October, 2015 - Week 3
Chicago program aids to foster better relationships between police, their community
Crisis responders can act as a bridge, calming distraught families and providing police sensitivity training
by Tony Briscoe
CHICAGO — Dawn Valenti can still hear the pain in the voice of a Roseland mother the moment the woman learned she had lost a second son to gun violence within a year.
"What can you possibly tell me?" a sobbing Stephanie Franklin asked Valenti as she dropped to her knees at the crime scene.
Franklin stared into the headlights of her bullet-pocked Pontiac Bonneville, which her son Shamari Salter, 20, had driven to Champaign to enroll in Parkland College that day in late spring. He and two friends were sitting in the car when they were ambushed shortly after he returned to the neighborhood. All three died from their injuries.
Valenti, a member of a crisis response team, called a Naperville-based company that specializes in crime scene cleanups. After hearing the woman's story from Valenti, Bio-One Chicago owner Bill Muir said he told his workers, "I don't want to see one drop of blood in there." His employees worked through the night to clean the car for free. The next day, Valenti drove the car, fixed with duct tape covering the bullet holes, back to Franklin. The two began planning the funeral.
Valenti has an uneasy familiarity with the chaos of the crime scene and the aftermath of violence. She is one of four crisis responders with Chicago Survivors, a city program that was expanded in September to reach out to the families of every Chicago homicide victim.
The initiative, funded by a $2 million U.S. Department of Justice grant and charitable donations, provides crisis intervention services that can range from candlelight vigils to grieving workshops to navigating police procedures.
"We're a city of walking wounded families," Valenti said. "The police go away, and there's no one there to help them. There's no one to guide them to the medical examiner's office, funeral planning or even to tell them why their loved one's body was in the street so long."
Program officials hope their compassionate response will be a small step toward curbing Chicago's problems with violence. In September, Chicago recorded 56 homicides, the city's deadliest September since 2002. Through the end of the month there were at least 383 homicides in Chicago, 56 more than last year at this time and 42 more than in 2013.
As distrust of police has grown in high-crime areas across the country, Chicago Survivors and other programs like it try to foster better relationships between communities and law enforcement. Crisis responders can act as a bridge, calming distraught families at crime scenes, providing police detectives sensitivity training and, sometimes, gleaning pertinent information to help solve cases, advocates said.
"We're hoping it will help in certain areas to get a better understanding and build a bit more trust," said John Escalante, the Chicago Police Department's chief of detectives. "It's not that we're immune to what they're going through, but our role is to investigate the murder and arrest the person who committed the murder, and sometimes our detectives don't have time to tell them about that process."
Other major cities have similar programs, including Los Angeles, where police credit an initiative involving community groups, former gang members and specialized patrol officers with helping reduce that city's violence by connecting with the community.
Roseanna Ander, executive director of University of Chicago Crime Lab, a university-funded think tank that attempts to develop new approaches to reducing violence, said Chicago Survivors could prevent violence on two fronts: curtailing retaliatory violence and raising police case clearance rates.
The program gives "the family an opportunity to get the help they need, give that sibling other avenues to handle that pain and grief so that they don't further the cycle of violence and try to settle the score themselves," Ander said. "They're also helping the family work within the system to solve the crime. When you bring families, witnesses and communities together to help police get information to get crimes solved, it has the potential to restore confidence in the system."
Chicago Survivors was launched as a city pilot program in November 2014 by Chicago Citizens for Change, a nonprofit that attempts to combat violence through community action. At the request of the city, the program began covering all of Chicago last month, Escalante said.
The expedited rollout, which includes about a dozen support staff members and volunteers, follows months of encouraging signs, city officials said. From late May through September, the program has provided support for 80 families; only one family has refused services.
"Through this partnership with the Department of Justice, for the first time, Chicago will have comprehensive crisis response for families who are victims of homicide so that we can stick by them and provide longer-term services," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement Sept. 30. "Violence prevention is not just the job of CPD. It's the job of every city department and our communities. This is a great example of how our city departments are coming together to work with community partners to strengthen our response to violence."
The program started with two crisis responders assigned to homicides in the violence-plagued Calumet District on the city's Far South Side. Today, when a homicide is reported, the Police Department calls one of four crisis responders, who work rotating schedules, to provide information about the incident and where to meet detectives.
On a recent Wednesday, a crisis responder who was stuck in traffic called Valenti to fill in for her at the scene of a fatal shooting on the city's Southeast Side. The sun had just begun to peek over houses in the 9100 block of South Yates Boulevard, where 17-year-old Armonni Nelson had been shot answering a knock on the back door of the family's one-story bungalow.
As Valenti pulled up to the house, which was wrapped with a ribbon of yellow police tape, the shock that initially paralyzed the teen's relatives had turned to palpable agony.
The soft sobs of Nelson's mother, Angela Nelson, who sat with her head bowed in the back of a parked car, turned to emotional cries of the boy's name. Older brother D.J. Nelson, who held the teen during his last moments, changed out of his bloodstained T-shirt and held up the bottom of a fresh one to dry his tears as he anxiously paced the street.
Meanwhile, as detectives and evidence technicians shuffled in and out of her home, Armonni Nelson's grandmother, Alice Johnson, sat stoically on a neighbor's porch, recollecting the moment she found her grandson in a pool of blood.
"I tried to talk to him, and he just closed his eyes," Johnson said. "I said, 'Stay with me, Armonni. Stay with me. Help is on the way.' ... He was breathing really hard and that was it."
In his final days, Nelson was afraid because he had been threatened by men in the neighborhood, Johnson said. He didn't dare go toward 93rd Street, where he'd been robbed recently. The teen was so crippled by fear that he had stopped going to school and enrolled in online college courses.
He loved music and aspired to be a hip-hop artist. The teen, whose rap name was Faizon, had recently shot his first music video, although it hadn't been released.
As the reality of his death sank in, Valenti diverted relatives' attention while authorities moved his body from the rear of the home. After learning Nelson's mother and grandmother have diabetes, Valenti ran around the corner to grab them food before walking them through the next steps, which included the dreaded trip to the Cook County medical examiner's office, where relatives typically are shown a postmortem photo of the victim's face to confirm his or her identity.
"I went with another family to ID their son, and the mother told me, 'I thought giving birth was hard. This was the hardest thing I've ever had to do,' " Valenti said.
For Valenti, though the families are different, the fallout from the violence is the same. A mother who wants to see the body of her child. A house filled with relatives in the days leading to a funeral. And then an awkward loneliness as others return to their normal lives.
"It's not ever easy," said Valenti, a self-described "street soldier" with tattoo sleeves. "It's times when it hits me, and it hits me really hard. I am human. I have an 18-year-old son and this kid was 17, and so many of the homicides we're dealing with are under 26 years old.
"It's hard at times, but to give them strength when they don't have the strength, that's what I'm there to do."
Valenti, a former delivery driver, stumbled into her role as an advocate for victims' families when her best friend's son died along with 20 others in the infamous E2 nightclub stampede in 2003. A year after the tragedy, Valenti found herself puzzled at the lack of support for victims' families. So she took it upon herself to lead a vigil outside the South Loop venue — a memorial she still holds each year.
"My heart and my spirit said, 'This is where you need to be. ... This is the work you should be doing,'" Valenti said.
Others with the Chicago Survivors are driven by that same passion. Joy McCormick founded Chicago Citizens for Change after her son Frankie Valencia, a 21-year-old DePaul University honors student, died from a gunshot outside a Humboldt Park party in 2009.
Many times, having families interact with other "survivors" helps them through their grieving process, said Susan Johnson, executive director of Chicago Survivors. Last month the group held its first workshop for victims' families in hopes of expanding that approach.
The class, called I Can't Sleep, aimed to help victims' relatives who suffer from insomnia. The free class filled up within days, prompting the group to hold another session.
It's not unusual for people to have pathological insomnia, fits of rage or depression after experiencing the kind of loss D.J. Nelson went through with his brother, advocates said.
The night before Armonni Nelson's death, D.J. Nelson had trouble sleeping. His friend had an altercation with some men earlier in the day, and the friend's mother was shot around 11 p.m. while taking out the trash. Hours later, D.J. Nelson fell asleep only to be awakened by a knock at the back door, the sound of gunshots and his brother telling him not to answer the door.
He found his brother bleeding in the hallway.
"He was a good student," D.J. Nelson said. "He was artistic, smart, one of those guys who'd get into an argument about anything because he was a know-it-all, but he was good guy. My little brother was gonna be a nice young man."
In this case, as in many, Valenti worried there might be retaliation, which might lead to further bloodshed in the neighborhood. One relative remarked, "I hope police get these guys before they do."
Around the same time, Valenti spotted a friend bringing Nelson a bottle of liquor. Before she left, Valenti warned the older brother against acting on raw emotion.
"Will he?" Valenti asked. "I don't know. But what he said to me was: 'I promise I'm going to do nothing.' I explained to him what comes behind those thoughts. I mean, he has the right to feel that way. Someone just knocked on his door and shot his little brother. He was feeling guilty ... he was blaming himself, and I told him, 'It's not your fault.' And it's not his fault, because he didn't pull the trigger."
As officers took down police tape, family members noticed that the hallway of the family home where Armonni Nelson had collapsed was clean. Valenti had called her partners at Bio-One, and they had moved in behind detectives and soaked up the blood. Typically the company works with families' home insurance carriers and, in some cases a deductible may apply.
Before he left, Muir gave one of Armonni Nelson's cousins a stone he'd found from a recent cleanup, dark and jagged on one side and "a gorgeous blue" quartz on the other.
"I told him, 'Squeeze this when you're angry to calm you down,'" Muir said. "It was kind of a yin and yang thing, you know, for every dark side, a bright side."
Mass. town issues 'citations' for good behavior
Getting a ticket from these officers isn't a bad thing
by The Associated Press
CONCORD, Mass. — Getting a ticket from police in one Massachusetts town isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Concord's police department says it plans to issue up to 200 "citations" for good behavior. That could include such things as wearing a bicycle helmet or a seat belt, yielding to pedestrians at a crosswalk or looking both ways before crossing a street.
Police Chief Joseph O'Connor says it's a light-hearted way to connect positively with the community.
Instead of a fine or a court appearance, these citations can be redeemed for two scoops of ice cream at Reasons to be Cheerful, a local dessert cafe. The owner of the restaurant, Wade Rubinstein, agreed to donate the ice cream.
How every police officer can positively influence our collective image
Every police officer in uniform — whether on the street or working homicide — can take it upon themselves to represent their department in a positive way
by Jim Born
These are tough times for cops when it comes to image and media coverage. We've all seen the pendulum swing both ways on how the public views police officers. Some agencies are better than others at getting across a positive message.
