LACP - NEWS of the Week
on some LACP issues of interest

NEWS of the Week

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view. We present this simply as a convenience to our readership.


October, 2015 - Week 5



Right to Privacy, What Is That? – CISA

by Gautham

The recent developments in the United States Senate seem to have created an opportunity for bitcoin to become the currency of the future. Earlier this week, the senate ended up passing the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act better known in its abbreviated form – CISA. The act will now facilitate information sharing between companies and the US government.

The main purpose of CISA is to make it easier for governments to collect personal information of internet users easily and more openly from companies in possession of it. Previously, sharing personal information without consent or without a court order qualified as illegal and companies were liable for compromising the privacy of individual(s) whose information was shared without authorisation. However, with the implementation of CISA, companies sharing their customer/user information with the government agencies are indemnified from such charges. According to CISA, these companies will no longer be obliged to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests regarding the shared data.

With CISA, the United States now shows all signs of a police state in the making. This also puts individuals at risk, taking away their right to privacy and any other possible protections one enjoyed under the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution in the form of rights to protect oneself from self-incrimination and the exclusionary rule. CISA will now enable government agencies to target, arrest and charge individuals or groups by collecting evidence in violation of the Fifth Amendment with the help of shared data. Under CISA companies will be free to share any private and sensitive data including ones health records, bank account information, internet history and more.

Introduction of CISA and the resulting unlimited powers to violate privacy has made client level encryption ad encrypted communication protocols a need of the hour. With no personal information safe from the eyes of the government it now makes perfect sense for people who care about privacy to explore alternate options. Bitcoin and the technology behind it can be a perfect example of such alternate options.

The decentralized nature of bitcoin combined with the security and a certain degree of anonymity the digital currency offers when used following the best practices makes it an excellent tool. At the same time decentralized internet networks like Maidsafe and applications built over that platform can be utilized by people instead of regular internet services to minimize the amount of data that falls into the hands of companies who can potentially hand it out to the government. When it comes to communications, clients like Darkmail which offers end-to-end encryption are can offer an alternative to services run by Google, Microsoft and other US based multinational corporations.

It is just a matter of time before CISA is misused by the government and it may as well act as a tipping point for the emergence and wide spread adoption of bitcoin and other lesser-known platforms and services.




Faith leaders in Q-C call for equitable community policing

by Deirdre Baker

A news conference sponsored by a religious organization that called for equitable community policing began, and ended, in prayer. Quad-Cities Interfaith, a coalition of clergy and faith leaders, sponsored the event Thursday at United Neighbors, Davenport.

Faith leaders called for more communication and understanding between law enforcement officers and residents, including those of different races.

"We are acting for the common good," the Rev. Clark Olson-Smith said.

Olson-Smith of All Saints Lutheran Church, Davenport, chairs the faith leaders caucus for the interfaith organization.

Bias and racism undermine efforts for a just and loving community, he said.

Olson-Smith said that "terrible" events between law enforcement and minorities are playing out across the United States and that local clergy don't want to experience a similar incident here.

The Rev. Jimmie Horton of Gospel Temple Mission in Davenport called for the community to "come together to make a difference."

Horton grew up in the segregated South, where he said police were a negative presence. But times have changed, and Horton said his brother is now a chief of police.

Issues remain, Horton said, but the roots of these problems lie in unemployment and lack of education. The biggest concerns can be addressed with the help of God, he added.

Police and clergy should work in collaboration, the Rev. Jay Wolin said. The minister at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Quad-Cities, Davenport, said police should examine their own racial biases.

•  The Rev. Ralph Kelly of First Baptist Church, Davenport, and Larry Roberson of the NAACP, Davenport, noted common cause among police and residents. All people are human and need to be treated that way, said Roberson, a former member of the Davenport School Board.

•  Olson-Smith, the event moderator, said Quad-Cities Interfaith has contacted police departments in Davenport, Bettendorf, Moline and Rock Island.

•  "We are starting opportunities for conversations," he said, adding the goal is to build relationships.

Bettendorf Police Chief Phil Redington said his officers have a good working relationship with Quad-Cities Interfaith. He is aware of the group's initiative and added, "We look forward to working with them in the future."

The event began with a prayer from Janet Collins, deaconess at Fresh Start Faith Center, Davenport. It ended with a blessing from the Rev. Christine Isham of Edwards Congregational United Church of Christ, Davenport.



Obama touts Camden police in weekly address

The department's community policing efforts have been mentioned several times by the president recently

by PhillyVoice Staff

President Obama on Saturday morning touted the Camden County Police Department during his weekly address, which focused on the need for criminal justice reform in America.

The president said "we can disrupt the pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails. I believe we can address the disparities in the application of criminal justice, from arrest rates to sentencing to incarceration....

"That's why over the course of this year, I've been talking to folks around the country about reforming our criminal justice system to make it smarter, fairer, and more effective.

"In February, I sat down in the Oval Office with police officers from around the country. In the spring, I met with police officers and young people in Camden, New Jersey, where they're using community policing and data to drive down crime."

It was the third time in recent days that Obama has mentioned the community policing efforts of the Camden County department in regards to criminal justice reform.

In remarks made at a meeting of the 122nd International Association of Police Chiefs Conference on Tuesday in Chicago, the president mentioned the progress seen in Camden.

"Earlier this year I went to Camden, New Jersey, where they used to have complete mistrust between the department and local residents, and where the crime rate was sky high," Obama said. "And they're now using community policing and data to drive down crime. They've got a war room with cameras trained on hotspots around the city. And they've got software that lets community residents direct those cameras on where drug dealers or gangs are congregating. And that way local residents feel that they're not just being spied on, they're partners with the police....

"The police even bought two ice cream trucks with drug forfeiture money," the president continued, "and in the summer drove them into some neighborhoods where gangs had taken over and drug dealers were peddling on the streets, and otherwise the street was empty. They drove those ice cream trucks, planted them there, and had police officers giving out free ice cream. And suddenly the community started coming out, and the drug dealers started fading away. All of a sudden the street corners where criminals were dealing drugs had police officers dishing out free chocolate chip.

"But in all of these efforts, the goal was to get the community involved before a crime takes place; to build trust before a crisis erupts," Obama said. "And officers then feel more welcome to their communities, citizens are more likely to cooperate with the police. And that makes us all safer."

On Oct. 22, the president hosted an Arm Chair Discussion on Criminal Justice with Law Enforcement Leaders at the White House. The 60-minute panel discussion with Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and U.S. Attorney John Walsh of Colorado was moderated by Bill Keller, editor-in-chief of the The Marshall Project and attended by law enforcement officials, including Camden County police Chief Scott Thomson.

Obama noted during the course of the discussion that reliable crime data enables law enforcement to better identify possible problems in police-community relations.

He continued:

"Point number two – we've got the outstanding Chief of Camden, who I had a chance to visit – a great example of community policing and data driving down crime, and regaining trust from the community," Obama said. "I mean, the chief here has got sort of a war room that has cameras on some of the hotspots around the city, but it's not considered Big Brother because they've set up software where the community can direct the cameras so that they don't feel like they're being spied on from the outside, but rather it's a tool for the community to monitor what's happening. They're then sending that in, and the Chief has trained – retrained his entire department.

"First thing they did when they brought in new recruits, they just put them in the neighborhoods where they're going to be serving, and they had to walk basically for 24 hours, right?" he said. "And if they needed to go to the restroom, they needed to get to know some people. And so they started meeting local businesses.

"And the chief talks about sometimes we know who the drug dealers are, and instead of arresting them – where they're just going to be released – he's going to have an officer stand right next to them and talking to them, and asking them why are you doing this," he said.

• • •

This is the full text of the president's weekly address, according to the White House:

Hi, everybody. Today, there are 2.2 million people behind bars in America and millions more on parole or probation. Every year, we spend $80 billion in taxpayer dollars to keep people incarcerated. Many are non-violent offenders serving unnecessarily long sentences.

I believe we can disrupt the pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails. I believe we can address the disparities in the application of criminal justice, from arrest rates to sentencing to incarceration. And I believe we can help those who have served their time and earned a second chance get the support they need to become productive members of society.

That's why over the course of this year, I've been talking to folks around the country about reforming our criminal justice system to make it smarter, fairer, and more effective.

In February, I sat down in the Oval Office with police officers from around the country. In the spring, I met with police officers and young people in Camden, New Jersey, where they're using community policing and data to drive down crime. Over the summer, I visited a prison in Oklahoma to talk with inmates and corrections officers about rehabilitating prisoners, and preventing more people from ending up there in the first place. Two weeks ago, I visited West Virginia to meet with families battling prescription drug and heroin abuse, as well as people who are working on new solutions for treatment and rehabilitation. Last week, I traveled to Chicago to thank police chiefs from across the country for all that their officers do to protect Americans, to make sure they've got the resources to get the job done, and to call for commonsense gun safety reforms that would make officers and their communities safer.

And we know that having millions of people in the criminal justice system, without any ability to find a job after release, is unsustainable. It's bad for communities and it's bad for our economy.

So on Monday, I'll travel to Newark, New Jersey to highlight efforts to help Americans who've paid their debt to society reintegrate back into their communities. Everyone has a role to play, from businesses that are hiring ex-offenders to philanthropies that are supporting education and training programs. And I'll keep working with people in both parties to get criminal justice reform bills to my desk, including a bipartisan bill that would reduce mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenders and reward prisoners with shorter sentences if they complete programs that make them less likely to commit a repeat offense.

There's a reason that good people across the country are coming together to reform our criminal justice system. Because it's not about politics. It's about whether we as a nation live up to our founding ideal of liberty and justice for all. And working together, we can make sure that we do.

Thanks, everybody. Have a great weekend. And have a safe and Happy Halloween.



From the Department of Justice

The President's Task Force On 21st Century Policing Implementation Guide

(PDF File)



From ICE

ICE arrests 29 people in 8 states on human trafficking charges, identifies 15 potential victims, following multistate undercover investigation

MACON, Ga. – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested 29 people in 13 cities and eight states Thursday on sex trafficking and related charges in a sweeping operation dubbed “Operation Safe Haven” targeting a network of illegal brothels trafficking Hispanic females. In addition to these arrests, HSI identified 15 potential human trafficking victims from brothels across the southeastern United States with assistance from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Joint Task Force – Investigations (JTF-I), ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Federal Emergency Management Administration and multiple state/local law enforcement agencies.

Thursday's arrests are the result of a 15-month investigation that began in July 2014 by HSI Savannah special agents in Moultrie, Georgia, who identified a loosely affiliated organization that coordinated the illegal movement of Hispanic females from Mexico and Central America across the southern border and then throughout the southeastern United States to brothels in the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. The traffickers within this organization worked as independent operators to coordinate the movement and delivery of women for illegal sexual purposes.

“As previous investigations have shown, and Operation Safe Haven again confirms, the sex trafficking of foreign women in the United States is done by loosely organized criminal networks who have little, if any regard for the women they victimize,” said Special Agent in Charge of HSI Atlanta Nick S. Annan. “This investigation identified women victimized through fraud, force and coercion, including underage teens. To the criminals behind these illegal enterprises, these women are just pieces of meat used to pull a quick profit and then discarded or passed on to the next trafficker down the line.”

According to a five-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, at least one victim identified during the investigation was a juvenile when she was trafficked. Six suspects are charged with conspiracy to participate in the sex trafficking of a minor and 38 suspects are charged with conspiracy to transport a person in interstate commerce for prostitution – nine suspects remain at large after 29 were arrested Thursday. Three of the network's customers are also charged with promoting the prostitution.

Individuals charged with conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of a minor face up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine. Individuals charged with conspiracy to transport a person in interstate commerce for purposes of prostitution and individuals charged with promoting prostitution face imprisonment up to five years and a $250,000 fine. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The potential victims' identities are being protected while HSI ensures they receive emergency medical assistance, food and shelter. HSI is fully committed to victim-centered investigations in which the identification, rescue and needs of victims are treated with equal weight as the prosecution of traffickers.

HSI provides relief to victims of human trafficking by allowing for their continued presence in the United States during criminal proceedings and victims may also qualify for a T-visa, which is issued to victims of human trafficking who have complied with reasonable requests for assistance in investigations and prosecutions.

U.S. Attorney Michael Moore's office for the Middle District of Georgia is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government.

“Human sex trafficking is a cancer that we must cut out, and then aggressively fight with all of our resources. Sometimes the trafficking victims are kidnapped and forced into sexual servitude through violence. Other times the victims are lured with the promise of a better life, and then held hostage by predators who literally financially imprison them or intimidate them with threats of harm or shame to them or their families. No matter the circumstances that brought these women into sexual servitude, they are victims. And whether the weapons used by the traffickers cause physical, mental or emotional harm, they are predators, and we will track them down no matter the cost. This investigation has been an example of the outstanding cooperation between federal and state agencies. I applaud their efforts. I also want to thank my colleagues, U.S Attorneys George Beck, Joyce Vance and Chris Canova for their partnership and assistance,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Moore.

Operation Safe Haven is the first major investigation supported by the JTF-I since it became fully operational in July 2015. The task force directed significant funding, intelligence, and analytical support from multiple DHS agencies to bolster the special agents investigating this criminal network.

"This operation highlights exactly what the Secretary charted us to do through these task forces,” said Dave Marwell, Director of JTF-I. “By strategically applying the broad resources of DHS against a priority investigation, criminal organizations don't stand a chance. We will continue to focus our efforts to ensure we are dismantling criminal organizations that traffic women into the U.S. for the purposes of sexual slavery."

CBP Air and Marine Operations (AMO) crews from Miami, New Orleans and Houston flew more than 115 flight hours and launched 38 separate missions in support of the investigation using covert aerial surveillance to track suspects and identify multiple target locations. AMO's presence greatly increased the situational awareness of agents on the ground.

“Collaboration is crucial in a mission of this caliber,” said Daniel Meagher, Director Air Operations at the Jacksonville, Florida, Air and Marine Branch. “I am proud to say that our unique capabilities contributed to both the success of this mission and to the safety of all those involved.”

Anyone who suspects instances of human trafficking is encouraged to call the HSI tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE (866-347-2423) or the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. Online tips can be submitted at www.ice.gov/tips. Anonymous calls and tips are welcome.



2 west Michigan fugitives added to ICE's Operation Predator smartphone app to locate accused child sex predators

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A west Michigan pair who absconded during a federal child pornography investigation are the latest fugitives to be profiled on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) smartphone app, seeking public tips about at-large and unknown child predator suspects. The suspects are the targets of an investigation by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Normann Pittelkow, 42, and Nicole Jacob, 35, were charged by criminal complaint Oct. 23 for producing and conspiring to produce child pornography. Following a Sept. 27 search of the pair's Albion, Michigan, residence in connection with the probe, officers seized several computers and mobile devices.

According to state court records, the couple is accused of producing images and video of material involving the sexual abuse of minors.

Pittelkow is 6 feet tall and weighs 200 pounds. He wears corrective eye glasses and has gray hair and brown eyes. He usually wears a graying beard, but may be clean shaen to avoid detection. Investigators indicated his last known whereabouts were in west Michigan. He has ties to Georgia, where he formerly resided.

Jacob is 5 feet and 1 inch tall and weighs 120 pounds. She has black hair and blue eyes. Jacob's last known whereabouts were also in west Michigan and she also has ties to Georgia.

Both suspect's photos, along with their biographical information, are now posted on ICE's Operation Predator App.

Tips from the public can be reported anonymously through the app, by phone or online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"Social media has proven to be an invaluable asset in HSI's efforts to identify and locate offenders in child sexual exploitation cases such as these two. We're hoping featuring these fugitives on the Predator App will produce some valuable leads in this investigation and ultimately result in their surrender or capture," said Marlon Miller, special agent in charge for HSI Detroit.

Within 36 hours of its launch in 2013, the app helped Detroit HSI special agents apprehend a Michigan man, who was later convicted and sentenced on child pornography charges.

Late last year, officials attributed pressure from social media for the surrender of an Ohio fugitive, who is currently serving a federal prison sentence.

ICE's Operation Predator App allows users to receive alerts about wanted predators, to share the information with friends via email and social media tools, and to provide information to HSI by calling or submitting an online tip. Additionally, the app allows users to view news about the arrest and prosecution of child predators and obtain information about ICE and its global partners in the fight against child exploitation.

