March, 2016 - Week 3
Colorado reduces prison population, but at what cost to public safety?
Dangerous parolees are remaining on the streets in Colorado, despite breaking the law and failing drug tests, a Denver Post review finds. Some have gone on to commit serious crimes.
by Noelle Phillips and Kirk Mitchell
A push to reduce recidivism rates among Colorado parolees is leaving dangerous ex-cons on the streets, including a man now accused of murder, another who shot a Denver police officer and another man accused of pimping a teen runaway.
Instead of sending difficult offenders back to prison for breaking rules, parole officers increasingly are told to find alternatives such as counseling, short-term jail stints or other sanctions.
A 2015 law — aimed at reducing the prison population — changed how and when parolees are arrested and sent before the State Parole Board. Then in October, the Department of Corrections added another layer that put the decision about whether to seek parole revocation in the hands of just two people.
Within three months, the changes slashed in half recidivism rates for technical violations. But the reduction has come at a cost, an investigation by The Denver Post has found.
Parole officers describe a high hurdle created by their bosses that has left them feeling frustrated and powerless to protect the public.
In some cases, "There's only one way to stop the madness, and that's put them in jail," one parole officer said. "We effectively let a guy get killed."
He and five other parole officers spoke to The Denver Post on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation by corrections department officials.
The officers specifically pointed to the changes that put state parole director Melissa Roberts and deputy director Alison Morgan at the center of the Department of Corrections' drive to reduce recidivism rates. Roberts and Morgan decide when a parolee faces a revocation hearing before the State Parole Board and when they will be allowed to remain free, according to an internal memo obtained by The Post. Previously, parole officers could make those decisions on their own.
"NO parolee goes in front of the parole board for a revocation hearing unless the case has been reviewed and approved by Alison Morgan or Melissa Roberts," the memo says.
The parole officers said they felt compelled to bring attention to the changes after parolee Calvin Johnson, a 44-year-old homeless man, was charged with murder in a New Year's Day stabbing death of another homeless man, Teodoro Leon III.
Johnson's parole officers repeatedly warned that he was dangerous, including an October notation in his records that said, "It is this supervisor's opinion that offender is currently a risk to public safety and to the staff that come in contact with him."
On Oct. 13, Johnson was arrested, and his parole officer asked to take him before the parole board. But Johnson was released from jail Oct. 26. The corrections department redacted all entries between those dates in a copy of his parole record given to The Post.
Roberts and Morgan were involved in Johnson's case, including after a Dec. 2 outburst at a drug testing facility where Johnson threatened workers with physical and sexual violence, according to Johnson's parole records.
On Dec. 3, Johnson's parole officer received an e-mail from his manager passing along a message from Morgan that said, "We need to do our very best to continue working with him."
The Post sought comment from Morgan, but Roberts answered questions on her behalf.
While Johnson had a history of being belligerent and verbally aggressive, he had not physically assaulted anyone, she said.
Roberts said she looked at the totality of his circumstances and decided it would be best to partner with community outreach agencies and to continue working with him.
"A risk to public safety"
Critics of the new policy say parole officers, who best know which ex-cons are the most dangerous, have lost the ability to take people off the streets before they hurt someone else or themselves.
"If you've got a guy going off the rails, not being able to arrest him is definitely a drawback," said Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey. "The idea that you have to wait until one of these people commits a crime or injures somebody is bad public policy and is clearly a risk to public safety."
Morrissey said Johnson's behavior leading up to the New Year's Day stabbing was a clear sign that he was dangerous.
Johnson was living in a tent in an alley outside the parole office on Lincoln Street in Denver.
Already, Johnson had been kicked out of a rehabilitation program for being disruptive, had thrown a tantrum inside a local business and had been arrested once for parole violations, according to his records.
"Those are usually signs it's time to straighten the guy out or he's going off the rails," Morrissey said.
Still, on Dec. 9, Johnson was taken off intensive supervision — just a week after his outburst at the drug testing office.
And five days after that, Morgan used Johnson as a success story for her division when speaking to the legislature's Joint Judiciary Committee.
"It was a tremendous collaboration between parole and mental health and the community-based organizations," Morgan told the panel. "And that's how all of this is working, really very successfully."
On Dec. 29, an entry in Johnson's records noted a threatening voicemail he had left for a community re-entry specialist. In it, Johnson said "not to judge him on what's going to happen in the next week, weeks or months because things are going to get nasty," according to a portion of his parole record. The corrections department redacted that entry in Johnson's records, but The Post obtained it from another source.
Within three days, Leon was dead.
"Sure and swift"
Nationally, states are trying to reduce prison populations, and cutting recidivism rates is one way to lower the numbers.
Inmates can be sent back to prison for a number of reasons, including committing new crimes or technical violations, which could include failed drug or alcohol tests, missed therapy sessions, arrests or curfew violations.
Rather than send people to the parole board to face revocation for technical violations, parole officers are asked to find alternative sanctions such as counseling drug rehab or shortening curfews.
One option created by state law in 2015 allows parole officers to jail clients for a few days for technical violations. The jail stays — called "sure and swift" — are supposed to remind parolees of what they stand to lose should they go back to prison.
State Rep. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs and a bill sponsor, said people were filling the state's prisons for technical violations. The "sure and swift" response was tested through a pilot program. Once corrections officials declared it successful, the legislature was ready to enact it, he said.
Sen. Michael Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs and another bill sponsor, said parole officers supported the bill when it was passed and he has not heard complaints about the changes it brought.
Another goal was to change the parole officer culture, Lee said.
"In the past, parole officers were more cop-oriented," he said.
To help solve the country's mass incarceration problem, parole officers need to be more attuned to fixing underlying problems among their clients, Lee said.
One parole officer told The Post that he doesn't advocate sending everyone back to prison for missteps. Watching a man overcome his past and leading a decent life is the most fulfilling part of the job, the officer said.
Colorado corrections officials say the state has one of the highest recidivism rates in the country, and they are trying to reduce those numbers.
Three months after the October changes, the number of technical parole revocations plummeted 51 percent to 145 in December from 297 in October. The prior three years, December technical parole violations exceeded 300.
Colorado's parole revocation numbers have varied wildly over the years, often driven by shifts in policy rather than parolee behavior.
In March 2013, the number returning to prison spiked 45 percent after parolee Evan Ebel killed Nathan Leon, a Commerce City father of three, and assassinated then-corrections department executive director Tom Clements.
That year, the number of parolees yanked back to prison on technical violations climbed to 397 in October from 273 in March.
Rick Raemisch — executive director of the state Department of Corrections, which oversees parole — said his agency is trying new programs to help people change. Past practices were not successful, and Colorado is following national trends.
"I don't think the term would be more tolerance as much as it would be more tools," Raemisch said. "We're trying to find things that are working versus what hasn't been working."
A man who violates parole by using drugs isn't going to overcome an addiction by going back to prison for 180 days on a technical parole violation, he said.
"Are we curing the addiction? And the answer is, in all probability under those circumstances, no," he said. "And so it gets to the point of we've been watching what really hasn't been working, so what is it that we can try to do that is working?
"A number of these things that we are doing is proven. And I know people are tired of the term 'evidence-based practices,' but you know that's what we're looking at."
Nationally, these corrections reforms are driven by crowded prisons, said Sarah Manchak, an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati's School of Criminal Justice.
"There's been a lot of pressure in many states to keep those populations down," Manchak said.
The idea behind reforms is for parole officers to find ways to change behavior when offenders start slipping.
"It's really unfortunate to hear what happened in Denver," Manchak said. "Unfortunately, those cases get sensationalized so everyone thinks all of these parolees are going to run out and be violent and commit crimes."
The "sure and swift" model is gaining traction, but Manchak has been critical. She has studied a similar program Hawaii uses for people on probation.
"I would caution against buying into this as a panacea. Much more has to be done to change offender behavior than simply locking them up," she said. "And, if we are going to try to keep offenders in the community to avoid prison overcrowding, it is our responsibility to do more."
Critics of Colorado's parole changes say the trend has swung the pendulum too far in the opposite direction.
"Many of these people are really bad people," said Greeley Police Chief Jerry Garner. "They really are dangerous folks.
"I would love to see the parole officers on the street have a lot more say on when somebody goes back to prison. Parole officers know their clients. They know who's dangerous."
There have been numerous cases of parolees committing serious crimes after receiving second chances for violations.
On Feb. 22, parolee Gerardino Cayetano Gonzalez, 33, shot and wounded Denver police Officer Rachel Eid. He was killed in the shootout; Eid was shot in the lower leg and was treated at a hospital and released that night.
Gonzalez, a known gang member, had been sent to jail three times under the "sure and swift" policy between Nov. 30 and Feb. 9 for violations such as failed drug tests, curfew violations and missed treatment sessions, according to his chronological records. The corrections department denied The Post's requests for his records, but the newspaper obtained them through another source.
Gonzalez was released from his third "sure and swift" sentence Feb. 16, and his parole officer conducted a "motivational interview" where Gonzalez acknowledged that his drug use could lead to other law violations, his records showed.
The police officer's injury and the suspect's death could have been avoided if warning signs had not been ignored, Morrissey said.
