October, 2015 - Week 2
Reports find reasonable force used in Tamir Rice death
CLEVELAND — A white police officer was justified in fatally shooting Tamir Rice, a black 12-year-old boy who was holding a pellet gun, according to two outside reviews conducted at the request of the prosecutor investigating the death.
A retired FBI agent and a Denver prosecutor both found Timothy Loehmann, the rookie patrolman who shot Tamir, exercised a reasonable use of force because he had reason to perceive him as a serious threat. The boy was described in a 911 call as a man waving and pointing a gun.
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office released expert reports Saturday into the November 2014 shooting.
Among the three documents released is the Ohio State Highway Patrol's recreation of the scene where he was shot at Cudell Rec Center in Cleveland.
Two other reports, by Denver Chief Deputy District Attorney Lamar Sims and retired FBI special agent Kimberly Crawford, were commissioned as analysis about proper use of deadly force by police.
The prosecutor's office is quick to point out the need for transparency in cases of police-involved violence. They also acknowledge the lack of public-facing information in past police-involved violence cases.
However, the Rice family believes the prosecutor's office has not practiced what they preach.
In a statement Saturday night, they said:
"The Rice family and Clevelanders have always said that they want the officers who rushed upon and killed 12-year-old Tamir held accountable. The family now believes that the prosecutor's office has been on an 11-month quest to avoid providing that accountability. Any presentation to a grand jury — without the prosecutor advocating for Tamir — is a charade. To get so-called experts to assist in the whitewash — when the world has the video of what happened — is all the more alarming.
These supposed "experts" — all pro-police — dodge the simple fact that the officers rushed Tamir and shot him immediately without assessing the situation in the least. Reasonable jurors could find that conduct unreasonable. But they will never get the chance because the prosecutor is working diligently to ensure that there is no indictment and no accountability.
"Who will speak for Tamir before the grand jury? Not the prosecutor, apparently."
In a release Saturday night, the prosecutor's office also sends a message to the police union, saying it operates under a double standard.
"It rightly asks the general public to have the courage to cooperate with police in serious criminal investigations, yet when the conduct of officers is being investigated, refuses to help," said the prosecutor's office.
Evidence gathering continues in the prosecutor's investigation and no conclusion has been drawn from these new reports.
The prosecutor's office says a grand jury will decide if the officer should face criminal charges.
20 years after the Million Man March, a fresh call for justice on the Mall
by David Nakamura and Hamil R. Harris
Thousands of black men, women and children gathered on the Mall on Saturday to demand justice at a time of growing anger and fraying tensions in African American communities over the killings of young black men by police.
By noon Saturday, the crowds had swelled just beyond the stage at the west front of the Capitol, with onlookers watching on several jumbo screens. Some people sat on lawn chairs, and others perched on blankets to listen to the speakers, including Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, which sponsored the “Justice or Else” rally.
The event marked the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March in 1995, when hundreds of thousands of black men rallied on the Mall in a powerful display of protest. Although Saturday's crowd was far smaller, the spirit of the first movement was echoed by those who addressed the audience. l
But the speakers also pointedly tied the struggle of the black community to modern-day incidents. Tamika Mallory, a national organizer of the rally, recited a list of young black men who have been killed by police in recent years, including Tamir Rice of Cleveland, Michael Brown of Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner of Staten Island.
“Twenty years ago, the death of Tamir Rice would have fallen on deaf ears and been left for the police to write a false report, not broadcast for the world to know,” Mallory told the crowd. “Michael Brown's body would have only traumatized the community, rather than wake up the people.
“America, we can't breathe,” Mallory said, echoing the phrase that Garner uttered while being held in a chokehold by police in July 2014 and that has been appropriated by the civil rights movement.
The peaceful rally was a reminder that seven years after the election of the nation's first black president, enormous frustration remains among segments of the African American community about progress on civil rights.
President Obama, who has spoken out about gun violence and the mistrust between police and the black community, was attending Democratic fundraisers in California on Saturday. His administration has sought to balance a call for reforms among the tactics of local law enforcement agencies with support for police departments to help integrate them more fully into their communities.
The only images of him and first lady Michelle Obama at the rally were on tote bags being sold by vendors.
The mothers of Sandra Bland — a black woman found dead in her jail cell in Waller County, Tex., in July after an altercation with a police officer — and Trayvon Martin, a black teenager fatally shot by a community watch volunteer in 2012, appeared together onstage with relatives of other shooting victims. Bland's death was ruled a suicide by local authorities, and Martin's killer was acquitted of second-degree murder charges; however, the circumstances around both deaths have angered black leaders.
“This is about human rights,” said Sybrina Fulton, Martin's mother. “We will not continue to stand by anymore.”
Farrakhan, who had also organized the 1995 rally, spoke for more than two hours — as he did 20 years ago. He delivered a rambling address that challenged the participants to work at self-improvement and to pledge their faith in God. But he also criticized the federal government for failing to protect and to provide for the public, especially the underclass.
“There's no government on this earth, not one, that can give the people what the people desire of freedom, justice and equality,” he said. “You are yearning for something the government can't give you.”
Though his organization is not connected to newer movements, such as Black Lives Matter, that have sprung up in response to the recent violence, Farrakhan made the link by suggesting this period represents a new flashpoint in the civil rights struggle.
“This is not a moment. This is a movement,” Farrakhan said. “When the brothers and sisters arose in Ferguson, you didn't have any money; you had a principle, a principle you were willing to suffer for that you felt was bigger than yourself and your life and your withstanding of pain.”
Signs of the community's frustration were displayed on T-shirts reading “Black Lives Matter” and on posters reading “Straight Outta Patience.” One man wore a “Hands up, don't shoot” T-shirt, marking the rallying cry in Ferguson after residents and police clashed violently in the streets in the wake of Brown's shooting death in August 2014.
There were more young adults on Saturday than there were 20 years ago at the Million Man March and, proportionally, more women. Onstage, there were few national black leaders and politicians, such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who were not in attendance.
Some spoke about other calls for justice — for Native Americans and for congressional representation for D.C. residents.
Dennis Muhammad, 45, of Charleston, S.C., arrived on a bus with 55 members of his community early Saturday. Muhammad came to stand with the others “for the cause of justice for all of our people, especially those of our people that have been victims of overzealous police work or brutality.”
He mentioned Walter Scott, a South Carolina man killed in a police shooting in North Charleston in April whose family recently received a $6.5 million settlement from the city.
Norris Henderson came to Washington with a group of former offenders from New Orleans.
“Twenty years ago, I watched this on TV from a jail cell,” Henderson said. “The last thing that they said at the march was ‘Don't forget the brothers on the inside.'”
Also in the crowd was Shon Terrell, 46, who works for the Justice Department in Atlanta. He pointed toward the Washington Monument to show his friends how far back the crowd stretched 20 years ago.
“You could feel the energy,” Terrell recalled. “Twenty years later, I had to come. I was compelled again. It's part of me.”
Protesters Gather to Hold Anti-Islam Rally at Phoenix Mosque
by The Associated Press
PHOENIX — About 200 protesters gathered in front of a mosque Saturday afternoon to demonstrate against Islam as part of a nationwide campaign that went largely unheeded.
KTAR radio reports that the protesters in Phoenix held a rally in front of the Islamic Community Center. The rally appeared to be the most significant in size in the country after a call for protests against Islam in America this weekend.
Usama Shami, president of the Islamic Community Center, says rally organizers are displaying their bigotry.
Rally organizer John Ritzheimer says he is not against Muslims, but he is against what he calls their ideology. He led a rally at the mosque in May after two former congregants were killed when they tried to attack an anti-Islam event in Texas.
ICE arrests 314 criminals across the state of Florida
MIAMI – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrested 314 criminal aliens last month in an enforcement action targeting individuals who pose a threat to public safety. ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers made the arrests across the state of Florida.
All of those arrested by ICE during the enforcement action, which concluded Sept. 29, met at least one of the agency's three enforcement priorities. Over one quarter had criminal records that included felony convictions for serious or violent offenses, such as murder, attempted murder, child sex crimes, sex offenses, weapons charges and drug violations.
"As this operation makes clear, ICE is committed to prioritizing convicted criminals and those who are public safety threats for apprehension and removal," said Marc J. Moore, field office director for the Miami Field Office of ERO, which oversees all of Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “Our communities are safer today thanks to the hard work of our officers across the state.”
Sixteen of those detained during the three week enforcement action are previously removed individuals who are being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for felony re-entry after deportation.
During the three week operation, ERO was supported by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other federal and local law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Marshal's Service.
The arrests were made in the Florida counties of: Miami-Dade (81), Broward (62), Martin (34), Palm Beach (31), Hillsborough (29), St. Lucie (13), Pinellas (9), Osceola (7), Indian River, Manatee (6), Duval, Suwannee (4), Volusia, Lake, Hardee (3), Marion, Orange, Sarasota, Alachua (2), Okeechobee, Seminole, Polk, Sumter, Henry, Brevard, Clay, Lee, Desoto, Collier and Hendry (1).
Some examples of arrests from the action include:
On Sept. 10, ERO officers arrested a Cuban citizen in Tampa who is a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. In June, the subject was convicted of Lewd and or Lascivious Act on a minor and was sentenced to eight years of probation. The subject is currently pending a removal hearing by an immigration judge.
ERO officers arrested a Jamaican citizen in West Palm Beach Sept. 15 who has been a lawful permanent resident since 1972. The subject pleaded guilty for murder, was sentenced to 10 years deferred adjudication and placed on community supervision. The subject is currently pending removal proceedings before an immigration judge.
A Mexican citizen in the Doral area was arrested by ERO officers Sept. 18. The subject was previously convicted in Los Angeles for enticement of a minor for prostitution and procurement for prostitution (pimping) in 2010, The subject was sentenced to three years' probation and served two months in prison. The subject is now in ICE custody pending removal.
On Sept. 18, ERO officers arrested a Peruvian citizen in Hialeah who is a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. In August the subject was convicted of sexual battery on a minor and was sentenced to 10 years of probation. The subject is currently pending a removal hearing by an immigration judge.
ERO officers arrested a Mexican citizen in Wauchula Sept. 25. In August, the subject was convicted of lewd conduct and was sentenced to four years of community control. The subject was issued an administrative order of removal and subsequently removed to Mexico Oct. 1.
Those arrested represented many countries throughout the world, including: Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, Guyana, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Jamaica, Ukraine, Bahamas, Trinidad, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts, Turks & Caicos, Antigua, Cuba, Canada, Czech Republic, Romania, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Latvia, Greece and Egypt.
ERO coordinates the removal of criminals, foreign fugitives and others ordered deported. ICE is focused on smart and effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes its resources based on those who pose the biggest threat to national security, border security and public safety. ICE's civil enforcement efforts are based on priorities set by the Secretary of Homeland Security in November 2014.
From the Department of Homeland Security
DHS Provides Updates on REAL ID Enforcement
WASHINGTON – As first announced in December 2013, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to provide updates for states, local law enforcement, and federal facilities on the ongoing enforcement of the REAL ID Act as passed by Congress.
Starting October 10, visitors seeking access to military bases and almost all Federal facilities using their state-issued driver's licenses or identification cards must present proper identification issued by REAL ID compliant states or a state that has received an extension. When planning a visit to a Federal facility or military base, visitors should contact the facility to determine what identification will be accepted.
To be clear, this update does not affect identification shown at airports in the United States. Until announced otherwise, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will continue to accept valid driver's licenses and identification cards issued by all states. DHS plans to announce the schedule for any changes to air travel requirements by the end of the year, and will ensure that state governments and the traveling public are notified at least 120 days in advance of implementation.
DHS continues to work with noncompliant states to determine whether they will be eligible to receive extensions to comply with REAL ID standards as mandated by Congress. DHS will allow for a three month grace period before the expiration of current extensions become effective. During this period, federal agencies may continue to accept driver's licenses and identification cards issued by states whose extension has expired.
Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act enacted the 9/11 Commission's recommendation that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses.” The Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards. States have made considerable progress in meeting this key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission and every state has a more secure driver's license today than before the passage of the Act.
For more information on REAL ID, visit here.
Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Immigration and Nationality Act
In 1965, President Johnson stood on Liberty Island in the shadow of our Statue of Liberty and signed into law the Immigration and Nationality Act. The passage of the Act marked a significant and much-needed change to our Nation's immigration policies. It ended an unfair quota system, prohibited discrimination based on country of origin, and officially recognized the role of our immigration system in reuniting families and attracting skilled workers from all over the world.
In 1960, I immigrated to this country with my parents and sister as political refugees from Cuba. Seven years after the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act, I became a naturalized United States citizen. Now, some 43 years later, I had the privilege of administering the Oath of Allegiance to 100 new citizens in a special naturalization ceremony in the White House. This remarkable country is like no other.
On Monday of this week, October 3, I participated in a special naturalization ceremony that celebrated the 50 th Anniversary of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The ceremony was held in the beautiful Indian Treaty Room of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex. I was honored to join Cecilia Muñoz, the leader of President Obama's Domestic Policy Council, and León Rodríguez, Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as we welcomed 100 new citizens from 44 countries around the globe. Renowned historian and author Taylor Branch shared with us all the meaning and significance of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
We are a nation of immigrants. We are a nation of opportunity. I am blessed to be a citizen of the United States.
