March, 2016 - Week 5
'Exhausted' citizens demand PD dial back 'annoying, nonstop' community policing
Many in the community have taken issue with what they call an 'overenthusiastic' police force
April 1 2016 - Spoof News with Max 'Extra Scoop' Smithword
Editor's Note: Before you start writing any angry emails, please note the date of publication - April 1. We hope you enjoyed all of our April Fool's coverage. You can check them all out, here.
by PoliceOne Staff
PLEASANTVILLE, Ariz. – Tensions are rising between a police department and civilians in a small western Arizona town over a community policing initiative that began eight months ago.
Officers have maintained a constant presence in shopping centers, neighborhoods, parks and other high-traffic areas since the program's launch, and many in the community have taken issue with what they call an ‘overenthusiastic' police force.
“These cops are occupying our streets, chasing people down in parking lots and offering to help with groceries, rolling around in that tank giving out ice cream. Enough is enough,” Pleasantville resident, John Costa, said. “They're too nice. Let me go about my business.”
The divide hit a fever pitch at a Tuesday city council meeting that was packed to capacity. Protesters outside the venue were seen chanting “Cops kill with kindness!” and condemning the department with placards that read “End police geniality!”
Inside the city council meeting, nearly 30 citizens took to the podium to express their concerns.
“This guy [officer] has been bringing my newspaper and some Dunkin' Donuts to my door every morning before I go to work, even though sugar has been shown to have negative health effects. It's militant and oppressive,” resident Bob McCafferty said. “These cops need to be stopped.”
The city's police chief, Milton Krycek, sat quietly and appeared pensive throughout the nearly three-hour meeting before addressing the room after the final resident aired his grievance.
“We are conducting a thorough investigation and ask for your patience,” Krycek said, appearing both puzzled and resigned.
According to the Office of Community Policing Services (CPS), a staggering 400,523 good deeds at the hands of cops occurred last year – and that number shows no signs of slowing down. Pleasantville is only one among hundreds of cities across the nation grappling with what some have called ‘out-of-control do-gooders.' A presidential task force created to investigate the systemic issue is expected to issue their findings early next month.
A public protest outside of the Pleasantville police station is scheduled for Saturday.
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Chicago violent crime has soared in 2016. What's the response?
Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to combat increasing crime in Chicago starts with a new interim police superintendent.
by Corey Fedde
A video released Thursday captures the moment a man was gunned down in Chicago's South Side in the middle of live-streaming footage for his Facebook account.
The violent attack was one of 10 separate shootings that took place in Chicago that day, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune. The shootings highlight an increasingly visible trend for Chicago – a rise in violent crime to levels rarely seen in decades.
As of March 30, there were 135 homicides in Chicago during the first quarter of the year – a 71 percent increase from the same period last year when 79 homicides were reported, according to Chicago police data. The homicide totals are the highest they have been since 1999. A Tribune analysis showed shootings citywide were also up from last year 73 percent, totally 727 reported.
To address the problem, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a controversial decision this week: choosing Eddie Johnson, Chicago Police Department's chief of patrol, as the new interim superintendent.
To understand why that decision irked some, it's worth examining some of the factors that may be contributing to the city's crime spike.
Chicago has been on the precipice of an education crisis. Roughly 27,000 city teachers have worked since July without a contract, The Christian Science Monitor reported on Friday. Chicago public schools, the nation's third largest school district, faces a $1.1 billion budget deficit and an even larger multi-billion dollar debt from pensions.
Financial struggles at the state and city level could also be influencing crime rates. Illinois has gone nearly a year without a state budget. And Chicago residents have been battling an unemployment rate slowly ticking upward, reaching 7.2 percent unemployment in February, according to the Chicago Business Journal.
But Mayor Emanuel has mainly attributed the rising 2016 crime rate to a newly paralyzed police force, which is where the new interim superintendent Eddie Johnson comes into the picture.
Last fall, Emanuel told US Attorney General Loretta Lynch that the Chicago police force had become “fetal” as a result of heightened public scrutiny, according to the Washington Post. “... They don't want to be a news story themselves, they don't want their career ended early, and it's having an impact,” he said.
The police force has been reeling from protests over the police shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald. Four months ago, Chicago the mayor fired the city's chief of police amid large-scale protests.
Mr. Johnson was handpicked by Emanuel as interim superintendent to combat the paralysis and restore trust in police leadership in both officers and the public.
Johnson is a 27-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, but wields intimate knowledge of being on the receiving end of controversial police practices. In an extended interview with the Tribune, Johnson revealed that he had been racially profiled by police during his college years.
His selection to become the interim superintendent was unorthodox. He was not one of the three proposed candidates for the position put forward by the Chicago Police Board, nor did he apply for the position.
“The mayor is confident that Eddie Johnson is the right person at the right time to fight crime, lift morale in the police department, and build on the work that's been done to restore trust and accountability in the police department,” the mayor's office said in a statement.
Although crime rates have risen the first three months of this year, Chicago police data also indicates to a silver lining. While gun seizures and police stops were down and murder rates were up overall, March saw a much lower increase than previous months in murders and gun arrests and investigations have increased, according to the Post.
The next stage of community policing
by Mike Tusken
In 1992, Mayor Gary Doty appointed Chief Scott Lyons to usher a community policing philosophy into the Duluth Police Department. This meant changing officers' roles as call responders, bouncing from district to district, to working only in assigned neighborhoods.
With officers assigned to specific neighborhoods, their goal was to build relationships necessary to collaboratively identify and solve community problems. To implement this significant organizational change, Chief Lyons had officers assigned essentially as "ambassadors" to represent the police department in communities throughout the city. This group was a small cadre numbering, at the peak, 14 officers.
This model of community policing has a shelf life with a goal of fully integrating community policing within 15 years. Integrating a change of the culture within an organization takes time. The DPD enjoyed tremendous success with this model.
However, for the past several years, I would attend meetings and hear rave reviews on our community police officers' work. Conversely, the officers assigned to patrol did not receive the same level of kudos, despite being equally talented as the community officers.
It boiled down to one issue: familiarity. The community officers developed deep relationships in their communities because they were afforded time and opportunity to build these relationships. Patrol officers had far less time to engage in relationship-building and therefore focused mostly on emergency call response.
We need every officer to build relationships with the communities they serve. I believe the greatest adversary to successful policing today is anonymity. Trust of police and police embracing the community is founded on knowing and understanding each other. Hearing people's stories, concerns and passions is how we build respect.
In fact, there is evidence that building relationships also impacts perceptions of safety. One study indicated the best tactic police can use to reduce fear of crime is having non-enforcement contact with citizens. Sounds simple but it works. This study demonstrates how important trusting relationships with police are to a community's sense of security.
Fast forwarding to 2016. We retired the 23-year-old tired model of community policing with "ambassadors" and fully integrated community policing into the entire patrol division. Staff worked hard for much of 2015 to develop a new staffing plan and develop a community policing manual to guide the change.
The city was divided up into 13 community policing areas. Officers were assigned to these areas to build relationships and attend community functions in their respective areas. Primary focus for the first three months of 2016 was on attending community meetings and doing outreach opportunities with children.
We are focusing on youth centers and schools. These activities are fantastic for developing relationships and memories with the kids which will last a lifetime. We have engaged kids in activities from athletics to reading and even helped with homework. We have participated in potlucks and pinewood derby races. We even had more than 20 of our officers adopted by a Cub Scout troop in Gary-New Duluth. These super kids send us gifts and cards that tug at our heart strings.
We have great optimism and excitement for our new way of doing business. Today, we have more officers engaged with the community than ever before. We would like future outreach opportunities to include businesses, churches and meet and greets in your neighborhoods. We want to be accessible, available and engaged with people in their places and spaces.