"They need to be taken back — and not for one day or five days — but back to the penitentiary," he said. "And that needs to be sure and swift."
In another case, Carlos Middlebrooks, 35, was charged with 14 crimes all connected to accusations that he was serving as a 17-year-old runaway girl's pimp.
In the months leading up to his arrest, Middlebrooks failed 17 drug tests after drinking alcohol and using marijuana and cocaine and missed seven mandatory appointments, according to his parole records.
He was jailed twice under the "sure and swift" policy.
A November short-term jail stay was canceled because of a new job and the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with his children for the first time in three years, parole records showed. Middlebrooks was given a verbal reprimand.
He was due for a third trip to jail when Colorado Springs police caught up with him.
The Denver Post also found other troubling cases, including three where men died of overdoses after repeatedly failing drug tests.
In another, a Pueblo felon with a long history of parole violations served four "sure and swift" stints before absconding. In February, he rammed three police cars during chases before being captured.
An Aurora gang member with a manslaughter conviction in Colorado Springs was caught with a weapon in December, but Morgan and Roberts told his parole officer they would not seek revocation. He eventually was sent back to prison for 180 days after absconding in February.
Roberts said it is not unusual for top division supervisors, such as herself, to wade into difficult cases.
"We really wanted to formalize that process for a variety of reasons," she said. "My observations when I first got here was there may not be the most consistent decisions made across the state, which is difficult."
Roberts said she gets involved so she can learn what is happening in the field and spend more time with management staff.
"The literature will show that we need to respond to violations in a thoughtful, strategic, evidence-based way, which is, you respond to the next level of violation appropriately," Roberts said.
She recognizes that some parole officers resent the changes, but she said many embrace them. The field is changing, and it is time for Colorado to catch up, she said.
"Corrections has ebbed and flowed over the years from most staffers being told to be tough on crime, tough on the drug war, all that," she said. "Now it is shifting back because now evidence points to the fact that tail 'em, nail 'em and jail 'em doesn't make anybody better. It doesn't reduce recidivism, and that is our main goal because that is what is going to make Colorado safer."
But others aren't so sure the new practices are achieving that goal.
Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said parolees need accountability.
Alcohol and drugs drive a behavior, including leading to other crimes. Those who violate the rules for drug use must be held accountable, he said.
"If you don't keep them in check, you're setting them up for failure," Smith said.
Parole officers are whispering to the sheriff that they "have no teeth any more," Smith said.
The emphasis is on emptying prisons and saving money, Smith said.
"The drive is, number one, to declare success when people don't go back," he said. "But the number one should be public safety.
"It comes down to community safety. That needs to be the goal. Let's be wise on what we're doing to save dollars. In the end, if it saves money but doesn't protect the public, it's a failure."
How parole gets revoked
• The parole officer arrests the parolee for violations, which could be anything from a failed drug test to a missed curfew to leaving the state or committing a new crime.
• The parole officer meets with supervisors including parole director Melissa Roberts or assistant director Alison Morgan.
• They decide how to address the violation. Options included sending the parolee to a community program, changing curfew, using electronic monitoring, keeping the parolee in jail for up to five days or recommending revocation to the Colorado Parole Board.
Suspect charged with "terrorist murder" for Paris attacks
After being on the run for four months, Salah Abdeslam, 26, was shot in the leg and captured Friday
by John-Thor-Dahlburg and Philippe Sotto
BRUSSELS — After a bullet in the leg ended his four-month flight from the law, Salah Abdeslam started a legal fight Saturday against his extradition from Belgium to France, where the president and the families of 130 victims want the top suspect in the Paris attacks to stand trial.
In Paris, prosecutor Francois Molins said during an interrogation session on Saturday that Abdeslam told Belgian officials that he had "wanted to blow himself up at the Stade de France" on Nov. 13 but that he backed out at the last minute. Molins did not say what caused the 26-year-old purportedly to change his mind.
Abdeslam was shot Friday along with a suspected accomplice when they were captured by Belgian police during a massive anti-terror raid in Brussels. He was found at an apartment a mere 500 meters (yards) from his parents' home, where he grew up.
On Saturday, he was discharged from the St. Pierre hospital in Brussels, questioned by authorities lying down because of his gunshot wound, and then officially charged with "participation in terrorist murder" in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks. France quickly issued a new European arrest warrant with more charges to speed up his extradition to a June 18 deadline.
French President Francois Hollande made it clear he wanted Abdeslam back in Paris, the city he fled after the November carnage. The suspect's Belgian lawyer made it clear he would fight extradition.
Lawyer Sven Mary said since there was a criminal investigation in Brussels, "we don't need him in France. We need him in Belgium." He said any hasty extradition would be motivated by a sense of guilt since the attacks were prepared and coordinated in Belgium and several attackers came from Brussels.
"Perhaps we should tone down our groveling to compensate for the sense of guilt we feel toward France," Mary said after he and Abdeslam met with a Belgian investigating magistrate.
Abdeslam's capture in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek after four months on the run brought relief to people who have seen his "wanted" poster all over the two European countries for months.
Hollande warned that more arrests will come as authorities try to dismantle a network involved in the attacks that they now say is much larger than originally suspected. The Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for the Paris carnage.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called Abdeslam's arrest a "major blow" to the Islamic State group in Europe, but warned that the threat of new attacks remains "extremely high."
Belgium's prime minister also said "the fight is not over."
Molins, the Paris prosecutor, said Abdeslam is suspected not only of being a "key actor in the action" last November in the French capital but also of the logistical planning for the deadly attacks. He said French authorities suspect him of bringing numerous "terrorists" to Europe in the months leading up to the attacks and conducting multiples trips around Europe.
Often using false identities, Abdeslam rented cars starting last July, Molins said, travelling north from Greece and Italy, hitting Hungary in August, Austria in September, and Germany and the Netherlands in October.
Investigators believe Abdeslam drove a car carrying gunmen who took part in the Nov. 13 shootings, rented rooms for them and shopped for detonators. Most of the Paris attackers died on the night of the attacks, including Abdeslam's brother Brahim, who blew himself up.
Abdeslam will appear before a pretrial court on Wednesday, which will decide whether he stays in jail for up to another month.
"If he starts talking, then I presume it will mean he stays longer in Belgium," Belgian federal prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt told The Associated Press.
A 2002 agreement among European Union nations speeds up the extradition process — and for especially grave crimes such as terrorist acts the procedure goes even faster.
"Firstly, the legality of the arrest warrant, the European arrest warrant, has to be checked carefully," said Mary, the defense lawyer.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told a news conference that his government has no "political objections" to handing Abdeslam over to the French, but wants to fully respect Belgian judicial procedures.
Belgian prosecutors said they were not sure of the identity of the presumed accomplice arrested with Abdeslam and also charged with "terrorist murder." They said he is believed to have used fake Syrian and Belgian documents in two different names.
Meanwhile, two others detained with Abdeslam were released on Saturday, while a third was charged with belonging to a terror group and hiding criminals.
Two other people believed linked to the Paris attacks are still being sought, including fellow Molenbeek resident Mohamed Abrini and a man known under the alias of Soufiane Kayal.
Samia Maktouf, a French lawyer for several survivors and relatives of Paris attack victims, urged Abdeslam's immediate extradition.
"Apart from his (medical) condition, I don't see what might delay his extradition," she told the AP.
After the bloodbath, Abdeslam evaded a huge French dragnet to return to Brussels. He was believed to have slipped through police fingers multiple times despite an international manhunt. At one point, Belgian authorities locked down their capital for several days in November but failed to find him.
Officer shot in Chicago suburb has life-threatening injuries
Officer was shot Saturday morning while investigating a report of a break-in
by The Associated Press
PARK FOREST, Ill. — Police in the Chicago suburb of Park Forest say an officer shot during an exchange of fire has been hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.
Park Forest Mayor John Osternburg identified the officer as Tim Jones. He was shot Saturday morning while investigating a report of a break-in and a vehicle theft at a vacant residence.
WMAQ-TV reports that the suspect came out of the house and fired on officers with a handgun.
Park Forest police say officers returned fire, and the suspect was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities have not identified the suspect.
The mayor says Jones has been with the department for about a year and is part of a line of officers in his family.
The Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force is investigating the shooting.
SC officer gunned down by gang member ID'd
Details surrounding the slaying of an SC officer on Friday have been released
by PoliceOne Staff
GREENVILLE, S.C. — An officer shot to death by a 17-year-old gang member was a father of two young boys with one more child on the way.
28-year-old Officer Allen Jacobs was an Iraq war veteran and leaves behind a pregnant wife in addition to his two sons, according to Greenville Online.
The officer and his partner were on patrol when they spotted the suspect, Deontea Perry Mackey, and pulled over to conduct a field interview. Mackey fled and Jacobs gave chase. After a brief foot pursuit, Jacobs was shot multiple times by the suspect. Jacobs' service weapon was still holstered when he was struck by the gunfire.
Mackey continued to flee after the shooting – running for about a half mile before police say he called his mother and then fatally shot himself.
“His [Mackey's] prior history is a violent history,” Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller told Greenville Online.