The FBI is famous for its PR machine. And while that has led to more than a few jokes about the federal agency, the fact remains they rarely get cuts in funding and when someone from the general public meets an FBI agent, they are generally impressed. That's just one example of the power of a good public relations machine.
But most agencies can't even afford a public information officer, let alone be the subject of TV shows and movies. If you are like most cops working on the street, you are your agency's best chance at projecting a positive image. It's important to remember that from big news stories all the way to a simple hello from a cop walking a beat, the general public is always forming opinions about us. How we are perceived directly affects not only our agency, but each individual officer across the nation as well.
Control and Influence
There are generally two types of power in police work: control and influence. We can control a situation, control a person, and even control a neighborhood, but cops generally don't fully utilize their power of influence. Talking to people on your beat or explaining things thoroughly to witnesses and victims are a few examples of how engaging with the public can have a profound influence on their overall view of your own agency and law enforcement in general. This is part of the basis behind the DARE program — it's basically saying that cops are not jerks.
Studies have shown that other people's perceptions affect our own self-evaluations and can lead to a pattern that could influence your whole career. We are the front line of our agencies in so many ways — from public service to criminal interdiction — and this is especially true of public relations. Each one of us represents many, many more.
We have a tendency to be on the defensive and use phrases like, “It's cop thing.” But if recent events have shown us anything, it's that this leads to an extremely negative view by the media and promotes an “us against them” syndrome. In the most practical and obvious terms, this can cost your agency public support, which ultimately leads to a decrease in funding as well as the public's ability to look at each incident involving a police shooting with an open mind.
It's Up to Us
The days of TV shows like “Dragnet” or “Adam 12” — where cops were depicted only in a positive light — appear to be long gone. That's something that is out of our control. But every police officer in uniform – whether on the street or working homicide— can take it upon themselves to represent their department in a positive way.
This can start with something as simple and corny as saying hello or smiling to a civilian as you pass them on the street. This is especially true for kids.
I know every encounter is different, and police often find themselves dealing with the worst of society or an average citizen at the worst possible time. An easy technique that I learned as a rookie — and use even today — is to smile politely and listen to what the person has to say while quietly making your own judgments about their statements in your head. It's shocking how effective this can be for your own mental health and keeping people happy and moving quickly on their way.
Consider your position and that one of your job responsibilities is as a representative of a proud, honorable, and noble profession. It's a cop thing.
About the author
James O. Born started his career in police work as a US Drug Agent (DEA) and was part of the late 1990s Miami drug war. He then moved on to become a Special Agent with the elite Florida Department of Law Enforcement, working undercover and spending eleven years on the agency's Special Operation's Team. He's also a nationally known author of nine novels. The — Border War — was co-authored with TV commentator Lou Dobbs. Born's most recent novel, Scent of Murder, about a police K-9 unit, was released in April, 2015. Visit his website, his Amazon page, or his Facebook page.
From the FBI
Race and Law Enforcement
Director Urges Closer Ties Between Police, Communities
FBI Director James Comey is continuing to urge police agencies and their constituents—particularly in communities of color—to take steps to better understand one another to help stem what he sees as a growing disconnect.
“I imagine two lines,” Comey said Thursday during a forum at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio that included local law enforcement, community leaders, prosecutors, and high school students. “One [line] is us in law enforcement and the other is the folks we serve and protect. And I think those two lines are arcing away from each other.”
The Director's remarks echoed a speech he delivered on the subject of race and law enforcement last February at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The speech followed lethal police encounters that occurred the previous summer in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City—sparking protests and intense public debate—and the apparent retribution killings of two uniformed New York Police Department officers in December 2014.
At the time, Comey suggested his remarks were only the beginning of a broader and much-needed exchange on the subject. “These are only conversations in the true sense of that word if we are willing not only to talk but to listen, too.”
In the months since then, the Director has continued to talk on the subject and FBI field offices around the country have reached out to their own communities to further that conversation as well.
In Cleveland, where violent crime rates have risen dramatically this year, Director Comey joined Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams, Cuyahoga County Sheriff Clifford Pinkney, and more than 200 members of the local community to talk and to listen.
“I'm here because I think Cleveland is a place of great pain that is in a way illustrative of that crisis of those bending arcs,” Comey said.
It was in Cleveland that a 12-year-old African-American boy, Tamir Rice, was fatally shot by a police officer while holding a pellet gun in November 2014. The city is implementing a federal agreement following a Department of Justice determination last year that city police officers too often used excessive force and violated people's civil rights. A provision of the settlement is to better train officers in community engagement.
During the question-and-answer-style forum, moderated by FBI Cleveland Special Agent in Charge Stephen Anthony, the panelists agreed that a major step forward would be for police to get out of their cars and get better acquainted with people in their communities. But the hard work has to be shared, they said.
“For law enforcement to be successful—to make a better community—we need your help,” Sheriff Pinkney told attendees, including some 40 young students seated in the front rows. “We need your support, whether it's publicly or anonymously—we need you to be a part of this team.”
Comey said the answer to finding more common ground was “unscientific.”
“It's simply understanding that it's hard to hate up close,” Comey said. “We must see each other more clearly.”
In the audience, Ryan Hurley, a humanities teacher at St. Martin de Porres High School, listened with interest, alongside a dozen of his students.
“We're having this conversation in our classes, we're having this conversation in our school because it's important,” Hurley said following the event. “I think the big takeaway is that it's sort of a shared responsibility. And they're okay taking on that responsibility if they feel like they have trust in the people at the top.”
After the forum, Hurley asked students what they thought.
“Their first response was, ‘They seem a lot different here than they do on the news.'”
Cleveland Police Chief Williams was optimistic that things were beginning to change. His department, along with the FBI, recently held a “Safety in Your Sanctuary” program for about 40 local clergy members. Another recent community event focused on police use of force.
“I think that right now, this moment, we're at a point where we're going up,” Williams said. “I think we're at a point where people are actually coming together to really talk sensible solutions about things that are happening.”
The Director said Cleveland was an ideal location to continue the discussion of race and law enforcement. “This is a place of tremendous promise,” he said. “Given the quality of the leadership you have here and the folks here in this room, you actually have the best chance of arcing those lines back together and showing this country how it can be done.”
New patrol routes meant to encourage community policing in New Haven
by Jeevan Vittal
NEW HAVEN -- Be ready for more cops along the sidewalks. Literally.
New Haven Police have deployed 31 new officers to various walking routes along the city. It's part of the department's community policing initiative, which is designed to form closer bonds between neighbors and officers.
"This is part of the plan to make sure they understand how important it is that they integrate themselves within the neighborhoods they're patrolling, and it's important for the neighborhoods to see them on a regular basis," said Officer David Hartman of the New Haven Police Department.
There will be 15 new walking routes to compliment the department's current beats.
Mayor Toni Harp praised the program saying, "What we've seen by doing that over the past two years is that we've reduced crime across every measure and that the community and the police have a better working relationship with one another."
The department says no particular incidents or crimes influenced the planning of the deployment, however, some beats are tailored toward the city's more crime-prone hot spots.
Local law enforcement leaders address public safety questions
by Kylie McGivern
AUSTIN (KXAN) – At a time when there is a national spotlight on strained relations between law enforcement and the public, Wednesday, the Austin police chief and Travis County Sheriff answered questions about public safety, training, cultural diversity, and community policing.
The discussion was part of Leadership Austin's Engage Breakfast Series. KXAN's Shannon Wolfson moderated the event.
In terms of officer training, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said he's changed a lot of the department's policies since becoming chief.
“We've put a lot of emphasis on de-escalation training,” Chief Acevedo said, noting police department established a “foot pursuit” policy, a policy he says doesn't exist in many police departments across the country.
“We put on a lot of training. I tell my officers all the time if you want respect you're going to have to give respect,” Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton said, adding that his department is currently working on establishing a food pursuit policy.
When asked about the increased scrutiny of law enforcement in the public eye, and recent cases that have made national news, Sheriff Hamilton said, “We have bad apples in any profession. Often times, I see the public and the media paint with a broad brush. 95 percent of officers are doing the right thing.”
“The human condition is imperfect and we all have biases. As leaders, we have to have systems in place to identify those biases and cut them from the herd,” Chief Acevedo said.
The chief and sheriff also addressed some of the biggest threats to public safety they see today. Chief Acevedo said without a doubt, DWIs are one of the biggest threats, acknowledging alcohol is a big problem in the city of Austin, along with drugs. Sheriff Hamilton pointed to mental illness as one of the biggest issues facing our community. He said Austin State Hospital only has 235 beds, and “100 just went away.”
Sheriff Hamilton said the county jail averages 650 people in crisis every day, with only one psychiatrist on staff. He said the mentally ill are being criminalized because there is no place to take them.
Along those lines, Sheriff Hamilton said there needs to be background checks in place for everyone who purchases a gun.
“We need to put something in place to vet these individuals to find out if they've had a mental illness.”
In the midst of an ongoing debate among city council members about how to regulate transportation networking companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft, Chief Acevedo said the additional transportation options are overall a positive addition to the community.
“I believe Uber and Lyft are critical for people to make better choices,” Chief Acevedo said.
That said, the police chief went on to acknowledge, “We've had 18 cases where Uber drivers are involved in inappropriate actions.”
Nearing the end of the breakfast session, Chief Acevedo hit on several points, emphasizing how we all need to take a vested interest in children in our community, whether they're ours or not. He then said Austin doesn't need any more bars, and suggested even requiring bars on 6th street to sell food until midnight and stagger bar closing times.
“6th street is out of control,” Chief Acevedo said.
The next session in the Engage Breakfast series will be held November 11th, and focus on women in leadership.
Click here for ticket information.
Paws in Prison program providing inmates with skills, improving public safety
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Paws in Prison) - Paws in Prison is turning four years old!
To celebrate, Paws in Prison is hosting a Ruff, Rock ‘n Roll benefit Sat., Oct. 17 from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at the Scott Plantation Settlement. There'll be Whole Hog barbecue, beer, wine, and of course, dogs!
Tickets for this adult event are $50 each and may be purchased at adc.arkansas.gov.
Paws in Prison is made possible through ADC's partnership with animal shelters and advocate groups around the state. Selected inmates have the opportunity to become trainers of rescue dogs in the program and work with the dogs, teaching them basic obedience skills and properly socializing the animals, making them more adoptable. Dogs spend approximately 8 to 10 weeks in training.
The Paws in Prison program will reduce the number of animals who perish by better preparing them to be loving, obedient, and adoptable pets. The program will give inmates the skills necessary to support successful rehabilitation and reentry – and ultimately improve public safety. At the same time, this is an opportunity for the inmates to do something positive for the communities of Arkansas.
In states where similar programs operate, they have had a profound impact on inmates and staff, thus improving security and the quality of life inside the institutions.
Paws in Prison is supported by private donations and the sale of recyclables. There is no state budget for the program. For more information, visit adc.arkansas.gov.