If we haven't been engaged with you or your group, fret not. Please contact Lynn at (218) 730-5020. We look forward to the opportunity to make new friends.
Mike Tusken is the interim chief of the Duluth Police Department.
Public safety alert issued after 9 die from fake Norco overdoses
by Frances Wang
On Friday, two more deaths were reported from fentanyl pills disguised as Norco painkillers, bringing the total death rate to nine. 36 overdoses total have been reported in Sacramento County.
The DEA issued a public safety alert, warning everyone of the dangers of taking non-prescription drugs.
Dr. Olivia Kasirye with the health department said the poison control center reported five incidents within 24 hours last Thursday. Since that first call, the numbers of deaths and overdoses have just gone up. Victims range from 18 to 59-years-old, both men and women.
"It's very worrisome because a lot of people were very unsuspecting. Thought they were purchasing Norco or getting Norco from friends and relatives," Kasirye said.
Kasirye added that after taking the pills, people reported feeling dizzy, collapsing, becoming unconscious and some even having difficulty breathing or going into cardiac arrests.
Those Norco pills are usually used as painkillers. They can be bought on the streets by those looking for a high, but Dr. Kasirye said that's not always the case.
"There are some who are taking it to get high. But a lot of people are taking it because they have one pain or another," Kasirye said. "In some instances, some individuals did have prescriptions but they ran out of their medication so they borrowed from relatives or friends or just bought it off the street."
But those pills turned out to be full of fentanyl, considered 25 to 50 times more potent than heroin and 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Officials aren't sure how they're being disguised as Norco painkillers.
"This is the first time they've seen fentanyl in pill form, explained Dr Kasirye. "Usually, when it's given by prescription, it's in a patch."
Fentanyl can be lethal, even at low levels. And since the people who are taking these fake Norco pills think they're taking painkillers, they're often alone.
"That's the concern. For some of the individuals who ended up dying, they're by themselves," said Dr. Kasirye. "By the time someone discovered, it was too late."
As the DEA continues to investigate where these pills came from, the Sacramento County Public Health Department said things are finally starting to slow down.
"The number of cases reported to us has come down over time so our hope is people are getting the message and realizing these pills are not safe," Dr. Kasirye said.
Public Health officials advise people not to take prescription-type pills that are not prescribed by and obtained from one's own physician and/or pharmacy. Anyone who comes across pills they think may be actually fentanyl are asked to contact law enforcement and turn them in.
Chief: Small town policing has its advantages
Tim Hatch left a 163-officer department in Henry County more than 11 years ago to become chief of a small town agency
by The Brunswick News
ST. MARYS — Tim Hatch left a 163-officer department in Henry County more than 11 years ago to become chief of the St. Marys Police Department.
At the time, the department had 32 officers, which was a far departure from a police force where he sometimes didn't recognize some of the officers under his command.
“It's harder to operate as a team when you don't know everyone,” he said.
The challenge at first was building a rapport with his officers and the residents they are sworn to protect.
He said a smaller community enables his department to do more than react to calls for assistance.
“We try to be problem solvers,” he said. “Rather than merely enforcing the law to stop the incident, we look at the underlying problems that led to the call. We tend to be more proactive.”
Local churches help the department with community outreach programs in the city, which has been relatively lucky when it comes to serious crimes.
“We are blessed we don't have a lot of violent crimes,” he said. “We've seen a decrease in violent crimes over the years.”
Hatch said his force currently has 30 sworn officers, including himself, that have seen an increased number of calls. Last year, his department received more than 46,000 calls, a record number, he said.
Sometimes, the department has to depend on assistance from other law enforcement agencies.
“Some of our resources are taxed when bad stuff does happen,” he said.
In October, Camden County Sheriff's Office deputies helped the department after a home invasion where a man pistol whipped a woman. Deputies saw the suspect crouched behind a store and were forced to shoot the man after he fired shots at them.
“It was a critical situation,” Hatch said.
Luckily, he said gangs have been unable to establish a presence in the city.
“It's something all three of the agencies in the county have to watch for,” he said.
There are a few problem areas that require extra patrols. He said the department realizes the law abiding citizens living in problem areas also need protection. He said his officers maintain constant contact with the managers of residential areas with higher than average crime rates.
One of the biggest challenges for small police departments is recruiting and keeping officers.
“A lot of agencies have trouble finding people who want to be cops,” he said.
Candidates typically wash out because they can't pass the physical tests or meet the psychological requirements. Recruitment efforts are also hampered by the hostility some people have toward law enforcement officials.
The other challenge is keeping officers once they graduate from the academy. They are required to sign a contract to serve at least two years before they can seek another job.
“Younger officers have always been looking for better pay,” he said. “Law enforcement is a service-oriented profession.”
The city has implemented a new pay policy that guarantees officers pay raises for the first five years they work in the department as an incentive.
“Five years is the magic number because they're fully vested,” he said. “The people who are here are intent on staying here.”
Hatch said the goal is to promote from within, rather than hire command staff from outside.
“You risk damage to morale if you don't promote from within,” he said.
But in a smaller department, he realizes there are limited opportunities for advancement. He said some officers train to be detectives and other specialized jobs in the department to advance their careers.
The one thing Hatch said he doesn't do is try to recruit officers from other law enforcement agencies in the county.
“I don't want to get the reputation from my fellow chiefs,” he said.
Having a Navy base bordering the city limits doesn't impact the way his department has to enforce the law, he said.
“It's a whole lot easier working with the Navy than I ever imagined,” he said. “The base is part of our community. They live here. Their kids go to school here.”
Hatch said he has no regrets in accepting the job as chief, and he has no plans on leaving for another job.
“I came to be chief and I wanted a lifestyle change,” he said. “It's not always about the money. It's about the satisfaction.”
From The Department of Justice
Department of Justice Launches 10 Regional Elder Justice Task Forces
Today, the Department of Justice announced the launch of 10 regional Elder Justice Task Forces. These teams will bring together federal, state and local prosecutors, law enforcement, and agencies that provide services to the elderly, to coordinate and enhance efforts to pursue nursing homes that provide grossly substandard care to their residents.
“Millions of seniors count on nursing homes to provide them with quality care and to treat them with dignity and respect when they are most vulnerable,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery. “Yet, all too often we have found nursing home owners or operators who put their own economic gain before the needs of their residents. These task forces will help ensure that we are working closely with all relevant parties to protect the elderly.”
The Elder Justice Task Forces will include representatives from the U.S. Attorneys' Offices, state Medicaid Fraud Control Units, state and local prosecutors' offices, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), state Adult Protective Services agencies, Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs and law enforcement.
“The Department of Justice has a long history of holding nursing homes and long-term care providers accountable when they fail to provide their Medicare and Medicaid residents with even the most basic nursing services to which they were entitled,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department's Civil Division. “By bringing everyone to the table, we will be able to more effectively and quickly pursue nursing homes that are jeopardizing the health and well-being of their residents.”
The 10 Elder Justice Task Forces will be launched in the following Districts: Northern District of California, Northern District of Georgia, District of Kansas, Western District of Kentucky, Northern District of Iowa, District of Maryland, Southern District of Ohio, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Middle District of Tennessee and the Western District of Washington.
“We believe that by actively participating in the Elder Justice Task Forces announced today through joint investigations, sharing information and regular meetings; we will strengthen our efforts nationally to protect the most vulnerable of our population who reside in our nursing homes and other care facilities,” said Keesha Mitchell, President of the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units and the Director of the Ohio Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
“The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) continues to pursue nursing home operators who provide potentially harmful care to residents who are often unable to protect themselves,” said Chief Counsel to the Inspector General Gregory Demske of HHS. “Creating these task forces sends a message to those in charge of caring for these beneficiaries that grossly substandard care will not be tolerated.”