Police were investigating the shooting. Funeral arrangements for Jacobs, a four-year veteran of the force, were still pending.
Filings depict shooting that led to Texas officer's death
At one point, the suspect put up his hands to surrender, then pulled up a gun and continued firing
by The Associated Press
EULESS, Texas — Statements reveal that a Dallas-area police officer killed earlier this month was telling a suspect in a creek to show his hands when the man fatally shot the officer mid-sentence.
WFAA-TV reports Euless officers involved the March 1 shooting in which Officer David Hofer was killed have filed their first written accounts. The suspect, Jorge Gonzalez, was killed by police.
The officers' attorney allowed WFAA-TV to review the draft documents. The statements were given to police Wednesday.
Officers were at J.A. Carr Park in Euless investigating a report of shots fired. After Hofer was shot, he tumbled into the creek next to Gonzalez.
The statements say that at one point, Gonzalez put up his hands to surrender, then pulled up a gun and continued firing.
Funeral set for Md. officer killed in attack on police station
Private funeral is scheduled next week for a plainclothes narcotics officer who was killed Sunday in a blue-on-blue
by The Associated Press
UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — A private funeral is scheduled next week for a plainclothes narcotics officer who was killed Sunday in a shootout at a Maryland police station.
Authorities say 28-year-old Prince George's County Detective Jacai Colson was killed by one of his fellow officers after a man began firing at a police station in Landover. A wounded suspect, 22-year-old Michael Ford, was arrested.
A viewing for Colson will be held Thursday afternoon at a Beltsville funeral home.
Another viewing will also be held the next morning at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Upper Marlboro, followed by a memorial service.
The viewing, memorial service and funeral are all private, per the family's request.
Police say Colson, a four-year veteran of the department, grew up in Boothwyn, Pennsylvania.
From the FBI
National Instant Criminal Background Check System Posts NICS Index Data
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was implemented on November 30, 1998 as a result of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993. NICS is a national system used by Federal Firearms Licensees to instantly determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms by checking available records.
The NICS searches three nationally held databases with every check. The Interstate Identification Index (III), which houses criminal history records; the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which houses records such as warrants and protection orders; and the NICS Index. The NICS Index was created specifically for use by the NICS and contains descriptive information on persons determined to be disqualified from possessing a firearm based upon state or federal law.
Local, state, federal, and tribal entities voluntarily contribute information to the NICS Index. This information contains prohibiting information that may not be found in the III or the NCIC. It should be noted that felony data is usually contained in the III, and, therefore, there may be few or no entries in this category in the NICS Index. In contrast, the NICS Index is the logical location to share adjudicated mental health data if the law allows. The contributing agency is responsible for the accuracy and validity of the information; therefore, additions, deletions, and modifications are expected and occur on an on-going basis.
In January, the U.S. Attorney General announced in her individual letters to governors that the FBI would, in the coming months, be releasing data on the number of records each state has submitted to the NICS Index by category. The data provided in today's release represents information within the NICS Index as of December 31, 2015.
Questions may be directed to Stephen G. Fischer, Jr., media liaison for the Criminal Justice Information Services Division, at email@example.com.
From the Department of Justice
Justice Department and City of Ferguson, Missouri, Resolve Lawsuit with Agreement to Reform Ferguson Police Department and Municipal Court to Ensure Constitutional Policing
The Justice Department and the city of Ferguson, Missouri, today jointly filed an agreement resolving the United States' pending lawsuit against Ferguson. The court-enforceable decree, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, aims to remedy the unconstitutional law enforcement conduct that the Justice Department found during its civil pattern-or-practice investigation into the Ferguson Police Department (FPD) and the Ferguson Municipal Court. The department's findings were released in a public report issued March 4, 2015.
“The American people must be able to trust that their courts and law enforcement will uphold, protect, and defend their constitutional rights,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “The filing of this agreement marks the beginning of a process that the citizens of Ferguson have long awaited – the process of ensuring that they receive the rights and protections guaranteed to every American under the law.”
Under the agreement, Ferguson will implement reforms to bring about constitutional and effective policing, promote officer and public safety, ensure fundamental fairness and equal treatment regardless of race in the municipal court and foster greater trust between police officers and the communities they serve. The areas covered by the agreement include:
Community policing and engagement: creating a community engagement strategy that requires meaningful engagement between FPD officers and all segments of the Ferguson community.
Bias-free police and court practices: requiring implicit bias-awareness training of all court staff and FPD personnel and ensuring that Ferguson does not discriminate on the basis of race and other characteristics.
Stops, searches and arrests: ensuring that FPD's stop, search, citation and arrest practices adhere to the Fourth Amendment and do not discriminate on the basis of race or any other protected characteristic; and prohibiting Ferguson from developing or implementing any law enforcement action in order to generate revenue.
First Amendment: protecting all individuals' First Amendment rights, including their right to record public police activity, lawfully complain about police activity free from retaliation and engage in lawful protest.
Use of force: reorienting FPD's use-of-force policies toward de-escalation and avoiding force except where necessary; re-training all officers; and thoroughly, objectively and timely investigating all uses of force.
Officer supervision: requiring close and effective supervision of officers; requiring FPD officers and other personnel to wear and use body-worn and in-car cameras; and requiring supervisors to review camera footage as part of misconduct and force investigations.
Accountability: requiring Ferguson and FPD to fully and fairly investigate all allegations of officer misconduct and take corrective and disciplinary action.
Civilian oversight: establishing a Civilian Review Board to review, make findings and recommend disciplinary action for investigations of complaints involving excessive force, abuse of authority, the use of discriminatory slurs and other misconduct; review FPD policies and training plans; serve on officer hiring and promotion panels; and review crime, racial profiling and complaint data.
Officer assistance and support: ensuring that officers are provided ready access to support services, including physical and mental health services, and requiring Ferguson to develop protocols to ensure that officers are provided relief support during public demonstrations and periods of civil unrest.
Recruitment: requiring Ferguson to develop a recruitment plan that will assist FPD in attracting and retaining a highly-qualified officer workforce.
Mental health crisis intervention: requiring that Ferguson and FPD implement and train officers in specialized responses to incidents involving individuals in mental health crisis.
Data collection, reporting and transparency: requiring FPD to collect the data on its operations needed for it to continue to learn and improve upon its police and court practices;
School Resource Officers (SROs): ensuring that Ferguson SROs have the skills to work lawfully, productively and fairly with youth; requiring SROs to divert students toward alternatives; and minimizing the use of force in schools.
Municipal court reform: enacting reforms to ensure that municipal code enforcement is driven by public safety, not a desire to raise revenue; implementing an amnesty program for all open cases and associated warrants initiated prior to Jan. 1, 2014; eliminating unnecessary fees and altering the court's fine and warrant practices to ensure due process; increasing transparency of court operations; eliminating the use of secured money bond; ensuring that no person will jailed for being poor; and ensuring the independence of the court from the city prosecutor and the impartiality of the municipal judge.
An independent monitor to be selected by the Justice Department and Ferguson will assess implementation of the consent decree, provide technical assistance to Ferguson and report on Ferguson's implementation of reforms through periodic public reports. The consent decree requires two consecutive years of compliance by Ferguson before the agreement can be terminated.
“Ferguson residents and police officers deserve a law enforcement system that serves their entire community fairly, safely and effectively,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice looks forward to working closely with the city as we implement this landmark agreement to ensure that real reform becomes a reality for all people in Ferguson.”
The Justice Department's investigation uncovered a pattern or practice of unlawful conduct by the FPD and the Ferguson Municipal Court, including: violating the Fourth Amendment by conducting stops without reasonable suspicion and arrests without probable cause, as well as using excessive force; violating the First Amendment by interfering with the right to free expression and the right to record public police activity; and violating the 14th Amendment by engaging in racial discrimination, in both police and related court activity, as well as violating individuals' due process and equal protection rights in court. The civil investigation was conducted by attorneys and staff from the Civil Rights Division's Special Litigation Section.
From the Department of Homeland Security
DHS "Open for Business" to Receive Cyber Threat Indicators at Machine Speed
Secretary Johnson today hosted U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul and John Ratcliffe at DHS' National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) to officially deploy a system to exchange cyber threat indicators between government and the private sector at machine speed.
The system, known as Automated Indicator Sharing (AIS), will mitigate cyber threats in near-real-time, ultimately reducing the prevalence of cybersecurity compromises. Secretary Johnson presented the congressmen with an official notice certifying the deployment of AIS, meeting the deadline of today set by the Cybersecurity Act of 2015. DHS has also met prior deadlines to establish policies and procedures on privacy and how to share information.
Secretary Johnson said that, DHS is “open for business” to receive cyber threat indicators from the public and private sectors at machine speed. This automated, real-time information sharing system is the centerpiece of our efforts at the NCCIC, he added.
AIS uses a standard that is still evolving, to adhere to the timelines established in the legislation. Participants will eventually include federal departments and agencies, private companies, non-profit organizations, academia, foreign allies, and Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations.
