February, 2016 - Week 4
Apple Says Forcing It To Unlock The San Bernardino Shooter's iPhone Is A Violation Of The Constitution
by Vincent Lanaria
Apple is filing a request to dismiss the court order that requires the company to lend the FBI a hand in breaking into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, saying that it's a violation of the Constitution.
Using the All Writs Act of 1789, the authorities are pressuring Apple to comply with their demands, which involves creating a backdoor to bypass the iPhone's security measures and putting all other owners of a similar device at risk. Apple CEO Tim Cook says it would set a "dangerous precedent" should the company give in.
According to Apple, forcing the company to cooperate by using the All Writs Act is a misapplication of the 227-year-old law.
"Apple strongly supports, and will continue to support, the efforts of law enforcement in pursuing justice against terrorists and other criminals – just as it has in this case and others. But the unprecedented order requested by the government finds no support in law and would violate the Constitution," Apple says (PDF).
However, FBI Director James Comey says that the tool the investigators want Apple to build is going to be used on only one iPhone, noting that they don't want to "break anyone's encryption" or "set a master key loose on the land."
Apple already explained the consequences of building a security-breaking tool, noting that it could fall into the wrong hands and that "there is no way to guarantee such control" despite the authorities' statement.
"The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that's simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices," Cook says.
Apple is right in this case, as numerous officials have publicly expressed their intentions to take advantage of the software to unlock other devices that were acquired from other similar incidents.
In the same vein, Apple is also looking into using its First Amendment rights to oppose the government's use – or misuse, as Apple claims – of the All Writs Act.
The Department of Justice suggests that it's only a simple and isolated task.
"Compliance with the order would not require inordinate effort. Modifying an operating system – which is essentially writing software code in a discrete and limited manner – is not an unreasonable burden for a company that writes software code as part of its regular business," the DOJ says.
The FBI is demanding Apple's cooperation because the iPhone is designed to be impossible to unlock by third parties and even the company itself, thus the request to develop a whole new iOS just for this purpose.
The iPhone is programmed to automatically erase any data after 10 incorrect entries of the passcode. It also imposes a delay between each entry and rejects electronic input and requires manual input.
If the government wins, then every investigative body even from overseas will approach Apple to give them the same treatment whenever a similar incident occurs, and they will no doubt cite this case to force the company into providing a backdoor.
In related news, Apple has some pretty powerful supporters against the government, as Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft are going to stand with the Cupertino brand in court.
Considering these details, Apple is likely going to come out on top over the FBI, but it's definitely going to be a tough journey for the company.
Tragic end to domestic dispute for brand new Va. cop
by CBS News
WOODBRIDGE, Va. - A Virginia police officer's first day back on the job ended in tragedy as she was shot and killed Saturday just after being sworn in, and two of her colleagues were wounded in a confrontation stemming from a call about an argument.
A county leader said a civilian woman was also killed in the domestic dispute.
Officers received a call around 5:30 Saturday evening in Woodbridge, about 30 miles southwest of the nation's capital, about a "verbal argument," Sgt. Jonathan Perok, spokesman of the Prince William County Police Department, said. It's not clear how the altercation between the suspect and police began but the suspect, a military serviceman, is in custody and was not injured, he said. The condition of the other two officers is not known.
The department announced on its Facebook page that Officer Ashley Guindon had died from the injuries she sustained in the shooting.
A picture of Guindon was posted to the department's Twitter page on Friday with a tweet that read, "Welcome Officers Steven Kendall & Ashley Guindon who were sworn in today & begin their shifts this weekend. Be Safe!" It is not known if the other officer in the tweet was involved in the shooting incident.
Guindon had been a county police officer a few years ago and had left and returned to the force, Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, said in a phone interview with The Associated Press Saturday night. He did not know the exact dates of when she started and left, he said.
Another woman was killed in the domestic call and was dead before police arrived, Stewart said, but police declined to confirm that information. Stewart also said there was a child in the house during the incident who was not harmed.
Neighbors told CBS affiliate WUSA in Washington, D.C., that a violent scene unfolded as cops showed up.
Prince William County Commonwealth Attorney Paul Ebert told The Associated Press Saturday night that he has authorized a capital murder charge, along with other counts, against the suspect, who has not been identified.
At Inova Fairfax Hospital, where the three officers were flown by helicopter after the shooting, more than 100 patrol cars lined the roads outside early Sunday morning to stand vigil and escort Guindon's body to the medical examiner.
The shooting occurred in the Lake Ridge neighborhood, on a curving street with $500,000 suburban houses with brick and siding exteriors, manicured lawns and two-car garages about a five-minute drive from the county office building.
Until Saturday evening, the big news in the police department was the planned retirement of Chief Steve Hudson, who announced two weeks ago that he will step down at the end of March, and officers' plans to do a "polar bear" plunge on Saturday morning to raise money for Special Olympics.
Police said the incident is still being investigated.
Jim Peschong honored for community policing efforts
by CONOR DUNN
When Lincoln Police Chief Jim Peschong was sworn in as a patrol officer in the mid-1970s, law enforcement faced criticism around the nation.
The Vietnam War had just ended, and President Richard M. Nixon had just resigned after facing impeachment.
“Policing was not exactly an admired profession at the time we started,” Public Safety Director Tom Casady said at a retirement party for Peschong Saturday.
“But we also came into this field at a time where there was dynamic change going on,” said Casady, who joined the department the year before Peschong. “We were both fortunate to be part of that change.”
Peschong and Casady recognized the need to forge a working relationship between Lincoln's police officers and the public. After brainstorming at a crab shack in Charlotte, North Carolina, they created the first citizen advisory council for LPD's Northwest Team. Today, each team has its own.
The community policing efforts that followed, including a recent plan to have officers who pull over vehicles driven by repeat suspended drivers declare the vehicle a public nuisance under Nebraska statute, will be Peschong's greatest mark on the department, Casady said.
There were numerous times LPD could have been painted in a negative light, Casady said, including when a woman falsely reported a hate crime, when two officers were accused of using excessive force or when two Husker football players were implicated in a sexual assault in November 2015.
“I'm not sure anyone other than me understands how close we were to being in line with Ferguson and Baltimore and Cincinnati,” Casady said. “But from the leadership of Jim Peschong, he managed to get us through these incidents not only unscathed, but emerging from these with an even stronger reputation of the quality of police work we do here in Lincoln.”
Peschong also served as a member of the Norris School Board for 10 years, overseeing the budget and helping create strong safety plans for the school district.
“He was very conservative about spending every dollar wisely,” said former Norris superintendent and now Sen. Roy Baker.
Peschong leaves LPD at a time when perceptions of police are once again under scrutiny, Casady said. But in Lincoln, he said, the chief is leaving things in much better shape than they were 41 years ago.
“I guess my legacy is that I hope that I've got the Lincoln Police Department well prepared and well grounded for the future,” Peschong said.
Former NYPD Police Chief to Share 'Community Policing' Strategies in Burlington
by Morgan True
BURLINGTON — Former New York City Chief of Police Philip Banks made his first trip to Vermont Friday to share insights on community policing with top officers from several agencies in Chittenden County.
Banks, who is the second African-American NYPD police chief, said Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo asked him to come speak with officers.
Del Pozo worked for Banks during his 18-year career with the NYPD and the two have spoken regularly over the last since months, Banks said. Del Pozo took the top job in Burlington last September.
“I'm honored and pleased that as a country, we'll have an opportunity to learn from one of the nation's foremost leaders in community policing,” del Pozo said in a statement.
Banks said he will share his philosophy that positive relationships with the public improve quality of life and reduce crime. He's developed trainings that focus on helping officers build a network in their community.
Banks described the approach as “relationship based policing.” He said his meeting with Chittenden County law enforcement will be informally structured and allow them to have a conversation.
The meeting isn't open to the public and will be limited to law enforcement, according to a news release from the Burlington Police Department.
Community Policing: Commissioner Davis' vision in action
by Brian Kuebler
But what does it mean? And what does it look like?
The goal is to reconnect with the communities that officers serve. Last year, ABC2 asked commissioner Kevin Davis how he planned to do that. His answer included teaching his officers how to walk an old fashioned beat.
It's a brand new curriculum developed with the purpose of teaching new and existing Baltimore officers how to manage and walk a foot patrol. The goal is to get them to better connect with the people in their post and get back to the basics.
ABC2's Brian Kuebler watched as one of the first classes took the lessons to the streets of Park Heights.
Major Marc Partee developed the course and he believes this will help repair relationships and make better cops.
"Actually walking is making it real," he said. "The academic portion where we talk about the history and we walk about warrior versus guardian and then we move into the communication portion...that is all on the screen and it pretty, but once we start walking and then we start connecting with people, then they see, oh that is what we need to do again. We need to start connecting with the folk that we serve and our jobs get that much more easier because there is no barrier between us."
Major Partee has developed a 40-hour course for new trainees and an eight hour version for existing officers in their in-service training.
Rockford cops aim to cut violent crime, improve community policing with new programs
by Jeff Kolkey
ROCKFORD — New approaches and programs this year promise to improve the Rockford Police Department's interactions with the public, the ways detectives investigate homicides and gun crimes, and authorities' responses to youth violence.
Against a backdrop of civil rights unrest across the nation, a Department of Justice diagnostic report in September took an unflinching look at Rockford's struggles with youth violence, a stubbornly high violent crime rate, and gun crime and homicide solve rates that lag the national average. Police are adopting research-based strategies promoted by the DOJ that have proven effective in other areas of the country to improve trust and combat crime, Interim Police Chief Patrick Hoey said.
"We are at a watershed moment in the history of policing right now," Hoey said of the influence of a modern day civil rights movement with police protests erupting in various cities across the country in recent years.
Six Rockford Police Department officers this week became the first in Illinois outside Chicago to be certified to teach procedural justice — an approach to police work that promotes building trust and legitimacy through fairness and respect — during a three-day seminar in Washington, D.C.
This fall, those officers will train the rest of the department in the techniques.
Later this year, the Diagnostic Center in the Office of Justice Programs', a Justice Department unit, will:
— Bring Madison Police Department Lt. Tom Woodmansee to Rockford to help develop a new "focused deterrence" program that focuses law enforcement on the people who are committing or are most connected to violence and crime in the community.
—Work with Rockford to improve homicide clearance rates with training from the Boston Police Department and learn its Smart Policing Initiative. Some of the changes there have included involving survivors and relatives of homicide victims in investigations, according to the DOJ.
— Arrange for training sessions with peer agencies nationally that have instituted effective youth violence prevention programs.
— Provide experts in gun violence prevention from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the Kansas City Police Department with its No Violence Alliance.
Procedural justice training this week was the first of the programs to begin implementation.
It is in part about giving residents a voice and respect. Police officers remain neutral, professional and explain why they are doing what they are doing so that there is a sense of fairness in the system. People should feel like they are being treated fairly and equally, Hoey said.
"It's not rocket science," Hoey said. "It's not soft on crime. We think this will have a direct correlation on our solve rates."
Mayor Larry Morrissey said the Rockford City Council is expected to get information on the various initiatives during its Monday night meeting. He said that police are being asked to respect the rights of all citizens and win the community's trust so that residents even in high-crime neighborhoods help efforts to find and arrest violent criminals.
"We are going after the bad guys," Morrissey said. "But what we can't do in our efforts to go after the bad guys is inadvertently terrorize the good guys."
Sanctuary cities: A menace to public safety
by Mark Krikorian
Sanctuary cities are a menace to public safety. A recent move in the U.S. House of Representatives to cut their funding is long overdue.
There are more than 300 sanctuary jurisdictions nationwide, including cities like New York, counties like Chicago's Cook County and even whole states like California. These jurisdictions refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities and release deportable criminals back onto the streets.
In 2014, more than 9,000 criminals who entered the country illegally and whom the Department of Homeland Security wanted to deport were released instead because of local sanctuary policies, according to the department's records.
More than 2,000 of them went on to commit new crimes, including murder, sexual assault on young children, rape, burglary, assault, dangerous drug offenses and drunk driving. Many are still at large.
One of the many American victims of sanctuary policies was Kathryn Steinle, killed last year by a felon whom San Francisco refused to turn over to immigration authorities for return to his home country.