HSI requests that anyone with information about the pair, or any of the other fugitives profiled on the app, contact the agency though the app; or by calling the HSI Tip Line, which is staffed 24-hours a day at 1-866-347-2423 from the U.S. & Canada, or 1-802-872-6199 from anywhere in the world, or by submitting an online tip form at www.ice.gov/tips/. Individuals should not attempt to apprehend the suspect personally.

The smartphone app is part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers.

HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together.




Theory behind community policing

by Noel Vandlandingham

Being a police officer has traditionally been considered a blue collar job, at least that's according to Dothan Police Chief Steve Parrish.

" We're requiring more of a professional person, someone who has administrative skills someone who has a high school diploma and things like that". said Steve Parrish, Dothan Police Chief

He says those requirements are only the foundation for the force. “We send them to a 12 week police academy. Then we put them on the street with a gun and a badge and the authority to not only take someone's freedom away, but their life as well". said Chief Steve Parrish

Like any job Parrish says it's a leaning organization. “Social pressures have forces law enforcement agencies to re-define community policing. We often looked at it as just a check mark”. said Chief Steve Parrish

Community policing to him is about knowing the community and the people. We also wanted to know how other departments in our area are adapting to community policing.

" When I first took office here I let my guys know what I expected of them, the way I expected them to treat the community whether it was an offender, or just a regular citizen". Noel Vandlandingham, Abbeville Police Chief

Vanlandingham say he tells staff to treat everyone the same and that's with respect. "You can't treat small communities like small communities, and you're the big dog in the city, because you're serving this community".





Community policing provides benefits

When James Brown was hired last year to be Topeka's police chief, he made it known even before he assumed leadership of the Topeka Police Department that community policing would be a major point of emphasis.

As Police Chief James Brown, he has lived up to his promise.

The department's community policing efforts in the Hi-Crest neighborhood in southeast Topeka has received a lot of attention — due, unfortunately, to an outbreak of violent crime in the area this past summer — but officers assigned to the community policing unit are active in other parts of the city as well. They interact with community members, attend and participate in neighborhood functions and host activities designed to forge a closer bond between law enforcement officers and those they serve.

Reports are those efforts are accomplishing the intended goal.

It is difficult for law enforcement officers to solve and prevent crime without the help of citizens willing to offer pertinent information. And citizens are more comfortable stepping forward with valuable information when they know the law enforcement officer with whom they're interacting.

The Topeka Police Department has 12 community police officers and a supervisor for the east side of the city and another for the city's west side. Brown says members of the unit work the 2 to 10 p.m. shift, which makes it easier for them to attend neighborhood meetings and functions.

Before Brown's arrival, the community policing unit worked out of the Law Enforcement Center at 4th and S. Kansas Avenue. Earlier this year, personnel assigned to the city's east side moved into space made available at the Deer Creek Community Center, and those assigned to the west side of the city moved into space made available by Safe Streets.

Through Oct. 19, community police this year had attended a collective 1,029 public meetings with neighborhood groups.

That number does not include all the officers' one-on-one interactions with citizens, young and old, in their patrol areas, which go a long way in building the trust necessary for relationships that benefit residents amd law enforcement.

Brown, obviously, didn't invent community policing, or even community policing in Topeka. But he has taken it to another level, and that is a welcome development.



Body cameras, shift from 'solider' to 'guardian' mentality needed among U.S. police, DOJ finds

by Patrick Howell O'Neill

Police body cameras change the way cops work in America for the better, according to a new Obama administration review.

Policing in the United States has become a defining lightning-rod issue in the final years of the Obama administration. And now we may have its culmination: The Justice Department released a report on Tuesday recommending reform in an attempt to tackle some of the biggest questions on modern American policing, most notably violence against police.

New technology including cameras, social media, and non-lethal weapons increase transparency and efficiency “but also raises privacy concerns and has a significant price tag,” the report noted.

The report recommended body cameras as a way to reduce use-of-force incidents and officers' implicit bias as well as, broadly speaking, “to improve outcomes and community trust.” Social media can also be used as a dialogue tool to gain insight into community concerns and ideas, the report explained.

“The president made it clear that the report would not sit on a shelf, but would serve as a catalyst for the type of police reform needed in communities across the country,” Ronald L. Davis, Director of the Community Oriented Policing Services in the Justice Department said in a statement.

The report spanned 30 pages and covered a number of key points in the debate over policing.

Despite politicized claims of a “war on cops,” sparked most recently by the shooting death of 33-year-old NYPD Officer Randolf Holder, the number of ambush attacks against law enforcement has remained steady for 15 years at about 200 per year, after a steep decline in the 1990s.

The report further recommended a change in the culture of policing, shifting the view of officers as soldiers to guardians, calling “for law enforcement to protect the dignity and human rights of all, to be the protectors and champions of the constitution.”

Emphasizing the philosophy of community policing was a cornerstone recommendation of the report.

“The commitment to work with communities to tackle the immediate and longer-term causes of crime through joint problem solving reduces crime and improves quality of life,” the report explained. “It also makes officers safer and increases the likelihood of individuals to abide by the law.”

The report also had recommendations for local communities, which included increased participation in community meetings and regular reviews of school policies that push young people toward crime.

You can read the full report here.




Maricopa debuts app for community policing

by Sarah Ruf

MARICOPA — Spy suspicious behavior on the street? There's an app for that.

As the national conversation around community policing continues, the Maricopa Police Department is diving in with solutions.

Using technology in new methods is a core value of what's dubbed 21st Century Policing, a national set of concepts designed to improve local and state law enforcement techniques for interacting with the public.

That includes the new smartphone app launched by MPD this month. Despite its current beta stage, the app allows users to report crimes in an anonymous text message.

The app also features a section with the department's “most wanted” individuals, whom officers want to capture for theft, assault and other crimes.

In a presentation to the Maricopa City Council, Police Chief Steve Stahl explained how technology can help bridge gaps that separate the community from the very individuals sworn to protect it.

“People aren't necessarily angry at the police department, they are angry at the criminal justice system and the most visible representatives of the system are police officers,” Stahl told the council.

One way to do this, said Stahl, is by using a database that tracks all complaints and inquiries made by the public, a model that allows officers to easily follow up on issues.

Maricopa's rollout of police-worn body cameras has also been “very successful,” he said, noting people have called in to complain about officer behavior, only to change their mind after watching video of the police interaction.

And while the MPD app is “still in its infancy,” Stahl said, he welcomes the increased interaction it offers through both anonymous tips and regular inquiries.

“I challenge you to keep my public information officer busy by asking questions on the app,” he said.

That's Ricky Alvarado, who said he's most excited about the anonymous tip tool and the real-time interaction the app provides.

“Someone this morning submitted (a tip) about parking info,” he said.

The app allows users to place a pin drop graphic on a map and allows users to snap a photo of the problem or area they want to report.

“Our main goal is not only push info real time to the public, but for the public to access info real time,” Alvarado said.

Vendor Cloudspace Mobile is also working with the Tempe Police Department on an app, and is developing an updated Maricopa version in Spanish and French. The beta version is currently available for Apple iOS and Android phones.

“It's very time-consuming to do, but it's something the chief wanted to do to be more transparent to the community,” Alvarado added.

All of these techniques are ways to re-connect with the community, Stahl said.

“We need to worry about what the community thinks about us and not just whether crime is going down,” he said.




Columbia Police Expand Community Outreach

by Patrick Windsor

The Columbia Police Department is expanding its community policing efforts. Bryana Larimer, a CPD spokesperson, said the department has expanded its Douglass Park Proactive Unit and turned it into the Community Outreach Unit.

“Community policing is really going to be where our officers, the officers in this unit, get out into the neighborhoods and that could be neighborhoods throughout all of Columbia and work with those residents in building relationships and understanding any concerns,” said Larimer.

In the Douglass Park Proactive Unit, the department would send two officers to Douglass Park to deal with rising crime in that specific area. The officers in the Community Outreach Unit will be doing the same thing as the old unit, but it will be extended to more areas than Douglass Park.

There are currently two officers and one sergeant in the new unit. Larimer said the department plans to increase the amount of officers to six and to add a lieutenant to the unit once they finish shifting officers around in the department.

Michael Trapp, Columbia's second ward council member, said he thinks the new unit is a good initiative to help build trust between police officers and the community.

“To be able to build positive relationships to let young people know that police can be, you know, a force for good and a positive influence in their lives. I think those kinds of activities are the most important,” Trapp said.

Trapp also said the new unit is a nice step toward devoting a small amount of resources, but in a dedicated way.

The department received approval to allocate $100,000 from the reserve budget to be used toward community policing efforts.




'Our Land' Special: A Conversation About Community Policing

by Tony Ganzer

In the last year, Cleveland has found itself among cities like Ferguson, Baltimore, or New York, at the forefront of national soul-searching on the relationships between police and the communities they serve.

In November 2014 alone, Cleveland saw the shooting death of an African-American boy, 12-year-old Tamir Rice:

News clip: “…officers claiming Rice pulled a BB gun from his waistband when one officer fired…”

Also in November was the death of an African-American woman, Tanisha Anderson:

News clip: “…the medical examiner ruled her death a homicide, citing factors including the physical restraint of police, as well as her mental illness and a heart condition…”

Around the same time, unrelated to these cases the Department of Justice issued a report on Cleveland police, finding the department had a pattern or practice of excessive use of force

News clip, Vanita Gupta, Principal Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General: “And the employment or poor or dangerous tactics that placed officers in situations where avoidable force became inevitable…”

This year a white Cleveland Patrolman, Michael Brelo, was acquitted of voluntary manslaughter for firing the final 15 shots in a 137-shot barrage, in which police killed two unarmed black civilians after a high-speed chase.

The verdict prompted various, largely peaceful protests in Cleveland's downtown.

For many, community policing is broader than just interactions between police and civilians. It includes the broader idea of feeling safe and secure in neighborhoods. In September and early October 2015, Cleveland saw a rash of shootings:

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams, from press conference: “As you remember, little Ramon Burnett was killed September 4 th , on Louise Harris Drive; Major Howard was shot and killed on September 15 th , on E. 113 St; on September 19 th Donte Padgett Jr. was shot, and his father was killed, on MLK and Shaker Blvd; and then, of course, most recently on E. 4 th there was a shooting, three people were shot, one person was killed; and we believe connected with that also, there was a shooting on Way Ave. that very same night, in which Sidney [Smith] was killed, in her living room while she slept on the couch; and of course last night, another tragedy, a 6-month-old killed, for no reason.”

These were just some of the shootings Cleveland has seen in the last year, there are sadly too many to mention them all.

But with this backdrop we can begin to explore the idea of community policing with a diverse group of Clevelanders. We begin in the Cudell neighborhood, at West 99 th and Madison:

“Baddour: ‘Yeah, that's where he was shot, the police came from here.'”

Faouzi Baddour is a community activist, standing where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot by an officer last November.

“Baddour: ‘And the police car was right here, so they were too close.'”

Baddour says he knew Rice, as he knows many of his neighbors and some of the officers who have patrolled here. I posed to Baddour the questions driving our exploration into community policing: what should community policing look like, and how far are we from it?

BADDOUR: “Community policing is a great thing, is good things. How far are we from it? We could be as close as hair thin and we could be as far as the ocean. It's up to our attitude and our mentality, how we're going to approach it. Personally I supported it, and I'm willing to help with it, because I have a good relationship with the police and I have a good relationship with the teenagers. That is the problem: it is, in my opinion, not black and the police. It is teenagers and the police, somehow they are afraid of each other.”

GANZER: So you think it's more generational than racial?

BADDOUR: “More generational, that's what I think, yes. I work with teenagers, black and white. When they walk by me, ‘Hello Mr. Baddour,' all of them. I mean, you know, I love that, I respect that, I respect them back. And I have good relation with the police, I have too many friends with them.”

GANZER: Do you like what you're seeing so far with the consent decree with the Department of Justice, and reforms that are starting?

BADDOUR: “Of course, because as I said, I have too many friends with the Cleveland police department. They are honest, they are good, they have conscience, they leave home in the morning and want to go back to their families, and they don't want to hurt—but there are some who they act like macho men. And those, they need to be forced into reform. They don't like it, but, too bad.”

Baddour is fast on the phone, and begins to contact neighbors who all have something to say about the police. Frank Caffrey says his views on community policing are best given in examples of things he doesn't like:

CAFFREY: “In January, it was morning, I was doing the dishes. My brother came down, and he was at the door, and I remember my brother was like, ‘Whoa!' And there was a policeman with a gun at his face, right in his face. Right then, another policeman came from my backyard and told this one, ‘oh, there's nothing happening here, let's go.' And they just took off. And we were like, you know, ‘what's going on?!' Absolutely ignored us.”

GANZER: So you think that we're far from being where we need to be, in terms of the community dealing with…

CAFFREY: “Oh yeah, they won't even talk to you. They won't even answer a simple question like ‘why do you have a gun in my face.' You know, I mean, and then you wave hi to them and you're 10 feet away and they just look at you like they're disgusted with you, and just keep going. I don't get it, I just don't. I used to always respect the officers and stuff, but now I just, I can't stand them. I just can't.”

"Baddour: 'Hey Willie, where are you on 104 th …'"

Community activist Faouzi Baddour and I head next to Willie Jones' house. Jones says he isn't home very often, but police seem to respond when he calls. Still, he'd like to see more engagement:

JONES: “Well, I think community policing should look more like getting out of the squad cars, interacting with the public, you know, walking back the beats like they did back in the 70s and the late 80s. Just interacting with the people.”

GANZER: “Some people think that the rift between police and the community is more generational than racial. Do you agree with that?”

JONES: “I think if you hired more people of the ethnic background and stop going out in to the suburbs and getting everybody who do not live in the city, okay, and hire them first. I mean, of course they're not used to dealing with people of ethnic background, they come from a different type of culture. And if you have two different types of culture, or three different types of culture in the city, and you're not properly trained to deal with that, fear is going to set in. When you come up against certain situations, and you're out there alone, and the camera's just rolling, you've got to be able to think, you know.”

GANZER: “Are you optimistic at all for what we see coming down the pike: we've got this consent decree, a lot of talk about reform in how Cleveland police do business, but [also] the city at large does business. Are you optimistic for all that?”

JONES: “I am. I always believe that change begins with the head, okay, and if the head's not operating correctly how can the body function correctly? Okay? And right now our head is not working correctly, and there needs to be some changes.”

Jones says getting younger people involved in politics may be part of the solution in transforming neighborhoods.

JONES: “You know, when I first moved here to Cleveland, I used to always ask the question ‘why do the minority neighborhoods look like they look?' I've always asked that question. You've got the telephone wires hanging all over the place, and all this chaos, and the streets are all messed up. But you go out into the suburbs, and you see it looking totally different. I mean, you are a product of what your neighborhood looks like, you know, I'm a firm believer of that. Change, I do believe, begins at home, okay, but also you've got to have some role models in your neighborhood, and a lot of role models begin with who we put in office.”

The role of politics in the community's relationship with the police came up again and again among the residents of the Cudell neighborhood I spoke to, including Terri Pohorence. She says the neighborhood has come a long way from how it was in decades past, though there's work to do:

POHORENCE: “Now I don't think it's bad, but the city and the councilmen have to understand that we have to live here, and we know what needs to be done, and somebody that lives two or three blocks, or a mile away, is not going to know what we need to have done.”

GANZER: Are you optimistic for the consent decree, and the reforms that appear to be moving forward with Cleveland police?

POHORENCE: “Well, I'm optimistic that they're gathering a panel of people from outside, I don't know, the government, or whatever. I've actually applied for a position on that, myself. And we'll just have to see how it progresses, because historically when these groups are formed, the politicians try to get in there and direct it however they want it. If they leave it alone, it will be great. But if they try to micromanage everything, if they try to pull politics and make it a political thing, it's not going to work any better than the stuff recently has been working.”

That was Terri Pohorence, preceded by Willie Jones, Frank Caffrey, and Faouzi Baddour, all residents of the Cudell neighborhood of Cleveland.