This system will serve as the "See Something, Say Something" of the Internet. When one participant detects a threat, all participants in AIS will learn about it. By broadening the depth and increasing the speed of cybersecurity information sharing, the country as a whole will be better able to manage cyber threats. The Cybersecurity Act of 2015 also provides targeted liability protection to companies that share cyber threat indicators with DHS or with each other. And like all of the department's cybersecurity programs, AIS includes rigorous privacy and civil liberties protections.
Secretary Johnson thanked Congressmen McCaul, Ratcliffe and Thompson for their support of DHS' cybersecurity efforts and applauded NCCIC employees for their dedication and hard work to help keep the nation safe and secure from cyber threats.
Cyber Storm V: Testing the Nation's Ability to Respond to Significant Cyber Incidents
by Greg Touhill, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications, NPPD
Cyber threats to critical infrastructure remain one of our Nation's most serious security and economic sustainability challenges. With over 80 percent of critical infrastructure owned by the private sector, and with millions of cyber-dependent equities owned by individuals or federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) entities and agencies, securing cyberspace must be achieved collaboratively. Exercises are critical to testing this coordination, and more importantly, to building and maintaining strong relationships among the cyber incident response community.
Last week more than 1,100 people from more than 60 organizations across the country and worldwide participated in the nation's most extensive cybersecurity exercise, hosted by the Department of Homeland Security, Cyber Storm V. The exercise included participants from the healthcare and public health, IT, communications and commercial facilities sectors, as well as federal agencies, eight states, and international organizations.
Participants were presented with a scenario that drove them to exercise their training, policies, processes, and procedures for identifying and responding to a multi-sector cyber attack targeting critical infrastructure. The Cyber Storm V scenario created an environment where no one organization was in a position where they themselves could stop or mitigate the impacts of the attack. The scope of the scenario thus promoted the exercising of cooperation and information sharing across the United States government, states, the private sector, and international partners.
The DHS National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) served as the focal point for federal response and coordination during the exercise. NCCIC is a 24x7 cyber situational awareness, incident response, and management center that is a national nexus of cyber and communications integration for the Federal Government, intelligence community, and law enforcement. NCCIC also is designated as the federal interface for private sector information sharing, cross-sector coordination and incident response.
The Cyber Storm V after action process began with a discussion of initial, high-level findings. An after action conference will help validate these findings and inform the development of an after action report.
For more information about the Cyber Storm exercise series, and to view the final reports from Cyber Storms I-IV, visit: https://www.dhs.gov/cyber-storm
New chief overhauls how Portsmouth police fight crime
by Jonathan Edwards
Portsmouth's new police chief plans to shake up how her officers police the city and interact with people.
Three weeks into the job, Tonya Chapman said she will carve the city into three districts and have each of her roughly 225 officers assigned to one of them.
Working in a single district will allow officers to get to know the people and places of specific neighborhoods, Chapman said. Better relationships foster trust, which will lead residents to help police solve more crimes.
“They will get to know that neighborhood inside and out,” she said in a Thursday interview. “They'll be intimately involved in those neighborhoods, know the citizens, and the citizens will get to know them.”
A handful of officers already work in particular areas, but the vast majority cycle around the city depending on staffing needs, the chief said. This roving keeps officers from getting familiar with the people of individual neighborhoods.
Chapman wants to get every officer invested in a piece of turf. She plans to start restructuring' shifts May 1.
Deploying officers in specific areas is a hallmark of community policing, a philosophy of attacking crime proactively, according to the Department of Justice. Instead of merely reacting to crimes after they happen, police team up with other government agencies, schools, nonprofits, churches and anyone else who can help prevent or solve crimes.
Chapman said she's talked with City Manager Lydia Pettis Patton about starting a police program for high school students. It would begin with 12 students – four from each of the city's three high schools – teaching them about police work, going to college and serving as liaisons between the department and their peers.
“We can definitely improve our engagement with the youth,” Chapman said.
Community policing came into vogue in the 1990s when Chapman was cutting her teeth as a patrol officer in Alexandria. Before the department tried it, officers were scrambling from call to call in an endless game of whack-a-mole.
When Chapman was a rookie with Arlington County Police Department, officers weren't assigned to areas. But the department scored a grant in the early '90s to pay for a team that would cover the Valley, a neighborhood known for prostitution and drug trafficking. It's also where Chapman grew up.
Chapman got a spot on the team. Four officers worked exclusively in the Village. They went door to door, handing out community surveys. They teamed up with church pastors. They worked with older people who'd wear yellow shirts and walk the neighborhood at night. Chapman helped organize midnight basketball games, coached cheerleading at a local school and helped start a police-sponsored baseball league for kids.
The community approach led to the arrests of drug dealers and the elimination of prostitution, Chapman said.
“That neighborhood has totally been revitalized,” she added.
Later, Arlington's top brass expanded the idea, dividing the entire city into three districts.
Chapman said Portsmouth isn't late to the game when it comes to community policing; it has been experimenting with it for a few decades.
The department has a unit with officers dedicated to specific areas and interacting with groups such as civic leagues, said Capt. Tom Bozeman. That unit once boasted as many as 25 officers but has dwindled to 14.
In Norfolk, police have divided the city into three patrol divisions. Officers are assigned to a smaller sector within the division, said police spokesman Officer Daniel Hudson. They've been doing that since at least the mid-1980s.
Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Suffolk are also split up geographically.
“We're in the habit of keeping our officers in the same places so they're confident in serving their community, so they know the ins and outs of what the community needs,” Hudson said. “That's what community policing is all about.”
New forensic technology introduced at Farmington Public Safety Department
by Aftab Borka
They are calling it ‘DNA for property.'
The Farmington Public Safety Department is the first Michigan police department to get on board with a private company to use the new property identification method.
A new technology that monitors a unique adhesive that can be applied to all types of valuables was demonstrated at Farmington Public Safety Department on Thursday. The method will essentially help investigators reunite the property with its rightful owners.
As part of a state wide roll out, the company, ProtechDNA, is partnering with the public safety department to officially kick of the campaign as the introduction of the program in Michigan with an aim to reduce crime and engage the community.
For the method to work, property owners will need to apply the adhesive on their valuables and register them on the company's website. A unique serial number created for the particular property will then be stored in a national database accessible by law enforcement agencies. This process will then help the agencies find the owner of the properties in the database based on the serial number.
Farmington Public Safety Commander Justin Dulong said the technology can potentially help his department with a lot of unclaimed properties.
“Just a few weeks ago we took 14 bikes to a charity in Detroit. Those bikes were lost, abandoned or stolen. We were unable to determine who owned them,” said Dulong. “Now imagine at the end of the summer how many bicycles we get. We get 40 to 50 bicycles every summer just from kids leaving them on the side of the road and forgetting where they parked them.”
Shawn Andreas, a representative of ProTechDNA, said while the local communities may have smaller registries of people's properties, his companies national database will provide greater access to law enforcement agencies since a lot of criminals move stolen properties across state borders.
The adhesive kits can be bought at different retail stores and also the company's website at www.protechdna.com.
FBI: IS group inspired Calif. student in stabbings
Student who went on a stabbing rampage that wounded four people before he was shot down an officer was inspired by ISIS
by Scott Smith
FRESNO, Calif. — A California college student who went on a stabbing rampage that wounded four people before he was shot down by a campus police officer was inspired by the Islamic State group but acted alone, the FBI said Thursday.
Faisal Mohammad, 18, appears to have become self-radicalized, drawing motivation from terrorist propaganda that he found online before launching the Nov. 4 attack at the University of California, Merced, authorities said.
"Every indication is that Mohammad acted on his own," Gina Swankie, a spokeswoman for the FBI's Sacramento field office, said in a statement. "It may never be possible to definitively determine why he chose to attack people on the U.C. Merced Campus."
The knife attack happened a month before a gun-wielding husband-and-wife team in San Bernardino killed 14 people and wounded 21 others at a workplace holiday party. In that case, too, investigators said they were influenced by the IS, but not directly connected to it. Like Mohammad, they had not raised red flags that put them on a watch list.
In both cases family members said they were unaware of their loved ones' interests in terrorists groups.
In Merced, Mohammad burst into a classroom, stabbing two students. He stabbed a construction worker who intervened, then ran from the building, where he knifed a school employee sitting on a bench. Police shot and killed Mohammad.
The FBI says the college freshman from Santa Clara, California, for several weeks had visited the websites of IS and other extremist groups. He planned the attack at least a week before carrying it out, investigators said.
During the rampage, Mohammad carried a backpack containing a two-page, hand-written "manifesto," detailing plans to bind students to their desks with zip-tie handcuffs, authorities have said. Then, he was going to make a fake 911 distress call, ambush responding officers with a hunting knife and steal their guns to shoot a list of targeted classmates.
Mohammad's backpack also held a photocopy of an Islamic State group flag and a list of items he would need for the attack, the FBI said.
Attorney Daniel Mayfield, who represents Mohammad's relatives, said the family remains in the dark about what prompted the violent outburst just days after he turned 18. They are asking investigators to provide them with more information, he said.
"This is not the Faisal the family knew and loved and sent off to the university," said Mayfield, who added that before this the teenager had a reputation for being quiet, respectful and studious.