Calif. law extends privacy rights to electronic data
Civil-liberties advocates called the new law an important advance
by Bree Fowler
California now requires police to get a court order before they can search messages, photos and other digital data stored on phones or company servers in the nation's most-populous state.
Civil-liberties advocates called the new law an important advance and said it highlights the need for similar protections at the national level.
The California Electronic Communications Privacy Act was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday. It's only the third of its kind in the U.S.
While some states guarantee some of its protections, only Maine and Utah previously had comprehensive laws on the books, noted Hanni Fakhoury, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"It's an expansive bill and this being California, it covers a lot of people," Fakhoury said of the state with a population of about 39 million. "It's an important thing and a good development."
The digital rights group, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, news organizations and tech companies, worked for the bill's passage. They argued that previous California law dating back to the 1980s was in desperate need of an update given the dramatic changes in the digital world.
Law-enforcement requests for people's electronic information, particularly from technology companies such as Google and Twitter, have skyrocketed in recent years, said Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties policy director for the ACLU of California.
Previously, all that was generally needed to get the information was a subpoena. Now, under the new law, a warrant will be required in most cases.
"It really is a true update of privacy law for the digital world, making sure that sensitive information about who we are, and where we go, and what we do, and who we know is protected from government intrusion," Ozer said.
She added that "hopefully this will send an important message to Congress to make sure all that all Americans have these important, updated privacy protections."
Advocates have tried to pass legislation at the national level for years without any success. The Email Privacy Act, a proposed update to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, has 300 sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives, but its future remains unclear.
Texas police groups file suit alleging unfair treatment
Officers have been mum about the circumstances that splintered the force
by Julieta Chiquillo
MCKINNEY, Texas — A McKinney police group has filed a lawsuit accusing the city and another police association of conspiring to violate its members' constitutional rights to free speech and association.
The McKinney Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 107, which represents 51 officers, filed the suit in federal court Wednesday. The complaint alleges that the McKinney Police Association, which has 149 members, has long opposed competing organizations.
Ten officers formed Lodge 107 five years ago to give officers a second choice for representation. Officers have been mum about the circumstances that splintered the force.
City officials and the McKinney Police Association declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Lodge 107 is complaining about two provisions in a July agreement between the city and the McKinney Police Association, which serves as the police department's exclusive bargaining agent.
The meet-and-confer agreement states that the city won't authorize payroll deductions for membership dues on behalf of a group other than the “collective bargaining agent” for police officers. It also bans groups other than the bargaining agent from using department bulletin boards.
“This exclusive authorization of MPA to use city facilities for communication purposes to all McKinney police officers promotes MPA's political viewpoints to the exclusion of the viewpoints of Lodge 107's members,” the lodge's attorneys wrote in court records.
Lodge 107 also said its inability to collect membership dues through voluntary payroll deductions would hurt its ability to retain members and recruit others. It is asking a federal court to prohibit the city and the McKinney Police Association from implementing “the unconstitutional contract provisions.”
The meet-and-confer agreement is effective through September 2017. It was designed to improve wages and build up other benefits for police officers.
In a press release, Lodge 107 president Daniel Malenfant described the situation with the other police group as “good ole boy politics.”
“It is not the intent of the McKinney FOP to take away from the negotiations the McKinney Police Association has done with the city of McKinney and the additional benefits they have obtained for employees,” Malenfant wrote. “This lodge, which is very active in the McKinney community, is simply asking not to be discriminated against for not being members of the city endorsed organization.”
Lodge 107 had been able to get membership dues through payroll deductions for the past four years, and it had used the bulletin boards for the last three years, according to the lawsuit.
Ala. schools use gun-sniffing dogs to find threats
Researchers found ways to train dog to detect the particles left behind by explosives
by William Thornton
ALEXANDRIA, Ala. — He's the busiest school resource officer at Alexandria High School, and he's very popular.
He's also a dog named QT.
A black lab, QT, and Hoss, a German spotted pointer, are part of a pilot program with Calhoun County Schools that combines a different way of detecting threats with scientific know-how developed in Alabama.
"We're the only school that we know of in the country that has this kind of resource," said Randy Reaves, safety and security director for the Calhoun County system.
The story of QT starts in December of 2001, when a British man named Richard Reid tried to blow up an American Airlines flight to Miami using explosives hidden in his shoes. The fact that he got through various airport screening processes — and so soon after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 — was an eye opener, said Paul Hammond, a man with an extensive track record dealing with canines in hostile environments.
Hammond is Vice President of Canine Services for AMK9, an Anniston-based company that trains dogs using Vapor Wake training, a patented process that arose from the dilemmas of the "Shoe Bomber."
Auburn University, working with the Transportation Security Administration, began looking at how dogs could be trained to better recognize potential threats posed in the age of international terrorism.
Why dogs? Because canines possess approximately 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, whereas humans have about 6 million. The part of the dog's brain devoted to smells is about 40 times greater than humans as well.
Hammond said researchers began working on a way to train dogs to detect the particles left behind by explosives, firearms and other objects. When a person handles explosives, for example, or puts them in a backpack, their natural body heat may cause a minuscule "vapor trail" of those particles to be left behind, a remnant that could be tracked. That means dogs track the explosive object or firearm, not a particular person.
But you're talking about a very distinct scent in small quantities. QT, and other dogs used by AMK9, are specially bred for the purpose of finding the best dogs for the training, which lasts 18 months. QT is a Black Labrador specially suited for the task. When the puppies are 12 weeks old, they are trained in prisons in Georgia or Florida, given specific tasks, and gradually conditioned to other environments. Then the dogs are paired with a handler for about eight weeks.
"He picked me," said Eric Patterson, the school resource officer at Alexandria who handles QT.
AMK9 provides dogs for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Atlanta Braves and others. Vapor wake dogs patrol Jordan-Hare Stadium for threats. QT began patrolling Calhoun County Schools last year, and Hoss was added this year.
The school system gets the dogs at a discounted rate of about $12,000. Sheriff Larry Amerson said the dogs came through the work of state and county lawmakers and Circuit Judge Laura Phillips.
"A dog with this kind of training is a massive help in terms of time, providing a presence in schools and helping maintain a safe environment," Amerson said. "A K9 is a very expensive proposition, but it can be a very helpful resource."
QT's effect was immediate, Patterson said. There were four drug arrests the first week QT appeared at Alexandria, with some students turning themselves in. "It was just knowing there was a dog here," Patterson said.
But QT provides other services. Since he's attached to the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office, he was used earlier this summer to recover a gun in a ravine. QT found it among kudzu vines.
He also provides some relief to one of the school's students with Asperger's syndrome, who comes by to pet the dog. In elementary schools, the students flock to the dogs, even those who might otherwise be uncomfortable around law enforcement officers.
QT is "always on," Hammonds said. The dog may take a short rest on the floor, but when someone comes into the room, he immediately gives them a look. If an officer enters with a gun, he stands up, his ears alert. There is no sound or aggression, just attention, a sizing up.
Hoss, on the other hand, is as good as his name, said his handler, Ryan Mahieu.
"He's a goofball," Mahieu said. "He does what he wants, goes where he wants to, he's like a country boy." Where QT goes about his business in a series of quick movements, Hoss is more methodical. But both were able to track a backpack hidden in a locker with a firearm, as part of a demonstration.
"His only payment is a tennis ball," Patterson said. That's the dogs' reward — a tennis ball tossed into the air for them to chase after a good day's work.
No Duty to Protect: Two Exceptions
by L. Cary Unkelbach, Assistant County Attorney Representing the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office, Centennial, Colorado
Law enforcement generally does not have a federal constitutional duty to protect one private person from another. For example, if a drunk driver injures a pedestrian or a drug dealer beats up an informant, agencies and their officers usually would not be liable for those injuries because there was no duty to protect.
Nonetheless, agencies need to be aware of two exceptions, referred to as the special-relationship and the state-created danger theories, which, if pled and proven, may establish a constitutional duty to protect by police. While plaintiffs who are harmed by third parties often raise both theories when they sue police, the state-created danger exception appears to be litigated more frequently than the special relationship exception, which often is more easily analyzed and defined.
Since its 1989 holding that a duty to protect generally does not exist, the U.S. Supreme Court has not directly spoken on the two exception theories that have since evolved. Instead, many federal courts have analyzed, defined and applied these exceptions to a variety of fact patterns. Not all of these lower court decisions are consistent with one another. Agencies, in reviewing their policies, should be aware of the approaches taken by the federal courts in their circuit. This article gives a brief overview of the different judicial approaches to a federal due process claim but does not address whether a failure to protect action could be brought under state law.
The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment forbids the government to deprive individuals of life, liberty, or property without "due process of law." In 1989 the U.S. Supreme Court stated, "Nothing in the language of the Due Process Clause itself requires the State to protect the life, liberty, and property of its citizens against invasion by private actors." Generally, the Due Process Clause does not provide an affirmative right to government aid, "even where such aid may be necessary to secure life, liberty, or property interests of which the government itself may not deprive the individual."
Those pronouncements came in a case where the Court held that there was no substantive due process violation by caseworkers when a child, formerly in department of social services custody, was returned to and later beaten by his father. Caseworkers had received complaints about the father and may have known that the child was in danger. In analyzing the facts, the Court noted that there was no special relationship between Social Services and the child, as the latter was not in its custody. The Court further noted that the state had not created the danger or done anything to place the child in more danger. The harm to the child was inflicted not by the state but by the child's father. "The most that can be said of the state functionaries in this case is that they stood by and did nothing when suspicious circumstances dictated a more active role for them."
When considering whether law enforcement has a duty to protect, first ask if a special relationship exists. If a suspect is taken into custody by law enforcement, a duty to protect -be it at the scene, during transport, or at the jail-exists. The majority of courts require a person to be in physical custody of police before that person has a special relationship with police. However, the Sixth Circuit held that police had a duty to protect a woman where she was effectively in custody when she was threatened with arrest and placed involuntarily in her boyfriend's car. The Ninth Circuit held that the government created a special relationship with a noncitizen by paroling him into federal custody as a government witness. One federal district court has held a special relationship between the state and a confidential informant existed, and thus there was a duty to protect.
Courts have rejected the existence of a special relationship in the following situations: between a county and an ex-wife when the sheriff failed to serve her ex-husband with an order of protection; between police and a girlfriend when police made a promise to her that her boyfriend would be kept in jail overnight; and between a man and police, who went to his home to place him on a mental health hold and then waited downstairs while the man (who was not in the officer's physical custody) went upstairs to get "something" and jumped out a window, thereby killing himself.
Even if there is no special relationship between a person and police, a duty to protect may still exist if the person has been harmed by a third party and can prove the state-created danger theory. This theory has been litigated in a variety of contexts, including those involving motorists and passengers, government and citizen undercovers, rescues by third parties and prevention of rescues, failure to arrest, and failure to serve orders.
Most circuit courts analyze the issue of whether the state-created danger theory is applicable by examining if officers left the individual in a situation that was more dangerous than the one in which they found him, by creating a previously nonexisting danger or increasing the danger. For example, an intoxicated bar patron, who was ejected by police late at night into subfreezing temperatures wearing only jeans and a T-shirt, and was prevented from returning to the bar or driving his truck, made a failure-to-protect claim. As the Sixth Circuit said, "The question is not whether the victim was safe during the state action, but whether he was safer before the state action than he was after it."
At least three circuits have set forth specific tests to determine if a state-created danger exception exists. The Third Circuit requires the plaintiff to show that (1) the harm ultimately caused was foreseeable and fairly direct, (2) the state actor willfully disregarded plaintiff's safety, (3) there existed some relationship between the state and the plaintiff, and (4) the state actors used their authority to create an opportunity that otherwise would not have existed for the third party's crime to occur.
The Sixth Circuit requires the plaintiff to show that (1) the state acted affirmatively to create or increase the risk that plaintiff would be harmed by a third party, (2) the state's actions placed the plaintiff, not the general public, at risk, and (3) the state knew or should have known that its actions specifically endangered the plaintiff.
The Tenth Circuit's test requires a plaintiff to demonstrate that (1) the state actor created the danger or increased plaintiff's vulnerability to the danger in some way, (2) plaintiff was a member of a limited and specifically definable group, (3) defendant's conduct put plaintiff at substantial risk of serious, immediate, and proximate harm, (4) the risk was obvious or known, (5) defendant acted recklessly in conscious disregard of that risk, and (6) such conduct, when viewed in total, shocks the conscience.
Drunk Drivers and Stranded Persons: Several circuits have considered whether a duty to protect exists in cases involving drunk drivers or stranded persons. For instance, the Seventh Circuit held that a due process claim was stated where police arrested a sober driver but then left the passenger, whom they knew to be drunk, with the car and keys, and the drunk passenger drove the car and two hours later caused a head-on collision.
Meanwhile, the Eighth Circuit held that a duty to protect did not exist where the designated driver was arrested on a warrant and allowed to drive his car to the police station. His passengers, who were drunk, remained unattended in the car outside the police station for about 30 minutes, drove off, and were involved in a fatal crash. The Court reasoned that a claim had not been stated, as it was not reasonable to find that the arresting officer "knew or should have known that the two passengers were drunk and unfit to drive."
