesota's top law enforcers discuss community policing
Police chiefs listen to speech from national task force leader.
by David Chanen
A national initiative to help Minnesota's law enforcement officers increase trust in their communities as they reduce crime was delivered Thursday by one of President Obama's top cops.
Ronald Davis, appointed by the president to run the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, told 150 police officials gathered at Minneapolis' Central Library that there are practical and philosophical reasons they should embrace six pillars of policing put together by a diverse task force earlier this year.
The pillars range from building trust and legitimacy to improving officer wellness and safety. Obama put the task force together shortly after the Michael Brown killing and protests in Ferguson, Mo.
“I don't want this to gather dust,” Davis said. “In my 30 years in policing, we have the best window of opportunity to engage and gain more trust, because there is a new civil rights movement in the U.S. But what roles will cops play?”
The chiefs of several of the state's largest police department threw in their 2 cents about what's worked and what needs to be improved.
St. Paul Chief Tom Smith praised a city “ambassador” program that has helped reduce violent juvenile crime in areas they patrol and work with officers.
Minneapolis Chief Janeé Harteau said her department already is practicing many of the recommendations. She cited programs that require officers to spend time out of their cars talking to residents.
Several community leaders said relationships they have built with police are helping to ease tensions over police brutality allegations or other hot-button issues.
“Community engagement works in suburban or urban areas,” said Bloomington Police Chief Jeff Potts. “You never know what your crisis of the day will be.”
Community policing in action: South Bend Police walk the neighborhoods
by Veronica Jean Seltzer
SOUTH BEND -- Community policing. It's a phrase we hear a lot these days, especially when talking about concerns of racial tension between police and the people they serve.
FOX28 got to see how community policing works first hand. We recently went on a walk-along with South Bend Police. Yes, a walk-along because we weren't cruising in a police car. We were out on the sidewalk.
That's what the HUD patrol is all about; federal dollars pay for officers to work overtime and interact with the community.
Knock! Knock! Knock! Open up, it's the police. But you're not in trouble.
"How are you?" Officer Jim Sweeney asked a neighbor
"Can I come sit with you"?
Officer Sweeney just wants to say hello.
"I know I always get that look of shock like, 'Oh my God the police are here',"
As he puts it: he's working HUD.
"HUD Grant what is that?" someone asks Sweeney.
"It's like housing and urban development. It's a federal grant that puts law enforcement officers into the neighborhoods," he answers.
Officers work overtime, patrolling in the neighborhoods with the highest crime rates.
"A lot of these people we run into on a regular basis, the only time they see a police officer is when they call 911," Sweeney said.
"We're the good guys," Sweeney tells a kid on a porch."How are you? What's your name?" he asks.
"After we explain why we're here and we just want to let them know we're in the neighborhood and everything is okay, it kinda puts them at ease," Sweeney said.
"If we can't find where you live we got to sell you on Ebay. It's just the law," Sweeney joked to a couple of kids.
"I think they just enjoy seeing a police officer at their house other than when something goes bad," Sweeney said.
On another porch, a young girl points to her friend and says, "She stepped on my foot can you please take her to jail?"
Sweeney jokes, "Oh that does it, she stepped on your foot? All right, come with me, come on."
It's not all fun and games. Police use these patrols to find out what neighbors are concerned about.
"What's the number one problem you see usually in the summertime?" Sweeney asks the manager at an apartment complex.
"Are they blowing the stop sign here?" he asks a mother and daughter sitting on the steps outside their home.
It might be surprising to see an officer knocking on your door, but in a time when the whole country is concerned about police-community relations, this has been been part of South Bend's strategy to serve.
The program's coordinator says they're out in the neighborhoods every week, every day if they get enough officers to sign up. Most of the concerns FOX28 heard when on the walk-along were quality of life based: neighbors playing loud music, kids running in the streets over the summer.
There were some people who were worried about violence. One Mother said her kids don't even play outside after they witnessed a fight outside their house.
'Our Land': Cleveland Writer RA Washington On Community Policing
by Tony Ganzer
Today we continue our occasional series on community policing in Cleveland. The city has been working to reform its police department within and beyond an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department. This series is featuring many diverse Cleveland perspectives beginning always with the same questions: What should community policing look like, and how far are we from it? Today we hear ideastream's Tony Ganzer speak with RA Washington, a writer and co-founder of the Guide to Kulchur bookstore on Cleveland's West side.
WASHINGTON: “That's real easy, I mean, we're extremely far from it. The concept of community policing, you know, the first thing I think of is: to what standard are you policing the community? Are you saying that the community can't police itself? Are you saying that you know what the community needs, and what makes the community feel safe across a huge strata of diversity and socioeconomic situations. So, community policing is kind of a misnomer. I mean, essentially what they're saying is, with that catch phrase is that ‘we won't kill you.' Yeah, community policing means we won't get killed. Okay, that's good.”
GANZER: “I talked to the head of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, Steve Loomis, and he said there used to be community policing units in Cleveland, where officers could spend time in the communities, build relationships, and he says he wants to have them back, but there just aren't the resources for it now.”
WASHINGTON: “Of course the union's going to say ‘well, there's no resources, we want that back.' I mean, you know, how hard is it for you to get out your car? Especially in the summer you see these cars, they're rocking the air conditioning real tough. I mean, how are you going to connect if you're not out of the car? ”
GANZER: “To that they said that they are more reactive than proactive because there are so many calls, too few officers.”
WASHINGTON: “So now they need more officers. You know, of course it's always going to come down to economics. And, like, a healthy community can police itself when there's jobs. When you have a bunch of kids, young people, old people, everybody in between looking for work, thinking about work, it's kind of hard to take the time to imagine what it would be like, what your community could be like because you're living day to day, and check to check. I feel like the police have to earn a pass, like they don't get a pass for the leadership being able to ape a certain rhetoric with community policing, like they have to earn that. And they've lost a lot of credibility within African-American, Latino communities, within poor communities. I mean, we feel a certain way about police because they act a certain way. And that's not to say their job's not tough, it's not to say they don't deserve the resources to do their job effectively, but to what standard is that. I mean the whole concept of police is policing one's, like, community goods, making sure nothing gets broken or stolen, or people don't get bopped upside the head. It's hard to trust a police force that does a lot of the bopping.”
GANZER: “I've heard from a lot of people, they put the rift between the community and police on different things, be it generation, some said there is a racial divide, maybe a class issue. What do you think about it?”
WASHINGTON: “The police force has increasingly become militarized, so when you have these armies of civil servants it kind of makes it difficult to even begin to figure out why there is a disconnect. Of course I think there's a race issue, and of course there's a class issue, but it's way more nuanced than that, because there are some police that understand that. But the reason that they understand that is also the reason why they can't really push against officers that don't. You know these guys are like good guys, and get along guys. So it's hard to put them in the position where they have to critique the guys who are too aggressive, or racist, or sexist, or whatever it may be.”
GANZER: “There have been a lot of conversations, especially in the last year. It looks like there that there is some action coming, especially with this consent decree with the Department of Justice. What do you think of the process? Are we moving in the right direction?”
WASHINGTON: “We're moving in the right direction from the standpoint at least there's a process. I don't know if the consent decree has any teeth. It's kind of disingenuous to tell us ‘hey, here is this consent decree, everything's gonna be alright, but by the way you're gonna have to pay for it.' Having said that, I don't think the people who entered into the conversation weren't being malicious, they have genuine hope and they were trying to be pro-active as they could be. You know, I know a lot of the people that helped craft that document, and I consider them to be good people. I just don't think those documents have that much teeth.”
Find more parts of this series here.
Harper introduces new public safety plan
by Angelica Robinson
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) -- Republican mayoral candidate Mitch Harper on Thursday unveiled a plan to increase public safety in Fort Wayne, and it includes doing away with the newly created Public Safety Director position.
Harper's “Secure Our City Plan,” which ramps up his campaign effort to unseat incumbent Democratic mayor Tom Henry in November, is in response to what he referred to as a series of violent crimes in the city recently.
It involves, simply, putting more officers on the streets – as many as 40 more to push the force to 500 officers.
“We're looking at what this city needs to have as a good response for public safety,” said Harper. “We know right now our police officers are strained in what they can do.”
Harper said he'll accomplish that by creating competitive pay for officers within the city's existing budget. Funds would be made available by eliminating the city's Public Safety Director position, which earns well over six figures. Current director Rusty York is currently campaigning for the 4th District City Council seat.
“The fact is that in 2014 he voted against our city budget, and in 2015 he voted against our city budget,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “Both budgets ask for more money for more police officers.”
According to Mayor Henry the city has the recommended number of officers on the street. He also denies Harper's claim that there is a growing threat of violent crime.
“Just throwing more police officers at a problem doesn't necessarily make that problem go away, if in fact we have a problem at all,” he said. “The statistics in Fort Wayne shows over the past two years that our crime rate has been decreasing significantly.”
He says over the last two years violent crime has dropped 15 percent, Homicides are down 50 percent, and burglaries and robberies are down 25 percent.
Still, Harper replace current Police Chief Garry Hamilton with a new chief chosen from within Allen County.
“Garry is a brand new police chief, he's only been in office a short period of time,” said Mayor Henry. “He put together gang and violent crime task force which has done a phenomenal job.
Harper's other initiatives include restoring the decimated reserve officer program, and restoring the police department's traffic division.
“Traffic officers' daily activity is the best way to prevent drug and gun violence,” said Harper.
Harper said crime in the city needs addressed and said securing it will lead to a brighter city.
