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.


November, 2015 - Week 2


In Paris, a soccer game, an Asian dinner, a concert — and then terror

by Cleophee Demoustier and Kevin Sullivan

PARIS — Friday evening in Paris, and the city was coming to life.

November, cool but pleasant. People filled outdoor cafes, sipping espresso or wine. Restaurants were jammed, bars were noisy and fun. More than 80,000 people, including President François Hollande, jammed into the Stade de France just north of the city, most of them cheering for France to thump Germany in a soccer match.

Then, in the period of about a half-hour, Paris changed.

At 9:20 p.m., an explosion boomed through the stadium. A suicide bomber had blown himself up outside, killing one passerby. Witnesses said most people in the stadium assumed it was fireworks, and the game continued.

Moments later, at 9:25 p.m., two gunmen stepped out of a black SEAT Leon car in front of Le Carillon, a modest cafe-bar with a dirty maroon awning in the city center, and started shooting.

The shooters then walked across the street and opened fire at a restaurant called Le Petit Cambodge, or Little Cambodia. Police said they later recovered hundreds of shell casings.

Stefano, a 30-year-old Brazilian citizen working in Paris as an artist, and seven of his Brazilian friends were having dinner on the terrace of Le Petit Cambodge when the shooting started, according to his wife, Laurine Durand, who is in Paris but was not at the restaurant.

“The next thing he saw was people panicking and screaming,” said Durand, 29. “He was next to the door entrance, so he rushed back inside.” Like many people who were too shaken or scared to give their names, Stefano declined to be interviewed and asked that his last name not be used.

Stefano saw his friend Gabriel lying on the sidewalk covered in blood, so he grabbed him and pulled him inside the restaurant, Durand said. Gabriel had been shot twice in the leg and once in the back, and another friend, Camilia, was shot in the hand and in the breast, Durand said.

“At that moment he thought they were all going to die,” she said.

A woman in her 20s said she had been in Le Petit Cambodge during the shooting. On Saturday, she sat crying on the sidewalk near the restaurant, where she left a note that said, “Your lives were stolen and mine was spared. I will forever grieve you.”

A woman named Juliette, 32, said she ate dinner at Le Petit Cambodge, then had a drink at Le Carillon, and left 10 or 15 minutes before the attacks.

“We feel lucky,” she said. “Like the guy who missed his flight on September 11.”

Police said 15 were killed and 10 injured in the shootings at Le Carillon and Le Petit Cambodge. That included Nohemi Gonzalez, 23, a senior at California State University at Long Beach, who was spending the semester studying in France. She was eating dinner at Le Petit Cambodge with two other American students and one of their husbands when the gunmen arrived; none of her companions was injured.

At 9:30, a second explosion rang out at the stadium, killing a suicide bomber — and the cheering crowd still didn't realize that anything was amiss.

Moments later, on Rue de la Fontaine au Roi, gunmen with assault weapons stepped out of the same black SEAT Leon and opened fire at an Italian restaurant called Casa Nostra, a nearby cafe called La Bonne Bierre, and a laudromat. They left about a dozen bullet holes in the windows of the cafe and shattered the windows of the laudromat, spraying broken glass across the floor. Five people were killed and eight more injured.

At 9:36, police said, the car pulled up to La Belle Equipe, a popular eatery in Paris's 11th district, an area filled with restaurants and bars.

According to a review in TimeOut Paris magazine, La Belle Equipe, “somewhere between a classic restaurant and a trendy nightspot,” has exposed brick walls and is decorated with antique mirrors and movie posters, and has a large outdoor terrace.

The gunmen fired for “at least three minutes,” one witness said. “Then they got back in their car.”

Police said 19 people were killed and nine more critically injured.

Four minutes later, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside Cafe Comptoir Voltaire, a restaurant on the popular Boulevard Voltaire, with a red awning advertising “cuisine traditionnelle.”

A video posted online showed investigators in white suits photographing and examining the tattered remnants of a suicide vest. The video showed remnants of other clothing outside, where people had been spending their evening in typical Parisian fashion, in red-and-white chairs at small round tables. It wasn't clear whether the clothes belonged to patrons or the bomber.

Police said one customer was critically injured.

At 9:40, police said, a black Volkswagen Polo pulled up in front of the Bataclan concert hall, which has been a Paris entertainment landmark since the 19th century. Three gunmen entered the hall and started shooting.

As police were responding, at 9:53 p.m., they received word of a third explosion at the soccer stadium. Police said a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a McDonald's restaurant near the stadium, but no one else was hurt. By then, spectators at the stadium had learned, mainly through messages on their phones, that Paris was under attack.

At the concert hall, meanwhile, the three attackers, who witnesses said were young men wearing black clothes and strapped with tan suicide vests, stood coolly near the entrance, methodically shooting panicked concert-goers, reloading, and shooting more.

American expatriate Helen Jane Wilson, 49, was shot in the leg during the Bataclan attack, according to a Facebook account posted by Mary Sheridan, a friend who visited Wilson in the hospital.

Sheridan wrote that Wilson said she had been standing with a friend, Briton Nick Alexander, when the shooting started. Wilson and Alexander tried to hide, but the gunmen shot in their direction, and at least one bullet passed directly through Alexander and hit Wilson in the leg.

“She tried to get [Alexander] to move and carried out CPR to no avail,” Sheridan wrote.

The British Foreign Office confirmed Alexander had been killed.

“Nick was in front of me when we were lying on the ground and somebody moved and they just turned round and started shooting us,” Wilson said in an interview with the Telegraph newspaper. “I tried to keep him talking and then I tried to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Then he couldn't breathe anymore, and I held him in my arms and told him I loved him. He was the love of my life.”

Sheridan wrote that Wilson said the attackers had deliberately singled out handicapped concert-goers for execution.

“They corralled the wheelchair spectators on the first floor balcony and shot them each individually,” Sheridan wrote.

Wilson runs a catering company in Paris called Rock en Bol. The company's homepage says Wilson has provided catering services for Elton John, the Rolling Stones and U2, whose members laid flowers at the Bataclan on Saturday.

Louis H., 26, said he sometimes works as a technician at the club, but Friday night he went as a spectator, taking his mother to see the California-based rock band, Eagles of Death Metal.

About 9:40, he said he heard what sounded like firecrackers coming from the entrance at the rear of the hall.

“Then a lot of people started screaming, I realized something was wrong,” Louis said. “The band stopped playing and the lights went on. Some people were on the ground, some of them were running.”

He and his mother had been in the “theater pit,” a standing-room area in front of the stage, when the shooting started. He said he grabbed his mother and pinned her to the floor, using his arms to try to protect her head.

“We were lying down on the floor, trying not to move, pretending we were dead,” he said. “Meanwhile, we could hear gunshots, screaming, and the gunmen reloading their weapons. I did not look at them. This was the last thing I wanted to do. Looking at them would have increased my chances of dying.”

Louis said they lay still on the floor for about 10 minutes, then they heard someone say, “The gunmen are gone.”

“I didn't think twice, it was time to escape,” he said. “I took my mother by the hand and we rushed towards the backstage exit. On the way, I saw several dead bodies and people injured. It was a massacre.”

Louis said that after he got outside, he realized the attackers were still inside.

The French newspaper Le Monde posted video showing many people pouring out emergency entrances, with gunshots heard in the background. Several dead or wounded people are seen in the street, while other people drag bleeding friends away from the scene. Several can be seen trying to climb out windows; one woman is shown hanging by her hands from a third-floor window.

One witness, who identified herself as Jasmine, told BFMTV that the attackers announced their motive.

"They said, ‘What you've done to Syrians, well, now you're paying for it,'?” she said. “Lots of bodies fell. I ran into a body. And then I went to the bathroom, and when I came out, there were lots of ­corpses around me. One guy shot me in the ankle. I've never seen as many dead people around me in my entire life. I'm traumatized.”

Witnesses said the shooting lasted about 15 minutes, then the gunmen held the survivors hostage for the next two hours. When police finally stormed the concert hall at 12:20 a.m., the attackers blew themselves up.

Police have said at least 89 people were killed there.



French police detain 7 for questioning in Paris siege

by Anthony Faiola and Souad Mekhennet

PARIS — French police took seven people in for questioning Sunday in connection with the deadly siege that killed at least 129 people on Friday night, expanding an international dragnet and investigation that is now spanning from the Aegean Sea to the teeming Paris suburbs.

The seven people taken into custody were relatives of Omar Ismail Mostefai, a 29-year old French national with a criminal record and one of seven assailants who died during Friday night's deadly siege, according to a French police official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. A petty criminal of Algerian descent, Mostefai was picked up for eight minor offenses including driving without a license between 2004 and 2010. In 2010, however, Mostefai came on the radar screen of French intelligence because of his associations with radical Islamists at a mosque near Chartres, a city 56 miles west of Paris.

Mostefai's brother, a 34 year-old unnamed man who surrendered for questioning in a southeastern suburb of Paris, confirmed to the AFP news service that his younger sibling had committed small crimes in the past. He said he had broken off all ties with him years ago. Mostefai, he added, had moved back to Algeria with his young daughter. He said he was shocked to learn that his brother was involved in the attacks.

Police also raided the homes of Mostafai's father and of the brother, which were searched during three hours Saturday night by French SWAT teams in Romilly-sur-Seine, a town 79 miles East of Paris, and in Bandoufle, a small suburb in the South of Paris, according to RTL radio.

“What does this have to do with us?” the brother's wife told AFP in tears. “We haven't spoken to him in years. I hope we'll be left alone. We have a quiet little life, and this is starting to worry me.”