We should be focusing on community policing, not weapons, writes Daniel Bear
by DANIEL BEAR AND MAHNOOR YAWAR
As police forces across North America face increased scrutiny in the wake of numerous high-profile fatal shootings, Toronto Police have pushed for more officer training and adopted a “less-lethal” weapon that they hope will help to de-escalate dangerous situations. The so-called sock gun shoots Kevlar-wrapped projectiles meant to immobilize a suspect.
Police were urged to invest in non-lethal options in a use-of-force review by retired Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci after the shooting death of Sammy Yatim, 18, in 2013. Constable James Forcillo was convicted of attempted murder in the shooting, which was caught on video. This week, Toronto Police killed another young man, Alex Wettlaufer, 21, who was a friend of Mr. Yatim. The shooting occurred after a fight allegedly involving a gun was reported at a subway station. It is being probed by the Special Investigations Unit .
No person viewing video of the shooting death of Sammy Yatim on a streetcar would hesitate if given the opportunity to magically replace Constable James Forcillo's handgun with one of the Toronto Police Service's newly acquired beanbag-shooting shotguns.
Such a switch might have saved Mr. Yatim's life, Constable Forcillo's career and whatever amount of the community's trust and confidence in police that was lost that night in 2013.
But in even acknowledging that less-lethal weapons may be preferable in specific situations, we must ask ourselves if the continued expansion of those options supports our larger goals for what policing should be in the modern Canadian context.
Over the past few years, police forces in several cities, the RCMP and Corrections Canada have adopted new less-lethal weapons that fire projectiles meant to disable rather than kill. They are intended for two primary situations: non-compliant individuals and crowd control.
Recently, Toronto Police added blaze-orange shotguns designed to shoot a “super sock round.” Like the tasers already used by the force, the sock guns are deemed less lethal, but both beanbags and tasers have killed and maimed before. The primary argument for adding the shotguns is that they provide officers a longer-range option when faced with situations that are dangerous but do not involve an imminent threat to life or grievous bodily harm.
Concerns about police use of force are nothing new. At the heart of policing's relationship to society is the ability of officers to employ various levels of non-negotiable coercive force. We have spent much of the 20th century telling the police that we want them to maintain order, not just enforce the law, and to do so by responding once trouble has started. This required certain non-lethal tools and capabilities to quell incidents. The question is, do less-lethal weapons actively improve the community's confidence in the police?
Less-lethal weapons are frequently used on individuals in severe emotional, mental or substance-related crisis. In 2013, 40 per cent of incidents in which a taser was used involved such a person.
Frequent engagement in “crisis interventions” by the police is not simply a matter of choice. As first responders, officers are significantly affected by the lack of a cohesive community-based mental-health-care system, according to a 2014 independent review of such encounters.
We know from research that de-escalation is preferable to incapacitation. In response to this, the Toronto Police Service has increased the amount of annual training on de-escalation tactics and has incorporated “mobile crisis intervention teams” that pair psychiatric nurses and officers to respond to emergencies involving people in crisis.
The Ontario Mobilization and Engagement Model of Community Policing, developed by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and endorsed by the provincial government, is reflective of the changes to policing happening across Europe and North America. The model focuses not just on the officer's ability to respond to crime, but to be part of larger community-wide efforts to reduce the social antecedents of crime, mobilize communities' support mechanisms and engage in crime-prevention measures.
In short, it asks the police to be partners in problem-solving, while retaining a core capability to respond armed in those rare situations where coercive force is needed.
One of the major structural changes this entails is changing how police performance is measured. In the old model of policing, the success of officers was measured by their record of arrests or searches. Community policing focuses more on outcomes, including residents' confidence in police and fear of crime.
Turning police services on to this new course is no easy feat after decades of telling them that their mission was to combat crime, and clear direction needs to flow unambiguously from police leaders.
There is little doubt that less-lethal weapons can do good if used properly. But what message are we sending to the police and communities when on the one hand we're telling them to forge partnerships and other the other hand issuing less-lethal shotguns and very lethal carbines.
Greater good can be achieved by looking past armament options and focusing on fully embracing community policing. Such singularity in focus would help all communities connect with the police and ensure that the legitimacy to use force is retained for those rare instances when it is warranted.
Additionally, the partnerships inherent in community policing would ensure that we support people before they are in crisis and that we respond effectively if pre-emptive efforts fall short.
We ask a lot of police officers in our society; we should not put the burden of mental-health care on them or ask them to have to decide to use force because we did not take the time or supply the money to properly support individuals before they reach a state of crisis. If we successfully do this, we can reduce use-of-force incidents of all kinds that erode community confidence in the police.
The sock gun is probably not a bad item to have with you if you are an officer, but it represents a tool for an old approach to policing.
If you still feel that an additional weapon is necessary, consider a classroom exercise I run with students, many of whom will be applying to police services after leaving school:
Create a list of all the tools that officers might bring with them into the field. You'll probably identify a firearm, radio, notepad, handcuffs, baton, bulletproof vest and various other items needed to respond to crime. Now extend the list with all the skills or qualities you think officers need to be effective in their day-to-day role. Interpersonal communication tops my list, but you'll probably also add things such as leadership, empathy, courage, a sense of ethics, critical thinking, strong memory and decisiveness. Now rank all the items you've written down by their importance.
When I run this exercise with my students, the top items are always skills, not objects.
Daniel Bear is a professor of criminal justice at Humber College's School of Social and Community Services. He has a PhD in social policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and his research focuses on how police engage in community policing and drugs policing.
Ferguson City Council votes to accept DOJ police reform deal
A lawsuit remains pending as a federal judge must still approve the preliminary agreement
by Alan Scher Zagier
FERGUSON, Mo. — The Ferguson City Council has unanimously agreed to accept a U.S. Justice Department plan to overhaul its embattled police force and municipal court system after a brief attempt to revise the deal led to a federal lawsuit.
Elected leaders in the St. Louis suburb where the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown Jr. helped spark the Black Lives Matter movement voted Tuesday night to approve the DOJ consent decree.
Brown's father, who attended the meeting but didn't speak publicly, shook hands with Ferguson's mayor and several council members after the vote.
The agency and Ferguson reached a tentative agreement in late January after months of negotiations, but the council rejected the plan in February over cost concerns, prompting the Justice Department to sue the next day.
The lawsuit remains pending as a federal judge must still approve the preliminary agreement.
Vanita Gupta, head of the department's Civil Rights Division, said in a statement that Ferguson "took an important step towards guaranteeing all of its citizens the protections of our Constitution."
Assurances from Gupta that the city won't be required to provide its police officers with pay raises — a provision they feared could bankrupt Ferguson — led to the consent decree's tentative approval at a meeting one week ago.
A city analysis had indicated implementation costs could approach $4 million in the first year alone. That led the Ferguson council to propose amending the agreement in February with seven provisions aimed mostly at keeping costs in check.
City Manager De'Carlon Seewood said Tuesday that the new measures will cost Ferguson "a little over $1 million" in the first year, about $700,000 in the second year and $600,000 in year three.
Those estimates don't include technical assistance and grant money Ferguson could receive for its efforts, he added.
By contrast, the costs of fighting the federal government in court could have been substantially higher.
"Thank you," retired teacher Gerry Jasper told the council. "I'm glad our city isn't going to go down the tubes."
The 131-page consent decree is intended to correct problems identified in a scathing Justice Department report last year that found sweeping patterns of racial bias throughout the city's criminal justice system.
The agreement calls for the hiring of a monitor to ensure Ferguson follows the requirements. New diversity training will be instituted for police, software will be purchased and staff hired to analyze records on arrests, use of force and other police matters. And within 180 days, all patrol officers, supervisors and jail workers will be outfitted with body cameras.
The city had been under federal scrutiny since the August 2014 shooting of Brown, who was black and unarmed, by white police officer Darren Wilson, who was cleared of wrongdoing by the Justice Department in the shooting and whom a St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict.
Wesley Bell, one of three new council members either elected or appointed to office since Brown's death, suggested that the sweeping DOJ agreement could transform Ferguson into an exemplar of police reform. Each of the new council members is black in a city where so are more than two-thirds of its residents.
"The world is watching us," said Bell. "We've got an opportunity to show what change looks like. ... Shame on us if we can't meet this challenge."
Newark OKs strong police review board; union vows fight
The department is already under a federal monitoring agreement
by David Porter
NEWARK, N.J. — Newark's city council approved a police civilian review board Wednesday that gives New Jersey's largest city greater powers than most around the country to investigate wrongdoing within the police department.
The department is already under a federal monitoring agreement, and the board will face a strong challenge from the city's police union, which plans to go to court to stop the move to vest the board with investigative and subpoena powers.
"For 50 years the people of Newark have been calling for the creation of a civilian review board to hold police officers accountable for wrongdoing. And now the Newark Municipal Council is poised to pass one of the nation's strongest civilian review boards," Udi Ofer, director of the American Civil Liberties Union-New Jersey, said before the council decision.
The push for a review board arose after the U.S. Department of Justice validated many of the accusations the ACLU leveled in a 2010 complaint alleging rampant misconduct, use of excessive force and lax internal oversight in the Newark Police Department.