Feds launch nationwide synthetic drug crackdown
The DEA and other state and federal agents arrested 151 people in 16 states since July 2014
by Alicia A. Caldwell
WASHINGTON — Federal drug agents have arrested more than 100 people across the country in the latest phase of a national crackdown on manufacturers and purveyors of synthetic drugs, the Drug Enforcement Administration said Thursday.
The DEA and other state and federal agents arrested 151 people in 16 states since July 2014 in an operation that ended Thursday.
Government agents also seized more than $15 million in cash and assets as part of Project Synergy, an ongoing DEA crackdown on synthetic drugs.
Agents in Los Angeles and Bakersfield, California, seized about $500,000 in cash and more than 200 pounds of drugs, the DEA said. Several hundred people have been arrested since the agency's first such operation in 2012.
The DEA has been focusing on synthetic drugs, including bath salts, Spice and Molly, since the drugs gained widespread popularity years ago. The agency is responsible for enforcing federal drug laws.
In late 2010, the DEA moved to ban five chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana blends, including K2, Spice and Blaze. Since then, illegal drug manufacturers have continued to modify their formulas and develop new chemical mixtures.
Reports of synthetic marijuana products identified by local, state and federal drug labs have skyrocketed since 2009. That year, labs reported 23 cases. Last year there were roughly 37,500.
NY cops launch new program to locate missing persons
An emergency transmitter helps locate family members who have wandered off due to Alzheimer's, autism
by Cara Chapman
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — Sgt. William Dominy made his way around the vendor booths at the Clinton County Fairgrounds.
He was listening for a "beep" to come from his Yagi directional FM receiver, waiting for it to pick up a signal from an FM transmitter held by Sgt. Nicholas Leon at an unknown location.
Each beep was also accompanied by a quick rightward movement of a dial on the back of the receiver.
"The transmitter is making a 'ping' every two seconds," Dominy said.
'I Feel Safe'
The Clinton County Sheriff's Office sergeants were demonstrating how signals picked up from the transmitter, when worn by a missing person, could be used to locate him or her.
Jonah Baker-Flora, 11, of Plattsburgh wears his on his wrist.
"The sergeant says you can't take it off," he said. "It's waterproof, so if I take a shower or swim with sea turtles it will be fine."
Lindsay Baker-Flora, Jonah's mother, said her son is autistic, and she has heard many stories of children with autism disappearing and not being located.
"I'm forever grateful for this opportunity ... I'm a single mother, and I don't trust a lot of people with my son.
"I'm overjoyed — I sleep better at night."
Lindsay told the Press-Republican that Dominy will stop in at their home every once in a while.
"I feel safe," Jonah said. "If I'm lost or taken away, my mom can call the cops and they will check the machine to the bracelet."
Lindsay said Jonah may decorate his bracelet with Minecraft or Pokemon characters.
Project Lifesaver was introduced in the county earlier this year.
According to the program's website, its primary mission is "to provide timely response to save lives and reduce potential injury for adults and children who wander due to Alzheimer's, autism, and other related conditions or disorders."
As the beeps from the receiver grew louder and clearer, Dominy continued his search out onto the race track, behind the horse-show ring and then down a short tire-tracked path to where Leon stood waiting in the woods.
Dominy had located him after only about 15 minutes of searching.
"When we respond to cases of missing children and adults, you see the fear and the panic in the eyes of parents, caregivers and loved ones," Clinton County Sheriff David Favro said during a press conference held before Wednesday's demonstration.
"We're taking advantage of this incredible moment to be able to provide this level of comfort and excitement."
Favro said the project is part of a tri-county effort with the Essex and Franklin county sheriff's offices.
"Words cannot express the feeling you get from the families (when you) see the contentment and even pleasure on their faces," he said.
Each personal transmitter, worn on the wrist or ankle, is assigned its own FM frequency, between 215 and 218, and can be located within 1/4 to 1/2 a mile using the directional receiver, Dominy said.
Favro said receivers can pick up a signal up to 2 miles away in a helicopter, and his office is working closely with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Division on testing the transmitters.
"It's difficult to fool with," Dominy said. "It's simply going to find an FM channel."
Leon and Dominy went through about eight hours of training to learn how to track the transmitters and are so far the only two law enforcement members in the county qualified to use the technology.
They each have a Yagi receiver with them at all times should they be called to locate a client; a third receiver stays at the Sheriff's Office.
Dominy also has a non-directional receiver that picks up a signal 360 degrees around that he can place on top of his car to begin detecting as soon as he receives a call.
Missing Persons Clearinghouse Program Manager Cindy Neff said Favro's office is one of 22 sheriff's departments and two police departments statewide that have received the transmitters and receivers, and another 27 sheriff's departments were able to expand their programs.
"Since he took office, Governor (Andrew) Cuomo has stressed the importance of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of law enforcement," Neff said.
She said the state purchased the technology for the Project Lifesaver program, which includes 746 personal transmitters, with $253,000 used from the Missing and Exploited Children Special Revenue fund.
"Cellphone coverage does not impede the technology," she added.
Favro said his office is not currently charging fees when transmitters are assigned.
Can Bring Closure
So far, three transmitters have been issued in Clinton County, including Jonah's, and six have gone out to clients in Franklin County.
Steve and Jasmine VanValkenburg's son Ethan wears a transmitter on his ankle.
"He's had it for about three months," Steve said. "I think he was the first person to get it."
He said Ethan has low-functioning autism and if he were to wander off, he would not be able to communicate to someone that he was lost.
"In stores, he'll wander down an aisle, and your heart will stop," the Peru man said.
"If something really does happen or, God forbid, he was killed, we would be able to know where my son is."
"It can also bring closure if the family member doesn't make contact quickly enough," Dominy said.
"Say something detrimental happens, we can find them and bring closure."
'Feel Good Program'
Favro said parents and caregivers interested in enrolling a loved one in Project Lifesaver should write to their respective departments rather than call to ensure their requests are documented.
Information can also be found through the departments' websites.
Favro's office will also be relying on local agencies to connect with potential clients.
Franklin County Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill said transmitters in his county have been issued to three people with Down syndrome, one with autism, and two with dementia.
"It's given all of us the opportunity to work with the community," he said. "It's a feel-good, do-good program."
"The goal of this program is to bring loved ones home," Dominy said, "and on a fiscal level, how much money is spent, it can find them faster and with less manpower."
"It's a wonderful effort," Favro said. "A lot of times programs don't focus on the relief we can bring families — that's something we need to do."
SF cop's 'day in the life' Facebook post goes viral
The officer's post has more than 18K likes
by PoliceOne Staff
SAN FRANCISCO — Officer Roger Morse felt a need to share with his non-cop friends what he goes through as a cop every day, he told SFGATE.
Morse works out of the Bayview station — a beat that's known for high crime, violence and gang activity.
The post starts with him describing a scene of a heartbroken family watching another family member die. He describes how watching lives end rips a "piece of the soul" out every time.
“I'm sitting here watching a man slowly die with his family around him praying for a miracle.”
That's what SFPD Officer Roger Morse wrote on Facebook the other day.
Officer Morse works out of the Bayview Station.
It's a tough beat.
But he's there by choice.
He's there because he says he wants to help people.
Officer Morse' post is raw and emotional.
He told me:
“At that moment I felt I needed to share with my non cop friends what I actually go through.
Writing (the post) kept me from breaking down while watching the doctors attempt to bring him back.”
Here's what Officer Morse wrote in his post:
"I'm sitting here watching a man slowly die with his family around him praying for a miracle that the trauma team knows will not come.
We are watching the numbers on all his machines count down as the plethora of drugs fail to keep him alive, a painful slow motion.
This is just one of the things I get paid to do, for I job I love doing.
You may hate me because you ran a stop sign and now have a ticket for a law I am paid very well to enforce, but understand that most of my job is pain and death and not to pick on somebody I don't even know.
I can tell you that my partner and I walked in on an 11yr old who just hung himself from his bunk bed because his mom was mad at him.
My partner was amazing in trying to bring him back, but we could not.
We didn't go home.
We didn't quit.
We got back in our patrol car and handled calls until we were ordered to return to the station.
I will do the exact same after what I am doing right now.
I might even pull you over for something minor like a break light out.
This is not because I am tough, not because it doesn't bother me, not because I am a d--k cop, but rather it helps me move on from the trauma my brain has just gone through and the piece of soul that was ripped out.
So, next time you're stopped for "something stupid by an a--hole cop", know that she/he might have just come from holding the head up of a 13yr who was shot in the head and drowning in his own blood.
You don't have to like me because of what I do, that's fine.
I'll continue to respond to the most dangerous areas and provide assistance as my job, my duty, my oath, my honor, and my integrity require.
I just want to give you a small understanding and insight.
I don't need this post filled with I love yous n such, it's not for that."
Officer Roger Morse
There are such strong feelings about police both pro and con.
And that's why I wanted to post what Officer Morse wrote.
I think it's important for people to see the side of police work that he's talking about.
My hope is that this will give people a better/different understanding of what police do on a daily basis.
As always I welcome your thoughts.
Whether you agree or disagree.
Business leaders want Ramsey's community policing to stay
by Alison Burdo
Handshakes between police officers and business owners. Calls from the business community to law enforcement before a nagging issue turns into a crime. Programs to make obtaining security cameras easier. These are just a few of the hallmarks of Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey's legacy that Philadelphia business community leaders hope will live on after he leaves the job in January.
"The city is going to lose a real champion," said Miller Parker, CEO of the Philadelphia Business & Technology Center.
Miller, along with Marjorie Ogilvie of the Business Association of West Parkside and Alex Balloon of the Tacony Community Development Association, said they noticed the impact of Ramsey's community policing policies, which gets officers out of their patrol cars and on foot patrol to become more familiar and better establish trust with neighbors.
"We really need our business owners to know who our police officers are because they are the eyes and ears of the community," Balloon said.
"It is less confrontational," Miller added. "Now as I walk down the street, I know a lot of the officers. They wave, they beep their horn, they make sure we are okay."
The anecdotal evidence is supported by data as the foot patrol's beats saw a reduction in violent crime within their area they monitored by 23 percent, according to Jerry Ratcliffe, the chair of Temple University's criminal justice department.
"Not only did he want to bring in foot patrols," Ratcliffe said, "he wanted to learn the impact and value of foot patrols."
The city's District Attorney, Seth Williams, also praised the commissioner's efforts to bring data driven decisions to the job – a research effort which was recognized by the International Association of Chiefs of Police in 2010.
"The City of Philadelphia, its law enforcement community and its citizens are safer and better off today because of the courage and leadership of Commissioner Charles Ramsey," Williams said in a statement.
Will Cities of the Future Have Off-Limits Zones?