Tamir Rice was 12-years-old when he was shot by an officer near the Cudell recreation center. He was a little younger than two African-American Cleveland high school students with whom ideastream's Nick Castele spoke. They gave their perspectives on police, community, and their hopes for the future…

NICK CASTELE: Johnny Holloway and Robert Roberson meet regularly with other students at Outhwaite Homes in Cleveland to take part in Teens Achieving Greatness, a leadership program for young people who live in Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority apartments.

Robert is in the 11th grade, and Johnny is in the 10th. We sat down recently to talk about police.

“I think community policing, it should be like the police interacting with the community more often, instead of using deadly force all the time,” Johnny says. “They can take the necessary approach before using deadly force or even—like, using their strength that they don't need to use, and they can put it toward something else that can better build a relationship between the police and the community.”

He says Cleveland isn't close to that yet.

Robert says police can see young people playing around and misinterpret the situation.

“You can't just be doing stuff,” Robert says. “Because the police can take anything wrong, make a big situation, make a big thing out of nothing, make it seem like you did a whole bunch of bad stuff, but it wasn't no big deal…Say you're playing with your friends, and they thing you're fighting and just come slam you or something like that. Police do something like that.” He adds, “I got slammed by them before. They'll take anything, especially when it's close to nighttime, they'll take anything the wrong way.”

He says when he hears about cases like the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by police, he thinks, that could happen to him.

And despite the police reform agreement Cleveland signed with the Justice Department, Johnny says he thinks police will still do what they've always done.

“The Justice Department is not really doing nothing in Cleveland to change what's going on with it,” he says. “They're just saying it so we can feel safer that the police are out, but in actuality we're scared that if we call the police, either they're not going to come, or they're going to get the wrong person…And you just think, when you see the police, to either stay away from them or try to be as respectful as you can, so nothing bad happens to you.”

Johnny also says when people hear about encounters with police, they may not always hear the full story from the officer's perspective.

If police have a bad reputation in the community, Robert says it's because force can affect many people.

“When you slam somebody for no reason or kill somebody for no reason, yeah people are going to hate you, because you're killing somebody that could have been them,” he says.

But Robert says police do have a role to play in Cleveland.

“They need to protect more little kids, because more little kids really get shot,” he says. “Little kids shouldn't be getting shot…and they ain't doing nothing about it.”

But interactions with police don't define the lives of these two students. Robert says he likes doing projects in science class—the other day, he learned about DNA. Like a lot of high schoolers, he's not sure exactly what he wants to do later in life. But he does want to have ownership of something.

“I'm going to go to college for like marketing or business. I want to own something,” Robert says. “Like a company or—I don't know, but it's going to be something that I can call mine, though...I feel that I should own something. I don't know, I feel that, why do other people got the right to own something or tell somebody else what to do? I want to be a boss and to make my own money.”

When Johnny graduates from college, he says, he wants to give back to Cleveland.

“I always wanted to become a paramedic, or I was thinking if not becoming a paramedic becoming an emergency room doctor,” he says. “I'll be watching TV shows, and the adrenaline, you got to to think at that time what you need to be doing, and how you need to do it, so you can save that person's life.”

He says he wants to succeed so, in his words, “they can stop building prisons for us.”

“Instead of building other prisons somewhere, we can build a school and let people who don't have a lot of money come to that school and study to become a doctor or something that they want to do,” he says, “instead of them thinking that African Americans are just bad people, because we're not.”

GANZER: Cleveland has dozens of neighborhoods, each with its own personality, its own flavor…and its own lens through which community policing can be defined and assessed.

TERRELL: “I think that it should look like that officers care. That police know the people that they are involved with.”

Gregory Terrell heads the non-profit Society 4 Non-violent Change, which works to mediate conflict and keep the peace in Cleveland neighborhoods. I met him in Cleveland's Central neighborhood, in the courtyard of the Renaissance Village public housing development.

TERRELL: “Befriend the residents, and I think that that will change a lot of things, that the people will begin to trust the police officers. It would help go a long way with what it is that we do. People have a bad taste in their mouth about the city police, but I think it can change, I really do. I'm not a person or an activist who don't like the police, I think that we need the police. Okay? I'm not screaming 'screw the police,' I'm screaming 'we need more police.' But we need good police to police our neighborhoods. And I need more people like myself to come out and to help them to be able to do their job.”

Terrell credits the police of the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, or CMHA, for community policing efforts, but he says there could always be more visibility, and more outreach to get to know residents from all police.

Because Terrell says it's the cooperation between officers and residents that will help tackle violence in Cleveland neighborhoods.

TERRELL: “Right now we're being held hostage. We're being held hostage not just because of what the police doing, but by what the residents aren't doing. You know, we have to own up to that as well. I think that the police that we have that don't respect the rights of its citizens need to be kicked off the police force, okay? But I honestly believe that there is more good cops than there is bad.”

Terrell invited some residents to his nearby office to share their views on police, and violence in their neighborhood. Kamille Johnson is a mother of 7.

JOHNSON: “Community policing for me would be actually getting out of your vehicle, and walking around, and interacting with the community. I have had a bad experience myself where my children has went and said 'hi police, hi police' and they keep walking like they're not even talking to them. That creates a problem, because when they get older you want them to talk to you. You want them...'hey did you see somebody run through here with a red shirt on?' and you want them to say yes or no and they're going to look at you, and they're not going to say anything, they're not going to help you, they're not going to be their friend, because when you had the opportunity you didn't take it. I do think that we're very far from it, I think that we're very far from it, just because of the different things that are going on not in just this community but the city as a whole.”

Johnson wants more overall cooperation between residents, police, churches, non-profits, all working toward making neighborhoods safer. She says it's a terrible feeling to fear for your children interacting with police...or even just playing outside.

JOHNSON: “When we first came we heard gunshots they ran in the house, now they hear a gunshot and I have to push them in the house--'come on, let's go, let's go'--because they've gotten used to it. When we first came here the gunshots at night would wake them up from their sleep, now they sleep through it. So it's become like they're immune to it, it doesn't really bother them, it doesn't faze them. And then the amount of gunfire that you hear it's like a war zone. There are some nights that I don't sleep, because I'm walking and looking at all the children, making sure everybody's still breathing, making sure there's not a bullet hole coming in, making sure everybody okay. I've seen someone get shot more than one time down here. One time we were sitting right in front of my house, combing hair, talking to the kids, laughing, eating popsicles, nice day outside, everybody talking having a good time, and all of the sudden we hear 'pow, pow pow' and it's like right in front of my face, I can even see the fire from the gun. That's not good. And once again here I am, I'm pushing kids, not just my kids, all the kids 'come on, come on, in the house, in the house' my neighbor came, Ms. Kim she was out there, her daughter, and we're all laying on the ground and they're having a free-for-all right outside my door.”

Kim Benefield is known as Ms. Kim to the neighborhood. She also calls for more cooperation between police and others for the sake of safety, but she adds that various public housing units all need to work together, not just individually.

BENEFIELD: “The police need to come down, and knock on doors, 'come on out, let's go to a ballgame.' Do something with the kids to make them comfortable to be talking to them, and make us feel comfortable to talk to them, too. Because right now we run and close our doors. So I'm walking around trying to get everybody, come on let's come together there ain't no separate this place over here, this side over here, this side, we're all as one.”

Benefield says she recently had a bullet shot through a window of her home. While she was affected by the shooting, she emphasizes still her investment in the neighborhood.

BENEFIELD: “When my window got shot, I don't know if I was in there or gone, but it was a bullet through my bedroom window. I feel uncomfortable, violated, and all that, but I'm not going nowhere. And the first thing they asked me, did I want to move? I said no, I don't want to move, it ain't about moving. It's about change—trying to change it, so I won't be a drive-by incident. That could've been my daughter's life, or my life.”

Another important piece in the discussion of safety and stability in neighborhoods for these women is family.

Breanna Church says she doesn't live in this neighborhood, but does live in a CMHA development.

CHURCH: “If the focus is black males, because they matter, they're important, they're the head, it should be focused on how they can get to know them, their selves. Their minds are not where they should be. Families were broken. Everyone knows the history of slavery, and how black families were torn apart, starting with the males. That's our rock. They have to know where they come from, their history, and how to get their minds right.”

Church says if women don't stand up and demand a change from men, then men will continue with what she calls shenanigans.

CHURCH: “We have to take an active role, as well. It's not just the males, it's a community, it's a family. Without the father...with the moms accepting the shenanigans, because a lot of women are accepting men you know not having a job, or men acting crazy. If they're accepting it, the males is gonna keep doing it. So that's where women can stand up and say 'no more, it's time to get right.' Because if you're not right, the family's not right.”

Kamille Johnson agrees.

JOHNSON: “The man is supposed to be the head of the household, he's supposed to be the provider, he's supposed to be a lot of different things, so sometimes the young black males don't have that model in front of them. They're being raised in a household with just their mother. So you don't have the model that you're supposed to have, that, in essence, was supposed to be. God made it that way, it was supposed to be a man and a woman coming together to have children and raise their children together. We got away from that, myself included. I didn't get married until after I had children.”

The definition of what ‘family' is, and how it contributes to safety in neighborhoods can change dramatically depending on your situation. One man, who gave his name as Toby, knows the situation on the streets well…

TOBY: “My friends of course is always going to be my family, besides immediate family. We make that bond with each other, when we spend the night at each other's house, and eat off the same spoon. My mother go vouch for you, and check you when you're wrong or right. You know what I'm saying? Of course we build that bond, and relationship: family. You know what I'm saying? Not gang. We ain't running around, ‘oh, yeah we a gang. We in a gang.' No, we family. We're from a hood, we're from over here.”

Toby denies there are real gangs in Cleveland, and even some of the more high-profile groups like the so-called Heartless Felons are not gangs per se, in his view. And he claims such groups are being blamed for crimes and actions that are not necessarily their doing or design.

Toby says neighborhoods, not gangs, are the support structure for young men, where they look out for each other, vouch for each other, feed each other, when there are few other options.

TOBY: “I could go through the projects right now and say ‘I got an opportunity for ya'll, let's go and make this money. You want a job? You want a job?' Trust and believe it'd be a whole lot of young people following behind me. Who wouldn't want a job, getting paid some money, for real? Like I said, no peanuts. Money for real. Peanuts don't do nothing but start trouble for real. You bring home none. You know, child support; I want to look good, you know; gas money to get my kids back and forth to school; school tuition; food, they can't go to sleep hungry at night; I got to feed myself; probably some people who ain't fortunate that go to sleep at night who ain't been fed in days, I might have to look out for them, for real, you know. We is a family in the community, that's why when they say ‘gang' I don't understand that, for real.”

In talking about police with Toby and others in this neighborhood, and many Cleveland neighborhoods, the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice looms large.

In early October, prosecution experts issued an opinion that Cleveland Officer Timothy Loehmann's decision to shoot Tamir Rice was reasonable based on the information relayed to him: that a 911 caller said a guy with a gun was pointing it at people, not knowing the gun was a pellet gun.

Again, here's Toby:

TOBY: “It hurt, because I'm a father at the end of the day. I don't know what I would do if them was one of my kids that that happened to. It's sad, for real, because when you shooting a gun you supposed to know that always check for innocent civilians, for real.”

Joining Toby for a conversation about police and neighborhood safety is Sulieman Thornton…

THORNTON: “…I was a shot caller for the Quarter Boys in W 25 th Riverview Estates, and my official title on the streets was Sway.”

Sulieman Thornton now works with the non-profit Society 4 Non-violent Change. He also addressed the Rice case as someone who participated in protests sparked by the situation, but also as a father.

I had asked Thornton about an apparent uptick in gang violence as possibly warranting more aggressive policing.

THORNTON: “This police brutality been going on far before children were killed. We profiled based off the way we dress, based off the way we walk, the way we look, even the music we listen to. There's gangs in suburbs, listening to the same music listening to the same music, wear the same outfits, but you don't hear those reports on news about police brutality against them in those communities. I think the police need to be trained, mentally profiled, because you got a lot of police officers coming home from the military, went through traumatic things in their lives, and what not. You've got racist police in the police department. I hate that babies being killed. I don't like it. I think the police should be more proactive, they should use their counterintelligence, because if you can use your counterintelligence to track down drug dealers why can't you do better investigative tactics to find these criminals and these killers and bring about approaches. How did this guy just pull up? He didn't ask Tamir Rice any questions. I seen the tape. He didn't approach that young man properly. He approached that man as if his life was in danger. HIS life wasn't in danger, Tamir Rice's life was in danger. And then he shot that boy and killed him in cold blood.”

Toby agrees that more aggressive policing is not the answer.

Toby: “That's going to add fuel to the fire, for real. If it's already conflict in the streets already, and then you all add the police to come with it, that's too much, for real. Now you ain't got no choice. Just think about the guys trying to do right to protect they fortune, for real.

A couple days ago, I get some gas, I leave, I go across 93 rd going towards Union. I see police cars everywhere. I get out the car go in a restaurant on 93 rd , I take a seat, 3 or 4 people in the restaurant. Next thing you know, literally about 15 police came with they guns on me. Luckily it was people in here seeing everything going on, for real. Who says that I didn't have anything on me that could've turned this into a violent conflict for real? So when I see them coming with they guns on me, the first thing I think is grab my ID, because it got to be some identity thing going on. I'm reaching for my ID, he like ‘no, no, don't reach, don't' you know. But my whole thing I'm gonna bring out my ID, for real, because we don't know where this bout to go. You know what I'm saying? So I pull out my ID, give them my ID. ‘Oh, we thought you was a murder suspect of the 3-year-old that was shot.'”

Sitting next to Toby is Maurice Williams, who says he used to be in the Tribe, a gang in East Cleveland. Williams agrees there needs to be more opportunity for young people to bring stability to these neighborhoods.

WILLIAMS: “Instead of spending millions on more police, let's get more jobs here. And us as black people need to just take hold of our community and show these youth today that it's love, unity, and peace will make everything concrete for us. They don't know no better, out there, they young, they're following the wrong way. So I call out to like all the older people, all the OG's from neighborhoods, hoods, from everywhere, it's time for us to stand up as grown men to let these young men know that it's a better way.”

These residents want more resources for non-profits like the Society 4 Non-violent Change, Boys and Girls Clubs, and the like, to better help young people stay on the straight and narrow, and even better discover themselves.

And from the police, Breanna Church reiterates that familiarity between residents and officers would go a long way:

CHURCH: “If they got to know me, and if they became a part of the community, because they're policing our community, they wouldn't be so quick to shoot and kill us, and that's how some of it can be decreased...by becoming part of the family.”

For Sulieman Thornton, part of the problem is the general perpetuation of negative news and narratives instead of the positive. By refocusing efforts on hope, neighborhoods can change.

THORNTON: “If you give us opportunities like what the Society 4 Non-violent Change is doing, to be able to go out and get me, Toby, and Maurice, they listened. I listened. It's effective. These programs are available, but we're not getting the proper press, or the proper attention that needs to be done, because all the violence is being so perpetuated. We're just a small piece of the puzzle, but nobody really knows about us, talking to these at-risk youth and children and whatnot to let them know there's hope. There is hope. You ain't gotta give—I want the American pie, but just give me some of the crust. You know what I'm saying? Just give me a piece of the crust. I'll put it in the microwave, and do something with it, and make it happen. Just give me that. These guys want that. They want that.”

GANZER: Cleveland's Division of Police has already begun to reform its policies and practice within and beyond a consent decree with the Department of Justice. Now, we have a law enforcement perspective on what community policing is, and how far we might be from it.

Detective Stephen Loomis is president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association.

LOOMIS: “We're miles from it. What it should look like? It should look like police officers interacting with the citizens out there, particularly the kids, in a non-enforcement type of capacity. And the only way that you can accomplish that, is by having enough police officers to do that. If you have two police cars in every zone of the city, then you can effectively have community policing because the people in those communities are going to get to know those officers very, very well; the officers themselves are going to know who the good guys are, who the bad guys are. And that is community policing, not, you know right now we have guys walking the neighborhoods. That sounds nice, but it's not reality…”

GANZER: “Why isn't it reality?”