After a three-year probe, the Justice Department released a report concluding that the department's systems for detecting, preventing and punishing misconduct were so deficient that, for example, only one excessive force complaint against police was upheld over a six-year period. The report also found that police routinely stopped people on the street for no legitimate reason and stole property from civilians.
Mayor Ras Baraka signed an executive order last year creating the board, the first in the state. The city council unanimously approved the proposal on first reading two weeks ago, and the final approval Wednesday keeps the board in place after Baraka leaves office. Members of the board will be appointed by the mayor or council, or be representatives of clergy or community organizations.
James Stewart Jr., president of Newark's Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 12, said this week the union plans to mount a court challenge to the board. He noted the Justice Department didn't specifically advocate for a civilian board to review complaints; an agreement signed by the city of Newark and the department said the city would establish and fund "a civilian oversight entity" whose form and scope would be determined with community input.
"We believe we already have civilian oversight, and that is in the form of our public safety director," Stewart wrote in an email Tuesday. "We also do not believe a civilian body has subpoena powers under the New Jersey Constitution. We will go to court and lay our cards on the table and see who is right."
Several dozen U.S. cities have police oversight boards, according to the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit, though many do not have the same power Newark's would.
Liana Perez, the organization's director of operations and a former police auditor for the city of Tucson, Arizona, said many other boards are restricted to reviewing and commenting on cases that have already been investigated. "Most boards don't have investigative authority, and very few have subpoena authority," Perez said.
In an email Wednesday, Baraka said that while the union has the right to go to court, it should embrace the opportunity the board would offer to increase transparency and accountability.
"Across the nation, the pendulum is swinging toward public safety models which encourage police/community collaborations," he said. "Our proposed CCRB is at the vanguard of this ideology."
124 illegal immigrants released from jail later charged in 138 murder cases
by Paul Bedard
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has revealed that 124 illegal immigrant criminals released from jail by the Obama administration since 2010 have been subsequently charged with murder.
A Center for Immigration Studies report on the data from ICE to the Senate Judiciary Committee added that the committee is not releasing the names of the murder suspects.
"The criminal aliens released by ICE in these years — who had already been convicted of thousands of crimes — are responsible for a significant crime spree in American communities, including 124 new homicides. Inexplicably, ICE is choosing to release some criminal aliens multiple times," said the report written by CIS's respected director of policy studies, Jessica M. Vaughan.
She added that 75 percent were released due to court orders or because their countries wouldn't take them back.
What's more, her report said that in 2014, ICE released 30,558 criminal aliens who had been convicted of 92,347 crimes. Only 3 percent have been deported.
Her analysis is the latest shocking review of Obama's open-border immigration policy. And despite the high number of illegal immigrants charged with murder, the list doesn't include those released by over 300 so-called "sanctuary cities" and those ICE declined to take into custody.
New York Police Will Retrain Security Staff at Homeless Shelters
by JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN and NIKITA STEWART
In an effort to reduce violence in New York's overburdened homeless shelters, City Hall has assigned the Police Department to retrain the security staff responsible for maintaining order in the shelter system.
Security at the more than 250 homeless shelters across the city is the responsibility of a staff that includes more than 400 peace officers as well as private security guards. The shelter system is notoriously dangerous, so much so that worries over safety prompt some homeless people to sleep on the street or in subway cars rather than in a bed at a shelter.
At a news conference at City Hall on Tuesday, James P. O'Neill, the Police Department's chief of department, said the peace officers would undergo three-day training sessions while supervisors would spend five days in training to brush up on de-escalation and other tactics.
Steven Banks, the commissioner of the Human Resources Administration, said that peace officers had the power to make arrests and that many were equipped with Tasers. But, he said, the Department of Homeless Services wanted to “take a fresh look” at all of its security — including the peace officers and private security contracted by nonprofit organizations — “a structure that had built up over many years.”
In January, a resident of an East Harlem shelter, a former librarian with a history of mental illness, was found dead with his throat slashed. One of his roommates at the shelter was the suspect. And last year, a former resident of a Bronx shelter abducted the shelter's director, forced her to undress and shot her to death as she tried to escape him, the police said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the safety plans on Tuesday, which marked the end of a 90-day review of homeless services that he ordered as he continues to grapple with stubbornly high numbers of homeless people.
Under the review, the Department of Homeless Services reclassified what have been called “critical incidents” reported inside the shelters, Mr. Banks said.
He was testifying at a City Council hearing where some council members said they were concerned with the increase in the number of homeless people and the violence in the shelters.
Critical incidents were previously narrowly defined, focused on life-threatening incidents, but have been broadened to include incidents like child neglect. The review showed 1,687 incidents, including 826 considered to be violent, in 2015. Under the old system, just 620 incidents were considered critical, Mr. Banks said.
In addition to the retraining, the Police Department will place a management team at the homeless services agency to develop a plan to strengthen security.
The review also found that domestic violence accounted for 60 percent of violent incidents in the family shelters with children and 80 percent in adult family shelters. Last month, the police charged Michael Sykes in the stabbing deaths of his girlfriend, Rebecca Cutler, and her daughters, Maliyah Sykes, born in September, and Ziana Cutler, 19 months old. Ms. Cutler and her children had been staying at a Ramada Inn on Staten Island, which the city was using because the shelters are so full.
The city will bring back a program that provided domestic violence services in shelters that was ended in 2010.
Mr. de Blasio said in a statement that his administration promised to be transparent about the challenges of homelessness. “For the first time, we are reporting thoroughly on the problem,” he said.
Mayor: community policing returning to projects
by Daniel Tepfer
BRIDGEPORT - Mayor Joe Ganim announced Monday he is bringing back community policing in the city's housing projects.
The Bridgeport Housing authority has agreed to commit $600,000 to fund the community
policing effort and the city has committed to funding at least $400,000 in bonding
for infrastructure improvements and beautification in the various public housing projects.
“All Bridgeport residents are entitled to feel safe and secure in their own homes. Without police investing in our public housing communities, the criminal element is allowed to run illicit drug and gun rackets in the apartment buildings and towers,” Ganim announced while standing with Police Chief Armando A.J. Perez, residents of some of the city's housing projects and members of the city council. “Often residents just trying to go about their daily lives in these housing projects are terrorized and afraid to even let their children outside to play out of fear of stray bullets. From today on, our police officers will be there to protect and empower the residents of these communities by gaining their trust and working in partnership. We are here to stay,” the mayor said.
The press conference was held in the new Trumbull Gardens police substation on Reservoir Avenue. Ganim had opened the office as a substation while he was campaigning for mayor only to have Mayor Finch attempt to shut it down and order officers not to use it.
“I can now call this an official police substation, right chief?” Ganim asked Perez. “That's right,” replied Perez, shaking the mayor's hand.
Community Policing: The difference between community engagement and community relations
by Nicole Griffin
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) "What's really critical in community policing is that the general public, citizens and organizations are involved with the police in a really substantive way," said Public Safety Director Tom Casady.
For decades, according to Casady, community policing has been embedded into the Lincoln Police Department's organization. Over the past couple of years, it has become common for police departments to initiate community policing.
Casady said there is a difference in just building relationships and actually engaging in the community.
"Ultimately, citizens should be involved in major decisions that a police department makes. For example, election of a police chief, major promotions, important policy questions and oversight of the police. That's what we practice here in Lincoln and I think that's what distinguishes us from other cities that claim to be practicing community policing."
Anytime LPD considers a significant change in practice, the department tries to get input from citizens.
Scott Hatfield, the Owner of Duffy's Tavern, is on the Citizen Police Advisory Board, which hears complaints against the police department from people in Lincoln. "It's interesting, it's really allowed me to see how transparent the police department is."
According to Hatfield, when the board gets complaints from anyone, those complaints are heard and taken directly to the Chief of Police and the Head of Internal Affairs. He said, "It's a really good process."
Owning a business in downtown Lincoln, there are thousands and thousands of people coming through the area every night, according to Hatfield. 'It's an area we think we need to have a good relationship with the police department."
From the Department of Justice
Department of Justice Releases Report on Understanding Firearms Assaults Against Law Enforcement
The Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) today announced the release of a new publication addressing officer safety.
"Understanding Firearms Assaults against Law Enforcement Officers", produced by the Justice Department's Officer Safety and Wellness Group, addresses two primary safety concerns in law enforcement, injuries and deaths among officers and premeditated and unprovoked ambushes of officers. It examines the differential risks thought to influence the use of deadly force against police officers in the United States through a literature review and survey analysis.
This publication is a joint COPS Office, Bureau of Justice Assistance and Major Cities Chiefs Association publication, and was informed with input from the Justice Department's Officer Safety and Wellness Group.
“Every day, law enforcement officers courageously serve this nation by protecting our values and keeping our communities safe,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “This report will serve as a critical resource as we honor their service and sacrifice and take the necessary steps to improve officer safety.”
The Department of Justice established the Officer Safety and Wellness Group in 2011 to encourage the adoption of cultures of safety and wellness among the nation's law enforcement agencies. The working group includes more than 40 participants representing federal, state and local law enforcement; national associations; unions; and researchers who discuss and develop the research.
