February, 2016 - Week 2
Counselors on hand at Phoenix-area school day after shooting
by The Associated Press
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Social workers offered counsel to students at a suburban Phoenix high school Saturday, a day after two 15-year-old girls died there in a murder-suicide shooting.
Counselors were available throughout the morning for students, as well as their families at Independence High School in Glendale, according to a statement issued by Principal Rob Ambrose.
Glendale police said the bodies of the two students were discovered Friday just before the start of classes in an area near the cafeteria, Glendale police said. Each had been shot once and declared dead at the school.
Investigators recovered a weapon and a suicide note, but police did not release the contents of the note.
"Information gathered by detectives reveal the two girls were very close friends, appeared to also be in a relationship," police spokeswoman Tracey Breeden said.
Police have not yet released the names of the students, citing their age. But Phuong Kieu, a science teacher at the school, told multiple media outlets Friday that one of the victims was her sister, May Kieu.
Phuong Kieu told Phoenix TV station KNXV she was trying to find out where her sister was when a vice principal took her out of her classroom.
"That's when they told me - the policemen, the detectives - that my sister's gone. They confirmed it and she's not coming back," Phuong Kieu said while wiping away tears.
The teacher said her younger sister was nice to everyone and had a bright future. She set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for funeral expenses. As of Saturday afternoon, the site received more than $11,000 in donations.
Police say nobody witnessed the shooting, but the incident initially caused widespread panic among parents who could not reach their children, and the school was put on lockdown. Hundreds of worried parents crowded the parking lots of nearby discount and convenience stores awaiting information about their children. The lockdown was lifted after several hours.
From the FBI
Countering Violent Extremism -- FBI Launches New Awareness Program for Teens
Today like never before, violent extremists of all kinds are deliberately targeting our nation's young people with poisonous propaganda—especially in cyberspace, where they are flooding social media with slick recruiting videos and persuasive calls to action.
The FBI's investigations and analysis indicate that these efforts—to a disturbing degree—are succeeding. Across America, there are young people who are embracing various forms of violent extremism, actively communicating with violent extremists, and helping with recruitment. Without warning, many teens are joining violent extremist groups in the U.S. or leaving their families and traveling to war zones thousands of miles away to enlist in violent extremist movements—some are even plotting and launching attacks in the U.S. and overseas.
In this hyper-connected world—where violent extremist information is only a click away—it's more crucial than ever that young people learn what violent extremism really is, how it hurts innocent victims and perpetuates violence, and how its recruiting strategies are intended to deceive.
Today, as part of its leading role in helping to prevent terrorist attacks and in sharing its expertise on public safety issues, the FBI is taking the next step in educating communities on violent extremism by launching a new, free program for teens nationwide.
It's called Don't Be a Puppet: Pull Back the Curtain on Violent Extremism, and the centerpiece is an interactive website at https://cve.fbi.gov that uses activities, quizzes, videos, and other materials to teach teens how to recognize violent extremist messaging and become more resistant to self-radicalization and possible recruitment.
The site doesn't refute violent extremist beliefs point by point or discuss matters of faith or politics. Instead, it makes teens aware of the destructive reality of various forms of violent extremism, including hateful attacks based on race, religion, or other factors. Through its Don't Be a Puppet theme, the program encourages teens to think for themselves and display a healthy skepticism if they come across anyone who appears to be advocating extremist violence.
The Don't Be a Puppet initiative was developed through the combined efforts of the FBI Office of Public Affairs (OPA) and the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Program in the Bureau's Office of Partner Engagement, with the input and support of other FBI components. A number of community leaders, government and law enforcement officials, high school teens, and other public and private partners from across the U.S. evaluated the site and provided valuable feedback. The consensus was that the program is a positive, proactive tool that addresses a serious threat.
“We want teens to apply their critical thinking skills to this issue just like they would to any subject in school,” says Jonathan Cox, head of the OPA unit that created the website and developed the concept. “We're saying, ‘Don't be a puppet,'—in other words, don't just blindly accept what violent extremists tell you or you could end up being controlled and manipulated by people who want you to hurt or kill innocent people.”
The website is divided into five main sections, each with various activities and elements to complete (see above sidebar for more information). A sixth “Where to Get Help” page offers conflict resolution tips, identifies resources to contact for assistance, and provides links to more information. Teens receive a printable certificate upon completion of the site.
The program is open to anyone in the United States who wishes to participate, but it is designed for a teenage audience. No registration is required to sign up for or use the website. The Bureau also recommends that community groups, resource officers, coaches, school administrators, and parents and families review the site and use it to raise awareness of violent extremism and its growing impact on our nation.
To learn more, visit the Don't Be a Puppet: Pull Back the Curtain on Violent Extremism website. Community groups, parents, and teachers who are interested in using the program can also discuss the details with the community outreach specialist in their local FBI field offices.
Incidents like the Charleston shootings and the Boston Marathon bombings have demonstrated that extremist violence transcends race and religion and can have a devastating impact on communities. It's the FBI's hope that this new initiative can make a difference in helping to keep young people from being radicalized and recruited, now and in the future.
Overview of the Don't Be a Puppet Website
Teens earn an FBI certificate by completing all of the activities in the five sections outlined below. Throughout the site, including during an introductory video by FBI Director James Comey, it is emphasized that free speech and religious liberty are protected under the Constitution of the United States and that having extremist beliefs is legal unless violence is directly advocated or used.
Section 1: What is Violent Extremism?
- Defines violent extremism and explores five of its key elements: blame, distorted principles, symbols, propaganda, and groupthink.
- Explains how violent extremists use their warped characteristics to manipulate, radicalize, or recruit others to embrace their ideologies.
Section 2: Why Do People Become Violent Extremists?
- Examines the key reasons why people embrace violent extremism and its ideologically motivated grievances.
- Makes teens aware of the arguments violent extremists use to justify their actions as well as highlights unmet needs and personal problems that violent extremists might exploit in their recruitment efforts.
Section 3: What are Known Violent Extremist Groups?
- Provides an overview of several violent extremist groups—typically called international terrorist organizations—and key domestic violent extremism ideologies.
- Helps teens recognize and reject these organizations and their belief systems in case they are contacted or encounter violent propaganda on the Internet.
Section 4: How Do Violent Extremists Make Contact?
- Explores the various ways—such as social media, cell phones, and flyers—that violent extremists try to reach young people.
- Informs teens of the potential dangers of different online and offline communications channels and how these tools could be used for recruitment.
Section 5: Who Do Violent Extremists Affect?
- Features videos of survivors of violent extremism and hate crime, who share their personal stories on how they have been impacted.
- Gives teens insight into the very real pain, suffering, and losses caused by these acts of violence.
Other FBI Youth Programs
From violent gangs to cyber security, the FBI has long been in the business of sharing its expertise on public safety issues with a diverse cross-section of young people through various community outreach efforts. Among the FBI's youth programs:
Adopt-a-School/Junior Special Agent Program: Puts FBI special agents and professional staff into local schools to mentor and tutor kids, showing them how to resist bad influences that could lead them to crime, drug use, gang participation, and violence. During the last fiscal year, more than 800 teens participated in these programs in 28 different FBI field offices.
Safe Online Surfing Internet Challenge: Educates third- to eighth-grade students on cyber safety and online etiquette. Since October 2012, more than 600,000 students in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories have participated in the program.
Teen Academy: Gives middle and/or high school students an inside look at the FBI and fosters a greater understanding of the Bureau's work in the community. During the last fiscal year, nearly 1,400 students took part in these academies in 37 field offices.
Operation Ghost Guard
Widespread Public Corruption Inside Georgia Prisons
The FBI's Atlanta Division today announced the results of an investigation into widespread public corruption within the Georgia prison system that uncovered extensive crimes carried out by inmates with the help of corrupt guards—crimes whose impact was felt well beyond prison walls.
Nearly 50 former and current Georgia Department of Corrections officers were indicted today for accepting bribes in exchange for protecting what they believed to be drug shipments. Last month, 15 corrections officers, 19 civilians, and 19 inmates were also indicted, and a large amount of contraband—including drugs, weapons, and, in particular, cell phones—was recovered.
FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge J. Britt Johnson called the two-year investigation, dubbed Operation Ghost Guard, “unprecedented” in scope. “While the vast majority of those working within Georgia's correctional facilities are dedicated and loyal officers and employees,” Johnson said, “criminal and corrupt activities were found in 11 of the 35 state corrections facilities. Central to those illegal activities inside the prisons was the unbridled use of cell phones.”
Today's indictments focused on correctional officers who were willing to sell their badges—to use their law enforcement credentials to protect what they believed to be drug deals involving large shipments of methamphetamine and cocaine. In a series of FBI undercover operations, more than 45 officers agreed to protect the supposed drug deals in exchange for thousands of dollars in bribes. During the undercover deals, the officers often wore their official uniforms or displayed their badges to avoid law enforcement scrutiny.
Operation Ghost Guard, undertaken in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Corrections, revealed that corrupt guards typically earned $500 to $1,000 for smuggling a single cell phone to a prisoner. Between 2014 and 2015, more than 23,500 contraband phones were seized throughout Georgia prisons—which house 50,000 inmates—and those phones were used for a variety of crimes that put prison security and public safety at risk.
Contraband phones were used to organize drug trafficking inside prisons and to perpetrate identity theft and phone scams that raised “tens of thousands of dollars,” said Special Agent Dan Odom. Odom supervises the FBI's public corruption squad in Atlanta and helped coordinate the Operation Ghost Guard investigation through the FBI-led Atlanta Public Corruption Task Force, which combines the resources of numerous state and local law enforcement agencies in Georgia.
The illicit money raised through so-called “jury scams” and other frauds was often used to bribe prison guards. “This was a massive investigation,” Odom said. “We identified and indicted approximately 130 subjects.” He added, “The FBI could never have worked this case without the assistance of the Department of Corrections. They recognized they had a problem, and they wanted to fix it.”
Operation Ghost Guard began in May 2014, shortly after a kidnapping that was set in motion by a prisoner with a contraband phone. The prisoner, serving a life sentence in North Carolina, wanted revenge on the prosecutor who helped put him there.
Using that contraband phone, the prisoner enlisted the help of fellow gang members in Atlanta who were not incarcerated to kidnap the prosecutor's father in North Carolina and drive him to Atlanta, where he was to be tortured and killed. The FBI's Hostage Rescue Team was able to rescue the man before gang members killed him, “but the risk of life to this individual was very real,” Johnson said. “All because of a cell phone in a prison.”
That incident served as a catalyst for Operation Ghost Guard. It also prompted the FBI's Public Corruption Unit in Washington, D.C., to launch the nationwide Prison Corruption Initiative.
“Because of one small act of corruption—a guard giving a cell phone to an inmate—many serious crimes can occur,” said Special Agent Joe Gonzalez, who heads the Bureau's Public Corruption Unit at FBI Headquarters. “This is not just Georgia's problem, it's a national problem.”
Gonzalez said that since the Prison Corruption Initiative was launched in June 2014, the number of FBI public corruption cases in prisons nationwide has tripled. “Corrections officers might not be elected officials,” he added, “but they are public officials sworn to protect the community, and we are going to hold them to that standard.”
Phone Scams from Prison
Georgia inmates with contraband phones and their accomplices outside of prison raised tens of thousands of dollars using various fraud schemes. Here's how the “jury scam” worked:
- Prisoners with smartphones provided by corrupt guards accessed the Internet to identify and target potential victims from all over the country.
- Inmates called potential victims, impersonated law enforcement officials, and claimed the individuals had failed to appear for jury duty. The victims were told they had the choice of either being arrested on warrants or paying fines to have the warrants dismissed.
- To make the calls seem real, inmates created voicemail greetings on their contraband phones that identified themselves as members of legitimate law enforcement agencies. “They sounded like deputies from a sheriff's office,” one FBI agent said. “They were very sophisticated and believable.”
- Many victims agreed to pay fines. They were instructed to purchase pre-paid cash cards and provide the account number to the inmate, or wire money directly into a pre-paid debit card account held by the inmate.
- When inmates received pre-paid cash card account numbers, they used their contraband phones to contact accomplices outside of prison who then transferred the money to a different pre-paid card, which could then be turned into cash.
- That effectively laundered the money, which could then be transferred back to the inmate.
Raising Awareness of Opioid Addiction
FBI, DEA Release Documentary Aimed at Youth
Every day, the nation's law enforcement agencies at the local, state, and federal levels—including the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)—use investigative resources to target the supply side in the war against drugs.
But even with numerous law enforcement successes in this area, the demand for drugs continues. And one of the more worrisome trends is a growing epidemic of prescription opiate and heroin abuse, especially among young people.
Today, in an effort to help educate students and young adults about the dangers of opioid addiction, the FBI and DEA unveiled a documentary called Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., before an audience of educational leaders from the region. The 45-minute film, whose title refers to the never-ending pursuit of the original or ultimate high, features stark first-person accounts told by individuals who have abused opioids or whose children have abused opioids, with tragic consequences.
“This film may be difficult to watch,” explains FBI Director James Comey, “but we hope it educates our students and young adults about the tragic consequences that come with abusing these drugs and that it will cause people to think twice before becoming its next victim.”
And according to Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg, “The numbers are appalling—tens of thousands of Americans will die this year from drug-related deaths, and more than half of these deaths are from heroin and prescription opioid overdoses. I hope this [documentary] will be a wakeup call for folks.”
The individuals featured in the film—a few of whom are highlighted below—chose to tell their stories to help stop others from going down the same destructive path.
Katrina, a former business executive and mother who became addicted to opiates after self-medicating with pain pills and alcohol and whose own daughter died of a drug overdose. “You can't go back and say, ‘I'm sorry,' or set a better example, or talk ‘em out of it,” she says. And of her own addiction, she explains, “The spiral down is so fast...and I lost everything. I lost my daughter first and foremost. So all the work I did, all those dreams I had, it's like I'm starting over again with a huge weight on my shoulder...all for a pill.”