LOOMIS: “Well, because it's, number one you're taking a police car off the road, and our main purpose in life is to answer radio assignments, and our response times are suffering because of that. You know, it's not something that's prolonged, it's so the chief can say ‘hey yeah, I've got guys out walking foot beats.' Well, no we don't. That's the reality. That's just a knee-jerk reaction to a problem that we have, and it is a problem.”

GANZER: “It's interesting that you mentioned walking the beat, because I spoke to Willie Jones—he's a resident of the Cudell neighborhood—and here's what he said:”

JONES on tape : “Well, I think community policing should look more like getting out of the squad cars, interacting with the public, you know, walking back the beats like they did back in the 70s and the late 80s. Just interacting with the people.”

GANZER: “What do you think of that?”

LOOMIS: “Yeah. I think it's a great idea. If we had the manpower to do that effectively and not diminish the safety of the police officers that are out there answering radio assignments, and therefore the citizens who need us, yeah tremendous idea. We're not reinventing the wheel here. In 2003, we had a significant community policing unit. They developed relationships, and they got a lot of information, and that's sorely missed. But we have to be very, very careful not to knee-jerk our way back into that. You have to be willing to throw the resources at it that you need to develop a good, effective community policing. You know it's all about communication. And I learned very quickly in going to these community meetings that I get invited to, I never really stopped to think about it, but that is really all they see is policemen in police cars zipping back and forth and not stopping. What they don't understand is that they don't have time to stop because we're so understaffed right now, and they literally are from going run, to run, to run. I was able to convey to the folks that: there's not a policeman out there who wouldn't love to sit and play basketball with kids for a little while, or throw the football around, or just let them—the little guys really like yelling on the loud speakers. You know, that's how you develop those relationships and it's got to start at a very young age.”

GANZER: “I think some people would argue that the bread-and-butter may be reactionary, that we're reacting to crimes in the community, but some people would like to see more proactive…”

LOOMIS: “Yeah.”

GANZER: “…measures from the police, to where even just a smile or a few minutes, that may collectively make the neighborhood feel a little safer. Do you agree with that?”

LOOMIS: “Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I would love to have proacting police units back. We don't. You can't get rid of 500 police officers in a three-year period of time from 2003 to 2006 and then expect things to be the way that they were. Those are decisions that politicians made.”

Detective Stephen Loomis is the head of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association.

We'll hear more law enforcement perspectives on community policing in a few minutes, but first we have a discussion with Cleveland writer RA Washington. The co-founder of the Guide to Kulchur bookstore on Cleveland's West side spoke about his ideas of what community policing is, and he also responded to some of the ideas proposed by Detective Loomis:

WASHINGTON : “The concept of community policing, you know, the first thing I think of is: to what standard are you policing the community? Are you saying that the community can't police itself? Are you saying that you know what the community needs, and what makes the community feel safe across a huge strata of diversity and socioeconomic situations. So, community policing is kind of a misnomer. I mean, essentially what they're saying is, with that catch phrase is that ‘we won't kill you.' Yeah, community policing means we won't get killed. Okay, that's good.”

GANZER : “I talked to the head of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, Steve Loomis, and he said there used to be community policing units in Cleveland, where officers could spend time in the communities, build relationships, and he says he wants to have them back, but there just aren't the resources for it now.”

WASHINGTON : “Of course the union's going to say ‘well, there's no resources, we want that back.' I mean, you know, how hard is it for you to get out your car? Especially in the summer you see these cars, they're rocking the air conditioning real tough. I mean, how are you going to connect if you're not out of the car? ”

GANZER : “To that they said that they are more reactive than proactive because there are so many calls, too few officers.”

WASHINGTON : “So now they need more officers. You know, of course it's always going to come down to economics. And, like, a healthy community can police itself when there's jobs. When you have a bunch of kids, young people, old people, everybody in between looking for work, thinking about work, it's kind of hard to take the time to imagine what it would be like, what your community could be like because you're living day to day, and check to check. I feel like the police have to earn a pass, like they don't get a pass for the leadership being able to ape a certain rhetoric with community policing, like they have to earn that. And they've lost a lot of credibility within African-American, Latino communities, within poor communities. I mean, we feel a certain way about police because they act a certain way. And that's not to say their job's not tough, it's not to say they don't deserve the resources to do their job effectively, but to what standard is that. I mean the whole concept of police is policing one's, like, community goods, making sure nothing gets broken or stolen, or people don't get bopped upside the head. It's hard to trust a police force that does a lot of the bopping.”

GANZER : “I've heard from a lot of people, they put the rift between the community and police on different things, be it generation, some said there is a racial divide, maybe a class issue. What do you think about it?”

WASHINGTON : “The police force has increasingly become militarized, so when you have these armies of civil servants it kind of makes it difficult to even begin to figure out why there is a disconnect. Of course I think there's a race issue, and of course there's a class issue, but it's way more nuanced than that, because there are some police that understand that. But the reason that they understand that is also the reason why they can't really push against officers that don't. You know these guys are like good guys, and get along guys. So it's hard to put them in the position where they have to critique the guys who are too aggressive, or racist, or sexist, or whatever it may be.”

GANZER : “There have been a lot of conversations , especially in the last year. It looks like there is some action coming, especially with this consent decree with the Department of Justice. What do you think of the process? Are we moving in the right direction?”

WASHINGTON : “We're moving in the right direction from the standpoint at least there's a process. I don't know if the consent decree has any teeth. It's kind of disingenuous to tell us ‘hey, here is this consent decree, everything's gonna be alright, but by the way you're gonna have to pay for it.' Having said that, I don't think the people who entered into the conversation weren't being malicious, they have genuine hope and they were trying to be pro-active as they could be. You know, I know a lot of the people that helped craft that document, and I consider them to be good people. I just don't think those documents have that much teeth.”

That was Cleveland writer, RA Washington.

When speaking about a law enforcement perspective of community policing, it's important to recognize the inherent diversity of opinion within the ranks of police.

Cleveland Police Commander Ellis Johnson Jr. heads the division's community policing bureau, and he spoke about some of the initiatives already underway.

JOHNSON: “We started a program where we have kits, and what we do is we put coloring books, crayons, pamphlets, fliers, little plastic badges, and zone cars have it, and when they go out and about they stop and you know see a kid, ‘hey, how you doing, da da da,' they start that contact, they start that interaction. And that impact not only for the youth, but for the parent of that youth seeing that interaction between officers which is not a ‘well get off the corner' or ‘come here...' it's a simple human communication.”

Johnson is an African-American police commander in a division of police that has a strained relationship with some poor and minority communities. His office is layered in paperwork, recruiting posters, and on the walls posters saying ‘Cops for Kids.' Community policing for Johnson centers heavily on the interactions between police and the public.

In my interview with Cleveland writer RA Washington, he said he felt that police did not get a pass for leadership speaking of community policing in a certain way. He said police were, among other things, supposed to make sure people don't get bopped upside the head, but in his words, it was hard to trust a police force that does a lot of the bopping.

I asked Commander Johnson to respond:

JOHNSON: “That's part of a mindset, I'm saying, that has to change on both parts. Again that goes back to the percentage of what you're looking at, and those interactions that you're looking at with the ‘police doing the bopping.' Okay, in close to that million contacts that we have, how many incidents is that? On the whole, police officers are doing what they're supposed to be doing, and they're doing it well. And we do have those bad elements that do occur, and need to be eliminated from the division. Because what you're saying is ‘they don't deserve a pass, or they need to earn a pass,' how about those officers who've been on the job for the past 30+ years like myself who hasn't had those incidents? And the majority of us have never had those incidents. The majority of us have never had to shoot anybody. But it's that broad brush that's coloring all police officers as opposed to those few who have violated either rules or the law in saying that, well guess what that's all of us. So I can't prove anything to you, unless you're open to it.”

Johnson says people who are vocal against the police are heard more than people supporting police, when incidents of people getting hurt or shot in involvements with the police are a small percentage of overall interactions. He says there are bad cookies in the force that need to be rooted out, and recruitment and training need to help equip the department to find a new way.

He says officers can police very well, but there needs to be more focus on customer service.

JOHNSON: “Customer service is, when I get out I am truly totally professional, but I am courteous in my profession. It's not the idea that, yes I know how to write a ticket, that's part of policing. I know how to make an arrest, that's part of policing. I know how to use what's on my belt, from Taser, to my firearm, I know how to do that. It's the treatment that we have with the people.”

Commander Ellis Johnson Jr. heads the bureau of community policing for the Cleveland Division of Police.

While it is difficult to represent all of the opinions of officers, I'd like to present at least two more. Ideastream's Nick Castele put together this collection of thoughts, including from Det. Lynn Hampton from Black Shield, which represents African-American police in Cleveland.

And Officer Cesar Herrera is president of the Hispanic Police Officer's Association. Herrera begins, by saying there's an advantage to employing officers who can speak Spanish

HERRERA: “We have people who might not speak the language, where we come in and help translate, or be able to take a report directly because of a barrier to language. But also being able to understand the culture that you're serving. So if you have a police officer who's not aware of some of this cultural differences, you know the conversation or the contact with that family might not go as well as with somebody who's familiar with that culture.”

HAMPTON: “You know, you can't ticket your poor community to death to pay for different amenities that make your life comfortable, on the back of poor citizens. It's the community that's your eyes and ears, us police cannot be everywhere. You know what I mean? So, how you expect to get people to divulge information that is necessary to solve crime and criminal behavior in your neighborhood and you just piled on a whole bunch of tickets that can be very insignificant in nature , but is, you know, to a poor, working stiff just trying to make it, you know, is huge.”

HERRERA: “The problem with community policing, like everything else, is that sometimes you're not able to grade it, as to the effects that it's having in the community, and so therefore sometimes it's not, it's disregarded as maybe it's not an effective program. But we the guys that have been there long enough not only to know the program and understand it, but believe in it, but we have seen the effects, some of the positive effects of the program.”

HAMPTON: “We can do a better job ensuring a little more empathy, you know, because, see, but that happens sometimes in being the police—some people have brought up the suggestion of rotating people from off the streets into other units to give them other perspectives on things. Because you can get into this little rut and ‘everybody is bad, everybody is lying to you,' you don't trust them. And you can get into that little rut as being out on the street and becoming desensitized and very numb to the public. That comes with the job, that can happen, if you don't have other things that bring you back to being a human being again.”

“We don't want to come into work to shoot nobody, nobody, I don't think, nobody wake up to want to do that. But you don't want to, in your whole career, constantly getting engaged in rolling around on the ground with somebody. If you can defuse a situation through good communication, and you leave that situation better than you met it, then you did your job.”

GANZER: That was Det. Lynn Hampton from Black Shield, which represents African-American police in Cleveland. We also heard from Officer Cesar Herrera, the president of the Hispanic Police Officer's Association.

In Cleveland's Glenville neighborhood, Pastor Stephen Rowan leads Bethany Baptist Church. I asked Rowan to assess how far he thinks we are from an ideal of community policing:

ROWAN: “As far as light is from darkness, probably. Now I do know that our police chief believes in community policing, I've been in several meetings with him, and situations where he's talked about it. I know there are officers that believe in this, our mayor as well. So I'm hopeful for all that, but I think we're far from it because I don't see the police. But I will say some of our staff have told me that they've seen some police walking up and down 105 th street in recent weeks.”

GANZER: “Over the course of this series I've talked to many different kinds of people, and they've pointed to a number of things trying to explain the rift between the police and the public. They've pointed to race, they've pointed to class—where do you think this rift comes from?”

ROWAN: “Oh, I would say both of those are true, but I think it also comes from the fact that I think there is a belief—a stereotypical belief—that people in the community allow criminals to fester and that they approve of the behavior of some of the people that commit criminal acts, and I just don't think that's true. But I've been a victim myself of police criticizing me saying that I get along with the drug dealers, or that I harbor them and all these kinds of things. Do I know people who deal drugs? Of course I do. And I know mothers, and fathers, and grandparents and others, who don't approve of that behavior that their children or sons and daughters might be engaged in, but I still have to show them the love of Christ, and so I cannot judge them for what they do, what I can do is try to redirect them.”

GANZER: “It seems like there's plenty of criticism for everybody to go around: some folks criticize the police, some folks criticize churches, some folks criticize non-profits. Are we all on the same page when it comes to an ideal of community policing, do you think? Or are we moving toward the same page?”

ROWAN: “I think so. I think most people would agree that it's important—there was a day when you would know the police officers in the community. Now this is what has been said to me, and I've heard it from more than a couple of sources, that the police are told not to really engage residents, and that they shouldn't get out of their cars and all those kinds of … because it's too dangerous. And it's unfortunate that we live in a climate now where police feel under siege. And there are people that are very angry toward the police, but I think that your average person would not justify anyone attacking the police or disrespecting the police, and I think that because there is this element of people that do those things that everybody gets painted with a broad brush, and I think that's very unfair. I respect the police, I've got a brother who's a police officer…”

GANZER: “But incidents like the shooting of Tamir Rice, the case with Tanisha Anderson, these have exacerbated maybe the trust issue that we have between the public and the police…”

ROWAN: “I would agree, absolutely, because you cannot justify certain behavior when it's clearly wrong. Police are human like anyone else, just like pastors, and mailmen, teachers, politicians, there are always people in a group that are gonna be good, and there are some that are going to be bad.”

GANZER: “Is there something you think people are not talking about in this discussion? I've heard some skepticism from people.”

ROWAN: “Oh, yeah, there's plenty of skepticism. But again, I'm in the business of hope. I'm in the business of hope, and I'm not changing my business. See sometimes you've got to act people into a different way of thinking. See instead of trying to get them to change their minds about a thing, show us through action.”

Pastor Stephen Rowan of Bethany Baptist Church, in Cleveland's Glenville neighborhood.

A commission created to recommend reforms for Cleveland Police, under the consent decree with the Justice Department, has already held some public meetings. And Cleveland police have already begun changing policy and practice.

Clevelanders are moving this process forward with optimism, and a bit a skepticism, hanging in the air.



Washington D.C.

DC officer has dance-off with teen

The officer said 'show me your hands or dance moves'

by The Associated Press

(Video on site)

WASHINGTON — Show me your hands, or your dance moves.

A D.C. police officer helped defuse a fight between teenagers in a Washington park by challenging one of them to a dance-off.

Seventeen-year-old Aaliyah Taylor says a woman officer arrived Monday and when she saw Taylor dancing to the popular song, "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)," the officer laughed and said she had better dance moves.

What happened next was a dance-off between the officer and the girl. Onlookers recorded the dance battle on their cellphones, according to The Washington Post, which posted the video.

The officer said if she won, the teens had to leave the area.

"Instead of us fighting, she tried to turn it around and make it something fun," Taylor said. "I never expected cops to be that cool. There are some good cops."

The officer matched Taylor with each step. Taylor said the officer would have kept going, but after several minutes of dancing, the teen got tired, so the two hugged and everyone left the area.

Taylor later posted a video of the dance-off on Facebook, where it had been viewed hundreds of thousands of times in less than 24 hours.

The officer told the newspaper she didn't want to be identified, saying the story wasn't about her.

The officer has been with the force for about three years and recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq.

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier and Mayor Muriel Bowser praised the officer's actions.



South Carolina

Does response to SC classroom arrest video show law enforcement rift?

The pervasiveness of smartphones could be inhibiting officers' ability, or at least their willingness, to fight crime.

by Juliet Linderman and Meg Kinnard

COLUMBIA, S.C. — When FBI Director James Comey told a national gathering of law enforcement leaders that cops might be easing up for fear of being caught on camera, the conference attendees included a South Carolina sheriff whose deputy was about to star in the nation's next viral police video.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott returned home to an uproar over images of a school resource officer flipping a 16-year-old girl out of her desk and dragging her across the floor of her math class Monday at a high school in Columbia. In announcing the deputy's firing two days later, Lott called on the public to shoot more video, not less.

"I would hope that every citizen that has a cellphone that has a camera on it, if they see something that's going on and they have questions about it, they need to film it," Lott said Wednesday. "Our citizens should police the police. That's their job, too."

Comey's and Lott's comments — one questioning whether video is causing a chilling effect, the other saying it can only help — are the latest contribution to an intensifying debate over the role of cellphones in policing, at a moment when departments are tasked with at once clamping down on violent crime and repairing fractured trust with the public. And the remarks hint at a possible disconnect between beat cops and the brass on the role such footage should play in modern policing.