“The Administration for Community Living was created to help ensure that older adults and people with disabilities are able to live the lives they want, with the people they choose, fully participating in their communities,” said Becky Kurtz, Director of the Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs at the Administration for Community Living. “Our mission includes supporting their basic right to live with dignity, free from abuse. We appreciate the Department of Justice's leadership on this important initiative and applaud its long-standing commitment to elder justice efforts.”
“Our most vulnerable citizens deserve the highest quality care and attention,” said Executive Director Kathleen Quinn of the National Adult Protective Services Association. “This initiative will help insure that long-term care facilities provide it. The Department of Justice is to be commended for this, and indeed all its efforts, to protect the millions of elder abuse victims in this country.”
The Elder Justice Task Forces reflect the department's larger strategy and commitment to protecting our nation's seniors, spearheaded by the department's Elder Justice Initiative. The Elder Justice Initiative coordinates and supports the Department's law enforcement efforts and policy activities on elder justice issues. It plays an integral role in the department's investigative and enforcement efforts against nursing homes and other long-term care entities that deliver grossly substandard care to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. The Elder Justice Initiative will be providing litigation support and training to the Elder Justice Task Forces. Learn more about the Justice Department's Elder Justice Initiative at http://www.justice.gov/elderjustice/ .
Department of Justice Announces Solicitation for Community Policing Development Program
Up to $8 million to support community policing and implementation of the recommendations of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing
The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) today announced the opening of the application period for its Community Policing Development (CPD) Program. Up to $8 million is available to fund projects that support implementation of the recommendations of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing Report. These recommendations aim to strengthen public trust and foster strong relationships between local law enforcement and communities, while also promoting effective crime reduction.
The CPD Program is designed to address critical topics in the law enforcement field by building on the principles of community policing through training and technical assistance, the development of innovative community policing strategies, applied research, guidebooks and best practices that are national in scope.
This year, the program will fund projects related to six topic areas: The Microgrant Initiative for Law Enforcement, Critical Response Technical Assistance, Community Policing Emerging Issues Forums, Community Policing Training Projects, Law Enforcement Led 21st Century Policing Demonstration Projects and 21st Century Policing Implementation Projects.
“The funding announced today reflects this Administration's commitment to and support for law enforcement,” said COPS Office Director Ronald Davis. “Through this program, the COPS Office will provide substantial assistance to law enforcement in its efforts to build community trust and enhance public safety and national security.”
The CPD Program is a competitive solicitation, open to all public governmental agencies, profit and nonprofit institutions, institutions of higher education, community groups and faith-based organizations. For more information on program requirements, application instructions, frequently asked questions and other information, visit the CPD Program page on the COPS Office website.
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 more than 1,100 in operation targeting gangs
More than 40,000 arrested since inception of Operation Community Shield in 2005
WASHINGTON — A five-week operation, dubbed Project Shadowfire, netted 1,133 arrests, including more than 900 transnational criminal gang members and others associated with transnational criminal activity, like drug trafficking, human smuggling and sex trafficking, murder and racketeering. The operation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and concluded March 21.
“This operation is the latest example of ICE's ongoing efforts, begun more than a decade ago under Operation Community Shield, to target violent gang members and their associates, to eradicate the violence they inflict upon our communities and to stop the cash flow to transnational organized crime groups operating overseas,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña.
Since the inception of Operation Community Shield in February 2005, HSI special agents, working in conjunction with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, have made more than 40,000 gang-related arrests and seized more than 8,000 firearms.
Project Shadowfire was a surge operation conducted under Operation Community Shield, and led by the HSI National Gang Unit. Between Feb. 15 and March 21, HSI special agents worked with numerous state, local and federal law enforcement partners, including ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), to apprehend individuals from various gangs.
Most of the individuals arrested during Project Shadowfire were U.S. citizens, but 239 foreign nationals from 13 countries in Central America, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean were also arrested. Of the 1,133 arrests, 915 were gang members and associates, 1,001 were charged with criminal offenses and 132 were arrested administratively for immigration violations.
The majority of arrestees were affiliated with gangs like MS-13, Sureños, Norteños, Bloods and several prison-based gangs. Enforcement actions occurred around the country, with the greatest activity taking place in the Los Angeles, San Juan, Atlanta, San Francisco, Houston, and El Paso areas.
HSI special agents also seized 150 firearms, more than 20 kilograms of narcotics and more than $70,000 in U.S currency.
About Operation Community Shield
Operation Community Shield is a global initiative, started by ICE in 2005, in which HSI collaborates with federal, state and local law enforcement partners to combat the growth and proliferation of transnational criminal street gangs, prison gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs in the United States and abroad. Through its domestic and international Operation Community Shield task forces, HSI leverages its worldwide presence and expansive statutory and civil enforcement authorities to mitigate the threats posted by these global networks, often through the tracing and seizing of cash, weapons and other illicit proceeds.
Partnerships with state, local, federal and international law enforcement agencies are critical to the success of HSI gang enforcement operations. Law enforcement partners provide actionable intelligence which is critical in targeting gangs and their membership for enforcement actions. HSI special agents use intelligence gathered from surge operations to pursue complex criminal enterprise investigations and federal prosecutions.
The National Gang Unit oversees HSI's expansive transnational gang portfolio and enables special agents to bring the fight to these criminal enterprises through the development of uniform enforcement and intelligence-sharing strategies.
Recent National Gang Unit-led operations include: Southern Tempest in 2011, targeting gangs affiliated with drug trafficking; Project Nefarious in 2012, targeting gangs involved in human smuggling and trafficking; Project Southbound in 2014, targeting the Sureños, the fasting growing transnational gang in the U.S., and Project Wildfire in 2015, the largest gang surge conducted by HSI to date.
Additionally, for the past three years, ICE has held an anti-gang conference with the U.S. Department of State in Mexico City to provide training and capacity building for international law enforcement officers to combat and prevent gang activities.
To report suspicious activity, call ICE's 24-hour, toll-free hotline at: 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or visit: www.ice.gov/tips
California Man Indicted for Traveling to Thailand and Sexually Abusing Minor Boys
DOJ Press Release
LOS ANGELES – A resident of Montrose was indicted today in a superseding indictment by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles on charges of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places and sex trafficking of a minor, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker announced today.
Paul Alan Shapiro, 69, was originally indicted on April 22, 2015, on charges relating to his travel to Thailand and illicit sexual conduct with minor boys.
According to the indictment, in February 2010, Shapiro traveled from Los Angeles to Thailand, where Shapiro paid minors as young as 14 years old small amounts of local currency in order to engage in various sex acts with them. Shapiro also allegedly took photographs of himself engaging in sexually explicit conduct with the boys.
“Child predators cannot flee the United States in the hope of having a safe haven for their criminal conduct,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “To protect the most vulnerable among us, my office will pursue Americans who seek to exploit children in other countries.”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations is investigating the case. Trial Attorneys Austin M. Berry and Amy E. Larson of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) are prosecuting the case.
“This indictment should serve as a warning to sexual predators who mistakenly believe they can escape justice by exploiting children overseas,” said Joseph Macias, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. “There is no tolerance for the sexual abuse of foreign children by our citizens, and HSI will work closely with our law enforcement counterparts throughout the world to ensure these criminals face justice.”
The charges and allegations contained in an indictment are merely accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
Earlier this month, a Northern California man was found guilty in United States District Court in Los Angeles of traveling to Cambodia to have illicit sexual conduct with young girls (see: http://go.usa.gov/cAgP9).