Matt, who began using marijuana at age 11 and became addicted to opiates at age 15. “In the beginning,” he explains, “I would always try to get pills because you know what you're getting. Eventually, that just got too expensive....so then you'd go for heroin because it's cheaper.”
Trish, whose daughter Cierra—an honor roll student at her high school—died after a heroin overdose. “Cierra did not take life for granted until she started using,” says her mother. “It is much stronger than you, and it will win.” Noting the broader impact of addiction, Trish adds, “It affects everyone in your family for the rest of their life...we're the ones stuck missing you.”
Chasing the Dragon also features interviews with medical and law enforcement professionals discussing a variety of issues, including how quickly addiction can set in, how the increasing costs of prescription opioids can lead to the use of heroin as a less expensive alternative, the horrors of withdrawal, the ties between addiction and crime, and the fact that, contrary to popular belief, opiate abuse is prevalent in all segments of society.
The documentary is available on this website for viewing or downloading. Copies can also be obtained by contacting your local FBI or DEA field office.
From the Department of Homeland Security
Remarks by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh C. Johnson on the State of Homeland Security
Good morning everyone. Thank you Jane and the Wilson Center for hosting me again for this annual ritual. Jane is a terrific supporter of our Department and our homeland security mission, and a voice of strength and common sense in this town. Jane, for the third year in a row, I continue to appreciate your leadership and mentorship. Thank you again.
Today I will outline progress we made in 2015 and the goals the President and I have for the Department of Homeland Security in 2016. In the remaining 344 days of this Administration, there is much to do. I intend to make every day count. The former president of my alma mater, Morehouse College, used to tell his students we only have just a minute, but eternity is in it, and it's up to us to use it. With Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as my partner, we will push an aggressive agenda to the end.
I begin these remarks with a shout-out to the men and women of DHS, led by the terrific component heads seated before me. It's the nature of our business in homeland security that no news is good news. But no news is very often the product of the hard work and extraordinary, courageous effort our people put in every day to keep the American public safe.
Last fiscal year, for example, TSA screened 695 million passengers (3 million more than the year before); screened 450 million pieces of checked luggage (the highest in six years), and, at the same time, seized a record number 2,500 firearms from carry-on luggage, 84 percent of which were loaded.
Last fiscal year CBP screened 26.3 million containers, 11.3 million commercial trucks, 1 million commercial and private aircraft, 436,000 buses, ferries and trains, 103 million private vehicles, and 382 million travelers at land, marine and air ports of entry to the United States. At the same time, CBP collected nearly $46 billion in duties, taxes, and fees, making it the second largest revenue collector in the U.S. government.
Last fiscal year, HSI made a record high 33,000 criminal arrests, including 3,500 alleged members of transnational criminal gangs, and 2,400 alleged child predators.
Last fiscal year the Coast Guard saved over 3,500 lives, and seized 319,000 pounds of cocaine and 78,000 pounds of marijuana worth a total of $4.3 billion wholesale. In just one mission off the coast of Central and South America, the National Security Cutter STRATTON alone seized over $1 billion in cocaine, along with two drug cartel-owned submersibles.
Last year the Secret Service successfully orchestrated what may have been the largest domestic security operation in the history of this country, by providing physical security to 160 world leaders at the UN General Assembly, and, at the same time, providing security for Pope Francis as he visited New York, Washington, and Philadelphia.
Last year FEMA provided over $6 billion in federal disaster assistance, and was there to help communities recovering from flooding in Texas and South Carolina, tornadoes in Oklahoma, and typhoons in the Western Pacific.
This past Sunday, DHS personnel from the Secret Service, TSA, CBP, HSI, FEMA, I&A, NPPD, the Coast Guard, and other components led the federal effort to provide ground, air, maritime and cyber security for Super Bowl 50.
Then there are the individual acts of good and heroic work by our people, to save lives and go above and beyond the call of duty.
In late December nine Border Patrol agents traveled miles on foot or by horseback to come to the aid of an Arizona rancher who had fallen off her horse in a remote, mountainous area.
Last March two uniformed Secret Service officers helped save the life of a journalist who suffered a heart attack in the East Room of the White House.
Last July Coast Guard Petty Officer Darren Harrity swam nearly a mile, at night, in 57-degree water and 30-mph winds, to save the lives of four stranded fishermen.
Finally, we honor those killed in the line of duty. HSI Agent Scott McGuire was killed last month by a hit and run driver in Miami. I was glad to at least have had the opportunity to visit with Scott's wife and five-year-old son, and hold Scott's hand before he was officially declared brain dead. His funeral was 10 days ago in New Orleans.
Our people do extraordinary work every day to protect the homeland. Please consider thanking a TSO, a Coastie, a Customs officer, or a Border agent next time you see one.
Though our people do extraordinary work, I know we must improve the manner in which the Department conducts business. Like last year, reforming the way in which the Department of Homeland Security functions, to more effectively and efficiently deliver our services to the American people, is my New Year's resolution for 2016. We've done a lot in the last two years, but, under the leadership of our Under Secretary for Management Russ Deyo, there is still much we will do.
My overarching goal as Secretary this last year is to continue to protect the homeland, and leave the Department of Homeland Security a better place than I found it.
The centerpiece of our management reform has been the Unity of Effort initiative I announced in April 2014, which focuses on getting away from the stove pipes, in favor of more centralized programming, budgeting, and acquisition processes.
We have transformed our approach to the budget. Today, we focus Department-wide on our mission needs, rather than through component stove pipes. With the support of Congress, we are moving to a simplified budget structure, in which line items mean the same across all components.
We have transformed our approach to acquisition. Last year I established a DHS-wide Joint Requirements Council to evaluate, from the viewpoint of the Department as a whole, our components' needs on the front end of an acquisition.
We have launched the “Acquisition Innovations in Motion” initiative, to consult with the contractor community about ways to improve the quality and timeliness of our contracting process, and the emerging skills required of our acquisition professionals. We are putting faster contracting processes in place.
We are reforming our HR process. We are making our hiring process faster and more efficient. We are using all the tools we have to recruit, retain and reward personnel.
As part of the Unity of Effort initiative, in 2014 we created the Joint Task Forces dedicated to border security along the southern border. Once again, we are getting away from the stove pipes. In 2015, these Task Forces became fully operational. In 2016, we are asking Congress to officially authorize them in legislation.
We are achieving more transparency in our operations. We have staffed up our Office of Immigration Statistics and gave it the mandate to integrate immigration data across the Department. Last year, and for the second year in a row, we reported our total number of repatriations, returns and removals on a consolidated, Department-wide basis.
The long-awaited entry/exit overstay report was published in January, providing a clearer picture of the number of individuals in this country who overstay their visitor visas. It reflects that about one percent of those who enter this country by air or sea on visitor visas or through the Visa Waiver Program overstay.
We are working with outside, non-partisan experts on a project called BORDERSTAT, to develop a clear and comprehensive set of outcome metrics for measuring border security, apprehension rates, and inflow rates.
Since 2013 we've spearheaded something called the “DHS Data Framework” initiative. For the protection of the homeland, we are improving the collection and comparison of travel, immigration and other information against classified intelligence. We will do this consistent with laws and policies that protect privacy and civil liberties.
As we have proposed to Congress, I want to restructure the National Protection and Programs Directorate from a headquarters element to an operational component called the “Cyber and Infrastructure Protection” Agency.
I am very pleased with the 2016 DHS budget adopted by Congress and signed by the President as part of the omnibus spending deal reached in December. I'm very pleased with that. It funds all of our homeland security priorities, including, finally, the completion of the main building of the new DHS headquarters at St. Elizabeths campus in SE Washington. I will never get to work there, but perhaps they will name a courtyard or conference room after me.
The President's budget request for 2017, released two days ago, funds our key priorities, to include aviation security, the Secret Service, recapitalization of the Coast Guard, and provides a huge increase in funding for cybersecurity.
Finally, we will improve the levels of employee satisfaction across the Department. We've been on an aggressive campaign to improve morale over the last two years. It takes time to turn a 22-component workforce of 240,000 people in a different direction. Though the overall results last year were still disappointing, we see signs of improvement. Employee satisfaction improved in a number of components, including at DHS headquarters.
This year we will see an improvement in employee satisfaction across DHS.
In 2016, counterterrorism will remain the cornerstone of the Department of Homeland Security's mission. The events of 2015 reinforce this.
As I have said many times, we are in a new phase in the global terrorist threat, requiring a whole new type of response. We have moved from a world of terrorist directed attacks to a world that includes the threat of terrorist inspired attacks – in which the terrorist may have never come face to face with a single member of a terrorist organization, lives among us in the homeland, and self-radicalizes, inspired by something on the internet.
By their nature, terrorist-inspired attacks are harder to detect by our intelligence and law enforcement communities, could occur with little or no notice, and in general makes for a more complex homeland security challenge.
So, what are we doing about this?
First, our government, along with our coalition partners, continues to take the fight militarily to terrorist organizations overseas. ISIL is the terrorist organization most prominent on the world stage. Since September 2014, air strikes and special operations have in fact led to the death of a number of ISIL's leaders and those focused on plotting external attacks in the West. At the same time, ISIL has lost about 40 percent of the populated areas it once controlled in Iraq, and thousands of square miles of territory it once controlled in Syria.
On the law enforcement side, the FBI continues to do an excellent job of detecting, investigating, preventing, and prosecuting terrorist plots here in the homeland.
As for the Department of Homeland Security, following the attacks in Ottawa, Canada in 2014, and in reaction to terrorist groups' public calls for attacks on government installations in the western world, I directed our Federal Protective Service to enhance its presence and security at various U.S. government buildings around the country.
Given the prospect of the terrorist-inspired attack in the homeland, we have intensified our work with state and local law enforcement. Almost every day, DHS and the FBI share intelligence and information with Joint Terrorism Task Forces, fusion centers, local police chiefs and sheriffs.
In FY 2015 we provided over $2 billion in homeland security assistance to state and local governments around the country, for things such as active shooter training exercises, overtime for cops and firefighters, salaries for emergency managers, emergency vehicles, and communications and surveillance equipment. We helped to fund an active shooter training exercise that took place in the New York City subways last November and a series of these exercises just last weekend in Miami, Florida.
As I said at a graduation ceremony for 1,200 new cops in New York City in December, given the current threat environment, it is the cop on the beat who may be the first to detect the next terrorist attack in the United States.
We are enhancing information sharing with organizations that represent businesses, college and professional sports, faith-based organizations, and critical infrastructure.
We are enhancing measures to detect and prevent travel to this country by foreign terrorist fighters.
We are strengthening our Visa Waiver Program, which permits travelers from 38 different countries to come here without a visa. In 2014, we began to collect more personal information in the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, also known as the “ESTA” system, that travelers from Visa Waiver countries are required to use. As a result of these enhancements, over 3,000 additional travelers were denied travel here in FY 2015.
In August 2015, we introduced further security enhancements to the Visa Waiver Program.
Through the passage in December of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, Congress has codified into law several of these security enhancements, and placed new restrictions on eligibility for travel to the U.S. without a visa. We began to enforce these new restrictions on January 21. Waivers from these restrictions will only be granted on a case-by-case basis, when it is in the law enforcement or national security interests of the United States to do so. Those denied entry under the Visa Waiver Program as a result of this new law may still apply for a visa to travel to the U.S.
We are expanding the Department's use of social media for various purposes. Today social media is used for over 33 different operational and investigative purposes within DHS. Beginning in 2014 we launched four pilot programs that involved consulting the social media of applicants for certain immigration benefits. USCIS now also reviews the social media of Syrian refugee applicants referred for enhanced vetting. Based upon the recent recommendation of a Social Media Task Force within DHS, I have determined that we must expand the use of social media even further, consistent with law.
CBP is deploying our Customs personnel at various airports abroad, to pre-clear air travelers before they get on flights to the United States. At present, we have this pre-clearance capability at 15 airports overseas. And, last year, through pre-clearance, we denied boarding to over 10,700 travelers (or 29 per day) seeking to enter the United States. As I said here last year, we want to build more of these. In May 2015, I announced 10 additional airports in nine countries that we've prioritized for preclearance.
For years Congress and others have urged us to develop a system of biometric exit – that is, to take the fingerprints or other biometric data of those who leave the country. CBP has begun testing technologies that can be deployed for this nationwide. With the passage of the omnibus bill, Congress authorized $1 billion in fee increases over a period of ten years to pay for the implementation of biometric exit. I have directed CBP begin implementing the system, starting at airports, in 2018.
Last month I announced the schedule for the final two phases of implementation of the REAL ID law, which goes into effect two and then four years from now. At present 23 states are compliant with this law, 27 have extensions, and 6 states or territories are out of compliance. Now that the final timetable for implementation of this law is in place, we will urge all states, for the good of their residents, to start issuing REAL ID-complaint drivers' licenses as soon as possible.
In the current threat environment, there is a role for the public too. “If You See Something, Say Something™” must be more than a slogan. We continue to stress this. DHS has now established partnerships with the NFL, Major League Baseball and NASCAR, to raise public awareness at sporting events. An informed and vigilant public contributes to national security.
In December we reformed “NTAS,” the National Terrorism Advisory System. In 2011, we replaced the color-coded alerts with NTAS. But, the problem with NTAS was we never used it. It consisted of just two types of Alerts: “Elevated” and “Imminent,” and depended on the presence of a known specific and credible threat. This does not work in the current environment, which includes the threat of homegrown, self-radicalized, terrorist-inspired attacks.
So, in December we added a new form of advisory – the NTAS “Bulletin” – to the existing Alerts. The Bulletin we issued in December advises the public of the current threat environment, and how the public can help.
Finally, given the nature of the evolving terrorist threat, building bridges to diverse communities has become a homeland security imperative. Well informed families and communities are the best defense against terrorist ideologies. Al Qaeda and the Islamic State are targeting Muslim communities in this country. We must respond. In my view, this is as important as any of our other homeland security missions.
In 2015 we took these efforts to new levels. We created the DHS Office for Community Partnerships, headed by George Selim. George and this office are now the central hub of the Department's efforts to counter violent extremism in this country, and the lead for a new interagency CVE Task Force that includes DHS, DOJ, the FBI, NCTC and other agencies.