“It is important that Fort Wayne addresses what has been a troubling spate of criminal activity,” said Harper. “Keeping our streets, neighborhoods and schools safe is chief among the responsibilities we entrust to local elected officials. We must get the basics right in order to make Fort Wayne all it can be in the years to come.”
Rallies supporting police on the rise
by Brian Rokos
Amid protests around the country of police brutality in the past year and the debate over race relations by law enforcement, San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos wondered why there were no marchers demanding an end to attacks on officers.
Ramos is now getting his wish.
In what could be considered a backlash against the backlash, individuals and groups are making gestures big and small to show their appreciation for law enforcement in the Inland Empire and nationwide.
Just as the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014 rekindled minorities' long-smoldering feelings of oppression at the hands of law enforcement, the shooting death of a Houston officer last month apparently only because he wore a badge has caused those who have quietly supported cops to raise their voices.
Two such overt displays of support are taking place this week in the Inland Empire.
On Thursday, Sept. 17, upwards of 150 people waved American flags and held signs with sentiments such as “Police lives matter” and “We support police” on Limonite Avenue at the Eastvale Gateway shopping center.
Passing motorists honked their horns and gave thumbs-up signs to the rally organized by Wives of Law Enforcement and Fire Fighters.
Not everyone there was in a public safety family.
Cynthia Ng, of Corona, said she and her husband teach their children to respect police.
“They do such a great job and get such a bad rap,” Ng said. “We want to be here to support them.”
Riverside County sheriff's Lt. Scott Forbes, the assistant police chief in Eastvale, thanked the demonstrators.
“It's a hard job. The men and women out there every day protecting you, protecting me really appreciate this,” Forbes said.
On Saturday, the Liberty Dawgs of California are hosting a Back the Badge event at the Temecula Duck Pond. Attendees were encouraged to bring flags, signs and spirit.
Anecdotally, such displays of support appear to be on the upswing.
Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz said a man at the gym recently made it a point to praise Diaz's officers for the caring and patience they showed toward his mentally ill daughter. Diaz said he is hearing far more compliments than complaints.
“It's very gratifying,” Diaz said. “I always make sure to close the loop and let the involved officers know that there are fair-minded people out there. The only voices out there are not the critics and the haters.”
On the Facebook page What is Going on in Riverside County?, where negative comments about law enforcement are not allowed, co-founder Steve Johnson said Inland residents “speak with their mouse clicks, their comments and their shares.”
The page has grown to 75,000 members since Johnson and Dan Cupido created it in August 2013. The page features members' posts about traffic jams and community events, feel-good stories, historical photos and public-safety activity, among other things.
City Using Drug Money For Public Safety
by Ann Pierret
The Lansing Police Department hopes to buy two new vehicles for its Special Tactics and Rescue Team, or START.
LPD's Captain Darin Southworth explained, "They look and feel a lot like the regular patrol fleet, but they're specially equipped with many of the more common tools that our tactical officers use for resolving those high risk incidents."
Like high risk arrests, drug raids, hostage situations and barricaded people with weapons.
The vehicles will replace the two now-outdated START vehicles.
"They're aged and in a need of repair more often," Captain Southworth said. "With extra equipment comes extra tax. And, I mean tax in a stress way on the vehicles."
The vehicles are equipped with protection and weapons for the START officers.
"Specialized weapons, shields, again, protective items that help us get in, get out or stabilize a situation," he said. "Having a couple of these resources at their disposal and mobile has had dramatic impact on our efficiency."
Thursday, a Lansing City Council Committee approved a resolution to allow LPD to use $90,000 of money seized from drug busts towards those vehicles.
"We feel in this case we have a good cause to tap into that fund," Captain Southworth said. "It's going to serve the interests far beyond the Lansing Police Department because these vehicles have proven their impact within our community in saving lives time and time again."
It's a purchase in the interest of the public's safety.
Captain Southworth added this purchase has to happen now because this specific Chevy Tahoe is almost out of stock. Plus, the price goes up from every year, so the Department can save money by buying now.
And, the Department can afford these vehicles because it's been seizing more drug money.
Last year the Department took in $462,109. That's more than twice as much as the $222,548 from 2013 and that's a huge increase from the $112,517 seized in 2012.
Police told News Ten the forfeiture totals tend to fluctuate from year to year. 2014 was a good year because of the individual raids and because the Department got some money it was owed by the Federal Government for past forfeitures.
Elusive crime wave data shows frightening toll of illegal immigrant criminals
by Malia Zimmerman
The federal government can tell you how many "Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders" stole a car, the precise number of "American Indian or Alaska Natives" who were arrested for vagrancy or how many whites were busted for counterfeiting in any given year. But the government agencies that crunch crime numbers are utterly unable -- or unwilling -- to pinpoint for the public how many illegal immigrants are arrested within U.S. borders each year.
In the absence of comprehensive data, FoxNews.com examined a patchwork of local, state and federal statistics that revealed a wildly disproportionate number of murderers, rapists and drug dealers are crossing into the U.S. amid the wave of hard-working families seeking a better life. The explosive figures show illegal immigrants are three times as likely to be convicted of murder as members of the general population and account for far more crimes than their 3.5-percent share of the U.S. population would suggest. Critics say it is no accident that local, state and federal governments go to great lengths to keep the data under wraps.
"There are a lot of reasons states don't make this information readily available, and there is no clearinghouse of data at high levels," said former Department of Justice attorney J. Christian Adams, who has conducted exhaustive research on the subject. "These numbers would expose how serious the problem is and make the government look bad.”
Adams called illegal immigrant crime a "wave of staggering proportions." He and other experts noted that the issue has been dragged into the spotlight by a spate of cases in which illegal immigrants with criminal records killed people after being released from custody because of incoherent procedures and a lack of cooperation between local and federal law enforcement officials. The murders, including the July 1 killing of Kathryn Steinle, allegedly by an illegal immigrant in San Francisco, have left grieving loved ones angry and confused, local and federal officials pointing fingers at one another and the voting public demanding secure borders and swift deportation of non-citizen criminals.
“Every one [of the recent cases] was preventable through better border security and enforcing immigration laws,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies. “They should have been sent back to their home country instead of being allowed to stay here and have the opportunity to kill Americans.”
A spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement told FoxNews.com that comprehensive statistics on illegal immigrant crime are not available from the federal government, and suggested contacting county, state and federal jail and prison systems individually to compose a tally, a process that would encompass thousands of local departments.
FoxNews.com did review reports from immigration reform groups and various government agencies, including the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Sentencing Commission, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Government Accountability Office, the Bureau of Justice Statistics and several state and county correctional departments. Statistics show the estimated 11.7 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. account for 13.6 percent of all offenders sentenced for crimes committed in the U.S. Twelve percent of murder sentences, 20 percent of kidnapping sentences and 16 percent of drug trafficking sentences are meted out to illegal immigrants.
There are approximately 2.1 million legal or illegal immigrants with criminal convictions living free or behind bars in the U.S., according to ICE's Secure Communities office. Each year, about 900,000 legal and illegal immigrants are arrested, and 700,000 are released from jail, prison, or probation. ICE estimates that there are more than 1.2 million criminal aliens at large in the U.S.
In the most recent figures available, a Government Accountability Office report titled, "Criminal Alien Statistics," found there were 55,000 illegal immigrants in federal prison and 296,000 in state and local lockups in 2011. Experts agree those figures have almost certainly risen, although executive orders from the Obama administration may have changed the status of thousands who previously would have been counted as illegal immigrants.
Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrant criminals are being deported. In 2014, ICE removed 315,943 criminal illegal immigrants nationwide, 85 percent of whom had previously been convicted of a criminal offense. But that same year, ICE released onto U.S. streets another 30,558 criminal illegal immigrants with a combined 79,059 criminal convictions including 86 homicides, 186 kidnappings, and thousands of sexual assaults, domestic violence assaults and DUIs, Vaughan said. As of August, ICE had already released at least 10,246 criminal aliens.
David Inserra, a policy analyst for Homeland Security and Cybersecurity at The Heritage Foundation, said letting illegal immigrants convicted of crimes go free while they await deportation hearings is putting the public at risk.
“While it is not certain how many of these individuals were here illegally, most of these individuals were in deportation proceedings and should have been detained or at least more closely supervised and monitored until their deportation order was finalized and executed,” Inserra said.
Adams opened a rare window into the dearth of public data when he obtained an internal report compiled by the Texas Department of Public Safety and revealed its contents on his Pajamas Media blog. The report showed that between 2008 and 2014, noncitizens in Texas -- a group that includes illegal and legal immigrants -- committed 611,234 crimes, including nearly 3,000 homicides. Adams told FoxNews.com that other states have also closely tracked illegal immigrant crime, especially in the wake of 9/11, but said the statistical sorting “is done behind closed doors.” States closely guard the statistics out of either fear of reprisals from the federal government or out of their leaders' own insistence on downplaying the burden of illegal immigrant crime, he said.
"There are a lot of reasons states don't make this information readily available and there is no clearinghouse of data at high levels," Adams said. "These numbers would expose how serious the problem is and make the government look bad."
A smattering of statistics can be teased out of data made public in other states heavily impacted by illegal immigration, although a full picture or apples-to-apples comparison remains elusive.
~ In Florida, there were 5,061 illegal immigrant inmates in state prison facilities as of June 30, but neither the state Department of Corrections nor the Florida Department of Law Enforcement track the number in county prisons, spokesmen for those agencies told FoxNews.com.
~ In Illinois, where state prisons house 46,993 inmates, some 3,755 are illegal immigrants, according to Illinois Department of Corrections figures. Once again, state officials do not compile figures for county jails, although a Cook County official estimated that nearly 6 percent were illegal immigrants.