The official said another one of the assailants had a Syrian passport, a document that Greek officials have said he used to enter Europe in October on the Aegean island of Leros along with a record flood of refugees fleeing the war-torn Middle East. Investigators were still looking into whether a second assailant may have also entered Europe on the refugee route. It immediately raised the prospect that militants may be using the same porous routes into Europe as migrants.

French police additionally seized one of the vehicles believed to have been used in the Friday night attacks, a black Seat Leon with handguns inside, in the eastern suburb of Montreuil. Officials sealed off the area with red and white tape as white-clad forensic experts combed the vehicle.

At least two of the seven dead attackers are believed to be Belgians including an 18-year-old who had fought in Syria, according to a senior Belgian official.

On Saturday, President François Hollande called the attacks an “act of war” by the Islamic State, which issued an extraordinarily detailed claim of responsibility almost immediately after his address to the nation. Left behind after the attacks were the latest scars, Pope Francis said Saturday, from the “piecemeal Third World War.” One survivor described gunmen coldly picking off hostages in a packed concert hall as if “we were birds.”



Obama Vows to 'Redouble' Islamic State Fight After Paris

by The Associated Press

ANTALYA, Turkey — President Barack Obama pledged Sunday to redouble U.S. efforts to eliminate the Islamic State group and end the Syrian civil war that has fueled its rise, denouncing the extremist group's horrifying terror spree in Paris as "an attack on the civilized world."

Opening two days of talks with world leaders in Turkey, Obama pledged solidarity with France in the effort to hunt down the perpetrators and bring them to justice. He said "the skies have been darkened" by the Paris attacks, but offered no details about what the U.S. or its coalition partners might do to step up its assault against the Islamic State group.

"The killing of innocent people, based on a twisted ideology, is an attack not just on France, not just on Turkey, but it's an attack on the civilized world," Obama said after meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In addition to the Paris attacks, IS is blamed for two bombings in Turkey this year that killed roughly 130 people.

The specter of the Islamic State threat and Syria's civil war hanged over the Turkish seaside city of Antalya as Obama and other leaders descended for the Group of 20 summit of leading rich and developing nations. Although the overlapping crises were already on the lineup for the two days of talks, they were thrust to the forefront by elaborately coordinated attacks that killed 129 in the French capital just two days earlier, in the most destructive attack in the West blamed on the extremist group.

In a fresh reminder of the Islamic State's expanding capacity to wreak havoc, five Turkish police officers were injured Sunday when a suicide bomber blew himself up during a police raid on a suspected IS hideout near the Syrian border. Turkish security forces also rounded up 20 suspected IS militants in and around Antalya in the run-up to the G-20.

Although world leaders have offered sweeping condemnations of IS following the Paris attacks, they've struggled to offer concrete proposals for how to escalate the fight or more effectively rein the group in. Asked by reporters whether he would consider additional action against IS following the Paris attacks, Obama declined to tip his hand.

Obama's meeting with Erdogan came at the start of a 9-day trip to Turkey, the Philippines and Malaysia that has already been largely overshadowed by Friday's attacks in Paris and the related issues of Syria's civil war and the resulting migrant crisis. Obama said the U.S. stands with Turkey and Europe in the effort to reduce the flow of migrants, and Erdogan predicted a "strong message" on fighting terrorism would come out of the summit.

"This terror attack was not just against the French people, it was against the whole of humanity," Erdogan said. The summit's host, Erdogan is fresh off his party's impressive victory in Turkey's recent elections, but his relations with Obama have been strained over tactical disagreements about how to push Assad out of power in Syria.

The United States, along with coalition partners, has been bombing IS in Iraq and Syria for more than a year with limited success. President Barack Obama has been reluctant to get pulled deeper into the conflict and has ruled out a major U.S. ground offensive, although he recently authorized sending a few dozen special operations forces into Syria.

Other nations the U.S. views warily, like Iran and Syria, have also bombed IS, in a dizzying range of militaries piloting the skies above the Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliphate. Cautious U.S. optimism about Russia's involvement quickly soured when the U.S. determined Russian President Vladimir Putin was more focused on targeting rebel groups fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad's government than defeating IS.

Putin and Obama, who are now lined up on opposing sides of Syria's bloody civil war, planned no formal sit-downs while both were in Antalya — just a few hundred miles from Turkey's border with Syria. Yet they were expected to cross paths on the sidelines of the summit.

"It's only possible to deal with the terror threat and help millions of people who lost their homes by combining efforts of the entire global community," Putin said Sunday as he huddled with leaders of emerging economic powerhouses Brazil, India, China and South Africa.

Obama also scheduled a meeting Sunday with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, a majority Sunni nation that opposes Assad and is deeply skeptical of Iran's involvement in any solution to the conflict.

One option that emerged in the wake of Friday's attacks was the possibility of France asking for help from its NATO allies. Only one in its 66-year-history — after 9/11 — has NATO's communal defense obligation been invoked.

Shrouding deliberations about how to escalate the fight against IS were diplomatic maneuverings over a new plan to wind down Syria's long-raging civil war, denying IS and other radical Islamic groups their base of operations. The proposal, discussed over the weekend by foreign ministers in Vienna, appears based largely on a Russian initiative, and envisions negotiations between Assad's government and opposition groups starting by Jan. 1.

But hopes for a major breakthrough were softened by gaping, open questions about the proposal — such as which opposition groups would be deemed terrorists and barred from participating. Another major question mark: The U.S. insists Assad has no place in Syria's future government while Russia — Assad's key patron — has left open the possibility he could still play a role.

Although the IS threat promised to dominate this year's G-20 summit, the agenda also included efforts to hasten economic growth among the world's largest economies, with a particular focus on addressing the effect that China's economic slowdown is having on other nations.



Officials: No Credible Threats Target US After Paris Attacks

by frank Eltman and Michael Balsamo

Intelligence officials found no evidence of any specific or credible threat targeting American soil following the deadly Paris attacks, U.S. officials told The Associated Press. Still patrols were stepped up and added security measures put in place nationwide.

In New York, officers with assault rifles stood guard in Times Square, and extra security was stationed at French-owned sites in Washington and consulates in Boston and New York City. But elsewhere around the country, like at Minnesota's Mall of America, it was business as usual.

Dozens of police cars left Times Square with lights and sirens blaring Saturday afternoon when the New York Police Department deployed its "Critical Response Command" — officers equipped with heavy weapons and other tactical equipment — to strategic locations, including transportation hubs and the Broadway theater district. Officers with radiation detectors and bomb-detecting equipment were sent to subway stations where they randomly conducted bag checks.

"This is not the kind of thing that is a wakeup call to New York City," John Miller, the department's deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, said of the Paris attacks that left at least 129 people dead and 352 injured. "We've been awake about this for a long time."

A U.S. official briefed by the Justice Department said intelligence officials have detected increased chatter encouraging an attack on the U.S. but nothing of any credible substance. The official was not authorized to discuss the briefing publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and ranking member of the House Permanent Committee on Intelligence, also told the AP there was no evidence of any credible threats targeting the U.S.

Ronnie De La Cruz, who was born in Paris, stopped at the French Consulate in New York to leave a floral tribute Saturday, but shrugged off any concerns about security.

"I think that certainly here in New York is probably about as best as it can be," he said.

Security also was stepped up at sporting events around the country and the safety measures were expected to continue for the near future. The NFL said it had been in contact with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI and planned increased security inside and outside stadiums on Sunday. League officials discouraged fans from bringing bags.

In Washington, additional law enforcement officers were deployed to French-owned sites and other high-profile locations out of "an abundance of caution," said police spokesman Officer Sean Hickman. In Boston, the Massachusetts State Police said "a comprehensive and multi-layered security package" was in place at Logan International Airport and patrols enhanced near the State House.

There was no visible security increase at downtown Chicago's major transportation and tourist hubs, though police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said the police department was actively monitoring events in Paris and keeping in contact with federal law enforcement partners.

In Minnesota, a Bloomington police official said the force had no plans to increase security at the Mall of America, which sees some 40 million visitors each year. In February, a video purportedly made by al-Qaida-linked rebels urged Muslims to attack shopping malls and specifically mentioned the Mall of America. Authorities said at the time that no credible evidence suggesting such an attack was in the works.

Los Angeles police said they knew of no threats against the city, but the department beefed up patrols at what it called critical sites, including a Snoop Dogg concert.




Baltimore's 300th killing this year: A violent milestone in a riot-scarred city

by Peter Hermann and John Woodrow Cox

A 27-year-old man who was fatally stabbed Saturday evening became Baltimore's 300th homicide victim this year, a gruesome milestone for a city that has struggled to curb rampant violence of a kind not seen since the 1990s.

Four hours later, the tally reached 301.

The man who became No. 300 was found with torso wounds about 4:45 p.m. on West Baltimore Street, police said. The next victim, a 22-year-old man, was found shot in the chest on Annapolis Road just after 9 p.m..

The swelling death count has both disturbed and confounded a community still struggling to recover from riots that followed the death of Freddie Gray in April.

“Three hundred lives wasted,” said Tessa Hill-Aston, president of the Baltimore branch of the NAACP. “All those people had potential.”

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis released a statement saying that public safety in the city “requires sustainable partnerships founded in mutual trust and respect.”

“This challenging moment shall pass if we reject blame and embrace the hope, dreams and promise of a great American city,” he added, writing that “2015 will not define us.”