The Third Circuit found that the state created danger when police, after stopping two pedestrians, left the intoxicated wife to walk a third of a block to her home alone in the dark on a cold night after her husband had already left. Sending her home "unescorted in a visibly intoxicated state in cold weather," made her "more vulnerable" to harm, which, the Court held, was foreseeable.
No state-created danger exception existed when a motorcyclist and a passenger were injured while going through an unruly crowd, as there was no showing that the individual officers "used their authority to commit affirmative acts that rendered the plaintiffs vulnerable to a harm that would not otherwise have occurred." Failure to investigate a possible DUI motorist, who minutes later caused a fatal collision, did not support a claim; and neither did failure to arrest a motorist who was stopped for speeding but passed roadside sobriety tests as the officer left the driver in the same position she was in had she not been stopped.
Undercover Officers and Operatives: Whether a duty to protect is owed to undercover officers and citizens is another subject that has been considered by several courts. The Sixth Circuit found a due process claim was stated where the city released undercover police officers' home addresses and other personal information to defense counsel, as by releasing the information the city created a very real threat to the officers and their families.
The District of Columbia Circuit found, after analyzing extensive case law, that it was not clearly established whether there was a duty to protect an undercover operative who was beaten to death by a third party in 1997.
The Seventh Circuit rejected a due process claim against a police officer who was the control officer for a paid informant who was shot in the head by his cousin. In contrast, the Seventh Circuit held that police were liable when a deputy chief created danger to an informant who requested that his taped telephone call to police about an alleged theft not be released to the suspect, who killed him after the tape was released. By releasing the tape, the deputy chief created a danger to the informant who otherwise would not have faced the danger.
Rescues by Third Parties, and Prevention of Rescues: Federal courts appear to be split on whether law enforcement interference with private rescue attempts falls within the state-created danger exception to the duty to protect. The Seventh Circuit has held that recklessly interfering with private rescue attempts without providing alternatives was a due process violation.
The District of Columbia Circuit found there was no constitutional duty to rescue, and private rescues could be prevented without incurring liability, especially where police were entitled, if not obligated, to prevent the would-be rescuer from endangering her life.Where the police returned a child to his abductor and prevented others from helping a child or investigating further, a substantive due process claim was stated.
Returning a person with mental disabilities to her rapist when the former did not advise police of the rape and stated she wanted to go home with him did not state a claim. Police incurred danger to an man by canceling a 911 call and locking him in an empty house when he needed medical care. A due process violation occurred when sheriff's commanders cut off, for more than three hours, all avenues of rescue attempts by rescue personnel and police officers to try to save the life of a Columbine High School teacher known to be critically injured.
Failure to Serve Orders: The Sixth Circuit did not find a substantive due process claim stated where the police failed to serve an ex parte order on an ex-husband or failed to investigate a missing persons report. The Tenth Circuit recently held that the state-created danger exception to a substantive due process duty to protect claim did not state a claim for failure to enforce a restraining order against a father who killed his children. However, the court allowed a procedural due process claim to proceed based on a property interest it said was created by state law.
Failure to Arrest: Failure to arrest a parolee who walked into a police station to surrender but left before a warrant was found and who then raped and killed did not state a substantive due process claim. That court found that when he was released, he posed no more of a danger than he did before he came to the police station. The Seventh Circuit held that police failure to act on a phone call from a workplace reporting a threat of violence to employees did not create a claim. That court found that there was no duty to the city residents "to provide a police department whose policy is to investigate threats of violence, even credible ones made by private persons and reported by private persons."
Although police generally have no constitutional duty to protect private persons from third parties, there may be such a duty if a special relationship exists or if the state increased or created the danger to the harmed person. Federal courts do not always apply these exceptions in a consistent manner. Agencies should evaluate their own circuit's application of the law to specific facts before deciding when a duty to protect may arise in their jurisdiction. Further, local counsel should be consulted to assess whether state tort law allows a failure to protect lawsuit based on a negligence theory.
Suspect in custody after four people shot — one fatally — at Northern Arizona University
by Sarah Kaplan and J. Freedom du Lac
One person has been killed and three others wounded in a shooting outside of a Greek-life dormitory at Northern Arizona University, a public institution in Flagstaff, Ariz.
A suspect is in custody, the school said, and the injured survivors are being treated at Flagstaff Medical Center. No details were immediately available on the circumstances of the shooting. School officials have scheduled a news conference at 6 a.m. local time (9 a.m. Eastern).
According to a statement on the NAU Web site, the first police call about the gunfire came in at 1:20 a.m. local time on Friday. University police and the Flagstaff Police Department were at the scene. The campus was not on lockdown.
School public relations director Cindy Brown told The Washington Post that the shooting occurred in a parking lot outside Mountain View Hall dormitory on the northeast end of the Flagstaff campus. The all-Greek dorm houses “the majority of NAU Greek students,” according to the university.
Brown said she doesn't know what precipitated the shooting. She did not have details about the suspect and victims, their conditions and whether they are students.
Delta Chi's international office confirmed in a statement to The Washington Post that some of its fraternity members were “involved” in the shooting.
“We do not have any information on the victims nor do we know if the deceased individual is a member of the Fraternity,” the statement said. Delta Chi added that the shooting “was not a chapter related incident.”
Attorneys: City handling of police shooting a national model
by Bruce Smith
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — North Charleston, South Carolina, did not erupt in violence — as other cities in similar circumstances did — after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black man.
Attorneys for both the city and the family say that is because of the quick actions both sides took to preserve the peace and to come to an agreement.
The results of those efforts: The North Charleston City Council unanimously approved a $6.5 million settlement Thursday with the family of Walter Scott. Scott, 50, was shot April 4 by North Charleston police officer Michael Slager.
A bystander captured the shooting in a dramatic cellphone video that showed Slager firing eight times as Scott ran. The shooting inflamed the national debate about how blacks are treated by law officers.
Immediately after the video became public, Scott's family called for calm. And within days, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey contacted the family about reaching a settlement. Attorneys worked on the settlement for months before the measure was brought before the city council, which voted 10-0 in favor of it Thursday.
"People mention Baltimore. People mention Ferguson. People mention New York," North Charleston City Attorney Brady Hair said, noting places where violence broke out when blacks died after encounters with police officers. "What's different here is there were no acts of violence. There were no buildings burned."
"None of us did anything to escalate this into an uncontrolled environment," he said. "It is a different template from what you have seen around the country."
Chris Stewart, an attorney for the Scott family, agreed with Hair that the actions taken by both sides have been "almost a blueprint of how these situations should be handled."
"Governments are listening now and they are not tolerating this type of behavior," Stewart said.
Mayor Keith Summey said he was pleased with the settlement.
"The family took steps to keep the community calm, and for that the city is thankful," he said. "This is a very difficult period for the Scott family. I know they are glad to have this part behind them so their healing process can continue."
The mayor said that since the shooting, North Charleston police have been outfitted with body cameras. Slager was not wearing one. Summey also noted the police department will be working with a division of the Department of Justice that helps local communities resolve issues involving race, color, national origin or gender.
Slager was indicted on a murder charge in June and a judge has since refused to set bond, saying his release would "constitute an unreasonable danger to the community. The officer also was fired after his arrest on the murder charges and has been detained in solitary confinement.
Hair said that within days of the shooting, Summey met with the Scott family and their attorneys. Hair said both sides felt that it was in everyone's best interest to reach a resolution and avoid a lawsuit.
"We knew we had a police officer charged with murder. We have a video tape that quite frankly might be the most played video tape in the history of modern media," he said. "It was played all day, every day around the world, so from our perspective the city had great exposure. The city also wanted to do the right thing by the family and for its citizens."
Stewart said a number of issues had to be considered in reaching the $6.5 million figure. Noting that North Charleston is no New York, he remarked, "There is no way this city could pay $50 million." He said attorneys also had to consider the damage that a drawn-out legal battle might do to the city and its residents.
Hair said the $6.5 million represents the largest settlement for such a case in the state's history.
Before the video was brought to the attention of authorities, Slager had told investigators that Scott tried to grab his gun and Taser. But prosecutor Scarlett Wilson said Scott was running away and the only time Slager could be seen running was to go back, pick up the Taser and then drop it by Scott's body.
"We have seen that incidents like this have happened across the country and we've seen how those situations have been handled," said Justin Bamberg, a state representative and an attorney who represents the Scott family. "I truly believe ... we have set a prototype, a standard for how these types of situations can be handled."
He said such cases need to be resolved by reaching common ground.
"When you keep faith and respect one another and you don't go to your corner based on whether you are black or white or rich or poor, things can work out," he said.
Blue collar neighborhoods need better community policing
by Regan Ford
Dearborn is home to one of the finest police forces in the country, no doubt about it. The Dearborn Police Department (DPD) has been recognized both nationally and by the state. However, a recent spike in neighborhood crime has many residents locking their doors and hoping for improvement.
Dearborn Police city crime statistics provided to me through a Freedom of Information Act request show many crimes down city-wide since 2012. However, the reductions are largely due to the efforts in cleaning up heavy crime commercial districts, including Fairlane Mall and the Ford Road and Mercury Drive area. However, in the blue collar border neighborhoods like mine and in the Southend, crime has alarmingly increased as of late.
Here's what we know. In my neighborhood, (police) beat 7, a working class residential district which encompasses the Southwest Outer Drive and Crowley Park areas, personal property crimes are on the rise. Statistics show larceny from a vehicle has doubled since 2011, and a 30 percent rise in home invasions from 2013 to 2014. The trend in 2015 seems to be worsening.
Things aren't much better in beat 4, which encompasses the Southend. From 2012 to 2014, there has been a 148 percent increase in larcenies from a vehicle. This area has also suffered an 81 percent increase in narcotic violations and a doubling of auto thefts during this time period.
To make matters worse in these areas, the number of rental homes have doubled, ordinance violations are on the rise, beat 7 lost the Whitmore-Bolles swimming pool and beat 4 lost nearby Hemlock pool.
Our city's recently launched "lock it or lose it" campaign is a good start, but must be part a broader strategy if it wants to make an impact on real crime. Teaching victims is good, but teaching the thieves to stay out of Dearborn is even better.
To help law enforcement, concerned residents of the Southwest Outer Drive Neighborhood Association (beat 7), organized a "watch program" this year. We joined the Wayne County Sherriff's S.C.O.U.T. program, which was later abolished by Wayne County Executive Warren Evans thanks to budget cuts.
You might ask, "why did we partner with the Sheriff instead of joining Dearborn's neighborhood watch program?"
Two reasons: First, Dearborn's watch program consists of a goody bag with a few stickers, a whistle and a brochure about their "lock it or lose it" campaign. Our dedicated officers do a tremendous job of speaking at neighborhood meetings, but these meetings largely involve providing reasonable explanations for the rising crime statistics, glossing over the severity and reassurance that everything is O.K.
Secondly, the city liaison explained that a watch program may draw unnecessary attention to the crime problems, presenting a poor image for prospective home buyers. I can see the reasoning, but I strongly disagree with it. What's the logic in pretending crime doesn't exist, only to watch it worsen? I say let's work together to reclaim our neighborhoods and run the thieves out of the area, so we don't have to pretend it's safe and nice.
For any chance at success, a neighborhood watch must develop a working relationship with the DPD. As of this writing, however, the DPD has shown little interest in working with residents.
The bottom line is Dearborn is a great city, but we the taxpayers who care about our city and our neighborhoods are going to have to stand up and be heard. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, as they say. Besides it's our tax dollars that keep the salaries paid and the lights turned on down at the new Dearborn Administration Center. It just so happens that beats 7 and 4 are also notorious for low voter turnout in the city elections. We don't see the pools getting ripped out of the ground over by the city golf courses.
We are truly blessed to live here and thankful for our brave men and women in blue. Yet, at the end of the day I believe there is room for improvement within our community policing efforts. I believe we can do better. Quite frankly, we must do better.
-Regan J. Ford is the founder and president of Dearborn-based VIVID Maintenance. He serves his community as the president-elect of the Rotary Club of Dearborn and president of the Southwestern Outer Drive Neighborhood Association.
St. Louis to create 'crime commission' to recommend public safety initiatives
by Nicholas J.C. Pistor
ST. LOUIS -- Mayor Francis Slay said on Thursday he will create a 'crime commission' that will recommend public safety initiatives.
The commission is part of Slay's new "Prevention Intervention Enforcement Re-Entry" program, which aims to thwart the city's spike in violence.
Commission members would represent a variety of voices throughout the city. (The city also has recently created a Civilian Oversight Board of Police to review complaints against officers.)
"The theory is this: unless we involve everyone in the Plan and its initiatives we haven't involved enough people to reduce crime," Slay wrote on his website. "The new Commission on violent crime will oversee the implementation of the PIER plan, to gather public input for the plan, and to recommend new public safety initiatives for my consideration. The Commission will seek input from aldermen, the Office of the Circuit Attorney, state court judges, federal law enforcement officials, and the state Attorney General's office."
Some of those topics came up Wednesday at an anti-crime summit in Washington D.C., where mayors and police chiefs of 20 cities including St. Louis met with Justice Department officials to discuss trends and strategies for reducing crime.