~ In Arizona, neither state public safety officials nor the governor's office could produce figures showing the number of criminal illegal immigrants held in county jails, but state prison figures released by the Arizona Department of Corrections show out of 42,758 prisoners held in state facilities in July, about 10.8 percent were illegal immigrants.
~ In California, there were 128,543 inmates in custody as of Aug. 12, but the state, which has been criticized for its leniency toward illegal immigrants, no longer keeps track of the citizenship status of inmates. As of July 31, 2013, the last time figures were documented, there were as many as 18,000 “foreign-born” citizens in California state prisons of 133,000 incarcerated. The Board of State and Community Corrections provided figures to Fox News from 2014, showing there were 142,000 inmates in 120 county prisons, but while everything from mental health cases to dental and medical appointments are closely tracked, the number of illegal aliens -- or even non citizens -- is not.
“Frankly, this is something every state should track, but they don't. Not even ICE publishes this much information on offenders and immigration status,” Vaughan said.
Several pro-immigration groups contacted by FoxNews.com declined to comment on the outsize role illegal immigrants play in the U.S. criminal justice system. One group that did insisted that even illegal immigrants provide a net benefit to the U.S.
“Immigrants, regardless of their legal status, make valuable contributions to our economy as workers, business owners, taxpayers and consumers,” said Erin Oshiro, of Asian Americans Advancing Justice. “We need an immigration system that that keeps families together, protects workers, and prioritizes due process and human rights."
Florida police arrest woman at home filled with thousands of bladed weapons
by Fox News
A Florida woman was arrested Tuesday night after she tried to stab a deputy with a large sword or machete inside a mobile home filled with thousands of other bladed weapons, authorities said.
The Hernando County Sheriff's Office said in a news release that deputies went to Nickole Dykema's Brooksville home to assist probation and parole officers who were trying to issue felony arrest warrants at around 10 p.m.
Dykema was seen looking at law enforcement officers through a broken window in her home, but refused to come out and disappeared back into the residence, according to a news release. Once other deputies arrived, officers forced their way into the home and were met by Dykema who had a large sword or machete in her hand, according to the release. She tried to stab one of the deputies and missed his face by inches.
The Tampa Tribune reports authorities surrounded Dykema after she was seen hiding behind a blanket. Officers say they fired a bean bag at her, but it had no effect.
The newspaper reports Dykema fled into a room filled with about 500 bladed weapons. Authorities noticed there were other rooms filled with similar weapons and another room that contained an altar covered in pentagrams, according to The Tampa Tribune.
Authorities said Dykema advanced toward deputies armed with several more weapons and she was shot with another bean bag after she refused to drop them. After retreating back into a hiding spot again, Dykema emerged and was ordered to show her hands and turn around. Dykema reportedly turned as if she was going to go back into the home and was subsequently shot with a stun gun.
The Tribune reports Dykema was taken to the Hernando County Detention Center where she was being held without bond. She was charged with assault on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest without violence, property damage/criminal mischief and three counts of violation of probation.
Deputies said they had removed more than 3,500 "bladed instruments" from the home.
“This person was obviously dangerous to the community,” said Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis. “It amazes me that there deputies were able to take her into custody without being injured.”
Whataburger fires employee who refused to serve Texas police officers
by Jeremy Gray
Whataburger has fired an employee and issued an apology after an employee refused to serve two Texas police officers, according to news reports.
Milford police officer Cameron Beckham and Strawn police officer Michael Magovern said they were denied service Tuesday night, NBCDFW.com reported.
Magovern said before he could even order, a man behind the counter looked at him and said, "We don't serve police officers," Fox 4 news reported.
The men went to Dairy Queen instead. Whataburger on Wednesday invited them back for lunch.
The company issued this statement:
"We were appalled to hear of an employee refusing service to two officers, as we have proudly served first responders across our system for decades. As soon as we heard of this isolated incident, we began our own internal investigation overnight. The employee that refused service is no longer employed with Whataburger. We've also invited the officers back today so we can apologize in person and make this right."
"We've seen it on social media. We heard it on the news. 17 years as a firefighter and now as a police officer this is the first time this has ever happened to me," Magovern told Fox 4. "It really strikes a nerve personally."
Earlier this month, an Arby's manager in Florida was fired and an employee suspended after an officer was denied service. The employee said the incident was simply a joke that was misconstrued.
A civil rights group, ColorOfChange.org , has started a petition to have both employees reinstated.
NYPD Expands Community Policing Program to South Jamaica
by Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska
QUEENS — A new community policing program, which seeks to improve communication between the NYPD and residents, started this week in South Jamaica.
On Monday, the 113th Precinct, which also covers portions of St. Albans, Hollis, Springfield Gardens and Addisleigh Park, assigned 12 officers to work every day in the same geographic locations to help them get to know neighbors and their every day problems.
The precinct has been divided into four neighborhood sectors. Two policemen — known as neighborhood coordination officers — have been assigned to each of the sectors and will stay there for their entire shift.
A pair of additional officers has also been assigned to the Baisley Park Houses and two more to Rochdale Village, according to the 113th Precinct.
During their shift, the officers will spend a third of their time away from responding to 911 calls. Instead, they will visit local businesses, attend community meetings and spend time bonding with local residents.
“These neighborhood officers...will get to know the people, they will get to know the community and they will get to know the issues that specifically need to be addressed,” said Deputy Inspector Frederick Grover, commanding officer of the 113th Precinct. “They are going to really form that connection with the community.”
The program was launched earlier this year in northern Manhattan, in the 33rd and 34th precincts, and in the Rockaways, in the 100th and 101st precincts.
The initiative has been working well and the NYPD has been getting positive feedback, police officials said.
"We are hoping to see some great results from it," Grover said about the program.
Tempe citizens desire more community-based police force
by Samantha Pouls
The Tempe Police Department hosted its first forum on Sept. 7 and community-based policing emerged as the dominant factor residents are hoping for the new police chief to enforce.
Community policing, increased population, and relations with Arizona State University were among the issues brought up at the forum. The community-based meeting, which was conducted by City Manager Andrew B. Ching, is the first in his 20 years as manager.
“This is your forum,” Ching said. “This is about the next police chief, and getting input from residents about qualities they want to see in the next chief. This is forward looking, this is not backward looking.”
Current Chief of Police Tom Ryff will be retiring on Dec. 1, after 35 years in law enforcement. Ching said the police department would most likely have an interim chief while the city finishes the interview process.
Isela Blanc, a resident who has grown up in Tempe, began the forum by pointing out the lack of community policing in Tempe.
“I don't know who my police person is,” Isela said. “There is no true community policing happening. I've grown up here and I feel like I don't belong.”
While police officers said the department has more relationships than ever before, those at the forum promoted their desire for the police force to have greater relations with residents rather than organizations within law enforcement. Blanc claimed she would appreciate a citizen's advisory board, where people can sit down with officers and speak about issues in the community.
Yet, there are some residents of Tempe who believe they have a police force that is community based.
“Our (police officers) are wonderful, but we had to reach out to them in order to form a community-based relationship,” explained Darlene Tussing, who has lived in Tempe for 45 years.
Another concern of residents is the relationship that the Tempe Police Department has with Arizona State University. In recent years Tempe police have led Safe and Sober campaigns, which aimed to reduce impaired driving and underage drinking. While the Arizona Republic states that ASU accounts for 33 percent of all loud-party calls annually, some Tempe residents felt the Safe and Sober programs unfairly targeted local citizens.
“Last year, when ASU won a football game, I remember going down Mill Avenue and there was militarized policing. It was really scary and I couldn't process it or understand why they were so prominent in a military way,” Isela said.
Although residents appreciate the Party Patrol officers, they do not see any collaboration occurring between Tempe and ASU police.
“Tempe has been less than cooperative and ASU has tried to reach out. They need mutual respect,” said Bill Richardson, a retired Mesa police officer and resident of Tempe.
Now that the population of Tempe is rapidly increasing, citizens are concerned that the department is interested solely in how may arrests they can make, versus creating long-term public safety procedures. According to the United States Census Bureau, the population of Tempe has increased by 2.4 percent from 2013 to 2014.
“There is a huge issue with vertical growth. Now everyone lives on top of each other. When you pack people in like you would in a dorm, you change dynamics and Tempe police need to prepare for that,” Richardson said.
While Chief Ryff was not present at the forum, there was a free flowing climate to the meeting and residents were free to speak their concerns.
“I'm holding this forum because I don't believe in living in bubbles,” Ching said, showing his desire to adhere to the citizens of Tempe.
Baltimore mayor wants to make interim police chief's role permanent
by Donna Owens
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Monday asked the City Council to confirm the city's interim police commissioner as a permanent replacement for the official fired following racially fueled riots in April.
Details regarding a contract for Kevin Davis still need to be worked out after Rawlings-Blake, who last week said she would not seek re-election next year, asked the council to make him his appointment permanent.
"Those details will be finalized in the coming days and then submitted to the City Council for approval," said city spokesman Kevin Harris.
Davis, 46, was a deputy commissioner overseeing investigations in July when Rawlings-Blake fired Anthony Batts as commissioner. Batts had come under heavy criticism because of the April death of an unarmed black man of injuries sustained while in police custody.
The death of Freddie Gray, which came after the United States already had seen months of protests over police use of force, sparked the worst rioting that Baltimore had experienced in half a century. The six police officers involved in Gray's arrest are awaiting trial in the case.
Davis on Monday thanked the mayor for the vote of confidence.