We are taking aggressive steps to improve aviation and airport security. The traveling public should be aware that, because of this and increased traveler volume, overall wait times have increased somewhat at airports, but we believe this is necessary for the public's own safety.
Since 2014 we have enhanced security at overseas last-point-of-departure airports, and a number of foreign governments have replicated these enhancements.
As many of you know, in May of last year a certain classified DHS Inspector General's test of TSA screening at eight airports, reflected a dismal fail rate and was leaked to the press. I directed a 10-point plan to fix the problems identified by the IG. Under the new leadership of Admiral Pete Neffenger over the last six months, TSA has aggressively implemented this plan. This has included “back to basics” retraining of the entire TSO force, increased use of random explosive trace detectors, testing and re-evaluating the screening equipment that was the subject of the IG's test, a rewrite of the standard operating procedures manual, increased manual screening, and less managed inclusion. These measures were implemented on or ahead of schedule.
We are also focused on airport security. In April of last year TSA issued guidelines to domestic airports to reduce access to secure areas, to require that all airport and airline personnel pass through TSA screening if they board a flight, to conduct more frequent screening of airport and airline personnel, and to conduct continuous criminal background checks of airport and airline personnel. Since then employee access points have been reduced, and random screening of personnel within secure areas has increased four-fold. We are continuing these efforts in 2016. Two days ago TSA issued guidelines to further enhance the screening of aviation workers in the secure area of airports.
While counterterrorism remains a cornerstone of our Department's mission, I have concluded that cybersecurity must be another. Making tangible improvements to our Nation's cybersecurity is a top priority for me and President Obama before we leave office.
Two days ago the President announced his “Cybersecurity National Action Plan,” which is the culmination of seven years of effort by his Administration. The Plan includes a call for the creation of a Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity, additional investments in technology, federal cybersecurity, cyber education, new cyber talent in the federal workforce, and improved cyber incident response.
DHS has a role in almost every aspect of this plan.
As reflected in the President's 2017 budget request, we want to expand our cyber response teams from 10 to 48.
We are doubling the number of cybersecurity advisors to in effect make “house calls,” to assist private sector organizations with in-person, customized cybersecurity assessments and best practices.
Building on DHS's Stop.Think.Connect campaign, we will help promote public awareness on multi-factor authentication.
We will collaborate with Underwriters Laboratory and others to develop a Cybersecurity Assurance Program to test and certify networked devices within the “Internet of Things” -- such as your home alarm system, your refrigerator, or even your pacemaker.
Last year we greatly expanded the capability of DHS's National Cybersecurity Communications Integration Center, or “NCCIC.” The NCCIC increased its distribution of information, the number of vulnerability assessments conducted, and the number of incident responses.
At the NCCIC, last year we built a system to automate the receipt and distribution of cyber threat indicators in near real-time speed. We built this in a way that also includes privacy protections. We did this ahead of schedule.
I have issued an aggressive timetable for improving federal civilian cybersecurity, principally through two DHS programs:
The first is called EINSTEIN. EINSTEIN 1 and 2 have the ability to detect and monitor cybersecurity threats in our federal civilian systems, and are now in place across all federal civilian departments and agencies.
EINSTEIN 3A is the newest iteration of the system, and has the ability to actually block potential cyber attacks on our federal systems. Thus far E3A has actually blocked 700,000 cyber threats, and we are rapidly expanding this capability. About a year ago, E3A covered only about 20 percent of our federal civilian networks. In the wake of the OPM attack, in May of last year I directed our cybersecurity team to make at least some aspects of E3A available to all federal departments and agencies by the end of last year. They met that deadline. Now that the system is available to everyone, 50 percent are actually on line, including OPM, and we are working to get all federal departments and agencies on board by the end of this year.
The second program, called Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation, helps agencies detect and prioritize vulnerabilities in their networks. In 2015, we provided CDM sensors to 97 percent of the federal civilian government. Next year, DHS will provide the second phase of CDM to 100 percent of the federal civilian government.
We have worked with OMB and DNI to identify the government's high value systems, and we are working aggressively with the owners of these systems to increase their security.
In September, DHS awarded a grant to the University of Texas San Antonio to work with industry to identify a common set of best practices for the development of Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations, or “ISAOs.”
Finally, I thank Congress for passing the Cybersecurity Act of 2015. This new law is a huge assist to DHS and our cybersecurity mission. We are in the process of implementing this new law now.
Turning to immigration and border security:
As I explain it to both Democrats and Republicans, immigration policy must be two sides of the same coin. The resources we have to enforce immigration laws are finite, and they must be used wisely. This is true of every aspect of law enforcement. It's referred to as “prosecutorial discretion.”
With the immigration enforcement resources we have, ICE is focused more sharply on public safety and border security. Those who are convicted of serious crimes or who are apprehended at the border are top priorities for removal. And we will enforce the law in accordance with these priorities.
Accordingly, over the last several years deportations by ICE have gone down, but an increasing percentage of those deported are convicted criminals. And, an increased percentage of those in immigration detention, around 85 percent, are in the top priority for removal. We will continue to focus our resources on the most significant threats to public safety and border security.
In furtherance of our public safety efforts, in 2014 we did away with the controversial Secure Communities program and replaced it with the new Priority Enforcement Program, or “PEP.” PEP fixes the political and legal controversies, in my judgment, associated with Secure Communities and enables us to take directly into custody from local law enforcement the most dangerous, removable criminals. Since PEP was created, cities and counties that previously refused to work with Secure Communities are coming back to the table. Of the 25 largest counties that refused to work with ICE before, 16 are now participating in PEP. In 2016, we want to get more to participate.
And, because we are asking ICE immigration enforcement officers to focus on convicted criminals and do a job that's more in line with law enforcement, last year we reformed their pay scale accordingly. Now these immigration officers are paid on the same scale as the rest of federal law enforcement.
We have also prioritized the removal of those apprehended at the border. We cannot allow our borders to be open to illegal migration.
Over the last 15 years, our Nation – across multiple administrations -- has invested a lot in border security, and this investment has yielded positive results. Apprehensions – which are an indicator of total attempts to cross the border illegally – are a fraction of what they used to be.
In FY 2014, overall apprehensions increased, as we saw a spike in the number of families and unaccompanied children from Central America during the spring and summer of 2014. That year the overall number of apprehensions was 479,000. Across the government, we responded aggressively to this surge and the numbers fell sharply within a short period of time.
In FY 2015, the number of those apprehended on the southwest border was 331,000 – with the exception of one year, this was the lowest number since 1972.
From July to December 2015 the numbers of migrants from Central America began to climb again.
In January I announced a series of focused enforcement actions to take into custody and remove those who had been apprehended at the border in 2014 or later and then ordered removed by an immigration court. I know this made a lot of people I respect very unhappy. But, as I said, we must respect the law in accordance with our priorities and enforce it.
In January overall apprehensions on the southwest border dropped 36 percent from the month before. At the same time, the number of unaccompanied children apprehended dropped 54 percent, and the number of those in families dropped 65 percent. So far in February, the numbers have remained at this decreased level. This six-week decline is encouraging, but it does not mean we can dial back our efforts. We will continue to enforce the law consistent with our priorities for enforcement, which includes those apprehended at the border in 2014 or later.
Then there is the other side of the coin. The new enforcement policy the President and I announced in November 2014 makes clear that our limited resources will not be focused on the removal of those who have committed no serious crimes, have been in this country for years, and have families here. Under our new policy, these people are not priorities for removal, nor should they be.
In fact, the President and I want to offer, to those who have lived here for at least five years, are parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanents residents, and who have committed no serious crimes, the opportunity to request deferred action on a case-by-case basis, to come out of the shadows, get on the books, and be held accountable. We are pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of Texas v. United States, which involves the new deferred action policies we announced in November 2014.
Our immigration enforcement priorities, the ending of Secure Communities, and the new deferred action policy now in the courts are among 10 executive actions the President and I announced in November 2014 to fix our broken immigration system.
We also issued a proposed rule to expand eligibility for “provisional” extreme hardship waivers of the 3- and 10-year bars to all persons who statutorily qualify for a waiver. The comment period is closed, and we are now preparing to issue the final rule on provisional waivers.
We published new guidance for public comment on the “extreme hardship” requirement. The comment period is closed and we plan to issue final guidance on extreme hardship very soon.
We are about to publish a final rule to strengthen the program that provides Optional Practical Training for students in STEM fields studying at U.S. universities.
We finalized a new rule that allows spouses of high-skilled H-1B workers who are here in the United States under H-4 visas to apply for work authorization.
We are working with the Department of Labor and other agencies to ensure, for the protection of workers, the consistent enforcement of federal labor, employment and immigration laws.
We are promoting and increasing access to citizenship through the new White House Task Force on New Americans. The week of September 14-21 we celebrated the “Stand Stronger Commit to Citizenship Campaign.” In that one week, USCIS naturalized 40,000 people.
We now permit credit cards as a payment option for naturalization fees.
Our overall policy is to focus our immigration resources more effectively on threats to public safety and border security, and, within our existing legal authority, do as much as we can to fix the broken immigration system. We're disappointed that Congress has not been our partner in this effort, by passing comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
Finally, we recognize that more border security and deportations may deter illegal migration, but they do nothing to overcome the “push factors” that prompt desperate people to flee Central America in the first place. We are preparing to offer vulnerable individuals fleeing the violence in Central America a safe and legal alternate path to a better life. We are expanding our Refugee Admissions Program to help vulnerable men, women and children in Central America who qualify as refugees. We are partnering with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and non-governmental organizations in the region to do this as soon as possible. This approach builds on our recently established Central American Minors program, which is now providing an in-country refugee processing option for certain children with lawfully present parents in the United States.
We are doing our part to address the Syrian refugee crisis. USCIS, in conjunction with the Department of State, is working hard to meet our commitment to admit at least 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of this fiscal year. We will do this carefully, screening refugees in a multi-layered and intense screening process involving multiple law enforcement, national security, and intelligence agencies across the Federal Government.
U.S. Secret Service
Over the last year, Director Joe Clancy of the Secret Service has done a tremendous job reforming his agency, including hiring a chief operating officer from outside the Secret Service, altering the structure and management of the agency, ramping up efforts to hire new members of its workforce, and expanding training opportunities. In 2016 we will continue to work on areas that still need improvement.
The U.S. Coast Guard
With the help of Congress, in 2016 we will continue to rebuild the Coast Guard fleet. This year Congress provided funding for a ninth National Security Cutter, design funding for the Offshore Patrol Cutter, and funding to continue production of our Fast Response Cutter. As reflected in the President's 2017 Budget Request, we will also seek $150 million for the design of a new heavy icebreaker, in recognition of the expanding commercial activity in the Arctic.
Since 2012, our Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) has trained more than a quarter million federal, state and local officers and agents. At the same time, FLETC continually updates its curriculum to address the biggest challenges facing law enforcement, to include training for active shooter situations, in cyber forensics, and in human trafficking.
In 2016 FEMA will continue to do its extraordinary job of supporting the American people and communities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from various disasters. FEMA will continue to focus on efforts to enhance resilience and mitigation measures before disaster strikes, to prevent loss and save lives.
Lawful Trade and Travel
We continue to promote lawful trade and travel. We will continue to pursue the President's U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue and his Beyond the Border Initiative with Canada. We are implementing the “Single Window,” which, by December 2016, will enable the private sector to use just one portal to transmit information to 47 government agencies about exports and imports, thereby eliminating over 200 different forms and streamlining the trade process.
Last week the Secretary of Commerce and I joined the President of Mexico to open a new six-lane bridge near El Paso that will replace a 78-year-old two-lane one. Next week I will join the Mexican Secretary of Finance to inaugurate a pre-inspection pilot in Laredo, Texas.
In conclusion, according to Time Magazine, I have “probably the hardest job in America.” That's not true. The President has the hardest job in America. But I may rank in the top ten. I have a lot of challenges, a lot of problems and a lot of headaches. There is also far too much partisanship in Washington, and, especially during an election year, politics has become a blood-sport in this town. Too often it is more important to score political points than achieve smart, sound government policy on behalf of the American people.
Through it all, I still love public service, and I am dedicated to serving the American people, protecting our homeland, and serving our President.
I find inspiration in the amazing stories of our workforce that I told you about at the beginning of this speech. I also find inspiration and strength in the weekly batch of letters I receive from the American people we serve, particularly from the school kids. Here's one from a young man named Brett Shepard, handwritten in pencil:
“To Jeh Johnson…I just wanted to say I think you're doing a good job... I ran for class president in my government class. I ended up becoming the Secretary of Homeland Security which honestly I would rather be ... [president is] not all it's cracked up to be.”
Like Brett, at this moment in the life of our Nation, there's nothing I'd rather be than Secretary of Homeland Security. It is and always will be the highlight of my professional life. In the time left to me in office, I pledge all my energy to continue to protect the homeland and leave the Department of Homeland Security a better place than I found it.
Thank you very much.
Zika Virus: DHS Response Plan
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the U.S. Government's lead for efforts to respond to the Zika virus. As the White House announced on Monday, the President is also seeking more than $1.8 billion in supplemental funding from Congress to address the virus and our government's response efforts.
As part of the overall federal response, and in close coordination with HHS and CDC, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is doing the following:
Continued monitoring at and between ports of entry: As part of standard operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel observe all travelers entering the United States for general overt signs of illness at all U.S. ports of entry. This includes all federal inspection services areas at U.S. airports that service international flights, sea ports, and land border ports of entry. CBP officers also observe migrants for overt signs of illness when they are apprehended at U.S. borders while attempting to enter the United States unlawfully.
Based on our current understanding of the virus, enhanced public health entry screening for Zika would not be effective because most people who are infected with Zika are asymptomatic and therefore could not be identified during the screening process. Accordingly, CDC is not conducting, or recommending that CBP conduct, enhanced entry screening for Zika, such as active symptom monitoring and temperature checks at ports of entry for arriving travelers. CDC and CBP will continue to coordinate on appropriate measures.