A North Carolina city declares some areas off-limits for convicts.
by Matthew Strauss
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has announced plans to institute “public safety zones,” The Charlotte Observer reports. The zones would be designated areas of the North Carolina city that the police chief deems to have increased crime rates. If a person were arrested in that zone, he or she could not return for a year if convicted of a crime. The Charlotte City Council will review the zoning proposal later this year.
The plan is meant to mimic Charlotte's former prostitution-free zones, created in 2005 but since discontinued. During its time, Charlotte found prostitution rates in the zones dropped. In neighboring areas, however, there were noticeable increases. Within a mile of zones, for example, there was a 62 percent increase in “service calls.” Nevertheless, overall rates “in and around” the zones decreased.
Regardless of effectiveness, the zones could be unconstitutional. Public safety zones could violate the First Amendment's right to freedom of association. So if a family member lives in a zone from which someone is excluded, that person cannot go visit. With exception, though, people with dependents (i.e., children) in the zone can return after arrest.
The public safety zones are a complicated issue that could both potentially harm and benefit locals. In theory, preventing those with criminal pasts from returning to a designated area keeps residents safer and discourages the proliferation of dangerous activities. In reality, however, it's much more likely that arrests will spike in the zones, preventing locals from going to their homes. It's truly unclear where someone is supposed to go if he or she is arrested and not sent to prison.
As it stands, CMPD's proposal feels a bit incomplete with very severe consequences. Obviously, the city's main concern is the community within the zone. Those who do not commit crimes should not be deterred. There's just no telling what constitutes arrest and subsequent dismissal from the zone.
Proposed 'Public Safety Zones' Would Effectively Segregate Charlotte
Police would decide where people who have been arrested can and cannot go—despite the department's abysmal record on race.
by Kriston Capps
Police in Charlotte, North Carolina, are planning an ordinance that is so vigorously unconstitutional, so wolf-faced crazy from concept to execution, that it may win an award for Most Bonkers Public Policy proposed for a city this year—this decade, even.
Let's assume that every member of the Charlotte City Council succumbs to brain amoebas and they decide to pass the proposal being put forward by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. And let's grant that it stands for more than 24 hours before a court—any court—slaps it down with extreme prejudice.
There's no soft way to put this: "Public safety zones" would return Charlotte to de jure segregation. Or at least, to a standard whereby white authorities could decide where black citizens can and cannot congregate.
The proposal would allow Charlotte-Mecklenburg police to ban anyone who gets arrested inside a declared “public safety zone” from ever again entering that zone. It's a sort of blind-justice proposal modeled after the city's prostitution-free zones, a preemptive measure designed to clear out areas that experience an uptick in crime, according to the Charlotte Observer.
But justice is anything but blind in Charlotte. A University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill study of 1.3 million traffic stops made by the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department between 2002 and 2013 found that black men ages 16–30 were more than three times as likely to be searched as other drivers. Young black men were also arrested in greater numbers than white male or white female drivers.
Perhaps this is not a surprising outcome for Charlotte's disproportionately white police force. Even though half of the city's population are minorities (35 percent black and 13 percent Latino), only 21 percent of CMPD officers are people of color. That same UNC-Chapel Hill study found that more than a quarter of some 500 officers whose records were scrutinized in detail stopped black drivers at least twice as often as white drivers.
Now, once the CMPD has the power of the Public Safety Zone ordinance behind it, people can be banned from assembling in certain areas simply because they have been arrested there on some suspicion or another. A suspect who commits no crime—someone who was never even charged with one—could be blocked from entering a Public Safety Zone, at least temporarily. Alternatively, a ban could stand for as long as it takes a suspect to be cleared of wrongdoing.
There's still one more way to think about it: What gives police the right to say where people who have been arrested for cause can and cannot go? Do people who have committed a crime and paid their sentence give up on the freedom to assembly?
Enforcing Public Safety Zones would almost certainly require more aggressive stops and profiling, meaning more searches and arrests. It could even be read as a repudiation of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Rodriguez v. United States, which ruled that police cannot extend a traffic stop without reasonable suspicion. While there's no reason to believe that this is CMPD's goal, it's hard to see how police would enforce Public Safety Zones in Charlotte without extensive, exhaustive stops of Charlotte residents.
And for a police department whose personnel skews white and whose stops and arrests tilt black, a Public Safety Zones ordinance would put disproportionate pressure on Charlotte's black population.
Under the proposal—one that CMPD attorney Mark Newbold acknowledges as facing “significant constitutional hurdles”—someone who has been banned from a Public Safety Zone can appeal the decision. However, even a person who wins his appeal might still find his life utterly disrupted.
“Within five days, the person could appeal the prohibition, on grounds such as the person is caring for children inside the area or the person lives or works there,” the Charlotte Observer reports. What happens to the kids and the job over those five days?
The Charlotte City Council can't seriously be thinking about passing an ordinance that would allow police to create Public Safety Zones (without council approval, mind you) and then enforce them. It wouldn't be the first time that a police department resorted to drastic measures, though. In Washington, D.C., in 2008, the Metropolitan Police Department erected traffic roadblocks around a neighborhood called Trinidad, which was experiencing a spike in homicides, probably a result of violence between rival “crews.” Officers questioned drivers coming and going at the checkpoints; the U.S. Court of Appeals was not subtle in condemning the practice.
The purpose of Public Safety Zones is likely not explicitly to harass black residents—no more so than any existing laws on the books are explicitly designed to harass black residents. It just happens that police officers enforcing traffic laws in Charlotte disproportionately target black drivers. No doubt, Public Safety Zones as enforced by the same (mostly white) officers will block the same (mostly black) residents.
That is, unless there is at least one adult in North Carolina who will call shenanigans and stop this unconstitutional farce before it becomes law.
Pass presumptive parole reform to save millions without threatening public safety
by Barbara Levine
The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) spends nearly $2 billion annually; more than $1.6 billion is spent directly operating prisons. If all this spending improved public safety it would be worth it. However, it does not. Taxpayers would be better served if a portion of this money was spent to create safer and healthier communities.
One way to reduce corrections spending without compromising public safety is through sentencing and parole reforms. Michigan sends fewer people convicted of felonies to prison than most other states because we have been a national leader in diverting those convicted of less serious offenses into community-based programs. As a result, nearly 70 percent of our prisoners are serving time for assaultive offenses. What drives our population is how long we keep people who do go to prison, compared to other states.
In its 2012 report, “Time Served: The High Cost, Low Return of Longer Prison Terms,” the Pew Center on the States reported that Michigan prisoners serve much longer terms for comparable offenses than prisoners in other states. Michigan's average length of stay is nearly 17 months longer for prisoners overall and 30 months longer for assaultive offenders.
Our length of stay is longer for two reasons. At the front end, the sentences judges impose keep getting longer. At the back end, the parole board too often fails to release people when they become eligible.
Decades of research show there is no evidence that keeping people incarcerated longer increases public safety. Just last year, the Council of State Governments reported that re-arrest rates of Michigan parolees released within six months of their first eligibility date are not significantly different than the re-arrest rates of those who are held longer.
This is true regardless of the offense on which they were paroled.
On Oct. 1, the Michigan state House voted out HB 4138, which would take an important step toward reducing our average length of stay. Sponsored by the House Criminal Justice Committee Chair, Rep. Kurt Heise (R, Plymouth), the bill received 67 votes, including majorities of Republicans and Democrats in the House.
HB 4138 would require the parole board to release people who score “high probability of release” on the MDOC's own parole guidelines when they first become eligible for parole, unless there is objective evidence showing the person is currently a risk to public safety or has a serious history of misconduct in prison. The MDOC estimates that adopting this standard could save 3,200 beds within five years at an annual savings of over $75 million.
Currently, about 1,900 prisoners with high probability scores have served their minimum sentences and are being denied release. The parole board often relies on factors the judge already considered in setting the minimum sentence or on a single board member's subjective assessment of the person's empathy or remorse. Under the bill, permissible reasons for departing from the parole guidelines would be spelled out in statute.
The focus would be on actually protecting public safety, not extending punishment for its own sake. The fact that someone committed a serious offense in the past does not mean they are currently a risk to anyone. In 2009, our parole board reviewed people who had previously been denied parole. It ended up releasing nearly 2,000 more prisoners than in 2008, including more than 1,000 additional people convicted of a homicide or sex offense.
Despite the predictions of many in law enforcement, MDOC data shows that re-offense rates actually declined from 17.9 percent for 2008 parolees to 15.6 percent for those paroled in 2009. Additionally, of nearly 5,000 people serving for homicide or sex offenses who were paroled from 2007 through March 2010, less than 1 percent returned to prison within three years of their release with a new sentence for a similar offense.
HB 4138 would increase transparency and certainty for victims and prisoners.
Michigan's “truth in sentencing” statute requires people to serve every day of the minimum, without reductions for good behavior or program completion. Presumptive parole would then ensure release when the minimum has been served, unless information not available to the sentencing judge warrants parole denial. It would not require the board to release anyone where there was verifiable evidence that they pose a current risk. It would not change the victims' role in the process or their ability to communicate with the parole board.
No parole board can predict the future with total accuracy. It is impossible to reduce risk to zero in making parole decisions. Serious new crimes by parolees, however, are the exception. Good public policy must be based on the majority of cases, not the aberrations. Keeping thousands of low-risk prisoners locked up for additional years because we cannot identify who might re-offend is fiscally, as well as morally,irresponsible.
Michigan desperately needs to reprioritize its spending. Adopting presumptive parole would be an excellent place to start.
Barbara Levine is associate director for research and public policy, Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending.
Chicago academics suggest Ore. police survey mentally ill people they encounter
The group said the only way to accurately measure whether their encounters have improved is to ask people themselves
by Maxine Bernstein
PORTLAND, Ore. — The only way to accurately measure whether Portland police are improving their encounters with people who have mental illnesses is to survey the people themselves, says a team of Chicago-based academics hired by the city to monitor police reforms.
The team made the recommendation in its second quarterly report examining Police Bureau changes required in a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.
A 2012 Justice Department investigation found Portland police used excessive force against people with mental illnesses. The negotiated agreement, approved by a federal judge in August 2014, calls for a wide range of remedies, including updates to police use of force and Taser policies and the dispatch of specially-trained officers to respond to mental crisis calls.
The professors are working with the bureau to poll people who have had recent contacts with police. It would include people with mental illnesses and people of color – two groups that federal investigators said the city police force must treat better.
"These surveys can give the community a voice in police services, assist the Portland Police Bureau in monitoring officers' field performance and evaluate the effectiveness of training,'' their report said.
The team repeated many of the shortcomings identified earlier this year by the Justice Department in a separate progress report. The community will have the chance to comment on the team's ideas at a town hall meeting on Oct. 22.
Jason Renaud, who sits on the board of the Mental Health Association of Portland, said the survey is a good idea as long as the names of those questioned stay private from police. "These are fragile people and protections for them are essential," Renaud said.