The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a civil rights investigation into the South Carolina school video, the most recent example of how citizen-shot footage of police encounters is inspiring not just outrage but criminal investigations.

In June, Officer Michael Slager in North Charleston, South Carolina, was charged with murder after a witness captured video of him shooting Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, in the back as Scott was running away. In July, a University of Cincinnati Police officer was charged with murder after he was caught on video fatally shooting Samuel Dubose, an unarmed black man, during a traffic stop over a missing license plate. And on Monday, Baltimore's top prosecutor announced assault charges against a police officer who was seen on video spitting on a detainee who was handcuffed on the floor.

Addressing a law enforcement conference last Friday in Chicago, Comey suggested the possibility that the pervasiveness of smartphones could be inhibiting officers' ability, or at least their willingness, to fight crime: Cops who feel as if they're constantly being watched could be less aggressive and less likely to walk their beats, engage with the public and use force when necessary.

"In today's YouTube world, are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime? Are officers answering 911 calls but avoiding the informal contact that keeps bad guys from standing around, especially with guns?" he said. "I don't know."

Rich Roberts, a spokesman for the International Union of Police Associations, said the climate surrounding police, including ubiquitous cellphone recording, is certainly impacting how officers do their jobs.

"They are under more subjective emotional scrutiny than they've ever been," he said. "They're dealing with a more hostile public. Officers will be more cautious in their approach, and that's not necessarily good police work."

But Jim Pasco, Executive Director of the National Fraternal Order of Police, took issue with the notion that hands-off policing is contributing to spiking crime

"It puts added stress on police officers in already stressful situations, but we're not worried that they're not doing their duty," he said.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis assumed the position after his predecessor, Anthony Batts, was fired in July in the aftermath of riots over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered a critical spinal injury in police custody.

Davis has stressed the importance of video as a means of building public trust, and holding both citizens and officers accountable. But whether rank-and-file officers share the willingness to be recorded is unclear.

By February, Baltimore will equip with a body camera every officer who comes into regular contact with the public, a program that rolled out Monday with a pilot effort in which 155 officers will wear body cameras for 54 days.

But only some of the officers taking part in the test volunteered for it; the rest were selected by their supervisors.

Roberts said every officer has a different view.

"It's objective, and in many cases they will exonerate an officer against false accusation and that's a big plus," he said. "Downside is interpretation. Who is interpreting it? Are they doing so in an emotional manner or an objective manner? The bottom line is: there's no consensus."



S.C. video spotlights police in schools: Do cops build trust or hurt it?

The number of police officers in schools has grown in recent years, but footage of a controversial arrest in South Carolina has sparked fresh debate.

by Henry Gass

The video is barely 90 seconds long, but it has sparked a heated debate that illustrates how policing in schools could either improve or further erode relations between communities and law enforcement.

The video – recorded in a classroom at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, S.C., and posted online Monday – shows a school resource officer approaching a black teenager at her desk.

"You're either going to come with me, or I'm going to make you," says the officer, Richland County Sheriff's Deputy Ben Fields.

Seconds later, Mr. Fields slams her desk to the ground – with her still in it – then tosses her across the room and handcuffs her.

Fields has been placed on administrative leave and banned from school district property. Both the Richland County sheriff and the chairman of the school district's board of trustees have said the video is disturbing, and federal authorities opened a civil rights probe into the incident on Tuesday.

Yet just last year, Fields received the school district's “Culture of Excellence Award” for being “an exceptional role model to the students he serves and protects,” according to a sheriff's department newsletter.

In that way, the incident – and the man at the center of it – embody what many experts consider the core debate surrounding the issue of police in schools. As the number of school resource officers, or SROs, in American schools increases dramatically, the results have been decidedly mixed.

Some research has shown that an increased police presence in schools leads to more offenses of all types – whether serious or frivolous – being referred to law enforcement, resulting in police inappropriately replacing teachers as disciplinarians. But police officers in schools can give parents peace of mind and improve young people's perceptions of law enforcement, which is particularly important given the current lack of public confidence in police, some experts say.

What most can agree on is that the South Carolina incident represents something approaching a worst-case scenario. Whether or not Fields was legally justified in his actions, "One terrible incident like this can really undo a huge amount of investment in promoting good relationships," says Emily Owens, an associate professor of criminology at the University of Pennsylvania, who has researched SRO programs.

A complicated history

Spurred by federal funding in response to the country's crime spike in the 1980s and '90s and, later, high-profile school shootings, SROs have become widespread. In 1975, 1 percent of United States schools had SROs. By 1997, that figure had increased to 22 percent, and in 2007 – the last year for which data are available – the figure was 40 percent.

While the video is "shocking and disturbing," it is a rare occurrence, says Dr. Owens. "Most SROs do not do this in the classroom."

The issue is complicated, however, by Fields's mixed history as a police officer. He joined the Richland County Sheriff's Department in 2004 and has been an SRO since 2008. He wasn't unpopular with students at Spring Valley High, where he was also a defensive line and strength coach for the football team.

"Deputy Fields was always nice to everyone," Quentin Jones, a Spring Valley High sophomore, told The New York Times.

But the student added: "No matter how cool he is, there's no reason for him to do that to a lady."

Fields has been a target for criticism in the past, as well. He was the subject of an excessive force lawsuit in 2007 that was dismissed, and he is one of 10 defendants named in a lawsuit by a former Spring Valley student who claims he was unlawfully expelled from the school in 2013, in part because of an investigation led by Fields that claimed the student was involved in a "huge gang fight."

The student, Ashton Reese, alleges in his complaint that Fields "recklessly targets African-American students with allegations of gang membership and criminal gang activity." The jury trial is scheduled for late January.

Fields's experience illustrates some issues with SRO programs nationwide, Owens says. Often, SROs are not well trained for the kinds of incidents they'll encounter in schools.

"Officers get a lot of training on how to deal with low-frequency, high-intensity events, like how you respond to an active shooter," she says. "I know of a lot fewer big-city police agencies that train officers in more-common but equally important low-stress events."

A school or a jail?

For Shaun Harper, executive director of the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at the University of Pennsylvania, the situation is much more clear-cut.

He says he was "mortified" when he watched the video.

"It is a classic example of excessive force," he says. "This guy just didn't have to rough this girl up."

All these incidents do is drive another wedge between police and the communities they're working to protect and serve, Dr. Harper says.

"It only exacerbates the problem of the disconnect between blacks and police," he says. "It just reinforces that we need to be afraid of them."

Research has shown that even the briefest interaction with the criminal justice system, like being arrested but not charged, can have profound consequences on juveniles' future, and that black students are disciplined more frequently, and more severely, than white students. This trend is even starker in Richland County, where 82 percent of juvenile referrals to law enforcement were black students, compared with 14 percent for white students, according to data from the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice. That marked the biggest racial disparity of any county in the state.

"Having these uniformed authority figures in the school, I think it actually makes the school feel less like a school and more like a jail," says Harper.

Researchers like Owens point to positive larger trends in SRO programs. A University of Maryland study found that the typical SRO spends half of his or her time on law enforcement activities, 25 percent on mentoring or counseling students, and 13 percent on teaching, with the rest on other tasks. Owens's own research has found that SRO programs have helped law enforcement agencies make more arrests off-campus.

Harper counters that the expansion of SRO programs is frustrating given the alternatives available, including restorative justice methods that promote mediated discussions among victims, offenders, and teachers – which have proved successful.

"I absolutely think the cons outweigh the pros," he says. "We know from the school discipline research that there are numerous alternatives to suspensions, expulsions, and having cops in schools."



South Carolina

Lawyer: Teen suffered several injuries in classroom arrest

by Meg Kinnard

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The attorney for a teen who was flipped backward out of her desk and tossed across a classroom says his client did suffer several injuries during her arrest.

Columbia attorney Todd Rutherford told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Wednesday that Richland County Senior Deputy Ben Fields should have been fired as soon as Sheriff Leon Lott saw the video recorded by several students at Spring Valley High School in Columbia.

"She now has a cast on her arm, she has neck and back injuries. She has a Band-Aid on her forehead where she suffered rug burn on her forehead," Rutherford told the network.

Lott had said Tuesday that the girl was uninjured in the confrontation but "may have had a rug burn."

Lott could decide as early as Wednesday whether to fire Fields.

"We're going to handle it appropriately and we're going to handle it very quickly. This is not something that should drag out," Lott told reporters at a news conference Tuesday. "I think the public demands and expects and should get a very quick answer on this, and that's what we're going to do."

The videos of the confrontation between the white deputy and black girl stirred such outrage that Lott called the FBI and Justice Department for help. A criminal investigation was underway, but the probe generally takes more time.

Videos taken by students and posted online show Fields warning the girl to leave her seat or be forcibly removed Monday after she apparently texted in class and refused to surrender her phone to the teacher. When she doesn't get up from her desk, the officer wraps a forearm around her neck, flips her and the desk backward onto the floor, tosses her toward the front of the classroom and handcuffs her.

The sheriff suspended Fields without pay Monday. Lott, who rushed home from an out of town conference when the news broke, said that a teacher and vice principal in the classroom at the time felt the officer acted appropriately.

Lott said the initial video made him want to "throw up." But he also pointed out that the girl can be seen trying to strike the officer as she was being taken down. He said he's focused on the deputy's actions, not the student's.

Email, phone and text messages for Fields were not returned.

More than a dozen parents and community members spoke out at a Tuesday night meeting of the Richland 2 School District. Some, black and white alike, said the issue wasn't based on race, and, while the officer may have used unnecessary force, the whole incident shows that teachers and administrators need to work harder on finding ways to handle defiant students.

Craig Conwell was angry, imploring board members to take action and saying Fields should have been fired immediately.

"If that was my daughter ... that officer being fired would be the least of his worries," Conwell said. "We are sick and tired of black women being abused. You can say it's not racist all you want to."

The deputy also arrested a second girl who verbally objected to his actions. Both girls were charged with disturbing schools and released to their parents. Their names were not officially released.

The second student, Niya Kenny, told WLTX-TV that she felt she had to say something. Doris Kenny said she's proud her daughter was "brave enough to speak out against what was going on."

Lt. Curtis Wilson told The Associated Press in an email to "keep in mind this is not a race issue."

"Race is indeed a factor," countered South Carolina's NAACP president, Lonnie Randolph Jr., who praised the Justice Department for agreeing to investigate.

"To be thrown out of her seat as she was thrown, and dumped on the floor ... I don't ever recall a female student who is not of color (being treated this way). It doesn't affect white students," Randolph said.

The sheriff, for his part, said race won't factor into his evaluation: "It really doesn't matter to me whether that child had been purple," Lott said.

Tony Robinson, Jr., who recorded the final moments, said it all began when the teacher asked the girl to hand over her phone during class. She refused, so he called an administrator, who summoned the officer.

"The administrator tried to get her to move and pleaded with her to get out of her seat," Robinson told WLTX. "She said she really hadn't done anything wrong. She said she took her phone out, but it was only for a quick second, you know, please, she was begging, apologetic."

Robinson said he pulled out his phone because he thought something was going to happen "that everyone else needs to see."

Lott said there have been school resource officers in the county ever since he has been sheriff for the last 19 years. He said the deputies have to receive more training and certification.

Many districts across the country put officers in schools after teenagers massacred fellow students at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999. Schools now routinely summon police to discipline students, experts say.

"Kids are not criminals, by the way. When they won't get up, when they won't put up the phone, they're silly, disobedient kids — not criminals," said John Whitehead, founder of the Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties and human rights organization.

The National Association of School Resource Officers recommends that schools and police agree to prohibit officers "from becoming involved in formal school discipline situations that are the responsibility of school administrators."

Fields, who also helped coach the Spring Valley football team, has prevailed against accusations of excessive force and racial bias before.

Trial is set for January in the case of an expelled student who claims Fields targeted blacks and falsely accused him of being a gang member in 2013. In another case, a federal jury sided with Fields after a black couple accused him of excessive force and battery during a noise complaint arrest in 2005. A third lawsuit, dismissed in 2009, involved a woman who accused him of battery and violating her rights during a 2006 arrest.



South Carolina

Sheriff Says 'Third Video' Shows South Carolina Student Punching Officer in Classroom

by Erik Ortiz

One of the videos taken as a school resource officer slammed a student sitting at her desk at a South Carolina high school also shows her punching the deputy during the confrontation, authorities said Tuesday.

That video, described by Sheriff Leon Lott as the "third video," will play a part in the internal affairs investigation into whether Senior Deputy Ben Fields violated policy in Monday's incident at Spring Valley High School in Columbia.

There are at least three videos that have surfaced of the incident — which shows the girl flailing at the officer as he is already in the middle of flipping her chair over — and their distribution online has caused an uproar on social media.

It's not clear whether the sheriff was referring to those videos, or if there's still another angle on the incident.

By Monday night, Fields was suspended without pay and was asked not to return to any of the school campuses within the Richland School District Two.

The Justice Department and the FBI announced Tuesday they would open their own investigations into whether the girl's civil rights were violated. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is also conducting a separate probe.

Lott told reporters Tuesday that his department's internal investigation should be completed within the next 24 hours, when he will announce Fields' fate with the agency.

"I wanted to throw up," Lott said after first viewing footage of the incident. "This makes you sick to your stomach when you see that initial video. But that's just a snapshot."

Lott also said he doesn't believe race was a factor in what happened — and noted that Fields has been dating an African-American woman for "quite some time."

Yet Fields — whom students allegedly referred to as "Officer Slam" — has also been the subject of previous excessive force and racial bias allegations.

Lott said they're looking at the videos taken by students inside the class and conducting interviews with the witnesses to determine whether the officer should have escalated the situation with physical force.

A teacher had complained that the student, who has not been identified, was being unruly during class and refused to leave even after an administrator was called in.

"The student was wrong in what she did — she disrupted class, she was disturbing the others students from getting an education. But does her actions meet the level of what this officer did?" Lott asked. "That's what we're going to decide."

Lott added that she had been texting and using her phone instead of doing her school work on a Chromebook during the algebra class.

Fields in the videos shared on social media stands in front of the student, and orders her to stand up or be forcibly removed. She refuses to leave. Fields is then seen body-slamming the student to the ground while she's still in her seat, and then dragging her and her desk across the floor.

In the third video viewed by police, Lott said, it shows the girl hitting the officer in the head once he puts his hands on her: "There's no question about that."

The female student in the video as well as a second student — identified as Niya Kenny — was arrested for "contributing to the chaos," Lott added.

Kenny told NBC News on Tuesday that she saw the officer put his arm around her classmate's neck, which is when she tried to hit him.

"I don't even think her fist made contact with him — she tried to," Kenny said.

Kenny, who admits that she was "using a few F-bombs" during the confrontation, said Fields is known in the school for being physical.

"We already know his reputation, and I felt something bad was going to go down," Kenny said when the deputy walked into the classroom, adding, "He's known as Officer Slam."

Sheriff Lott declined to comment about what actions Fields should have taken in the heat of the moment because the investigation is ongoing. Fields is also the defensive line and strength coach for Spring Valley's football team.

At an earlier news conference, school district officials Tuesday blasted Fields' actions, calling them "outrageous" and "reprehensible," and the video itself "shamefully shocking."

Schools Superintendent Debbie Hamm said the district is strengthening its training efforts with school resource officers to ensure such an incident doesn't happen again.

"As we have stated previously, the safety and dignity of our students is our highest priority," added School District Board Chairman James Manning.

Reaction over the video has been swift, and members of the group the Richland Two Black Parents Association called the officers' actions "unacceptable," reported NBC affiliate WIS. The student in the video is a black female, while the officer is white.

"Parents are heartbroken as this is just another example of the intolerance that continues to be of issue in Richland School District Two particularly with families and children of color," the parents association said in a statement. "As we have stated in the past, we stand ready to work in collaboration to address these horrible acts of violence and inequities among our children."

Meanwhile, Fields is facing another allegation of bias.

Trial is set for January in the case of an expelled student who claims Fields targeted blacks and falsely accused him of being a gang member in 2013.