Close coordination with HHS and CDC. If a traveler entering the United States exhibits signs of illness or a CBP officer has another concern, the traveler is referred to a secondary CBP inspection and may potentially be referred to CDC for additional medical evaluation. Migrants who exhibit signs of illness when apprehended by CBP attempting to cross the border illegally are separated from healthy people to limit the potential spread of infection. Sick migrants are referred, transported, and escorted for appropriate medical attention as needed.
Enhanced precautions at detention facilities. We are deploying mosquito control measures at facilities housing individuals in DHS custody in the limited areas of the country where mosquitoes have transmitted the virus. Preparations are also underway in areas where mosquitoes of the same type are present, but where transmission is not known to have occurred. In addition, pregnant women in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody who originate from areas determined by CDC to have high incidence of Zika virus will be screened for symptoms of Zika virus by ICE medical providers, receive blood testing for Zika virus based on CDC guidance, and be provided prenatal care while in custody.
Workforce education. We have issued advisories to inform the DHS workforce about the virus and the risks associated with it, and are ensuring appropriate protective measures such as mosquito abatement are in place for DHS employees in affected areas in line with CDC guidance.
We are closely monitoring the Zika virus and its impact, and as we continue to learn more about the virus, the Department's actions and communications with the public and DHS workforce will continue to evolve in line with the overall Federal response.
For more information on the Zika virus, what the Federal government is doing to respond, and how Americans can protect themselves, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/zika
Ex-L.A. Sheriff Lee Baca may go to jail but he'll get to keep his county pension
by Richard Winton and Kim Christensen
Retired Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca could lose his freedom for up to six months when he is sentenced in federal court in May, but there's one thing he won't forfeit — his county pension.
Reforms enacted in 2013 to strip pensions from public employees who commit job-related felonies will have little effect, if any, on the roughly $328,000 annual benefit owed to Baca, who pleaded guilty this week to lying to federal officials investigating corruption and brutality by deputies at the Los Angeles County jail.
Sweeping pension reforms that took effect three years ago included a provision that would force public employees convicted of job-related crimes to forfeit pension benefits "from the date of the felonious act going forward," said Gregg Rademacher, chief executive of the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Assn.
In other words, benefits accrued up to the date of the crime are paid; those earned afterward are not.
"It cuts down the time you worked to the day of the crime," Rademacher said.
The forfeiture provision could have a significant effect on the pension benefits of a public employee convicted of a crime committed many years earlier. In Baca's case, however, the operative date appears to be April 12, 2013, the day he has admitted to making a false statement to the FBI and U.S. attorneys investigating the nation's largest jail system.
As part of his plea agreement, which calls for up to six months in prison, Baca admitted to lying during an interview with prosecutors. They were grilling him about whether he was involved in attempts by sheriff's officials to impede the investigation federal officials launched in 2010 after inmates complained of beatings and other abuse.
Agents found evidence of assaults, including attacks on a mentally ill inmate and a man visiting a jailed relative. More than a dozen former sheriff's officials have been convicted of charges related to the beatings and attempts to cover them up. Baca is to be sentenced May 16 by U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson.
Baca, who stepped down in 2014, was initially eligible for a monthly pension of $26,961, a sum that has been adjusted twice for inflation. The former sheriff's current monthly benefit is about $27,300, of which he collects $19,447, with the remainder paid to his ex-wife in accordance with a court-approved dissolution agreement, Rademacher said.
Baca's pension could be recalculated if the court determines the date of the original crime was earlier than April 2013, Rademacher said. But it otherwise is not likely to take a significant hit, because Baca had long ago maximized his benefits. Under the terms of his retirement plan, an employee must work 39 years and be at least 55 to reach 100% of salary, Rademacher said.
Baca, 73, clocked 48 years of service in the system, he said. Baca spent the last 15 years as the elected sheriff.
"He could have retired many years ago," Rademacher said.
Mario Mainero, a professor at Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law, said that in 2012 state lawmakers took steps to reform public employee retirement eligibility in the wake of two highly publicized cases of felons who continued to receive pensions: former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona, who was convicted of a corruption charge, and Los Angeles Unified School District teacher Mark Berndt, who was convicted of multiple charges of lewd acts with children.
Until the reforms were passed, with few exceptions, only elected officials could lose their pension benefits and only for specific job-related crimes such as fraud and embezzlement. Mainero said the Legislature's action broadened the law to cover all public employees, and expanded forfeiture so that it will be imposed on conviction of all felonies committed in performing official duties, or in seeking office or securing salary or benefit increases.
At least one court challenge involving the new law is pending.
Attorney Stephen Silver, who litigates pension cases, said he represents a plaintiff who is facing the loss of several years of retirement benefits and, perhaps more important, disability benefits obtained after the date of the alleged crime. His client's former employer and retirement system have sought to deny a payout of the disability benefits.
U.S. and South Korea to Discuss Missiles
Seoul says it will begin talks with Washington as early as next week.
by HYUNG-JIN KIM
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Looking to take a harder line after North Korea's recent nuclear test and rocket launch, Seoul and Washington will begin talks as early as next week on deploying a sophisticated U.S. missile defense system in South Korea, officials said Friday.
The new tough stance follows South Korea's decision to shut down an inter-Korean factory park that had been the rival Koreas' last major symbol of cooperation, but that Seoul said had been used by North Korea to fund its nuclear and missile programs. North Korea responded by deporting South Korean citizens, seizing South Korean assets and vowing to militarize the park.
South Korea on Friday cut off power and water supplies to the industrial park and announced that its planned talks with the United States on deploying the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, one of the most advanced missile defense systems in the world, could start next week. Officials say they have yet to set a specific starting date for the talks.
South Korean media have long speculated that the two countries are working on a THAAD deployment in South Korea, but it took the North's rocket launch, which outsiders see as a test of banned ballistic missile technology, for the allies to formally announce they will begin the missile defense talks.
Beijing and Moscow are sensitive to the possibility of THAAD in South Korea; critics say the system could help U.S. radar spot missiles in other countries.
China's state media quickly made the country's displeasure known, while Russia also expressed worries about the deployment. North Korea has previously warned of a nuclear war in the region and threatened to bolster its armed forces if the THAAD deployment occurs.
Seoul and Washington want to deploy the system at an early date and the upcoming talks will discuss where and exactly when the deployment can be made, a South Korean defense official said, requesting anonymity because of department rules.
The official said the THAAD deployment is designed to protect South Korea from North Korean threats and isn't targeting China or anyone else.
The current standoff flared after North Korea carried out a nuclear test last month, its fourth, followed by the long-range rocket launch on Sunday.
In one of its harshest possible options for punishment, South Korea on Thursday began suspending operations at the factory park in the North Korean border town of Kaesong.
The North's reaction was swift. Calling the suspension a "dangerous declaration of war," it deported South Korean workers at Kaesong and shut off two key communication hotlines.
The factory park, which started producing goods in 2004, has provided 616 billion won ($560 million) in cash to North Korea, South Korean Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo said.
The Associated Press requested interviews with officials at more than 20 South Korean companies that operated at Kaesong, but none accepted.
Combining South Korean initiative, capital and technology with the North's cheap labor, the industrial park has been seen as a test case for reunification between the Koreas. Last year, 124 South Korean companies hired 54,000 North Korean workers to produce socks, wristwatches and other goods worth about $500 million.
North Korea, in a fit of anger over U.S.-South Korean military drills, pulled its workers from Kaesong for about five months in 2013. But, generally, the complex has been seen as above the constant squabbling and occasional bloodshed between the Koreas, one of the last few bright spots in a relationship more often marked by threats of war.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Restaurant stabbing victims likely saved by quick action
by Earl Rinehart
Quick action and not a small amount of heroics by patrons and employees at a Northeast Side restaurant likely stopped a machete attack Thursday night from becoming deadly for them.
Columbus Police were still piecing together what happened at the Nazareth Restaurant & Deli, 5239 N. Hamilton Road that ended with officers fatally shooting the suspect.
The man came into the Mediterranean-cuisine restaurant about 5:30 p.m. and talked with an employee, Sgt. Rich Weiner said. He would not describe the tenor of the conversation or what was said. The man, whom police have not identified, left but returned a little after 6 p.m. and immediately began swinging a machete.
“There was no rhyme or reason as to who he was going after,” Weiner said. Witnesses said the man first attacked a man and woman sitting in a booth just inside the door. Two men immediately got up and ran out to call 911, he said.
“One employee, or patron, got up and he actually got into a physical confrontation with the suspect,” Weiner said. “Some of the patrons started throwing chairs at him just to get him out of there.” One employee got something from behind the register – Weiner didn't say what – and was able to stop the attack.
Four people inside the restaurant were injured, one bad enough to require surgery Thursday night. He was expected to survive his wound, Weiner said. Three others suffered wounds mostly on their arms and hands. Police would not say how long the attack lasted.
Police also were not releasing the names of the employees and customers wounded at the restaurant.
The suspect left the restaurant and jumped into a white car. Employees and patrons were able to provide officers with a description of the vehicle and even a video that showed a partial license plate number.
“It was a lot of work on the part of the victims and employees,” Weiner said.
A special duty at Easton Town Center spotted the car on Morse Crossing about 5 miles from the restaurant and alerted other officers. They confronted the suspect at Stelzer Road and Montclair Drive south of Easton, Weiner said.
The suspect tried to get out of the car on the passenger side. One officer fired a Taser but it did not stop the man, who managed to exit the car.
Wielding the machete, he lunged at two officers, who fired, killing him.
Federal agents were at the scene. Weiner said police were working with “our federal partners” to determine if the attack was anything other than random. On Thursday night he stressed that the investigation was in the early stages.
Thursday nights are busy at the restaurant. Musician Bill Foley draws crowds with his covers of John Denver, James Taylor and other classic performers. Some people posted on Facebook that Foley was the person critically injured in the attack.
Micki Zakas, a restaurant employee, said there were no indications recently that anything was wrong. She worked Wednesday night without incident.
"Everything seemed fine," she said. "Nobody has mentioned issues or problems with anyone."
Most people leave the restaurant smiling, she said. On Thursday nights, Foley draws a crowd. Sometimes there are parties and kids dancing, she said.
The restaurant is owned by Hany Baransi, who could be seen talking with police behind the crime-scene tape but couldn't be reached for comment.
Jason Baker, who lives in New Albany, was headed to a different restaurant in the same shopping plaza when he saw the police cars and ambulances.
When he arrived at Chestnut Hill IV plaza, Baker said he saw one of the victims inside the nearby Carpet One store. The other victims were being helped in the restaurant. There was a significant amount of blood on the sidewalk outside the restaurant, he said.
One of the victims had his arms and a hand bandaged. He heard the man say, "I was trying to help other people. He attacked me."
Sheriff: Md. deputies fatally shot because of uniform
Authorities haven't released a motive, but the sheriff said he believes the first deputy was shot due to his uniform
by Juliet Linderman
ABINGDON, Md. — In an emotional address, the Harford County sheriff identified two deputies who were fatally shot in the line of duty, marking the first such tragedy in the small suburban county since 1899.
Sheriff Jeremy Gahler identified the men Thursday as Senior Deputy Patrick Dailey, a 30-year veteran of the department who served in the Marines and as a volunteer firefighter and Senior Deputy Mark Logsdon, a 16-year department veteran who served in the Army. Both were fathers.
Dailey responded to a call at a crowded restaurant Wednesday and encountered 68-year-old David Evans, who shot him within seconds, the sheriff said. A short time later, Evans was in a shootout with deputies and killed Logsdon. Evans was slain in the shootout.
"To the people who wear this uniform, there are no words," the sheriff said. "These men are heroes. I don't know what else to say. They served this county, they served this country, faithfully and honorably, and lost their lives doing what they love to do."
The initial shooting took place in Abingdon, about 20 minutes northeast of Baltimore. When Dailey arrived, he tried to engage with Evans, who was seated alone and had two outstanding warrants for his arrest. Evans immediately took out a gun, shot Dailey in the head and fled out the restaurant's back door.
"Pat Dailey never even unholstered his gun," Gahler said. "He never had the chance."
More deputies responded to the scene immediately, chasing Evans to his car and exchanging gunfire. Logsdon was one of the first deputies to respond.
Evans was known to employees at the restaurant, Gahler said, and had warrants for his arrest in Orange County, Florida, for resisting arrest and obstructing a police officer, and another from Harford County stemming from unpaid attorney's fees.
Evans' brush with police in Maitland, Florida, was in April. Maitland Deputy Chief Bill McEachnie said an officer saw what appeared to be a suspicious car.
"There were clothes in the back seat. It was cluttered," McEachnie said Thursday. "It looked like a person was living out of the car."
Evans appeared nervous but gave the officer his name, a police report said. While the officer radioed Evans' name and vehicle tag number to a dispatcher, Evans pulled out of a parking lot with his lights off. The officer pursued him, and Evans at one point made a U-turn and started driving in the wrong direction on the road.
The officer stopped pursuing Evans when he left Maitland's city limits, in accordance with police policy, McEachnie said.
It turned out the vehicle was stolen. The officer filed a request for a warrant on charges of fleeing and eluding officers, reckless driving and resisting an officer without violence. The charge that was ultimately filed was for reckless driving, according to court records.
The sheriff said Evans shot the deputies because he didn't want to go to jail, but didn't specifically target them because they were law enforcement.
Gahler said the gun was purchased legally from an arms dealer in Pennsylvania in 1993, but that it had since gone out of business.
"Many aspects of whether he should have been in possession are still under investigation," he said.
Evans' son said Wednesday that his father was a heavy drinker with emotional problems. Jeremy Evans told WBAL-TV in Baltimore that he believes his father thought he'd spend the rest of his life behind bars and decided to get away.
Jeremy Evans also told the station David Evans shot his mother years ago. She had been to the restaurant Wednesday and seen David Evans, and believed he was in the area to hurt her. He said his mother alerted authorities to David Evans' presence, but left the restaurant before Dailey arrived.