The COPS Office is a federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. Since 1995, the COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 127,000 officers and provide a variety of knowledge resource products including publications, training and technical assistance. For additional information about the COPS Office, please visit: www.cops.usdoj.gov
ICE arrests 25 criminal aliens in central Florida
ORLANDO, Fla. – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers arrested 25 criminal aliens from Feb. 29 to March 4 during a targeted enforcement action targeting criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety. ERO officers made the arrests across central Florida.
All of those arrested by ICE during last week's enforcement action met one of the agency's top two enforcement priorities. All encountered had criminal records, some were felony convictions for serious or violent offenses, such as manslaughter, child abuse, robbery, false imprisonment, felony DUI, hit and run, armed burglary, racketeering, as well as weapons and drug violations.
“ICE prioritizes convicted criminals and public safety threats for apprehension and removal,” said Marc J. Moore, field office director for the Miami ERO Field Office, which oversees all of Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “Our enforcement actions last week made our communities safer today.”
One of those detained during the law enforcement action was previously removed from the U.S. and is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for felony re-entry after deportation.
On Feb. 29, ERO officer arrested a Moroccan citizen with a robbery conviction.
On Feb. 29, ERO officers arrested a citizen of Ecuador with a grand theft conviction.
Those arrested represented countries including: Ecuador, the United Kingdom, Morocco, Mexico, Turks & Caicos, El Salvador, Jamaica, Trinidad, Canada, England and Guyana.
All of the targets in this operation met the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) two top immigration enforcement priorities as established in DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson's November 2014 memorandum. Priority 1 targets include threats to national security, criminal street gang members, convicted felons, and aggravated felons. Priority 2 targets include convictions for three or more misdemeanors or convictions for significant misdemeanors, including DUIs.
Secretary Johnson has directed ICE to prioritize the use of enforcement personnel, detention space, and removal assets to support the Department's civil immigration enforcement priorities. ICE continues to work with local law enforcement partners to uphold public safety, while taking dangerous criminals out of our communities.
In fiscal 2015, ICE removed or returned 235,413 individuals. Of this total, 165,935 were apprehended while, or shortly after, attempting to illegally enter the United States. The remaining 69,478 were apprehended in the interior of the United States, and the vast majority of these were convicted criminals who fell within ICE's civil immigration enforcement priorities.
Ninety-eight percent of ICE's fiscal 2015 removals and returns fell into one or more of ICE's civil immigration enforcement priorities, with 86 percent falling in Priority 1 and eight percent in Priority 2. In addition, ICE's interior enforcement activities led to an increase in the percentage of interior removals that were convicted criminals, growing from 82 percent in fiscal 2013 to 91 percent in 2015.
ICE initiative to increase community engagement
Agency hiring community engagement officers around the country
WASHINGTON – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Sarah R. Saldaña announced openings for more than two dozen community liaisons with stakeholders as part of an initiative aimed at increasing local community engagement across the country.
These community relations officers will further ICE's strategic goals by formalizing education and information sharing efforts as well as strengthening partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies, community organizations, local governments, civic leaders, and the public at large. Improving partnerships and public awareness of ICE is one of the agency's key strategic priorities and the individuals who fill these positions will play an important role in ICE's outreach efforts.
“As the largest investigative agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, it is critical for ICE to have strong relationships with a wide array of external stakeholders,” said Director Saldaña. “I am confident that thoughtful and regular engagement of organizations which have an interest in ICE's law enforcement mission will serve to better inform the public's understanding of ICE and of the important work we do.”
ICE's primary mission is to promote homeland security and public safety through the criminal and civil enforcement of federal laws governing border control, customs, trade, and immigration. This mission is executed through the enforcement of more than 400 federal statutes and focuses on smart immigration enforcement, preventing terrorism, and combating the illegal movement of people and goods.
ICE enforces federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration to promote homeland security. ICE's mission is to protect America from the cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threaten national security and public safety. For more information, visit: www.ICE.gov . To report suspicious activity, call 1-866-347-2423.
From the Department of Homeland Security
Statement By Secretary Jeh C. Johnson On Southwest Border Security
In connection with the latest monthly release of the numbers of apprehensions on our southwest border, Secretary Johnson made the following statement:
“In February 2016, apprehensions by the Border Patrol on our southwest border – an indicator of total attempts to cross the border illegally – increased slightly from January, but remained substantially below the month-to-month numbers of apprehensions we saw in the latter part of 2015. The numbers of unaccompanied children and family members remained at the same levels as January, which is greatly reduced from the apprehension numbers at the end of 2015. The overall 10 percent increase from January is due to an increase in apprehensions of single adults, from 17,505 in January to 19,917 in February, 71.5 percent of whom are from Mexico. Notably, one year ago, in February 2015, the number of apprehensions of single adults was 19,950, and in February 2014 the number was 28,277.
Recent enforcement actions, which focus on those apprehended at the border on or after January 1, 2014, continue. On January 4, I announced enforcement actions that took place on January 2-3. Further, at my direction, beginning January 23 ICE has been conducting “Operation Border Guardian,” by which ICE has taken into custody 336 individuals. The focus of this operation are those who came here illegally as unaccompanied children after January 1, 2014, and are now over 18, have been ordered removed by an immigration court, and have no pending appeal or claim of asylum or other relief. Others who are priorities for removal have been apprehended as part of this operation. When enforcing the immigration laws, our personnel will not, except in emergency circumstances, apprehend an individual at a place of worship, a school, a hospital or doctor's office or other sensitive location.
These actions are part of our broader and ongoing efforts to enforce our immigration laws, in line with our stated priorities. Since October 1, ICE has repatriated a total of 28,808 individuals to Central America, and ICE and the Border Patrol have either repatriated or returned approximately 128,000 to Mexico. Since October 1, there have been a total of 290 removal flights to Central America. We are working with the Mexican government to increase the number of removal flights there from two to three flights per week. On February 23, we entered into new agreements with the Mexican government for the more efficient repatriation of adults, and safe and timely repatriation of families and unaccompanied children.
As I have said repeatedly, our borders are not open to illegal migration. If someone was apprehended at the border, has been ordered removed by an immigration court, has no pending appeal, and does not qualify for asylum or other relief from removal under our laws, he or she must be sent home. We must and we will enforce the law in accordance with our enforcement priorities.
I have also been working closely with the Department of Justice to ensure that as many unaccompanied children as possible have appropriate representation during immigration proceedings. We support improving the process for all those in immigration proceedings and have requested over $17 million as part of the President's FY17 budget request to support critical initiatives that provide legal assistance services to vulnerable immigrants, including $2 million for Justice AmeriCorps - a program that specifically provides legal representation to unaccompanied minors. We need every element of the court process to work effectively to accomplish the goal of both honoring humanitarian claims and processing those who do not qualify for relief.
With the Department of Justice, we are also doubling down on our efforts to apprehend and prosecute smugglers. Through initiatives like Operation Coyote, we are targeting the transnational criminal organizations that profit from human smuggling. Since its launch in summer 2014, Operation Coyote has to date resulted in the criminal arrest of 1,124 individuals, 877 indictments, and 829 convictions.
Finally, as I have said in the past, we recognize that many who seek to flee Central America may be regarded as refugees. We are expanding our Refugee Admissions Program to help vulnerable men, women and children in Central America. In partnership with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and non-governmental organizations in the region, we have taken preliminary steps to ensure we are able to implement this new program as soon as possible. This approach builds on our recently established Central American Minors program, which is now providing an in-country refugee processing option for certain children with parents in the United States, as well as the existing asylum process; to date, the State Department has received 7,606 applications for this Program.
Again, our policy is clear: We will continue to enforce the immigration laws and secure our borders consistent with our priorities and values. At the same time, we will offer vulnerable populations in Central America an alternate, safe and legal path to a better life.”
Maryland Police Dept. Grieves After 28-Year-Old Cop Killed in Line of Duty
by EMILY SHAPIRO
A Maryland police department is grieving after one of its officers was killed in the line of duty in what the police chief called an "unprovoked attack."
The Prince George's County Police Department said its District III station remains a crime scene this morning after officer Jacai Colson was fatally wounded Sunday after exchanging gunfire with a suspect outside the District III station, which is attached to the police headquarters in Palmer Park.
Colson was 28 years old, the police said. He would have celebrated his 29th birthday this week, police said.
"The preliminary investigation reveals a suspect opened fire outside the front doors of the station around 4:30 p.m.," the department said. Colson returned fire and was shot. He died a short time later, police said.
Police said Colson, a four-year veteran who was assigned to the Narcotic Enforcement Division, was undercover.
Colson "had an assignment whose very nature is high risk in every engagement," Prince George's County Police Chief Hank Stawinski said. "That speaks to a high level [of] dedication and ... bravery. And when things began to turn, he immediately stepped into action. I'm very proud of him."
Police said officers were not engaging the suspect in any way and Stawinski called it an "unprovoked attack." Investigators are working to determine the motive, police said.
"My understanding is [the suspect] opened fire on the first officer he saw and then continued that conduct as officers became aware as to what was going on," Stawinski said. "And then several officers engaged him."
Fraternal Order of Police President John Teletchea said Colson "was a real cops' cop."