"We will meet the challenges of our times with determination, transparency and clarity of leadership," he said.
Murders have soared in Baltimore in recent months to levels not seen since the 1970s. The city has had 235 murders this year, according to a police spokesperson, compared with 211 for all of 2014.
Data provided by City Hall shows that Baltimore paid out about $12 million from 2010 to 2014 to settle claims and judgments against police. The amount dropped from $4.4 million in 2010 to $1.6 million last year, and 2015 figures will be compiled when the year is over.
Last week, the city settled a civil claim with Gray's family for $6.4 million dollars.
Seattle police officer fired over arrest of elderly black man with golf club
by Victoria Cavaliere
A Seattle police officer was fired on Tuesday over her arrest of an elderly black man last year who refused to drop a golf club he was using as a cane to help him walk, the police department announced.
"Officer Cynthia Whitlatch was served today with a termination notice for sustained policy violations involving bias, abuse of police discretion, and escalation of a contact on July 9, 2014," Seattle police said in a statement.
Whitlatch stopped William Wingate, now 70, as he walked down a city sidewalk leaning on the golf club, according to court documents.
In dashboard video of the incident, Wingate can be seen standing on a sidewalk, casually leaning on the club before the officer approaches and yells at him to drop his weapon. He refused for several minutes before he was arrested.
Whitlatch said Wingate had swung the club at her before she took him into custody. Nowhere in the roughly seven-minute clip can he be seen swinging the club.
The department's release of the video led to calls for Whitlatch's dismissal. The incident was also highlighted during waves of nationwide protests demanding reform in policing tactics following the deaths of several unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers in the United States.
The Seattle Police Department, which has been under federal monitoring for excessive force, promised a full investigation into Wingate's arrest.
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole said in a letter to Mayor Ed Murray on Tuesday that she was terminating the officer's employment based on findings by the Office of Professional Accountability that the arrest was motivated by racial bias and marked by "abuse of police discretion."
An email to Whitlatch seeking comment was not immediately returned. She could not be reached by telephone.
Charges against Wingate were dropped after his arrest and the police department has apologized and given back his confiscated golf club.
Neighborhood leaders want new police chief to stress community policing
by Sonu Wasu
TUCSON, AZ -- As the search continues for a new police chief in Tucson, neighborhood leaders said Tuesday that they hope a strong sense of community policing will be a top qualification that city leaders are looking for.
Tensions have been increasing between police and residents after several police-involved high-profile shootings nationwide.
During the Citizens Police Advisory Review Board meeting on Tuesday night, members who are appointed to watch police activities and procedures voted to ask the city manager's office to update them on the search for a new chief.
A CPARB board member said she had read that the city has received 30 applicants for the job so far.
The candidates will be narrowed down to between 3-5. The finalists will then face tough questions by appointed community members, city leaders, council members and city staff appointed to oversee the selection process.
Many neighborhood leaders said they hope the new chief will understand the value of community policing.
With less officers and a heavier call load, the program has taken a hit in the last few years.
Ronni Kotwica, president of the Palo Verde Neighborhood Association, said she misses the days when patrol cars would be cruising down the streets, officers would stop in to chat and get to know the residents, and be present at every neighborhood association meeting.
Tucson News Now asked Kotwica if she remembered the last time a police officer had attended a neighborhood association meeting.
"Five or six years ago probably," she said.
Becky Noel, a community service officer with the Tucson Police Department attended neighborhood watch meetings almost every night, and helped residents set up "watch" programs on their streets.
She was in charge of dealing with about 50 neighborhoods in the midtown area.
Noel remembers the "hey days" of community policing, when she first started working at TPD about 20 years ago.
"The community likes to see what we called 'boots on the street.' They wanted to see those black and white cars out there. Now because we're short handed it's hard to do that, we don't have the time to be able to spend on the pro-active stuff," Noel said.
TPD has tried to bridge that gap by holding regular "Coffee With a Cop" events throughout the city.
These events have been well attended.
Police encourage residents to come out and voice concerns, as well as ask questions.
Noel said residents have asked her about everything from burglaries, to car break ins and traffic laws in the city.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson recently launched a program to bring officers into the club to interact with youth, and build that trust from an early age.
David Simpson, who manages two clubs in the Tucson area said the program has been received well.
"Being able to expose law officers to our kids at a younger age allows us to show them that these officers are not just what they have heard, but here to service us as well," Simpson said.
City officials said once they narrow the field of police chief candidates to about 3-5, the applicants will be interviewed by a panel of appointed community members, city council leaders and city staff.
Current TPD Chief Roberto Villasenor is set to retire by the end of the year.
Officer: Latinos and police should become ‘partners in fighting crime'
by Maria Ines Zamudio
Kansas City police officer Octavio "Chato" Villalobos wanted to become an officer to try to stop the racial profiling he experienced and his children continued to experience.
But his plan quickly changed after basic training.
"I went in with a good heart and came out with a cop brain," he said in Memphis Tuesday during a workshop aimed at strengthening relationships between Latinos and law enforcement. "I used my Spanish to arrest people, because that's how I'm going to be a good cop ... I had to prove that I was a good officer by their standards."
After a few years, he wanted to work in the neighborhood he grew up in. He had great arrest numbers and even worked as a homicide detective. But he realized that wasn't the way to police his community. Villalobos explained that community policing and target-oriented policing works better in communities of color because police officers need to engage the community to become "partners in fighting crime and not an occupying force."
That's was the message he brought to Memphis. He asked Latino leaders and Memphians attending the yearly Congreso Latino conference to ask for a better type of policing.
Villalobos' workshop is part of Congreso Latino, a four-day conference for businesses, nonprofit organizations and government agencies who want to reach out to the growing Latino community in Memphis. The conference also had leadership training sessions for students and young Latino professionals who wanted to learn leadership skills. The yearly event will end Wednesday featuring as keynote speaker Peabody and Emmy winning journalist Maria Hinojosa.
The conference started on Sunday with a rally, where about 800 students from Shelby County schools participated. The conference, which is hosted by Latino Memphis, presented other workshops such as "understanding life in the shadows: A primer on immigration process," "education policy and Latino student achievement," "Latino, immigration and mental health," among others.
Many Latinos distrust police officers, and that is a serious problem, said Ivonne Perez, who works for Catholic Charities.
"Immigrants come to me and tell me, ‘I can report the crime to the police but the case takes too long and who is going to protect me? Just forget it'," Perez said. "They complain about the way they are treated by police."
Perez said the precinct in Hickory Hill, where most of the Latinos live, has only two officers who speak Spanish. And that's not enough for the growing population, she said.
According to 2013 U.S. Census estimates, 6 percent of the people who live in Memphis were born in Latin America.
Many Latino immigrants have been victims of robberies, but many don't report the crime because they are afraid. The distrust of police stems from those robbery victims' experiences with law enforcement in their countries of origin as well as from experiences in Memphis, spokesmen for the Latino community said.
In 2011, Memphis Police officer Lorenzo Couch was arrested after he was accused of robbing two Latinos of nearly $500 during a traffic stop.
Those stories about police harassing immigrants circulate widely among the community. Immigrants warn each other that an interaction with Memphis police can lead to deportation.
But that's a misconception, said MPD officer Tadario Holmes.
"We are restricted by policy from contacting (immigration authorities)," Holmes told a group of service providers at the conference. "If an officer checks on immigration status, the officer could get fired."
Holmes started the Hispanic Outreach Programs and Services, an initiative for MPD to engage with the Latino community.
Programs like HOPS is a start, said Villalobos, but support from top brass is needed for effective community policing initiatives to be successful.
"Reach out to your police department," he said. "I challenge you to go and say we are going to partner up with you. What do you need from us. We need to work together."
16 Minn. cities press for body-camera footage restrictions
Applicants say limitations are justified because footage of encounters can be highly emotional or in private spaces
by Brian Bakst
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Sixteen Minnesota cities have petitioned the state for a temporary declaration that police body-camera data be presumed private in most instances.
An application for the data classification was filed late Monday with the Department of Administration, which must decide within the next three months. It's the latest move to put limits around footage collected by the small devices that more police officers are wearing to record their interactions with the public.
"Body worn camera technology presents privacy concerns of a nature not previously anticipated or foreseen," the cities write in the application, noting the volumes of data captured that cities could be expected to sort through to comply with public records requests.
Gov. Mark Dayton's administration, which will decide the request, rejected a similar request last winter and said it was an issue better suited for state lawmakers. The Legislature deadlocked this spring so city officials want to wall off the data while lawmakers revisit the topic next year.
The new effort — led by Maplewood and involving departments large and small — comes as law enforcement agencies across the state look to introduce or expand body-camera programs. Some cities in the coalition don't plan to outfit officers with the devices until data retention and release policies are settled by the state.
Transparency advocates counter that clamping down on data would weaken the cameras as police accountability tools.
Benjamin Feist, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, said the issue poses a tricky balance because his group supports some limitations on data collected from inside private dwellings or from victims and informants. But he said the cities' request goes too far.
"We see the value of body cameras is that we're able to see what the police are doing for once," Feist said, adding, "We want to make sure that they are not just shielding officer misconduct by making this private under the guise of trying to protect the privacy of individuals they are running into on the streets."
Applicants say limitations are justified because police encounters with the public can be highly emotional or inside bathrooms, bedrooms or hospitals.
"Unlike police squad car cameras, body-worn cameras collect video footage inside people's homes, schools and medical facilities, where there is a reasonable privacy expectation," Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association Executive Director Andy Skoogman wrote in a letter supporting the classification request. "These cameras capture incidents up close often during traumatic, revealing and personal incidents."