Officer dies after gun battle in suburban Atlanta
The Riverdale officer was struck twice by gunfire, and the suspect was also hit
by The Associated Press
RIVERDALE, Ga. — An officer in suburban Atlanta has died after being shot twice by a suspect during a law enforcement operation Thursday, police said.
The officer died after he was shot by a suspect who was also wounded by gunfire, Riverdale police chief Todd Spivey said at a news conference.
"We have lost a valuable member of our family," Spivey said.
Riverdale police officers were assisting Clayton County police with an operation at an apartment complex in Riverdale around 11:15 a.m. Thursday morning, police Assistant Chief Michael Reynolds said. He did not release any details about the police operation or say what led to the shooting.
Riverdale City Manager E. Scott Wood said the officer was struck in the mid-torso and arm. He underwent surgery at a hospital, but did not survive, Spivey said.
Reynolds says the suspect was also shot. He did not release any details about his condition. Nor did he say what the police operation was or exactly what led to the shooting.
The names of the officer and suspect were not immediately released. Reynolds said his family was still being notified of the shooting early Thursday afternoon.
Riverdale is a city of about 15,000 people just south of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting, said GBI spokesman Scott Dutton. The body of the officer has been taken to the GBI headquarters, where an autopsy will be performed Friday morning, he said.
Police: Fargo officer shot during standoff dies
The suspect who shot Officer Jason Moszer was found dead shortly before dawn Thursday
by Dave Kolpack
FARGO, N.D. — A North Dakota police officer died Thursday after being hit by a gunshot that authorities suspect was fired by a man later found dead in the home where the officer had responded to a domestic disturbance call.
Officer Jason Moszer, a six-year police veteran with a wife and two children, died at 12:45 p.m. from a single gunshot wound, a police spokesman said. Family members visited him in a hospital earlier in the day to say goodbye, Fargo Police Chief David Todd said.
The shooting began on Wednesday evening when the suspect, identified by police as Marcus Schumacher, fired at officers responding to the domestic disturbance call. A standoff ensued overnight and when the firing stopped, police discovered Schumacher dead inside the home. It wasn't immediately clear whether he killed himself or died from police gunfire, they said.
The violence shook Fargo, which is North Dakota's largest city but has a low crime rate. Police said an officer had not died in the line of duty in more than a century. The only other Fargo police officer killed in the line of duty was Frederick Alderman, 25, who was shot to death July 5, 1882, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a national nonprofit group that keeps records of fallen officers.
Schumacher, 49, was found dead shortly before dawn inside the home where he had barricaded himself, Todd said.
Schumacher appeared to have died from a gunshot wound but "we don't know if that was from us engaging him or something self-inflicted," Todd said. Todd said earlier that Schumacher had exchanged gunfire with a SWAT officer.
Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said the suspect fired "a number of rounds" and that officers were going house to house in a six-block area "to find out where they all went."
Todd said a squad car at the scene had been fired upon and that he believes the suspect was targeting law enforcement. Police said no one else in the neighborhood was hurt.
Moszer, 33, was among officers who responded to the home Wednesday evening. A SWAT team in an armored vehicle retrieved Moszer and took him to a medical facility, where he died.
Police said they tried to communicate with Schumacher through negotiators, but that he didn't respond and the SWAT team eventually entered the house and found the body.
Officers responded after Schumacher's son called dispatchers and said the suspect had fired a gun at his mother, Schumacher's wife. The caller and his mother were able to escape the home unharmed.
Sarah Stensland, 26, lives less than a block from the suspect's home. She said she and her girlfriend locked the doors, turned off the lights and hunkered down in the basement for the night.
"We were scared. We could hear gunshots very clearly, even from the basement," she said. "I felt like my nerves were on edge all night. I'm just exhausted."
Students and staff at nearby Horace Mann Elementary School were shifted to another school Thursday so as not to impede the investigation, Fargo Public Schools said in a statement. The move was made at the request of the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which is handling the case.
Colo. deputy shot by teen dies after being taken off life support
Deputy Derek Geer was fatally shot by an armed 17-year-old suspect
by The Associated Press
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — A Colorado sheriff's deputy shot while on duty has died after he was taken off life support.
Mesa County Sheriff Matt Lewis announced the death of Deputy Derek Geer late Wednesday night.
The sheriff's office says Geer was shot by a 17-year-old boy who was seen walking around with a gun Monday in Grand Junction.
The Daily Sentinel reports that Geer was shot within a minute of telling dispatchers he was approaching the teen, according to police radio traffic.
Geer wasn't expected to recover but was kept on life support so that his organs could be donated. The 15-year department veteran was married and had two children.
His funeral will be held Monday in Grand Junction. Prosecutors plan to charge the teen as an adult.
Ferguson Asks for Changes to Reform Deal, Drawing Criticism
by Jim Salter
The Ferguson City Council has asked the U.S. Department of Justice for seven changes to a deal to reform the city's courts and policing systems, a move that drew swift criticism from both the department and many residents.
In a unanimous vote, the council on Tuesday night moved to amend the proposed settlement that the city had spent seven months negotiating with the DOJ. The consent decree is intended to correct problems identified in a DOJ investigation that followed the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer. The DOJ found unconstitutional and discriminatory practices across the police force and municipal court system.
Councilman Wesley Bell proposed the changes, several of which aim to reduce the cost of implementing the deal that officials worried could bankrupt the St. Louis suburb. The council signed off on the rest of the settlement, and Bell said he was confident the DOJ would agree to the changes.
"I don't think there's anything unreasonable," Bell said.
But Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, voiced concern.
It "creates an unnecessary delay in the essential work to bring constitutional policing to the city, and marks an unfortunate outcome for concerned community members and Ferguson police officers," Gupta said in a statement.
If the Justice Department doesn't go along with the changes, a civil rights lawsuit is possible, potentially costing Ferguson millions of dollars in legal fees.
Gupta didn't specifically address whether a lawsuit would be filed but said the department would take "the necessary legal actions" to ensure Ferguson's police and court practices comply with the Constitution and federal laws.
The council's biggest change removes a requirement that police salaries be raised. City officials believe meeting that provision would also require fire department salaries to rise, potentially costing $1 million annually.
Another provision states that parts of the agreement won't apply to any other governmental entity that might take over duties currently provided by Ferguson. That means, for example, that St. Louis County would not be beholden to the agreement if it takes over policing in Ferguson.
The council's vote came at the end of an often-boisterous meeting that had been moved to the Ferguson Community Center because of the crowd of around 300. The vast majority of speakers supported the original agreement.
Karl Tricamo, 32, shouted out as the council approved the amended deal, wondering why it wasn't announced until the end of the meeting.
"I don't think the DOJ is going to go for this," he said.
Ferguson has been under scrutiny since the killing of Brown, whose father stood quietly at the back of the meeting Tuesday night. The black, unarmed 18-year-old was fatally shot Aug. 9, 2014, by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson during a confrontation on a street. A St. Louis County grand jury declined to charge Wilson, who later resigned. He was cleared of wrongdoing by the Justice Department.
The shooting was a catalyst in the Black Lives Matter movement and sparked a national dialogue about police use of force.
The agreement requires hiring a monitor, instituting police diversity training, and buying software and hiring staff to analyze records on arrests, use of force and other police matters.
A city analysis determined the city's cost would be up to $3.7 million for the first year alone, and $1.8 million to $3 million in each of the second and third years.
Some who spoke at the meeting said the cost of the original agreement was simply too high for a city with a $14.5 million budget and already facing a $2.8 million deficit that largely stems from overtime for police during protests, lost sales tax revenue from businesses damaged in fires and looting, and legal expenses.
"I would rather lose our city by fighting for it in court than lose it by giving in to the DOJ's crushing demands," said Susan Ankenbrand, a 41-year resident of Ferguson.
But others said the agreement is important, regardless of the cost.
Kayla Green said injustices were tolerated for too long in Ferguson. "Cost should never be the reason not to do what's right," she said. "It is time to prioritize justice no matter how much it costs because justice is priceless."
Medical Director Resigns, Calls DC Fire Department 'Toxic'
by The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — A man died of a stab wound that he could have survived if he hadn't waited 18 minutes for an ambulance, the outgoing medical director of the District of Columbia's fire department said in a scathing resignation letter that questioned Mayor Muriel Bowser's efforts to reform the long-troubled agency.
"People are dying needlessly because we are moving too slow," Dr. Jullette Saussy said in the letter, which she shared with The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The fire department in the nation's capital has a poor reputation for providing timely emergency medical care. The AP reported in 2013 that the department was trying to make do with less than half the paramedics employed by departments with similar call volumes.
The city has also struggled to dispatch calls in a timely and efficient manner. When the city's 911 call center got calls about smoke filling a Metro subway train in a downtown tunnel last January — an incident that ultimately claimed the life of a passenger — it took 5 minutes for the first firefighters to be dispatched to the scene. Also last year, a 1-year-old died after choking on a grape when the nearest ambulance wasn't sent to the scene.
The death of the 35-year-old man who was stabbed last month was just one of many that have not been scrutinized by the public, Saussy said in her letter, dated Jan. 29.
"Tragically, people die needlessly quite frequently, and the majority of them don't make the news," she said.
Saussy, who previously ran the ambulance service in New Orleans, submitted her resignation after less than seven months on the job, saying her efforts to reform the department had been stymied. She said the department's culture "is highly toxic to the delivery of any semblance of quality pre-hospital care."
Bowser, a Democrat, has acknowledged that the department needs major changes. As chief, she hired Gregory Dean, who spent 10 years as chief of Seattle's fire department, which is recognized as a national leader in emergency medical care.
Michael Czin, a spokesman for the mayor, said many of Saussy's claims were "highly inaccurate." Administration officials have repeatedly said they share Saussy's stated goal of getting paramedics to the highest-priority calls and improving patient outcomes.
"We're not turning a blind eye to it," Czin said.
The mayor pushed through a proposal to supplement the city's overworked ambulance fleet with private ambulances to handle low-priority calls. Saussy said that plan "is as unlikely to fix the situation as placing a Band-Aid on a gushing artery."
But administration officials say the private ambulances are just part of a multipronged approach to reforming the department, including better training for firefighters to handle medical emergencies.
LA city, county pass sweeping plans against homelessness
by The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The city and county on Tuesday approved sweeping plans to fight homelessness by subsidizing housing and coordinating programs to keep people from joining an estimated 45,000 people already living on the streets.
The two coordinated strategic plans, which run to hundreds of pages, would cost billions of dollars if funding can be found for them.
However, the city and county have estimated that they already spend well over $1 billion a year to deal with the homeless, including the costs of police and jails, medical and mental health treatment and welfare benefits.
The city has more than 25,000 homeless people, well over half of the county total.
"This blueprint puts us on the path to adding more outreach workers on our streets, putting more affordable housing in our neighborhoods, and providing more supportive services to our most vulnerable residents," Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. "The thousands of men, women, and children who live on our streets are not disposable. It is our moral imperative to help them."
Among other things, the city's plan suggests expanding homeless shelters, investing in new short- and long-term housing, creating a citywide system of mobile showers and easing restrictions on overnight parking so people can sleep in their cars.
Both the city and county have seen homeless figures soar in recent years. Experts blame that on several factors, including the long recession and, in Los Angeles, a housing supply shortage, gentrification and rapidly rising rents and home prices.
Last year, Los Angeles officials announced they planned to spend $100 million to eradicate homelessness. The cost of the new strategic plan would run an estimated $1.87 billion over the next decade. Officials must now find ways of providing the funding.
The county plan calls for spending $150 million over the next two years to reduce homelessness. The county's plan includes dozens of strategies, including subsidizing housing, working on creating jobs and raising pay for those at risk of homelessness, and coordinating programs for helping people with prison records, mental health or drug-abuse problems.
"Many hard-working families that have bought into the American dream are literally one catastrophe, unplanned expense, job loss or illness away from being displaced," Compton Mayor Aja Brown told the county Board of Supervisors.
Why NYC says only one of these men is homeless
by Frank Rosario and Bruce Golding
Bums who seek warmth in ATM vestibules or McDonald's on a frigid night have something in common with New Yorkers sipping champagne in the penthouses above them — they are not considered homeless.
Thousands of volunteers who counted the city's vagrants early Tuesday morning — with temperatures below freezing — were ordered to ignore private businesses, even though they are a common refuge.
“Only survey public spaces, not private establishments such as restaurants or ATM booths,” said printed instructions from the Department of Homeless Services for the “Homeless Outreach Population Estimate [HOPE].”
A list of “General Do's and Don'ts” also told volunteers not to “go into private establishments (e.g., McDonald's).”
In addition, about 80 volunteers, including a Post reporter, were told during a training session at Hunter College not to count anyone inside publicly accessible private places.
“Those are the rules. Ignore the homeless people you see indoors,” a leader of the city's homeless-estimate program said.
The rules run counter to guidelines laid out by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, which requires the annual street census in order for local governments to receive federal funding.
According to HUD's 2014 “Point-in-Time Count Methodology Guide,” homeless people are defined as “an individual or family with a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, including a car, park, abandoned building, bus or train station, airport or camping ground.”
Several of the city's volunteers questioned the methodology.
“That's just the way we're doing it,” the official said in response.
The city guidelines, which have been in place since 2005, forced one team of volunteers to intentionally lowball the number of vagrants in a 10-square-block section of the Upper East Side.
Seven people were officially counted, but one homeless man who was hanging out in a 24-hour McDonald's wasn't included in the tally.
Homeless members of the Picture the Homeless advocacy group blasted the methods as unreliable.
Jazmin Reyes also said she “got counted on the sidewalk outside of Harlem Hospital, but tons of homeless people were sleeping in the ER and they didn't get counted.”
Results of the HOPE survey aren't expected for several months.
A spokesman for the city's Human Resources Administration admitted shortcomings with the program and said they would be addressed by Mayor de Blasio's “HOME-STAT” initiative, which will include quarterly censuses and a daily canvass of every Manhattan block between Canal and 145th streets.
“We don't think the HOPE count is enough so that's why we are doing HOME-STAT, which will give us better data all year long,” spokesman David Neustadt said.
Neustadt also said that “HUD considers us a national model.”