Police Chief Sam Dotson said Thursday he was "encouraged" by the Justice Department's focus on addressing problems in the cities represented at the summit and hopes it could mean a renewed effort by the federal government to provide funding to hire more police officers as well as mental health and prisoner release and re-entry programs.
"I hope we get back together again and hope they're able to come up and say, 'here are our focuses and here are our priorities,'" Dotson said.
Slay is set to meet with a group of aldermen tomorrow on the crime topic.
Alderman Antonio French recently vowed to filibuster any city financing package for an NFL stadium unless the city develops a comprehensive plan to deal with crime.
Slay's staff said the meeting, which is expected to include French, isn't a direct response to French.
"The mayor meets with aldermen all of the time," said Maggie Crane, Slay's spokeswoman.
Homelessness: The Human Experience
by Patreice A. Massey
On any given night, there are more than 16,000 homeless in Detroit, one-third of these are children, according to the Coalition of Temporary Shelter (COTS).
For more than 30 years, COTS has served the most vulnerable in our community. The shelter operates at capacity throughout the year, offering programs and providing services for more than 800 men, women and children daily.
On Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 8:00 am COTS will hold its 5th Annual Leading Ladies Breakfast at Eastern Market. The breakfast is being held to celebrate COTS' accomplishments and share their vision for helping families on their journey to self-sufficiency. Carol Goss, former CEO of The Skillman Foundation, will co-chair the event and is very dedicated to the mission at hand.
“I've been involved in this work all my life. We want to help women to become self-sufficient, to live their lives in a way that is wonderful for them and to help them raise their children to become wonderful adults,” said Goss.
Frankie Piccirilli, chief development officer for COTS, is passionate about the work that she does. As Piccirilli faces the staggering statistics of homelessness in Detroit — approximately 20,000 homeless people and only about 2,000 shelter beds — she remains optimistic.
“I am a big fan of Mother Theresa and I truly believe that if you are the voice for one you become the voice of many,” Piccirilli said. “It is tough when you only look at the statistics but looking at stats and having an actual conversation with these women makes a difference in how I view my job. Viewing these families as people and not a number allows me to push harder and keep going despite what the statistics say.”
The face of homelessness is ever changing, as there are quite a few young adults who find themselves without adequate shelter.
Jessica West, 22, now resides at COTS with her husband and three children.
Originally from Denver, West came to Detroit with her husband seeking a better life but found that things were not as promising as they seemed.
“I came to Detroit in May. My husband is originally from here so we moved here for our children to be close to his family. However, when I got here things were different than I imagined,” said West. “I was eight months pregnant which made it difficult to find a job and the people we were living with weren't really sympathetic to our situation and we were told to leave.”
That's when West and her family began sleeping in their car.
Stories like this are becoming more and more common.
Young people, striking out on their own trying to make a life for themselves only to encounter challenges and obstacles along the way. Many are able to overcome the challenges and forge ahead but some, like West, have circumstances at play that make it difficult to get a grip.
“Being homeless at such a young age has been hard because all this time I felt like I was my own adult. When I realized I needed help and there was none within my family, it really brought me down. My husband and I don't have alcohol or drug problems. We just thought we had support here and we didn't,” said West. “But COTS has been very helpful to me. They are helping me and my family to get into a position where we can live on our own. I just started a job and am looking forward to getting a home for my children, soon!”
While the reasons for homelessness vary from one person to the next, studies show that domestic violence is the immediate cause of homelessness for many women. Survivors of domestic violence are often isolated from support networks and financial resources by their abuser, which puts them at risk of becoming homeless.
That was the case for 28-year-old Starkela Lloyd.
“I was in an abusive relationship with my daughter's father and this relationship was so damaging to me that I became an alcoholic. I was at a point where I wanted to escape him but did not have the means or confidence so drinking became my escape,” she said.
As Lloyd's drinking increased so did the violence and one day she decided enough was enough.
“One night we had a very big fight and my 4-year old daughter was right there screaming at the top of her lungs for us to stop. That was a turning point for me and that's when I decided that I needed to get my life together. I realized that I was drinking all the time because I did not want the life I was living but I wasn't strong enough to do something about it. The mental and physical abuse I was experiencing on a daily basis made it hard to envision a better day.”
However, even after having that moment of clarity, Lloyd was still hesitant about going to a homeless shelter.
“Ending up in COTS was something I never thought would happen to me,” she said. “I thought ‘ me , homeless? Oh no, not me. I'm not one of those people,' But I've learned that you can never say where you won't be because it only takes one situation to become homeless.”
Leaving the abusive relationship for a safer environment at COTS did not immediately solve Lloyd's problem.
“My first two months there, I was down and depressed,” she recalled. “I turned back to alcohol. I would leave the shelter in the morning, go stand on the corner and drink. Then one day a counselor from COTS came up to me and said ‘you are going to stop standing on this corner drinking. You are going to so something with yourself. And go comb your hair!'”
That was almost three years ago. Today Lloyd is gainfully employed and self-sufficient, living on her own with her young daughter. A magnetic woman with a smile that lights up the room, you can feel resilience radiating from Lloyd. She has shown exceptional promise and has even discovered a talent for public speaking during her time at COTS.
Further proof of her development and talents are evident in her appointment to co-chair of the Leading Ladies Breakfast alongside Carol Goss. Lloyd has also been asked to attend various events and share her story and an encouraging word.
“Knowing that one day I can make a difference to the women in this shelter and possibly change someone's life and be a voice has given me my purpose,” she said. “So that is why I speak and share my story”
“We felt Star was the perfect choice to co-chair the breakfast because she is dynamic. She is strong, fearless and just draws you in when she speaks. People really take to her and they have someone to identify with,” said Piccirrilli.
Putting a face to homelessness is important but it is also important to realize that that face is ever-changing for a myriad of reasons. As the old saying goes: there but for the grace of God go I. With so many in our community being classified as the “working poor,” the threat of homelessness is not exclusive to any one group of people. It looms over the heads of many.
As Piccirilli stated, “There are a lot of us who are one illness, one death, one flat tire, one paycheck away from homelessness. It really could happen to any one of us. It's the human experience,” said Piccirrilli.
To meet the women featured in this article and to learn share how COTS' structure has changed to help families overcome poverty through the Passport to Self-Sufficiency framework, please visit www.cotsdetroit.org and purchase your ticket to get a seat at the table.
Your presence and support will help families establish housing, embrace education, employment, health and well- being, and change the course for a better future as they seek to permanently eradicate poverty from their households.
Police Chief: Community policing seeing results
by Danny Udero
SILVER CITY – This past summer has been a busy time for the Silver City Police Department. But, the good news is that the department wasn't as busy as last year, and that means crime has gone down.
The biggest issues of the summer came with drive by shootings. Silver City was dealt eight of them, and three of those cases have seen charges being filed and sent into the next step of the justice system.
“A lot of these incidents were related,” Chief of Police Ed Reynolds said. “Some of them happened in terms of retaliation. It's been extremely busy, but not as busy as last year.”
Burglaries also went on a rise and that started back in May. Reynolds stated that between 15-18 were occurring in the summer on a monthly basis, and last month saw that decline to just four. Crime analysis done by the department has determined areas that need additional officers and patrols, and Reynolds has forwarded that to the operations department.
“We've seen activities increase in the areas of Yucca, Cactus and Juniper,” Reynolds said. “We have put additional patrols there and have done some citizen contacts as well. The hope was to reduce the amount of crime that was happening in that area, and we think it has worked out well.”
With that analysis, Reynolds has also been able to impact key intersections in the city by targeting certain areas such as traffic enforcement. That has directly had an impact in crashes and red light violations along with speeding in those certain areas.
Citizen contacts have been a vital tool in helping the police department find and identity areas of concern that the town is having in several areas.
In 2015 alone, in an eight-month span, 209 reports of citizens having no issues or complaints and positive contacts has been reported by the officers.
Forty eight requests for frequent patrols have been made, while 38 complaints of traffic violations have been identified. Property Crimes has been an issue for 23 citizens, while panhandling has been an area of concern for 19 contacts. Procedure questions make up the next statistic, with 17 individuals, while Drugs have followed, with 15 contacts. Response time ranked almost last with just three complaints, while disgruntled people made up four complaints.
“We put together this form and have the citizens tell us how things are going in their certain neighborhood or area,” Reynolds said. “We document it and then it can either be handled immediately by the officer or forwarded to the proper division for follow up. We get a lot of mileage out of this program. The citizens think it's great and it helps our officers go into a role of helping them at that particular time in most cases.”
The department is also increasing its community policing by being active in the schools. Recently officers visited Sixth Street Elementary and provided the students badges and stickers and other items. It promotes a positive contact with everyone associated with the activity.
Neighborhood watches are also a key component that Reynolds would like to see started and participated in more.
“They are the eyes and ears of the neighborhoods,” Reynolds said. “Typically, citizens start these, but they phase out after the problems they were facing go away. I would like to see them stay strong throughout the year whether crime is up in the neighborhood or not.”
The department is short three officers, and two of those are on patrol with one being in the narcotics division. Reynolds stated he is actively trying to fill those positions and he hopes to have all of them filled by next month. He is also thinking of reinstating a community liaison officer so that more information could be put out to the citizens in a timely manner.
“In a nutshell, we are very busy,” Reynolds said. “Right now we are handling 1,120 calls a month. We service a population of about 10,300, and on any given day the population rises to about 15,000.”
Bench warrants make up the majority of the arrests, and the average a month is between 80-90 arrests.
“It's imperative that the public takes care of these minor infractions,” Reynolds said. “If you don't take care of a citation in court, a warrant will be issued for your arrest. One of those arrests will take our officer off the street between one and three hours. That disrupts our operations within the town.”
Reynolds closed out by speaking to the citizens of Grant County.
“If you feel you're not guilty and want to challenge a citation then do that in court and make sure you follow up with everything,” Reynolds said. “If you sit on it and wait, time expires and that's when you will get issued a warrant. These types of arrests can be reduced with the help of the public.”
‘Law & Order: SVU' season 17, episode 5 preview: ‘Community Policing' tackles sensitive topic
(Video on site)
“Law & Order: SVU” continues to be a show that does not much fear when it comes to approaching difficult subjects, and with that in mind, can you really be shocked at what some of the story is next week? “Community Policing” is the title for the hour, and it looks as though we are going to see a case unfold that will feel inspired in many ways by Ferguson and the Black Lives Matter movement.
This is an extremely tense, sensitive topic for the show, and there may be some compelling perspective to be found in how the show looks at it. After all, these are the stories of people working within the police department, and they may feel like the public is against them because of the actions of a few.
“In the pursuit of an SVU rape suspect, detectives from another precinct shoot and kill an unarmed black man. As racial tensions rise in the city, Barba (Raúl Esparza) is tasked to indict three officers who claim they had no choice but to follow police procedure.”
This is a hard story to say a whole lot more about right now, since this is going to be all about context and how the writers choose to depict certain events. We definite applaud them for having the courage to take this subject matter on, and we hope that they do an adequate job of showing all sides.
Ore. gunman killed himself after police shot him
Authorities released the most detailed account of gunman's death Wednesday
by Jonathan J. Cooper
ROSEBURG, Ore. — The gunman who fatally shot nine people at an Oregon community college last week killed himself in front of his victims after two police officers wounded him, authorities said Wednesday.
When two plainclothes detectives spotted Christopher Harper-Mercer in the doorway of a campus building, he fired at them, and the officers quickly returned fire. The killer then went back inside and shot himself in a classroom where many of his victims lay dead and wounded, a prosecutor told a news conference.
It was authorities' most detailed account yet of the gunman's death. Previously, they had said only that the 26-year-old attacker killed himself after a shootout.
The detectives arrived within minutes of the first reports of gunfire at Umpqua Community College.
Seconds later, the officers "both felt they had a good target," Douglas County District Attorney Rick Wesenberg said. Two of their bullets hit a wall. A third struck Harper-Mercer on the right side.
The wounded gunman "entered the classroom again, went to the front of the classroom and shot and killed himself," Wesenberg said.
The attack in this rural timber town was the worst mass shooting in Oregon history. Eight students and a teacher died. Nine others were wounded.
A private memorial has been held for Lawrence Levine, who was killed while teaching the class. Another private service was held Wednesday for 44-year-old Sarena Dawn Moore of Myrtle Creek. More funerals are scheduled through Saturday.
Investigators have not yet shared any motive for the killings.
They have seized 14 guns — six found at the college and eight at the apartment Harper-Mercer shared with his mother on the outskirts of Roseburg.
Authorities have said the gunman's mother told them her son was struggling with mental health issues, but no details have been released.
Harper-Mercer and his mother shared a love of firearms and would go to shooting ranges together.
Butt dials: 30 percent of 911 calls in San Francisco
A research study by Google found a growth in emergency call rates but a decrease in dispatches
by PoliceOne Staff
SAN FRANCISCO — A Google research project found that 30 percent of San Francisco's 911 calls coming from mobiles are accidental "butt dials"; calls accidentally made.
Even as emergency calls to 911 has increased 30 percent between 2011 and 2014 the calls initiating Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) incidents has actually decreased, BBC reported.
When the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management noticed the steady growth in annual call volume, it wanted to investigate the reasons behind it. Google offered their help to research the issue.