The commissioner had expressed similar sentiments earlier this month outside the home of Kendal Fenwick, homicide victim No. 295, who police believe was shot by drug dealers angry about the homeowner building a fence to prevent them from cutting through his yard. Davis, who called the killing an execution of a man trying to protect his family, railed against a culture that has become numb to such savagery.

Homicides have risen in several U.S. cities this year. In the District, 143 people have been killed, up from 90 at this time in 2014.

Police chiefs nationwide have, in part, blamed the bloodshed on felons who have a history of violence.

Baltimore last recorded this many homicides in 1999, ending a decade-long run that branded the city as one of the nation's most deadly. “Fewer than 300 homicides at last,” a Baltimore Sun headline proclaimed in 2001 about the previous year, which ended with 262 killings.

The number dipped to 197 in 2011, creating a new threshold for measuring the vitality of a city that in the 1990s — amid unprecedented violence fueled by an epidemic of crack and heroin use — lost residents who feared for their safety.

Back then, the city earned a number of ugly nicknames, including “Bodymore,” a term still heard today. Playing off a slogan once written on every park bench in town — “the city that reads” — some police began to call Baltimore “the city that bleeds.”

Officials and residents now worry that Baltimore may return to those levels of violence beyond 2015. In some months this year, Baltimore averaged more than one slaying a day.

But what is causing the carnage — and how much Gray's death has influenced the climate — remains unclear.

After being chased by police, Gray, 25, was taken into custody April 12 and suffered a severe spinal injury while unrestrained in the back of a police van, according to prosecutors pursuing criminal convictions of the six Baltimore officers involved in his arrest.

The riots and looting that followed were so destructive that the mayor implemented a citywide curfew and the governor called in the National Guard.

Perry Hopkins, a recovering drug addict and a community activist, said much killing has been driven by anger in neighborhoods that have long felt neglected.

“Not knowing how to express that anger .?.?. it's being expressed in open, rampant violence,” said Hopkins, an organizer for Communities United.

“A lot of it is done in fear,” he said, saying young men are often compelled by a belief that, “I've got to get him before he gets me.”

The police union has complained that the aftermath of the riots, during which they say officers were ordered to “stand down” amid the mayhem, has allowed the violence to swell. In part because the six officers were charged in Gray's death, the union said, the 3,000-member force is so demoralized that many are afraid to confront criminals.

That “Ferguson Effect” has been debated from the police union halls to the upper reaches of the FBI as officials sort through a trying year for law enforcement.

In Baltimore, 300 homicides had long been a symbolic threshold. In 1999, Martin O'Malley, then running for mayor, took office on an anti-crime and pro-police platform, famously promising to reduce the annual figure to 175. The closest it got was the 197 in 2011, four years after he left City Hall.

In 2012, as Maryland's governor, O'Malley told the Baltimore Sun that he remembered people laughing at his ambitious goal.

“There were many so-called smart people who said you'll never be able to do it. It's Baltimore, that's the way it is,” he recalled.




Police Consultant Claims Shooting of Tamir Rice was 'Clearly Objectively Reasonable'

by Tim Stelloh

The latest expert to examine the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice concluded that a Cleveland police officer acted reasonably when he fatally shot the boy last November.

A report released Thursday by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty found that Officer Timothy Loehmann's decision to use deadly force against Rice, who was holding a pellet gun, "was clearly objectively reasonable."

Rice was shot two seconds after Loehmann and a second officer arrived at a park where a 911 caller reported seeing a black man pointing a gun at people. The killing sparked protests around Cleveland and fueled outrage over the perception of widespread excessive use of force by police against African-Americans.

The report, authored by police consultant and trainer W. Ken Katsaris, was the third to be released by McGinty from a grand jury that is determining if Loehmann should face criminal charges. Two reports released last month — one from a retired FBI agent, the other from a Denver prosecutor — also found that the shooting was justified.

The expert opinion came on the same day that a group of Cleveland clergy denounced McGinty and called for an independent prosecutor. The rancor over McGinty's handling of the case intensified after an event last week where he appeared to say that "economic motives" were behind Rice's mother's call for a new prosecutor.

In a statement Thursday, McGinty clarified his remarks, saying that he was responding not to Rice's mother, Samaria, but to a civil attorney's "inflammatory attacks on the grand jury process. Any efforts to suggest otherwise are simply not true."

Lawyers representing Tamir's family reacted Thursday to the new report by expressing doubts over how the case has been handled.

"The only experts that matter in this case are the 12 citizens of Cuyahoga County who would have sat as jurors in a criminal trial had this case been fairly presented to a grand jury," the lawyers said in a statement Thursday. They called the newly-released document "yet another utterly biased and shamelessly misguided 'expert report.'"

In his statement, McGinty defended his treatment of the grand jury, saying he was using an "open" and "transparent" process, and that releasing the expert reports "allows the public to have knowledge of actual facts, rather than forming opinions based on rumor and innuendo. This is a far more thorough investigation than has ever been done in this county, and there has never before been such an open process."

McGinty also released new surveillance footage on Thursday that shows the shooting from a different angle than the widely viewed video released last year .



Laser strikes put pilots, passengers at risk

by Sheryl Jean

Imagine a bright green light shining in your eyes while you're trying to fly a 75-ton jet with hundreds of passengers.

More commercial pilots in the air are being placed at risk from more laser beams aimed from the ground.

On Wednesday night, more than 20 aircraft across the country were struck by laser beams, including three planes in the Dallas area, according to local and federal authorities. Three more were hit Thursday night.

“Anytime you have multiple strikes, it's unusual,” Lynn Lunsford, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said about Dallas' three incidents Wednesday. “Hardly a week goes by in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that we don't get one or two.”

In July, an Alvarado man was arrested after allegedly shining a laser pointer, which is about the size of a ballpoint pen, into the cockpits of at least eight planes as well as the helicopters sent to look for him.

Shining a laser at an aircraft has been a federal crime since early 2012 because it's a safety hazard. A person convicted of doing so faces up to 20 years behind bars and a $250,000 fine.

Laser strikes at planes are a growing problem, Lunsford said. Lasers cause a visual distraction and can lead to temporary blindness as well as longer-term eye damage.

“Our main concern is with the safety of the aircraft,” Lunsford said. “You don't want to have a situation where the pilot can't fly.”

Nationally, 20 laser strikes in one night is a lot, but not unusual, he said. The FAA regularly sees between 15 and 30 laser strikes a night, he said.

Still, the FAA is looking at a record number of strikes this year: 5,352 were reported nationwide as of Oct. 16, up from 3,894 for all of 2014. The D-FW area has seen a record 115 as of Oct. 16, up from about 85 for all of last year.

D-FW ranks fifth nationally for the most laser strikes so far this year, after Los Angeles (197), Phoenix (183), Houston (151) and Las Vegas (132).

The FAA sees no particular pattern in the top spots, except they're areas where people have easy access to electronics stores where they can “ buy a laser for under $30 that will easily cast a beam that goes for 3 to 5 miles,” Lunsford said.

In addition to Dallas, pilots reported laser beam incidents Wednesday night in Albuquerque; Covington, Ky.; Danville, Ky.; Detroit; Jamestown, N.Y.; Los Angeles; New York/Newark, N.J.; Oakland, Calif.; Ontario, Calif.; Palm Springs, Calif.; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Sacramento, Calif.; Salt Lake City; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Springfield, Ill.

According to Lunsford, around 7 p.m. Thursday, two planes — a Southwest Airlines flight and a corporate jet — flying at 2,000 feet reported being hit by a laser beam about 4 miles southeast of Love Field.

About two hours later, a third plane, a Cessna C172, reported being hit by a laser beam about 5 miles south of Love Field.

Lunsford said the FAA notified Dallas police.

The greatest risk from lasers is to pilots who are in control of the plane. If a passenger happens to be looking out an airplane window when a laser beam hits that window, that person could suffer eye damage, Lunsford said. Lasers cannot damage a plane's structure.

When a laser beam hits a cockpit window, it will light up the whole window with a bright light that's often green.

“The uniqueness of a laser attack is that it comes from the ground, so you are more likely to be struck at low altitudes when coming in for landing or takeoff,” said Capt. Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association at Fort Worth-based American Airlines. “It's a critical time in flight.”

The three planes hit by lasers Wednesday in Dallas were flying at 3,000 to 4,000 feet, the FAA said. But the agency has received reports from planes as low as 200 feet in the air and as high as 15,000 feet, Lunsford said.

The pilots of the three planes — a Southwest Airlines 737, a Virgin America A319 and a private business jet — reported a laser beam coming from the same general area as they flew into Dallas Love Field, the FAA said. The incidents occurred about 11 miles southeast of Dallas between 7:30 and 7:45 p.m.

The FAA, the FBI and Dallas police are investigating. A police helicopter searched for the source of the laser, but no suspects were found, a Dallas Police Department spokeswoman said Thursday.

Dallas police get an average of two to three calls a week about lasers pointed at aircraft, said Sgt. Todd Limerick of the helicopter unit.

After police get a call, officers often fly their helicopter to the area as a decoy to draw another laser strike. The pilots wear special glasses to protect their eyes and the helicopters have cameras equipped with thermal imaging. Limerick said he would rather a police chopper get struck than “an airline pilot who is unprepared and is trying to land an aircraft full of people.”

Both American and Dallas-based Southwest Airlines say they take laser incidents “very seriously.” Neither airline would release statistics but said no injuries have resulted from a laser being shined at one of its planes.

Two weeks ago, an American plane flying into San Diego was struck by a laser. The plane landed safely and the pilot was not injured.