"He didn't shy away from any calls," Teletchea said.
"Personally, he was a very close friend...and I will miss him dearly," he said. "But even more, this community has lost a man who has protected every one of them and it's a shame."
The suspect was also struck, police said Sunday, and is expected to survive. The suspect was in custody at the hospital with charges are pending, police said Sunday.
Police said today that three brothers from Prince George's County are in custody in connection with the shooting.
The police tweeted that “evidence shows the gunman intended to die during a gun battle with police.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement Sunday: "The First Lady and I send our sincere prayers to the family and loved ones of Officer Colson, who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to his fellow citizens and community."
"It is my hope that his proud legacy of commitment and passion for law enforcement and serving others will provide some comfort in the difficult days that lie ahead," Hogan said.
"Our administration is committed to assisting Prince George's County officials during this time, and the Maryland State Police are working closely with local law enforcement to provide support as needed," he continued.
The governor has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff.
NYC mayor says slashing spike due to gun control, as critics blame passive policing
by Maxim Lott
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says the explosion in random slashings this year shows the city is getting guns off the streets, but critics say it's another NYPD policy that is driving the blade attacks: The end of stop-and-frisk.
De Blasio's claim earlier this month that violent criminals are using knives, razor blades and boxcutters to maim strangers because they can't get their hands on firearms prompted skepticism from law enforcement experts. Slashings have jumped about 20 percent this year compared to the first three months of 2015, with attacks occurring on the subway, at tourist attractions and in outer borough neighborhoods long plagued by crime.
"I'm not a criminologist,” de Blasio told reporters in response to a question about the knife attacks. “But I can safely say that guns are being taken off the street in an unprecedented way. Some people, unfortunately, are turning to a different weapon.”
Some law enforcement experts aren't buying the mayor's explanation for the rise in knife crime.
“These criminals didn't just start carrying knives out of the blue or because of the guns getting taken — I don't believe that for a second,” former NYPD Detective Scott Prendergast, who runs the private investigation service Cornelius Investigations, told FoxNews.com.
Instead, Prendergast blames the rise in knife attacks on de Blasio for ending “stop-and-frisk,” a policy in which police officers stop people based on suspicion and frisk them for weapons or other illegal items.
“The increase in knives is more connected to ending stop and frisk . . . so the criminals know they can carry knives like they did back in the 1980s,” Prendergast said.
Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute who studies crime, agreed.
“I'm not quite sure why violent people would switch to knife carrying over gun carrying when their chances of being stopped and frisked or arrested are already so low,” she told FoxNews.com.
Asked for evidence backing up the mayor's claim about guns, the NYPD sent FoxNews.com data showing that gun-related arrests in 2016 have risen to 559 from 476 during the same period last year. And that at the same time as they arrested more people for having guns, shooting incidents fell to 130 from 161 and murders fell to 44 from 63.
Those statistics are consistent with the mayor's argument, but Prendergast noted that crimes in general are up.
There were 402 more felonious assaults so far this year compared to the same time period last year – a 14 percent increase. Through the first two months of the year, there were 567 slashing attacks, some 20 percent above the pace set in early 2015.
Police data also show that shootings, while down in 2016 so far, are still higher than they were two years ago when de Blasio took office.
“I have lived and worked in New York City my whole life and it is definitely starting to remind me of the 1980s as far as unsavory characters being a lot more visible,” Prendergast said.
De Blasio said the city's next project is to crack down on illegal knives and that the best way to do so is with “broken windows” policing – meaning enforcing laws against relatively minor crimes and shaking the perps down for weapons.
“I believe in quality-of-life policing, or ‘Broken Windows Policing,'” de Blasio said. “I get the reports every day. Someone's jumping a turnstile [or] someone had some other kind of infraction and… it turns out they have a weapon,” he said.
But critics say de Blasio doesn't fully allow police to practice what he preaches, because this year New York City decriminalized a host of minor crimes including public urination, drinking in public and littering.
“So obviously they're not doing ‘broken windows' policing,” Prendergast said.
International Public Safety Association Partners With DHS' Stop.Think.Connect. Campagin
by Homeland Security Today Staff
The International Public Safety Association has announced a joint venture with the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Stop.Think.Connect. campaign, a national public awareness campaign involving the efforts of 150 government, nonprofit, and academic organizations to promote safer online behavior.
As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, encouraging Internet safety is increasingly critical. The Campaign is based on the notion that cybersecurity is a shared responsibility.
The International Public Safety Association is a non-profit organization established in July 2014 in the State of Arizona to bring the public safety community closer together by offering opportunities to network, cross-train, and build a stronger public safety community capable of an effective joint response to all incidents.
“Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility,” said Heather R. Cotter, Executive Direction of the International Public Safety Association. “It is critical for all public safety officials to be aware of the issues and potential threats within their agency and jurisdiction. As we enjoy the constantly evolving conveniences of living in a digital world, it's also important to protect ourselves from the risks…The partnership with the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign demonstrates our commitment to proactively educate the entire public safety community about how to take simple steps to stay safe.”
The campaign's impressive collection of participants allows it to reach Americans of all ages and aid in their understanding of the risks inherent with using the Internet, as well as provide helpful tips regarding how to protect themselves online.
“As technologies advance and the number of connected devices grows at an exponential rate, so do cyber threats and our need to understand online risks,” said Dr. Phyllis Schneck, Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity at DHS. “Together, the International Public Safety Association and the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign will increase cybersecurity awareness and promote new tools and initiatives, helping Americans better protect themselves, their families, and their communities online.”
After K-9 slain, young girl sends Ohio PD her allowance for vests
The girl sent money to the partner of late K-9 Officer Jethro
by PoliceOne Staff
CANTON, Ohio — Officer Ryan Davis was surprised to find a letter from an 11-year-old girl donating her allowance in the wake of his K-9 partner's death, FOX 8 reported.
Jethro was killed in the line of duty during a shootout on Jan. 9 with a breaking and entering suspect.
Davis was going through letters he received when he found one from Allison. Allison wrote that she was sorry for the officer's loss and sent along her allowance to help police pay for K-9 ballistic vests.
Davis wanted to thank Allison for her donation, but the letter did not contain a return address. The department posted a picture on Facebook to search for the writer.
After a thousand shares of the girl's note, police were able to identify Allison and her mother. Davis planned to get in touch with her, according to the department's post.
Poll Shows Americans Support Rehabilitation Focus for Juvenile Justice Systems
by Sarah Barr
WASHINGTON — More than half of Americans support closing youth prisons and redirecting the savings to community-based programs, data that gives momentum to efforts to close facilities around the country, advocates say.
The Youth First Initiative, a national campaign to close youth prisons, released today polling data that delves into Americans' attitudes about incarceration, punishment and rehabilitation.
“We're very encouraged by the results and we think this matches with the political will we're seeing,” said Liz Ryan, CEO of Youth First.
A bipartisan group of governors — from Connecticut, Illinois and Virginia — have recently said they would like to close some of their states' largest and oldest prisons.
Youth First supports state-based advocates who are pushing to close youth prisons and overhaul juvenile justice systems. The group aims to work with partners in 15 states during the next five years to cut youth incarceration by 50 percent.
“It's a tough issue and state advocates are going right at it. We're really encouraged and we want to support them any way possible,” Ryan said.
Youth First also released a data visualization tool that maps the nation's 80 oldest and largest youth prisons, along with data on racial and ethnic disparities.
Ryan said it's critical that reforms narrow the gaps in incarceration rates among racial groups, as well as bringing down overall numbers.
The poll showed that 92 percent of Americans think the top priority of the juvenile system should be to help young offenders get back on track and be less likely to commit another offense.
Very large majorities supported efforts to include juveniles' families when designing treatment and rehabilitation plans and to provide financial incentives to states and municipalities to invest in alternatives to incarceration — at 89 percent and 83 percent, respectively.
The poll also found broad support for requiring states to reduce racial and ethnic disparities and increase funding to hire more public defenders for youth — at 70 percent and 69 percent, respectively.
Support for closing youth prisons and redirecting savings to community-based programs came in at 54 percent. While lower than support for many of the other proposals, Ryan said the finding is encouraging, particularly because the question specifically referenced alternatives for youth who pose a serious threat to public safety.
She said that indicates support for youth who have committed serious offenses, not only youth who commit status offenses such as running away or breaking curfew, or low-level crimes.
The poll was conducted in January 2016 by GBA Strategies and has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.
The Youth First Initiative is already working with campaigns in Virginia, West Virginia, Kansas, New Jersey and Connecticut.
In Virginia, the RISE for Youth campaign is working to close the two remaining youth prisons in the state and redirect the money to community-based alternatives to incarceration.
The campaign has focused on making sure youth and families who have experienced the system are part of the conversation about how to reform it.
Personal experiences can help make the issue real for stakeholders who don't understand the day-to-day life of juveniles, said Da'Quon Beaver, a community organizer at the Legal Aid Justice Center who was incarcerated in the past. The center is part of the RISE campaign.
“I've seen first-hand what goes on in these facilities — the good and the bad. I know what worked for me and what didn't and what worked for other youth,” he said.