The report found that the issue of "butt dials" is a major strain for 911 dispatchers, as every call needs to be investigated, because it's hard to tell if the call was accidental or the person who made the call is unable to talk.
In a survey, 80 percent of dispatchers said chasing these calls back was time-consuming and the biggest "pain point" in their job.
This research was limited to San Francisco, but the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimated that in New York City about 50 percent of all incoming emergency calls from mobile phones are pocket dials.
"This is a huge waste of resources, raises the cost of providing 911 services, depletes morale, and increases the risk that legitimate 911 calls — and first responders — will be delayed," FCC Commissioner Michael O'Reilly wrote.
5 phases of the active shooter: A tactical reload
After the tragedy in Oregon, we must redouble our efforts to energize and educate the public on how they can prevent these shootings by watching for certain common behaviors these killers exhibit
by Lt. Dan Marcou
The question is continually asked after every active shooter event: “Can we do anything to prevent this insanity?”
The answer is, “We can't prevent them all, but we can prevent many if more people understood the Five Phases of the Active Shooter.” Lives can be saved if the shooter is interrupted during the first four of the five phases these killers generally pass through.
I developed — and have taught — the Five Phases of the Active Shooter after a great deal of research coupled with personal experiences with active shooters. After the tragedy in Oregon, I believe the conditions are right to do a tactical reload of the Five Phases concept. Take a moment to review the below, and then go out and educate your public.
1. Fantasy Phase
During this phase, the wannabe mass-murderer dreams of his day of achieving an historic level of carnage. Often they will write, draw, and post this fantasy in a variety of venues, from their notebook to their Facebook page.
During this time, this potential demon bereft of empathy is surprisingly likely to share his thoughts and feelings with someone else. If this shared information makes it to the properly-motivated professional, lives can be saved by that professional alerting authorities. That professional might be a teacher, a doctor, a counselor, a therapist or a law enforcement officer.
Too often, people dismiss these warning signs as “crazy talk” and do not take action because they are afraid of being accused of overreacting. Inaction enables carnage, whereas taking proper action can prevent it.
2. Planning Phase
During the planning phase, the potential killer lays out the who, what, when, where, how, and why of his plan. In other words, he will document who he will kill, what he will use to accomplish these murders, and when, where and how the slaughter will take place. In many cases the shooter will intricately explain the reasons for his intended actions.
Finding the plan on a hard drive or in hard copy form before the event will almost certainly ensure the plan will never come to fruition. These plans — or manifestos — are often so hateful and intent filled they will impact either the length of sentencing and/or treatment, depending on which venue is appropriate.
When these recorded plans are found in advance of the attack, lives will be saved.
3. Preparation Phase
After forming the plan, the mass-murderer-in-waiting must gather the items he needs to succeed. He must buy or steal the tools required to deliver death and destruction. The suspect will also visit the scene to gather intelligence as he finalizes the plan.
The preparation phase is an opportunity for a family member, citizen, school employee, businessman, or police officer to take notice of the suspicious nature of the accumulation of information and equipment. Relaying suspicions here may also save lives.
4. Approach Phase
This phase affords an opportunity for an alert citizen or police officer to notice someone dressed for combat approaching a school, hospital, mall, theater, or church carrying a weapon, or weapons. If the citizen calls 911 or officers spot the suspect, the soon-to-be killer can be stopped prior to reaching his target.
The “Terry Stop” is an invaluable tool for situations such as this.
5. Implementation Phase
Regardless of motivations, once they start killing these attackers are going for top score. What is needed is an immediate, effective, efficient act of courage. Seconds lost equal lives lost. An honorable gunfighter needs to intervene, take the shot and make that shot.
Even if unarmed — when fleeing is not an option — many potential victims have chosen to fight. Many shooters have been thwarted by an immediate, aggressive unarmed response by those who refused to “go quietly into that good night.”
It Could Happen To You
Officers out there must be alert to the fact that you may cross paths with an active shooter during the first four phases. Your powers of observation, your determined investigation techniques, and your grasp of how to apply the rules of arrest, search, seizure, or the emergency detention of the dangerously mentally ill may result in you saving lives.
You also have to realize it is becoming more and more likely that you may be the first honorable gunfighter to arrive at the scene of an in-progress active shooter — on duty or off. You may have to ask yourself, “Do I wait for back-up or do I advance alone?”
Realize, however, that when you hear those shots and screams, your feet are likely to decide for you. Most of you will find yourself instinctively drawing your weapon as you “ride to the sound of the guns.” Prepare!
About the author
Lt. Dan Marcou retired as a highly decorated police lieutenant and SWAT Commander with 33 years of full time law enforcement experience. He is a nationally recognized police trainer in many police disciplines and is a Master Trainer in the State of Wisconsin. He has authored three novels The Calling: The Making of a Veteran Cop , S.W.A.T. Blue Knights in Black Armor , and Nobody's Heroes are all available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. Visit his website and contact Dan Marcou.
U.S. to Release 6,000 Inmates From Prisons
by Michael S. Schmidt
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is preparing to release roughly 6,000 inmates from federal prisons starting at the end of this month as part of an effort to ease overcrowding and roll back the harsh penalties given to nonviolent drug dealers in the 1980s and '90s, according to federal law enforcement officials.
About a third of the inmates are undocumented immigrants who will be deported. Because many of them were convicted of significant legal offenses, President Obama is unlikely to be criticized as sharply for their release by those who have objected to past deportations by the administration.
The release will be one of the largest discharges of inmates from federal prisons in American history. It coincides with an intensifying bipartisan effort to ease the mass incarcerations that followed decades of tough sentencing for drug offenses — like dealing crack cocaine — which have taken a particularly harsh toll on minority communities.
“Today's announcement is nothing short of thrilling because it carries justice,” said Jesselyn McCurdy, a senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. “Far too many people have lost years of their lives to draconian sentencing laws born of the failed drug war. People of color have had to bear the brunt of these misguided and cruel policies. We are overjoyed that some of the people so wronged will get their freedom back.”
While news of the early releases was widely praised, it raised some concerns among law enforcement officials across the country who are grappling with an increase in homicides. Their fear is that many of the freed convicts will be unable to get jobs and will return to crime.
Ronald E. Teachman, who was the police chief in South Bend, Ind., until last Wednesday, said inmates were not always convicted of all the crimes they had committed.
He also said that prisoners who were released after receiving job skills and other assimilation training often succeeded. But that rarely occurs, he said — even in the federal system.
“People come out of prison hardened and angry and more likely to offend,” said Mr. Teachman, now an executive with ShotSpotter, a company that promotes a system for detecting gunfire.
In April 2014, the United States Sentencing Commission reduced the penalties for many nonviolent drug crimes. That summer it said those guidelines could be applied retroactively to many prisoners serving long drug sentences. Eric H. Holder Jr., the attorney general at the time, had lobbied the sentencing commission to make the changes.
Under the new guidelines, prisoners can ask federal judges to reassess their sentences. Along with examining the inmates' behavior in prison, the judges look at whether they are likely to act out violently if they are released.
As part of an effort to give the federal Bureau of Prisons time to prepare for an influx of convicts entering probation and re-entry programs, the releases were delayed. They will now take place from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2.
“The Sentencing Commission's actions — which create modest reductions for drug offenders — is a step toward these necessary reforms,” said Sally Q. Yates, the deputy attorney general. “Even with the Sentencing Commission's reductions, drug offenders will have served substantial prison sentences.”
The United States has a quarter of the world's prison population, and Republican and Democratic lawmakers agree that prison spending, which accounts for a third of the Justice Department's budget, needs to be reduced.
Last week, a bipartisan group of senators proposed a sweeping overhaul aimed at reducing mandatory minimums and winning early release for those serving sentences disproportionate to their crimes.
The changes would be retroactive if the legislation is enacted, and lawmakers estimated that up to 6,500 other prisoners — many of them charged with offenses related to crack cocaine — could qualify for resentencing under the changes. Given the bipartisan support, the legislation has a stronger chance of being passed than many other bills Congress is considering.
Immigrant advocates have accused the administration of breaking up families by deporting immigrants who did little wrong other than coming to the country illegally. This criticism was fueled by a record number of deportations in Mr. Obama's first term — although that pace has slowed considerably in the last year.
This summer, Republican candidates for president, particularly Donald J. Trump, seized on the killing of a woman on a San Francisco pier by a man who had been deported to Mexico several times and was recently freed from a federal prison.
Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, on Tuesday declined to comment on the release of the prisoners, but expressed optimism that both parties would continue to support criminal justice changes.
“We're pleased to see that many Republicans consider this to be a priority, too,” Mr. Earnest said. “At this point, I don't think there's a significant level of concern that any rhetoric on the campaign trail could sabotage the important bipartisan work that's currently ongoing on Capitol Hill. And I hope I'm right about that.”
Anthony Papa, a spokesman at the Drug Policy Alliance, which supports the relaxation of certain drug sentencing laws, said, “It warms my heart to hear that 6,000 people will be coming home.”
“The drug war has devastated families and communities, and it is time for the healing to begin,” said Mr. Papa, who himself spent 12 years behind bars on a mandatory minimum drug sentence.
Why Justice Department plan to free 6,000 inmates is just the beginning
The Justice Department plan to reduce sentences for some 6,000 nonviolent drug offenders in federal prisons is part of a larger effort to make US justice 'work smarter.'
by Molly Jackson
Some 6,000 drug offenders in federal prisons around the country will be set free at the end of the month, the Washington Post reported Tuesday afternoon, as part of punishment reductions put in place by the US Sentencing Commission last year which have been made retroactive.
The mass release, the largest in federal prison history, represents a significant step in President Obama's efforts to reform the criminal justice system, a mission now picking up steam with both parties in Congress.
The “Drugs Minus Two” policy from the US Sentencing Commission, an independent agency responsible for determining sentences for federal crimes, went into effect last November, giving the Department of Justice a year to prepare for the release, the Post's Sari Horwitz reports.
Most former inmates will be supervised in programs such as halfway houses, and roughly one in three are foreign nationals who will immediately be deported.
Critics are concerned about an explosion of crime, particularly considering that nearly half of the nation's 100,000 drug offenders in federal prisons may eventually qualify for early release.
The Justice Department points to a study arguing that recidivism rates do not vary significantly between prisoners with early release and those who serve a full sentence.
They also emphasize that early release is not automatic; eligible inmates will have to petition a judge. Early releasers are still serving “substantial prison sentences,” Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates told the Post.
Prison reform advocates frequently point to social justice ideals as their motive, but practical concerns also play a role: there's simply no room for all the people America jails. At 724 prisoners per 100,000 people, it's the highest rate in the world.
Only recently has locking people up become such an American tradition. As Ms. Horwitz reports, the US population has grown by a third since 1980, while federal prison populations jumped by 800 percent, putting them 40 percent over capacity. It's an expense that threatens other Justice priorities, from fighting violent crime to human trafficking, Department officials told Horwitz in February.
“We're at a moment where some good people in both parties, Republicans and Democrats, and folks all across the country are coming together around ideas to make the system work smarter, make it work better,” Mr. Obama said in July, announcing a complementary effort to commute sentences for some nonviolent drug offenders.
His claim that folks “are coming together” is now bolstered by a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill presented to Congress this week, which “its authors hailed not only as the most important federal justice overhaul in a generation, but also as an example of how Congress can work when lawmakers are willing to compromise,” says The New York Times.
The bill seeks to make prisoners' sentences more proportionate to their crimes, chipping away at "tough on drugs" measures now deemed excessive, and would outlaw juvenile solitary confinement.
Four ways to relieve overcrowded prisons
by Arjun Sethi
America's addiction to incarceration as a curb on crime must end. The evidence is staggering, writes Arjun Sethi, an attorney in Washington. Prison overcrowding is ubiquitous and shows few signs of abating: Between 1970 and 2005, the nation's inmate population grew by 700 percent.
In May 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that California prisons were in violation of the Eighth Amendment and its prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. It ordered the early release of tens of thousands of inmates.
Overcrowding also creates unsafe and unsanitary conditions, diverts prison resources away from education and social development, and forces low- and high-risk offenders to mingle, increasing the likelihood of recidivism. Here, Mr. Sethi offers four solutions to improve the overcrowded US prison system.
1. Revamp habitual-offender laws
Habitual-offender laws are now in effect in more than 20 states and regularly yield perverse sentences. California's three-strikes law, for example, was passed during the paranoia that followed the searing murder of 12-year-old Polly Klaas by a long-time violent offender, and is so egregiously punitive that nonviolent petty theft may serve as a “third strike.”
Leandro Andrade, a father of three, who never once committed a violent felony, received two sentences of 25 years-to-life for stealing children's videotapes, including “Free Willy 2” and “Cinderella,” from Kmart. A new ballot initiative in California, “The Three Strikes Reform Act of 2012,” seeks to change this law.
2. Implement misdemeanor reform
States should decriminalize offenses such as feeding the homeless, dog-leash violations, and turnstile jumping on the subway. Such reform is vital: between 1972 and 2006, misdemeanor prosecutions rose from 5 million to 10.5 million.