Existing law makes some data off-limits if, for example, footage is part of a sensitive investigation or could expose children who are suspected abuse victims. But police chiefs are questioning whether those laws go far enough and they are raising concerns that unfettered access to footage would hamper witness cooperation with law enforcement if they know their identities would leak out.
The request would leave room for footage release if the subject of the data requests it, but with possible redactions. Data deemed "clearly offensive to common sensibilities," such as nudity or gruesome crime scenes, may be withheld.
From the Department of Homeland Security
Take the Challenge: Share What Citizenship Means to You in Six Words
Is it possible to capture hope, a feeling, or a story in six words? The idea of very short stories began in the 1900s, but has begun to take off on various social networks as people share their stories.
Today, we're launching six-word essays for Citizenship Day and Constitution Week.
Here's How it Works
Join the project by writing a six-word summary of what citizenship means to you. It can be a sentence or any six words that, together, express your thoughts. You can even share photos illustrating your essays. To get you started, here are examples:
Born and raised; I love it!
A new world, a new life.
Freedom, travel, culture, exploration, blessings, pride
Something much bigger than me, possibilities.
Are you up for the challenge? What are your six words? Share them in the comments below, on Twitter using #citizenship6, or as a comment on our Facebook post.
Throughout the week, we'll retweet and share submissions on Twitter and Facebook. Afterward, we'll pull together a collection of essays we like and share on our blog, The Beacon, and produce a slideshow for YouTube.
Who Can Participate
Everyone can participate: citizens of any country, living anywhere. Here are a few rules:
You can enter your six-word essay any time from Sept. 14-24, 2015.
You can't enter a six-word essay that belongs to or has been copyrighted by someone else.
Obscene, indecent, or profane language.
Threats or defamatory statements.
Hate speech directed at race, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ethnicity, age, religion, or disability.
Advertising, promotion, or endorsements of products or services.
The topic of your six-word essay can't be nudity, drugs, violence, or symbols or acts of hatred.
Now for a little legal language: by entering your six-word essay, you agree to all of the above, and you agree to allow us to use your essay worldwide without being compensated. We also reserve the right to not consider entries for any reason.
We look forward to seeing what you have to say!
Raleigh Police Officer Shows Positive Effects Of Community Policing
Last week, Raleigh Police Officer J.D. Boyd shared a photo that exemplified quality community policing. The Facebook post explained that around a year prior, Officer Boyd and the man in the photo (pictured smiling) were "involved in a major altercation where he tried to stab me in the head and I nearly shot him," according to Boyd.
Today, the man is out of prison, has a full-time job, and another child on the way.
Most interestingly, he and Officer Boyd were able to meet as friends. "I was glad it ended well for us both that day and I am ecstatic now to learn that he has turned his life around and we can embrace as friends," Boyd wrote on Facebook.
"No one is ever lost forever," Boyd continued, "and as long as you continue to work to be a better version of yourself than you were yesterday things will work out eventually. #?CommunityPolicing #?RaleighPolice #?RPD."
The post has gone viral, with over 221,612 likes as of Monday morning.
In a broader sense, Boyd's hashtag "#CommunityPolicing" brings up a larger conversation about police tactics. There has been greater scrutiny of these tactics (including today's release of the Ferguson Commission report), and stories of police brutality, militarization, and/or excessive force continue to make headlines.
For many, community policing is seen as a better alternative because it means working with the residents to solve problems and build trust, according to the Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services:
"Community policing is a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies that support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime."
Community policing includes three tenets: community partnerships, organizational transformation, and problem solving. To build trust, police develop positive relationships with residents, local business owners, churches, and any other stakeholder organization. Trust between the community and the police force is a vital component to community policing.
"Trust is the value that underlies and links the components of community partnership and problem solving," the Office of Justice Programs says. "A foundation of trust will allow police to form close relationships with the community that will produce solid achievements. Without trust between police and citizens, effective policing is impossible."
NOPD officers honored for 'true essence of community policing'
by Jonathan Bullington
Three members of the New Orleans Police Department were recognized last week for their efforts to help a homeless family found living in their disabled car.
The three members – Sgt. Nicole Powell and officers Mark Boyle and Peggy Brothers – pushed the car into a nearby parking lot late on the evening of Aug. 23, and then pooled their money to set the family up with a hotel room, food and clothes.
The officers' actions "embody who we are and what we do," said NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison, who presented the three with the Superintendent's Coin award at a department leadership meeting last Wednesday (Sept. 9).
Powell first encountered the family, Harrison said, spotting them inside a stalled vehicle on South Carrollton near the Carrollton underpass. She called Boyle and Brothers for back up, and the three officers attempted to jump-start the car. When that proved unsuccessful, the they pushed the car into a nearby fast food parking lot – an arduous task given the car's flat tire.
"We were wondering why it was so hard pushing the car," Powell joked.
After safely ushering the family into the parking lot, Harrison said, the officers learned the family was homeless and had been living in their car.
"We got together and decided we were going to help this family as best we could," Powell said.
The first order of business was getting the family a place to sleep for the night, which the officers achieved by paying for a hotel room. The next day, Boyle brought the family food and clothes for the children, Harrison said, while Powell and Brothers paid for three extra nights in the hotel room. They also gave the family information on possible public aid agencies.
"I am proud of the dedication displayed here that embodies the true essence of community policing," Harrison said.
Department of Public Safety identifies 'copycats' in Phoenix freeway shootings
Suspects likely not connected to freeway shootings
MARICOPA COUNTY, AZ - Three teenagers were arrested Sunday for allegedly shooting at cars with a slingshot, but the incidents were not related to a recent string of Phoenix-area freeway shootings, authorities said.
Three men, all age 18, were in jail after admitting to flinging rocks at pedestrians and vehicles, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said.
Aaron Nottingham, Albert German and Christian Cook were booked on charges of assault, endangerment and criminal damage.
German was released from jail Monday morning.
Arpaio told reporters Sunday that a couple whose car window was shattered Saturday east of Phoenix noted a license plate number of a vehicle that allegedly pulled up alongside them. Deputies and the state Department of Public Safety located the vehicle.
DPS Director Frank Milstead said the incidents are copycats and there was nothing linking them to any of the 11 incidents his agency has been investigating.
The agency also detained 18-year-old Oscar de la Torrez Munoz Friday for questioning in the shootings.
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 Interstate 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.
Police have been seeking tips, with freeway message boards across the city continuing to flash a tip-line number.
The shooting scenarios have varied. Some involved bullets fired at random cars, others involved projectiles and one was apparently road rage.
Penn Public Safety requiring anti-stress training for officers
by Anna Hess
Students aren't the only ones thinking hard about how to manage their stress. The Division of Public Safety is introducing a new mental health-based training program for all of its employees, including Penn Police and PennComm dispatchers.
DPS is working with members of the Positive Psychology Center housed in the Psychology Department in the College of Arts and Sciences to craft the training program. The center aims to promote research and training in the mental health fields of positive psychology and resilience, which is the study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive.
Karen Reivich, a researcher for the center, is working closely with Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush to create a program that will help public safety on campus deal with high stress situations and respond effectively and calmly to emergency situations.
Over the 2015-16 academic year, DPS will be holding these mental-resilience training sessions for members of PennComm, the police force and all the members of public safety in mixed, small group sessions. DPS employees who respond to calls on the recently established mental health HELP line will also receive the training.
“Everyone's got to take a deep breath when they're responding,” Rush said. “Our goal is to empower our personnel when they're all working together to respond to an emergency call.”
Reivich has been conducting similar resilience training programs for other schools and organizations, including the United States Army, where her program trained about 30,000 soldiers over the last five years.
“We teach skills to help people in high stress professions,” Reivich said. “We aim to help them have the mindset that enables them to productively deal with the structures they face, and how to approach problems with a clear mind free of bias.”
The training will start in November and will include 10 one-day sessions over the course of the academic year.
“These skills will help our department of public safety to increase wellbeing and also help them to be really effective at what they do,” Reivich said. “We do this training around the world, and to be able to bring it to the people who keep us safe gives me a great sense of gratitude and is really exciting for me.”
DPS's past training programs have included programs based on eliminating LGBT or gender-biased policing, encouraging religious tolerance taught by the University chaplain and providing other mental health wellness and racial-bias eradicating programs.
Unprocessed rape kits are a public safety issue
by Pam Bondi
As a career prosecutor and your attorney general, I understand how vital forensic evidence is in solving violent crimes and putting dangerous criminals behind bars.
That is why I am troubled by recent reports of the thousands of sexual assault kits that remain untested in Florida.
These unprocessed kits hold key DNA evidence that could take dangerous rapists and murderers off our streets and put them behind bars where they belong.
Last week, I joined law enforcement officers, state lawmakers and victims' advocates to commit broad support for testing these unprocessed sexual assault kits.
For years our state crime labs have struggled to keep up with the extreme demand created by violent criminals, gangsters and synthetic drug pushers. As I have discussed in multiple Florida Cabinet meetings, turnover in the state crime labs due to pay disparity across the state compounds this problem. While it is clear it will take more resources to address these problems, testing these unprocessed kits is a public safety issue that deserves our immediate attention.
As a state, we need to think broader about how forensic evidence can be used not only to solve crimes locally, but throughout the entire country.
Processing these untested kits will allow key DNA evidence to be entered into state and federal crime databases. These entries can produce matches that could link criminals to unsolved crimes in Florida and beyond. In recent years, some states and law enforcement agencies have taken steps to eliminate their backlog of untested sexual assault kits, resulting in hundreds of arrests and prosecutions.