For more info please call the Office of Public Affairs at: 202 / 514-2007
Texas man fatally shot by Arizona officer begged for life
by Garrett Mitchell and Megan Cassidy
PHOENIX (USA TODAY) — A Texas man fatally shot by a Mesa police officer in January was heard begging for his life moments before his death, according to a police report released Tuesday morning.
A witness and a transcription of officer video footage describe Daniel Shaver saying “Please don’t shoot me” and “Please don’t shoot,” just before an officer later identified as Philip "Mitch" Brailsford fired his service weapon.
Brailsford has been charged with second-degree murder and was terminated from the Police Department.
On Tuesday, the Mesa Police Department released the police report, 911 calls and other material from its investigation of Brailsford's shooting of Shaver, who was unarmed, at a hotel in January.
The material released did not include officers' body camera video from the scene.
Shaver, 26, died after being shot in a hallway outside his room at a Mesa La Quinta Inn & Suites on Jan. 18. Brailsford was charged with one count of second-degree murder in a direct complaint by the County Attorney's Office on March 4.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said body-camera footage obtained from the officer was used in his office's review of the case. The fatal shooting was the result of unjustified deadly force, Montgomery said.
The county attorney's complaint stated Brailsford was "manifesting an extreme indifference to human life recklessly causing the death of another."
Shaver's widow, Laney Sweet, said earlier this month that she had grown more and more frustrated by the lack of details made available to the public, including the circumstances surrounding her husband's death, two months after it occurred. They are the parents of two young girls.
"I can't bring him back, but I will fight for justice for him," Sweet said. "My kids are absolutely heartbroken and I can't fix it."
Court records indicate Shaver could have been intoxicated at the time of his death and may not have understood what police were asking.
Officers were called to the La Quinta Inn shortly after 9 p.m. when guests at the pool reported seeing a person with a gun in a fifth-story window, police said.
Officers arrived at Shaver's hotel room and found him with an unidentified woman, whom Sweet said was visiting with a male colleague who had stepped outside to call his wife.
An unarmed Shaver and the woman were ordered to leave the hotel room and were then told to get on their hands and knees into the hallway, the county attorney's office said. The woman crawled toward the officers and was apprehended without incident.
"Shaver was cooperative, but sometimes confused by the commands and because of his possible intoxication," the report said. "The sergeant told Shaver that if he put his hands behind his back then he would be shot."
Records indicate Shaver was shot by Brailsford as Shaver made a motion with his right hand toward his waistline, possibly to pull his shorts up as they were sagging, the report said. Shaver was declared dead at the scene.
Investigators later found two pellet guns in Shaver's room, police said.
An autopsy report on Shaver has not yet been made public.
On March 21, the Mesa Police Department announced it had terminated Brailsford. Brailsford had 14 days to appeal the decision by Mesa Police Chief John Meza.
First Graders Suspended for Allegedly Plotting to Poison Classmate
by BRIAN MCBRIDE
Three first graders at an Anchorage, Alaska, charter school were suspended last week after allegedly plotting to poison and kill a fellow classmate.
School officials said they found out about the alleged plan only after other students overheard them talking about it.
"We're grateful that we had students come forward and share their concern," said Ed Graff, Superintendent with the Anchorage School District.
According to police, the young girls planned to take silica gel preservation packets from their lunchtime food bags and put them into another student's lunch.
The students were unaware that silica gel -- a drying agent used to keep packaged goods fresh -- is actually non-toxic, though the tiny beads could pose a choking hazard.
"We also will talk to students about where they learn this and do they recognize the seriousness of their comments and their actions," said Graff.
Immediately following the incident last week, Winterberry Charter School sent parents a letter which included asking them to "connect with your child" and "talk about what it means to tell in order to be helpful."
Officials said that while the alleged plot wasn't carried out and no criminal charges were filed, it still left some parents alarmed.
"A resource officer spoke with each student involved as well as the victim and thoroughly went over with them the repercussions of this kind of stuff," said Anchorage police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro.
"We really tried to give them the straight talk and the big picture of what this could have potentially turned into," she added.
Newark Joins the List of Police Departments Monitored by U.S. Justice Department
The city’s police department must reform its stop-and-search policies, enroll in anti-bias training, and stop stealing people’s stuff.
by Brentin Mock
African Americans in Newark, New Jersey, were 2.5 times as likely to get stopped and frisked by city police as white residents were when the U.S. Department of Justice began investigating the police department five years ago. Wednesday, the Justice Department entered into an agreement with Newark police to ensure that the department changes its policies so the city does not return to this racially lop-sided scenario.
Police officials signed a consent decree on March 30 committing them to a long list of reforms meant to correct a system-wide pattern of violating the constitutional rights of citizens. The Justice Department’s findings from its investigation, released in 2014, showed a police force bent on frisking citizens, mostly African Americans, without reason, as well as using excessive force on suspects and stealing from them. The department must take the following corrective steps under the new consent decree:
NPD will revise search and seizure policies, training, and supervision to ensure that all stops, searches, and arrests are conducted in accordance with the Constitution and in a manner that takes into account community priorities.
NPD will integrate bias-free policing principles into all levels of the organization, including comprehensive training of officers and supervisors.
NPD will reform use of force policies, including requirements for using de-escalation techniques whenever possible and appropriate, prohibiting retaliatory force, and ensuring mandatory reporting and investigation standards following use of force.
NPD will deploy in-car and body-worn cameras to promote accountability, instill community confidence, and improve law enforcement records.
NPD will implement measures to prevent theft of property by officers, including robust reporting and complete accounting of property or evidenced seized.
Newark will create a civilian oversight entity to give voice to and pursue concerns of its residents.
NPD will improve records management and early intervention systems and collect data on all uses of force and investigatory stops, searches, and arrests, and develop a protocol for the comprehensive analysis of the data.
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, who helped craft the decree, said at a press conference that the police department’s stop-and-frisk policy was a “significant problem” that needed to be addressed with the new reforms. As for how this got out of hand:
Some of this stems from a lack of clarity in [Newark police] policies and training, which has promoted a view that living or simply being in a high-crime area is, in and of itself, criminally suspicious. … We also found that this practice had a particularly acute impact on African Americans. And some of the people who have been stopped and arrested were lawfully objecting to police action or simply behaving in a way that officers perceived as disrespectful.
Justice Department investigators waded through thousands of reports on police stops and use of force, mostly complaints from between 2006 and 2011, when Garry McCarthy was chief of the Newark police department. McCarthy left Newark in 2011 to become police superintendent in Chicago, where he served until Mayor Rahm Emmanuel fired him last December over police abuse problems.
The DOJ investigation found that roughly three-fourths of pedestrian stops by Newark police were done with no stated legal basis. Thousands of these stops were reported as being about people “milling,” “loitering,” or “wandering” around, with no suspicious criminal activity recorded. African Americans were the primary targets of these stops.
The DOJ investigation also found no reasonable, constitutional justification for the use of violent force by officers in more than 20 percent of the reports that it reviewed. Newark cops will now have to undergo “de-escalation trainings” to help them learn methods of calming potentially violent interactions other than firing their weapons. Such de-escalation practices have been the object of much criticism and scorn from police union heads and police chiefs recently.
Newark’s narcotics and gang units also routinely stole money and other belongings from suspects. According to the investigation report, when the victims of these thefts complained, the police department:
… conducted inadequate investigations into theft complaints, failed to take corrective action against offending officers, and declined to implement methods recommended by its own investigators that could substantially reduce and deter future theft by officers.