Another was high school football star Jamiel Shaw Jr., murdered in 2008 by a gang member in the country illegally and protected by Los Angeles' notorious Special Order 40, one of the nation's first sanctuary measures.
The Remembrance Project preserves the stories of Steinle and Shaw and other Americans killed by those in the country illegally, many of them shielded by sanctuary cities.
Congress prohibited local sanctuary policies in 1996 as an intrusion on the federal role in immigration enforcement, but the law had no teeth.
The best way to get compliance is to use the power of the purse — cut off federal funding to jurisdictions that continue to defy federal law. Half-hearted attempts have been made in the past to do this in budget bills but none have been successful.
That may change. Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, chairman of the House subcommittee in charge of funding for the Department of Justice, recently wrote the attorney general demanding, among other things, that three grant programs that give more than $1 billion to state and local governments be made off-limits to sanctuary jurisdictions.
As he noted in his letter, “Communities that do not work with Federal law enforcement officials, in violation of Federal law, should not expect to receive Federal grant funding from the Department of Justice.”
In addition, the congressman made clear that he and his Senate counterpart, Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, would use their ongoing authority over Justice Department spending to pressure the administration. This matters because federal agencies often need to “reprogram” funds — in other words, use them for a different purpose than specified in the original budget bill.
This can only be done with the prior approval of the relevant House and Senate committees. Culberson has said no reprogramming requests for Justice Department headquarters funds — as opposed to, say, FBI field offices — would be approved until sanctuary funding is cut off.
This is no empty threat. Culberson successfully used this tool last year to get the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to drop a proposed ban on a certain kind of ammunition sought by gun-control advocates.
The current fiscal year ends Sept. 30, so it's at least possible that the Obama administration will somehow make it until then without having to go to Culberson for “reprogramming” approval.
But if he keeps his word and includes a sanctuary cities ban in next year's budget bill, it could set up a conflict if Senate Democrats choose to filibuster it or the president vetoes it.
That could actually be a useful fight to have, with one side working to deport criminals in the country illegally and the other working to protect them.
Laura Wilkerson, whose son Joshua was brutally murdered by a criminal in the country illegally, told a Senate hearing last fall: “I don't want the sympathy. I want you to do something.”
She's right. Doing something about the scandal of sanctuary cities is long overdue.
Mark Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonpartisan research organization that examines and critiques the impact of immigration on the United States.
Kansas Shooter Issued Restraining Order Before Killings, Cops Say
by Kelly Stevenson and Julia Jacobo
Cedric Larry Ford, who allegedly killed three people and injured 14 others Thursday before police killed him, had been served shortly before with a restraining order meant to keep him away from a former girlfriend, Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton says.
Walton says investigators still have many interviews to conduct but, at this point, his domestic troubles may have been a trigger.
The shooting occurred in a Kansas workplace, along with two other locations, authorities said.
Ford, 38 and a Newton resident, was an employee at Excel Industries, one of the scenes, Walton said in a news conference Thursday.
Police said the shooter fired from his car and shot people at two nearby locations before unleashing a hail of bullets in the factory, hitting at least 14 people, and killing three of them.
Ford later died in a gun battle when a police officer shot him despite taking fire.
"I'm really saddened by this horrific event," Excel CEO Paul Mullet said. "My heart goes out to all of the employees, all of their families.”
At least 14 people were hospitalized, six at Via Christi Hospital, four at Wesley Hospital and four at Newton Medical Center, Walton said.
Five victims are in critical condition, one person is undergoing surgery and eight are in stable condition, the sheriff said.
Walton said the carnage began about 5 p.m. when the gunman opened fire from his vehicle in a location nearby Excel.
He hit two vehicles, injuring one person. After that, he went to another location near Highway 81, where he shot a person in the leg, police said.
From there, he drove to the plant, which manufactures heavy-duty lawn care equipment, where he opened fire before being killed by police. Police said he was using a long gun that uses .223 caliber bullets. It was unclear what type.
Police said he was also believed to have been carrying a pistol.
Investigators are unclear on what the shooter's motive was, but Walton said it was "not terrorism."
But he did say there were "some things that triggered this particular individual."
There was only one shooter involved, Walton said.
A witness who works in the welding department said the shooter was firing off rounds as he chased Excel Industries employees who were screaming, "Fire! Fire!"
“I thought it was a fire, explosions,” Marty Pierce told ABC affiliate KAKE-TV in Wichita. “I didn't know someone was shooting.”
Pierce said a co-worker who looked in a hallway to investigate was shot in the leg. The 15 to 20 people who were in his department escaped through a side door, he said.
The Newton Police Department also said it entered Ford's home there after receiving conflicting reports that someone was inside.
"We had to act as if there were other victims or someone else inside who wanted to do harm," Lt. Brian Hall of the Newton Police Department said. "We tried to make contact for hours and eventually had to force entry into the home. There was no one inside."
Hall did not elaborate on what was found in the home.
The officer and Harley: A lesson in kindness and community policing
by Jill Burke
It's a parent's worst nightmare. Your child is off somewhere in the world without you and something goes wrong. With children who have developmental disabilities or mental illness, something is bound to go wrong at some point. So you craft action plans. You practice what to do. You get their care providers on the same page. You hope your action plan will work if and when needed. Many times it will. But there's always the possibility that one time, in some ordinary place doing some ordinary thing, something will go awry. Then what?
The Anchorage Police Department has a volunteer training program to help its officers make the best possible decisions when encountering people with autism, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, brain injuries, depression or any other condition that can affect a person's behavior and how well he or she might respond to police.
For parents, the worst nightmare isn't the meltdown. It's how other people will react, and then how your child will react to them. Will the others -- store clerks, passersby, waiters, managers -- be well-meaning helpers who unknowingly muck things up even more? Or maybe they will be disrupters and increase stress and tension as they try to firmly get matters under control. What then? What if the police show up and rattle off a bunch of questions or issue orders at your child, who can't handle being addressed in that way? Will your child run off? Lash out? What if an officer tries to put their hands on your child, who cannot tolerate touch?
The worst nightmare is that someone will get hurt.
Maybe it's getting pepper-sprayed, which happened to a 28-year-old autistic man in Kodiak recently who'd been suspected of trying to break into a car. His mother told KTUU she thinks the witnesses and police misunderstood what her son, fascinated by cars, was actually doing that day on his way to get the mail. In the body cam video of the incident, the man can be heard saying, “I'm sorry ... I want to go home ... Please!” More than once, an officer can be heard sternly saying, “Stop resisting!” With the man's body pinned against a car, one of the two responding officers pepper-sprays the man in the face.
But it could be even worse. A 50-year-old man suffering a psychotic episode while in police custody in Denver in November died of asphyxiation -- the result of officers trying to gain control over him. In 2012, Chicago police fatally shot a 15-year-old boy with Asperger's syndrome during an encounter at the boy's home in which the boy, who was known to police, wielded a knife.
And yet, it was not these high-profile, distressing incidents that were on one mother's mind when she reached out for help.
Instead, it was an episode that happened during what should have been a routine Friday outing.
Mallory Hamilton found herself confronted with a host of “what if" fears after her teenage daughter Harley, a high school senior who has Down syndrome and autism, got “stuck” earlier this year at the Tikahtnu Regal Cinemas in East Anchorage. For reasons only Harley knows, that day she went to see a movie like she does every Friday, something went wrong.
As Hamilton tells it, Harley, who understands a lot of what's said to her but is herself not exceptionally verbal, had bought a ticket and made it into the theater's main hallway, but for some reason couldn't get herself into the theater itself to sit down and watch the show. Harley sat against the wall, flipped the pink lanyard she carries to soothe herself and muttered. It made the staff at the theater uncomfortable enough that they eventually threatened to call the police if Harley's aide didn't swiftly prod her out of there. The aide, worried about the escalation of adding police to the mix, called Harley's mother, who could not get there within the five-minute deadline the theater manager had imposed.
Regal Cinemas did not return calls asking for its take on the incident.
Harley's aide got her mother on the phone and she was able to talk Harley into leaving the theater. But a call like that is the last line of defense against upping the ante, and parents and other caretakers will one day be unavailable at some crucial moment over a lifetime. It's inevitable. The close call got Hamilton thinking about all of the poor outcomes that could happen if her daughter did ever end up in a situation where police had been called to deal with her. “You just don't have any idea as a parent what is going to happen. It's your worst nightmare,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton asked a friend, Angie Fraize, an Anchorage police officer who serves with her on the Governor's Council for Disabilities and Special Education, what to do. Fraize helped coordinate a coffee date for Harley with her husband, Matt, who is also an Anchorage police officer. The goal? Get Harley to understand police as helpers, as safe people she can trust.
“The face of law enforcement is changing with the times. But we have to. We have to show people that we are human. That we are dads and moms,” Angie Fraize said over coffee last week. She grew up with an uncle who had Down syndrome, and one of her two daughters has the condition.
Matt Fraize, a large man who once played football for the University of Washington, showed up in uniform to the coffee date with Harley. He asked if he could sit with Harley and her mother, who suggested, “Harley would love for a handsome man in uniform to sit across from her.”
Harley hugged officer Fraize, beaming during the half-hour visit that ended with a ride home, without Mom, in the police car. During a second meeting, Harley tried to tickle officer Fraize, nuzzled his side, gave a friendly head-butt and a quick kiss to his right shoulder before they walked over to his patrol car, holding hands.
“A lot of us are parents of kids with special needs. And so we get it. We have the same fears for our children,” Matt Fraize said.
“We have to be empathetic and compassionate in this field,” explained officer Ruth Adolf, program coordinator for the department's Crisis Intervention Team, a certification earned after 40 hours of training. Adolf is the only full-time CIT officer on duty. But on any given shift, there should be at least two CIT-trained officers available, said APD spokeswoman Jennifer Castro. Ninety-six of the department's 367 sworn officers have received the voluntary training. More than half of the staff that handles incoming calls, 33 of 52 dispatchers, are also CIT-trained.
“It's a huge eye-opener to the officers to see what a person with mental illness is going through to navigate the system,” Adolf said. The training teaches officers “to see that there is something going on and get (that person) to the next level of care,” she said.
Between October 2013 and November 2014, CIT officers handled 5,336 calls that could be classified as responding to a suicide or mental health issue. People with developmental disabilities fall under the mental health classification for APD's record-keeping system. Still, the numbers likely don't show the full impact. Calls initially coded as crimes that turn out to instead be mental health-related may not always get documented under mental health, Adolf said.
CIT intervention might mean sitting with a person for an extra five minutes. Or loaning them a phone to call a friend or family member. Or taking them to a mental health provider instead of to jail. It requires active listening and creative, compassionate responses. Adolf calls these “think-outside-the-box” solutions -- approaches that function as a pre-arrest jail diversion program. Provided of course, crimes have not been committed. Even then, there's an option to be steered into mental health court, which can help address underlying issues and promote accountability.
Adolf spoke of one client she runs into regularly, who has a habit of heading to the top floor of a parking garage when she is stressed. Because Adolf knows her, she's able to talk with her and de-escalate the situation. In another situation, Adolf became aware that a woman had been posting suicidal thoughts on Facebook. Worried friends called police. Adolf and her team tracked the woman down and encouraged her to get help. Later, the woman thanked Adolf for taking her to the hospital.
“That let me know I did my job that day and I might have saved a life,” Adolf said. “I want people to know that the police are there to help them.”
And that is the message Hamilton, the Fraizes and Adolf want families to hear. That you can always ask for a CIT dispatcher. And you can always ask that a CIT officer respond to a situation. It's what they're there for. For Hamilton, getting the chance to give Harley a positive interaction with police before a potentially negative one made all the difference.
“I could not have asked for a better experience. They took the time and gave us the opportunity for peace of mind, which for me is huge,” Hamilton said.
Camdenton Police Work To Strengthen Community Ties
by Connye Griffin
CAMDENTON, Mo. -- In the year just ended, citizens saw news headlines that called into question police motives, police judgment, and police departments. Camdenton's Chief of Police, Laura Wright, understands the impact such national stories have on the public and officers doing their best to become better at their jobs every day. In an effort to communicate how much good local police contribute to their community, Chief Wright prepared a report about Camdenton's community policing programs for the Board of Alderman and police department staff.