In Ohio, approximately 80 percent of the state's untested sexual assault kits have been analyzed resulting in 370 indictments in just one county alone.
In Houston, the recent testing of unprocessed kits by law enforcement in that city is leading to dozens of new prosecutions. While the results of testing Florida's unprocessed kits are still unknown, they are likely to be far-reaching.
Nationwide, there are believed to be hundreds of thousands of untested sexual assault kits. Thousands of those kits are located across the state of Florida. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies, is currently conducting a statewide assessment of unprocessed sexual assault kits to identify how many kits have not been tested.
Our goal of testing these unprocessed sexual assault kits is clear, and the benefit to the state and public safety is evident.
The fact is, it will likely take years to achieve this goal but we cannot wait any longer to take action. Every day these kits remain untested is, perhaps, another day dozens of dangerous criminals continue to prey on innocent Floridians. It is another day that victims of sexual assault live in fear of being revictimized and with the knowledge that justice, in their case, was not served.
Testing these kits is just the first step.
In the coming weeks, months and years, I will continue to work with law enforcement officers, state lawmakers, and victims' advocates to not only test these unprocessed kits, but to find better ways to ensure our state has the lab capacity and resources needed to keep up with the demand for forensic testing.
We cannot put a price tag on public safety. We need to support FDLE in its efforts to make Florida the safest state in the country.
Pam Bondi serves as Florida's attorney general.
Couple stalks Wash. deputy on patrol
After recent ambush-style killings, authorities are taking threats against officers very seriously
by PoliceOne Staff
SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — A couple stalked and tried to instigate a confrontation with a sheriff's deputy by following him around while he was on patrol, KXLY reported.
The incident occurred in the early morning of Sept. 10, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich told the publication. The man and the woman tailed Deputy John McQuitty while he was on patrol. McQuitty tried to lose them with a series of turns. When he realized they weren't going to stop, he radioed for backup.
“When you start having people, basically hunting it seems like, deputies, following them around and it's not just slightly, they purposely and methodically followed the deputy,” Knezovich said to KXLY.
Backup was able to stop and identify the individuals. The man and woman told the deputy they were well within their rights to follow the officer on a public street.
“It's not illegal to follow a deputy, but sure isn't wise,” Knezovich said to the news site. “We are actually seeing officers and deputies executed and somebody thinks it's funny now to get right behind them and follow them?”
In light of recent ambush killings, deputies are on higher alert, Knezovich said to the publication. McQuitty has been praised for his calm reaction to the incident.
14 years after 9/11: Assessing the terrorist threat (and how cops should prepare)
AQAP and ISIS attackers are a clear and present danger to the security of the American people — they're different, but each is an adversary about which we must be cognizant
by Doug Wylie
In separate, unrelated, and even competing publicity campaigns, the media relations departments of two jihadist militant groups this week issued a series of messages encouraging lone-wolf and small-cell terrorist attacks on Americans and American interests abroad.
The dispatches from al-Qaeda (AQAP) and the Islamic State (ISIS) both appear to be somewhat hastily assembled regurgitations of messages the groups have previously issued — put out in time to get the attention of like-minded radicals before today's anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Both groups call for the “assassination” of police, military, political, and economic figures — such as former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and wealthy entrepreneurs like Bill Gates. Nothing in the terrorists' communiques about the targets is new, but looking deeper into the recent chatter reveals some interesting information about the differences law enforcement might look for when encountering adversaries from both sides.
Different Groups, Different Tactics, Different Threats
Beyond the obvious — that radical Islamist terrorists still want to bring death, destruction (and ultimately, Sharia law) to America — one of the most important conclusions we can make today is that there are fundamental differences between al Qaeda core and the Islamic State.
While their shared hatred of Americans represent a somewhat similar problem, the differences in philosophies, strategies — and to some degree, tactics — have important meaning for the cops out on the streets of the United States.
First, let's briefly explore the rivalry. Earlier this week, Ayman al-Zawahiri — the current leader of al-Qaeda — unleashed a barrage of disparaging remarks about Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the Islamic State in an audio message.
The next day, al-Hayat Media Center — the Islamic State's media arm — responded with the release of the 11th edition of the English-language Dabiq magazine. The ‘Foreword' section of publication “contained a scathing assault on the Taliban and al Qaeda, calling the cover-up of Mullah Omar's death an unprecedented hoax,” according to a report from the intelligence firm STRATFOR.
The animus between the two groups is well-documented, but beyond the clannish rivalry, the tactics and the targets of the two groups differ. For those of you patrolling the streets of this great country, those differences are enormously important. Why? Because the ISIS adversary you may one day meet on “Main Street, USA” might be much different from the “homegrown violent extremist” inspired by al-Qaeda. Let's explore.
AQAP, HVEs and the ISIS “Veteran Fighter” vs. American Law Enforcement
The Islamic State's stated strategic aim is to lure Muslims to leave their homes in the United States and Europe, and fight in the sandbox (primarily Syria) in order to prepare for bringing the fight back to their homelands. Mohammed Emwazi (a.k.a. “Jihadi John”) — a Kuwaiti-British man who has made some heinous home movies — is basically the ISIS poster child for foreign fighters.
For ISIS, getting one of those characters back into the country of origin (ours or another) is becoming more difficult because our intelligence community is increasingly wiser about the “who, what, where, why, and when” of their sojourns abroad. But ISIS knows that while we're presently winning this phase of battle, one day we will “lose” — they are determined to re-introduce one of their trainees into a Western country, and our borders are simply too porous to prevent it.
The first truly hardened jihadist to leak back into their country of origin will undoubtedly do some horrible damage before you as a police officer even get the call from dispatch.
What you do after the radio call will be supremely important for what happens the next time.
Your response in that moment as a patrol officer, shift lieutenant, on-duty captain or chief of police will be bigger than you can really imagine today.
Simply said, that will be your 9/11. Think about it now, before it happens.
Conversely, al Qaeda — and in particular, AQAP's Inspire Magazine — is all about radicalizing jihadists who live in Western countries and who have no desire or ability to go overseas. They have the aspiration to wreak havoc, but they're woefully lacking in the tradecraft to fulfil their dreams of virgins in the afterlife. Simply stated, they're usually simpletons with weapons.
Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (the Boston Marathon bombing brothers) and Nidal Malik Hasan (the Fort Hood attacker) are the poster children for this model. They inflicted horrible damage, but they were, by all reasonable accounts, amateur fighters. None of the three (that we can presently prove) had combat experience.
Dangerous? Of course they were! Hasan killed 13 people and injured more than 30 others and the Tsarnaev brothers killed three and injured roughly 264 others. But was any one of the three assailants (a psychologist and two wannnabe jihadis) a truly battle-hardened terrorist? The answer is no.
If you've been on the job more than a couple of years, you've encountered someone at a traffic stop who was harder, more capable, and more motivated than all three of those guys combined.
Others who have used Inspire Magazine to become radicalized and self-taught in rudimentary tradecraft include Jose Pimentel (who failed in his attempted bombing in New York City) and Abdel Daoud (who failed in his attempted bombing in Chicago). Will one day a homegrown violent extremist (HVE) influenced by Inspire carry out a spectacular attack? Perhaps, but thus far, those have been the work of men who trained in the sandbox.
American Cops: The Front Line Defense
Make no mistake: AQAP and ISIS attackers are a clear and present danger to the security of the American people — they're different, but each is an adversary about which we must be cognizant. You as a police officer may — today, or one day in the future — be the person to have to deal with the issue.
Ask Sergeants Kimberly Munley and Mark Todd, who ended Hasan's attack on Fort Hood. Ask the still unnamed cop from the Garland (Texas) Police Department about his experience stopping the assault on the “Draw Mohamed” contest in May.
Probably the most significant takeaway from these incidents is the fact that you — the American police officer — remain on the front line of counterterrorism in this country. Take this occasion to review the pre-attack indicators almost all terrorists (and active shooters) exhibit. They are:
1. Financing Activities
3. Active Elicitation
4. Probing Security
5. Acquiring Supplies
6. Suspicious Persons
7. Conducting Dry Runs
8. Deploying Assets
What's Next? Looking Ahead to 9/11/XXXX
On September 10th, 2001, hundreds of people packed their bags for a flight they'd take the next day not knowing they'd never unpack those bags. Thousands of people kissed a father, a mother, a son, a daughter, a husband, a wife, a partner goodnight, not knowing that'd be the last time they'd ever see their beloved. More than three million Americans went to sleep not knowing that their world would completely change before breakfast.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring? But that's kind of the point, isn't it? Those in law enforcement need to forever remember these five things:
1. Train hard in all of your skills — you will never be told in advance that “today is game day”
2. Study your adversary — know the enemy better than they know you, or know themselves
3. When you leave for your tour, tell your family you love them completely and unconditionally
4. Respect everyone you meet, but have a plan to quickly kill them if that's what's required
5. Know that when the day comes, you are a warrior and a guardian — you're an American cop
Each year, 9/11 is, by all accounts, a terrible day. For anyone who was not alive on December 7, 1941 — or perhaps November 22, 1963 — it is the worst day in our collective memory. As Americans on this day, we come together, we reflect and we mourn. But we must also continue to learn.
Thousands of untested Ore. sexual assault kits could have helped solve 500 crimes
Portland officials came up with that number based on what Detroit found when it tackled its load of untested kits
by Maxine Bernstein
PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland police left thousands of sexual assault kits untended on storeroom shelves that they now admit could have helped solve at least 500 sex crimes over the last decade.