Looking at this pattern of abuse of power, it’s easy to understand the angst in Newark rapper Redman’s songs about police harassment. As he rhymed in his 1996 song “What U Lookin’ 4”:
Walkin to my car witcha nine out the holster
‘Put your hands on the steering wheel like ya sposed ta’
I cooperate don't give the redneck no hassle
Because too many mistakes be happening to black folk
The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division Chief Vanita Gupta said at the Newark press conference that the new consent decree “emphasizes community engagement as a critical ingredient for reform.”
“It requires the city to create a civilian oversight entity to improve transparency in the police department and public confidence from the community,” said Gupta. “It establishes a problem-oriented policing model to strengthen collaborative community partnerships. And it requires an annual survey to assess the community’s experience with the police and its perceptions of public safety.”
Former New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey will monitor the police department for the federal government to ensure that Newark police comply with the consent decree’s terms. Harvey, in fact, helped create the federal consent decree for New Jersey state police when they were exposed for racial profiling. Newark police can only come out of oversight if Harvey and the federal court presiding over the decree feel satisfied that the department has met its end of the bargain for two consecutive years.
“When officers flout the law or abuse their authority, this discourages people from working with police,” said Gupta at the press conference. “And we know that mistrust between police and residents breaks down collaboration, impedes the sharing of information, and leads to less effective policing. This makes everyone–residents and officers alike–less safe.”
Sheriff Lott to hold community policing summit
by Fraendy Clervaud
COLUMBIA (WACH) --- More than ever now, the topic of police and communities are making headlines.
In light of events taking place across the nation (Ferguson, Charleston etc.), some people feel they can't trust those in law enforcement.
But locally one sheriff is hoping to change that.
Sheriff Leon Lott with the Richland County Sheriff's Department is holding a century policing summit.
The summit is taking place this Saturday, April 2nd at The Medallion Center at 9 am.
Stephany Snowden and Sergeant Brittany Scott from the RCSD talked to Good Day Columbia
about the summit.
Holyoke neighborhoods will see more community policing thanks to $50,000 state grant
by Mike Plaisance
HOLYOKE -- Residents will see more community policing on foot and bicycle in about a week thanks to a $50,000 state grant, Police Chief James M. Neiswanger said Tuesday.
The increased police presence will be established in the neighborhoods of South Holyoke, Springdale, the Flats, Churchill and Prospect Heights-Downtown, Neiswanger said at a press conference in the City Hall office of Mayor Alex B. Morse.
"This is just a tremendous help this time of year when we need it most," Neiswanger said.
State Sen. Donald R. Humason, R-Westfield, and state Rep. Aaron M. Vega, D-Holyoke, discussed the grant along with Morse and Neiswanger.
The money was set aside for the city in the current state budget. But it was available only now because Gov. Charlie Baker wanted to be sure extensive budget cuts were unnecessary during the fiscal year before releasing such earmarks, Humason said.
Community policing fits with the axiom that all politics is local because in both cases, success means getting to know people where they live and work, he said.
"You've got a great department, a great city, and it's my honor to be able to help you," Humason said.
Vega said not all officers are adept at community policing. But those who are skilled at focusing on a neighborhood's residents and merchants can help fight crime in a particular way, he said.
The opioid addiction crisis is an example, he said. Baker has said an average of four people a day die of opioid overdoses in Massachusetts.
Community policing can yield tips that limit the availability of opioids, Vega said in a video (see above).
"This information that comes from the community policing unit is one more aspect to help get these drugs off the street," Vega said.
The discussion came in the same press conference in which Morse said that Capt. Manuel Febo will be acting chief from April 3 to May 14 and Capt. Denise Duguay will be acting chief from May 15 to June 26. Neiswanger will be attending the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
Community policing a new aspect to police work
by Karissa Shatzer
CHAMBERSBURG – The Coyle Free Library has been a part of the Chambersburg community for 125 years. It boasts being a library of the 21st century, and now it’s part of policing in the 21st century.
“Just sort of come in and walk around and see how things are going,” library director Denice Bigham said. “Talk to staff. Talk to the patrons who are hanging out here and just start to get to know people.”
Community policing is becoming a new and necessary aspect of police work.
“It’s basically just to give them an opportunity to reach out to us in a different way than calling the police or calling 911,” Chambersburg police Patrolman Richard Sleichter said.
Community policing is an opportunity for people to ask questions.
“We’re giving them the opportunity to come to us and talk to us about anything,” Sleichter said.
“A lot of people look at us as just hammers; we’re just out to arrest you for anything, we’re looking for you all the time,” Sleichter said. “We’re just people, just like everybody else.”
Community policing is an opportunity to see officers as the good guys.
Recent events like the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore police custody have put officers as a whole in a negative light. Chambersburg police are trying to change the story, starting at the library.
“I think this is a way for us to reach out and show people that just because you have a bad incident, don’t label us all as bad,” Sleichter said. “Realize we’re here to protect you and to serve you and come to us if you need us.”
Pakistan bombing: Suspects, arms seized after attack on Christians kills 69
by Sophia Saifi, Holly Yan and Daniyal Hassan
Lahore, Pakistan (CNN)Security forces, hunting for suspects in the deadly Easter Sunday bombing targeting Christians in a Lahore park, raided locations in three cities overnight and arrested suspected terrorists, a military spokesman said Monday on Twitter.
No details were given on who had been arrested or what role -- if any -- they may have played in the bombing, which killed at least 69 people, a local government spokesman told CNN.
The blast injured more than 341 others, Punjab government spokesman Jehangir Awan said.
A splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamat-ul-Ahrar, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had targeted Christians. The group vowed more such attacks.
The overnight raids by military and intelligence agencies targeted locations in three cities across the Pakistani province of Punjab, including Lahore, Faisalabad and Multan, military spokesman Lt. Gen. Asim Bajwa tweeted.
In addition to the unspecified number of arrests of suspected "terrorists and facilitators," forces also recovered a "huge cache of arms and ammunition," Bajwa said.
Operations were continuing, "with more leads coming in," he tweeted.
Sunday's attack came at a poignant time for Pakistan's Christians, some of whom were in the city's Gulshan Iqbal Park to celebrate Easter on Sunday evening.
The religious group makes up only 2% of the population, and tensions are high between them and a hardline Muslim core that wants to see a strict interpretation of Islamic law take precedence in Pakistan's legal system.
'Dead bodies ... everywhere'
One witness named Danish was at the amusement park with his two sisters.
"It was so crowded that there was even no way of entering it," he told reporters. "There was suddenly a big blast. Everyone panicked, running to all directions. Many of them were blocked at the gate of the park. Dead bodies can be found everywhere."
He said one of his sisters died; the other was wounded.
"The object (that) hit her looks like a piece of hard iron, and it burned her in the neck," Danish said.
A Christian man named Sohail said he was there with four of his children and his wife.
"I went to get groceries, but my children insisted that it was the last day of their school holidays so I should take them to Iqbal Park, which I did," he said.
As Sohail went to get tickets for the park's rides, the blast occurred.
"My 6-year-old is in critical condition and is in surgery," he said.
Lahore's parks remained closed Monday for security reasons, the deputy commissioner of police said.
The bombing struck a park when families were celebrating Easter.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has worked to thaw the icy relations between his country and Pakistan, called Sharif on Sunday to express his grief over the bombing.
"Our goal is not only to eliminate terror infrastructure but also the extremist mindset, which is a threat to our way of life," he said.
"I want more proactive coordination between law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Provinces should speed up intelligence-based operations against terrorists. We must take this war to the doors of terrorist outfits before they are able to hit our innocent countrymen."