In another case, a federal jury sided with Fields after a black couple accused him of excessive force and battery during a noise complaint arrest in 2005. A third lawsuit, dismissed in 2009, involved a woman who accused him of battery and violating her rights during a 2006 arrest.




'Our Land': Cleveland High School Students on Community Policing

by Nick Castele

Johnny Holloway and Robert Roberson meet regularly with other students at Outhwaite Homes in Cleveland to take part in Teens Achieving Greatness, a leadership program for young people who live in Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority apartments.

Robert is in the 11th grade, and Johnny is in the 10th. We sat down recently to talk about police.

“I think community policing, it should be like the police interacting with the community more often, instead of using deadly force all the time,” Johnny says. “They can take the necessary approach before using deadly force or even—like, using their strength that they don't need to use, and they can put it toward something else that can better build a relationship between the police and the community.”

He says Cleveland isn't close to that yet.

Robert says police can see young people playing around and misinterpret the situation.

“You can't just be doing stuff,” Robert says. “Because the police can take anything wrong, make a big situation, make a big thing out of nothing, make it seem like you did a whole bunch of bad stuff, but it wasn't no big deal…Say you're playing with your friends, and they thing you're fighting and just come slam you or something like that. Police do something like that.” He adds, “I got slammed by them before. They'll take anything, especially when it's close to nighttime, they'll take anything the wrong way.”

He says when he hears about cases like the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by police, he thinks, that could happen to him.

And despite the police reform agreement Cleveland signed with the Justice Department, Johnny says he thinks police will still do what they've always done.

“The Justice Department is not really doing nothing in Cleveland to change what's going on with it,” he says. “They're just saying it so we can feel safer that the police are out, but in actuality we're scared that if we call the police, either they're not going to come, or they're going to get the wrong person…And you just think, when you see the police, to either stay away from them or try to be as respectful as you can, so nothing bad happens to you.”

Johnny also says when people hear about encounters with police, they may not always hear the full story from the officer's perspective.

If police have a bad reputation in the community, Robert says it's because force can affect many people.

“When you slam somebody for no reason or kill somebody for no reason, yeah people are going to hate you, because you're killing somebody that could have been them,” he says.

But Robert says police do have a role to play in Cleveland.

“They need to protect more little kids, because more little kids really get shot,” he says. “Little kids shouldn't be getting shot…and they ain't doing nothing about it.”

But interactions with police don't define the lives of these two students. Robert says he likes doing projects in science class—the other day, he learned about DNA. Like a lot of high schoolers, he's not sure exactly what he wants to do later in life. But he does want to have ownership of something.

“I'm going to go to college for like marketing or business. I want to own something,” Robert says. “Like a company or—I don't know, but it's going to be something that I can call mine, though...I feel that I should own something. I don't know, I feel that, why do other people got the right to own something or tell somebody else what to do? I want to be a boss and to make my own money.”

When Johnny graduates from college, he says, he wants to give back to Cleveland.

“I always wanted to become a paramedic, or I was thinking if not becoming a paramedic becoming an emergency room doctor,” he says. “I'll be watching TV shows, and the adrenaline, you got to to think at that time what you need to be doing, and how you need to do it, so you can save that person's life.”

He says he wants to succeed so, in his words, “they can stop building prisons for us.”

“Instead of building other prisons somewhere, we can build a school and let people who don't have a lot of money come to that school and study to become a doctor or something that they want to do,” he says, “instead of them thinking that African Americans are just bad people, because we're not.”




Department of Justice: Number of police ambushes steady but proportion of fatal attacks on the rise

by Sari Horwitz

Ambush attacks against law enforcement officers remain a threat to officer safety, with the number of attacks per year holding steady at about 200 a year since a decline in the early 1990s, according to a Department of Justice study released Tuesday.

The study by the department's Office of Community Policing, examined the ambushes – or planned surprise attacks — of law enforcement officers between 1990 to 2013 and concluded that concerns about targeted violence against police were on the rise and that “officers must not only be guardians of the public but also be prepared to respond to violence targeting them.”

Although the number of ambush attacks on police per years is steady, the report says that the proportion of fatal attacks on officers attributable to ambushes is increasing — during the years they examined.

“Law enforcement officers regularly put their lives on the line in order to protect our communities and serve our nation,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in releasing the report, titled “Ambushes of Police: Environment, Incident Dynamics, and the Aftermath of Surprise Attacks against Law Enforcement.”

“As part of our work to support these brave men and women, the Department of Justice is committed to extensive efforts aimed at preventing violent action against the police,” Lynch said in a statement. “This report will serve as a critical base of knowledge as we work to defend our law enforcement and ensure our officers' safety.” Lynch was scheduled to travel to Chicago Tuesday and address the International Association of Chiefs of Police, but had to cancel her trip because she was ill.

Some of the conclusions are not surprising. The report found that areas where crime is high and assaults against police are high “may be more prone to severe attacks such as ambushes.” The study found that progressive hiring practices and standards were associated with a lower number of ambushes. Technology, especially in-car cameras, significantly lowers ambush assaults and is a potential deterrent on both officer and citizen, the report found.

But, oddly, the report also found a small and “confounding” correlation between police ambushes and community oriented policing.

“We found that community policing…had the opposite effect than what we had expected,” the report said. “It is not within the realm of any plausible theory that community-oriented policing is a contributing factor to violence against the police.” But it was unclear whether the correlation was because of incomplete data or because communities that have significant violence already have responded with community policing activities, the report said.

Ronald Davis, director of the Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services said the ambush report “is an important first step.”

“We know that the murder of a police officer in the line of duty is an assault on the entire community,” Davis said. “When that murder is a result of an ambush, it also attacks the very foundation of our democracy. We must act to address this persistent threat.”

But the report recommended that data collection methods be improved and standardized to provide a better understanding of the national trends in ambushes of law enforcement officers, and concluded that more research is needed to assess the impact of law enforcement practices and operations on violence against the police.




Obama: Police are scapegoated for society's failings

In excerpts of Obama's prepared remarks for IACP 2015, the president defends police officers

by Darlene Superville

WASHINGTON — Defending police officers who have come under scrutiny like never before, President Barack Obama on Tuesday said the men and women who risk their lives to provide security are wrongly "scapegoated" for failing to deal with broader problems that lead people to commit crimes.

Unemployment, poor education, inadequate drug treatment and lax gun laws are not the responsibility of police officers, Obama said in remarks to the International Association of Chief of Police, which held its annual meeting in the president's Chicago hometown.

He blamed the news media's tendency "to focus on the sensational" for helping to drive a wedge between police officers and a public they take an oath to protect and serve. He called for rebuilding the trust that once existed between them.

Obama delivered his speech amid a roiling national debate about officers' treatment of potential criminal suspects following the deaths of unarmed black men in New York, Missouri and elsewhere by police.

"Too often, law enforcement gets scapegoated for the broader failures of our society and criminal justice system," the president said. "I know that you do your jobs with distinction no matter the challenges you face. That's part of wearing a badge."

"But we can't expect you to contain and control problems that the rest of us aren't willing to face or do anything about," he said.

Obama also sought to avoid making the debate about police against communities.

"I reject any narrative that seeks to divide police and the communities that they serve — I reject the story line that says, when it comes to public safety, there's an 'us' and 'them,'" Obama said. He said it's a "narrative that too often gets served up to us by news stations seeking ratings, or tweets seeking retweets, or political candidates seeking some attention."

Obama opened his remarks with a tribute to slain New York City police officer Randolph Holder as hundreds of officers streamed into his wake. Holder, 33, died last week after being shot in the head by a man he and his partner were chasing. The officers had responded to a call of shots fired and a bicycle stolen at gunpoint. A suspect is in custody on charges of murder and robbery in Holder's killing.

Obama praised the Guyana native as emblematic of many U.S. police officers who put their lives on the line every day.

Before the speech, Obama met with the families of law enforcement officers who were killed on the job, according to the White House. He also met with relatives of victims of Chicago gun violence. Chicago, like some other major U.S. cities, is grappling with an alarming spike in violent crime.

Obama argued for fairer sentencing laws as part of his push for a more effective criminal justice system. He said that while he has no sympathy for violent offenders, America every year wastes billions of dollars that could be better spent to keep non-violent offenders behind bars.

Following this month's deadly shooting at an Oregon community college, Obama also used to appearance to push for new steps to reduce gun violence, such as requiring national background checks for every firearms purchase. The police chiefs' association supports such checks.

"Fewer gun safety laws don't mean more freedom, they mean more danger, certainly, more danger to the police, more fallen officers, " Obama said. "More grieving families, more Americans terrified that they or their loved ones could be next."

Anthony Campos, the chief of police in Newark, New Jersey, said he found the president's comments "very comforting because at the end of the day he gets it, he understands our job." Obama plans to visit Newark on Monday to highlight programs for formerly incarcerated people.

Campos added that the president's comments about building trust between police and communities validated what has been done in New Jersey's largest city.

"We have been spared a lot of what we are seeing in the rest of the nation because of the relationship we have with the community," Campos said of his department.




CPD introduces 'Train the Trainer' community policing initiative

by WLS

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Police Department introduces a new procedural justice initiative for its officers to help build community trust.

Police superintendent Garry McCarthy unveiled the new program called Train the Trainer.

The initiative is spearheaded by Yale University, John Jay College of Criminal Justice and UCLA.

McCarthy says reducing crime includes friendlier policing and building trust in the eyes of communities they serve.

"We went about training the entire department in how to treat people fairly, be neutral and give people a voice," McCarthy said.

Six police departments from across the country are in Chicago for several days to learn the new program to take back to their communities.




U.S. police chiefs call for background checks for all gun purchases

by Fiona Ortiz

Police chiefs from across the United States called on Monday for universal background checks for firearms purchases, saying opinion polls consistently show that most Americans support such restrictions.

The proliferation of firearms is one of the factors behind a rise in homicide rates in many U.S. cities this year, according to senior law enforcement officials at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Chicago.

Acknowledging the power of the gun lobby and the reluctance of Congress to enact stricter gun laws, the police chiefs told a news conference they were not anti-gun but wanted to keep weapons out of the hands of people with criminal backgrounds.

Current rules on background checks apply to licensed dealers, but up to 40 percent of firearms sales involve private parties or gun shows and do not require checks, the chiefs said.

"This is a no-brainer, this is the simplest thing in the world," Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said. "It troubles me all the time."

Backing the effort is an alliance of organizations representing police chiefs and executives, such as the Major Cities Chiefs Association and groups representing women, Hispanic and African-American law enforcement executives and police chiefs, as well as campus law enforcement administrators.

McCarthy said he was passionate about the issue after four years on the job in Chicago, which has more shootings and killings than other big cities like New York and Los Angeles and where police seize illegal guns at a much higher rate.

The police leaders called for expansion of background checks to cover all gun purchases and for a stronger background check system to ensure all agencies share the same records including criminal and mental health backgrounds.

Mass shootings in the United States such as the one at a community college in Oregon this month where a gunman killed nine people typically renew calls by some officials for more gun control.

A Gallup poll released last week showed 55 percent of Americans preferred tighter regulations on gun sales, something the National Rifle Association generally opposes. Pro-gun groups say increased background checks for gun buyers could infringe on Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.

"We took on the tobacco industry years ago," McCarthy said. "We're not going to give up, it's the most obvious thing in the world what we have to do in this country. I have more faith in America."




Cops Are Armed With Nunchucks to Offset 'Aggressive' Image

by Alastair Jamieson and Christopher Nelson

Cops in a northern California town are to be equipped with nunchucks — the weapon mastered by Bruce Lee — in order to "more compassionately gain compliance" from suspects.

Police officers in Anderson will use them to deal with people who are uncooperative during arrests.

Nunchucks — which are also known as nunchakus — have been used by other police forces in the past. They usually comprise two bars tied by a metal chain.

"The Anderson Police Department is implementing the police nunchaku as a tool to more effectively arrest, control, and subdue non-compliant suspects," Chief Michael Johnson told NBC News. "The nunchaku can be deployed to more compassionately gain compliance from a suspect through pain application opposed to striking, as customary with the side-handled or straight baton."

Anderson is home to about 10,000 people and is located about 150 miles north of Sacramento. Its force has 20 police officers, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"In an era where the general public is extremely sensitive to police techniques and use of force issues, [nunchucks offer] another force option that may offset some of the more aggressive perceptions the public has about police intervention," Johnson added.

In martial arts movies, nunchucks are brandished in order to intimidate or wound opponents, but those manufactured for law enforcement officers are designed to be wrapped around wrists and ankles in order to facilitate arrests.



10 Easy Things You Can Do To Keep Kids Safe On Halloween

Children are twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Halloween can be one of the most fun nights of the year for children across America, but for parents, it can be the most nerve-wracking as well. On average, twice as many kids are killed while walking on Halloween than on any other day of the year. By taking just a few simple precautions, kids, parents and drivers can make the night fun and safe.

Tips for a Happy (and Safe) Halloween

Safe costumes:

1. Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colored clothing.

2. Masks can obstruct a child's vision, so choose non-toxic face paint and make-up whenever possible.

3. Have children carry glow sticks or flashlights so they can see better, as well as be seen by drivers.

Safe walking:

4. Stay alert - Watch out for cars that are turning or backing up and don't dart out into the street or cross in between parked cars.

5. Walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.

6. Put electronic devices down and keep heads up and walk, don't run, across the street.

7. It's best to cross the street safely at corners. And always look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross.

Safe driving:

8. Slow down in residential neighborhoods. Remember that popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.

9. Be especially alert and take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.

10. Reduce any distractions inside your car, such as talking on the phone or eating, so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.

Safe Kids is joining together with FedEx® to promote safe walking this Halloween. FedEx volunteers are teaming up with 167 local Safe Kids coalitions in towns and cities across the United States to provide reflective materials and safe walking information to parents and children.

"On Halloween, kids are so excited that they probably aren't thinking about walking safely," said Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. "That's why we're encouraging parents to talk with their kids before Halloween night about how to stay safe while walking, and then join them for trick-or-treating, especially if the kids are 10 and under."

Long before letting them head outside for trick-or-treating, talk to your kids about watching out for cars. Teach kids to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street and use crosswalks, when possible. Additionally, parents can use glow sticks, flashlights or reflective trick-or-treat bags to make sure kids' costumes are visible to drivers.

In 2000, Safe Kids Worldwide and program sponsor FedEx launched the Walk This Way Program in the United States to educate motorists and child pedestrians and create safer, more walkable communities. Safe Kids and FedEx address the issue through research, physical improvements to school zones, and education and awareness campaigns throughout the year.

For more tips on how to help kids become safer pedestrians on Halloween, and throughout the year, visit www.safekids.org and visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SafeKidsWorldwide.

About Safe Kids Worldwide Safe Kids Worldwide is a nonprofit organization working to prevent childhood injury, the number one cause of death for children in the United States. Throughout the world, almost one million children die of an injury each year, and almost every one of these tragedies is preventable. Safe Kids works with an extensive network of more than 400 coalitions in the U.S. and with partners in more than 25 countries to reduce traffic injuries, drownings, falls, burns, poisonings and more. Since 1988, Safe Kids has helped reduce the U.S. childhood death rate from unintentional injury by 60 percent. Working together, we can do much more for kids everywhere. Join our effort at safekids.org.

About FedEx FedEx Corp. FDX, -1.03% provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenues of $48 billion, the company offers integrated business applications through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world's most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 325,000 team members to remain "absolutely, positively" focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. For more information, visit news.fedex.com .




Challenges Abound for US Kids Who've Hd a Parent in Prison

by Katelyn Murphy

Three years ago, the little girl would hide under a table when confronted with reminders that both her parents were in prison.

Now almost 10, she's a confident, popular student, and ace recruiter for the program that helped her, says Daniel Howell, a case manager for New Hope Oklahoma. It offers after-school programs, weekend retreats and summer camps for about 500 Oklahoma children annually who have parents behind bars.

Nationwide, there are few comparable programs, despite a vast pool of children who might benefit.

Child Trends, a research organization, released a report Tuesday estimating that 5 million U.S. children have had at least one parent imprisoned — about one in every 14 children under 18. For black children, the rate was one in nine, the report said.

The report was based on data from the 2011-12 National Survey of Children's Health — a phone survey sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that collected input from parents and other caregivers.