Although the words “community policing” have many working definitions, Chief Wright defines it as “a strategy of policing that focuses on police building ties and working closely with members of the community.” She adds Camdenton's department “strives to invest time in education, prevention, problem solving and partnerships in hopes that the need for enforcement will decrease.”
One way officers engage in community policing is through public relations contacts. In January, officers made 27 such contacts. The Chief herself made some of those; she considers it her duty to make monthly public relations contacts. During them, she asks businesses if there is anything the department needs to be aware of--any unusual incidents or nuisances they've not reported. She also urges them to call the department with their concerns so that officers can respond by stepping up their presence to prevent problems, if at all possible.
Officers on patrol are asked to visit businesses if and when they have time during their shifts. Chief Wright notes “it can be very challenging for a small department to make time for these type of activities with their many other responsibilities, but … it is worth the investment because it promotes the goal of working together for the safety and betterment of our community.”
Another way in which Camdenton's police department reaches out to its community is through surveys. Each month, ten Citizen Opinion of Police Services (COOP) surveys are mailed to citizens with whom police had contact. These ask whether and to what degree the officer was courteous, neat in appearance, thorough, knowledgeable, prompt, and responsive to all of the citizen's concerns. Proud to report that Camdenton's officers routinely receive excellent ratings, Chief Wright adds that any low ratings result in follow-up by a supervisor and corrective action when warranted.
A third way the department engages in community policing is evident in its participation in the Lake community. Chief Wright's report for the department, City staff, and Board of Alderman includes information about service to Camdenton. For example, “Chief Wright serves as Regional Vice President for Missouri Police Chief's Association.” She is a member of the Scholarship Committee for Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S). In November 2015, “she completed a 12-year term with Citizens Against Domestic Violence (CADV), the last year serving as president.”
Other department members are also active in their profession and community. “Lt. Beauchamp serves on the executive board of Major Case Squad. Chief Wright and Sgt. Rector serve on [the] Lake Ozark Air Show Organizing Committee” while “Sgt. Rector, Officers Williams and Wiseman serve” on the Lake Area Sexual Assault Response Team (SART).
In addition to their policing duties for area events, officers can be found distributing educational materials at the annual Lake of the Ozarks Air Show, Christmas on the Square, and the Dogwood Festival. For the last 20 years, at least one Camdenton officer has taken the Special Olympics Polar Plunge and for the past 5 years, an officer has competed in the CADV Chili cook-off. Officers were also in the audience for the Veterans Day assembly at Camdenton's High School in November.
Balancing Treatment With Public Safety
by Ann Pierret
A brother two hours away with a history of mental illness.
"He became ill when he was 18-years-old and spent quite a bit of time in and out of the hospitals," Margaret Keeler explained.
Her brother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder with psychotic features.
"And then he became stable for a lot of years; and unfortunately, you know, he's a single man and my parents had been his primary support system," she said.
But, since their parents' passing, he's been on his own in Wayne County. And Keeler told News Ten her brother's not seeking treatment because he doesn't believe he needs it.
"He can be confrontational with us," Keeler said. "You know, 'It's not your business, I don't want you to talk to me about' - you know, I'm a nurse, so he doesn't want me to talk to him about his health or you know, whether he's sick, whether he's taking any medications."
And, because there's always the potential for a crisis, Keeler worries about her brother - his safety and the public's safety.
Our community has seen how a crisis can escalate into a deadly situation, when Grant Taylor was charged with running over Fireman Dennis Rodeman last September.
Taylor's mother was seeking help for her son who was diagnosed with mental health issues, including psychosis and major depression with suicidal thoughts.
But, instead of spending up to 180 days in court-ordered treatment, Taylor's incident in September has landed him behind bars, possibly for the rest of his life.
While not all cases are that severe, police are dealing with health crises on a daily basis. Sheriff Wriggelsworth told News Ten his jail has become a "gateway for treatment."
That's why the National Alliance on Mental Illness has started training law enforcement officers on crisis intervention.
Board Member, Teresa Ritsema, explained, "It covers the major bipolar disorder, depression, PTSD, and it covers schizophrenia, obviously, so the officers understand how to approach and talk to and help to de-escalate the possible behaviors, if the person is paranoid or if the person is extremely upset and is in crisis."
For agencies utilizing the training, incidents of violence have decreased by 80%.
"It doesn't have to result in them being incarcerated," Ritsema said.
One courtroom in Ingham County is also helping people with mental illness out of the system. Someone charged with a non-violent crime who has been diagnosed with a mental illness can seek help in Judge Jamo's court supervised treatment program.
"We talk about what is going on in their life, where we need to put in place assistance to help them move forward with things that they need to do to get their lifestyle, their treatment regiment in check; and, see where we can help in that regard to make them successful on probation," the Judge explained.
One of the many goals is connecting participants with both physical and mental health providers in an effort to stabilize them.
"While we are helping the individual work towards a healthier lifestyle, the crime-free lifestyle is by nature, protecting the community and helping with community safety," he said.
And the program is comforting for families like Keeler's worrying her brother could become another crime statistic.
Right now, there are 22 people participating in the mental health court and there's a waiting list to get in.
The first graduation is expected in the next few months.
Judge Jamo told News Ten only a few people have had to drop out and in those cases, the team was able to find alternative treatment service.
Police: Man who shot Colo. deputies at 'end of his rope'
The shooting shook the community where the deputies were familiar faces
by The Associated Press
BAILEY, Colo. — A man who spent years fighting the foreclosure of his Colorado home and ranted online about police and corporate corruption shot three law enforcement officers trying to serve an eviction notice Wednesday, killing one and wounding the others, authorities said.
The officers fired back in this forested mountain community, killing the gunman, identified by police as 58-year-old Martin Wirth.
Eight officers from the Park County Sheriff's Office went to the snow-covered two-story home in a hillside neighborhood north of the town of Bailey to serve what authorities described as a "high-risk" eviction notice. The well-maintained houses sit on big lots, with room for horses to graze in an area popular with hunters and anglers.
Wirth appeared on the deck of his home when the officers arrived, then went back inside, according to the sheriff's office account of the shooting.
Officers followed him in, and Wirth fired on them, prompting them to return fire, sheriff's officials said.
The shooting killed Corporal Nate Carrigan, a 13-year veteran of the sheriff's office. One of the wounded officers underwent surgery for life-threatening injuries and was in critical condition at a Denver hospital.
The other was treated and released from a hospital after a bullet grazed his ear, Colorado Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Susan Medina said.
Scores of people attended a vigil Wednesday night for Carrigan at Platte Canyon Community Church. Some wrote remembrances and prayers on sheets of paper lining the church walls
One note recalled Carrigan comforting a young girl after a chimney fire at her home and sending a firefighter to the house to retrieve her dolls. "Rest in peace, Cpl. Carrigan. We love you," the note said.
Medina declined to say why the sheriff's office considered it a risk to serve Wirth with the eviction notice.
"They had background information about the suspect in this case, but we're just not going to talk about it at this time," she said.
Wirth owned the home until March 2014, when Fannie Mae, the government-controlled mortgage company, took ownership after he lost a court battle over his foreclosure.
After Wirth lost his case in state court, he sued Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, the state attorney general and a judge in 2013. The federal lawsuit claimed that state foreclosure laws were unconstitutional and that Wirth and his unnamed guests were "in imminent danger of being wrongfully deprived of home and property while also being threatened with an armed and forcible entry onto the property and into the home."
He asked a federal judge to block Park County from selling his home, evicting him or forcibly entering the house and to strike down several state laws. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit last September.
A website by a group called the Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition includes undated posts that called for supporters to join Wirth in "non-violent eviction resistance." The website includes a video of a man identified as Wirth railing against mortgage companies as criminals.
A call to the group, whose website says it is part of the Occupy movement, was not immediately returned.
Tim Holland, who was involved in the Occupy Denver movement with Wirth, struggled to reconcile the shooting with his memories of Wirth as a "sweet, quirky, kindhearted guy."
"It seems to me that he was just pushed to the end of his rope, and he tried every single approach to addressing his grievances, and at the end, he chose to not let them take his house away from him," Holland said. "It's the middle of winter in the mountains. Where was he going to go?"
Wirth ran for the state Senate in 2014 as a Green Party candidate, but he lost to an incumbent Republican. In a candidate questionnaire he completed for The Denver Post, Wirth wrote of corruption in the political system, his support for Colorado's marijuana laws and the plight of the poor.
When asked whether he supported the death penalty, Wirth wrote, "Killing people to show that killing people is wrong is a piece of idiotic hypocrisy."
He wrote disparagingly of police, the federal government and corporations on his candidate page on Facebook and praised former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked millions of documents about government surveillance. He made regular posts criticizing leading presidential candidates from both parties.
Neighbor Terry Rogers, a counselor and pastor at Platte Canyon Community Church, said he did not know Wirth well and believes no one in the area did.
"He was pretty reclusive," said Rogers, who could see law enforcement vehicles responding to the shooting across a snow-covered pasture from his driveway.
The area of rocky, pine-covered hills is about 45 miles southwest of Denver where several camps host Girl Scouts and other youth during the summer. The neighborhood is several miles outside Bailey, a hamlet of just a few restaurants and shops.
There, a gunman took several girls hostage in a high school classroom a decade ago, killing one before himself.
Sam Lung, who lives nearby, said he often hears gunshots in the area, which has a target practice site.
He said people often shoot in their backyards, "practicing their Second Amendment rights." He said he did not hear the gunshots Wednesday.
"It is a dark day," Medina said.
Miami police settlement with DOJ avoids federal courts, costs
Some observers find the settlement disappointing, but officials appear content after 30 months of protracted negotiations
by David Smiley
MIAMI — When the U.S. Department of Justice issued a scathing 2013 report rebuking the Miami Police Department, it looked like the federal government was prepared to come down hard on a repeat offender.
The city's police force, having shot seven black men in a span of eight months, was accused of overzealously engaging in shootings, haphazardly investigating those incidents, and employing poor tactics that endangered officers and the public. Justice said Miami's problems were systemic and left unresolved by a previous and similar federal investigation, leading to the expectation that the city would be pushed to enact sweeping reforms overseen by a federal judge.
Instead, a proposed settlement that may be approved Thursday by city commissioners strikes a much softer tone, crediting the police department for proactive reforms and forgoing the filing of a federal complaint unless the city violates the settlement before its resolution in 2020. Some observers find the settlement disappointing, but city officials appear content after 30 months of protracted negotiations.
“I think Justice has shown that where appropriate they'll bring down the hammer,” said Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez. “I think this is an indication that where appropriate they'll tailor their decree to the circumstances.”
I think Justice has shown that where appropriate they'll bring down the hammer Commissioner Francis Suarez.
The stakes could be high Thursday. Some cities have found that agreements with Justice to oversee police departments run years longer than expected and cost many millions more than budgeted. In Ferguson, Missouri, where the killing of unarmed Michael Brown sparked racial tensions across the country, elected officials recently rejected key portions of a federal settlement largely due to the estimated cost of imposed reforms, leading the Justice Department to announce the filing of a lawsuit against the city.
But as Miami commissioners prepare to vote on the agreement, there is little evidence of angst. The cost of the agreement is expected to be negligible, although the city has yet to finish a financial estimate. Even Miami's pugilistic police union president, Javier Ortiz, gives the agreement a “thumbs up.”
In fact, the agreement is so amenable to city officials that it may be passed on “consent,” without even being acknowledged. But if that happens, it would be to the dismay of a contingent of civil-rights advocates, activists and attorneys who believe the settlement still needs work.
My concern is that history will repeat itself unless they have something with more teeth Ray Taseff, civil rights attorney
“It's not enforced by the court, and if the city were to not comply or meet its obligations, the remedy is for DOJ to go back to the start and to sue them. I think that's a big, big issue,” said Ray Taseff, a civil rights attorney who represented the estate of a man shot dead by a Miami officer in 2011 while unarmed. “My concern is that history will repeat itself unless they have something with more teeth.”