3. Limit the use of pre-trial detention
Nearly two-thirds of the nation's prison population haven't been convicted of a crime. They are awaiting trial. Many are arrested for low-risk offenses such as disturbing the peace or traffic violations, and they languish in jail because they can't afford bail. Releasing these individuals would not jeopardize public safety and would reduce overcrowding and public defender caseloads.
America's overreliance on incarceration has also impeded the rights of criminal defendants. The Sixth Amendment guarantees legal representation to individuals charged with a crime. Yet because of the crushing volume of cases, indigent defense programs often suffer from inadequate staffing, funding, and supervision.
In Kentucky, a public defender may represent more than 450 clients in a single year. In Miami, Florida, the annual caseload is nearly 500 felonies and 2,225 misdemeanors. The consequences include wrongful incarceration, wrongful convictions, and guilty pleas when meritorious defenses are otherwise available.
Just this year, Kentucky terminated pre-trial detention for numerous drug offenses and mandated citations rather than arrests for certain misdemeanors.
4. Impose nonprison penalties
For those arrested for technical parole and probation violations like missing a meeting or court appearance, imposing nonprison penalities would dramatically ameliorate overcrowding and excessive caseloads. Over a third of all prison admissions are for such types of violations. Texas is leading the charge here, and through such measures has significantly reduced its inmate population.
Threat prompts Southern Oregon University to cancel classes Wednesday
by Noelle Crombie
Southern Oregon University cancelled classes Wednesday on its main campus in Ashland due to "a potential threat" found in a school facility.
School security and Ashland police are working together to investigate the incident, which has prompted a criminal investigation, Ashland police said. The university website said an "unconfirmed threat" is being investigated.
No other information was immediately available about the threat.
Different Style Of Policing Aims To Connect Community
"Many of us grew up being taught that Police Officers were our friends. They were there to help us and were someone we could always turn to"
by Justin Heinze
The Horsham Chiefs Advisory team shared the following story on their Facebook page Tuesday morning.
The post explores the meaning of community policing and what Horsham's community policing project is trying to accomplish.
We would like to start this morning's briefing with a discussion about what Community Policing really means here in our Town. Many of us grew up being taught that Police Officers were our friends. They were there to help us and were someone we could always turn to in times of trouble. Over the decades that narrative has sadly changed in far too many of our communities.
Here in Horsham we started our Community Policing program back in the year 2000 with the belief that building bridges into the Community was the right thing to do. We began with a Citizen's Police Academy to help educate the Community on what it's like being a Municipal Police Officer. The belief being that the more the public understood about policing the better the relationship with community would be. This program continues to this day.
In 2001 we began our Chief's Advisory Team (ChATs) program and our Horsham Watch. These programs had members of the community working side by side with Officers helping to make Horsham a better and safer place to live, work and visit. This program was a continuation of our Citizen's Police Academy. Both of these programs continue to this date.
The cornerstone to the success of any Community Police Program is its adoption by both Police leadership and the rank and file patrol officer. Both groups have to see the upside and believe in the concept in order for it to be effective. Here in Horsham we're here to tell you we have both.
Community Policing is not just a concept but it's a mindset; both for the Officers and for the public. While large program goals and objectives are easy to discuss and present, it's the small daily interactions with the community that is the hidden gem of this style of policing. Today pictured below we have just such a gem.
As part of their normal shift, our Officers routinely perform School walk-thrus. They are done on a random but consistent basis. Walking the hallways of our schools gives our Officers the chance to learn all the nooks and crannies of each building in case they ever need to respond to an incident. Since the pattern is random, a bad person will never know if an Officer is walking the hallways. This is a very common practice in many jurisdictions.
Below in this picture you will see Officer Brandon Bryne during a recent walk thru at Simmons. This photo was sent to us by an anonymous source. This Friends is type of interaction that is at heart of a successful community based policing program. Working with our kids and restoring their faith that the Police Officer is someone who is their friend, someone who they can trust to help them if they need it. Changing the narrative one person at a time.
If you feel the same and support this type of effort from our Officers, please consider posting a comment of support below and sharing this post on your page for your friends to see. While our Officers don't post comments here, rumor has it they do read our page so they will see your thoughts. On behalf of all of us in Community Police Services, we'd like to thank Officer Bryne and all the men and women of the Horsham Police Department who take that extra moment to build bridges into the Community. You are making a difference and we thank each and every one of you.
Community Police Commission Seeks Local Input
It's been about a month since the founding of the Cleveland Community Police Commission, charged with making recommendations for police reforms. So far, meetings have been mostly organizational, but tonight the group will choose its chairperson and decide the details for a meeting seeking community input.
The community meeting is expected to be held next week. That's when the commission wants to hear from the public as it works on assessing the police department's policies on bias-free policing, according to commission member Lee Fisher. The former Ohio Lieutenant Governor says the 13 member group has already begun assessing some of the police department's policies and procedures.
The first thing we do is actually read the current policy. The second thing we do is we're looking at what other police departments from around the country are doing. So that we understand what the smart and best practices are. And then we also are getting input from the public in our public meetings. We don't want to make any decisions in a vacuum. We're also going to be reviewing the civilian oversight structure of the Cleveland police department, and we're going to be looking at all the policies that relate to either bias-free policing or use of force or search and seizure and data collection and retention.
Fisher expects the commission to hold a series of public comment meetings between mid-October and December. Its first report with recommendations is due December 7.
The commission was created as part of Cleveland's police reform agreement with the US Justice Department.
Fisher says the group has not yet had a formal meeting with the recently-named monitor who will oversee the city's compliance of the consent decree, but he expects the commission and the monitor's team will work together in partnership.
Graffiti threat puts EKU on public safety alert through Thursday
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Eastern Kentucky University Police issued a Public Safety Alert on Monday after threatening language was found in a campus bathroom.
Police say graffiti was found in the Powell Building, saying, "KILL ALL BY 10/8/15 THIS BU OOP."
The university is offering a $10,000 reward for the identification, arrest and conviction of the responsible person.
The EKU Police Chief contacted the Joint Terrorism Task Force (FBI), Kentucky State Police, Richmond Police Department, Madison County Sheriff's Office, and Berea Police Department, to ask for their assistance.
There will be increased patrols throughout campus through Thursday, Oct 8.
City council establishes citizens public safety advisory committee
by Rebecca Bennett
At the Sept. 21 Hyattsville City Council meeting, the council voted 8 to 2 to establish the Hyattsville Police and Public Safety Citizens Advisory Committee.
“It's an opportunity for us to engage our community in a way that we haven't in the past,” Councilmember Joseph Solomon (Ward 5) said, who submitted the motion to form the committee.
According to the committee worksheet (viewable starting on page 160 of the Sept. 21 council packet), some of the committee's roles include advising and making recommendations to the city council on public safety issues, on community public safety education, and on public safety best practices in the city.
Several council members thought the committee scope could be narrowed down to scope #6, which said the committee shall “advise council and make recommendations on issues related to public safety throughout the city.”
“I think the importance of this committee is enough that I'd rather not wait until we get the actual perfect foundational documents,” Councilmember Shani Warner (Ward 2) said. “I'd like to move forward and see what this committee is able to do.”
Councilmember Patrick Paschall (Ward 3) said he liked the longer list of scope items for the committee. “It gives direction to the committee itself on the kinds of things they can undertake and should undertake as a part of the committee,” he said.
“Scope #1-5 don't really function like an advisory committee,” Council Vice President Bart Lawrence (Ward 1) said. “We are asking them to do things. … We are asking them to coordinate regular reporting and presentations.”
Paschall said the committee is an opportunity for the city to hear from residents that it just needs to be safer, but ideas about what would make parts of the city feel safer. “I feel that there is a deep need for this, especially right now,” he said. “I think that any police department should have engagement and advice from civilian, non-police residents. It is through that process that police are actually accountable to the residents that they serve.”
“I think it's very important that the police be involved when the items for discussion are police-related,” City Administrator Tracey Nicholson said. Public safety, she said, is more than just police, but includes issues such as lighting, parks, fire department response times, etc.
Warner said she was concerned about the committee being required to meet eight times per year, at least once in each of the five wards. “I think that's a lovely idea, but it may prove to be a practical obstacle,” she said.
Solomon said he wanted this committee to be something that tried to meet across the city.
Racial profiling law is 'terrible' Calif. legislation, police officials say
For many in law enforcement, the measure creates a massive new bureaucratic headache that does little to help
by Kim Christensen -- Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — California is about to tackle head on the charged issue of racial bias in law enforcement.
Gov. Jerry Brown this weekend signed legislation mandating that California law enforcement agencies collect — and make public — data on the racial makeup of all those encountered by police.
For civil rights activists, Brown's action was a big step toward protecting minorities from racial profiling.
For many in law enforcement, the measure creates a massive new bureaucratic headache that will do little to illuminate the question of whether police treat minority groups fairly.
"It's a terrible piece of legislation," said Lt. Steve James, president of the Long Beach Police Officers Assn. and the national trustee for the California Fraternal Order of Police.
Written by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) in response to fatal police shootings of unarmed black men and other people of color, the legislation will require officers to collect data on anyone they stop, including "perceived" race and ethnicity, the reason for the encounter and whether arrests were made.
Law enforcement organizations, including the state Fraternal Order of Police and the 65,000-member Peace Officers Research Assn. of California, had asked Brown to veto the bill, AB 953, arguing among other things that its reporting requirements would be burdensome to police and costly to taxpayers.
James echoed the sentiment.
"We have contact with the public all the time that requires no documentation, no paperwork," he said. "Now, the amount of time we have to spend doing documentation and paperwork has gone up. The time doing menial tasks has gone up."
The extra work will cut into the time officers spend on community policing, James said. He cited that as one of several flaws in the legislation, not least of which is that it addresses a problem he contends doesn't even exist.
"There is no racial profiling. There just isn't," he said. "There is criminal profiling that exists."
That position would be a hard sell to the bill's supporters, who cited studies showing that unarmed black men are many times more likely to die by police gunfire than unarmed white men.
Rosa Aqeel, the legislative director of PICO California, a faith-based advocacy group that lobbied heavily for the law's passage, said it will allow advocates and policymakers to quantify what until now has been anecdotal evidence.
"It creates a set of actual data that will allow us to see where racial profiling is happening," Aqeel said, describing police officials who deny that racial profiling occurs as out of touch with reality.
"All I can say: Thank God this bill got signed and we'll be able to look at the data and see what's really going on," she said. "We should all want to see the data so we can see how pervasive the problem is."
The Los Angeles Police Department and other agencies have grappled for years with how to deal with accusations of racial profiling. But the new law requires a level of uniform reporting that goes beyond what has previously been collected.
A 2008 study of LAPD data by a Yale researcher found blacks and Latinos were subjected to stops, frisks, searches and arrests at significantly higher rates than whites, regardless of whether they lived in high-crime neighborhoods. Then-Chief William J. Bratton acknowledged isolated cases of profiling may occur but dismissed the notion of a widespread problem.
An earlier study found that Latino and African American drivers were much more likely than whites to be asked during LAPD stops to leave their vehicles and submit to searches. But the report's authors said they could not determine whether this treatment was caused by racial or ethnic profiling.
Lt. Craig Lally, president of the union that represents Los Angeles police officers, called the new measure "another one of these feel-good laws" that will be impossible to enforce.
"Sometimes when people get pulled over they claim it's because they are black, or Hispanic or white," he said. "Unless you can get into the officer's mind when he's doing that traffic stop, there is no way to prove it was because of race — unless he or she admits it.... It is impossible to look at statistics and prove racism."
Jack Glaser, a professor of public policy at UC Berkeley who wrote the 2014 book "Suspect Race: Causes and Consequences of Racial Profiling," said the bill's passage is significant for being a statewide effort at police data collection.
"A lot of different individual agencies collect [data], but they are rarely analyzed at an aggregate level," Glaser said. "In terms of figuring out what practices are effective, you can't do that unless you compare across departments."
Such a large statewide effort also enables analysts to make inferences about racial profiling. With a single-incident approach, he said, it can be difficult to establish that officers are using race, ethnicity or national origin as the basis for stopping someone.
"Knowing whether any one particular stop is based on race, you'd have to get into the mindset of the officer," Glaser said.
A similar bill was vetoed in 1999 by then-Gov. Gray Davis. Glaser said that law enforcement objections to such data-collecting efforts have become less vigorous since then and that police leadership has begun to acknowledge the existence of racial profiling — even if the police unions have not.
Dozens of activists from groups including the Communities United Coalition, supporters of the "Black Lives Matter" movement, held vigils outside Brown's office recently. Black Lives Matter arose after the fatal shooting of a black man by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014.
"This will provide additional data," Melina Abdullah, a professor of Pan-African studies at Cal State L.A., said of the new law. "If I were law enforcement I'd think of it as an opportunity to demonstrate that I wasn't racially profiling, that we have a fair and equitable system. The resistance to it signals to me and many others that there is a lot of racial profiling going on."
The racial profiling law was among 13 criminal justice bills the governor signed this weekend. Other legislation requires police agencies to issue detailed annual reports on all cases in which officers use force that results in serious injury or death. And police agencies whose officers wear cameras will have to follow rules on storing and using the video so it is not mishandled.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, said the "big question that is still kind of dangling" about the racial profiling bill is what action will be taken in departments where the data show the practice to be occurring.
"This is a great first step," he said. "But the second step has to be to bring something into effect to put some teeth into it."