Amy Watson and Dennis Rosenbaum, the two University of Illinois professors who make up the compliance team, said the Police Bureau would send out the requests for information, and those asked to provide input would return their comments to Watson and Rosenbaum, or a third party, with no names attached.
Watson said they would not know the respondents' identities, and the Police Bureau would not know who participated.
Rosenbaum and Watson also recommend that the Police Bureau abandon its so-called "48-hour rule," which allows officers who use lethal force to wait at least two days before undergoing interviews by detectives. This year, officers involved in shootings declined to give any voluntary on-scene interviews, the report said.
Rosenbaum and Watson wrote that best practices require an immediate interview of an officer involved in a shooting, barring unusual circumstances. They suggested an immediate interview, with the potential for a more detailed interview a day later.
"Research suggests that the passage of time and talking with other people can seriously distort one's recall of events," they wrote.
Among their report's other findings:
— The bureau's use of force policy is confusing.
— The bureau's new training center is well-managed. But police training curriculum places a greater emphasis on tactics of containment, taking suspects into custody, leveraging resources and communication with fellow officers. How to de-escalate critical incidents and when to use force get little attention.
— The bureau must work with emergency dispatchers to expand the types of mental health calls that its Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team officers go to. The bureau has 64 of these specially trained officers. The best practice would have enough of the officers available on each shift in each precinct to respond to all mental health-related calls, the report said.
—The city should explore creating a truly independent review system for complaints against police.
In separate action, the city's new Community Oversight Advisory Board, a panel of citizens who help oversee the settlement, recommended this month that the Police Bureau rewrite its directives against bias-based policing and governing officers' voluntary contacts to mirror those used by the Seattle Police Department.
Portland police discuss use of pretext stops Portland police Lt. Tashia Hager talks about police use of pretext stops
Seattle police last year adopted new "Stops and Detentions" and "Bias-Free Policing" policies to clarify how officers are to handle street encounters and help ensure that officers do not engage in discriminatory policing. The policies were approved by a federal monitor and the U.S. Department of Justice.
The advisory board also recommended Portland police collect data on all stops — broken down by individual officer and specialty unit – and no longer conduct pretext stops. Officers should also alert people during voluntary contacts that they have the right not to talk or answer police, the board said.
Tom Steenson, an attorney who sits on the advisory board, said police sometimes use the pretext stops as a "fishing expedition.''
Police Lt. Tashia Hager, a non-voting member of the board, cautioned against a ban on pretext stops – a typical example would be using a minor traffic violation to investigate an unrelated suspected crime. Hager said the stops are an effective investigative tool that help police respond to neighborhood crime complaints.
Freddie Gray hearing: Officer's 2 statements admissible
by The Associated Press
BALTIMORE (AP) — The statements two Baltimore police officers made to investigators probing the death of Freddie Gray can be used at the officers' trials, a judge ruled Tuesday.
All six officers appeared before Judge Barry Williams, who considered whether statements by two of the six officers would be admissible. The contents of the statements have not been publicly disclosed.
Officer William Porter, the sole officer to waive his appearance at a hearing last month, was in court Tuesday. His trial, the first, is to begin Nov. 30.
The others facing charges are officers Edward Nero, Garrett Miller and Caesar Goodson; Lt. Brian Rice; and Sgt. Alicia White.
All face assault and reckless endangerment and misconduct in office charges. Porter, Rice, White and Goodson also face manslaughter charges. Goodson, who drove the police van in which Gray was critically injured, faces an additional charge of "depraved-heart" murder.
STATEMENTS OF FIRST OFFICER TO GO ON TRIAL ADMISSIBLE
The judge ruled Porter's statements can be used during his trial.
Porter was interviewed by Detective Syreeta Teel once over the phone April 15 and once April 17 in person.
Gary Proctor, an attorney for Porter, argued that the officer's statement was coerced because Teel said during the phone conversation with Porter, "I need you to tell me what happened."
"'I need you' is akin to an order," Proctor said.
During the in-person interview on April 17, Porter was read his rights and voluntarily gave a statement.
Porter is accused of failing to seek medical attention for Gray in the back of the police transport van. According to charging documents, Porter only repositioned Gray from the floor of the van to the bench rather than seek a medic when Gray told him he could not breathe.
Williams ruled "the interview was not done with undue influence" and denied Porter's motion to suppress the material.
SERGEANT'S STATEMENTS ALSO TO BE USED AT TRIAL
The judge also ruled that White's statements to investigators are admissible in court.
According to charging documents, a police van made several stops, during which White and two other officers checked on Gray but didn't call a medic.
Williams ruled that White's April 12 and April 17 statements can be used during her trial, scheduled for Jan. 25. Williams decided the first statement can be used because White was interviewed as a witness and didn't need to hear her Miranda rights. He found the second statement admissible because White offered it voluntarily after she was advised of her rights.
"She had the opportunity to say, 'No,' to say she didn't want to give any statements," Williams said.
White's attorney, Ivan Bates, argued that she wasn't aware she'd become a suspect after initially being interviewed as a witness and that she only initialed the Miranda rights on April 17 because a detective interviewing her said that wouldn't waive her rights.
Teel, who interviewed White on April 17, testified that White was called for the second interview because of "inconsistencies" in her initial testimony.
OTHER STATEMENTS IN QUESTION
Also Tuesday, Nero, Miller and Rice temporarily withdrew their requests to suppress their statements, and Goodson never made a statement to investigators.
INVESTIGATIVE FILES TO BE TURNED OVER
Williams also ordered prosecutors to turn over the rest of their investigative files to the defense by Oct. 28.
At the end of the hearing, the judge issued a gag order. He instructed the attorneys not to discuss the cases with people who are not involved in the prosecution or the defense.
Why Washington's mayor is investing in community policing
Combatting a crime problem, and growing the economy, starts with building trust.
by Laura Lorenzetti
Washington D.C. has been growing rapidly, facing a trend of gentrification that has sent home prices and rents rising. Despite the growing pains, Mayor Muriel Bowser has managed to maintain order across the city of 650,000 residents. It all comes down to years of investment in community policing, said Bowser.
“We worked long and hard to build trust in the community,” Bowser told Fortune's Leigh Gallagher on Tuesday at the 2015 Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington D.C. “Now, we're making sure we're making neighborhoods safer and stronger with a comprehensive approach.”And it's worth noting that, despite problems with violent crime, Washington has avoided the kind of rioting that ravaged nearby Baltimore.
Bowser recently put in place a $15 million plan to build up the police presence in the city's neighborhoods. The initiative includes an investment in body cameras; the city is also placing officers in key communities during both good times and bad so that police and residents build lasting relationships. The plan also includes harsher penalties for violent crime.
The investment is timely. During this summer, Bowser's first as mayor, Washington faced escalating violence. A 43% jump in murders has consumed Bowser's attention in recent months. The crime problem has been diverting her time away from building new “pathways to the middle class,” as she promised in her campaign last year. (Washington wasn't the only major city seeing an uptick in homicides this summer: New York, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia all reported an increase in fatal gun violence.)
Bowser is continuing to invest in the police force, but she acknowledges that trust between officers and the community is fragile and requires constant care. “We are grateful that we have a force that respects the community, but we know we always have to be mindful” of the relationship, she said.
Detroit community policing cutting murders
It's a dubious distinction, but Detroit is no longer the murder capital of the nation. St. Louis has that title. FBI crime statistics show Detroit had 298 homicides in 2014, down from 316 in 2013. The city's rate of 44 murders per 100,000 people was lower than St. Louis' rate of 50. That city, with a population of 318,000, had 159 murders last year.
The positive numbers are a tribute to the crime-fighting efforts in the city, both by the local police department and the Michigan State Police.
The police department's Neighborhood Police Officers Program is making some inroads in what is the department's most difficult task — gaining the trust of residents.
The program features one-on-one contact between police officers and members of the community in settings that don't involve response to crime.
“We have designated three to four officers in each precinct to work with citizens,” says Sgt. Cassandra Lewis, who is in charge of media relations. “Everyone has the opportunity to meet (the officers). Residents have officers' phone numbers and patrolmen handle neighborhood domestic problems, anything that is not violent but may require some mediation.”
In addition, Lewis notes, Police Chief James Craig frequently speaks to community groups and holds small sessions with residents.
The state police's Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust (ALPACT) program, established 20 years ago, also seeks to build trust between law enforcement and the community.
Another program, TEAM (Teaching, Educating and Mentoring), helps schoolchildren deal with difficult issues such as bullying and dating.
The direct policing presence of troopers in neighborhoods increases law enforcement visibility, and that also serves as a deterrent to crime.
For example, a state police sergeant, eight troopers and a canine officer have been assigned solely to Detroit's 9 th district. The officers focus on traffic stops, but not to write tickets. Of the 3,200 traffic stops made since January, only 109 tickets were issued. However, 105 fugitive felons were arrested along with 841 people wanted on misdemeanor counts.
“We're definitely seeing a double digit drop in the crime rate in the 9 th district,” says Lt. Mike Shaw, commander of the unit.
Shaw notes the canine officer and a state police helicopter are available to Detroit for serious crimes.
Although St. Louis is the new murder capital, Detroit's overall violent crime rate remains among the worst in the nation for large cities. Last year, there were 13,616 violent crimes — murder, rape, assault and robbery.
Detroit is moving in the right direction. And what police are learning is that programs to engage the community in keeping their neighborhoods safe, and to discourage crime before it happens, are effective tools in keeping the city safe. As are collaborative efforts with other agencies.
NYPD Community-Policing Program Coming to Crown Heights Precinct
by Rachel Holliday Smith
CROWN HEIGHTS — A new community-policing program is set to launch this winter in Crown Heights, bringing a revised patrol scheme and specially trained officers to the neighborhood, local police said this week.
Under the program, eight “neighborhood coordination officers,” or NCOs, will be trained in the 77th Precinct, which stretches from Vanderbilt to Ralph avenues between Atlantic Avenue and Eastern Parkway. Two officers will be assigned to one of four newly created patrol sectors in the area, where they will be permanently assigned to work every day starting on January 1, 2016.
By concentrating on one sector of the neighborhood, the department hopes the officers “become more familiar” with those blocks and their residents, said commanding officer Eddie Lott at a precinct council meeting Monday night.
“Your job is, in six months to a year, you should be able to run for mayor in your sector and win in a landslide,” Lott said of the NCOs, to loud applause from the meeting attendees. “I should be able to walk into every store on Nostrand Avenue and see your card.”
The NCOs will spend about a third of their time “off the radio,” or not responding to 911 calls, to concentrate on community issues and non-emergency “conditions,” Lott said.
“We're challenging them to think outside the box. We want them innovative. Remember, every issue isn't addressed by an arrest or a summons,” he said.