Part of Taseff's surprise is that when the Justice Department issued its report on Miami police in 2013, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez wrote that the agency wanted “court-enforceable” remedies given the city's failure to stay out of the federal government's sights. Less than a year ago, a draft agreement obtained by the Miami Herald still contemplated that Justice would file a complaint against the city as part of a court-enforced agreement.
That language was absent from the document released last week, as were previously considered requirements that police respond to subpoenas and recommendations by Miami's voter-created police civilian oversight board — another issue creating frustration with the settlement.
Cathleen Trainor, a senior trial attorney for Justice who negotiated the agreement, declined to comment for this story, as did Miami Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes. But his predecessor, Manuel Orosa, said the proposed settlement isn't lax but rather a reflection of the proactive steps taken by Miami police before the investigation was finished. Orosa, for instance, dismantled some of the plainclothes squads involved in about half of the 33 shootings reviewed by Justice, and modified procedures for investigating police-involved shootings.
“I think part of the problem that DOJ had trying to leverage the city is that when they came in a lot of the things they wanted were already done,” he said.
The problem that DOJ had trying to leverage the city is a lot of the things they wanted were already done Manuel Orosa, former police chief
Orosa argued from the beginning of negotiations that a costly federal monitor wasn't necessary. Ultimately, the city and Justice agreed on former Tampa police chief Jane Castor as the person to look over Miami's shoulder the next four years. Castor said Wedneday that she doesn't believe the settlement, if approved, will be toothless or the type of agreement that runs on endlessly at substantial costs.
“If you look at some of the past consent decrees, they have turned into what in some cases seem like never-ending monitoring,” said Castor, who doesn't yet have a contract with the city. “That's just not going to be the case in Miami.”
Glendale strengthening community through outreach amid revitalization
by Joe Dana
GLENDALE, Ariz. - After 35 years of serving the city in which he grew up, Glendale Assistant Police Chief Matt Lively is retiring.
“I hope I've built lasting relationships and leave with a good reputation,” Lively said.
The former patrol officer, detective and sergeant has seen dramatic changes over the decades – technology upgrades for officers, a population that has nearly doubled and an influx of immigrants, to name a few. Through it all, Lively says two factors have been necessary for police work to be successful: public participation through programs like block watch and a strong relationship of trust between police and residents.
“We have to let people know we care. We care about what's going on in their neighborhood. We're approachable. We're there to help,” Lively said Tuesday.
Lively said organizing block watch groups has become more challenging in recent years because neighbors simply don't talk face-to-face as much as they used to.
“People's lives seem busier. They drive home right into their carport and shut the garage door,” he said.
Lively estimates there were once upwards of 90 block watch groups that held neighborhood parties during national “Night Out” events. Today he estimates there are about 50 organized block watch groups.
“But there are also other ways to connect with your neighbors ... through neighborhood sites like Nextdoor.com,” he said.
Building Trust in Communities
Building trust with first-generation immigrants is also challenging, Lively said. According to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, 30% of Glendale residents live in homes where English is not the first language spoken. Natural cultural barriers exist between residents and police.
“The countries where many of these people come from, they couldn't trust the police for anything,” Lively said. “It's a big challenge for those folks to learn to trust us and believe us.”
The Glendale Police Department places a heavy emphasis on outreach by offering public education literature in Spanish, holding community service projects, hosting “Coffee with the Chief” events and encouraging officers to find ways to provide random acts of kindness.
“We're seeing more and more officers willing to just show compassion, to go out of their way to help a homeless family or someone in need,” Lively said.
The Glendale Police Department also works with immigrant organizations, the Mexican Consulate and churches to build relationships with immigrants and educate them about Arizona law.
Although Lively is retiring, he will continue his relationship with Glendale Police as a reserve officer and a volunteer for youth programs.
There are other positive changes happening on the streets of Glendale that represent an economic revitalization that is underway.
“Come down to Glendale and shop, we need people down here,” Janice Strunk said.
She should know. She and her husband have been in business in Glendale for 25 years and this feisty pair has had to battle to keep their Evening Shade Antiques store open.
“2008 is when everything started going in the toilet ... so, after 2008, there was a shift. That's when the bottom fell out of everything,” she said.
Many didn't make it. What was once a bustling downtown went quiet and, financially, the area was hit hard.
Many of the shop owners had their ups and downs, it hasn't always been easy but when you walk around downtown Glendale you can feel there's a new energy. Many of the business owners here want to revitalize the area.
“I look at this street that we're on here, and a year ago, there was a house across the street that had been empty for two and a half years -- there's a shop there now,” Bob Yarrow said.
Yarrow and his wife Sarah are Glendale newbies. They opened up their shop, Spinning Wheel Antiques, just late last year, north of downtown.
Old Town Glendale is seeing an entertainment district pop-up with restaurants and bars taking over some spaces left empty by previous stores.
With this transition, Bob says he has faith the neighborhood is on to something new.
“It's Mayberry," he said. "You can sit out on the front porch and it's just got a different character than any other place for antique shops out here.”
Canton Police Department Uses Advanced Gunfire Detection System to Increse Public Safety and Deter Shooters
by SST INC.
One of the first and most prominent things people see when they open the web page for the Canton, Ohio Police Department is a bold, capitalized link to click for information on a gunfire alert and analysis system used by the department to help combat crime. Chief Bruce Lawver, now in his fourth year, wants to make sure the community and potential offenders are well aware that in Canton, violent crime and gun violence will not be tolerated. With the technology in place for more than two years, gunfire incidents have decreased by nearly one-third per year, citizen engagement is up while there are fewer calls for service, and evidence collection has increased by nearly four times.
Combating Violent Crime
When Chief Lawver was promoted to his post in early 2013, the most pressing issue he faced was addressing violent crime in the urban city of 75,000 residents. In urban areas, like Canton, it is believed that only some 20% of gunshots are even called in to the police, for many reasons—including gunfire fatigue where citizens are so used to gunfire that they become desensitized, or they are not sure if they actually hear gunshots, they think their neighbor will call, or in some cases the fear of retaliation.
At the time Chief Lawver took the reins of the 150 person department, the idea of using gunfire detection technology was already being explored as a more effective way to improve public safety. After considering their options, ShotSpotter –- already used successfully by dozens of law enforcement agencies across the country -- was the system that he and his team felt could be most beneficial for the department and the community.
Getting the Word Out
Chief Lawver said that from the very beginning, even before the department began implementing ShotSpotter and testing it, they made sure to widely promote the technology and the benefits to the community. Furthermore, as a major budget item and business decision, it was critical that there was buy-in from the city, community and the department at large.
“We wanted to engage the citizens and make them aware that public safety would be greatly improved,” said Lawver. “But equally, if not more importantly, we wanted to get the word out to offenders and potential offenders that this new system was going to change the game in our favor. I believe it is a powerful psychological tool since criminals don't really know where it is or isn't activated.”
Real-Time Gunshot Alerts
Set up to cover a three square mile radius, the ShotSpotter system is a gunfire detection system that provides precise real-time gunshot alerts, enabling Canton officers to make informed decisions for faster and more accurate emergency response. The technology instantly notifies police officers of gunshot crimes in progress with real-time data delivered to dispatch centers, patrol cars and even smart phones, all in under 45 seconds. .
First responders are able to arrive more quickly, while also being better prepared to act with improved situational intelligence such as precise location for aiding victims, number of shots fired, number of shooters, type of weapon, etc. Previously, law enforcement would have to rely on citizens to call in reports of gunfire and then they would respond to a general area with little knowledge of what they would find at the scene, or if they were even dealing with gunshots.
“Now, instead of relying on phone calls, we are proactive and on the scene almost immediately. Since we deployed ShotSpotter, we have seen our average monthly activations drop 31 percent in 2014 and again by 35 percent in 2015,” explained Lawver. “We know it is working as we have fewer gun-related crime overall and now we can much better handle and resolve each case.”
Integrated Throughout Department
Since ShotSpotter was adopted, the Canton Police Department has done some reorganizing to take full advantage of the new technology. First the department worked with SST Inc., the company behind ShotSpotter, to install and test the system in the designated area. During this time, they also collaborated to have all officers trained in the use of ShotSpotter, as well as undergo new training to address situations where they would be on the scene much faster than before. All squad cars were equipped to receive ShotSpotter gunfire alerts and two officers were assigned full time to be ShotSpotter specialists, working on all aspects of any activations as well as maintaining contact with SST.
Better Evidence and Follow Up
Another important benefit of ShotSpotter is the ability to collect forensic evidence, leading to more thorough investigations and increased prosecutions. Chief Lawver estimates that in Canton, evidence collection is four times greater than before the system was installed. With the accurate gunfire data collected by the system, the technicians can conduct enhanced crime analysis. By getting on the scene faster, they can collect crucial evidence such as shell casings, fingerprints and identify witnesses – resulting in the chance to recover evidence that could be used later in court.
“The community sees that our officers are responding and following up. They knock on doors, they talk to people in the area and they are successful at resolving incidents,” said Lawver. “The community is responding positively and seems to have a new level of ownership in their neighborhoods. They do not want to tolerate gun violence any longer.”
A Must-Have Tool for Law Enforcement
When asked about his future plans for ShotSpotter, Chief Lawver said that he couldn't imagine working without it.
“If you are a police chief in an urban area, it is not a question of should you get it. It is a question of why don't you have it,” said Lawver. “There is no way we could have achieved what we have done in Canton with just manpower alone. You must utilize technology and that is what we have done with ShotSpotter.”
Public safety vs.privacy: Do we really have to choose?
The adversaries have become quite familiar with one another. Privacy, bump gloves at center ring with national security, and let the battle begin. The epic Ali-Frazier fights have nothing on this one.
The showdown between Uncle Sam and Apple computer company pits two Goliaths against one another, with the latter defying a judge's order to unlock a dead terrorist's iPhone — more specifically to disable a self-destruct function that guards against so-called “brute force” fishing expeditions — in order to give the FBI a peek into any potential accomplices or otherwise valuable information regarding the San Bernardino massacre that left 14 dead in December.
The standoff has put both in unenviable positions, between one of the most iconic brands in not just America but the world seeming to protect the secrets of a mass murderer and a federal government that has been known to exercise little caution or conscience in compromising Americans' fundamental privacy, ostensibly in the name of national security.
It's hard to root for either, frankly. Isn't there some middle ground that would permit them to satisfy two cherished principles?
On the one hand, this opinion page has long been a privacy advocate where an unnecessarily overreaching, intrusive government is concerned, so much so that we've long been open to a right to basic privacy embedded in the U.S. Constitution. It is always fair to ask: Who's guarding the guards?
Apple argues that nothing less than privacy itself is at stake, despite assurances from the feds that this is a one-time request, that their interest is in ISIS-inspired Syed Farook's phone alone and that “compliance with the order presents no danger to any other phone.” Apple says it's not that simple, that the password-breaking software does not now exist, that once it does it will be vulnerable to hackers of less-than-honorable intention, that this would set a dangerous precedent to bend to future demands not just from the U.S. but other governments around the world. Meanwhile, Apple recalls the civil liberties violations committed by this same government that were later exposed by Edward Snowden, while insisting it's just sticking up for its customers, the vast majority of whom are law-abiding and peace-loving.
“The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe,” on a device that is far more than a phone, capable of storing the critical details of a person's life, said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “The key question here is how far can the government go in forcing a third party to aid in surveillance?” an official with an ACLU that has joined Apple's fight told the New York Times. “What they're asking for is a God key — and once you get that, there's no going back,” another tech expert said of the government.
On the other hand, you could say there's more than a little hypocrisy in Apple's and these other tech companies' sudden finding of privacy religion, given that they arguably have been among the primary predators and profiteers, so pick your poison. It's been said that without national security, there are no civil rights. If we were a family member of a San Bernardino victim, we'd want Apple to crack that phone. If there's another, similar attack and there was something in that phone that could have helped authorities prevent it, Apple could come to regret this stance. Polling suggests that a slim majority of Americans are with the federal government on this score, for a change. Beyond that, we are just cynical enough to believe there is more than meets the eye here, that an Apple where sales have fallen is looking at its bottom line, as well. Even if Apple complies, new technology will supplant the old soon enough. It's fascinating that an 18th century law — the All Writs Act — is being invoked in court by the government against this most 21st century of companies.