Online database tracks all Texas officer-involved shootings
The list of shootings are made available to public online
by Brandon Mulder
DALLAS — Lawmakers recently passed a law that would require police agencies state-wide to report all officer involved shootings to the Texas Attorney General's Office, whether that be officers doing the shooting or officers being shot at. That law went into effect last month and shortly thereafter was made available to the public online.
Each report details the demographics of both the officer and the other party involved in the shooting, the incident that led to the shooting, and whether the victim was exhibiting a deadly weapon. However, the reports either the officers' or suspects' names to be identified, keeping the data to be strictly used for trend analysis and policy decisions.
A report is only required when a party is injured or killed in a shooting incident. Since the law went live on Sept. 1, seven reports have been filed in the attorney general's office. Of the seven, all are related to incidents where officers fired at citizens -- three of which resulted in death.
The law has also set up a parallel reporting system to report shootings of police officers by citizens, however no incidents related to citizen's fine at officers have been reported. All reports must be filed within 30 days of the incident, and the OAG must post the report online within five days of receiving it.
The requirements for filing a report cast a wide net that can document any incident, no matter how consequential. One report details an incident in which an "accidental discharge ricochet during range activities" and resulted in "minor injury," according to a report filed by the Plano Police Department. Another involved the shooting of a vicious dog by the Balch Springs Police Department.
Others, however, illustrate more fatal incidents. In one instance filed last Thursday, two Alvin Police Department officers fatally shot at a 29-year-old white male while executing a warrant. The man allegedly exhibited a deadly weapon, according to the report.
"I believe law enforcement's commitment to transparency by complying with the reporting law will go a long way in strengthening and building trust between police and the people they serve," said Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, in a press release last week.
Johnson's bill, which was filed and passed unanimously last session, stemmed from a Dallas PD initiative that posted online a comprehensive database of Dallas police shootings of the last 13 years, according to a Dallas Morning News report.
"In an effort to increase transparency, officer accountability, and improve officer safety, I have directed the implementation of numerous policy changes and initiatives," wrote Dallas Police Chief David Brown on the department's public information webpage. "A number of these changes came after an officer involved shooting in 2012," in which an officer shot 31-year-old James Harper who attempted to flee an altercation with the officer, according to a local report.
That incident, along with several others, sparked public outcry in Dallas which in turn lead to the city's own online database. In a similar way, Johnson's bill has been a response to the national controversies in which officers have shot unarmed black men in several cities around the country.
In the last decade, Midland Police have been involved in 14 shootings,
10 of which have resulted in death. One of those incidents includes the murder-suicide of MPD officer Chad Simpson last winter. The most recent incident includes the shooting death of Joe Nevels, who refused to surrender to police while wielding a box cutter. Nevels was shot multiple times by two officers outside of Bill's Bottle Shop on Neely Avenue and Midland Drive last summer.
Ore. gunman spared 'lucky one' to give police message
Authorities have not disclosed whether they have an envelope or package from gunman
by Gosia Wozniacka and Tami Abdollah
ROSEBURG, Ore. — The 26-year-old killer who gunned down classmates at an Oregon college spared a student and gave the "lucky one" something to deliver to authorities, according to the mother of a student who witnessed the rampage.
Others weren't as fortunate. Parents of students in the classroom said the gunman shot one after saying she could save her life by begging. Others were killed after being told to crawl across the floor.
Shooter Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer later killed himself as officers arrived, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said Saturday.
Authorities have not disclosed whether they have an envelope or package from Harper-Mercer. However, a law enforcement official said a manifesto of several pages had been recovered.
Bonnie Schaan, the mother of 16-year-old Cheyeanne Fitzgerald, said she was told by her daughter that the gunman gave someone an envelope and told him to go to a corner of the classroom.
Harper-Mercer said the person "'was going to be the lucky one,'" Schaan told reporters outside a hospital where her daughter's kidney was removed after she was shot.
Relatives of other survivors also said Harper-Mercer gave something to a student in the class.
Pastor Randy Scroggins, whose 18-year-old daughter Lacey escaped without physical injuries, said she told him that the gunman called to a student, saying: "'Don't worry, you're the one who is going to survive.'"
Harper-Mercer then told the student that inside the shooter's backpack was "all the information that you'll need. Give it to the police," Scroggins said, citing the account by his daughter.
Scroggins also said his daughter heard the gunman tell one victim he would spare that person's life if the student begged, then shot the begging victim anyway.
Lacey Scroggins also spoke about students being ordered to crawl to the middle of the room before being shot.
Randy Scroggins said his daughter survived because she was lying on the floor and partially covered by the body of a fellow student. The gunman thought Lacey Scroggins was dead as well, stepped over her and shot someone else.
Janet Willis said her granddaughter Anastasia Boylan was wounded in the Thursday attack and pretended to be dead as Harper-Mercer kept firing, killing eight students and a teacher.
Willis said she visited her 18-year-old granddaughter in a hospital in Eugene, where the sobbing Boylan told her: "'Grandma, he killed my teacher!'"
Boylan also said the shooter told one student in the writing class to stand in a corner, handed him a package and told him to deliver it to authorities, Willis said.
The law enforcement official who disclosed the existence of the manifesto did not reveal its contents but described it as an effort to leave a message for law enforcement. The official is familiar with the investigation but was not authorized to disclose information and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The official said the document was left at the scene of the shooting but wouldn't specify how authorities obtained it.
Boylan, a freshman at Umpqua Community College, also told her grandmother the gunman asked students about their faith.
"If they said they were Christian, he shot them in the head," Willis said, citing the account given by her granddaughter.
However, conflicting reports emerged about Harper-Mercer's words as he shot his victims.
Stephanie Salas, the mother of Rand McGowan, another student who survived, said she was told by her son that the shooter asked victims whether they were religious but did not specifically target Christians.
Her son said the shooter had people stand up before asking, "'Do you have a God? Are you Christian? Do you have a religion?'"
Salas said it was like telling the victims "you're going to be meeting your maker."
Salas said the gunman told victims "'this won't hurt very long'" before shooting them.
Law enforcement officials have not given details about what happened in the classroom. However, they released a timeline that shows police arrived at the scene six minutes after the first 911 call and exchanged gunfire with the shooter two minutes later.
Harper-Mercer was enrolled in the class, but officials have not disclosed a possible motive for the killings. In a statement released by authorities, his family said they were "shocked and deeply saddened" by the slayings and that their prayers went out to the families of those who died and were injured.
Harper-Mercer's father, Ian Mercer, told CNN on Saturday that he is struggling to understand how and why the shooting happened and that he was stunned to learn his son had accumulated so many guns.
He said the law should be changed because the attack would not have happened if his son had not been able to get guns.
The dead ranged in age from 18 to 67 and included several freshmen. They were sons and daughters, spouses and parents. Nine other people were wounded in the attack in Roseburg, a rural timber town about 180 miles south of Portland.
Harper-Mercer wore a flak jacket and brought at least six guns and five ammunition magazines when he went to the campus that morning.
Oregon's top federal prosecutor said the shooter used a handgun when he opened fire on classmates and had stashed a rifle in another room but did not fire it.
Several years ago, Harper-Mercer moved to Winchester, Oregon, from Torrance, California, with his mother, Laurel Harper, a nurse.
At an apartment complex where Harper-Mercer and his mother lived in Southern California, neighbors remembered him as a quiet, odd young man who rode a red bike.
The Army said Harper-Mercer flunked out of basic training in 2008.
Harper-Mercer's social media profiles suggested he was fascinated by the Irish Republican Army and frustrated by traditional organized religion.
He also tracked other mass shootings. In one post, he appeared to urge readers to watch the online footage of Vester Flanagan shooting two former colleagues live on TV in August in Virginia, noting "the more people you kill, the more you're in the limelight."
Tragedy averted: California students helped thwart would-be shooters
Teenagers plotting to open fire at a Northern California high school were arrested after fellow students overheard their plan.
by Jessica Mendoza
Four students were arrested after detectives uncovered a plot to carry out a shooting at their Northern California high school, authorities said.
The plot – which officials described as “very detailed in nature and included names of would be victims, locations, and the methods in which the plan was to be carried out” – was foiled Wednesday after a group of students told a teacher they overheard three of the four talking about opening fire on Summerville High School in Tuolumne, Calif., about 120 miles east of San Francisco, The New York Times reported.
The teacher alerted school administrators, who immediately removed the three from their classrooms and called the police, said Robert Griffith, the superintendent of the Summerville Union High School District.
“Within two to three minutes, those administrators got up out of their seat, recognizing the severity of the information that they received, and were in the classroom pulling those students out,” Mr. Griffith said at a news conference Saturday.
The fourth suspect was identified during the investigation, said Sheriff James W. Mele of Tuolumne County at the news conference. Detectives on Friday arrested all four students on charges of conspiracy to commit an assault with deadly weapons and turned them over to the Tuolumne County Probation Department, The Modesto Bee reported.
The suspects' names were not released because they are juveniles, though officials said they were all male.
While no weapons were recovered, Sheriff Mele said the students were in the process of obtaining some to carry out the attack. He did not identify a motive.
“They were going to come on campus and shoot and kill as many people as possible on the campus,” Mele told the Bee. “It is particularly unsettling when our most precious assets – which are our students, their teachers – are targets for violence.”
The students were arrested just days after a mass shooting at a community college in rural Oregon that left 10 people dead, including the gunman.
"It is clear from past history, such as Columbine and Sandy Hook, as well as other recent events in Oregon, that children are willing and capable of planning and carrying out acts of violence against fellow students and teachers on school grounds," said Eric Hovatter, Tuolumne County assistant district attorney, according to KCRA. "While it is easy to say that can never happen in Tuolumne County, the public and local law enforcement must be vigilant, as they were here."
N.J., Philly-area colleges on high alert, but class still on after FBI warns of threat
by Jessica Beym
Colleges throughout the tri-state area may see more police and security on campus today after the FBI warned them yesterday about a threat of violence made against a Philadelphia-area college.
The FBI's Philadelphia office notified dozens of colleges in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey on Sunday about the threat that was found on a social media website. No specific college was named, however, the post specified that a violent act would happen around 2 p.m.
"No specific college or university was identified in the posting, but given the recent shooting incidents elsewhere across the country, the FBI thought it was important to share the threat," Rowan University officials said in a statement sent to the campus community Sunday night.
The threat on an all-anonymous message board stated: "On October fifth, at 1pm Central time, a fellow robot will take up arms at a university near Philadelphia."
The threat comes less than a week after nine people were killed by gun violence at a community college in Oregon. A threat was also made on social media prior to the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College.
Colleges that received the warning from the FBI — including Rowan University, Rowan College at Gloucester County, Stockton University, Temple University, Drexel, and more — said they would be increasing patrols and security on campus Monday.
Students and faculty are advised to report anything suspicious by calling the campus' public safety number or by calling 911.
While most colleges said operations would continue as normal, students were expressing concern about attending class, saying they planned to not attend, or requesting the colleges close for the day.
Public Safety Response to Philadelphia Area Threat
by Molly Borgese
Authorities from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) have issued a warning to local universities in the Philadelphia region after disclosing a threat of violence was generated via social media earlier today. Federal officials alerted universities that a possible act of violence will take place tomorrow, October 5. According to the FBI, no official college or university was targeted in the posting.
University students received a safety advisory via email this afternoon at 2:21 p.m. from Director of Public Safety, David Tedjeske. Tedjeske warned students to “remain aware of your surroundings and report any suspicious activity or behavior to the Department of Public Safety.”
When asked if students should proceed to classes tomorrow morning, Tedjeske said ”Because the information the federal authorities received is not specific to Villanova University, we will be open tomorrow for classes and regular activities. We do not believe that cancelling normal activities in response to this unspecified information is warranted.”
Coincidentally, university midterm examinations begin tomorrow for students, causing panic and confusion amongst campus. Students who live off campus fear attending classes and exams due to the threat. “I found the email sent by David Tedjeske unsettling,” says Senior Jessica Goldberg of Princeton, NJ. “Just days after a massive school shooting (referencing the shooting this past week at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, in which nine people were killed by a gunman during a class session), I don't think anyone feels safe going to class knowing there is even the slightest chance of the same incident happening on Villanova's campus. I understand all of the reasons not to cancel school, but at the same time, why should any of us take the risk?”
Students who reside on campus were not given any additional information or safety precautions regarding residence surroundings.
Tedjeske explained that “If every regional college closed tomorrow, an individual intent on carrying out violence might simply choose another date. We therefore do not believe that cancelling normal activities in response to this unspecified information is warranted. Simply put, stopping our lives is not the answer.”
The Department of Public Safety will take extra precautions tomorrow, adding additional patrols and enlisting the assistance of the Radnor Police Department. When asked about the involvement in campus security for tomorrow, Radnor Police Officers declined comment to The Villanovan, yet stated the threat was “not credible,” meaning that although local authorities are taking all necessary precautions, the threat has not been confirmed as real or immediate due to the nature of its origins as an anonymous internet comment.
Symposium at UHart covers community policing
by Sujata Jain and Rob Polansky
WEST HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- The President's College at the University of Hartford covered community policing at its annual symposium on Sunday.