Each new sector encompasses between 40 and 50 blocks in the precinct. Sector A stretches from Vanderbilt to Bedford avenues between Atlantic Avenue and Eastern Parkway; Sector B runs from Bedford to Kingston avenues; Sector C is between Kingston and Utica avenues; and Sector D includes the blocks Utica and Ralph avenues and Lincoln Terrace Park.
In addition to getting two new NCOs, each sector will have two patrol cars permanently assigned to the area every shift, bringing the same officers to those blocks again and again, Lott said.
The new patrol scheme in the 77th Precinct is part of a larger citywide pilot program announced this spring meant to improve relations between the NYPD and the community. It began in upper Manhattan and parts of Queens where crime is relatively low, but will now expand into higher-crime areas like Crown Heights.
“This is the real acid test to see how this works in some of the more challenging commands,” Lott said on Monday.
New Officers Embrace Challenges Of Community Police Work
by Lannan M. O'Brien
Dressing for work each morning is more than a daily routine for Meghan E. Andrade, Ryan W. Hergt, Timothy J. Brandt, and Stephen P. Senior Jr. The four are the newest hires at the Falmouth Police Department, where they have been working since graduating from Plymouth Police Academy in late August.
Patrolman Senior, a 25-year-old Falmouth resident, still feels a sense of honor and achievement when he wears his uniform.
“It says Falmouth and it says my name on it,” he said. “I have pride when I put that on.”
He and the other officers have learned that with the uniform comes great responsibility. While conducting his first check at a local elementary school, Ptl. Senior noticed young students pointing at him in admiration. He took the time to wave and smile.
Media coverage of police brutality has spread negative perceptions of officers throughout the country, Mr. Senior said—wearing the uniform allows him an opportunity to change perceptions on the local level.
Falmouth's practice of community policing, an effort by the department to engage and build relationships with residents, is partially what drew his fellow officers to the town. In addition to being a role model to children, they have learned that their jobs require them to serve a variety of roles within the community.
Ptl. Hergt, 28, of Mashpee, said that the police academy did not prepare him for that aspect of his work.
“I feel like in the past month, I've had to be a police officer, a doctor, a psychologist, a [mental health] counselor, a social worker… You're not just a police officer, you're kind of an all-encompassing officer now,” he said.
Ptl. Andrade, a 34-year-old Falmouth native, said that she was somewhat comfortable dealing with people with mental illness from her work as a corrections officer at Barnstable County Correctional Facility. Ptl. Hergt, a former jail officer, and Ptl. Brandt, 24, who was a correctional officer in Worcester, agreed.
It seems that about 85 percent of the civilians with whom she and other officers interact on the job have some type of mental illness, Ptl. Andrade said. Ptl. Hergt added that at least the same percentage of the calls they respond to are drug- or alcohol-related.
As an officer, it can be challenging to differentiate the two.
If the subject of a call is suffering from a mental illness, Ptl. Andrade said that she reminds herself to treat him or her with a level of gentleness and compassion. But in some situations, a person who may seem mentally ill is under the influence of drugs or alcohol or might simply be lying to evade arrest.
Making such judgment calls requires officers to constantly be focused on their work or, as Ptl. Andrade said, “You've got to be on your game all the time.”
Descriptions of calls might not necessarily be accurate, Ptl. Brandt said. More often than not, the reality of a situation is different or more complex than the information reported.
“When you're driving to a call, you sort of play things out in your head to mentally prepare yourself for different scenarios that could happen,” Ptl. Brandt said.
As trainees, the officers have each been working with a field training officer who accompanies them on their calls. Throughout their training period, they will incrementally gain more independence and responsibility in the field. For now, though, the officers agreed that it is helpful to have a more experienced officer with them to offer advice and answer questions.
The challenges of working odd shifts on little sleep, often waking early, and writing detailed and accurate reports of every incident were no surprise to the officers, who said that the regiment of the academy “separated out” the students who were prepared from those who were unprepared.
As a new member of the department, Ptl. Brandt said that he and the others are continuing to learn every day.
“I'm coming into work excited,” he said.
Ptl. Hergt appreciates Falmouth's appointment of officers as community liaisons. Certain officers, he said, are assigned to specific neighborhoods of town. As a result, they become familiar faces to the residents of those areas.
Although his title and perspective as a police officer are new, the sense of community was familiar to Ptl. Senior, who grew up in Falmouth. He remembers glancing over at the police station while playing baseball and basketball on Guv Fuller Field.
As a child, Ptl. Senior said, becoming a police officer was his dream job.
“I feel like I'm on cloud nine. I'm doing what I've always wanted to do,” he said.
Fight Over Gun Rights At Universities Is About More Than Public Safety, Says Professor
Wisconsin The Latest State To Consider Allowing Concealed Carry In Campus Buildings
by Scottie Lee Meyers
Efforts to legalize concealed weapons in public university buildings across the country — including in Wisconsin — may be more about recruiting youth in a culture war on gun laws than actual public safety, says one law professor.
"I think what's really going on for many gun advocates is that they want to see guns everywhere, they want to see guns normalized," said Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA. "And one of the best way to normalize people to the presence of guns is to do it when people are young. That's when they really gain their values and their understanding of the world."
Winkler, who is also the author of "Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America," added that advocates for gun control want to keep guns off of campuses for those reasons as well.
Wisconsin has become the latest state to debate expanding gun possession rights at universities after two Republican lawmakers proposed a bill that would allow guns inside buildings on University of Wisconsin campuses. The proposal comes two weeks after a gunman killed nine people at an Oregon community college. The bill's author says that increasing the concentration of guns on a campus can help prevent such mass shootings.
Under current law, public colleges and universities in Wisconsin allow concealed carry license holders to bring guns on campus, but not inside buildings.
Winkler said seven states currently have laws that allow people to carry concealed guns on campus, although the details can vary on who can carry a gun and in what areas. He said about 20 states completely ban the carrying of concealed weapons on campus, while 22 states leave the decision to individual colleges, with the vast majority of them prohibiting guns on campus.
Once Utah became the first state to pass a law allowing concealed weapons on public universities in 2004, Winkler said other states were quick to follow with similar legislation.
"This has taken off because there's many people who favor strong gun rights who believe that really guns should be everywhere — that if you don't have guns in a place, then it's a so-called gun-free zone and it's an actual invitation to mass shooters to come to that place because you know you can find a lot of unarmed victims that won't be able to shoot back," he said.
Winkler said research shows that it doesn't appear that having guns on campus will lead to any significant reduction in mass shootings because of age restrictions to get a conceal carry license.
"For instance, Wisconsin allows concealed carry of firearms, but you have to be 21 years or older to get a concealed carry license. That eliminates virtually half or more of the undergraduates at any given time at the university who just wouldn't be allowed to carry a gun no matter what," Winkler said.
Winkler said that regardless, college campuses in America remain "among the safest places for young people to be."
Supreme Court To Consider Resentencing For Juvenile Lifers
by Nina Totenberg
The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in a case that could determine the fate of more than 2,000 convicted juvenile murderers.
In 2012, the high court struck down as unconstitutional state laws that mandated an automatic sentence of life without any possibility of parole in these cases. The question now is whether that decision applies retroactively.
The case before the court began more than a half century ago, when Henry Montgomery, a teenager, was arrested and sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of a white deputy sheriff in East Baton Rouge, La. Now 70 years old, Montgomery is asking for a new sentencing hearing.
The case is a procedural spider web, but it will ultimately determine whether some 2,100 people serving life terms for committing murder when they were juveniles have any chance of ever getting out of prison.
In the criminal law, the Supreme Court usually does not make its decisions retroactive, but there are exceptions, and this could be one of them.
The state of Louisiana maintains that the court's decision three years ago did not establish such a major change in the law that it should reach back to apply the ruling to old cases.
The 2012 ruling "doesn't categorically strike down a punishment," says the state's lawyer Kyle Duncan. "It very clearly says that life without parole is still a constitutional punishment for juvenile murderers."
But Mark Plaisance, representing Montgomery, counters that the court's 2012 decision clearly spelled out that juvenile killers could not be automatically sentenced to life in prison, instead suggesting such a draconian punishment should be rare for juveniles.
"When Mr. Montgomery was convicted, the state had only one option: It could only sentence him to mandatory life in prison," Plaisance says. Now, sentencing courts are supposed to consider a variety of sentences well below that in severity in terms of years or the possibility of parole, he says.
Indeed, Louisiana is one of a dozen states that have actually changed laws for juvenile killers to comply with the 2012 Supreme Court ruling. Louisiana now makes parole possible after 35 years in prison. Montgomery would qualify for a parole hearing under the new law, but the state courts have said that law, too, does not apply retroactively.
The state contends that holding new sentencing hearings in these cases would be time-consuming and expensive, and that the results would be inaccurate. Duncan notes that under the Supreme Court's 2012 decision, sentencing judges are supposed to consider the juvenile offender's age, background, the possibility of rehabilitation, and the circumstances of the crime. He says about half of those serving these sentences have been in prison for more than 20 years, and he argues that in many cases the witnesses, prosecutors and defense lawyers — even the judges — may be dead, and school and medical records impossible to find.
To carry out a nuanced consideration of all the circumstances of the crime and the offender, and to do it years — even decades — after the crime took place, he says, would be a mess.
That's a "red herring," says Marsha Levick, one of Montgomery's lawyers. She says that hundreds of these juvenile offenders have already been resentenced in states where the law has been changed or considered retroactive by lower courts.
She argues that these retroactive sentences are in fact far more accurate than prospective sentences.
"Ironically, when you look at these cases 20, 30 or 40 years later," she says, "there's actually much better information about [the defendants'] capacity for rehabilitation, and what's happened to them during their time in prison."
Duncan replies with a question, "Is that relevant?"
"It seems to us really artificial to say, 'Well, he's been in prison and he's shown he can be rehabilitated,' " Duncan says.
Levick, chief counsel for the Juvenile Law Center, disagrees, noting that Montgomery has been a model prisoner for decades. Even without hope of release, she notes, he has served as a coach and trainer for a boxing team he helped establish, and has served as a mentor and counselor for other prisoners.
"I think it's quite remarkable," she says, "looking at someone who spent 50 years in Angola, which was once dubbed ... the bloodiest, the most violent, the most corrupt prison in the United States, that he has retained a measure of dignity, a sense of responsibility, and a sense of his own humanity."
A decision in the case is expected later in the term.
Student arrested in alleged mass shooting threat at Emory
A student was arrested Sunday evening after a threat posted via social media of a mass shooting on Emory University's Oxford campus in Newton County.
Emory officials confirmed the arrest in a statement emailed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It read: “Emory University Police arrested an Oxford College student on Sunday, Oct. 11, and charged her with making terrorist threats against the university as a result of a social media message that she posted early this morning.”