In some ways it's unfortunate that it has come to this stare-down, though it was probably inevitable and this won't be the last. We don't wish to be overly simplistic. We've read differing opinions from knowledgeable people about what's doable here and what's not and the risks involved. But was there any way that Apple could have privately cooperated with the FBI without being publicly compelled to, with most none the wiser regarding a criminal investigation that typically would be off-limits to public consumption at this stage anyway? That cat's out of the bag now, but is there any way that Apple can develop this software — this “God key” — without surrendering control of it to the feds, allowing the latter to get what they need without making other iPhone owners and their personal information vulnerable to government's prying eyes or anybody else's in the future?
We don't pretend to know those answers at the moment, but if that middle road exists, both sides should try to find it. Public safety, reasonable privacy rights and commercial interests are all important, sometimes critical, and we have to believe there's a balance, that they can co-exist without any one crippling the others.
"Jason's Law" unanimously approved by House Public Safety Committee
by Nicole Fierro
TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- The bill named for Kennewick hit and run victim Jason Smith is now another step closer to becoming law.
The House Public Safety Committee unanimously approved what is been called,"Jason's Law" Tuesday. This comes after it was unanimously approved by the senate .
"Jason's Law" is bringing to light a loophole in the justice system that his convicted killer used to his advantage according to officials; eluding police after a fatal accident can keep you from a harsher sentence.
"Jason's Law" hopes to make killing someone behind the wheel at an excessive speed an aggravating factor that's punishable to the same extent as a DUI driving death.
Public Safety demonstrates active shooter awareness to students in light of campus safety
by Julia Campion
If a shooter were to come to campus tomorrow, would you be prepared?
The Department of Public Safety (DPS) is partnering with the Los Angeles Police and Fire Departments to conduct a demonstration on active shooter responses for the LMU community on Thursday, February 25, 2016. DPS hosts annual preparedness campaigns every month, each with a different theme.
February is LMU's Active Shooter Preparedness Month and is meant to showcase how the LAPD responds to active shooter calls and the tactics that are used when dealing with mass casualties on a college campus. Along with helping students become aware of what to do in an active shooter situation, the drill helps the LAPD exercise their procedures in an environment that enforces 24-hour safety.
The demonstration is available as invitation only — although observers passing through the two locations are permitted — and will begin in the Lair at 10 a.m. with a conclusion on the grass at Regents Terrace between St. Rob's and Malone at 11 a.m.
“We hope that the demonstration will add another angle and dimension to raise awareness about the importance of active shooter preparedness,” said Devra Schwartz, Assistant Chief, Emergency Management and administration at DPS.
Students have volunteered to act as victims while LAPD officers will present their skills for finding and neutralizing a suspect in an active shooter incident. They will also execute their practiced procedures when they encounter victims and display the different formations that they use. Stephen Showler, LAPD Pacific Division training sergeant, will be narrating this part of the demonstration.
When the demonstration gets moved to Regents Terrace, the Los Angeles Fire Department will take over and demonstrate how they would coordinate moving victims to a safe zone meant for treatment and transportation to hospitals. The LAFD Assistant Chief Armando Hogan will head this portion.
This event will also include a fire truck and ambulance for LMU students to observe.
Simran Sandhu, DPS emergency management specialist, is new to the DPS team and looks forward to the outcome and future of LMU awareness events.
“I am truly excited to see such an active interest in emergency preparedness from the whole community. I look forward to working with the LMU family on any and all events related to emergency management and preparedness,” said Sandhu.
Although campus currently doesn't face any threat of an active shooter incident, DPS and LMU administrators decided it was appropriate to bring awareness to what is going on in the world around the Bluff.
“I think our campus safety does a really good job in keeping us aware and prepared for any possible active shooter incidents. I always get e-mails, texts and calls for these alerts and drills,” said Amanda Ordaz, freshman psychology major. “They reach out in as many ways as possible and even provide helpful tips to ensure our safety.”
The DPS emergency management team hopes for a successful turnout on Thursday and that participants and students leave with a better awareness about how to deal with an active shooter situation.
“We hope students, faculty and staff in attendance will leave knowing what to expect in an active shooter situation. The more we see, the more we talk and the more we practice, the more prepared we are for emergencies,” said Schwartz.
Active shooter preparedness tips can be found at www.lmu.edu/emergency. Following the demonstration, the LAPD is hosting a personal safety training course. Those who are interested in attending can email DPS at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Space is limited.
Hospital to pay $1M to family of Eric Garner
The figure is the maximum claim allowed under the hospital center's liability insurance policy
by The Associated Press
NEW YORK — The hospital center that dispatched paramedics and treated Eric Garner as he died after being placed into a chokehold by police has agreed to pay $1 million to the family, according to court records obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.
The settlement with Richmond University Medical Center is confidential and wasn't part of the $5.9 million agreement announced by the city in July. But the figure was disclosed in court documents filed in Surrogate's Court on Staten Island that outline how the money will be dispersed to his family. Garner left no will.
The figure is the maximum claim allowed under the hospital center's liability insurance policy, according to court papers.
The hospital center had no comment on the settlement, according to spokesman William Smith. Garner's lawyers didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Garner, a 43-year-old black father of six, died during the encounter on July 17, 2014. Video of the arrest that has been widely circulated online shows the asthmatic, overweight man yelling, "I can't breathe!" after a white officer wraps his arm around Garner's neck and he's wrestled to the ground by police. Emergency workers arrive after officers call 911, check his pulse and make sure he's breathing before placing him on the stretcher.
"Sir, it's EMS. We're here to help you. We're getting the stretcher, all right?" one worker says to Garner when they arrive at 3:36 p.m.
He does not answer.
Later, when a bystander asks on video why they aren't trying to resuscitate him, an officer says it's because Garner is breathing.
"The EMTs did not conduct the appropriate examination" of Garner at the scene and "failed to provide him with the necessary life-saving procedures," according to the court documents.
Hospital records, also filed in the documents, say Garner went into cardiac arrest on the stretcher. The medics tried to resuscitate Garner in the ambulance and doctors again performed CPR at the emergency room. By 4:15, he had no pulse, and he was declared dead at 4:34 p.m. The medical examiner determined his death was caused by the chokehold and restraint by police, coupled with acute asthma, obesity — Garner weighed 395 pounds and was 6-foot-2 — and heart disease.
Two paramedics and two emergency medical technicians were initially suspended without pay by the hospital, but they were reinstated into roles that did not involve patient care. They have since returned to the job, according to hospital officials.
Also detailed in the documents is a proposal for how to disperse the money. Garner's widow will received about $2.4 million. His children will receive sums that range from $195,000 to $996,000. His mother, Gwen Carr, will receive $124,000 for acting as administrator of his estate, and the law firm that represented the family will receive $2.3 million, or one-third, which is a common attorney fee. The family's first attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, fired amid an unrelated sex assault investigation where he was eventually cleared, also requested an undisclosed sum, which the family is disputing.
A judge set a hearing for March 16 to formalize the proposal.
No criminal charges have been filed in Garner's death, which helped galvanize a national movement on police treatment of minorities, but a federal probe continues. Officers have been called before a federal grand jury in Brooklyn. Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who put his arm around Garner's neck, has said he was using a legal takedown maneuver, not a chokehold which is prohibited under police policy.
SF police change gun policy amid fatal OIS of stabbing suspect
The policy lays out a formidable goal: to reduce San Francisco police shootings by 80 percent
by Evan Sernoffsky
SAN FRANCISCO — As San Francisco officials outlined a series of changes Monday designed to reduce police killings and rebuild community trust, they described a fundamental shift in tactics in which officers encountering knife-wielding suspects should focus on keeping their distance and de-escalating the situation.
The package, announced by Police Chief Greg Suhr and Mayor Ed Lee at a City Hall news conference, includes more training and new weaponry as well as changes in philosophy. It seeks to respond to criticism that mounted, particularly in the city's African American community, after the Dec. 2 police killing of Mario Woods in the Bayview neighborhood.
And it lays out a formidable goal: to reduce San Francisco police shootings by 80 percent.
Suhr and Lee have been under immense pressure since videos of Woods' shooting showed several officers firing on the young man — who was a suspect in an earlier stabbing and was allegedly still holding a knife — even though he was shuffling slowly along a wall with his arms at his sides and did not appear to directly threaten the officers.
“It's a huge cultural shift to ask officers to step back, and seems counterintuitive when it's an edged weapon,” Suhr said. He added that “trust was shattered with the officer-involved shooting of Mario Woods. We need to figure out a way to re-engineer force.”
The initiative described Monday combines dozens of changes that were launched both before and after the shooting, and which were developed with input from the city Police Commission and a group of black community leaders that counsels Suhr called the African American Advisory Forum. Members stood with the chief and mayor at the news conference.
Attorney John Burris, who represents Woods' family and has monitored years of court-ordered police reforms in Oakland, called the changes “a step in the right direction.” But he added, “Now the issue is that these extraordinary reforms get implemented.”
The effort, though, was blasted by the Police Department's rank and file, with the officers union saying the new policies haven't been properly negotiated and may endanger police.
Among the policies: Officers are prohibited from using force against a person deemed to be a danger only to himself. They cannot shoot at vehicles, nor apply choke holds. Police plan to give all patrol officers body cameras by the end of the year. And they hope to equip many officers with Taser stun guns.
When an officer points his or her gun at a suspect, it will now be considered a use of force that requires a report — an acknowledgment of the inherent seriousness and danger of such a move. In the past, when officers drew a weapon, their only responsibility was to tell a supervisor about the incident. A supervisor is also mandated to respond to any call involving a weapon.
Suhr and Police Commission President Suzy Loftus said officers will be equipped with helmets, 36-inch batons, gloves and a greater number of less-lethal bean bag rounds — gear that could help subdue a suspect with an edged weapon. However, officers struck Woods with at least four bean bags, which only bruised and staggered him.
Currently, officers must have a two-hour firearms qualification every six months, proving they can hit a target. That will be bumped up, officials said, to an eight-hour session that includes training on how to best use force in different scenarios, resorting to gunfire only when necessary.
In situations involving a person with a knife or other blade — which have been particularly troublesome for officers in San Francisco and around the nation — the idea is to create more time and space, Suhr said. Up to 80 percent of police shootings happen within minutes of officers coming in contact with a subject, the chief said.
Suhr pointed to an episode earlier this month in which officers encountered a knife-wielding suspect who refused to surrender on Fourth Street in the South of Market neighborhood. He said officers specially trained in crisis intervention engaged the 6-foot, 195-pound man and eventually talked him down.
“We want advanced crisis intervention officers — just short of hostage negotiators,” Suhr said.
The changes outlined Monday include an expansion of that training to more officers, and an improvement in technology to get those officers quickly dispatched to tense situations.
Other shifts include the creation of a Professional Standards and Principled Policing Bureau, headed by Deputy Chief Toney Chaplin. It will oversee proposed reforms going forward and work with the U.S. Department of Justice, which is conducting a top-to-bottom review of the San Francisco force.
The city, officials said, will step up efforts to recruit people of color to become cops, and expand a program that invites young people from neighborhoods touched by violence to work closely with police.
Lee called the new policies “substantial and meaningful changes to training and equipment as to how and when officers will use force.” He said the policies will “help our sworn officers strengthen their ties with the community and keep our city safe through a culture change in how we handle conflicts on our streets.”
The changes were applauded by the Rev. Amos Brown, a pastor at Third Baptist Church in the Western Addition and president of the San Francisco branch of the NAACP who is part of Suhr's advisory panel.
“I should like to first commend you for responding to the appeal that came from the womb of the African American community,” Brown said to Suhr and Lee. “I promise the NAACP will be watching to make sure these words do not ring hollow.”
Leaders of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, the union that represents all city officers, were absent from Monday's news conference. City leaders and union officials continue to argue about whether the union is being properly included — and whether it is cooperating — in discussions about changes.
“These are the biggest changes proposed to police policy in over 35 years and — although some of the policies may be good ones — some of the policies may expose our members to harm. We are not going to let that happen,” the union president, Martin Halloran, said in a statement.