The untested kits stacked up despite public promises by police leaders to eliminate the stockpile after a serial rapist killed 14-year-old Melissa Bittler on her way to school in 2001.
Detectives had tracked down her murderer by testing old kits that they discovered among more than 1,000 sitting in their evidence warehouse. They vowed then not to let the kits – and all the unprocessed DNA — gather more dust.
But an investigation by The Oregonian/OregonLive shows that police chiefs and supervisors failed to make good on their pledge to send the kits to the state crime lab for analysis.
The top brass didn't seek money to test the kits or make sure supervisors regularly reviewed whether detectives were getting kits tested as part of their investigations — as two city audits urged.
The Police Bureau also never adopted any standard directing detectives when to test kits, leaving individual investigators to make the decisions on their own. And they had a spotty record: Since Bittler died, the bureau sent fewer than 4 in 10 kits for DNA analysis; in 2012, just 2 in 10 were tested, according to bureau figures.
One former Detective Division commander remembers writing a memo shortly after Bittler's death to require routine testing of the kits, but neither he nor the bureau could produce it.
Not until recently did the bureau make any effort to change.
It took a Sex Crimes Unit sergeant — who had never investigated a rape case himself — to write guidelines requiring that most kits be tested by a crime lab. The sergeant also pushed for a $2 million federal grant to process and track the kits. The bureau just got word Thursday that it will get the money.
Still, Portland's untested kits now total 2,408 – more than double what existed when Bittler was killed. That number represents nearly half of the state's more than 5,000 untested kits.
When they finally test the mountain of kits – estimated to take at least two years — Portland police expect to get at least 500 matches connecting evidence in the kits to DNA profiles of criminals or crime scenes stored in the national criminal justice DNA database.
Portland officials came up with that number based on what Detroit found when it tackled its load of untested kits. The potential DNA hits in Portland will mean reinterviewing hundreds of victims and possibly solving more attacks, police say.
Chief Larry O'Dea, a 28-year Portland police veteran, said he didn't know that the bureau had previously identified a problem in its handling of kits. After he became chief in January, he found out about the glut and said he's committed to having his detectives test all kits.
"Sexual assault investigations are some of the most emotional and complex cases we undertake,'' he said in an email. "We are striving to be a leader in this country on the development of sound policy and investigative practices.''
Mary Bittler Her daughter's 2001 killing helped Portland police then identify problem of untested sex assault kits.
The bureau's failure to address the problem for so long baffles Melissa Bittler's parents.
"It's disturbing because I remember – if Melissa's death had to have some good in it, it was so other victims of rape would know their rapes would get priority and their rape kits would be tested,'' said Mary Bittler, Melissa's mom.
Tom Bittler, Melissa's dad, can't understand how the problem could be worse today.
"Did they not take rape seriously? It's a violent crime that could lead to even more serious crimes as it did with Melissa, and aren't they in the business of preventing future crimes?'' he said. "Was it just giving us lip service?"
The Bittler case was supposed to have been the turning point.
The teenager had just left home when someone dragged her behind a house across the street, raped her, then choked her to death in December 2001.
Detectives reviewing 10 years of old police reports in a search for clues found three rape cases from February 1997 similar to Bittler's rape. The girls, then ages 14 or 15, had been approached from behind, grabbed around the neck and dragged behind a nearby house. They all survived, but didn't know their attacker.
Unboxing a sex assault kit Sexual assault nurse examiner and Oregon Sexual Assault Task Force coordinator, Robin Olafson, explains what's inside a sexual assault forensic kit.
While investigating Bittler's homicide, police were surprised to find kits from more than 1,000 unsolved sexual assaults – including from two of the 1997 rapes – still in the bureau's property room. They submitted the two kits for the first time to the state crime lab.
The kits typically contain hair and body fluids from victims who undergo hourslong forensic medical exams. If an attacker leaves behind blood, semen, saliva or hair, lab scientists can identify a DNA profile to provide police with leads in unsolved cases.
The state lab reported back that it had found DNA linking Bittler's rape to the ones in 1997, but the DNA didn't match any suspect in the crime database. Still, police finally realized that a serial rapist was targeting young teenage girls in North and Northeast Portland. They went back to interview the other victims and for the first time made the public aware of the threat that they had missed earlier.
Then another woman was raped four months after Bittler, and she knew her attacker: Ladon A. Stephens. Stephens had been on a list of more than 200 sex offenders and other criminals under general suspicion in Bittler's killing. This time, the lab connected Stephens to Bittler's attack and the other rapes. On the strength of the DNA evidence, he was convicted and sentenced to life without parole in the teenager's murder.
Jim Ferraris, commander of the bureau's Detective Division then, repeatedly said he was disturbed by the discovery of all the untested kits.
"Have we learned something from this? Absolutely," he told The Oregonian in July 2002. As commander, he oversaw lieutenants, sergeants and investigators in the Detective Division, which includes sex crimes, homicide, robbery, assault, burglary and child abuse investigators.
Ferraris said at the time that the bureau had drafted a new policy requiring police to route all sexual assault kits to the state lab unless the case was unfounded or stretched beyond the statute of limitations, the kit had no evidentiary value or the evidence wasn't needed.
In a recent interview, Ferraris said he believed he wrote a memo to the Detective Division or Sex Crimes Unit outlining the new standards.
"My recollection is that we dealt with SAFE kits at that time. They were supposed to go to the crime lab,'' said Ferraris, who went on to serve as assistant chief of investigations, then retired and now works as a Salem deputy police chief. "I have to presume there was (a memo), but shoot, it's 14 years ago.''
The bureau, in response to a public records request, couldn't find any written protocol, memo or policy governing which kits to submit to the lab for testing.
"Supervisors have changed, detectives have changed and command has changed several times over and there is not any effective way to get these questions answered,'' police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson wrote in an email.
The focus now "is forward-looking and to insure that we are following the best practices with sex crimes investigations and working with our partners to effectively investigate these cases,'' he wrote.
Best practices identified by the National Institute of Justice call for a lab to test a kit within 30 days of receipt. Some police agencies have moved to test all kits received. Experts suggest police, at the least, adopt written procedures with clear expectations.
One retired Sex Crimes Unit supervisor, Sgt. Mike Geiger, said he had encouraged his detectives to send more kits to the lab, although there was no formal written criteria.
But the bureau's own records don't back that up.
The number of sexual assault kits collected from alleged victims has grown dramatically over the past two decades as DNA testing became more widely understood and more trained forensic nurses were available at all Portland hospitals to do the sexual assault exams.
But receiving more kits didn't translate into more testing: The number that Portland police sent to the state lab has remained stagnant since 2000.
Lt. Dave Meyer, who now oversees the Sex Crimes Unit, said he doesn't know why previous supervisors didn't deal with the growing pile of untested kits.
"Either somebody put policies in place and somehow they floated away, or they were never written,'' he said.
The constant turnover of command staff could have played a role, Meyer said. The Sex Crimes Unit has had eight supervisors since 2002. An outside consultant found this year that the bureau's transfer of top supervisors was too frequent, with an average tenure of less than 18 months per assignment.
Each new supervisor has a steep curve to learn the unique demands of sex crimes investigations and the constant turnover makes it difficult to identify and correct problems, other city police agencies have found.
"You move people so often, some of these things take more time than a heartbeat to correct,'' Meyer said.
Sex Crimes Unit Comes Under Fire
The importance of testing sexual assault kits got lost as the bureau sought to respond to a wide range of scathing criticisms facing the Sex Crimes Unit over the years.
A 2007 city audit found some victims had to wait weeks, even months, before a detective first contacted them. It identified sloppy documentation and inadequate investigative techniques. Auditors found that the practices likely contributed to Portland's low rape clearance rate — 20th out of 21 cities its size between 1998 and 2006.
Then-Chief Rosie Sizer doubled the number of detectives working in the unit from four to eight by that fall and tapped a new sergeant to work to improve the unit.
That was Geiger. Under his leadership from September 2007 through September 2010, the unit began to require that a sergeant assign nearly every sexual assault complaint to a detective, who was required to interview victims in person. Sergeants also needed to sign off before a detective closed the case. Geiger also worked to ensure that the city had trained forensic sexual assault nurses at more than one hospital.
"We had so many issues that we were trying to address,'' Geiger recalled. "We were identifying deficiencies. It felt like many times things were coming at us from so many different directions — how do we respond better, withhold any pre-judgment and let the evidence lead us where it will.''
But if a suspect was known, had confessed or claimed that the sex was consensual, detectives in the unit generally believed that sending the kit for testing might not tell them anything, Geiger said.
While the unit had no written policy on testing kits, he said he and officers constantly communicated about the need to test more.
"We keep trying to get better and better," he said, "and you just don't know all the answers.''
How a sex assault kit is processed Behind-the-scenes at Portland Forensic Laboratory, forensic scientist, Chrystal Bell, shows us how a sexual assault forensic kit is processed. Get an up-close look at how DNA samples are tested for sperm.
By 2012, a city audit again identified hundreds of DNA samples from sexual assault kits and other crime reports that hadn't made it to the state lab for analysis. The audit pushed police to establish some type of "periodic supervisory review system'' to make sure the kits went to the lab.
Then-Chief Mike Reese responded by saying he believed such reviews were occurring when a supervisor approved a detective's investigation. The bureau did nothing more to address that concern.
The Sex Crimes Unit now has 10 detectives, along with one sergeant and two victims advocates.
This year an outside consultant's staffing study recommended adding another sergeant and two detectives to the unit, finding that the average active caseloads per detective – 13 – were slightly above the acceptable benchmark. Unit supervisors say the number is closer to 20 per detective.