Although the school did not release the name of the student, jail records for the Newton County Sheriff's department show an inmate named Emily Sakamoto, 21, was booked and jailed on a charge of making terroristic threats and acts, a felony. Sakamoto is also listed as an Oxford student in Emory's online directory.
The sheriff's office said Sakamoto was still in custody Monday afternoon.
According to a report on 11Alive, the student posted the threat on Yik Yak, an anonymous messaging service. Students who saw the post passed it along to police.
The message read: “I'm shooting up the school. Tomorrow. Stay in your rooms. The ones on the quad are the ones who will go first.”
According to an email Dean Stephen Bowen sent to students Sunday evening just after 8:30 p.m., Emory police identified the person behind the threat as a sophomore. Bowen said the the woman confessed to posting the threat and is in the Newton County Jail.
A recent national study found school threats increased by 158 percent during the first five months of the 2014 school year compared to the same time period in 2013, with most of the increase due to threats from electronic devices and social media. Georgia ranked 13th among states with the highest number of threats.
Public Safety to have access to rifles in emergencies
by Andrew Brazer
Sworn Department of Public Safety officers will have access to rifles in the event of emergency situations on campus, DPS Executive Director Paul Ominsky announced at the Council of the Princeton University Community meeting on Monday.
“The national best practices for responding to an active shooter have evolved,” Ominsky said. “It is now a law enforcement best practice to get an armed officer to the scene as quickly as possible to save lives.”
He explained that the first armed officer who arrives can interrupt a shooter.
“Response time matters,” Ominsky said. ”Even a few minutes can make a difference to save a life.”
Sworn DPS officers are trained in the New Jersey police academy for 26 weeks, the same institution as law enforcement officials serving in the Princeton Police Department. They also possess most of the same credentials as local police officers, including the power to arrest.
“Although we have a safe campus, and it is difficult to imagine a situation occurring at Princeton like an active shooter, we still need to plan, to prepare, and to train our staff,” Ominsky said.
The decision was reached in order to better ensure the safety of the University community, according to University spokesperson Martin Mbugua.
Officers will not always be armed, but will be ready to arm themselves under the threat of an active shooter, Mbugua said.
Under current policy, an active shooter or a person brandishing a firearm on campus would require an armed response from the local Princeton Police Department. The DPS, in turn, is unarmed and provides a support function.
“DPS will not have access to rifles for any other purpose than to respond to an active shooter or someone brandishing a firearm,” Ominsky clarified. “Our priority is ensuring the safety of our students, our faculty and our staff.”
Though the University had been discussing the policy for several months, the announcement comes soon after shootings at Texas Southern University in Houston, Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore.
The new policy will be enacted in the coming months.
In 2008, the Fraternal Orders of Police, the labor union representing DPS officers, requested that sworn officers be allowed to bear guns in case of an active shooter situation on campus. Sworn officers at the time used bulletproof vests, batons, handcuffs and a substance comparable to pepper spray called OC.
The FOP filed a complaint that being unarmed posed an occupational hazard, but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ruled against the union.
In 2013, the FOP renewed its calls for sworn officers to bear firearms, but then-University President Shirley Tilghman said guns had no place in a community like Princeton, according to a January 2013 article in The Daily Princetonian.
“We have in place a number of measures that will ensure that if there is a risk … police can rapidly have the appropriate response without having our own police officers armed,” Tilghman said at the time.
DeWitt deputies like body cameras
by Maria Nagle
CLINTON — One of the first things DeWitt County sheriff's deputies and correctional officers do when they come to work is put their body cameras on.
In 2014, the agency purchased 30 cameras, one for each of its 15 deputies and 15 correctional officers, after testing two styles, Chief Deputy Mike Walker said.
"Then we did a survey among the officers to see which one they liked and the reasons why. We decided to purchase the VieVu cameras," he said.
Initially, not all of the officers wanted to use them.
"Especially with cameras, there is a little bit of skepticism as to: 'Are we getting these cameras so administration can watch the officers?' We had some of that," Walker said.
By the end of the trial period, the officers had grown to appreciate the cameras because they could use the videos to write more accurate reports, he said.
"In the old days ... you relied on your memory and the notes that you took on the scene," Walker said. "You can have three or four people telling this happened or that happened, and you can't get it all written down."
At $600 apiece, the cameras cost the county $18,000.
"The liability protection is huge," Walker said. "It protects our officers from people accusing them of things. We can go back and look at (the video) to see what did or did not happen."
On the other hand, if an officer has engaged in unacceptable conduct "we can take the appropriate steps to make sure it doesn't happen again ... and any discipline to be handed."
The cameras also can serve as a reminder to officers to maintain their professionalism, regardless of the circumstances.
The officers wear the cameras during their entire shifts, but when they turn the cameras on is dictated, for now, by department policy.
"Essentially, any call for service, whether it's a domestic or a burglary, we turn them on," Walker said.
Because of Illinois' eavesdropping law, the DeWitt County officers must ask for permission to record using their cameras.
"If they say 'yes,' we continue to record. If they say 'no,' we shut them off," Walker said.
Current law allows for use of police in-car, dashboard-mounted cameras, but prohibits in other circumstances the recording of anyone without the consent of all parties involved.
"In the two years that we've had (the body cameras) I'm not sure that we've had anybody tell us to turn them off," Walker said. "If we did, it was a very minimal number because a lot of people, in the heat of the moment, really don't care or they realize that by recording they are going to get their stories told accurately and (the officers) are going to be able to see what's going on."
A new law, effective Jan. 1, will give Illinois police officers more latitude to record with body cameras. The new guidelines also spell out when body cameras should be worn, when recording should begin and how long recorded videos should be kept.
Why Columbus Day's days could be numbered
by Amber Phillips
Ever since the United States decided to devote a day almost 80 years ago to honor the Italian who "founded" America, Columbus Day has been controversial.
Native American groups, who were by all indications here first, didn't like the idea of celebrating a man whose arrival on the continent marked their decline and brought with it all manner of suffering. But despite this, for decades only one state, South Dakota, openly revolted by rededicating the second Monday in October as Native Americans Day. It did so in 1990.
Twenty-five years later, the movement against Columbus Day has built. In 2015, nine new cities are instead celebrating some form of "Indigenous People's Day." Cities like Albuquerque, N.M., and St. Paul, Minn., have joined Seattle and Minneapolis in turning Columbus Day on its head. A well-publicized pow wow in New York is helping promote their cause.
The renaming of a day in October is a small but symbolically important step toward recasting history in a more accurate light, activists say.
[More cities celebrating 'Indigenous Peoples Day amid effort to abolish Columbus Day]
They're largely receiving pushback from Italian American groups, which welcome Columbus Day as a celebration of their heritage. About a century ago, Colorado became the first state to celebrate Columbus Day thanks largely to lobbying by Angelo Noce, a first-generation Italian immigrant.
But the effort to toss aside Columbus Day could have legs in large part it doesn't have one big roadblock: the states. Less than half of states celebrate the holiday anyway. Which is why many of you are still working today.
The Pew Research Center found the second Monday in October is "one of the most inconsistently celebrated" holidays. Just 23 states and the District of Columbia (plus Puerto Rico and American Samoa) recognize Columbus Day as a paid holiday.
Another group of people collectively shrugging about the holiday? Americans, it would seem. In 2013, 58 percent of Americans told Rasmussen pollsters we should still honor Columbus with a national holiday — a significant majority. (Rasmussen is a GOP-leaning automated pollster.)
But not that many people are willing to stand by the Columbus Day we have now. A 2014 Rasmussen Poll found that just 8 percent of Americans say Columbus Day is one of our nation's most important holidays. Forty-five percent consider it one of our least-important holidays, and the rest think it's somewhere in between.
In the battle for what to celebrate on Monday, we have a growing social movement meeting mostly apathetic holders of the status quo. History would suggest Columbus Day is in trouble.
Off-duty officer in Memphis fatally shot; suspect in custody
by Adrian Sainz
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- An off-duty Memphis police officer who died after being shot multiple times had been on the force for little more than a year and had a fiancee who is four months pregnant, authorities said.
Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong said 31-year-old Terence Olridge was shot at a home in the suburb of Cordova on Sunday. Olridge died later at a hospital where he was taken, becoming the second Memphis police officer to be fatally shot in more than two months.
"It just doesn't get any easier," Armstrong told reporters on Sunday. "I didn't think that we'd be here again so soon."
He said a male suspect is in custody in connection with the shooting, but has not been charged. He noted that the investigation is in its early phases, adding that "details are sketchy."
Police on Sunday blocked the street in front of the house where the shooting happened. A plainclothes detective spoke with a neighbor and uniformed officers also were on the scene.
Olridge, who joined the department in September 2014, had a fiancee who is four months pregnant, Armstrong said.
Relatives of the officer could be seen crying outside the hospital where he was taken.
Olridge is one of four Memphis officers have been shot to death in slightly more than four years.
In August, Memphis police officer Sean Bolton was fatally shot in the line of duty. Police have charged 29-year-old Tremaine Wilbourn, who was on probation for an armed bank robbery, with first-degree murder in Bolton's death. Bolton was white, and Wilbourn is black.
Officer Tim Warren was killed while responding to a shooting at a downtown Memphis hotel in July 2011. In December 2012, Officer Martoiya Lang was killed while serving a warrant.
New Shootings on Interstate 10 Near Phoenix, Arizona; 3 Arrested
by Shamar Walters and Alexander Smith
Three people were arrested in connection with two new shootings on Interstate 10 in Arizona on Sunday, according to officials.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety said in a statement that the incidents, which both occurred in the Phoenix area, were not connected to a spate of almost a dozen shootings on or near the same freeway in August and September.
The new incidents both happened early Sunday morning. A passenger was twice seen firing a handgun out of the window of a black sedan on the highway, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said in a statement.
On the second report of gunfire, a police helicopter was able to track the sedan to an apartment complex and officers from the Phoenix Police Department arrived and immediately apprehended two suspects, the statement said. A third suspect was taken into custody 45 minutes later, it added.
Police later found that another vehicle had been shot during the incident. The round, which was still embedded in the vehicle, was seized as evidence, according to police.
Charges and booking for the three suspects were pending further investigation.
Police said there was "no link at this point" between Sunday's "isolated" incident and a spate of 11 similar shootings on and around Interstate 10 over a two-week period.
Leslie Allen Merritt Jr., 21, has pleaded not guilty to being involved in four of the incidents. Authorities believe copycats are responsible for the remaining seven.
Olive Garden Apologizes to Kansas City Police Officer
by The Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – The president of the Olive Garden restaurant chain has apologized to a Kansas City police officer after a restaurant employee asked the officer to leave because he was armed.
Officer Michael Holsworth says he was waiting at an Independence Olive Garden to celebrate his birthday with his family Sunday when he was on duty and in uniform. He says a restaurant employee asked him to leave because guns aren't allowed in the restaurant.