“We expect the mayor and the police chief to fulfill their ethical and legal duty to our members and let our voices be heard,” he added. “Our officers put their lives on the line every day to protect this city, and we deserve a seat at the table.”
Anonymous targets police department after deadly shooting
by Ray Jablonski
CINCINNATI, Ohio – The hacking group Anonymous is targeting the Cincinnati Police Department in a video released Sunday.
In the video, someone wearing a mask discusses the group's anger over the department's handling of a deadly officer-involved shooting last week in the city's Westwood neighborhood. The masked man at a podium with a digitized voice threatened to release the personal information of Cincinnati police officers involved in the shooting of Paul Gaston last week, WCPO-TV in Cincinnati reported.
The group then posted online personal information about more than 50 Cincinnati police officers, including Police Chief Eliot Isaac. As of 4:30 a.m. today, the information had been taken down, WLWT-TV in Cincinnati reported.
The case that prompted the hack occurred Feb. 17, when witnesses Paul Gaston became erratic after crashing into a pole. When police confronted him, investigators said Gaston initially complied with officer's orders but then failed to comply with officer's commands and reached to his belt to grab a gun. That's when officers shot him. The gun turned out to be an Airsoft pellet gun, which Isaac called "a very realistic-looking firearm."
Anonymous claims Gaston did comply and cites another shooting in the Cincinnati suburb of Mount Healthy Feb. 16 where a man pointed a gun at officers, but was taken into custody. But videos taken by two witnesses show Gaston reaching into his waistband rather than lying on the ground as he was ordered.
The voice in the video compared Gaston's case to other black men carrying fake weapons who have been shot by police in Ohio, John Crawford and Tamir Rice, and suggests there is a double standard based on race, WCPO reported.
Fraternal Order of Police Sgt. Dan Hils told WXIX-TV in Cincinnati the group doctored videos of the Gaston shooting. The 'Anonymous' video used the cell phone footage of the shooting released by Cincinnati police. Hils said the group cut away from the video when Gaston raised his arm.
"I believe this is a fringe element that is trying to stir up emotions and trouble in a city that is mostly peaceful and supportive of its police department," Hils said.
Public Safety: Mayor Announces Police Dept. Reforms
San Francisco -- Today Mayor Edwin M. Lee joined by Police Commission President Suzy Loftus, Police Chief Greg Suhr and community leaders announced a comprehensive package of police reforms to increase public safety, build greater trust between police officers and the community and make the department more responsive, transparent and accountable. These efforts to fundamentally re-engineer the way that police officers use force include are wide-ranging, and include the creation of a new Bureau of Professional Standards & Principled Policing, major expansions to the Crisis Intervention Team network, new prohibitions on the use of firearms in specific circumstances, and a new Community Safety Initiative to recruit young people from San Francisco neighborhoods most impacted by violence to work with the Department to improve community trust.
“This comprehensive package of police reforms will help our sworn officers strengthen their ties with the community and keep our City safe through a culture change in how we handle conflicts on our streets,” said Mayor Lee. “Reforms include a review by the U.S. Department of Justice, our nation's highest law enforcement authority, to improve upon policies, procedures and training related to use-of-force. These type of sweeping changes will need all of us – advocates, City officials, community members and police officers alike – to work together to rebuild community trust, and that's what will help San Francisco remain one of the safest big cities in the nation. I want to thank Commission President Suzy Loftus for her hours upon hours of work with the community in the past few months, and Chief Suhr's leadership in instituting reforms so quickly.”
In the immediate wake of the Mario Woods shooting, last December, Mayor Lee directed the Police Commission and Department to present a new plan to fundamentally re-engineer the way police officers use force. The Department surveyed policies from cities across the U.S. and consulted with experts to present this new vision for SFPD. The Police Commission directed the SFPD to immediately share this draft policy with a group of advocates, police officers, lawyers and others to ensure that the policy is vetted by the line officer and the civil libertarian alike. It will also be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice and presented at public meetings prior to final adoption by the Commission. Last week, the Commission presented the plan to Mayor Lee, and Mayor Lee is adopting these recommendations for police reform.
New policies and initiatives train officers that proportionality is key in decision making – in particular when using force and that policies must put the sanctity of life at the center of every decision. The goal is to reduce up to 80 percent of officer involved shootings by training officers and equipping them with the tools they need.
Re-engineering the SFPD Use of Force policies will create time, distance and use proportional force, and continues immediate steps that have been taken and larger efforts that are underway to reduce lethal force and build trust with the communities SFPD is sworn to serve:
The Department issued the following immediate policy and equipment changes:
Any time an SFPD officers points their gun at a suspect, it is a reportable use of force
A Supervisor is now mandated to respond to the scene of any call involving a weapon.
Firearms qualification for all SFPD was re-engineered from a 2 hour firearms qualification to an 8 hour “Force Options” training
All patrol vehicles are now equipped with helmets and 3 foot long batons to aid in situations where officers need to create time and distance from someone with an edged weapon
The supply of less lethal bean bag supplies have been doubled
Expanding and funding Crisis Intervention Teams – including improving the technology of how CIT officers are dispatched to scenes of people in crisis
Developing an “Edged Weapon” protocol to better equip officers with the skills needed to create time and distance from suspects armed with edged weapons
Working to secure training and additional equipment to be used as protective shields to aid in creating time and distance
At Mayor Lee's direction, the Department is seeking approval from the Commission to use Electronic Control Devices for Tactical Division and Specialists. This will be decided along with their proposed revisions to the Use of Force Departmental General Order.
Mayor Lee and Chief Suhr have also invited the Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct a collaborative review of the Department's policies and practices and are now partnering to review the Use of Force Policy. The SFPD created the First-Ever Bureau of Professional Standards and Principled Policing to oversee proposed reforms and coordinate closely with the DOJ's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) through its Collaborative Reform Initiative. Chief Suhr has appointed Deputy Chief Tony Chaplain to lead the SFPD Bureau of Professional Standards & Principled Policing, and the Police Commission will hire a Policy Analyst to assist in advancing new policy initiatives.
The Police Commission also requested that the City full fund the Office of Citizen Complaints (OCC)'s budget request to improve their ability to quickly complete thorough investigations and follow best practices around transcribing interviews to aid in investigations of misconduct.
Other parts of the proposed comprehensive package of police reforms include:
Data Transparency and Technology Solutions
Eliminate Bias and Improve Cultural Competency
Investing in Community Safety Initiatives
Recruiting a Diverse Force
Implement 21st Century Policing Recommendations from President Obama's Task Force
Academic Partnership for Evaluation
Mayor Lee, in his SFPD hiring plan, has accelerated the hiring of 250 new police officers over the next two years. The hiring plan will allow the City to meet its mandatory staffing requirement of 1,971 officers in June of 2017, a full year ahead of schedule. Through the budget process, he has increased civilian oversight, provided more training for officers and is deploying body cameras for every SFPD police officer on the street. The Mayor's hiring plan is complimented by the new Community Safety Initiative to recruit young people from within the City's diverse communities that are most impacted by violence. Recruitment of sworn police officers from the City's hardest-to-serve young people that have been exposed to long-term and repeated adversity and violence can play a critical role in interrupting and stopping the cycle of violence, provide healthy interaction with police officers and will improve community trust.
To read the letter from Police Commission President Suzy Loftus and Police Chief Greg Suhr, go to: http://sfmayor.org/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=484 .
On Human Stupidity and Violence
by Dr. Jack A. Digliani Police Psychologist
Albert Einstein once said “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.” Seems he was sure about human stupidity.
In light of recent events, it has become increasing difficult to argue against Einstein's position. The human capacity for stupidity, especially when assessed through the observations of nearly incomprehensible human cruelty, certainly seems unlimited.
As a species, humans are an interesting lot. Collectively, we have developed sciences and created technologies that would have appeared magical just a century ago. Modern medicine, space exploration, computer science, electronic communication, social media, and numerous other disciplines are reflective of advances that are unprecedented in the previous totality of human history. Our knowledge and accomplishments increase exponentially with every passing year. Maybe we are not so stupid after all.
But there is another side to the human equation. This side has less to do with science, technology, and achievement. This side has to do with our inherent or perhaps inherited view of ourselves and the world. This side has to do with how we conceptualize ourselves and everything around us, including other people. This side has to do with what we are taught and what we have come to believe is true. Interestingly, once we “decide” what is “true” we often lose the capacity to consider, appreciate, or even just tolerate, beliefs outside our own.
It sometimes feels that the world is in dire straits. This is nothing new. Previous generations have reported feeling similarly. If our technology permitted time travel, it would be interesting to see how the current state-of-the-world evolves (if at all) over the next century. Perhaps greater human harmony. Perhaps not. One thing seems certain, in spite of all our positive science and technological accomplishments, we have yet to learn how to respectfully live with one another.
Violence continues to plague our species. Why? Why has violence comprised so much of human history? Why is violence so much a part of modern life? There are many thoughts and theories about the causes of human violence. Most acknowledge the influence of human biology and our “animal nature.” Some theories emphasize early development, cognitive structures and conceptualizations, learning, emotional maturity, and social environments. Others cite the struggle for survival, personal and social competition, a desire for power, and the need to control territory or resources. Regardless of the basis of any theoretical perspective, it seems reasonable to conclude that there are likely a myriad of causes for violent human behavior. It is also reasonable to conclude that such causes are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
Several of the causes of violent human behavior are more readily understood than others. Some violence is generated from a sick and malfunctioning brain. Persons suffering from a sick brain are frequently considered mentally ill. Those that become violent due to mental illness are often psychotic. They experience delusions (irrational false beliefs) and hallucinations (disorder of perceptions). The most common type of hallucination in psychotic disorders is auditory. Auditory hallucinations primarily involve hearing voices. At times, the voices will tell a person to do things. Such auditory hallucinations are known as “command hallucinations.” Command hallucinations can be remarkably influential and, in conjunction with a delusional belief system, can produce very violent behavior. How influential are some command hallucinations? So influential that some persons will (1) kill themselves (or attempt to kill themselves and survive – this is how we know about suicidal command hallucinations) or (2) kill others if commanded to do so. Some delusional systems are sufficiently influential to produce violence in the absence of command hallucination.
Some violence has its origin in human thought and emotion. Violence that is driven primarily by emotion can be impulsive (losing one's temper), planned (getting even for a perceived transgression), or generated out of fear and anxiety (seen most often when escape options are unavailable). Police officers are quite familiar with emotionally-driven violence. It is a factor in many police calls and it is sometimes directed at police officers. It can also be the cause of police officer violence.
Related to emotionally-driven violence is violence driven primarily by thought. Thought-driven violence occurs in the relative absence of emotion. It is often the result of (1) “cold and calculating” cognitive aforethought or (2) situational decision-making. Completing a “contract” for murder, when the “contractor” has no emotional connection to the victim, is an example of the first type of thought-driven violence. Thought-driven violence in situational decision-making is illustrated in the case of a bank robber who wishes only to obtain bank money and quietly depart. However, when the bank alarm is triggered and police officers surround the bank, the robber decides to shoot it out with officers instead of going or returning to prison.
Perhaps the greatest cause of human violence is opposing belief systems. Beliefs are incredibly powerful and frequently drive behavior. Humans will die for their beliefs, at least for some of them. Humans will kill in the name of their beliefs, at least some of them. When belief systems clash, very violent behavior becomes possible. Persons engaging in this type of violence are not mentally ill by any professional definition. Instead, they act out violently because it serves some internalized purpose such as compliance with doctrine, advancing a cause, righting a perceived wrong, attacking a conceptualized enemy, and so on. History is replete with belief-clash violence. The modern world is inundated with it. Belief-clash violence is an age-old story that has involved countless individuals and groups over thousands of years.
Given human history and the current state of human affairs, is it possible for people with opposing beliefs to live together peacefully? Perhaps, but it would require a monumental alteration in the collective human consciousness – including a moderation of extremely disparate views and a universal commitment to mutual coexistence. What is needed is nothing less than an evolution in human thinking. Such evolution would represent an unprecedented redefinition of whom and what we are as a species.