American's 15,000 active pilots are trained to be aware of the possibility of laser strikes and what to do if they're struck, said Tajer, who has not experienced a laser strike in his nearly 30 years as a pilot.

“It's a hot item, and it's in our training,” he said. “If you are struck with a laser, the first thing is to inform the other pilot. Someone says, ‘Hey, there's a laser.' Your first instinct is to look, but you have to train not to look.”




Police are guardians not enforcers

by Nathan Shuda

For Kurt Leibold, the concept of community policing is about fostering a culture of mutual trust and collaboration, not a tactical endeavor.

That's one of the reasons that attracts him to Oshkosh.

"It's the perfect size police department for community policing," Leibold said. "That's where the actual citizens are engaged in their own safety and interventions."

As an assistant chief with the Milwaukee Police Department who oversees three of the department's seven districts, Leibold helped implement community policing efforts in various neighborhoods, but to do so citywide in a community the size of Milwaukee is not practical, he said.

"It's a philosophy and culture your agency takes on; it's not a tactic," Leibold said, noting such programs as bicycle patrols and DARE that many departments use are only part of the equation.

Leibold is one of five finalists for Oshkosh police chief and one of two who work for the Milwaukee Police Department. On Monday, he will join the four other finalists for a public "meet and greet" at the Oshkosh Convention Center, followed by a day of round-robin interviews with the Police and Fire Commission as well as three stakeholder panels.

Since joining the Milwaukee Police Department in 1990, Leibold developed policies and wrote the department's Code of Conduct, created a cold-case homicide task force and led the department's transition to a community-based policing philosophy. He previously commanded the department's Internal Affairs, Violent Crimes, Metropolitan Investigations divisions.

He also is one of four semi-finalists for the Green Bay police chief position, though Leibold does have connections to Oshkosh and the Fox Valley. His wife was born in Neenah and attended the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, as do his nieces and nephews, and his brother lives in Calumet County.

Community policing is about preventing crime, solving problems before crime happens and creating partnerships among various organizations, Leibold said.

For example, to address the issue of vacant homes leading to increased crime in certain areas, the department worked with neighborhood residents to help identify which properties to raze and then partnered with Habitat for Humanity to build affordable housing, he said.

And those community connections extend beyond just wearing the uniform, Leibold said. Each class of new officers is required to take on a community service project, and many continue serving their community even after they are hired.

"It breaks down the barriers and the biases that they have," he said. "It's about being connected to the community on and off duty."

Meanwhile, administrators also must deal with more than just the general public.

"Right now, the media is on full assault against law enforcement," he said, noting many news outlets often choose to cover negative events, such as officer-involved shootings, over positive ones, such as semi-annual officer merit awards. "It's a constant battle that has to be fought."

A good chief also should provide a clear vision and mission for officers, develop an urgency to achieve those concepts and live in the future, while letting managers handle the day-to-day operations, Leibold said.

"We're not just enforcers of law; we're guardians of the community," he said.




St. Paul police interactions with residents key to policing

by Nicole Norfleet

Officer Lou Ferraro has patrolled St. Paul's East Side for six years.

Although he's usually busy responding to calls, Ferraro tries to find time to get out of his squad car and talk with residents. That kind of community policing has been a priority for St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith, who is retiring next year.

“We as police officers have to be concerned about the neighborhood and stake a claim in the neighborhood,” Ferraro said.

During a recent ride-along, Ferraro stopped between calls to talk to a retired teacher, who regularly contacts police about crime in his neighborhood. Someone driving a car in Eastview Park had torn up the turf with their tires, he said.

“I thoroughly enjoy working the East Side. … When you do get out of your car and start talking to people, they really appreciate it,” Ferraro said.

Community policing initiatives have become a big part of Smith's legacy.

During his tenure, the department launched the Safe Summer Nights campaign, where more than 30,000 meals have been served at police barbecues with residents. Smith, along with other partners, established the community ambassadors program in which youth workers intervene with troubled youngsters on St. Paul streets.

Last week, Smith announced that he would retire next year at the end of his six-year term.

Some community policing projects have specifically targeted the East Side, which has had its ups and downs in crime.

On the one hand, out of 11 homicides in St. Paul this year, nine occurred on the East Side. Beginning in late September, five people were fatally shot in rapid succession within a 1.5 square-mile area. Some cases remain unsolved.

On the other hand, the East Side takes in about a third of the city and is often unfairly tagged with St. Paul's crime problems, when in fact serious crime has dipped on the East Side.

Nevertheless, the violent spike spooked many residents who filled community meetings in the wake of the shootings and looked for answers.

To respond, police reassigned some officers from specialty units to cover “hot spots” — including the East Side.




Veterans in public safety

by Kelli Ballard

Duty. Honor. Camaraderie. Structure. All characteristics of the military, but they are also the same traits attributed to fire and police personnel, and, according to some, the reason many veterans choose to become firefighters and officers of the law.

Continuing with the traditions learned through blood, sweat and tears in the military is important to many veterans who may struggle while trying to find out where they fit into society once their service to their country has ended. From service to their country to service to their community, choosing to become a public safety officer seems a natural transition from military to civilian life.

“It was tough finding a job when I got out of the military,” said Mitch Sandoval, interim fire marshal of the Porterville Fire Department (PFD). “It's not like Porterville was booming in the 1980s.”

Sandoval is a native Porterville man through and through. He attended John J. Doyle Elementary School, Bartlett Middle School, Porterville High School and Porterville College. In 1983, he joined the Navy at the age of 17, serving as an engineman.

Enlistment and Service

Some join the military because they've always wanted to serve their country. Others join for the benefits the military has to offer. And some join as a way to better their situation or life.

“I knew that I had to go do something. The military was a way to do something positive. It was something I had to do to make a positive impact on my life,” Sandoval said.

Timothy Silva, an officer with the Porterville Police Department (PPD), joined the Navy in 2000 as a boatswain's mate. “One of the oldest ranks in the Navy,” he said. At the time of enlistment, Silva's fiance was pregnant and he didn't have money for college. “The G.I. Bill was a big incentive,” he said.

Orlando Ortiz, PPD, knew he wanted to enlist, so in 1995 he joined the Marines. He served in the infantry and then as a ceremonial marcher where he was stationed in Washington, D.C. and pulled duty at the Pentagon, the White House and Arlington Cemetery.

“I had always wanted to join the military,” Ortiz said. “It [the Marines] was the more difficult as far as boot camp was concerned.”

“I'm not really sure why I wanted to join, but all my friends were doing it,” said PPD Officer Steve Garbett. He enlisted in the Air Force in 2002 and in 2012, when his active duty ended, he continued as a reserve. Deployed four times, Garbett is an in-flight fueler. On a more serious note, he said “After 911 was the whole reason I [joined].”

Jesus Gallardo, an officer with the PPD, had a completely different reason for joining the Army National Guard in 1994. “I wanted to blow things up,” he said.

Gallardo was the oldest of four boys and said he grew up camping, hiking and shooting, and the military was a way to continue, in a sense, these activities. Gallardo's brothers also went into the military— one in the Army and two in the Marine Corps.

Porterville firefighter Nick Sauceda joined the Air Force in 2008 in the security forces. A 2006 Porterville High School graduate, he said he joined because of the structure it provided and the opportunity to travel.

“I just wanted to challenge myself and see if I can handle it, and ever since I joined, I've loved it,” said Reserve Firefighter Jose Valencia. Valencia, from Strathmore, joined the military in 2008 and became a reserve with the Army National Guard in 2011 as a mortar transport operator.

Similarities and differences

Public safety work and the military have a lot of similarities which draw veterans and reserves to seek careers in those fields.

Sandoval, who joined the PFD in the early 1990s as a reserve said “at that time, most of the guys that worked here, they were veterans themselves. I could relate. For me, that's how I acclimated,” he said. “It was different back then. They [military and fire department] were pretty much the same.”

While there are many similarities between the military and public safety, there are some strong differences as well.

“In the military, you're always doing something throughout the day,” Valencia said. “In the fire department, you have a little more downtime to be able to do fire knowledge.”

“You have a lot more authority as an officer than flying around in an [airplane],” Garbett said of his in-flight fueler role in the Air Force. “In the military I can only have my gun when I fly. I have my gun every day as an officer.”

“You do things as a unit; you never do anything alone,” Officer Ortiz said. “At the end of the day I don't have to ask permission to go home.”

Seeing the results of effort and commitment varies between the armed forces and public safety.

“It's the sheep dog effect. In the military you look at serving your country. I got into law to serve my community,” Silva said.

“I can see its efforts on a much smaller scale. I see the effects on the community, whereas in the military it's on a much broader scale,” Reserve Firefighter Valencia said.

Military to public service

Aside from the similarities between the two, there were other reasons why they chose to become a firefighter or police officer and serve their community. For some, they'd always known they wanted to go into public safety work. For others, they discovered the benefits of the career later.

“I fell in love with the job the minute I rode in a fire truck,” Sandoval said. “This is me. I've never thought about doing anything outside of this as far as a job.”

“I thought about border control, but I didn't want to get sent to some desert,” Officer Gallardo said.

Officer Garbett, the jokester of the group, said he would watch people drive and think, “Hey, I wish I was an officer right now. I'd pull that person over,” he laughed.

Ortiz knew he wanted to go into the military just as he knew he wanted to become a police officer. “Even as a kid I knew I wanted to become an officer,” he said.

For these guys, becoming firefighters and police officers was the right move, and none said they regret the decision.

“It's an adrenaline rush,” Firefighter Valencia said. “You're always learning something new every day.”