The officer detailed his experience in an online post and said he thought the employee was kidding, but she wasn't.
Olive Garden spokesman Rich Jeffers told The Kansas City Star that Olive Garden president Dave George personally apologized to Holsworth later Sunday.
Jeffers says the employee's request was unacceptable, and the restaurant chain welcomes law enforcement.
Man gets weapon charge in fatal shooting of Memphis officer
Suspect was neighbor of Officer Terence Olridge
by Adrian Sainz
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A man with a felony record has been charged with possession of a firearm in connection with the fatal shooting of an off-duty Memphis police officer, authorities said Monday.
Lorenzo Clark, 36, was charged in the shooting death of 31-year-old Terence Olridge, who had been on the Memphis Police Department just a little over a year. He is the second police officer to die in a shooting in less than three months.
Memphis police spokesman Louis Brownlee said Olridge and Clark were involved in an argument that escalated into a shootout in the Memphis suburb of Cordova. The two men were neighbors. Olridge was on his way to work Sunday at about 1 p.m. when the encounter with Clark happened.
The men exchanged gunfire, and Olridge was struck. He went back to his house and tried to get help. He was taken to a hospital, where he died. Police say Clark surrendered peacefully after the shooting.
Brownlee declined to say whether more charges would be filed in the case.
Clark was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday. Court records did not show whether he had a lawyer who could be contacted for comment.
Olridge is one of four Memphis officers have been shot to death in just over four years and the second fatally shot in the past 2.5 months.
"It just doesn't get any easier," Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong told reporters Sunday. "I didn't think that we'd be here again so soon."
He noted that the investigation is in its early phases, adding that "details are sketchy."
Police on Sunday blocked the street in front of the house where the shooting happened. A plainclothes detective spoke with a neighbor. Uniformed officers also were on the scene.
Olridge, who joined the department in September 2014, had a fiancee who is four months pregnant, Armstrong said.
Relatives of the officer could be seen crying outside the hospital where he was taken.
In August, Memphis police officer Sean Bolton was fatally shot in the line of duty. Police have charged 29-year-old Tremaine Wilbourn, who was on probation for an armed bank robbery, with first-degree murder in Bolton's death.
Officer Tim Warren was killed while responding to a shooting at a downtown Memphis hotel in July 2011. In December 2012, Officer Martoiya Lang was killed while serving a warrant.
Authorities battling heroin epidemic in Ohio
What the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called a national issue is hitting hard in Ohio suburbs
by Dan Sewell
HAMILTON, Ohio — Scenes from a community under siege:
— It's been a hectic morning for the Butler County coroner, who's investigating three new deaths, all of them suspected heroin overdoses. If Dr. Lisa Mannix's office confirms heroin as the cause, they will add to a deadly pace well ahead of last year's record toll.
— Less than a mile away, Steve Monnin, wearing a sleeveless neon-green shirt with the message "God is Good," spreads out recent heroin-related finds on his red pickup truck's hood in a riverside park that's become a spot for drug deals, shooting up and sex acts performed in return for heroin. There are four needles and syringes, a couple of scorched spoons and a knife from along the Great Miami River.
— In the same downtown building as the coroner's office, Judge Daniel Gattermeyer is keeping cases moving through his Municipal Court session's docket. A young man in handcuffs turns to his mother and grandmother in the courtroom and says "I love you" as he's led away after appearing on a heroin charge. His was one of a half-dozen cases involving heroin-related counts this morning, but back in his chambers later, the judge says he's nearly certain that several other suspects who were before him on theft and burglary charges were driven by heroin.
"It's a terrible problem," says Gattermeyer, a former prosecutor who has seen heroin gain a foothold and spread rapidly within a few years. "Now it's just crazy."
Butler County, Ohio: home to bustling, growing northern Cincinnati suburbs, two older mill cities, rural burgs nestled amid farmland, a college town, and some 374,000 residents including outgoing House Speaker John Boehner. And to a stunning heroin scourge, despite a range of community efforts to turn it back.
What the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called a national epidemic is hitting especially hard here. The CDC says heroin-related deaths nationally nearly doubled from 2011 to 2013, when 8,200 deaths were linked to heroin. In Butler County, they have nearly quadrupled in a little over three years. Heroin-related deaths soared from 30 in 2012 to 103 in 2014, with 86 recorded already through the first half of 2015.
Explanations for the county's heroin problem usually start with location. Lying between Cincinnati and Dayton, Interstate 75 cuts through it, and easy access to four other interstates and multiple state and federal highways keep supplies flowing in. And like other counties that had past problems with abuse of prescription painkillers, which have become more tightly regulated, Butler officials have increasingly seen users making the dangerous switch to cheaper, easier-to-get heroin for numbing themselves.
"Heroin's a whole different ballgame," says Melissa Smith-Procter, 42. "I always call it the devil, because it's something you would sell your soul for."
The lifelong Hamilton resident says she's had two ex-boyfriends, several other friends and two women she was in treatment with die from heroin. She recently celebrated 20 months of sobriety after more than two decades of abusing drugs and alcohol.
At the coroner's office, Mannix puts on her glasses as she studies the latest reports. In a few hours' time, two couples have been found in separate residences after apparent heroin overdoses. Only one of the four survived.
"Unfortunately, it's becoming very common," she says of this day's caseload.
Last year's heroin toll was among 137 total deaths from all overdoses, marking the first time that drug overdose deaths outnumbered all other causes of death such as traffic accidents, homicides and natural causes investigated by the county coroner's office. The dead have been found on porches, in cars, parks, alleys, "everywhere," Mannix says.
"Sometimes the syringe is still in their arm; that's how quick it is."
It's not as if Butler County has ignored the problem.
There has been a series of community Heroin Summits; police go after traffickers in multi-agency task forces and special units; churches have banded together in a "Hope Over Heroin" campaign that included a three-day festival drawing thousands; people have held rallies wearing T-shirts that say "Heroin Sucks;" and recent events such as a "Harleys Over Heroin" motorcycle ride and "Bash Heroin" concert raised funds for anti-heroin work.
One of the new cases Mannix was investigating this day was the death of 18-year-old Alison Shuemake, of Middletown. Her parents, Fred and Dorothy McIntosh Shuemake, later named heroin as the cause of death in her obituary, in an effort to draw more attention to the toll and to trigger family discussions.
Monnin, 57, who moved across Hamilton with his wife from a neighborhood beset by drugs, has made a crusade of trying to win back Combs Park from drug use for the sake of family gatherings, fishing and other outdoor activities. He confronts people when he spots illicit activities, despite threats.
"The dopers don't like me," he says. "We're not going to stop them, but we can get them out of here."
Sojourner Recovery Services, a nonprofit treatment center that has expanded capacity by 80 percent in a year, recently opened "sober living" housing for recovering addicts, has cut wait times by months, and introduced a pre-treatment counseling program while addicts wait for beds to open up.
Scott Gehring, the center's CEO, says he's certain the expansion in services has saved lives, as have the community awareness campaigns.
"We're just still fighting an uphill battle," Gehring says.
Another setback has come from recent rise in abuse of the painkiller fentanyl, which is often combined with heroin. Butler had the fourth-highest number of fentanyl-related deaths among Ohio counties in 2014, contributing to a statewide 18 percent increase in drug overdose deaths.
"The numbers don't show any positive impact at this point," Mannix says. "But I think that's going to be a big, big ship to turn around."
Gattermeyer gets ready to return to his courtroom, where a Hamilton man charged with selling heroin awaits. He's part of many families the judge has gotten to know because of heroin's damaging impact.
"It's not hopeless," he insists. "You've got to just keep fighting."
Compensation may be available for victims of crime
by Malinda Williams
Victims of violent crimes are all too often left with staggering expenses related to the crime, including medical bills, funeral expenses and lost wages.
It is crucial for victims who are trying to rebuild their lives to seek ways to recover these expenses. Of course, money is never going to make up for the trauma of being a victim but it can help allow victims and their families to recover from some of the loss and start healing. Victims of violent crime are entitled to seek restitution (repayment for losses).
One way to seek compensation is through the New Mexico Crime Victims Reparation Commission, which helps some victims of violent crime recover crime-related expenses.
Much of the money used by the Crime Victims Reparation Commission to help victims comes from convicts: New Mexico convicts now pay $75 per felony conviction and $50 per misdemeanor conviction into a crime victims' reparation fund.
To qualify for Crime Victims Reparation Commission funds:
• The crime occurred in New Mexico.
• The victim suffered physical injury or extreme mental distress.
• The injury was the result of the specific crimes listed by the Crime Victims Reparation Commission including: aggravated assault or battery, arson resulting in bodily injury, homicide, rape, and child abuse. This summer several more crimes were added to the eligible list including: stalking, battery or assault against a household member, and human trafficking.
• A police report was filed within 30 days of the incident. In cases of domestic violence or sexual assault, the victim has 180 days to file a police report.
• A completed application must be filed with the Crime Victims Reparation Commission within two years of the crime. This time limit may be extended for good cause shown. Good cause is something like an adult who was a victim as a child but no application was ever filed for them.
• The victim or claimant must cooperate fully with all law enforcement agencies and the Crime Victims Reparation Commission, including willingness to cooperate with any prosecution of the offender.
Types of reparation possible:
Awards up to a maximum of $20,000 can be made for the following: Medical/dental care; mental health counseling; funeral/burial expenses ($6,000 maximum); loss of wages/earnings as a result of the crime; eyeglasses ($350 maximum); other medically necessary devices; and compensation for a significant other who has suffered a job loss if it was after the violent crime and was a direct result of necessary assistance or support for the victim.
The Crime Victims Reparation Commission does not make awards for property loss or damage, pain and suffering, or attorney's fees. The submission of an application does not guarantee payment. The Crime Victims Reparation Commission investigates every application to determine award amount and eligibility.
Another way to cover losses is court-ordered restitution. If the offender is being prosecuted, the prosecuting attorney can and should request restitution for the victim as part of any sentence or plea deal. If the victim is seeking an order or protection from the offender, the judge can order restitution. Restitution can help repay any monetary loss suffered by the victim that was caused by the offender, such as medical bills, lost wages, damaged or stolen cell phones, punched out drywall, damage to windows or vehicle, torn clothing, and damages to vehicles.
Information about and applications for Crime Victims Reparation Commission funds are available at Community Against Violence or the district attorney's office. You can contact the NM Crime Victims Reparation Commission directly at: (800) 306-6262 (toll-free) or go to their website cvrc.state.nm.us.
Malinda Williams is the executive director of Community Against Violence, Inc. (CAV) which offers FREE confidential support and assistance for adult and child survivors of sexual and domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking; community and school violence prevention programs; re-education BIP groups for domestic violence offenders; shelter; and community thrift store. To talk with someone or get information on services available, call CAV's 24-hour crisis line at (575) 758-9888, www.taoscav.org