Spokesmen for HUD's New York City office didn't return emails seeking comment.
Lima area law enforcement officials receive community police training
by Craig Kelly
LIMA — Community-oriented policing is not a new subject for much of the Lima community, with the Lima Police Department having implemented the program in the 1990s, as well as reviving the program last year after budget constraints forced its suspension in 2002.
To help reinforce the goals of the program, Lima Police Department officers, along with officers from other departments in Allen County, gathered at the Bath Township Fire Department on Tuesday to hear from Harry Dolan, a 32-year police veteran who retired in 2012 as chief of the Raleigh Police Department in North Carolina. Dolan now travels throughout the United States teaching law enforcement personnel about the need for community policing and effective communication.
“The essence of it is that we are a public police,” Dolan said. “We work hand in hand with them.”
In emphasizing the need for relationship building with the public, Dolan said that it all starts with conversation.
“You can disarm people with your verbals,” he said. “That's what I'm training them to do, partnering with the community to do that.”
Also speaking to law enforcement Tuesday was Bill Bongle, a retired police captain from Green Bay, Wisconsin. He emphasized the need for police to be accessible and transparent to the public.
“It's about simple things we can do, trying to teach officers more about what the community expects of us,” he said. “We are finding academic research now that supports the notion that when people have personal contact with police, it can elevate their opinions of police, and when people trust the police, they report more crime and become more involved.”
For Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin, the training is a good reminder that at its core, law enforcement is about people interacting with people.
“If we don't have the trust of the community, we're not going to be able to provide the kind of service this community deserves and rightfully demands,” he said.
While the Lima Police Department does have community-oriented police officers already in place, with a third station set to open Wednesday at the Bradfield Community Center, Martin said that every officer in the department needs to focus on building relationships.
“We need to be out there engaging the community in a positive way, trying to reach out to build better relationships,” he said.
Play Your Part For Safer Internet Day
by Stephen Balkam
Tuesday is the global day of celebration for all things Internet safety. From humble beginnings in Europe in 2004, Safer Internet Day now includes 100 countries on every continent in the world. ConnectSafely is hosting the US gathering at Universal Studios in Hollywood with a cast of hundreds of students, a WWE "Superstar" and a host of the leading companies and NGOs in the space. The live stream begins at 10am PT.
The theme this year is "Play your part for a better internet!" While slogans like this can be a little vacuous, I particularly like this year's tagline as it suggests the we must take responsibility - to play our part - in creating a better, richer, more civil online experience than the one we have today.
We are particularly vociferous about our online rights, particularly of free expression, but we often fail to assume and exercise the responsibilities that go with those rights. The responsibility to stand up to bullies online. To expose trolls and counter their destructive behavior and speech. To think before we post. To report rather than pass on photos that would embarrass or compromise someone.
At the Family Online Safety Institute, we talk often about creating a Culture of Responsibility online, one where everyone - from government, law enforcement, industry, teachers, parents and the kids themselves - has different, but overlapping responsibilities for a safer Internet. We all need to acknowledge the risks and mitigate the harms, while seeking to reap the rewards of our and our kids' online lives.
Which brings me to the word "play". While taking responsibility for our actions, let's not forget to play and explore and enjoy the wonders of our digital world. We parents can sometimes get locked down in fear of the latest newspaper headline or evening news story. Yes, bad things happen online. Kids and teens do get lured by online predators. There are awful sites hosting violent porn to ISIS propaganda.
But with reasonable steps, and easily available and free parental controls, we can happily allow our kids to use their boundless imagination to discover the digital world and to create and to play with what they find. In our most recent research project, 64% of parents said that technology had a positive effect on their kids' creativity, which is surprising given the drumbeat of negative reports and scary stories in the news about kids and the web.
So, let's do our part and encourage our kids to do the same. Of course it helps if we are good digital role models and put our phones down at dinnertime and look up from our laptops when our kids are around.
Be the change you want to see in the world - both on and offline. And happy Safer Internet Day!
Community policing allows community to ‘feel better about interactions' with officers
by Tom Neas
HICKORY – For more than 25 years, the Hickory Police Department has focused on working alongside the community it protects – a tactic designed to strengthen relations between officers and citizens.
“We want to respond directly to problems, when and where it happens,” Lt. Scott Hildebrand said. “It's about us getting out of our cars so the community doesn't just see us driving by, but they can see and talk to us.”
The Adam PACT (Police and Community Together) covers the northwest section of Hickory, ranging from Highway 321 to Highway 127. It stretches up to Lake Hickory. PACT Commander Hildebrand, along with two other supervisors, leads 11 patrol officers.
"We are trying to make the community feel better about interactions with the police force," Hildebrand said.
According to Hildebrand, the PACT routinely attends community events and even holds their own events, such as Coffee with a Cop. This particular event, which is part of a national program, was held by the Adam PACT three times in 2015, giving citizens a casual space to speak with police officers.
Hickory Chief of Police Tom Adkins started out in the first PACT, originally called the Ridgeview PACT.
“I was very fortunate to have been a part of the original Ridgeview PACT,” Adkins said, who served as a PACT supervisor from 1991 to 1995 and as a PACT commander from 1999 to 2000.
The original zone started with six officers but expanded several times before becoming the David PACT.
Currently, the police department has five PACT zones: Adam, Baker, Charles, David and Edward. The town once had plans to add a sixth zone, according to a press release on the Police Department's website.
“We were looking at establishing a sixth PACT zone, but it got merged into the existing five,” Adkins said.
Adkins explained that the new schema is to annex new areas into the existing zones, in order to maintain consistency of the boundaries. The original PACT boundaries were created in 1993 based on calls for service and to keep neighborhoods together.
The concept of community policing began in the 1980s and is still used by police departments nationwide. The Hickory Police Department adopted the community policing principles in 1990, under the leadership of former Police Chief Floyd Lucas.
“The approach we use in the City of Hickory has definitely helped the relationship between the community and police. Community policing has not only strengthened the relationship, but has also reduced the level of crime and the fear of crime,” Adkins said.
Arrests increased and incidents decreased from 1990 to 1994, in the first four years of community policing in Hickory, according to a press release.
Master Police Officer Soua Vang has worked in the Edward PACT for over 20 years, and checks in on elderly residents in his zone frequently.
“The more you get to know people, they will just start calling you personally,” Vang said. “Instead of just calling the police, some people will call officers they know.”
Vang's early experiences with community policing involved stopping and meeting with his zone's residents in his downtime. He even keeps tools in his car in case a resident needs assistance.
“Sometimes we do things outside of police work,” Vang said.
Vang does not enjoy issuing tickets as much as he does getting out of his car and patrolling neighborhoods. He explained that the community policing tactics have helped with community relations.
As the public grows more comfortable with their zone's officers, they become more willing to give information to the police, he said.
“It's helped a lot – with all the media surrounding police, with us, we don't have those kinds of problems,” Vang said. “These other officers you see in the news, they don't get out of their cars.”
Attorney General to visit 6 cities to highlight police work
by Eric Tucker
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Loretta Lynch plans to visit six cities in the coming months to highlight police departments she sees as role models for law enforcement.
The locations were chosen because they embody a particular trait of successful policing, such as effective use of data, strong community relationships or a commitment to officer safety, Lynch said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press.
The first visit is planned for Thursday and Friday to Miami-Dade County in Florida, where Lynch is scheduled to recognize the Doral police department for its community policing strategies. She'll also host a youth town hall and a community policing discussion in Miami, among other events.
The other locations are Portland, Oregon; Indianapolis; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Phoenix and Los Angeles.
“It really is our hope to highlight the areas where police and community members are sitting down together and figuring out, ‘How do we all make this work?'” she said.
The visits represent the second phase of a community policing tour that Lynch, a former federal prosecutor in New York, began last year after being sworn in as the nation's top law enforcement official.
In that first phase, she visited cities where police forces are working to overcome troubled relationships with their communities.
Now, the focus turns to departments that are seen as successful in implementing “pillars” of policing identified in a White House report last May. Each city on the tour represents a different pillar, which include building community trust, community policing, crime reduction and officer training and education, Lynch said.
“I'm going to jurisdictions where departments have taken those pillars, have made substantial and concrete advances toward them and where we're seeing positive results,” Lynch said, adding that she hopes they can be guideposts for departments looking to improve.
The initiative is part of a national discussion on police use of force and effective law enforcement tactics, a topic that's taken on new urgency amid a series of high-profile police shootings of unarmed young men in places including Ferguson, Missouri; Cleveland; and North Charleston, South Carolina.
Think tank releases infographic aimed at educating public on UOF
The D.C.-based Police Foundation created the infographic to help the public better understand legal guidelines
by Joe Nelson
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Amid the national controversy surrounding the use of deadly force by police, a law enforcement think tank has released an infographic to illustrate when it is considered lawful and justified.
The Washington, D.C.-based Police Foundation created the infographic to help the public better understand the legal guidelines used to determine whether deadly force was warranted in a given situation, said Jim Bueermann, Police Foundation president and former Redlands police chief.
“Our interest in this parallels the country's interest in this,“ Bueermann said. “We spent several months working on it and found it to be a daunting task. We discovered it is very hard to take a complicated subject and make it simply understood.”
Key points the foundation wanted to communicate:
• Deaths resulting from police use of force are rare, averaging 1 out of every 67,000 police contacts with individuals
• Deadly use of force is weighed on what a “reasonable” police officer would do in a given situation based on training, experience and the circumstances
• Factors considered in determining whether use of force was reasonable include the severity of the crime, whether the individual posed an immediate threat to the officer or civilians, whether the individual resisted arrest or attempted to flee, the mental health of the individual, the availability of less-than-lethal options for the officer and the facts of the incident
In the summer of 2014, the deaths of Eric Garner in New York City and 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, both at the hands of police, fueled a national outcry, forcing law enforcement officials and politicians to step up to the plate and address what was clearly becoming a call for change in policing practices.
In response, some law enforcement agencies are now requiring their officers to wear body cameras, including the Rialto Police Department. The San Bernardino Police Department and San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department have both started body camera pilot programs.
On Dec. 28, state Attorney General Kamala Harris requiring all California law enforcement agencies to document all officer-involved shootings and other use-of-force incidents resulting in serious bodily injury or death to civilians or police. The new law also requires law enforcement agencies to compile the data into annual reports that must be submitted to the California Department of Justice, beginning Jan. 1, 2017.
Police use-of-force experts tend to concur that the biggest public misperceptions are that police should only leverage force equal to that of the individual they are trying to contain, or shoot them in the arm, shoulder or leg to disable them instead of shooting to kill.
“There's this clinical notion that police can shoot a weapon out of a suspect's hand or engage them without hurting them; simply not true,” said David A. Klinger, a criminal law professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a former Los Angeles police officer. “The bottom line is the police are there with guns, truncheons, pepper spray and Taser guns, and they are there to protect the citizens from other citizens who want to do them harm.”
Police are trained to shoot center mass, meaning the center of their target, said Klinger. Combative individuals can still pose a threat to police and the public when shot and wounded, or while running away.
“Even if you could shoot them in the arm or leg, it can still be a threat of harm. They can still shoot back,” Klinger said. “The idea that a person running away doesn't present a threat to the officer is ludicrous.”
Michael D. Schwartz, an Ontario defense attorney who has defended police officers for 15 years, said the “equal force” philosophy regarding police use of force speaks directly against common sense.
“Cops aren't supposed to tie, they're supposed to win,” Schwartz said. “Winning means controlling and securing somebody. They have to control and secure the person. That threat has to be stopped and secured, and you can't use equal force to do that.”
But Woodland Hills civil rights attorney Dale K. Galipo, who has litigated wrongful death cases against law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles and the Inland Empire for more than 20 years, said existing use-of-force policies are too lenient and make it too easy for police to skirt accountability.
“The training suggests that deadly force can only be used as a last resort in the direst of circumstances, when no other reasonable options are available,” Galipo said. “I think the vast majority of cases are not immediate defense-of-life situations but are overreactions by police officers who are not facing life-threatening circumstances who then embellish a story to try to justify their use of force.
“And that's why we hear, ‘I thought he was reaching into his waistband,' or ‘I thought he was going to turn around and shoot me.'?”
Galipo personally believes it is the lack accountability that perpetuates the problem and why police brutality has become such a hot-button topic in recent years.
“I personally think that one of the reasons we have the number of shootings we do is because these officers are not disciplined, they're not retrained. … That's why we have the same officers involved in multiple shootings,” Galipo said. “I think that a lot of police officers think they are above the law. …I think this is what a lot of people across the country are growing concerned about.”
Lawmakers to take up bill recognizing Ind. hate crimes
The state is one of five without hate crimes written into law
by The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS — Forty-five states have hate crime laws, but Indiana isn't one of them.
Indiana was once a Ku Klux Klan stronghold and the Southern Poverty Law Center says there are 15 hate groups currently operating — which it defines as groups that "attack or malign an entire class of people" regardless of whether the group advocates for or engages in violence or other criminal activity. Efforts to add a hate crime designation to the criminal code have failed for years amid concerns that it would elevate one type of crime over others that could be equally brutal.
That could soon change. Two state senators — an urban Democrat a rural Republican — have co-authored a measure that would create a hate crime designation allowing for stiffer sentences by taking into account a victims' "perceived or actual race, religion, color, sex, gender identity, disability, national origin, ancestry or sexual orientation."
"I think it sends a very strong message to the people inside Indiana and the people outside Indiana that Hoosiers don't hate," said Sen. Susan Glick, R-LaGrange, who sponsored the bill with Earline Rogers, a Democrat from Gary.
The measure is up for consideration in the House after clearing the Senate and is gaining support at a time when lawmakers are under scrutiny for not passing civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Supporters of LGBT rights, including the state's business establishment, pushed for protections based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Their efforts came after changes were made to a religious objections law signed last March after it drew widespread and negative attention to Indiana because some said it sanctioned discrimination against gay people.
Though gay rights legislation is dead for this session, supporters of the hate crimes bill note that crimes committed based on a person's LGBT status are included in the bill.