“They [the military] trained me to handle stressful situations and with the fire department, we go out into stressful and emergency situations and I'm prepared,” Sauceda said.

Ortiz summed up his service saying the military gave him some of the best friends of his life. “I still have very close friends. We're Marine brothers, whether we served together or not.”




Cyber attacks shutdown Calif. department's website

It's unclear why the websites were targeted

by Hamed Aleaziz

SAN JOSE — San Jose city websites, including the police department home page, were shut down intermittently for several days after being targeted by a cyber attacker, officials said Tuesday.

The city and police department websites were hit on Nov. 5 with a “distributed denial of service attack,” which occurs when loads of traffic are specifically sent to a website to congest and shut it down, saidDavid Vossbrink, a spokesman for the City of San Jose.

The websites were intermittently down for a few days, according to Vossbrink.

The issue was resolved and all of the websites, including the police department's, were back up and running as of Tuesday, he said.

It's unclear, Vossbrink said, why the websites were targeted.




San Francisco police kill man who aimed rifle at hospital

by James Queally , Matt Hamilton and Veronica Rocha

A man with several firearms who sparked panic near a hospital in San Francisco's Mission District was shot and killed by police officers late Wednesday, less than an hour after police believe he robbed at gunpoint a Bay Area sports equipment store, authorities said.

The three police officers opened fire at the suspect after he pointed a rifle at the officers, according to a statement from the San Francisco Police Department.

The man, who was in his late 20s, was pronounced dead at the scene, and his identity has not been released.

Before police approached him, the suspect had been standing on an elevator at a construction site next to St. Luke's Hospital and aiming a rifle toward the hospital, police sad in the statement.

No officers or civilians were injured, police said.

It was not immediately clear whether the man fired at anyone, but the police department said officers heard shots being fired when they arrived at the scene.

Police said the man acted alone and that reports of a second gunman were not true.

During the investigation into the shooting, San Francisco police learned that the gunman matched the identity of the man who robbed at gunpoint a Big 5 Sporting Goods in San Bruno, according to the police department.

A pistol and ammunition found with the suspect after he was shot dead were similar to the items reported stolen from the sporting goods store, police said.

After the gunman was spotted near the hospital, the facility was placed on lock down, according to NBC. Calls to the hospital seeking additional information were not immediately returned.

Seamus James, a 33-year-old web developer who works in an office across the street from the hospital, told the Los Angeles Times that his co-workers heard what sounded like several gunshots around 4:30 p.m.

They tuned into a police scanner and immediately heard reports of an active shooter.

James and several of his colleagues then ran to the roof of the office building, where they saw at least three dozen police officers swarming a construction site adjacent to the hospital. The gunman was on top of a freight elevator on the construction site, James said, and he saw police throw at least two "flashbangs" in the man's direction.

The entire ordeal lasted about 45 minutes, James said.

Jenna Bilotta said on Twitter that she was locked inside a doctor's office because of a shooting in the area. The nurses, she said, warned her and others to stay away from the windows.

“They're not letting anyone leave,” she said.

Tim Brennan said that he saw an officer with a machine gun running in front of his home.

“There's someone with a gun on top of St Luke's Hospital,” he tweeted.

Philipp Reichardt said on Twitter that he heard what he thought were gunshots.

“Gun man on roof of St Luke's,” he said. “We're stuck in the building and can hear the gun shots. Scary to be so close to a shooting.”



Here's What Happens When Cops Police For Profit, Not Public Safety

A new study gives a closer look at the profit machine known as civil asset forfeiture.

by Nick Wing

(Video, grafts and charts on site)

A controversial program that allows police to seize private property has become a massive revenue driver for law enforcement departments around the country, an expansive report published Tuesday has found. Under the practice known as civil asset forfeiture, police and prosecutors work together to permanently seize cash and property -- including cars, homes and businesses -- based on the suspicion that it's connected to criminal activity.

While civil forfeiture is regularly touted as an important crime-fighting tool, authorities don't need to charge owners with a crime in order to take their property, and most of the time, forfeiture is approved without any definitive proof of the alleged criminal ties. Once the government takes control of a person's property, it's typically sold off, sending proceeds back the police departments and legal offices that worked the case.

In the new edition of its "Policing for Profit" study, the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm, reports that civil asset forfeiture nets the federal government billions of dollars each year. The Justice Department and Treasury Department deposited more than $5 billion jointly into their forfeiture funds in 2014, up from less than $1 billion in 2004. Each year, feds give hundreds of millions of dollars back to the state and local agencies that are often responsible for making the initial seizures. But even after their obligations, the total value of assets remaining in these funds surged to $4.5 billion in 2014 -- more than seven times what it was a decade ago.

While these numbers include property confiscated through both criminal and civil forfeiture, the report notes that the vast majority of forfeitures over the past nearly 20 years have come through the civil process. Criminal forfeiture attracts less criticism than its counterpart, because it actually requires prosecutors to charge a suspect, build a case and ultimately obtain a conviction before making a seizure permanent.

Civil forfeiture, on the other hand, allows authorities to bypass the legal protections granted to criminal defendants, because they're technically only charging the property itself with a crime. At the federal level and in 31 states, for example, authorities only need to show that seized property is more likely than not to be connected to criminal activity. That's far below the standard required for a criminal conviction, which puts the burden of proof at "beyond a reasonable doubt."

This means that even if an innocent person has the time and financial resources to fight for their property in court, they may have an uphill battle to provide sufficient evidence that it was not, in fact, linked to a crime. And if they choose not to contest the seizure, in most cases the property will simply be presumed "guilty."

Law enforcement officials say this standard makes it possible to target the finances of wealthy criminals who may no longer carry cash and contraband in the same car, for example. But the countless horror stories of law-abiding civilians who have gotten hopelessly entangled in the process suggest the current rules are prone to abuse.

The report also digs into the profit motives civil forfeiture offers to police who make seizures. If departments operate with the understanding that more seizures lead to more money for budget items including equipment and salaries, they're more likely to aggressively pursue that process, inevitably leading them to exploit its lack of significant safeguards for innocent owners. This can have a further corrupting influence on law enforcement by leading police and prosecutors to adjust their budgets and tactics in order to prioritize fundraising over public safety and justice. A 2014 report published by The Washington Post revealed just how big the business of civil forfeiture has become for police forces, often leading them to train officers in the best way to pursue seizures and take advantage of lax standards for the benefit of the department.

Lawmakers and critics have begun pushing back on civil asset forfeiture at the state level over the past year, introducing reform measures to address abuse and concerns about incentive structures. Advocates have already been successful in places like New Mexico, Michigan and Washington, D.C. But the Institute for Justice's new report card on state civil forfeiture laws shows just how much work there is left to do. In total, 35 states earn grades of D-plus or below, suggesting there's a national standard of weak protections for property owners and high profit margins for police.

Due to a general lack of public reporting and overall transparency, there's not sufficient data to tell exactly how lucrative or common civil forfeiture is in each state, the study notes. But in reviewing limited information from 26 states and Washington, D.C., the Institute for Justice found that police there had taken in more than $254 million through forfeiture in 2012 alone, bolstered in large part by weak laws governing the process. In states where more complete data was available, the report also found that forfeiture revenues had grown rapidly since 2000.

But even in states with stronger civil asset forfeiture laws, police can typically get around protections by partnering with federal agencies for seizures and seeking forfeiture through the federal process. While the Department of Justice announced changes earlier this year to this program, known as "equitable sharing," the new rules only affect a tiny portion of forfeiture cases. And state and local police departments aren't hesitating to take this more direct path to profits, as equitable sharing payments from the Justice Department totaled nearly $650 million in 2013. Perhaps unsurprisingly, police in states with stricter civil forfeiture laws have been shown to be more likely to circumvent their own rules through "equitable sharing," the Institute for Justice reports

Despite growing criticism over civil asset forfeiture, however, most Americans still aren't familiar with the practice. A HuffPost/YouGov survey conducted in August found that 72 percent of respondents had never heard the term "civil asset forfeiture." And just 30 percent of respondents correctly indicated that law enforcement can use the practice to permanently seize money or other property from a person even without an arrest or conviction.

The issue of visibility is just one challenge that groups like the Institute for Justice face in pushing for broader reforms to civil asset forfeiture in the U.S.

"Most people unfamiliar with this process would find it hard to believe that such a power exists in a country that is supposed to recognize and hold dear rights to private property and due process of law," writes Scott Bullock, senior attorney at Institute for Justice, in the report's foreword. "We will not rest until civil forfeiture is either radically reformed or -- even better -- abolished."

So if this all of this sounds ridiculous, confusing or unbelievable to you, watch the video, also produced by the Institute for Justice. Then read their whole report here.




LA police to be awarded for not using deadly force

The Preservation of Life award goes to officers who could have used deadly force but refrained

by The Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — It's unlikely that police officers in dangerous, life-or-death situations where every second matters will have much time left over to think about winning a medal. But that doesn't mean that the creation of the Preservation of Life award, announced Tuesday by Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, is a bad idea.

The purpose of the new prize, as Beck explained it, is to celebrate situations in which deadly force could have been used by officers — but wasn't. That's particularly important at a time when a series of officer-involved shootings of unarmed black men, including Ezell Ford in L.A. last year, has started a national conversation about race and policing.

Beck was inspired by an incident earlier this month in which Metro officers wrestling with a man holding a sawed-off shotgun managed to subdue him without shooting him, even after the shotgun was discharged. The chief wanted a way to recognize officers who resolve dangerous situation without killing the suspect. We heartily approve.