The Indian leader expressed solidarity with Pakistan, the Pakistani state-run news agency reported.
"Modi said coward terrorists had targeted females and kids which was highly condemnable and regrettable," according to the news agency, the Associated Press of Pakistan.
The United States and Australia also condemned the attack.
"This cowardly act in what has long been a scenic and placid park has killed dozens of innocent civilians and left scores injured," U.S. National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop echoed the sentiment.
"As Christians worldwide celebrate Easter, a shocking terrorist attack in Lahore, Pakistan, reminds us that terrorism is a global scourge," she said Monday.
History of violence
In March of last year, suicide bombers attacked a Christian community, also in Lahore, setting off two blasts that killed at least 14 people and wounded dozens more, officials said.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for those attacks. And they warned of more to come.
The explosions, which struck the Nishtar Colony area in the city of Lahore, wounded at least 78 people, a Lahore General Hospital official said at the time.
And in 2013, suicide bombers struck a church in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing more than 80 people.
In Canton, community policing is paying off
The traditional respond-and-arrest model of policing is ineffective and archaic for cities like Canton. It's a reactionary approach that's served its purpose, but no longer rises to the challenges law enforcement faces on a daily basis.
Our community is racially, culturally and socioeconomically diverse and therefore demands of the people protecting it an approach that's just as diverse. A problem plaguing one neighborhood might not be an issue in the next. Or it may grow from entirely different roots. Understanding those complexities requires a partnership between police and the people they serve. Establishing that partnership means knocking down towers of misperception and building trust where they once stood.
So Canton police officers, through the proven philosophy of community policing, immerse themselves in city neighborhoods. They patrol on foot, knock on doors, pick up trash, remove graffiti, attend community gatherings, shake hands at neighborhood association meetings and play pick-up games of basketball with kids. Officers are told to act as if they live in the neighborhoods they're patrolling.
But the efforts go much farther. Under the department's new Priorities Bureau, which previously was known as the Community Interaction Team, police are using technology to track gunshots and gang activity, and make it easier for people to report crime or provide anonymous information. They're also harnessing the powerful reach of social media.
They're involved in the Northeast Ohio Crime Consortium and work closely with the countywide Community Initiative to Reduce Violence and the Stark County chapter of the NAACP.
The department has made marked progress reducing crime citywide and in some of Canton's notoriously dangerous neighborhoods, a sign their work and Police Chief Bruce Lawver's approach are paying off. Perhaps more importantly, the department no longer resembles the agency that in the '80s was under a consent decree to improve minority hiring, in the late '90s and early 2000s faced accusations of racially motivated police brutality and that in more recent years has been hampered by cases of police misconduct.
Last week, Repository reporter Kelly Byer examined how crime has dropped as a result of community policing and how the department is slowly changing its perception in the community. The testimony, statistics and anecdotal evidence reported by Byer show the department is making great strides, despite some of the financial challenges that remain.
In the target areas of the northeast Gibbs and northwest Shorb neighborhoods, violent crime was down 41 percent, and quality-of-life crimes like burglary were down 27 percent between June 2014 and 2015 from the prior year. Citywide, violent crime was down 3.4 percent and quality-of-life crimes dropped 12.2 percent. And the number of shooting victims and shots-fired incidents also were down.
Leaders in the black and Latino communities report that they have seen major change from the department.
There are several steps the department can take to improve upon its initial success, but funding stands in the way. As part of the city's effort to trim $5.1 million from the general fund budget, the department will see overtime cut by $275,000. It will lose six officers through attrition. Fortunately, eight police officers were spared from layoffs by grants.
When the department is able to add to its ranks again, it should strive to hire more bilingual officers in order to continue breaking down the language barrier that divides it from the Latino community. It also must continue to improve diversity by recruiting perspective police officers through outreach programs. Lawver also wants to hire a deputy chief and full-time crime analyst.
There are other steps it can take that cost little if anything, like encouraging the formation of a neighborhood association on the northeast side and continuing to persuade reluctant citizens to confide in officers more often.
Community policing isn't new to Canton. The city has made smaller efforts through bike and walking beats and weed-and-seed programs in the past, only to see those initiatives undermined by budget cuts. Fortunately for Canton, Lawver, facing similar funding challenges today, doesn't seem to be deterred.
"We understand the city's deficit and the very hard decisions that the administration has to make," Lawver told Byer recently. "We respect that. But, you know what? We're going to still do the right things."
After years in decline, crime on rise in California
by Matt Levin
After a decades-long decline in violent and property crime, early indications from cities across California point to a significant increase in lawbreaking.
In California's 68 largest cities, violent crime jumped 11 percent in the first six months of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014.
And for property crime, among major U.S. cities, three California cities saw the largest increases in the country.
Data compiled thus far relies on half-year reports from California cities with a population of at least 100,000, which together comprise about half the state's population. Statewide data for the year will be released this summer.
Riverside and San Bernardino counties have 11 cities with more than 100,000 residents. Collectively, they reported 11.4 percent more violent crimes and 6.4 percent more property crimes in the first six months of 2015, compared to the first half of 2014. The number of murders, arsons and burglaries were down, while rape, robbery, aggravated assault, larceny and motor vehicle theft numbers were up.
California's increase in violent crime appears to be less of an outlier compared to other states. But on property crime, California appears to be trending in a different direction.
Part of the reason the jump in 2015 is so surprising is because both violent and property crime in California have consistently trended downward since reaching peaks more than two decades ago. Even with the latest increase, crime is still below levels of just a few years ago.
California introduced two major criminal justice policies in the last five years that both reduced the number of offenders in jail or prison.
In late 2011, the state began “realignment,” Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to reduce prison overcrowding by shifting responsibility for about 30,000 offenders from the state to the counties. County jails absorbed many, but roughly 18,000 fewer offenders were incarcerated in the first year after the shift, according to the nonpartisan think tank Public Policy Institute of California.
In the most definitive look at the role realignment played in the state's crime rate, a PPIC study in 2013 found that realignment could not be linked to an increase in violent crime. However, the study did find realignment could be blamed for a significant increase in auto theft – about 65 more auto thefts per year per 100,000 residents.
In 2014, voters approved Proposition 47, which reclassified several drug possession and small-scale property offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. The total incarcerated population dropped by more than 10,000 in the months following Proposition 47's passage.
Crime rates fluctuate year to year, and there has been no definitive research to date showing a relationship between crime trends and Proposition 47. But many law enforcement officials across the state have voiced concern that Proposition 47 may be to blame.
Riverside County has struggled more than other counties to take on the extra inmates it is responsible for under realignment, says District Attorney Mike Hestrin. The overcrowded county jail system has had to release thousands of inmates early.
He also has said he believes Prop. 47 has contributed to increases in the county's crime rate.
“Some of the increase is direct and some of that is indirect,” Hestrin said in November. "It goes along with the theory of broken-window policing: If a community is perceived as being tolerant of lawlessness and criminality, then that breeds more lawlessness and criminality. That's just basic human nature.”
The crime rate may also be an issue this year for Gov. Jerry Brown. He is collecting signatures to qualify a measure for the November ballot that would further reduce the prison population by allowing more nonviolent inmates to gain earlier access to parole.
So far, the increase in crime does not appear to have changed public opinion.
Polling by PPIC found that about 20 percent of California adults said in January that violence and street crime in their communities are a big problem. That's four percentage points less than in January of 2015.
Data security is the next evolution of public safety debate
by Julie Anderson
President Barack Obama recommitted to improving public safety and reducing crime with his recent executive actions on gun control. Increasingly, Americans are worried about crime because of recent high-profile mass shootings and incidents of police abuse.