Clearly, unless the differences between and among human beings can be better understood, respected, and moderated, not much is likely to change. After millennia of recorded history, there has been remarkably little sustained advancement in how human beings treat one another. Maybe Einstein was right.
Police: Suspect shot at least 1 of 2 wounded NY officers
It was the second on-duty shooting of multiple officers in the nation's biggest city this month
by Verena Dobnik
NEW YORK — Ballistics tests on a bullet pulled from the vest of one of two officers wounded during a weekend confrontation with a gunman show it came from the suspect's revolver, police said Monday.
New York Police Department Officer Andrew Yurkiw was struck in his bullet-resistant vest during the Saturday morning shooting in Brooklyn that touched off after the suspect slammed his car into a police vehicle. Officer William Reddin was struck in the hip; tests were still being conducted on fragments to try to determine where that shot originated, police said.
City officials said more than 30 rounds were fired during the chaotic scene, and it wasn't clear initially whether the officers had been struck accidentally by police bullets. Several officers converged on the armed driver and fired while he was in his car.
The suspect, Jamal Funes, was hit multiple times and is in critical condition. Police recovered a .357 Magnum in the front seat of his car. Police say he had earlier pointed a gun at officers before fleeing.
The shooting came a little more than two weeks after Officers Diara Cruz and Patrick Espeut were shot and wounded on patrol in a public housing stairwell in the Bronx by a gunman who killed himself soon after, police said. Last month, Officer Sherrod Stuart was wounded in the ankle by a police bullet as another officer exchanged gunfire with a suspect in a Bronx street brawl.
In October, Officer Randolph Holder was shot and killed by a suspected bicycle thief he was chasing in Manhattan.
Report: Calif. officer-involved shootings are rarely prosecuted
Most shootings were justifiable under the law, involving armed suspects who opened fire on police
by Jack Dolan
LOS ANGELES — A grainy video showed 21-year-old Iraq War veteran Elio Carrion on the ground, pleading with a San Bernardino County, Calif., deputy who held him at gunpoint.
Carrion was a passenger in a car that Deputy Ivory Webb pulled over after a high-speed pursuit in Chino. Carrion, who was unarmed, is heard telling Webb “we mean you no harm” seconds before the deputy shot him three times without visible provocation.
The bystander video of the 2006 shooting drew national attention and prompted a rare prosecution: Webb is the only on-duty officer charged with a crime in more than 2,000 Southern California police shootings since 2004, a Los Angeles Times examination of district attorney's files, coroner's reports and court records show.
Webb's attorney said the deputy feared Carrion might have been reaching for a weapon as he rose to his feet. A jury acquitted Webb. San Bernardino District Attorney Michael Ramos, who maintains he was right to file the charges, said the verdict taught him a lasting lesson about public sentiment.
“They may be marching in the streets about police shootings,” Ramos said, but when people serve as jurors, “they still have a high regard for peace officers and the difficult job they do.”
Last year, as protests against excessive force by police spread across the country, there was an increase nationally in the number of murder and manslaughter charges filed against officers for on-duty shootings, according to data compiled by Philip M. Stinson, an associate professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Eighteen officers were charged in 2015, more than were prosecuted in the previous four years combined, he said.
But such prosecutions remain almost unheard of in six Southern California counties — Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Imperial — where there has been a police shooting roughly every other day since 2004, records show.
Most of those shootings were justifiable under the law, involving armed suspects who opened fire on police, suspects who refused to drop weapons during confrontations and people — often mentally ill or on drugs — who attacked officers.
Current and former Southern California prosecutors said in interviews that they declined to file charges even when videos, witness statements or forensic evidence raised serious questions about the officers' version of events because they would have to convince a jury that the officers did not legitimately fear for their lives when they pulled the trigger.
Further, state courts have ruled that the criminal justice system should be “highly deferential” to the judgments made by officers in the field because they are sometimes forced to make split-second life or death decisions. Officers can't be held criminally responsible even if they misjudge a threat — confusing a cellphone for a gun is common, for example — so long as they acted on reasonable and honest convictions, courts have ruled.
“Like it or not, the law provides huge cover for the police in these situations,” said Steve Cooley, L.A. County district attorney from 2000 to 2012. He said almost every shooting he reviewed was justified, but acknowledged he had a term for cases that were highly questionable but lacked the evidence to charge the officer: “awful but lawful.”
Another former Los Angeles district attorney, Gil Garcetti, said the near certainty that local prosecutors won't file charges against police means it's time to take the decision out of their hands and give it to the state attorney general.
Attorney General Kamala Harris opposed a bill last year that would have done just that, but similar ideas are gaining traction nationally. In 2014, Wisconsin became the first state to require that police shooting investigations be done by outside agencies. Last year, New York began requiring the state attorney general to investigate cases in which police kill unarmed civilians and Connecticut took all police shooting investigations out of the hands of local prosecutors.
Garcetti said many people, especially in minority communities, believe district attorneys don't file charges because of their close relationship with police, who they rely on as investigators and witnesses in other cases. “Even if local prosecutors can handle the cases objectively, the public will not trust their decisions because of the obvious conflict,” Garcetti said.
In Los Angeles County, police departments conduct their own shooting investigations with a lawyer and an investigator from the district attorney's office looking over their shoulder, to make sure evidence and witnesses aren't manipulated.
If prosecutors were to conclude a shooting was unjustified, the most likely charges would include assault or manslaughter, which would require the D.A.'s office to prove that an officer acted with reckless disregard for human life.
Garcetti (father of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti) was the county's top prosecutor during the Rampart Division scandal, in which two LAPD officers admitted covering up an unjustified shooting and accused others of doing the same.
He said police sometimes kept civilian witnesses to shootings away from his investigators. In addition, when several officers were involved in a shooting, the department sometimes would allow them to coordinate their stories before they were interviewed by the DA's office, Garcetti said.
“There were times when we knew we were not getting the full story,” he said.
Jackie Lacey, a career prosecutor who succeeded Cooley in 2012, said she didn't know of any cases in which police departments interfered with the work of her investigators.
“I believe we do an extraordinary job at independently collecting and evaluating the evidence and applying the law,” she wrote in an email to The Times.
In December, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck asked Lacey to charge one of his officers for fatally shooting Brendon Glenn, an unarmed homeless man, in the back during a May 5 encounter in Venice.
If Lacey files charges, Officer Clifford Proctor will be the first to be prosecuted for an on-duty shooting in L.A. County since 2000, a period in which there have been more than 1,300 police shootings, records show. Lacey declined to comment on the case.
The shooting of Glenn was captured on a surveillance video, which has not been publicly released. Video evidence that appeared to contradict the officers' claims that they fired because they feared for their lives was key in prosecutors' decisions to file charges in recent high-profile cases in South Carolina, Ohio, Louisiana and Illinois.
Although prosecutions remain extremely rare, officers can face departmental discipline, ranging from reprimand to dismissal, if a shooting is found to have violated policy. Internal disciplinary proceedings are confidential under California law, however, so such actions are difficult to track and do little to assure the public that officers face consequences when they use excessive force.
A handful of Southern California officers have been criminally charged for beating suspects in recent years. In 2015, a female LAPD officer was convicted of assault and sentenced to three years in prison after a dashboard video camera caught her choking and kicking a handcuffed suspect who later died. A year earlier, an Orange County jury found two former Fullerton police officers not guilty in the 2011 videotaped beating death of a schizophrenic man, who could be heard saying he couldn't breath and crying out to his father for help during the struggle.
Controversial shootings that don't result in prosecution often end up in civil court where the burden of proof is significantly lower and jurors are often sympathetic to families of people killed by police. Judgments and settlements resulting from such cases have cost Southern California taxpayers at least $150 million since 2004.
After jurors found the San Bernardino deputy not guilty of attempted manslaughter and assault, shooting victim Elio Carrion sued the county for violating his civil rights. He settled for $1.5 million in 2009.
The same year, Los Angeles Sheriff's deputies fired 61 rounds into the back of Alfredo Montalvo's car following a brief pursuit. Prosecutors declined to press charges because they said the driver had used his car as a weapon, repeatedly ramming it into one of 11 police vehicles that had him surrounded in Lynwood.
The deputies said they feared for their lives because the force of the collisions knocked two of them over and pushed the patrol car backward onto a third deputy's foot. But several witnesses questioned during a civil trial by the family's attorney, John C. Taylor, including deputies who were at the scene but didn't shoot, said they didn't see anyone fall down or get run over. The three deputies the district attorney said had been injured had no broken bones, dislocated joints or swelling, according to medical records introduced at the trial.
After reviewing the evidence — including photos of both cars that showed about a dozen bullet holes in Montalvo's rear window, but almost no collision damage — the civil jury found the officers had used excessive force in killing the unarmed, 29-year-old father of two. The county paid Montalvo's family nearly $9 million.
Montalvo's widow, Annette Montalvo, said the money is bittersweet because she thought the officers should have been prosecuted. “I think the officers should pay a price,” she said. “They're the ones who keep doing this.”
Cooley and Lacey declined to comment on the case. A spokesman for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department also declined to comment.
In 2013, Brian Beaird slammed his Corvette into a downtown Los Angeles light post following a chaotic, televised car chase. About two dozen officers hopped out of their cars behind him, most held their fire, but three LAPD officers shot Beaird in the back, killing him on live TV.
The officers said Beaird had been reaching under his seat during the pursuit, perhaps for a gun, and he reached for his waistband as he stumbled out of his mangled car and tried to flee on foot. Prosecutors reviewed the video and found no evidence that Beaird had a weapon or posed a threat when he was shot. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck rejected the officers' claim that their lives had been in danger and said the shooting was “not justified.”
Months later, Lacey issued a letter declining to press charges because she didn't think she could prove that the officers “were not actually and reasonably in fear” for their safety. In a recent interview, Lacey said she stands by the decision because, during the pursuit, which ended in a spectacular crash with another vehicle, Beaird had endangered many people's lives and refused to pull over.
The city council, worried a civil jury would find the officers had used excessive force, approved paying Beaird's father $5 million to settle his lawsuit, the most the city had paid in a police shooting in more than a decade.
Beck fired two of the three officers in September 2015. They are now suing the city to get their jobs back. Their attorney did not respond to requests for comment.
Although police have broad latitude to fire their weapons in self-defense, a 1985 Supreme Court case involving an unarmed burglar who was shot in the back while climbing a 6-foot chain link fence established one of the few bright lines officers must not cross — they can't use deadly force against a fleeing suspect who poses no obvious threat.
Attorneys for the family of Alejandro Rendon argued that's exactly what happened when an Indio police officer fatally shot the 23-yeard-old in the back in February 2013.
Officer Alex Franco began pursuing Rendon after spotting him riding his bicycle without a headlight. Rendon tried to peddle away, fell off the bike, then rose from the pavement as if he were holding a gun and assumed the classic shooter's stance, Franco told investigators after the shooting. The two were almost face to face when Franco fired, he said.
But Rendon had no gun, and he didn't fall on the pavement where Franco said the two had faced off, according to the Riverside County district attorney's case file. He came to rest several yards away, on the other side of a six-foot high chain link fence. A bloody cellphone and a small kitchen knife were found next to his body. He'd been shot once in the lower abdomen, from the side, and once in the back from below — suggesting he'd been climbing over the fence when Franco fired.
Ronald R. Scott, a former commander of the Massachusetts State Police ballistics team, who testified for the family during the civil trial, said the forensic evidence contradicted the explanation that Rendon was facing Franco when he fired. The Riverside County Sheriff's Department “simply accepted the officers' version of events, and never did an investigation to see if the evidence supported it,” Scott said.
Officer Franco, the Indio Police Department and the Riverside County district attorney's office declined to comment on the case.
A Times review of the 400-page case file showed no evidence that investigators from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department asked Franco to explain how a fatal bullet entered Rendon's back, even though Franco seemed to acknowledge the possibility that Rendon had been fleeing when he pulled the trigger.
Asked by investigators if he had given Rendon any commands, Franco said he only had time to yell once during the brief encounter. “I don't know if it was after I shot or before. … I was yelling, ‘Get down. Get down from the fence,'” Franco said.
The investigator did not ask Franco to clarify where Rendon had been when he fired, the transcript shows.