Of course, an award alone won't immediately change public opinion or police behavior. But it's a step in the right direction. What's more, the announcement at Tuesday's Police Commission meeting was just one manifestation of the attention Beck and other L.A. officials have been paying recently to the public's concerns about deadly encounters between officers and suspects.

At the meeting, Beck described the details of a fatal officer-involved shooting on Monday in Lake Balboa, and he reported statistics on the use of force and how many of the suspects involved were African American. This is new. In recent years, Beck typically hasn't talked about shootings by officers during his weekly report to the commission (because such shootings had been way down, at least until this year).

These actions and others, such as the expansion of training for police officers in how to de-escalate tense situations, suggest that Beck and Mayor Eric Garcetti are taking seriously complaints from the public about unnecessary use of force. After a slow start, Garcetti has called on Beck and Matt Johnson, a recent appointee to the commission, to respond. To their credit, they have.

Johnson, who is African American, outlined a plan Tuesday to address the "crisis in confidence" in police among city's minority communities stemming from the skyrocketing rate of officer-involved shootings. (Monday's shooting was the 34th this year; by contrast, in all of 2014, officers shot 26 people.) Johnson is asking the department and its inspector general for reports and audits examining the use of force.

Given the violent nature of our society and easy availability of firearms, use of force incidents are not about to disappear. But we like the idea of a department that puts a premium on preserving life. That's an award-winning idea.




Ind. sheriff's department, black motorist reconcile after viral arrest video

The two released a joint statement on the incident

by PoliceOne Staff

VALPARAISO, Ind. — The subjects of an August arrest that went viral have released a statement they said resolved the incident amicably, WBEZ reported.

Porter County Sheriff David Reynolds, Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas and resident Darryl Jackson, Jr. released a joint statement detailing how they will learn and move forward from the interaction.

"The strength of a community is tested by its ability to work through tough issues in a spirit of understanding and respect," Costas said in the statement. "Together, we can and will lead by example, and through our efforts this city and this county will continue to be known as places of peace and prosperity for all people."

The Aug. 29 incident began when 24-year-old Jackson was arrested in a predominantly white, affluent neighborhood for failing to identify himself. He was parked and waiting for a friend to come out of their home when police approached him.

The dash cam footage showed Jackson resisting arrest and asking the officer why he was being targeted. The arresting officer was part of a gang task force and was cleared by Reynolds of any wrongdoing.

After prosecutors declined to press charges, Costas publicly questioned the actions of the arresting officer. In the following days, groups on both sides were angered and tensions rose. The issue was at the forefront of last month's city Advisory Human Relations Council meeting.

The statement was a collaborative effort to find a resolution from all sides.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for officers of the law, but I am not perfect," Jackson said in the statement. "On the evening of August the 29th, 2015, my flaws presented themselves in a way that I was unaware was even possible. During my interaction with Officer Lucas and the other officers on the gang task force, I was overcome with fear, which led me to act in ways that I regret."

Reynolds accepted Jackson's apology and wrote one of his own.

"The truth is, we know that we can do better too," Reynolds wrote in the statement. "I have always believed that every interaction with citizens is important and that my department has an obligation to be tactically sound, critically aware, and constructively engaged with the communities we serve."

As a result of the statement, the sheriff has promised to hold quarterly dialogues with people in the community. He wants to work towards better equipping his officers to understand implicit biases and their effect on their job.



Yik Yak social media service can reveal user data to police

Yik Yak's fine print says the service can disclose to police each user's Internet protocol address and GPS coordinates

by Tami Abdollah

WASHINGTON — Internet users of the Yik Yak social media app popular among college students aren't nearly as anonymous as they believe: Missouri police within hours arrested a student accused of threatening violence, the latest in a string of such arrests at colleges in recent months involving threats of mass violence posted online using the service.

Yik Yak provides a feed of anonymized comments from people physically around them, such as on the same college campus. It's by far the most widely adopted, anonymous, location-based applications at schools. It's also been used by students at dozens of campuses to make offensive comments and threaten mass violence.

Yik Yak's fine print says the service can disclose to police each user's Internet protocol address and GPS coordinates, along with details about the phone or tablet, and date and time for each message. To help authenticate its customers, the service requires each user to provide a phone number to sign up.

Yik Yak spokeswoman Hilary McQuaide declined to discuss investigations or provide details about how often police ask for information. She said the company works with authorities.

Yik Yak tells police they must generally provide a subpoena, court order or search warrant to obtain information about its users, but in an emergency the company may provide details without those legal instruments.

Missouri police on Wednesday quickly arrested Hunter Park, 19, a student at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Missouri, a sister campus to the main university in Columbia that was the scene of protests since last week. Park was arrested on suspicion of making a terrorist threat toward black students and faculty at the University of Missouri. The incident follows weeks of protest over how the university handles student racial concerns and resulted in the departure of two senior university officials this week.

The Yik Yak message threatened to "shoot every black person I see." Park, who hasn't been formally charged, did not respond Wednesday to an emailed request for comment from The Associated Press. A message left on his mother's cellphone was not returned. An AP reporter got no answer when he knocked on the door of the family's home in the affluent St. Louis suburb of Lake St. Louis.

The case is the latest in a string of such arrests at colleges in recent months involving threats of mass violence posted online.

On Monday, police arrested Charleston Southern University student JaShkira Dela Rosa, 23, on suspicion of threats to use a destructive device within roughly 12 hours of learning about her anonymous post allegedly threatening to "shoot up" a residence hall on Yik Yak, said John Strubel, a spokesman for the university. He said the university monitors content on the app, which usually includes mundane comments, such as students complaining about bad food.

Last week, police arrested 18-year-old Christian Pryor, a now-former Fresno State football player, on suspicion of making a terrorist threat within two hours of learning about his post on Yik Yak allegedly threatening to use a weapon to "release my frustrations." Pryor, who posted bond, could not be located for an interview.

In October, 21-year-old Emily Sakamoto, who attends Emory University's Oxford College, was arrested for allegedly posting a shooting threat. She was accused of threatening to open fire on campus and warned others to stay in their rooms. Sakamoto did not respond to an email sent to an account associated with her in public records.

The timing of the arrests — frequently within hours of the initial report — indicates swift responses by Yik Yak to requests by police. Deputy Tony Moore, who works the Los Angeles County Sheriff's electronic communications triage unit, said his group has dealt with Yik Yak on only one occasion but "it was an exigent circumstance and they responded accordingly."




University of Missouri students report threats of violence; police quell rumors

by Holly Yan and AnneClaire Stapleton

A day after protests brought down two University of Missouri officials, reports of racially charged threats permeated social media -- as well as a rumor the Ku Klux Klan had arrived on campus.

University police said they investigated and determined the reports Tuesday night were false. But the rumors had already spread far and wide.

"I'm going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see," a widely shared Yik Yak post said.

Another post contained a veiled threat.

"Some of you are alright. Don't go to campus tomorrow," the post said.

But campus police stressed there was no imminent danger to the campus.

"Students need to be aware of what is going on, but right now there is no active threat on campus," police spokesman Maj. Brian Weimer said.

"The campus is not on lockdown. There is heightened awareness due to the national attention we are getting, but again the reports you are seeing on social media are largely inaccurate."

Weimer said officers went to where the KKK was reported to be -- and found nothing.

"We have found no evidence of anything related to the KKK on campus," he said.

Student Body President Payton Head had already posted about it on Facebook.

"Students please take precaution. Stay away from the windows in residence halls. The KKK has been confirmed to be sighted on campus," Head wrote in a post that has since been deleted. "I'm working with the MUPD, the state trooper and the National Guard."

The police spokesman said the National Guard was not on campus, "nor have they been called to assist."

Head quickly apologized for spreading the rumor.

"I'm sorry about the misinformation that I have shared through social media," he posted on Facebook.

"I received and shared information from multiple incorrect sources, which I deeply regret. The last thing needed is to incite more fear in the hearts of our community."

University officials toppled

African-American students at Missouri have long complained of an inadequate response by university leaders in dealing with racism on the overwhelmingly white Columbia campus.

Protesters clamored for change and for university system president Tim Wolfe to step down.

Former Mizzou wide receiver L'Damian Washington said he believes Wolfe took "a lackadaisical approach to get things fixed. ... I think (he) just turned a blind eye to it."

The protests got two major jolts when student leader Jonathan Butler launched a hunger strike and the Missouri Tigers football team said it would not play until Wolfe stepped down.

The pressure worked. Wolfe resigned Monday, followed hours later by Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin.

Students, faculty and staff converged on the Carnahan Quad after Wolfe's announcement. They linked arms and swayed side to side, singing, "We Shall Overcome."

Marshall Allen, a member of the protest group Concerned Student 1950, said the change is just starting.

"This is just a beginning in dismantling systems of oppression in higher education, specifically the UM system," Allen said.

Media professor apologizes

During the height of the protests this week, professor and demonstrator Melissa Click was filmed grabbing a journalist's video camera, telling him he had no right to be there. She then asked for "muscle" to have him removed from the scene.

Click, to many people's surprise, was a professor of mass media.

After video of her outburst spread across social media, Click publicly apologized.

She also resigned her courtesy appointment with the journalism school, said the school's dean, David Kurpius.

That doesn't mean Click is out of a job. She is still an assistant professor at the communication school, but the courtesy appointment gave her the ability to work with journalism doctoral students in topics that fall into her area of research, Kurpius said.

How we got here

Protesters say racism at Mizzou -- sometimes blatant, sometimes subtle -- has simmered on campus for decades.