O'Dea, the current chief, didn't ask to boost the Sex Crimes Unit because he said he was directed by the mayor's office not to expect any staff beyond what was added to support the city's federal settlement stemming from police use of force against people with mental illnesses.
But O'Dea said he's planning to add one administrative assistant to the unit to oversee tracking and monitoring the kits, from the collection to submission to the lab to follow-up investigation. The job is listed as a new position under the just-awarded federal grant.
"Under our grant request, we would form a task force to dedicate personnel to process the backlog of untested kits, including the appropriate follow-up when necessary,'' he said.
O'Dea also hopes to keep police supervisors in command positions for at least two years to reduce the turnover, he said.
The Police Bureau finally began to pay attention to its cache of untested sexual assault kits only after Sgt. Peter Mahuna took the helm of the Sex Crimes Unit in July 2012.
A 20-year bureau veteran, Mahuna had previously worked gang enforcement for 14 years, spent 10 years on the bureau's special tactical squad and supervised detectives investigating property crimes for 2 ½ years.
He'd been reading news stories about untested rape kits from across the country and had talked to police supervisors in other states who were changing how they handled the kits.
A police captain visiting from the Houston Police suggested Mahuna check to see if Portland police had any written guidelines for testing its kits.
Mahuna found nothing among the bureau's directives or operating protocols.
"It was always just left up to detectives to decide,'' Mahuna said.
He set about ending that practice. He consulted with the Oregon Attorney General's Sexual Assault Task Force and Salem police, who had adopted a written policy early last year – one of the few Oregon cities to have one.
Mahuna drafted written protocols for Portland police calling for sex crimes detectives to submit all kits that involve an unknown suspect to a lab.
In the case of known suspects, the kits must go to the lab if the sexual assault involved any form of violence or if the suspect has a history of violence.
"We wanted to take a lot of the decision-making process out of a human's hands,'' he said. " Without any written policies, you're allowing victim biases or detectives' biases to exist. ''
So there's no room for questions, Mahuna added this sentence in bold type: "Potential prosecution has no influence on submission of SAFE kits.''
With new procedures in place last year, the police surveyed how many untested kits they had. Mahuna, his detectives and a victim's specialist compiled case numbers for every kit in the property room.
"We'd pull up each case number and check and see if reports were still available and if the kit had been sent to the crime lab,'' Mahuna said.
Some case reports older than 20 years were gone, destroyed in the normal records retention cycle.
The bureau found 2,235 untested kits through the end of 2014.
Mahuna said he expected to find untested kits, but had no idea how many because he had no point of reference. With so many, he was concerned about how police would get the testing done, do all the investigations and cover the costs.
That led him to seek the $2 million federal grant to send the untested kits to a private lab for testing. The U.S. Justice Department last week announced Portland was one of 21 cities, counties and states to receive part of $41 million to address the national problem.
In past years, the bureau had applied for national grants to help pay for processing all kinds of untested DNA evidence from cold case homicides at the state lab or private labs, but the money — $257,316 in 2008 and $280,453 in 2010 – mostly went to investigate deadly sexual assaults, not sexual assaults of victims who survived.
In the new grant application, the bureau acknowledged the impact of its years of inattention:
If Portland police test about 2,000 kits, half of those are expected to yield eligible DNA profiles. And when those profiles are run through the national database, about half again, or 500, are expected to match convicts or crime scene evidence.
The estimate is based on Detroit's experience: Initial testing of 1,595 kits yielded 785 DNA profiles that could be uploaded to the national database; of those profiles, 58 percent resulted in matches and 28 percent were linked to serial offenders.
"I think it's the right thing to do for the victim who goes through the exam,'' Mahuna said. "I think we'll identify serial sexual offenders. ... We're trying to make a difference. You want it better when you leave than when you started.''
Mahuna no longer leads the Sex Crimes Unit. He was promoted to lieutenant in April and went back to patrol, where he serves as an East Precinct day shift supervisor.
In June, Portland Detective Division Cmdr. George Burke went before the City Council and gave a public shout-out to police supervisors for deciding this year to count how many sexual assault kits sat untested in storage.
They "had a lot of foresight" in doing an inventory, he said, and deserved praise for recognizing national trends. He left out any mention of the bureau's dismal history in handling the kits.
While police and prosecutors across the country have said they've only in recent years recognized the importance of testing kits to identify serial rapists, Bittler's death should have made that glaringly obvious long ago in Portland, her parents said.
In the future, the bureau wants to send 100 percent of its sexual assault kits to a lab for testing, minus about 300 kits from victims who wish to remain anonymous.
"That's absolutely going to happen,'' said Meyer, the lieutenant who now oversees the Sex Crimes Unit.
But police made a similar pledge in 2002.
That's why Tom Bittler said the Legislature should step in to ensure police follow through on such promises. He wants a statewide standard for sending kits to the crime lab and doing regular inventories of untested kits.
At least seven other states have passed kit inventory laws.
A bill to do that here stalled this year. Instead, state police took the initiative, offering to coordinate a statewide inventory of untested kits and assemble a work group to recommend best practices.
Bittler also suggested that detectives who decide not to process a kit should have to contact that victim and get her to sign off on the decision. California and Utah require that now.
At the sentencing of his daughter's killer in 2004, Bittler spoke out in anger. "Did Melissa really have to die before these kits would be checked?" he said in court. "Is rape just not that big of a crime to be concerned about?"
Now he wants detectives to have to explain themselves.
"I'd like to see a detective inform a victim that her kit will not be submitted for testing after she's been through such a difficult exam,'' he said.
Cops capture alleged gunman who murdered rookie Kentucky state trooper
by Fox News
Kentucky State Police have captured the suspected gunman who shot and killed a trooper late Sunday night, according to a county official's Facebook post.
"It's over. Suspect in custody. Wade," the post read. "Wade" refers to Lyon County Judge Executive Wade White.
A statement released early Monday said that Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder, 31, was pronounced dead at a Princeton, Ky., hospital after being shot multiple times. Ponder had been a state trooper since January of this year.
The statement said that Ponder was conducting a traffic stop on the westbound side of Interstate 24 in the western part of the state at about 10:20 p.m. local time. The statement said that the driver who was being stopped took off from the scene, with Ponder pursuing him for approximately nine miles.
At that point, according to the statement, the suspect's car abruptly stopped, causing Ponder to crash his car into the vehicle. Police say the driver, identified as 25-year-old Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks, of Missouri, got out of the car and started shooting at Ponder, hitting him multiple times. Bullets also struck the hood and windshield of the police cruiser, authorities said.
Authorities say Johnson-Shanks fled the scene on foot and was considered armed and dangerous. He's described as a black man, standing approximately 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighing 140 pounds with brown eyes and black hair. He was last seen wearing dark clothing.
Interstate 24 was shut down in both directions early Monday to assist in the search.
“Pray for our guys that are out here,” White told reporters, according to KVFS
Ponder, from Rineyville, was a U.S. Navy veteran who was stationed at the police post in Mayfield after graduating from the academy, KVFS reported. He reportedly had plans to move closer to home within the next year.
Ferguson Panel Recommends Police, Court Reform, Transparency
by The Associated Press
A reform panel formed after the Ferguson police shooting of Michael Brown is recommending the consolidation of the metro area's police departments and municipal courts, a newspaper reported Monday.
Gov. Jay Nixon and others have scheduled an afternoon news conference to release details of the Ferguson Commission report that has been 10 months in the making. But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1iIoMSQ) received a copy of the commission's 198-page report ahead of its official release.
"The law says all citizens are equal," the report's introduction states. "But the data says not everyone is treated that way."
The events in Ferguson raised concerns about police departments and municipal courts in that north St. Louis County town, but also elsewhere in the region. The departments and courts have been accused of targeting minorities to raise revenue, leading to the mistrust that was a key component of the unrest following Brown's death.
In addition to court and police department consolidation, the commission recommends changes in several other areas to address social and economic divisions highlighted since the shooting. The 16-person commission suggested establishing a statewide, publicly accessible database to track police shootings and developing a statewide plan to deal with mass demonstrations that focuses on preserving life.
It recommends establishing school-based healing centers to address behavioral and health issues.
The commission was established in November during the unrest that followed the fatal shooting in August of Brown, 18, who was black and unarmed, by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson. A St. Louis County grand jury and the U.S. Department of Justice declined to prosecute Wilson, who is white, but the shooting spurred a national "Black Lives Matter" movement and led to protests and rioting in and around Ferguson.
The commission put forth 189 "calls to action," including many previously made publicly available.
"We believe that if we attempt to skirt the difficult truths, if we try to avoid talking about race, if we stop talking about Ferguson, as many in the region would like us to, then we cannot move forward," the report says. "Progress is rarely simple, and it rarely goes in a straight line."
The report acknowledges that the commission has no power to enact any of the proposals, but Nixon has said the commission has the full support of his office.
Foundation Named for Young Marathon Victim Promotes Service
by The Associated Press
The foundation named for the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombing, toy maker Hasbro Inc., and the nation's largest organization dedicated to volunteer service are collaborating to get children across the country involved in public service projects.
The Martin Richard Bridge Builder Campaign calls on children ages 5 through 18 to spread peace through service projects and acts of kindness.
Martin was 8 years old when he was killed by the second of two bombs that exploded near the marathon finish line in April 2013.
Stating Monday, youths can go to the generationon.org/peace website to learn about volunteer project ideas. GenerationOn is the youth service division of Points of Light.
Martin's parents say they hope the campaign inspires youth to follow their son's example of togetherness and inclusion.