In January 2014, the Riverside County district attorney's office issued a two-sentence statement saying there was, “no evidence of criminal liability on the officer's part,” and the case was closed.
Months later, a civil jury found Franco had committed battery and used excessive force, awarding Rendon's family nearly $2 million.
Child abuse cases take emotional toll on officers
by Bianca Cain Johnson
No one wants to hear about the cases that Columbia County sheriff's Investigator Daniel Gaston is working. They're too terrible, people said.
His co-workers can handle robberies, shootings and homicides, but no one wants to hear about the physical or sexual abuse of a child.
Gaston, like others in his role, never thought he could do it, either.
“It's something I never would have signed up for,” said Investigator Debbie Rodgers, who handles similar cases in the Aiken County Sheriff's Office's juvenile division.
It's a job that's not only saddening for local investigators, all of whom are parents, but also frustrating because many of the cases are difficult to prosecute.
“I think the hardest part of the job, especially with sexual assaults, is the ‘he said, she said,'?” Aiken County sheriff's Lt. Vicky Gaskins said.
Unlike other crimes, which are usually reported immediately after they are committed, sexual and physical assaults involving children come weeks, months or even years afterward. The victims sometimes cannot verbalize the incident and often aren't aware they've been victims.
“These are not crimes committed when you have a witness,” Gaskins said. “They are often done in privacy … Often when they do come forward, if there was any (physical) evidence, it's long gone.”
Frequently, Rodgers said, she sees children who were victimized grow up to “act out,” getting into trouble with law enforcement or using drugs when they get older. Many of them were involved in cases where there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute.
“It's just sad because it's really a case that affects the victim emotionally and mentally,” she said.
The burnout rate among such investigators is high.
“Not many people want to be in this position,” Gaston said.
He relies on his wife for motivation and as a sounding board after a long, emotional case. As a child, his wife was physically and sexually abused by her stepfather, who was convicted of the crime. Even though Gaston has heard her stories before, it's still surprising when he hears the same stories come out of a child's mouth.
“She's a good outlet,” he said of his wife. “I do go see a counselor once a month. It's not something you sit around and talk to your friends about.”
Gaskins said learning coping skills is a necessary part of the job.
Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Mark Dobbins has found some relief in working more proactive cases. When he started, he handled only reactive cases, which were reported after the crime was committed.
“I started to realize there's nothing I can do to change what happened,” he said, “but I can change (the future).”
Through his work with the Internet Crimes Against Children task force, he is able to stop potential predators before a victim is harmed. Dobbins said his research indicates child abuse often starts in other forms such as pornography or child porn, then escalates into abuse.
Dobbins prosecutes cases of child pornography possession and those where an adult chats with a minor online and arranges to meet for a sexual encounter. The proactive cases, which leave a digital trail, are also easier to prosecute.
In all aspects, education is a major component. All investigators work closely with schools and parents to make them aware of the dangers, the signs and when to call police.
Last year, Erin's Law passed in South Carolina, mandating that all schools have safety talks with children about the dangers and what to do if they are victims. Students in Aiken County schools are addressed about the issue twice a year, and each time there is an increase in cases, Gaskins said.
The reward in the difficult and emotional job sometimes doesn't come for years. Gaskins said some victims keep in touch through letters and photos. Dobbins said he will sometimes see a child years later, grown up and thriving after a successful prosecution helped bring closure.
“The reason I do it is to protect kids,” Gaston said. “I don't care about the parents or the suspects. I care about the child.”
Michigan shooting spree: What we know and don't know
by Holly Yan
For seven hours, the shooter drove from one target to another, police said, gunning down victims at random.
And in between the shootings, he apparently picked up passengers for Uber.
As families mourn the deaths of six people in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, one question looms above all else: Why? Why did the gunman do this?
Here's what we know and don't know about the attacks:
What we know:
The gunman shot eight people in three different parts of the county Saturday evening, authorities said.
Around 5:42 p.m., he shot a woman in front of her children at an apartment complex parking lot, prosecutor Jeffrey Getting said. The woman was struck multiple times but is expected to survive.
Four hours later, the gunman killed a father and son at a car dealership, police said.
Minutes after that, he drove to a Cracker Barrel restaurant and opened fire in the parking lot, killing four women and wounding a 14-year-old girl.
"These were very deliberate killings," Getting said. "This wasn't hurried in any way, shape or form."
What we don't know:
How the gunman chose the victims.
"This is your worst nightmare -- when you have somebody just driving around randomly killing people," Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas told CNN affiliate WOOD-TV.
Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley said the seemingly random selection of victims makes the rampage even more difficult to cope with.
"There is this sense of loss, anger (and) fear," he said. "On top of that, how do you tell the families of these victims that they were not targeted for any other reason than they were a target?"
What we know:
Two hours after the final shooting, police found their suspect: 45-year-old Jason Brian Dalton. He was arrested without incident in downtown Kalamazoo. Police also seized a weapon from his car.
Dalton was driving for Uber the night of the shootings and even picked up and dropped off passengers between attacks, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN.
Matt Melle told CNN affiliate WWMT he rode in Dalton's car just before the shootings started.
"We got about a mile from my house, and he got a telephone call. After that call, he started driving erratically, running stop signs," Mellen told the affiliate.
Uber's chief security officer told CNN that Dalton passed a background check. Police also said Dalton did not have a criminal record.
"For all intents and purposes, he was your average Joe," the public safety chief said. "This was random."
What we don't know:
Who that phone call was from, and whether it may have played a role in the rampage.
What we know:
Police have not released the name of the woman wounded in front of her children at the apartment complex.
Richard Smith, 53, and his son Tyler, 17, were looking at a vehicle at a car dealership when both were shot and killed, police said.
The four women killed at the Cracker Barrel parking lot were already in two vehicles when they were shot. Authorities identified them as Dorothy Brown, 74; Barbara Hawthorne, 68; Mary Lou Nye, 62; and Mary Jo Nye, 60.
A 14-year-old girl who was in the passenger seat of one of the vehicles was struck and is in "very, very critical condition," Hadley said.
What we don't know:
How many more victims might have been killed if police didn't catch the suspect.
"There is just no question more people would have died if (police) didn't find him when they did," Getting, the prosecutor, said.
What we know:
Police say they don't think the shootings were acts of terrorism.
"We have no reason to believe this was connected to terrorism or something more," the public safety chief said. "We believe he acted alone."
Under federal law, "terrorism" refers to a violent or dangerous crime that appears to be intended to either (1) intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (2) influence government policy by intimidation or coercion; or (3) affect government conduct by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping, constitutional lawyer Page Pate wrote.
What we don't know:
Virtually everything else about the motive.
"We just can't figure out the motive," said Hadley, the public safety chief. "There's nothing that gives us any indication as to why he would do this or what would have triggered this. The victims did not know him; he did not know the victims."
Texas Private Colleges Are Saying No To Guns On Campus
AUSTIN (AP) – When Texas' conservative Legislature passed a law requiring public universities to allow concealed guns on campus, it also gave the state's private institutions of higher learning the chance to follow suit. None has so far.
More than 20 private schools have said they won't lift their gun bans when the law takes effect this August, including the state's largest private universities that have religious affiliations and often align with the type of conservative values espoused by the politicians behind the law.
The opposition has not surprised top Texas Republicans who championed the law as a matter of constitutional rights and self-defense. But it reflects a widespread belief even among conservative university leaders that guns have no place in the classroom.
Baylor, Texas Christian and Southern Methodist universities have all declined to allow guns on their campuses.
“My own view is that it is a very unwise public policy,” Baylor President Ken Starr, a former prosecutor and judge best known for his work on the Whitewater investigation involving President Bill Clinton, said late last year. The Baptist school announced this month that guns would not be allowed on campus.
Previous law generally banned concealed handguns from Texas' public and private universities. That changed last year, when lawmakers passed the so-called “campus carry” law that requires public universities to allow concealed handgun license holders to bring their weapons into campus buildings and classrooms.
Texas will be one of at least 20 states that allow some form of campus carry. But only a few make it a defined right in state law like Texas does.
The law faced strong objections from public higher education officials, law enforcement, students and faculty across the state.
Opponents included University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven, the former head of U.S. Special Operations Command who directed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. A notable exception was Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, who said guns on campus didn't trouble him.
When public schools asked for the same choice private schools have, state lawmakers said no.
The author of the law, Sen. Brian Birdwell, whose district includes Baylor, said he had to protect the public's “God-given” right of self-defense on public property, but also private property rights. He notes private businesses can ban guns.
Private universities are “no different than Starbucks selling coffee. What they are selling is different,” Birdwell said.
“Now it's up to the marketplace of free enterprise … to make a market decision,” about guns on campus, Birdwell said. “My duty was to preserve their ability to make that choice.”
Lawmakers likely also would have faced legal action from private schools over any attempt to force them to accept guns. Many of the state's private schools are religious-based and likely would have resisted having such a major policy decision thrust on them.
“I did expect a number of schools to try to circumvent the law,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told WFAA-TV of Dallas. “I don't know why colleges are fixated with this. I think it makes campuses safer.”
The campus carry advocacy group Students for Concealed Carry supported private university choice and expected most to initially ban guns.
“(Our) hope is that once the administrators of private colleges see campus carry safely and successfully implemented on public college campuses, they'll reconsider,” the group said.
The public school gun mandate frustrates University of Texas President Greg Fenves. On Wednesday, Fenves begrudgingly approved rules allowing guns in his classrooms, saying the law gave him no alternative.
“Private universities have made a statement that handguns do not belong in campus buildings. I agree,” Fenves said. “We don't have a choice.”
There is an ironic twist to the law's Aug. 1 start date, as it will be the 50th anniversary of sniper Charles Whitman's deadly attack from the top of the University of Texas campus clock tower and administration building.
While some faculty warn Texas' public universities will be less attractive to top teachers, researchers and students once guns are allowed, others are threatening to make a stand this fall against the law.
Nobel Prize-winning physicist and Texas professor Steven Weinberg has said he will put into his syllabus that his class is not open to students carrying guns.
“I may wind up in court,” Weinberg said. “I'm willing to accept that possibility.”
Bratton's more concerned about public image vs. public safety
by Larry Celona and Tina Moore
The city's top cop wants rank-and-file officers to ask themselves what the public would think before using force, police sources said Sunday.
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton asked his higher-ups to read several news articles before they attend a seminar Monday on the department's new use-of-force guidelines.
The articles assigned to the brass include a piece from the Web site governing.com about a report from the Police Executive Research Forum outlining 30 guiding principles on use of force that departments can voluntarily adopt.
The report calls for cops to weigh whether the general public would view their use of force as proportional to the threat posed.
One of the tips advises threatened officers to “pull back.”
“When engaging a person with an edged weapon, officers should sometimes pull back to keep a safe distance,” the article states, pointing out that, instead, “many academies teach cadets to hold their ground and open fire out of self-defense.”
The national law-enforcement group also advises cops to “first weigh the severity of the response (firing a gun) against the severity of the threat posed by the person.”
One source ripped that advice.
“That's ridiculous,” the police source said. “The public is not the expert. We're the experts.”
The attendees of the seminar — which will include chiefs, assistant chiefs and other officials and which will be held at the Wave Hill House in the Riverdale section of The Bronx — were also told to read an article from a Denver TV news show's interview with that city's top cop.
That article reveals that a contingent of officers traveled to Scotland in 2015 to study how officers in that country train.
The vast majority of police in Scotland are unarmed.
Such suggestions of European-style tactics are not likely to sit well with NYPD police officers, according to one source — who called the tactics proposed in the articles suggested by Bratton “knee jerk s–t.”
“If I get into a fight with a guy who's bigger than me and I have an opportunity to get him in a chokehold so he doesn't take me down, I'll do it,” the source said. “And almost every cop would.
Your intent is to tip the tables in your favor.”
The NYPD guidelines were announced in October in the wake of high-profile police confrontations, including the police takedown of innocent tennis player James Blake, the deadly arrest of Eric Garner on Staten Island and the fatal shooting of Akai Gurley in an East New York housing project.
Officer Peter Liang was convicted in Brooklyn court on Feb. 11 of manslaughter for killing Gurley.