Experts who study these children, or work with them, say parental incarceration is distinguished from other childhood woes by a mix of shame, stigma and trauma. Research indicates that many of the children face increased risk of problems with behavior, academics, self-esteem and substance abuse — in some cases resulting in criminality passed from one generation to the next.

Echoing recommendations by other groups, Child Trends said prison systems, schools and communities could do more to support these children. Suggestions include improving communications between parent and child, making prison visits less stressful, and educating school teachers on how they can help affected children overcome stigma.

"Progress has been slow," said Child Trends researcher David Murphey, the report's lead author. "This is a vulnerable group of kids that is often hidden from public view. We need to pay more attention."

In some places, that's happening. Washington state has won plaudits for establishing child-friendly visiting areas in all its prisons; so has a program in southeast Michigan that facilitates playful, 2-hour visits between imprisoned parents and their kids.

As for New Hope Oklahoma, it has grown steadily over two decades while relying entirely on private donations, and there's now a waiting list for its programs. Oklahoma has one of the nation's highest incarceration rates; a task force calculated that on any given day, 26,000 Oklahoma children have a parent in prison.

"These children face ostracism among their peers because of it — despite the fact that the child is totally not at fault," said New Hope's executive director, Clayton Smith. "They don't speak about it. They don't want anyone to know."

The program seeks to foster a camaraderie among the children that encourages them to share experiences and emotions.

Daniel Howell, the case manager who works with after-school programs in Tulsa, recalled his encounters with some of the children, whom he could not identify due to privacy policies.

"I really want to live with my mom," one boy told him sadly, "and I can't right now."

Then there was the girl who entered the program as a 7-year-old and would hide when discomfited.

"We'd have to go sit under the table with her to talk to her," Howell said.

"Now, she's able to identify her feelings, talk about it really openly with other students," he added. "She's been a top recruiter, telling friends about New Hope and what we do."

While New Hope works with children at a distance from prison facilities, Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency's program in Michigan unites children with their incarcerated fathers in jails in Oakland and Wayne counties, plus three state prisons. Visiting areas are decorated and stocked with playthings, and music is provided for twice-monthly play-oriented visits for perhaps a half-dozen families at a time.

Linda VanderWaal, the agency's associate director for family re-entry, noted that some jails in Michigan don't allow contact visits, while other facilities insist that child visitors remain seated.

"We move the chairs back so there's room to throw a ball," VanderWaal said. "It's fine if a dad wants to toss his kid in the air or wrestle on the floor. It's a true play date."

When the program started 12 years ago, some corrections officials were hesitant, she said, but the wariness dissipated as they saw how participating parents adjusted more positively after they were released.

According to federal statistics, only about 42 percent of incarcerated parents with children under 18 get visits from those children. Long distances are a deterrent: A new report by the Prison Policy Initiative calculates that 63 percent of state prison inmates are confined more than 100 miles from their families, often requiring a full day just to make a brief visit.

The issue of children's visits is complicated. Some children are frightened by the prison setting and rigorous security procedures, yet there's also a wealth of evidence that many are reassured when they can see and hug an incarcerated parent.

Groups advocating for these children urge corrections officials to ensure that visiting protocols, including processing and searches, are child-friendly.

In Maryland, a veteran advocate says it's a challenge bracing children for the visitation policy at the Frederick County Adult Detention Center. They talk to their jailed parent by phone from behind a glass partition.

"For a number of children, there's anxiety waiting to go into the jail — some are scared," said Shari Ostrow Scher, president of the Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership. "The lack of physical contact with your parents is hard."

After 14 years of advocacy work, Ostrow Scher remains struck by the plight of the children she serves.

"If your parent is a soldier overseas, everyone says, 'Oh, you're brave,'" she said. "When your parent is in prison, it's the same issue of loss and separation, and in neither case did the kid sign up for this. But you're not viewed in the same heroic way."

Among the states, Washington has been at the forefront of efforts to enhance bonds between incarcerated parents and their children.

Jody Becker-Green, a deputy secretary of Washington's corrections department, says one goal is to break the intergenerational cycle by minimizing the emotional damage to children whose parents are imprisoned.

"These kids are overlooked and invisible in our society," Becker-Green said. "They feel shame, they feel guilt in having a parent incarcerated."

Unlike most states, Washington has a child-friendly visiting area in each of its 12 state prisons — supplied with books and games, cartoon characters painted on the walls.

In another innovation, the corrections department inaugurated a three-day summer camp in June for children of inmates, with department personnel serving as counselors.

Applications for spots at the camp were submitted by the imprisoned parents themselves, and Becker-Green said there were plenty of tears at the camp's closing ceremony when children read portions of those applications in which the mothers and fathers expressed devotion to their kids.

One of the camp staffers, Bea Giron, recounted how a camper said she wouldn't want people to know she had a parent in prison. The girl was asked why.

"Because they'd think I'm a killer," she replied.




Columbia residents push for a new method of policing

by Ebony Holmon

COLUMBIA - Some Columbians are looking to create a closer relationship with law enforcement officers. They plan to do this through a technique called "community policing".

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) defines community policing as:

"A philosophy that promotes organizational strategies, which support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques, to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime."

Race Matters, a local organization, has been working with the city to allow the Columbia Police Department to adopt this idea. One member, Carl Kenny, said community policing would help the community get a step closer to ending racial disparities.

"I think it can be a positive way of minimizing the divide between the community and the police department," Kenny said. "That community will be engaged with the police department, rather than the police department assigning a strategy exclusive from that community."

Race Matters has worked closely with the Mayor's Task Force on Community Violence on this topic. Along with presentations at task force meetings, members have also spoken during recent city council meetings.

"There's so much that we can do as a community to support the police department as they build their community policing model," Kenny said. "I think first we have to get some answers from city management and the police department relating to how they define community policing."

For more than one year, Race Matters sought efforts for the city to implement community policing. Kenny said in the past, they've been told repeatedly that the city simply doesn't have enough funds to officially move on this idea.

However, the September 2015 city newsletter describes CPD in language similar to the definition of community policing. CPD Public Information Officer Bryana Larimer referred to CPD's current policing technique as "a responsive trioge" rather than community policing.

Councilwoman Laura Nauser said regardless of what it seems on the outside, the mayor's task force on community violence has been working toward finding a way around this issue.

"We are listening to them, but you know speaking of what we've been doing on the Mayor's Task force for community violence. We are moving ahead with an update. So, we'll have an opportunity for the community to come and see just where we are on that timeline and all of the recommendations. Where we are with the city," Nauser said.

Along with the possibility of additional training days, community policing has more that goes into it before it can actually start moving.

"For community policing to be successful you have to have enough staff in order to have it," Larimer said.

She said in order for community policing to be successful in Columbia, officers need to be able to have time to go into the community to start building the relationships.

The council recently approved $100,000 of the city budget to go toward community policing efforts in Columbia. It has not specified how the money will be used.

Kenny said hopefully this is enough to get them started, but progress can happen either way.

"I don't think that the things that can be done are neccesarily attatched to the budget. I think that we can begin a conversation about how to use available resources within our community that are not attached to the police department's budget," Kenny said.

Members from Race Matters will continue to speak at city council meetings on issues like community policing in efforts to alleviate racial disparities in the community.




Ohio State Public Safety sends mass email after anonymous online threat

by Michael Huson

The Ohio State Department of Public Safety sent a bulk email warning early Tuesday morning after an anonymous “threat of violence to the campus community” was posted online.

The email, sent to students, staff and faculty, stated the threat was made online, but offered no other details as to when the threat was received or to its nature.

“It is out of an abundance of caution that we share this information and remind everyone to be observant and aware,” the email stated.

University Police were unable to provide further details of the threat.

The email stated University Police were working with law enforcement partners to investigate the threat and are taking appropriate campus safety measures.

The university email stated any reports of suspicious behavior should be directed to University Police by calling 614-292-2121.

Update Oct. 27 at 1:40 a.m.: The university's Columbus campus was open and operating as normal as of 1:40 a.m., according to the OSU Emergency Management website and information phone line.




Homelessness: A problem with no easy fix

A look at housing and the need for services in Auburn

by Tricia Caspers-Ross

Low-income housing is nearly non-existent in Auburn, and rental costs are skyrocketing. Those are only two of the issues that contribute to the homeless crisis in Auburn today.

“Having a job and working hard is not going to protect anyone from becoming homeless,” said Jessica Bartholow, legislative advocate at the Western Center on Law and Poverty, “not with the cost of housing being as high as it is right now.”

Last week the Auburn Journal shared the story of Bartholow's family, Auburn residents who found themselves homeless in 1990 when they couldn't afford to cover the cost of a rent increase on their east Auburn home. How does the Bartholows' struggle with homelessness differ from today's Auburnites'?

In 1990, the Bartholows may have looked into Section 8, or low-income, housing, which is funded by the federal government. Today Section 8 housing is called the Housing Choice Voucher Program. A few clicks on the Placer County website shows that the waiting list for vouchers is currently closed.

“There is no estimated date to re-open the list,” said Tammy Moss-Chandler, Assistant Director of Placer County Health and Human Services.

The last time the waiting list was opened, in October of 2014, close to 5,000 Placer County residents applied, she said. There are currently 245 active applications on the wait list.

“If you consider the number of applications, the number of people on the waiting list doesn't indicate the need,” she said.

Currently, there are 285 households that are using Placer County Housing Choice Vouchers, 32 of which qualify for Veterans' Housing Vouchers, Moss Chandler wrote in an email.

There is a separate set of vouchers specifically for veterans, and there's a new system to fast-track applications for those who are living in homeless shelters or on the street rather than doubled up with friends or family, she said. However, everyone has to wait for those who are currently using the vouchers to give up their low-income housing before new applicants can be placed in homes.

“The government is providing about the same amount of funding (for housing) as it did two decades ago,” Bartholow said. “It's not for low-income housing anymore. It's for first- and second-time homebuyers.”

The government eliminated 7,000 vouchers in the last federal sequester, she said.

There are currently 500,000 homeless families with children in California, who, like the Bartholows, are invisible because they're not sleeping on the streets, she said. They sleep in cars or with family and friends.

Like Bartholow's mother, many of the homeless are employed.

The face of homelessness definitely changed with the recent economic downturn, said Leslie Brewer, director of advocacy and services Placer Independent Resource Services.

PIRS is an organization that advocates for people with disabilities.

“People who were homeowners are now renters, and the cost of rentals has skyrocketed,” she said. “I don't know if that cost will ever come back down.”

The need for PIRS services has increased steadily during its last 20 years, but its funding hasn't, she said.

A count of the homeless, taken in January, reveals that the numbers of homeless are decreasing, Brewer said is dubious about those numbers.

“(The count) is only as good as the volunteer group we can get to do it,” she said. “There are a lot of people who camp in the woods, and unless we have a really cold winter, they don't come in (to the shelters).”

Another organization that has seen its numbers steadily increase is the Auburn Interfaith Food Closet, which opened its doors in 1999. At that time the food closet served 200 families per month, according to Executive Director Sandra Bassett. It's grown every year since then and peaked at more than 1,000 during the recession, she said.

Currently the food closet serves 146 homeless individuals and 83 homeless families, which is closer to the non-profit's pre-recession numbers. Homeless clients currently make up about 6 percent of the total clientele, though the data is self-reported.

“We have no way of verifying,” Bassett said. “I don't think (anybody) wants to say they're homeless if they're not.”

The food closet, along with several other local non-profits that serve the homeless, participated in a 2013 project initiated by the Auburn Police Department that's intended to discourage panhandling.

The program involves discouraging Auburn residents from giving money to panhandlers and, instead, giving them information on where to find services. Since the program's inception, calls to police regarding homeless people have dropped, according to Lt. Victor Pecoraro, public information officer for the Auburn Police Department.

In 2014, there was an average of 29 calls per month regarding the homeless. Between January and August, 2015, there were 21 of the same type of calls per month.

What's important to understand, Pecoraro said, is that police can't arrest someone for being homeless. People also have a legal right to sleep in their cars, he said.

“People think law enforcement can just take the homeless people away,” he said. “That's a violation of their civil rights. We can't arrest someone because someone else doesn't like how (he) looks.”




New countywide club concept to help teens just say no

by Chris Balusik

CHILLICOTHE – There's a moment many teens face — a moment when the full weight of peer pressure is bearing down and a decision has to be made.

With the help of a fledgling new countywide anti-drug effort being spearheaded by the First Capital Rotary Club, the hope is that it will be easier to make the right choice.

"Each and every addict had never tried drugs before in their lives," said First Capital Morning Rotary President Chris Scott. "So this is for that moment in time when that (time to make a choice) happens."

With only four organizational meetings under its belt thus far, the program will aim at creating a MADE (My Attitude Determines Everything) Club for high school students from all county schools to become a part of. The club would be based on those developed through Drug Free Clubs of America — founded by three firefighters in the Cincinnati area who Scott said became tired of responding to overdose calls involving teenagers. According to drugfreeclubs.org, the club concept provides teens with a reasonable excuse to escape peer pressure, encourages parent-child communication regarding critical decision moments and uses community rewards as incentives for healthy decisions.

Students who choose to take part locally would sign up and agree with parental consent to be drug tested. They would receive a club identification card that Scott said would be usable to obtain significant incentives from participating area businesses, a t-shirt, and would be able to take part in not only educational programming, but also fun activities such as countywide dances with other club members. There would be enrollment competitions between school districts for some friendly competition that could result in the winning school getting such potential rewards such as a pool party for their club members, and the hope is to line up a national name performer at the end of the school year to perform a local concert with club members being admitted free. The intent is to have the program in full operation during the next school year.

Organizers are also reaching out to celebrities in the sports world and elsewhere with the intent of getting some measure of involvement, and students who are traditionally thought of as being in the "in crowd" such as star athletes, cheerleaders, student council leaders and others will be sought out to help promote the program in videos and other ways. A key to reaching as many students as possible is showing off the cool factor, Scott said.

"I think this will give the kids a way to bond in a common unity, but it's also going to give the kids who're not involved in sports or drama or choir or not really involved in anything and are on the edge of doing drugs or not doing drugs, it's going to place that kid on the same level as that superstar or athlete on the football team," Scott said. "They're on the same level and in a partnership on the same goal, and I think that's what's really cool about the program is getting these kids that don't really know each other in school ... it's going to put everybody on the same team in trying to make Ross County a better place."

Among the first events that will help kick off this developing program is a Tyler's Light presentation at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Chillicothe High School auditorium. Tyler's Light was created by Wayne and Christy Campbell with the help of friends to help raise awareness about drug abuse after their son, Tyler — a 2007 Pickerington High School graduate who achieved his dream of playing Division I football after being recruited by the University of Akron — died of an overdose after becoming addicted to painkillers following a sports injury.

The presentation has been made in other county schools to students during the school day, and Tuesday night's presentation is designed to reach out to the community as a whole.

Chillicothe City Schools Superintendent Jon Saxton said he and other county superintendents had the chance to hear Wayne Campbell speak at a First Capital Rotary Club meeting in late July. He said it will bring an emotional and educational component to efforts to address the opiate and drug problem locally and that he hopes it has the same impact a similar speaker had on him when he was in school.

"Kids need to hear this message, and so do parents," Saxton said. "I still remember when David Toma came to CHS in the early '80s and the impact his speech made on me. I learned about the dangers of drugs and his presentation had a positive impact on me. I'm hopeful that Wayne's presentation will be equally impactful to our students during the daytime programs and to the community leaders and parents who attend the evening program."

The evening program is open to everyone in the Ross County community.



South Carolina

Neighbor speaks, man arrested after 7,000+ stolen guns found near Pageland

by Katie Rains and Alex Giles

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, SC (WBTV) -- Deputies estimate that they've seized between 7,000 and 10,000 stolen guns from a house and warehouse near Pageland. Brent Nicholson was arrested in connection to the stolen goods.

Chesterfield County Sheriff Jay Brooks says the seized guns, ammunition, and hundreds of other items were all found on a single property off of Highway 9 outside of Pageland city limits.

Brooks says the guns and ammunition filled multiple tractor trailers.

Nicholson was arrested and charged with trafficking opium and heroin, earlier in the week in Union County. Deputies reportedly went to serve him with a subpoena Friday and noticed what appeared to be stolen goods in his front yard.