"It's really unfair for the state as a whole to be labeled as bigots because we are really not," Glick said.
The Indiana Chamber of Commerce testified in support of the bill, saying that while it doesn't usually weigh in on criminal issues, Indiana's reputation is at stake.
"It is of the upmost importance that the Indiana laws reflect protections to illustrate to the world that our state is welcoming state that embraces everybody," Tim Brown, director of policy at the ICOC, said at the bill's hearing.
Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Report magazine at the SPLC in Alabama, said recognizing hate crimes is a moral decision for the state after the recent issues.
"This hate crimes law takes a little bit off from last year when it looked like Indiana was going on an LGBT crusade," Beirich said. "I think it's a positive step."
Like Indiana, the other states without hate crime laws are conservative: Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina and Wyoming.
According to the Indiana State Police, there have been 45 to 55 incidents per year since 2011 that would have qualified as hate crimes. Those statistics include reports of intimidation, vandalism, arson, assault and murder. Indiana law requires all law enforcement agencies to report bias crimes.
But Beirich cautioned that standards fluctuate from state to state, which means the actual number of hate crimes committed could be higher. Of the 45 states with existing laws, only 17 include both gender identity and sexual orientation as a characteristic. Not having proper training can also hinder a law enforcement agency's ability to recognize a hate crime, she said.
Bills previously proposed in the Indiana Legislature have attempted to require training or make hate crimes a separate crime altogether. This year's bill deals just with the sentencing process.
Still not everyone is in favor of the idea, including the chairman of the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee.
"It doesn't matter that you're a poor person that's been beat up, or a woman that's been beat up, or what race you are that's been beat up," Rep. Thomas Washburne of Evansville told the AP in October. "It's still the same crime."
Ohio officer shot, suspect found dead
Authorities say a man shot an Ohio police officer before he was found dead in his car from a gunshot wound
by The Associated Press
KENTON, Ohio — Authorities say a man shot an Ohio police officer before he was found dead in his car from a gunshot wound.
The Hardin County sheriff's office says Stephen Davis was sitting in a vehicle with a gun in front of a house when Kenton police responded to a domestic disturbance call Saturday evening. Authorities say the 47-year-old Kenton man fired at officers before fleeing in the vehicle.
The sheriff's statement says Davis stopped again, firing several rounds and striking Kenton Officer Skyler Newfer. Davis then drove away, crashing in a ditch. Officers found Davis dead in the car from a gunshot.
Authorities say it wasn't immediately clear whether Davis shot himself or was shot by officers, who had returned fire.
Police say the officer is expected to recover.
Ore. officer fatally shot, suspect killed during attempted arrest
Sgt. Jason Goodding, 39, joined the police department in 2003
by PoliceOne Staff
SEASIDE, Ore. — A police officer in Seaside, Oregon, was fatally shot as he was serving an arrest warrant Friday night, authorities said.
The 55-year-old suspect, who was shot by another officer, also died.
Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis on Saturday identified the officer as Seaside police Sgt. Jason Goodding, 39, who joined the police department in 2003.
Authorities say the shooting happened Friday night in downtown Seaside as Goodding and another officer were attempting to arrest a man wanted on a warrant for felony assault.
When the man, identified as Phillip Ferry of Seaside, wouldn't show his hands, the other officer used a Taser on him, Marquis said. While the Taser seemed to incapacitate Ferry, "it didn't do much more," he said.
The suspect went down on the ground. When Goodding tried to subdue him, Ferry pulled out gun and fired once. The other officer returned fire, shooting the suspect, who later died at a local hospital. The second officer was not hurt.
Marquis said it appears that the fatal shooting of Ferry is justified.
Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin said Goodding was familiar with Ferry, and that Ferry had "a vast record" and had been in-and-out of jail.
Bergin, who was also Goodding's neighbor, said he was a good man.
"He was an extraordinarily good police officer," Bergin said.
Seaside Police Chief Dave Ham echoed that sentiment.
"He demonstrated the best in what we do as law enforcement officers," Ham said.
Goodding is survived by his wife and two young girls. He graduated from Sherwood High School, and graduated from Portland State University. During his time with the department, he ran the drug team, worked as a detective sergeant and as a patrol sergeant.
Seaside is a resort town of about 6,500 people on the northern Oregon coast. It is about 80 miles west of Portland.
Man accused of IS-inspired plot to attack Detroit church
In a criminal complaint, the FBI says Khalil Abu-Rayyan expressed support for IS "propaganda" postings on social media, including videos of its members beheading captives
by Jeff Karoub
DETROIT (AP) — Authorities have arrested a 21-year-old Michigan man whom they accuse of supporting Islamic State militants and plotting to attack a Detroit church.
Khalil Abu-Rayyan, of Dearborn Heights, appeared Thursday in U.S. District Court in Detroit and remains jailed pending a Monday hearing. He hasn't been charged with terrorism-related crimes but has been investigated since May and faces marijuana and gun charges.
U.S. attorney's office spokeswoman Gina Balaya said Saturday that Abu-Rayyan will have a court-appointed attorney at the hearing, but she doesn't know who it would be. She said Abu-Rayyan had been under constant FBI surveillance recently due to growing concern about threats he made against the church, police officers and others in support of IS.
There's no indication he was acting with others, authorities said.
In a criminal complaint, the FBI says Abu-Rayyan expressed support for IS "propaganda" postings on social media, including videos of its members beheading captives. It also says he made several incriminating statements to an undercover agent, including that he supported IS, had a "desire to commit a martyrdom operation," and that he wanted to behead someone.
According to the complaint, Abu-Rayyan told the undercover officer he planned to "shoot up" a Detroit church but that his father found the gun, bullets and mask he was going to use. He also said he bought a "cowboy gun," but he decided not to go through with the attack because it only held six bullets and he'd have to keep reloading it, it says.
Abu-Rayyan pleaded guilty last month to a pot possession charge, and he faces a Feb. 16 trial on a concealed weapon charge. Both stem from an October arrest.
The Detroit suburbs of Dearborn Heights and Dearborn have large, longstanding Arab and Muslim populations. U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade told The Associated Press that incidents like these are "an aberration" in the communities.
"We've not had any ISIS cases arising out of (the area)," she said. "A lot of people vocally and visibly oppose ISIS. ... No one should make any conclusions about Dearborn or Dearborn Heights from this."
Ban on Solitary for Juveniles in Federal Prison Could Ignite State Reforms
by Sarah Barr
WASHINGTON — A new ban on solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prison could bring momentum to reform efforts on the state level.
President Obama announced the ban and other prison reforms, saying in an op-ed that he hoped the policies would be a model for state and local corrections systems.
“How can we subject prisoners to unnecessary solitary confinement, knowing its effects, and then expect them to return to our communities as whole people? It doesn't make us safer. It's an affront to our common humanity,” Obama wrote in The Washington Post.
Jenny Lutz, a staff attorney at the Center for Children's Law and Policy, which is helping to organize a national campaign against youth solitary, said it was thrilling to see the president make a case for ending solitary based on both treating individual prisoners humanely and on making communities safer.
It's rare to see conditions of confinement addressed at the national level, she said, and the president's position could help propel action at the local and state level.
“Hopefully it will be a springboard for people in states who want to be active and weren't really sure there was a climate for it,” Lutz said.
The president's announcement also could encourage lawmakers to act in states where solitary for youth is at the top of reformers' agendas.
“I think this extra push from the Obama administration is just what this movement needs,” said Amy Fettig, senior staff counsel for the ACLU's National Prison Project.
In California, children's advocates have been pushing a bill for several years that would strictly limit the use of solitary confinement for children, and the legislation was recently reintroduced.
Alex Johnson, executive director of the Children's Defense Fund-California, said the administration's example will be a powerful one as the bill works its way through the state legislature.
“If you can do it in the federal system, you can certainly do it in county and state government. It really serves to keep the issue in the forefront of people's minds,” he said. “When the president comes out as boldly and passionately as he did, it resonates.”
In Nebraska, lawmakers could consider a bipartisan bill this spring that would require clearer rules and data collection on solitary confinement for youth. Advocates are optimistic the bill will advance quickly out of committee, which reacted positively earlier this month.
Amy Miller, legal director for the ACLU of Nebraska, says the federal ban could help advocates make the case to lawmakers that there's widespread concern, and action, about solitary.
The administration's positions show that “from the top all the way down there is consensus that this is an incredibly harmful practice,” she said.
The president also announced a ban on solitary as a punishment for low-level infractions, an increase in the amount of time inmates in solitary can spend outside of their cells and expanded treatment for the mentally ill.
In recent years, there has been growing concern about solitary confinement for juveniles. Researchers have found the practice can cause psychological and physical harm, especially among children and teenagers who are still developing. Some states have moved aggressively to limit the use of solitary for youth.
The policy changes announced Monday grew out of Justice Department review of the use of solitary confinement in the United States and a series of recommended reforms that Obama adopted.
There are times when solitary is necessary — particularly to protect inmate, staff and public safety — but the practice “should be used rarely, applied fairly and subjected to reasonable restraints,” the DOJ wrote in the report.
Few juveniles are in federal custody. As of Dec. 5, the Bureau of Prisons was responsible for 71 juveniles: 45 who were incarcerated and 26 under the supervision by the U.S. Probation Office.
The Bureau was notified of 13 juveniles who were placed in some form of “restrictive housing” at its contract facilities from Sept. 1, 2014 to Sept. 25, 2015, according to the report.
Laura Markle Downton, director of the U.S. Prisons Policy and Program at the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, said it's a major step to see DOJ acknowledge how solitary is being used in federal prison, let alone to implement new policies.
“We're not all the way there, we've got a long road ahead, but to see this clear acknowledgement from the Department of Justice that this practice and that this issue needs to be confronted is huge,” she said.
As reforms roll out at both the state and federal levels, there still will be work to do, Fettig said.
“The advocacy community and public need to remain vigilant to make sure these reforms translate on the ground,” she said.
Flint's structural racism: This is why providing poisoned water to the city's citizens seemed like a reasonable idea
Racism's skeptics will continue to deny the effects of racism in Flint. But it's imperative we confront it
by KEMI FUENTES-GEORGE
The ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan, illustrates both how deeply racism has affected the social fabric, and why it's so difficult to talk about racism in modern America. On one hand, the statistics show an environmental catastrophe that is unambiguously borne disproportionately by black Americans. The municipal water in Flint, a city that is majority black, is stunningly polluted. Besides the fecal bacteria, discoloration and corrosive chemicals in Flint's water, some homes have recorded lead levels of 13,200 parts per billion, almost 1,000 times higher than those that would ordinarily trigger federal environmental action. Thus, residents have to contend not only with immediate problems like rashes, hair loss and waterborne illnesses, but also long-term effects of lead poisoning, including delayed cognitive development and mood disorders. As groups and advocates from the NAACP, Black Lives Matter and Michael Moore have pointed out, it is difficult to imagine this happening in a majority white, wealthier city.
On the other hand, there are elements of the crisis that challenge the narrative that this was a crisis perpetuated (deliberately or not) by racist individuals against a minority population. None of the emails released by Gov. Rick Snyder illustrating the political decisions that led to the Flint water crisis mention race, and there is no evidence that Snyder was motivated by racial animus. Indeed, Gov. Snyder has poured tens of millions of dollars into majority-black Detroit to help schools and stave off bankruptcy, and has expanded Medicaid access in a move that primarily benefits lower-income, disproportionately black, citizens. Further, while the water ailments in Flint are borne largely by black Americans, they are not borne exclusively by blacks. Everyone who has drank from or used Flint's water has been exposed to lead, bacteria and industrial chemicals, including the approximately 38,000 white residents. The emergency manager in charge of running Flint when the state government switched the water source to the Flint River, Darnell Earley, is black.
At first glance then, those who are skeptical of the effect of racism on America's political economy would contend that, while tragic, the poisoning of Flint's water was hardly racist. Indeed, the primary explanation for Flint's woes is not racial, but economic; the near-total withdrawal of federal support for water services in the years after the 1972 Clean Water Act combined with an ailing infrastructure and a declining tax base in Flint meant that the city and state were strapped for cash. In an effort to cut corners, the state had “no choice” but to abandon any renovations of the dilapidated water infrastructure, and use the cheapest source of water available, despite persistent questions about its suitability. Of course, it is not entirely clear that “because they are poor” is an acceptable reason to expose people to a poisoned water source. Nevertheless, despite Moore's claims of “racial killing,” or political cartoons by Wuerker that invoke Jim Crow era segregation of water coolers, the decision to expose people to toxic water in Flint was not made through an explicit racial calculus.
However, we cannot meaningfully discuss what is happening with water in Flint without discussing racism. Simply put, the economic situation in Flint and the logic that made providing poisoned water seem like a reasonable idea would not have occurred without racism. Of the racist practices that have contributed to the current crisis, perhaps best documented are those of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which, in the 1930s, began underwriting residential developments across America. This federal agency had through the 1960s an explicit mandate to deny or limit financial services in Michigan and elsewhere “based on racial or ethnic composition without regard to the residents' qualifications or creditworthiness.” In other words, otherwise qualified black and minority households were denied access to economic mobility solely on the basis of their race. Further, even white residents could be denied FHA services if they lived too near to “inharmonious racial or nationality groups.” This clearly race-based program 1) made it far easier for whites to get access to improved housing, and 2) incentivized white residents to self-segregate, since white people in integrated neighborhoods would be punished economically just as much as their black neighbors. Of course, this federally institutionalized practice known as “redlining” was joined by other state-level and private-actor discriminatory practices that undermined the economic health of black and minority populations.
Thus, even after the passage of the various civil rights acts of the 1960s, and the end of explicitly racist policies, black economic power and the black tax base remained enervated due to decades of disenfranchisement. Cities and towns like Flint and Detroit became majority black, and increasingly relatively poor, as wealthier white residents left in droves, subsidized in part by government-backed programs. Worse, the Reaganite state and federal economic policies started in the 1980s, such as the retrenchment of social services, deregulation of industry, and shrinking funding for municipal infrastructure may have been ostensibly race-blind, but their impacts were anything but. Since decades of deliberate racism functioned to keep blacks poorer and concentrated in the funding-starved inner cities, the effects of these later policies – even without mentioning race – had clear racial impacts. Majority black, majority urban areas lost jobs, social safety nets and, because of gerrymandering and high rates of incarceration, voting and political power. Even without deliberate racism, the American political economy was informed by structural racism.