These public policy challenges are unlikely to disappear any time before the 2016 election. Typically, presidential candidates focus on the physical safety of Americans when they debate crime and the role of police, but this emphasis is no longer sufficient in the 21st century.
Today, law enforcement agencies look to technologies, such as body-worn cameras, to reduce crime. However, while body-worn cameras provide public safety benefits, they also create a new type of public safety challenge: data security.
Although the overall rate of violent crime has declined tremendously in the past 25 years, Americans perceive the opposite trend. This unease, paired with recent attention to police misconduct, has shaped the national dialogue. As the nation learned of alleged police misconduct in such cities as Baltimore, Chicago and Cleveland, policymakers and community leaders demanded increased transparency, pointing to police body-worn cameras as a means to prevent future incidents. In recent years, local officials in San Diego; Topeka, Kansas; Houston and Washington, D.C. have decided to outfit police officers with the technology. And President Obama made more federal resources available to law enforcement agencies to help defray the costs of deploying body-worn cameras.
Law enforcement agencies that use body-worn cameras increase the stakes for communities using this technology with regards to storage and privacy.
First, law enforcement agencies using body-worn cameras must deal with storing and managing vast amounts of data collected by the devices, which is increasingly stored in the cloud. To put this in context, the Seattle Police Department alone produced more than 360 terabytes of data from dashboard cameras since its program's inception.
Second, citizens and police officers remain concerned about their personal privacy when recorded by cameras not protected from leaks or hacks. A hacker can easily penetrate an unsophisticated cloud-based storage system to access sensitive law enforcement data. This risk is particularly concerning when footage includes victims of domestic violence or child abuse.
For these reasons, law enforcement must secure the video surveillance data using the highest standards available.
Recently, a group of law enforcement stakeholders discussed creating and managing body-worn camera programs that ensure data security and protect privacy for all those affected. Participants from International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National District Attorneys Association, American Civil Liberties Union and other law enforcement groups examined how standards and best practices can be implemented to balance privacy and security when deploying body-worn cameras. Their participation made it clear that we need a consensus on the policy that will most strongly protect the critical information that these cameras will gather daily.
Fortunately, the FBI created a new Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) security policy that addresses the challenge of securing law enforcement video surveillance data. This policy prescribes methods of data collection, transmission, storage and destruction, providing a standard level of data protection for all criminal justice information.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) also issued guidance about how these standards apply to cloud-based technology used by state and local police departments. The standards are designed to protect the security of criminal justice information in cloud systems. Under the guidelines, all levels of law enforcement are required to protect information held in the cloud such as fingerprints and facial recognition data. Police departments that use CJIS-compliant cloud technology — whether provided by the FBI or a private vendor — will take an important step in minimizing the risk of keeping video data safe.
For almost 20 years, all law enforcement agencies that want access to FBI data must comply with the CJIS security policy. Similarly, as police departments turn to using cloud-based technology to store data, cloud service providers will also need to comply with CJIS. The recent updates to CJIS security policy are intended to help state and local law enforcement ensure CJIS compliance when using the cloud.
Contrary to what many experts believe, encryption alone is not the answer. In reality, many police departments rely on automated software that cannot process encrypted data to manage body-worn camera video. Police departments that use CJIS-compliant cloud technology — whether provided by the FBI or a private vendor — will take an important step toward minimizing the risk of keeping that video data safe and usable.
Law enforcement agencies today shoulder a greater responsibility to get it right when deploying body-worn cameras. They face high expectations regarding transparency and even higher stakes when it comes to protecting Americans' privacy. The next president's administration must be prepared to meet expectations of both physical and data security, and the CJIS security policy is an important first step for our new leadership to address Americans' privacy and security concerns.
Julie Anderson is an expert in the management of government and organizational transformation. Prior to forming AG Strategy Group, she was managing director of the Civitas Group. Before that, she served as the acting assistant secretary for policy and planning and deputy assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the Department of Veterans Affairs in the Obama administration.
School crime reports often contradictory; hard to come by
by Rick Brundreft
Three male Southside High students were charged in March last year after a 15-year-old girl said she was forced into a car after school, driven down the road and sexually assaulted.
Authorities arrested a 13-year-old boy in April 2012 following the beating of another 13-year-old boy in a bathroom at Mauldin Middle that sent the victim to the hospital with blackouts.
A Piedmont man was arrested in September 2013 in connection with the mugging of a female Sterling School teacher in a school parking lot.
The three incidents were among hundreds on Greenville County school grounds investigated by local police but not included in the Greenville County School District's reports to the state Department of Education for inclusion in an annual crime report compiled under federal law.
A months' long review by The Greenville News found discrepancies between what local police are investigating on school grounds and what the district is reporting in its annual crime reports to the state Department of Education.
The Greenville County school district, for example, reported a total of 75 offenses in seven categories of serious crimes from the 2011-12 school year through the 2013-14 school year. But a review by the newspaper of annual statistical reports, incident reports and arrest records from six police agencies found at least 286 offenses in those categories during the period. The majority of these incidents were for weapons offenses.
Greenville Superintendent Burke Royster described the district as “highly safe,” noting that in annual district surveys, “an overwhelming majority of students, parents and teachers feel that our schools are safe.”
In explaining the discrepancies between the state DOE report and local police reports, Royster said the main problem with the state school-crime reporting system is that there are “way too many classifications for similar offenses."
“That doesn't lend clarity; that creates confusion," he said.
He said the district is more concerned about properly handling and responding to school crimes and “not what some bureaucracy characterizes the incident.”
“It would be nice if all this data were crisp and clear and to the height of accuracy,” Royster said. “But I think for that to happen, there needs to be a re-examination of the system.”
Greenville County is the state's largest school district with about 76,000 students.
Consider the following differences between local police and the state Department of Education annual crime report for Greenville County schools during the 2011-12 through 2013 school years:
The Greenville News' review of police reports found 18 criminal sexual offenses, three robberies and one kidnapping on Greenville County school grounds during the three-year period. The state DOE report lists no forcible sex offenses, robberies or kidnappings in Greenville County schools.
Police reports show at least 224 weapons offenses compared with 56 in the DOE report.
Aggravated assaults and similar offenses totaled 17 in the police reports – almost three times the number in the state report.
There were at least 23 total drug distribution offenses in the police reports – nearly double the number in the state report.
The review of police incident reports and warrants found seven assault cases, including four reports of sex offenses, at Greenville County Schools going back to September 2011 that weren't included in SCDOE's “Persistently Dangerous Schools Report,” a statistical compilation of serious incidents in seven categories.
The Greenville News reviewed 10 incidents in certain categories of serious crimes for which there were police incident reports or arrest warrants but were not included in the state DOE report.
The 10 incidents included the reported sexual assault of the Southside High student, mugging of the Sterling School teacher, and bathroom beating at Mauldin Middle.
Other serious crimes not listed in state DOE reports were:
A 15-year-old boy was arrested after a 16-year-old girl reported he fondled her at Mauldin High School in September 2011;
A 17-year-old boy was arrested after a 15-year-old girl reported he fondled her at Mauldin High School in March 2012.
A 16-year-old boy was referred to Family Court after a 15-year-old girl reported that he fondled her at Greenville High School in May 2012.
A 16-year-old boy was arrested after a 17-year-old boy reported the suspect severely beat him – breaking his jaw and teeth – in a bathroom at Blue Ridge High School in May 2012.
A 14-year-old girl was arrested after a 14-year-old girl reported she was beaten repeatedly on her head and body at Mauldin Middle School in November 2012 in an incident captured on a cell phone video by another student.
A 13-year-old boy was arrested after a 12-year-old boy reported he was assaulted – including being picked up and slammed on the gym floor – at Mauldin Middle School in May 2013.