In 2010, white students scattered cotton balls outside the Black Culture Center.

In September, Head -- the student body president -- vented on Facebook about bigotry and anti-homosexual and anti-transgender attitudes after people riding in the back of a pickup truck screamed racial slurs at him.

In October, someone used feces to draw a swastika on the wall of a residence hall.

Even on Tuesday night, some reported incidents of threat or intimidation on campus.

"Im shaking and crying these white guys are in a monster blue pick up truck no license plate circling our car we almost couldnt get out," one student tweeted.

Washington, the former football player, said it may be hard for a white person to understand.

"Only a minority knows what it feels like to be a minority on campus," he said.

The University of Missouri's Columbia campus has a population of 35,000 students. The undergraduate student body is about 79% white, and 8% African-American. The school's faculty is also more than 70% white, with black representation of just over 3%, according to the university.




Shootings involving LAPD officers nearly doubled this year

by The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Shootings involving Los Angeles Police Department officers have doubled this year, a statistic that the new head of the agency's civilian oversight board said was alarming.

So far this year, there have been 45 officer-involved shootings in Los Angeles, compared to 23 through the same time period last year, Matthew Johnson, president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, said Tuesday.

Nineteen of this year's shootings have been fatal, compared to 18 last year and 14 the year before. In 2012, there were 17 fatal officer-involved shootings, and 26 in 2011.

Johnson's comments come as a report (http://bit.ly/1Y2qj5K) by KPCC found that officers in departments throughout sprawling Los Angeles County, including the LAPD, shot at least 375 people, 187 fatally, between 2010 and 2014.

Of the 148 people shot after they dropped their hands out of sight or "reached for" their waistbands, 47 turned out to be unarmed, according to the report, based on district attorney records, other public documents and interviews.

In all, 97 unarmed people were shot. Black people were shot at triple the rate of whites and Latinos.

Of 279 people shot because police said they had ignored their commands, 120 showed signs of mental illness or impairment from drugs or alcohol, the report said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell told KPCC that while troubling, his agency's shootings involving unarmed people were unavoidable.

"You have to do what you have to do to be able to protect your own life and the lives of others," McDonnell said.

Prosecutors agree.

"We understand the public's anger over what they perceive to be unjustified shootings and killings," Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. "But we are looking very, very carefully at these cases.

"We're pretty confident if you look at the reasons that we have and the law, that you will find that we made the right call in every case," she said.

Of the 45 officer-involved shootings by the Los Angeles Police Department this year, 25 percent involved black subjects, though the city's black population is 9 percent, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck told the police commission Tuesday.

He also said it was important to note that black people make up 42 percent of violent crime offenders as reported by victims, and account for 33 percent of the department's violent crime arrests.

Johnson said his plan to lower the number of officer-involved shootings in the city will include increasing relationship-based policing and wider use of Taser stun guns and beanbag shotguns. He also is proposing an analysis of the department's use of force over the past decade and how that compares to large agencies across the country, among other ideas that Beck said he supports.




Community Policing 101: A safer neighborhood requires neighbor involvement

by LaVeta Jones

The foundation of community policing rests upon three building blocks: community leaders, community participation and governmental agencies. Community policing cannot be successful without these three components working in partnership.

My involvement in community policing began in 2011 as a result of criminal activity taking place in the driveway that runs in the rear of our block. Prostitution and drug use were rampant there, and the many children on our block did not feel safe while playing in the rear of our homes. While calling 911 resulted in police response, the officers were often too late to catch the offenders, and that was not good enough.

Building a partnership

I reached out to our state representative, Cherelle Parker. She asked me to document each incident and each 911 call, and to forward that data to her office. I did, and her office communicated with the 14th District police captain.

Later that summer, Rep. Parker held an on-street community meeting to discuss our issue and problems on neighboring streets. That's where I met the 14th District community relations officer and the director of Town Watch Integrated Services. I began attending monthly captain's and Police Service Area (PSA) meetings at the 14th District. These meetings, which take place at police districts across the city, provide a forum for sharing crime and quality-of-life issues. My partnership with our state representative, the Philadelphia Police Department, and Town Watch Integrated Services was forged during those meetings.

A network of neighbors

I decided to create a town watch in our community. I recruited trainees who live on three blocks, including our own. We have 13 members strategically located to be our eyes and ears.

I knew it would take more than watching for crime, however. It would take forming relationships among neighbors. In 2013, our block participated in the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee's Beautiful Block Contest. The contest formalized my role as block captain and gave us a common goal to reach: the beautification of our block. We had 100% participation. Although we did not win, the experience laid the groundwork for setting goals.

We created a survey to determine interest in future projects. The group agreed to pay dues to finance the projects, which included purchasing a snow blower, purchasing seasonal flowers, and hosting a block party. We put in place a finance team for money management, became an IRS-designated homeowners' association, and opened a bank account. All of the goals were achieved. This legitimized my role as a block leader. But leadership requires participation and inclusion. My leadership style is democratic. The neighbors set the agenda and I oversee its completion. Our current project is to acquire security cameras.

Our block now functions like a well-oiled machine. We have a telephone directory and an email group. We can communicate instantaneously. Group projects have enabled us to get to know one another, which is important in policing our block. We are aware of our neighbors' daily patterns, and we know when something is out of the ordinary. Our neighbors notify me when something is amiss. We contact 911 and let law enforcement handle the situation. I in turn email our district police captain, lieutenant and state representative as a follow up. They promptly reply.

Public safety depends on public commitment

My community policing activities are not limited to my role as block captain and town watch leader. I also volunteer for the 14th District Police Department Advisory Council.

In partnership with PDAC, I initiated an elementary school assembly and beautification project to celebrate Earth Day. The 14th District PDAC, along with 14th District Captain Sekou Kinebrew, community relations Officer Dennis Smith, crime prevention Officer Sharrod Davis and 14th District police clergy President Frank Crangle, visited Pennypacker Elementary School. Police and students talked, played games, and worked together to plant a tree and flowers, which had a positive impact on 300 children.

I never set out to formally become involved in community policing. I am just one individual who cares and realizes that I cannot do it alone. It requires a commitment from all individuals and government agencies in order for it to be successful.



New study offers insight on guns, police, public safety, trust

by Lewis Diuguid

Guns, public safety and what Americans think of the police haven't dominated questions in the presidential debates. But maybe they should.

Recurring mass shootings and people recoiling because of the mounting victims of violence have brought a new awareness to the public about the threat caused by guns. Rather than instituting more gun controls, lawmakers in Congress and state governments — under intense pressure from the National Rifle Association and the gun lobby — have liberalized gun laws.

A survey conducted by Avvo gauged regional differences about personal and public safety in America.

Not surprisingly, southerners came in No. 1 at 60 percent in their support for legal gun ownership. In the Midwest, 54 percent back legal gun ownership compared with 54 percent in the West and 45 percent in the Northeast.

The numbers drop off on whether people should be allowed to carry a gun in public: 26 percent favor it in the South compared with 24 percent in the Midwest, 25 percent in the West and 14 percent in the Northeast.

The Avvo poll was conducted during the summer in collaboration with Research Now. Avo connects consumers with lawyers and does periodic studies on issues involving the law and society.

“Throughout the country, a correlation seems to exist between the populace's faith in police and their attitudes toward gun ownership,” the report notes. “The Northeast, with its overall belief in the ability of authorities tasked with public safety, has the lowest gun ownership rates in the country: 19 percent of people in the Northeast own a gun, compared to 29 percent each in the Midwest and West and 30 percent in the South.”

People in the West and Midwest leaned toward not trusting the police with their safety. Thirty-eight percent of people in the West think they can protect themselves with a gun if in danger. Only 32 percent said the police succeed at keeping them safe.

In the Midwest, 36 percent were confident in their own gun-use safety while only 31 percent thought the police could do the job.

“One thing all respondents seem to agree on was that police, regardless of their overall effectiveness, were worthy of respect; in a list of professions including doctors, teachers, and other traditionally respected occupations, police consistently scored highly across all regions,” the study said. “The Midwest especially has high esteem for the profession, with a full 75 percent saying they respect individuals who chose to be police officers (other regions hovered around 70 percent).



New York State

Community engagement, building trust and police legitimacy, focus of state conference

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Community policing, which in earlier years was found to be a successful tool in fighting crime, but gradually fell by the wayside, is returning with positive results. That assessment came during day one of a two-day state Division of Criminal Justice Services conference held in Saratoga Springs for law enforcement leaders.

Newburgh Police Chief Daniel Cameron, who is attending the conference, noted the city has brought back that community approach.

“The lesson learned in Newburgh is that we did fight crime, we did address it, we kind of circled the wagons due to budget constraints, but we forgot that we are missing a very big part of policing and that is community policing so we found ways to reintroduce it into the community,” Cameron said. “But, it's a marathon, not a spring. We started it but we have a long way to go.”

Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler is also at the conference.

“The focus on the prosecution's point of view is on seeing the perception problem that we have in the community with policing and coming up with a fair and transparent way of dealing with it so that the community understands that we not only want to serve in a role of crime prevention – we want to solve crime; we want them to be part of the solution and have them understand that their voices being heard and they have a say in how we are going to deal with crime prevention, crime control and the prosecution,” Hoovler said.

The state conference is being held for communities where the GIVE program – Gun Involved Violence Elimination Initiative – is involved, including in the counties of Orange, Rockland, Ulster and Westchester.