Following some polarizing incidents like shootings across the country, the issues have generating enormous interest and media coverage, and police said they recognized that.
“We're deeply invested in the community policing, which is a little different than some of the suburbs and somewhat consistent with other cities our size,” said Chief James Rovella, Hartford Police Department.
Rovella, who was among the speakers, said it has been a tough year for the capital city. Hartford saw more than two dozen homicides in 2015.
He said recognition from the White House has shed light on how the department is reaching out to its community.
“When you're recognized by the White House as one in ten cities that have built a pipeline to make your Hartford kids police officers or when you're down there talking one in 30 cities, talking about what community policing is and what you're doing to develop it in your city,” Rovella said.
Criminal justice professor Al DiChiara said a new model of policing is slowly emerging and said it centers on knowing the people served.
“Police have to become members of the community,” DiChiara said. “They have to know people in the community. Some people are suggesting police officers live in the community that they work in."
DiChiara also said social media is really changing how departments police because now interactions between officers and civilians are playing out in front of millions of people.
"Social media has made it easier to follow the police,” he said. “And these kind of problematic interactions are not new, they're just being recorded for the first time."
He said police need to be seen more in non-emergency circumstances, like in New Haven where first year officers routinely walk a specific area.
"Policing can't be an internal army,” DiChiara said. “It has to be a partnership with the community and the whole community policing movement is designed to do that."
More police refusing to name shooters for fear of copycats
Families of mass shooting victims have long urged journalists to avoid using the gunmen's names and photos in public
by Sadie Gurman
WASHINGTON — The sheriff detailed how a shooter armed with several guns walked into a morning writing class Thursday at a rural Oregon community college and killed nine people. He described how investigators found still more weapons at the man's home.
But when it came time to reveal the shooter's name, Sheriff John Hanlin adamantly refused, saying, "I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act."
Like Hanlin, law enforcement officials are recently refusing to name mass shooters, hoping that not immediately identifying them will reduce the chance of their notoriety and keep their actions from inspiring others.
There's little research to suggest the practice prevents copycats. And criminologists and ethicists worry that withholding names will make it harder to assess a mass killer's motivations and spot trends that could help prevent future violence.
Knowing the names "and their histories, lets us better understand the larger social patterns, policies and tensions leading up to their crimes," said Vanderbilt University professor Jonathan Metzl, who called the effort understandable but misguided.
Families of mass shooting victims have long urged journalists to avoid using the gunmen's names and photos in public, saying the sight of them renews their pain and turns troubled murderers into celebrities.
Last year, a police chief in Washington state would not identify a 15-year-old boy who killed himself and four friends at a high school, saying, "I will not promote the motivation by spending any time on the shooter."
A sheriff in suburban Denver refused to speak the name of a high school senior who killed himself and a classmate in December 2013, saying "he deserves no recognition."
And throughout the four-month trial of Colorado theater shooter James Holmes, prosecutors repeatedly referred to him as "that guy," pointing to Holmes seated at the defense table, over angry objections from his attorneys.
The grandmother of a female student who survived the rampage at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, said the shooter gave another student a package to deliver to authorities. However, it is unclear whether Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer sought notoriety.
Media organizations routinely name mass shooters, reasoning that the name is the key detail that helps unravel and answer broader questions about the killer's motivations and hold government accountable.
Only with a name can the public know, for example, whether a killer shouldn't have been able to buy a gun or if authorities missed red flags.
"We wouldn't know his criminal history. We wouldn't know his educational history. We wouldn't know his social history," said Kelly McBride, a vice president at The Poynter Institute and an expert in media ethics.
The Associated Press includes the names of the perpetrators or suspects involved, except in situations involving minors, AP Standards Editor Thomas Kent said. "The names are a matter of public record, and reporting names eliminates the possibility of rumors spreading about who the person involved may or may not be," he said.
Law enforcement officials point to a recently released study suggesting a "contagion effect" after mass shootings that garner national and international headlines. Similar incidents were more likely to happen within an average of 13 days, said the study's lead author Sherry Towers, a research professor at Arizona State University.
Researchers' analysis came largely from news reports, she said.
Towers acknowledged that it's impossible to say whether publicizing gunmen's identities caused more violence, as their names were part of every news story. Police and news agencies would have to agree not to publish the names of shooters for a period of time in order to accurately study the impact, she said.
Researchers say the reasons for concern are obvious.
Harper-Mercer's social media profiles suggested he tracked other mass shootings. In one post, he appeared to urge readers to watch the online footage of a man shooting two former colleagues live on TV in Virginia, noting "the more people you kill, the more you're in the limelight."
Adam Lanza, who killed 26 students and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, was obsessed with the 1999 bloodbath at Columbine High in Colorado and other mass killings, keeping a spreadsheet that ranked them.
Shooters inspire each other, so police are right not to put a spotlight on them, said Pete Blair of Texas State University's Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center.
Blair led an effort called "Don't Name Them" that was endorsed by the FBI. Later this month, Blair will tell police at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference to focus less on the gunman and more on victims after high-profile crimes, whose names are often forgotten.
Some researchers say a name alone is not enough to motivate a mass killer.
Getting attention might be part of the goal, but most mass killers are driven by a number of other factors, including mental illness, anger, revenge and fear, said Grant Duwe, a Minnesota corrections official who wrote the book "Mass Murder in the United States: A History."
His study of mass shootings throughout history was aided by news reports that named the perpetrators.
So "if the media had a policy of refusing to name who was responsible for carrying out a mass killing, it might have made my (research) a lot harder, to try to identify all the information associated with a case," he said.
Lawmakers propose creating online registry of drug dealers
Advocacy groups said creating a registry is unfair to people who have already served time for their crimes
by Kathleen Ronayne
CONCORD, N.H. — Seeking new ways to clamp down on drug abuse, three Republican lawmakers are proposing the creation of an online registry system for drug dealers, similar to the sex offender registry.
"These people that are selling heroin are ruining peoples' lives, so is there any penalty that we would not want to be considering?" said House Majority Leader Jack Flanagan, the sponsor of one of the bills.
Each of the bills are slightly different, but outside criminal advocacy groups said creating such a registry is unnecessary and unfair to people who have already served time for their crimes.
"It's a stupid, gratuitous and entirely unnecessary proposal," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a non-profit that opposes the so-called "war on drugs." ''It reminds me of the sort of foolish rhetoric and foolish laws that flowed from back at the height of the drug war."
New Hampshire is facing a growing heroin and prescription drug abuse problem. More than 320 citizens died from overdoses in 2014. In 2013, that number was 193. And officials said that 2015 is on pace to match last year's numbers. The lawmakers proposing these bills said a registry would act as a deterrent and allow the public to know who the drug dealers are in their communities.
Flanagan's proposal would only create a registry for convicted heroin dealers and would not include first time offenders. He said inclusion on the registry could cost someone access to certain welfare benefits, but those details have not been worked out.
"We're going to have to fine tune this," he said. "I'm not looking for the first time user or seller to end up being on this list."
A proposal by Rep. James Belanger would only include people on the registry if they've been convicted of drug dealing three or more times. As a former police officer, Belanger said he understands the concerns around civil liberties and unfair penalties and is attempting to mitigate those concerns by giving offenders multiple chances. Once someone is on the list, he or she would be on it forever, he said.
"I'm giving them three chances, that makes a big difference," he said.
Rep. Eric Eastman is also sponsoring a bill to create a dealer registry, but could not be reached to discuss the details.
The New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police has not been consulted about any of the proposals.
Devon Chaffee, executive director of New Hampshire's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said people convicted of non-violent drug offenses already have difficulty securing jobs and reintegrating into society.
"Further marginalization of such individuals would threaten to increase recidivism, potentially aggravating the very problem that the proposed bills are presumably intended to address," she said in a statement.
Conn. police investigating 'racially-charged letters' found on cruisers
The letters seem to target certain officers due to their race
by David Moran
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — The city's police department has begun an internal affairs investigation after "racially-charged letters" were found on at least eight vehicles in the department's parking lot last month, the second time in less than a year that racist letters have been found at the headquarters, according to city and police officials.
The department said in a statement Friday eight letters that appear to target "certain current and former Bridgeport police officers due to their race" were found on the windshield of vehicles, including police cars, in the Congress Street parking lot around 4 a.m. on Sept. 27.
The letter, a list of a half dozen names under the heading "White Power Emerald Society," is written on department letterhead bearing the name of Police Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr. and containing the alleged signature of Assistant Chief James Nardozzi.
Nardozzi said Friday that he did not signed any such letter.
"I am disgusted that someone would make such a hateful statement and falsify my signature to the document," he said in a statement. "I did not write or sign this letter nor have I made any statements that even remotely reflect the sentiments of this letter. The allegations are ludicrous and sickening."
Gaudett said he has also notified the state's attorney's office of the letter.
"The city and the police department have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to discrimination of any kind, especially that of a racial nature," Gaudett said in a statement. "We will investigate the letter's authenticity, motive and every part of the development and distribution of it."
Similar letters on department letterhead were found inside mailboxes at department headquarter's in February. They have a similar tone and also contain the words "white power."
"These black officers belong in the toilet," the letters stated, according to a Feb. 18 Associated Press article, and focused mainly on then Bridgeport Officer Clive Higgins, who was acquitted in January of this year of violating a person's civil rights in connection with the 2011 beating of a Hispanic suspect that was captured on video.
Two other Bridgeport officers, Elson Morales and Joseph Lawlor, pleaded guilty to the civil rights violations and were sentenced to three months in jail. Both resigned from the department.
Higgins is one of the six names mentioned in the September letters. He resigned from the department in July while still on administrative leave as the department investigated his role in the May 2011 incident.
State and local police said an investigation into who distributed the February letters was still ongoing Friday and declined further comment.
Chuck Paris, president of Bridgeport's police union, said he wrote to the state and local police as well as Mayor Bill Finch several months ago asking for an update on the investigation into the February letters and received no response. He called the finding of the new letters "deplorable."
"Obviously, we want to find out whose doing it," Paris said. "We're concerned that the first investigation hasn't been completed as of yet. We're anxious to see the results and clear are officers names."
Our view: The gun debate
Arguments over steps to keep guns away from criminals and the mentally unstable all stumble over the ubiquity of guns – perhaps 350 million in the U.S.; over changes that would only impact law-abiding citizens; over politicizing tragedies and rushing to judgments; and ultimately over the constitutional right to own a gun.
But if we do nothing, then nothing will change. The refusal of the gun lobby and its supporters to even engage in a dialogue precludes any progress, even baby steps taking years to be fully felt.
We pointed out yesterday that there was no single magic bullet but a series of changes that cut the rate of auto fatalities by about 60 percent since 1970 to where this year the number of car deaths fell below firearm fatalities. Does anyone remember the people who argued they were safer NOT wearing a seatbelt; that they were better off being ejected in a crash? Hopefully, not through the windshield.
Cars are not guns, but the progress made is applicable. Also, Massachusetts has some of the toughest gun laws in the country so any changes on a national level are unlikely to be felt here.
Whenever gun safety gets attention – as it has yet again – the gun lobby and its friends in Congress claim it's politicizing a tragedy, and rushing for easy solutions may result in the wrong solution. We're approaching the third anniversary of the slaughter of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Has enough time passed? That argument was a red herring, and continues to be repeated to this day because more tragedies keep getting in the way. After Newtown, the National Rifle Association doubled down and said the solution was not more controls, but more guns for protection. Something like that theory is about to be tested in Texas - see Frank Bruni's commentary on this page. The world's best military still has friendly fire deaths; imagine armed civilians in the midst of chaotic shootouts.
Meanwhile, Congress won't even authorize funds for the CDC to collect data for analysis. Nationally, nearly two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides, just over 21,000 annually. About 11,000 are homicides, including domestic assaults; 500 are deemed accidental, and just under 300 are undetermined. The thing about suicide by gun, it's successful about 95 percent of the time, according to Dr. Michael P. Hirsh, director of the Pediatric Trauma Center and co-director of the Injury Free Coalition, both at UMass Memorial, and medical director of Worcester's Division of Public Health. Yet about 90 percent of suicide survivors – not very many by gun – do not subsequently die by suicide. A California law, often tied to domestic abuse or divorce, allows for guns to be taken away on a temporary basis. Would that help nationally if family or friends could approach someone on the edge, or report them?
Complex societal issues drive publicized urban shootings, including those that hit Worcester this year. One approach to make guns harder to obtain by criminals is to end the hodgepodge of state laws that make guns, including assault-style semi-automatic weapons and large capacity magazines, easily obtainable in some states. Gun enthusiasts point to all the shootings in Chicago, the president's home base, and in Washington, D.C., his current address, despite tough gun laws there. Those guns come from somewhere, including states where it's easy to get guns. Like driving to New Hampshire to buy fireworks. A uniform national code would help stem straw-man purchases. Controls over ammunition sales as well as gun purchases, are another area, including microscopic stampings tying bullets to a particular gun. The Oregon killer legally purchased 14 guns; the Colorado movie theater killer legally purchased more than 6,000 rounds, all without raising attention. Dr. Hirsh also points to requirements for better storage - 25 percent of guns used in crimes in Worcester were stolen, often in unreported thefts because the owners didn't legally own them.
There are solutions, if only we'd have a rational discussion.