The deputies say they wrote out the reports for the stolen property just days before.

The raid started Friday night, according to SLED. It's reportedly part of an ongoing investigation involving multiple jurisdictions that could have ties to counties in North Carolina as well. Sheriffs from other jurisdictions were there as well as SLED and ATF.

"None of us have ever seen anything anywhere close to this," Brooks said. "No telling how many break-ins this will held wrap up."

Over 100 law enforcement officials were on the scene Friday and Saturday. Brooks says 20 agents will be sifting through the evidence "piece by piece" starting Monday. Their goal will be to eventually find the rightful owners. Deputies estimate that 99 percent of the seized goods were stolen.

Brooks says Nicholson lived at the home where the items were found. It is believed that other people stole the guns for him.

Rusty Fender says he has lived next to Nicholson his entire life and never suspected the hoarding of weapons.

"He's always been a good cat, but you know, people do things," said Fender.

Fender said the discovery of the weapons scared him and explained that the recent investigation has raised a lot of questions.

"What was you thinking? Why was you collecting that many firearms? What was you planning on doing with them? I mean was you planning on starting a riot?" questioned Fender.

When asked what Nicholson was doing with so many guns, Brooks said, "(he) looks like a gun hoarder to be honest with you." Deputies have found no evidence that he ever sold any of the guns.

"You know he just had 7,000 guns," Brooks said. "99.9 percent are hunting rifles and shot guns."

Brooks called the items found a "menagerie" of stolen property which also includes 150 chainsaws, 4-wheelers, and taxidermy supplies.

Fender said he can't remember a bigger event happening near Pageland during his years living in the area. He explained that ultimately he is happy the weapons have been seized.

"I don't understand why he done the things he done, but I'm glad it's off the streets."

Nicholson and his father ran a liquor store in Pageland, but according to Brooks it's been on his radar for a long time in connection to cases of stolen property.

Warrants were also drawn up for his fathers home, their liquor store, and a farm that Nicholson owned.




New Orleans police on hunt after officer shot in Desire neighborhood

by Ben Myers

New Orleans police are searching for one or more suspects who shot an off-duty officer Sunday (Oct. 25) in the Desire neighborhood.

Commander Derek Frick took a bullet to the right side of his neck while driving in the vicinity of Alvar and Higgins streets shortly before 8 p.m., Mayor Mitch Landrieu said during a news conference at the hospital.

Multiple citizens assisted in transporting Frick to University Medical Center, where doctors said his injury did not appear life-threatening. Landrieu said Frick was awake and that he'd spoken to Frick.

"There were a number of people that stopped that assisted him and he wanted to make sure to thank them," Landrieu said.

The shooting happened at 7:47 p.m., police said.

Landrieu said Frick was not in uniform as he drove an unmarked vehicle toward his father's house in the Upper 9th Ward when someone in a brown or golden SUV, possibly a GMC or Chevrolet, shot through the window in Frick's car. Both vehicles were in motion. Frick managed to pull over to the side of the road, Landrieu said.

New Orleans Police Commander Chris Goodly of the 5th District said the driver of the SUV appears to have fired the shots, and that it's "probable" another suspect was in vehicle.

Investigators canvassed Alvar Street Sunday evening, finding several bullet casings that could be from a handgun, police said.

Dozens of police cars were swarming between the 3300 and 3700 blocks of Alvar Street. Officers on foot in were examining the ground in heavy rain and high winds along several blocks of that street.

Frick, a 24-year veteran, had been recently promoted to the rank of commander within the NOPD's Management Services Bureau.




Community officers work to build trust between Topeka police, residents

Police Chief James Brown: 'We work hard at building relationships'

by Samantha Foster

Topeka police officer Justin Long waves at pedestrians as he drives along streets on the city's east side during a recent shift.

Sometimes people wave back. Sometimes they don't.

Long, community police officer for southeast Topeka's Hi-Crest neighborhood, doesn't like to see distrust between residents and police officers. As a member of the Topeka Police Department's community policing unit, Long's duties include attending neighborhood meetings and activities to get to know the people. In Hi-Crest, he says, meeting with residents on a regular basis opens up lines of communication that are mutually beneficial.

“You can kind of build a little bit of trust that maybe they wouldn't have with just an officer that they don't see all the time,” Long said, “to where if there is a major incident like a shooting or a homicide, there's the possibility they would be more inclined to communicate what they know.”

That is one reason Police Chief James Brown says community policing is critical to neighborhoods like Hi-Crest, which the city's planning department has labeled “intensive care.”

A history of violence

Within two weeks this past July, a series of violent crimes, including two homicides, occurred in the Hi-Crest neighborhood. Police officials attributed the rash of gun violence to gangs and drugs and said they believed the shootings escalated as gang members retaliated against each other.

The Topeka Police Department responded with an exhaustive campaign that called for increased manpower, Brown said. Officers canceled time off and planned family vacations to help with increased patrols and enforcement in Hi-Crest.

“When we mobilized our police department, and I gave the direction that we were going to go back into Hi-Crest and we were going to take back over that area and make it safe for our citizens, our officers gave up their time off, they gave up their vacations, their holidays, their time off with their family, and without hesitation and without complaint, the officers, the men and women, stepped up and said, ‘OK, I get it, the chief wants us to work 12-hour shifts, we're all in.'

“They wanted to work Hi-Crest, and they wanted to take that back over from the bad guys,” he said.

Relationships previously built up by officers in the community policing unit played a key role in helping solve problems in the neighborhood, Brown said. Entities like Safe Streets and Avondale East NET Reach were working in Hi-Crest. Topeka Unified School District 501 and Topeka Rescue Mission also wanted to be part of the efforts. Brown said the department also brought the “entire city toolkit” into its efforts: the street department, public works, code enforcement and neighborhood relations.

“Within a very short period of time, we went from a number of calls for service to virtually nothing, and it's been like that all summer long,” Brown said. “Once we were able to go in as a city, as a unified front — and it wasn't just a law enforcement agency, it wasn't just TPD that did this, it was everybody coming in, standing shoulder to shoulder.”

Such partnerships are key to effective community policing, Brown said.

“Definitely the most important thing that makes it effective is the partnerships that we develop with our community members and the trust that we're able to develop because of these partnerships,” he said.

Building trust

Long said having the freedom to be proactive is his favorite thing about being a community police officer.

“It's not just going call to call,” he said. “It's going to all the functions, going to solve all the problems within the community.”

Brown said the dozen community police officers and two supervisors — one for the city's east side and one for its west side — work the department's second shift, from 2 to 10 p.m. That shift makes it more feasible for these officers to attend neighborhood meetings and functions, he said. In 2014, Brown said, the community police officers attended 156 events held in Topeka. As of Oct. 19, he said, they also had attended a collective 1,029 public meetings with neighborhood groups so far this year.

“We're very much engaged with our public all the time,” Brown said. “I think we have a really good pulse of what's going on in the community. If you're not attending these meetings, then you really don't know what's going on.”

Community officers frequently engage with kids at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Topeka, Brown said. For Long, working with children gives them a chance to encounter officers in a positive, friendly situation.

“Normally the only time they see a police officer is when something bad has happened and mom or dad is going to jail,” Long said. “So if at a younger age they can learn that, hey, it's not always a bad thing or a negative incident when they're running into us,” that builds trust and keeps kids from being fearful of police.

Interacting with kids is one of the more fun aspects of his duties as a community officer. The kids in Hi-Crest seem to enjoy Long's presence too, according to Sasha Stiles, the city's neighborhood relations director.

“They just love him over there,” said Stiles during a recent city-led Rock the Block cleanup on S.E. Minnesota near Eisenhower Middle School, at which Long worked alongside volunteers from Advisors Excel.

Getting results

When Brown was hired as head of the Topeka Police Department a little more than a year ago, he spoke of wanting to take community policing to the next level. When he began attending neighborhood meetings, he said, residents wanted to know what steps would be taken.

“We talked about embedding the community officers into the community,” he said.

The department's 14 community policing unit officers used to report to the Law Enforcement Center at 4th and S. Kansas Avenue, where they shared two desks and two computers in a small cubicle. So, Brown said, the department approached its community partners for help. The department accepted offers from the Topeka Housing Authority, which provides office space for east-side officers at its Deer Creek Community Center, and of Safe Streets, which provides a west-side community police office. Those offices opened in May, according to Topeka Capital-Journal archives.

Brown believes months of unrest in cities across the U.S. highlighting distrust between residents and the law enforcement agencies that serve them further show the importance of building trusting relationships through community policing. Police departments can't wait to build trust and resiliency and then expect community members to support them when something happens, he said.

“I think that's the issue with some cities and organizations,” he said. “They don't have that resiliency, and so when things happen in their community it just very quickly explodes.”

Brown said he believes Topeka's residents do trust the police.

“I think we've got an excellent relationship with our community,” he said. “We work hard at building relationships” with the city's many diverse groups.

However, he added, the department doesn't do “a good enough job of telling our story,” though he said that is improving. Through its public service announcements, increased social media presence and efforts to be transparent, he said, police are trying to better provide information to the public.

“People are watching to see what we do, and our community — they want information, and they want timely information,” Brown said.

As for Hi-Crest, he said, he is “very, very pleased with the results.”

“We made it more of an area where it wasn't so marketable for the bad element to come in to set up the criminal-type aspect of it,” he said.

Brown said he met with members of the Topeka chapter of the AARP, several of whom live in the Hi-Crest neighborhood. They told the police chief they were happy with results so far, he said. However, he said, the department still concentrates many of its resources in that area.

“The type of activity that they saw early on in the summer is pretty much nonexistent,” he said.

Some problems persist

Community policing efforts in Hi-Crest, as well as other city neighborhoods, will continue to evolve. Brown said community police officers have come up with new ideas to take their work to the next level. A new hotline is in place for residents to call or email with problems if they can't immediately reach the community police officer for their neighborhood. Brown also hopes to revive a defunct program that trains citizens to be “the eyes and ears” of the department.

In Hi-Crest, Long said, he wants to focus on deterring violent crime.

“I'd like to really focus on the violent crime, as well as the drug trafficking and drug use that is in the neighborhood,” he said, explaining that methamphetamine is prevalent there, and in Topeka as a whole. “A lot of what I find is a lot of the overall crime stems from the drug problem.”

When addicts have a need to get high but don't have the money to get their fix, he said, they typically turn to theft or burglary to obtain valuable items they can use to buy drugs. After they obtain the drugs, he said, their extreme behavior while high also contributes to violent crimes. Long said he gets frustrated when people tell officers it is solely their job to solve crimes. That takes a community effort, he said.

“People have to care about their neighborhoods,” he said.

Long said the police department wants to have open lines of communication with residents.

“We don't want people to be afraid of relaying their concerns — whether it be a small issue or a big issue — to us,” he said. “We want to be able to work with them to solve the problems in the community.”



Early release: Who the drug felons are and where they'll go

On Nov. 1, over 6K drug felons will be released in effort to reduce 'harsh' drug laws

Six thousand drug felons are set for release around Nov. 1 as part of a national effort to reduce what have now been deemed too-harsh drug laws. All participants being released are drug offenders no longer deemed a danger to the community.

Who They Are

According to early release petitions obtained by The Associated Press from court records, they include:

— Lincoln Steve White, 43, who was caught buying 2 ounces of cocaine for $1,400 in Florida in 2008 and has served more than five years of a seven-year sentence. He plans to live with a girlfriend and put the heating and air conditioning repair skills he learned in prison to work.

— Chedrick Crummie, 45, who's leaving prison after serving 21 years for cocaine trafficking in South Florida, and has a janitorial job lined up through a local minister.

— Emilio Flores, 43, whose cocaine trafficking sentence fell from 10 years to six under the new guidelines. Flores believes his mental illness and addiction made him easy prey for manipulative drug dealers. Prison didn't help the situation, he said. "The treatment is to medicate the mentally ill into zombies," Flores, of Florida, wrote in his petition.

Where They're Going

About 2,000 of the 6,000 being released soon are being deported. Many others will be steered to traditional probation programs. Most have already been moved to halfway houses or home confinement over the past year, as their sentences were recalculated. Some will go to public or privately run programs that help prisoners ease back into society. How different states are handling the mass release:

— In eastern Pennsylvania, the 45 people being released early are just a blip on a probation department caseload that numbers 2,800 people.

— In Georgia, U.S. probation officers expect to see nearly 60 new offenders released the first week of November, 10 times the normal load. But the office has been working with family members and service providers to prioritize the caseload. "We want to make sure we help people get off to a good start, like we would if we had six cases coming out in the course of a week," said Robert Long, the chief U.S. probation officer for the Middle District, based in Macon.

— In Texas, where Volunteers for America operates two federal halfway houses, officials have been moving people out to the community to make beds available for the next wave leaving prison.

— In Kansas City, Missouri, retired police commander Ron Smith is program director of Second Chance KC. He said his agency helps about 4,000 released prisoners annually from all jails and prisons. Typically, about 475 of those prisoners come from federal lockup, and he doesn't expect that number to swell in November. "There will be some increase but we think we'll be able to handle that," Smith said. "There's nothing to worry about."

— The southern district of Ohio, including Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus, has about 350 inmates in the early-release program, with 80 to 90 scheduled for release Nov. 1, said Phelps Jones, supervising officer for the U.S. Probation Office in Columbus. Between 20 and 30 of those are people in the country without legal permission being turned over to federal immigration authorities, he said.

War On Drugs

The nonprofit Sentencing Project argues the long prison sentences that grew out of the nation's "War on Drugs" have been ruinous for both families and taxpayers. Executive director Mark Mauer expects the early release of drug offenders to have "a "very minimal" effect on public safety.

"It's not going to release a crime wave, but some number of them are going to recidivate, because that's true of everyone (leaving prison)," he said.

"The reason we have mass incarceration is not because we don't have enough research documenting the problem with it, but, politically, policymakers have been fearful of being soft on crime for too many years," he said. "Now that there's a greater comfort level, we can discuss what would work better."



Strict gun laws questioned whether they make cities safer

Researchers who have studied the issue argue they generally do, but with some caveats

by Ryan J. Foley

Do states with stricter gun laws have less gun violence than those with few restrictions?

Researchers who have studied the issue argue they generally do, but with some caveats. They cannot say whether the laws, or some other factors, are the reason for a lower rate of firearm deaths and that there are exceptions.

President Barack Obama addressed the matter in a news conference hours after a gunman killed eight students and a teacher at an Oregon community college.

"We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths," Obama said.

David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, said Obama's claim was accurate and supported by many studies. The likely reason is that states with stronger gun laws have fewer guns and fewer suicides and homicides from them, he said.

The White House says Obama based his claim on a report published in August by the National Journal, which found that states with the fewest gun-related deaths — including homicides, suicides and accidents — had stricter laws than those with the highest number. The study looked at laws such as those that require permits to purchase handguns and universal background checks on sales.

A study published in 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association compared firearm deaths in states to the number of restrictive gun laws each state had out of 28 tracked by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Looking at 120,000 deaths over a four-year period, researchers concluded that a "higher number of firearm laws in a state are associated with a lower rate of firearm fatalities in the state, overall and for suicides and homicides individually." They acknowledged exceptions, with some states featuring loose restrictions but low rates of gun deaths. They also cautioned against drawing a cause-and-effect relationship, saying more research was needed.

Because such studies also consider suicides in calculating firearm deaths, critics say it is misleading to cite them when arguing for ways to prevent mass shootings. Suicides account for the majority of America's roughly 30,000 annual gun deaths.

Catherine Mortensen, a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, said studies that have found links between states' gun laws and firearm deaths fail to consider all the relevant factors that might influence fatality rates, such as how much money is spent in each state on policing and suicide-prevention. She said the 2013 study published in the medical association journal contained a scoring system for laws that was "subjective and not verified by an independent source."

Authors conceded their scoring system "has not been validated." But the lead author, Eric Fleegler of Boston Children's Hospital, said he believed the evidence was clear that the risk of dying from suicide and homicide is generally reduced in states with the most gun restrictions.

"In states where there has been more legislation related to firearms purchasing and the way guns are stored and carried, there are lower rates of fatalities," he said. "This is important."