Cleveland Public Safety launches 'quality control' investigation into 911 delays

Investigation prompted by newsnet5.com reports

by Megan Hickey

After several reports of 911 callers being put on hold for minutes at a time, Cleveland's Department of Public Safety has launched a “quality control” investigation into dispatch delays.

newnet5.com has been following reports of delays since the Oct. 1 shooting death of 5-month-old Aavielle Wakefield. According to recordings obtained by newsnet.com, a 911 caller in that case was put on hold for 90 seconds.

In a Oct. 28 recording, a Cleveland mother screamed in agony for 55 seconds while trying to get through to city dispatchers. She called to report that her 4-year-old son had been shot.

On Nov. 4, eight 911 calls were made after the shooting of 24-year-old Deonte Harris on W. 82 St. and Neville.

Five calls were answered right away, but three were routed through Cuyahoga Emergency Communications System call center and then rang for minutes while callers waited for city dispatch to pick up.

On Monday, Cleveland's Public Safety Dept. responded to questions surrounding newnet5.com's investigation into the Nov. 4 calls.

“Unfortunately the calls from CECOMS, because the people were overwhelmed with the other calls, they didn't get them as timely,” Assistant Public Safety Director Tim Hennessy told newsnet5.com.

Hennessy said the three calls in question were made by phones with AT&T service plans. According to the city, those calls cannot be routed directly through the city. Hennessy said AT&T calls must first be routed through CECOMS.

According to dispatch records, the first call was answered at 1:12 p.m. and police were dispatched to the scene at 1:15 p.m. because five calls were promptly answered ahead of the delayed calls.

But Hennessy acknowledged that the wait times are still unacceptable.

“It's never good when the calls take too long to roll over,” he said.

As a result newsnet5.com's reports, Hennessy said Public Safety Director McGrath has established an Office of Quality Control that is looking into call volumes and staffing from Nov. 4.

“As soon as that investigation is over we'll know exactly what happened,” Hennessy said.

The Cleveland City Council's Safety Committee said it will also be looking into the concerns.

newsnet5.com played the 911 recordings for Councilman Michael Polensek, who acknowledged that they were hard to listen to.

“That's unacceptable service,” Polensek said. “That's totally unacceptable. With today's technology you have to ask yourself what is wrong — what is wrong internally with that system.”

Safety Committee Chair Matt Zone said the delays are “inexcusable” and told newsnet5.com that the issue would be addressed at the committee level.

“You can be assured, based on your news report, we're going to explore this conversation through the committee process,” Zone said.

The City of Cleveland provided newnet5.com with its goals for 911 response. They try to answer 98 percent of calls in under 40 seconds. They aim for 93 percent of calls in under 15 seconds.

Copyright 2015 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



From ICE

Los Angeles Rapid Response Team conducts community outreach

On Sunday, Nov. 1, members of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Los Angeles Rapid Response Team (RRT) and the Mobile Command Center (MCC) participated in the inaugural Prepared Peninsula Expo at the Norris Pavilion in Palos Verdes, California. The HSI Los Angeles RRT was among several law enforcement agencies represented at the expo, which attracted approximately 400 people.

The event was aimed at educating attendees on emergency preparedness and how to be disaster ready.

“We wanted to help put a lot of the community stresses to rest, show them the products that are out there and teams that are available to assist,” said John Reynolds, HSI Long Beach Group Supervisor and Team Commander. “It turned out to be a really great event.”

According to David Pike, HSI Long Beach Special Agent and RRT Executive Officer, the RRT's exhibition area consisted of several detailed demonstrations showcasing the proper use of breaching equipment for search and rescue, including door and wall breaches. The team also provided presentations on water purification and filtration, and conducted medical simulations to inform attendees on the proper way to administer first aid.

However, the highlight of the demo was a simulation of an emergency response to a hiker who had fallen down a hill and broken his leg. Members of the RRT set up a raising system to haul the injured and team medic up the steep hill.

“From both the public and from the state and local agencies, attendees were very impressed with the team's readiness and equipment,” Reynolds said. “We were the hit of the expo. They weren't expecting the fully interactive demos that we brought there.”

While the RRT was able to educate the public about disaster preparedness, it also used the platform to inform attendees about HSI and its mission.

In an area where natural disasters such as earthquakes, wildfires and floods are a constant threat, those in the community now know that in addition to other local law enforcement agencies and emergency medical services, the HSI RRT is another resource with a role in disaster response and is deeply ingrained with overall emergency response efforts in the Los Angeles area.

“Whenever you go out on an outreach [event], you have to educate people on the structure of the government. We are just trying to get the word out that we are a team that is available to assist. We are the ultimate jack-of-all-trades team,” Reynolds said. “The people in this community just want to feel better and know that there are organizations at all levels that are there, prepared and willing to make sacrifices to assist the community that they live in.”

The primary mission of the HSI RRT program is to rapidly deploy during natural and manmade disasters, as well as emergency situations, when other federal, local or state agencies request ICE assistance. They are operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are always prepared to deploy to an affected area within 12 to 24 hours.



From the FBI

Solving Homicides

FBI Forms Unique Partnership with Oakland Police Department

On a peaceful, sunny morning in downtown Oakland, California, it is difficult to comprehend that the city across the bay from San Francisco is one of the most violent places in the country, with a murder occurring on average every three days. Inside the headquarters of the Oakland Police Department (OPD)—where homicide detectives and FBI agents were meeting—that reality is all too clear.

Seventeen months ago, the FBI dedicated 10 special agents to work alongside OPD detectives to investigate active homicides and more than 2,000 cold case murders that have taxed the department's historically understaffed homicide detective squad.

On this morning, agents and detectives comprising the Homicide Task Force were discussing their most pressing investigations—almost all related to gangs and drugs—and how best to solve them. An OPD detective mentioned that a key witness in one of his cases had fled to Texas. FBI Special Agent Russ Nimmo, who leads the partnership effort, said agents in Texas could locate the witness there and arrange for an interview. “We can help with that,” he said.

It's just one example of how the FBI adds value and depth to OPD murder investigations. Not only does the Bureau assist by pursuing leads in other states but agents also conduct interviews, execute warrants, and, when necessary, deploy specialized resources such as the SWAT team and the Evidence Response Team. The FBI can also collect and process critical firearms and DNA evidence, which may be too time-consuming and costly for OPD to take on alone. This real-time partnership gives local detectives a federal reach they did not have before—and in many cases that means violent offenders are also charged federally, which can result in stiffer sentences.

“This effort with OPD is designed to be sustained and ongoing,” Nimmo says. “It is important to solve every murder, whether it occurs in a wealthy neighborhood or a poor one. We are showing the community that the FBI is not just something you see on TV or read about in newspapers. We are working to provide justice in communities where many people feel that nobody cares about them.”

“This is a valuable partnership,” added Lt. Roland Holmgren of the OPD Homicide Unit, “and we are seeing the fruits of our combined labors.”

Since the FBI-OPD effort officially began in June 2014, the task force has cleared twice as many murders as had been cleared in the past—a rate that increased from about 30 percent of homicides to 60 percent. And the task force is actively working its backlog of cold cases as well.

At OPD headquarters, a dedicated workspace for the task force was set aside and is being renovated using funds from both the Bureau and the city. Detectives and agents are expected to occupy their new, permanent quarters by the end of the year. The space will feature state-of-the-art equipment to aid in recording and reviewing subject interviews. Agents and detectives will also have access to FBI computer systems to aid their investigations.

Nimmo explained that the Bureau has many Safe Streets Task Forces around the country—consisting of local, state, and federal law enforcement partners—working to fight violent crime. The effort to embed FBI agents with OPD detectives represents an additional commitment. “And it sends a message,” he said: “If you kill someone in Oakland, we will catch you.”

One case the FBI worked jointly with OPD was a December 2013 drug-related murder in East Oakland that occurred in the parking lot of a large chain store a few days before Christmas. Damion Sleugh had arranged to buy five pounds of marijuana from 24-year-old Vincent Muzac. The deal went bad, and Sleugh shot Muzac, dumping his body in the parking lot before driving off.

With the FBI's assistance, Sleugh was indicted federally in March 2014 on first-degree murder and other charges. A jury convicted him in July 2015, and last week the 28-year-old was sentenced to life in prison.

Nimmo has been working to help OPD detectives since 2010. “The Sleugh case, along with several others, made us realize the greater federal impact we could have if more agents were fully staffed with OPD detectives,” he said. “The results so far are not surprising, given the quality of agents and detectives assigned to the task force.” He added, “This level of partnership over this length of time is making a real difference, but there is still much more work to be done.”

Cold Case

One of the more than 2,000 cold cases being worked by the FBI-OPD Homicide Task Force is the 2013 murder of Aya Nakano, who was gunned down an hour before his 23rd birthday after a traffic incident in Oakland. In September, the FBI announced a reward of up to $25,000—in addition to a separate significant reward offered by Nakano's family—for information leading to arrests and prosecutions.

The FBI and the Oakland Police Department are asking for the public's help to identify the two individuals responsible for the murder, which occurred around 11 p.m. on June 12, 2013. The Bureau's National Digital Billboard Initiative is also featuring the case as part of the public awareness campaign.

Nakano was driving home to Emeryville, California, when his car was involved in a minor accident with a silver, four-door sedan with tinted windows. The accident occurred at the intersection of Stanford Avenue and Market Street. After the accident, Nakano pulled over near the intersection, as did the sedan. Two suspects emerged from the sedan and fatally shot Nakano before driving away.

Anyone with information regarding the case should contact the Oakland Police Department at (510) 238-7950, their local FBI office, or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.

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