With the political and economic disenfranchisement of a people comes environmental vulnerability. As early as the 1980s, studies by the United Church of Christ on toxic waste production and siting in America have documented how these socioeconomically and racially marginalized communities have become the repositories of America's pollution. In much the same way that the Flint River became a sink for industrial runoff and sewage, black and inner-city communities in places like Warren County became the places to build toxic waste disposal sites and incinerators. That these communities were chosen to be made more vulnerable to air and water pollution was no accident – being disenfranchised, their objections to being poisoned were far less politically salient to policymakers than the objections of wealthier, whiter communities. As I have argued above, this disenfranchisement is a direct product of the racist logic of the modern American economy. Indeed, as communities from Warren County through the current BLM movement in Flint have attested, the modern civil rights struggle is environmental, as much as it is about policing or economic opportunities.
Of course, the fact we cannot show deliberately racist decision-making to explain Flint means that racism's skeptics, of which Gov. Snyder is one, will continue to deny the clear effects of structural racism in Flint and other cities. It is imperative that we confront this racism, however. As Flint shows, structural racism can lead to “social murder,” where even without clear homicidal intent, the incentives in a social system lead to increased mortality and vulnerability in targeted populations. In thinking about the long-term effects of lead poisoning on children, we should worry about the educational and employment opportunities of the Flint residents. Those challenges will inevitably harm long-term prospects of social mobility, in turn subjecting the citizens to greater social as well as environmental vulnerability.
Finally, even for those of us who are not residents of Flint, the structural racism visible that led to Flint's crisis is a concern for all. Aside from the general humanitarian concerns we should feel for a vulnerable population, the poisoning of Flint's water is a dire warning of how political and economic racism can undermine environmental sustainability writ large. While the American political economy has done pretty well so far at externalizing environmental costs to the poor and marginalized, environmental hazards do travel, perhaps more easily than poor black citizens. In the same way that racist and authoritarian police practices have killed Eric Garner, Jack Crawford and Kelly Thomas, the environmental vulnerability that has devastated Flint – rotting infrastructure, industrial pollution, intransigent political institutions – puts us all at risk.
Boy, 11, Found Guilty Of Shooting 8-Year-Old Girl Dead Over Puppy
Benjamin Tiller fatally shot McKayla Dyer in a fight over her new dogs.
A 11-year-old Tennessee boy has been found guilty of fatally shooting an 8-year-old neighbor girl with a shotgun in a fight over puppies, and will spend the rest of his childhood in state custody, court documents showed on Saturday.
Benjamin Tiller was found guilty early last week of first-degree murder in the October slaying of McKayla Dyer in a trailer park in White Pine, a small town about 42 miles (68 km) east of Knoxville, according to a court order from Tuesday.
"Mr. Tiller is in desperate need of help, and our society has a great need for Mr. Tiller to receive it," Judge Dennis "Will" Roach wrote in ordering Tiller placed into the custody of the Department of Children's Services until he turns 19.
The October incident stems from a chat Tiller was having with three girls who were outside the window of his mobile home in October, authorities and court documents said.
Tiller asked one of them if he could see her new puppies, but Dyer, a third-grader who attended school with Tiller, refused, authorities said.
Then the boy retrieved his father's 12-gauge shotgun, shot the girl in the chest from the window, and then threw the weapon outside by the girl's body, authorities said.
An attorney for Tiller could not immediately be reached for comment, though local media reported that Tiller's family plans to appeal the decision.
According to the court documents, posted online by local media, Tiller had been trained in firearm safety and had gone hunting with his grandfather and father.
After being blocked from the puppies, Tiller returned with the shotgun and the victim laughed at him, doubting the firearms were real, the documents said.
"Tiller then made certain the gun was loaded, cocked the hammer of the gun, and shot the victim just above the heart," the documents said.
Chicago officer sues estate of teen he shot, claiming trauma
The highly unusual suit was filed Friday in the middle of the city's effort to grapple with serious questions about the future of its police force
by Michael Tarm and Jason Keyser
CHICAGO (AP) — A white Chicago police officer who fatally shot a black 19-year-old college student and accidently killed a neighbor has filed a lawsuit against the teenager's estate, arguing the shooting left him traumatized.
The highly unusual suit was filed Friday in the middle of the city's effort to grapple with serious questions about the future of its police force. Those questions include the adequacy of its system for investigating police shootings and how to win back public trust after several cases of alleged misconduct. The U.S. Justice Department is conducting a wide-ranging civil rights investigation, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel has promised a major overhaul of the Police Department and steps to heal its fraught relationship with black residents.
The timing and unusual nature of the suit by officer Robert Rialmo, who is seeking $10 million in damages, could complicate the department's efforts to demonstrate more sensitivity toward the community in how police shootings are handled. His attorney, Joel Brodsky, said it was important in the charged atmosphere to send a message that police are "not targets for assaults" and "suffer damage like anybody else."
The teen's father, Antonio LeGrier, filed a wrongful death lawsuit days after the Dec. 26 shooting, saying his son, Quintonio, was not armed with a weapon and was not a threat. His attorney, Basileios Foutris, was incredulous at what he called the officer's "temerity" in suing the grieving family of the person he shot.
"That's a new low even for the Chicago Police Department," he said. "First you shoot them, then you sue them."
The lawsuit provides the officer's first public account of how he says the shooting happened, offering details that differ with the family's version. It says Rialmo, who was responding to a domestic disturbance call with another officer, opened fire after Quintonio LeGrier swung a bat at the officer's head at close range. A downstairs neighbor, 55-year-old Bettie Jones, was standing nearby and was shot and killed by accident. She was not part of the domestic dispute.
"The fact that LeGrier's actions had forced Officer Rialmo to end LeGrier's life and to accidentally take the innocent life of Bettie Jones has caused, and will continue to cause, Officer Rialmo to suffer extreme emotional trauma," the filing says.
When arriving at the scene around 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 26, Rialmo rang the doorbell of the two-story apartment building. Jones answered and directed them to the upstairs apartment. As Rialmo stepped through the doorway, he heard someone "charging down the stairway," the suit says.
It describes the teen coming down the stairs with a baseball bat in hand and says LeGrier "cocked" the bat "and took a full sing at Officer Rialmo's head, missing it by inches" when the two were around 4 feet apart.
The officer then backed away with his weapon still holstered, according to the suit, while repeatedly shouting at LeGrier to drop the bat.
But the suit says LeGrier kept advancing and swung the bat again. Only when LeGrier cocked the bat again from 3 or 4 feet away, did the officer pull out his 9 mm handgun and open fire, the filing says.
As he began firing, Rialmo did not see or hear Jones behind LeGrier, the suit says. It says one of the bullets went through LeGrier's body and struck Jones, killing her.
An autopsy determined that LeGrier suffered six bullet wounds.
Lawyers for Antonio LeGrier and for Jones have provided accounts that differ from Rialmo's. They say the evidence indicates the officer was 20 or 30 feet away when he fired, calling into question Rialmo's contention that he feared for his life.
Foutris also questions why the teen would attack the officer since he was the one who called 911. The father of the Northern Illinois University student also made a 911 call.
"If you're calling multiple times for help are you going to charge a police officer and try to hit him with a bat? That's ridiculous," Foutris said.
County prosecutors have asked the FBI to investigate the shooting.
A Police Department spokesman refused to comment on the officer's lawsuit.
Such a lawsuit by an officer is extraordinarily unusual, said Phil Turner, a former federal prosecutor and current defense attorney who is not connected to the case.
He questioned whether a judge would give it any merit and said it appeared intended to intimidate LeGrier's family. He said he had never heard of an officer blaming his shooting victim for causing trauma.
"That is a known part of the job," Turner said of policing's emotional toll.
Ramarley Graham's Family Continues to Demand New York Police Be Punished
by Zach Williams
NEW YORK — Ramarley Graham's family and supporters commemorated the fourth anniversary of his death in downtown Manhattan with a candlelight vigil and rally in front of City Hall.
The 18-year-old unarmed black man died after police officers burst into his Bronx home without a warrant and fatally shot him.
The crowd demanded Tuesday that Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton respond to their demands to punish the officers involved in Graham's death — and vowed to continue protesting until they do.
“I'm demanding that you fire these officers. We won't stop. We need justice and we need it to start now. No more prolonging this case, enough is enough,” said Frank Graham, Ramarley's father, at the rally.
Ramarley Graham left a bodega on the afternoon of Feb. 2, 2012 not knowing that fiddling with his waistband would unleash the series of events that would end his life minutes later.
An undercover narcotics unit spotted him and suspected that he was readjusting a concealed firearm. They chased him but did not catch him before he entered his house two blocks away. They couldn't kick open the front door so used the back door to get in. Officer Richard Haste found Graham upstairs and killed him with one shot to the chest. No firearm was found when the premises was searched later.
The city reached a $3.9 million settlement last year with Graham's family. The closest the family ever came to seeing criminal charges against the officers was a 2012 grand jury manslaughter indictment of Haste that was later vacated on a technicality. Another grand jury opted to not indict him again.
Critics of the police department said they continue to wonder whether the deadly actions of police officers will ever bring consequences with any regularity.
“We won't get anywhere,” Council Member Rosie Mendez said in an interview after the rally,
“Until some officers are made examples of.”
California Gov. Jerry Brown Backs No More Automatic Adult Charges for Teens in New Initiative
by Matt Smith
Under pressure from the courts to reduce his state's prison population, California Gov. Jerry Brown has thrown his support behind a plan that's likely to slash the number of teens who get prosecuted as adults.
If approved by voters, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016 would block district attorneys from charging a suspect under 18 as an adult. Instead, a judge would decide whether teens accused of a violent crime should stand trial as an adult.
Those measures are part of a bigger ballot initiative to reduce California's prison population, which now tops 127,000. The state is under a court order capping that population, which includes more than 5,000 prisoners held in other states.
The proposal also would let inmates earn credit on their sentences for good behavior and education. In addition, it would let nonviolent inmates qualify for parole once they serve the full term for the most serious charge against them. It needs nearly 586,000 signatures before it can be put on the ballot, however.
“The basic premise is very simple: Judges should judge, prosecutors should prosecute,” Brown told reporters this week in announcing his support. “It's well-balanced, it's thoughtful, and I think it's an important step.”
It's the latest turn in a big week in juvenile justice news. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled its 2012 Miller v. Alabama decision could be applied retroactively, giving hundreds of inmates who were teen offenders a chance at release from life-without-parole sentences via a resentencing hearing. And President Obama banned the use of solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons, saying he hoped the move would become a model for states.
The new California initiative would roll back a 2000 measure that required suspects 14 and older to be tried in adult court for murder, rape and several other sex offenses and allowed prosecutors to bring other adult felony charges against teens without a judge's approval. There were 6,286 inmates whose felonies were committed before they were 18, as of Dec. 31. That's 5 percent of the state's total prison population.
If approved, it would be the latest in a series of steps back from the tough-on-crime measures passed at the state and federal levels during a surge in crime that peaked in the 1990s.
Californians already have voted to reduce most drug possession charges to misdemeanors and let people convicted of those offenses seek to get their charges reduced retroactively. Brown said Wednesday that some of the sentencing laws he supported during his first stint as governor, in the late 1970s, had “unintended consequences” that removed incentives for convicts to go straight.
Brown's endorsement won cheers from the National Center for Youth Law, which worked with juvenile justice lawyers to help draft the initiative and pushed for the governor's support. Approval will mean young offenders would again face punishment “in a developmentally appropriate way that allows them to learn from their mistakes,” it said.
“We are particularly heartened that Governor Brown will be speaking out in favor of this initiative, which has the potential to move public opinion forward on issues related to incarceration, especially, of young people,” the NCYL said in a written statement.
After Plea Agreement, Anti-police Brutality Activist Gives Impassioned Statement to Court
by Karen Savage
NEW YORK — Warnings by a Manhattan judge to keep order or risk being removed could not muffle the applause and cheers in a crowded Manhattan courtroom Wednesday for a speech by a anti-police brutality activist.
“We have seen dragged into the light a bloody epidemic of police all across this country carrying out murder after murder, especially of black people, Latinos, Native Americans and other oppressed people,” Edward “Noche” Diaz told the court.
He accepted this morning a deal offered by the Manhattan districtJJIE New York Metro Bureau logo attorney's office, pleading guilty to disorderly conduct. He had faced four criminal misdemeanor charges from several 2014 anti-police brutality protests, held in the wake of Michael Brown's killing and a grand jury's decision not to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for Eric Garner's death.
“We still see all across this land prosecutors, courts and grand
juries who refuse to even bring charges and put on trial, let alone convict any of the police for carrying out these murders,” Diaz said in court. “All while people who protest this injustice face charges and are subjected to accusations. I committed no crime.”
Disorderly conduct is a noncriminal violation that will require him to complete community service, but will not result in jail time or a criminal record.
“Noche is very respected by a lot of people for standing up against police brutality,” said supporter Debra Sweet. “It's especially important to note that he is still able to say he does not have a criminal record.”
After leaving the courtroom with nods of approval and high-fives from other defendants, Diaz stopped to thank his supporters, including Hawa Bah, whose son Mohamed Bah was shot by police in September 2012, members of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, the NYC Revolution Club and others.
“We need justice for our sons,” said Bah, fighting back tears.
Diaz said activists who protest police actions have been victimized.
“They are going after people,” he said, listing names from Ferguson, Missouri; Chicago; Los Angeles, and other cities where protesters are facing much harsher charges and sentences. He said documents obtained by the news website Intercept have confirmed anti-police brutality protesters have been the targets of surveillance by the New York Police Department.
“It's not just about me not spending time in jail, although that's good too,” Diaz said. “It is about whether or not we can stop this.”