A 14-year-old boy was referred to Family Court after a 13-year-old girl reported he touched her inappropriately at Beck Academy and threatened to rape her if she didn't have sex with him in December 2013.
School district spokesman Oby Lyles and Kent Owens, the district's executive director of student personnel services, told The News that the 10 cases reviewed by the newspaper aren't listed in their report to the state because the district and law enforcement use different reporting systems.
“The (state report) information is pulled directly by the State Department (of Education) from a database of student disciplinary infractions inputted by schools,” Lyles said. “There is no reconciliation with the criminal charges by the various law enforcement agencies.”
Historically, Lyles said, “disciplinary procedures are to be separate from criminal investigations.”
Owens cited the example of a December 2013 incident in which a 13-year-old girl at Beck Academy said a 14-year-old boy touched her upper thigh and threatened to rape her if she didn't have sex with him, according to a police report reviewed by The News.
Greenville Police treated the case as an aggravated assault and referred the boy to Family Court, records show.
The district considered the incident to be “sexual harassment” based on its own investigation, and as such did not report it to the state, which was why it wasn't listed in the state report, Owens said.
Owens said he was aware of “no forced sex situations,” as defined by the federal government, at any public school in recent years, though he said there are “many sexual situations that occur in schools.”
“I sit through the expulsion hearings,” he said.
Given that it's illegal to have sex on school property, Owens said, police officers likely are charging – or at least recording as crimes for statistical purposes – students who are caught having consensual sex.
Lyles said there have been a “handful of cases that were initially reported as forcible sexual offenses, but were later determined to be unfounded,” adding, “Those cases involved students making allegations and later recanting.”
Shauna Galloway-Williams, executive director of the Julie Valentine Center, a Greenville nonprofit, said statistics show that generally, false allegations are made in only 2 percent to 4 percent of all cases.
“The reality is that there are very few cases where there are false allegations,” she said. “What we know from research is that there are far more false denials.”
Her organization that provides services to sexual assault and child abuse survivors and their families.
“The way our system and our communities view victims is still very much with the victim-blaming label,” she said.
Galloway-Williams praised the school district for its efforts in recent years to train administrators and other personnel to recognize the signs of child sexual abuse and respond.
Lyles said the 2013 strong-armed robbery of the Sterling School teacher in the school parking lot wasn't reported to the state because the suspect was an adult. “Our report is generated based on the perpetrator. … We only discipline students,” he said.
Regarding kidnappings at county schools, Owens said he wasn't aware of any during the three-year period – though the local reports list one. Owens said that may have been a coding error by the Sheriff's Office.
Though he couldn't immediately explain the discrepancy in the number of reported weapons offenses, Owens said the total figure from the state report “seems low,” noting, “We get a lot of knives.”
Owens said the district “probably made a mistake” in listing zero robberies in the DOE report for the period.
Lyles noted that “you're dealing with multiple people at each school location who code in the disciplinary offense.”
“You've got law enforcement from their side, and you've got school personnel filling out disciplinary reports, and I think there's a lot of judgment on how they code those offenses,” Lyles said.
Given discrepancies between the state and police reports, Lyles said that additional training of district staff on reporting of school crime data “would certainly help.”
Asked whether the 10 cases reviewed by the newspaper should have been included in the state report, Owens replied, “I don't think there's a definitive answer because there's some gray in every one of them.”
A U.S. Department of Education official told The News there is “no federal definition of persistently dangerous schools,” adding that each state “determines their own definition and reports to us accordingly in the annual Consolidated State Reports.”
The SCDOE's “Persistently Dangerous Schools Report,” updated annually to include three years of data, lists the number of serious offenses by school in seven categories. The report stems from the federal No Child Left Behind law, which requires states receiving federal education funds to annually identify dangerous schools.
The serious crimes are homicides, aggravated assaults, forcible sex offenses, kidnappings, robberies, weapons offenses and drug distribution cases.
Under the federal law, students attending elementary or secondary schools deemed “persistently dangerous” or are victims of violent crimes must be permitted to attend move to a safe public school.
Schools are defined as “persistently dangerous” based on the number of incidents in any two of the seven serious-crime categories for three consecutive years, according to guidelines posted on SCDOE's website.
No public school in South Carolina received that designation based on school-related crime information for last school year, SCDOE spokesman Dino Teppara told The News.
Earlier this month, state Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced the final recommendations of a school-safety task force. Spearman formed the task force last year in the wake of an October incident at a Richland County high school in which a male school resource officer was captured on video forcibly removing a female student from her classroom desk.
Teppara told The News in January the task force didn't have “any plans to make changes or recommendations on school crime reporting.”
Ken Trump, president of a Cleveland, Ohio-based school-security consulting firm National School Safety and Security Services, said he wasn't surprised by the newspaper's findings.
“What's reported to the state typically grossly underestimates the real picture,” said Trump, who said he has more than 30 years of experience in the school-security field. “Parents don't know what they don't know, and nobody's rushing to tell them.”
Although school districts nationwide have improved security in recent years following mass shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, school leaders have “always had concerns” that if they publicly release detailed school-crime information, they would be “perceived as poor leaders, poor administrators,” Trump said.
“School safety has always been a political issue, and an issue driven by image and perception,” he said.
Royster took issue with Trump's characterization.
“The law enforcement reports (for Greenville County Schools) would never have been generated, for the most part, had school administrators not contacted law enforcement initially,” Royster said.
The Newsfirst raised the issue of transparency in school crime reporting when it revealed last year that the state departments of education and juvenile justice don't publish statistical breakdowns by school of the catch-all crime of disturbing schools.
Details hard to come by
In examining discrepancies between the state report and local law enforcement records, The News requested detailed incident reports from six local agencies for school-related aggravated assaults, sexual assaults, robberies and kidnappings reported to police.
For school years 2011-12 through 2014-15, SCDOE reports list no homicides, forcible sex offenses or kidnappings at any Greenville County public school.
Greenville, Mauldin and Simpsonville police departments provided the public documents at no charge to the newspaper. Travelers Rest police said they had no such reports of incidents on school property in its jurisdiction.
The Greenville County Sheriff's Office and the Greer Police Department would not provide their public incident reports without a minimum payment of $300 and $200, respectively. The newspaper declined to pay.
Police agencies redacted identification of victims and juvenile suspects in their respective reports.
The Greenville County Sheriff's Office and Greer, Greenville, Mauldin, Simpsonville and Travelers Rest police departments provided The Greenville News with their annual statistical reports upon request.
The Sheriff's Office and other local police agencies that employ school resource officers (SROs) are required to provide statistical reports to the school district, according to written agreements obtained by the newspaper under the S.C. Freedom of Information Act.
Neither the school district nor police agencies publish those reports on their websites.
Lyles told The News the district “can add links (on its website) to the other existing (school crime) reports,” though he noted, “If and when statewide reports are developed that are uniform and accurate, then we would support the posting of those statistics.”
“Reports are used to compare and it would be unfair for one school to appear to have a high crime rate because its report is accurate while criminal offenses at a school in another area of the state are not accurately reported,” he said.
Serious crimes are among a vast array of information in 100-plus incident categories that local school districts provide to SCDOE, agency spokesman Ryan Brown told The News, noting the department implemented the computer reporting system to “provide better data and tracking capabilities to districts.”
Asked why his agency doesn't make all of its school-crime data publicly available, Brown replied: “We could make this available to the public but it would require a great deal of disaggregation and analysis to make sure no personally identifiable information was included. Since there are over 100 incident fields, the data set is very large.”
A longtime crime-victim advocate described the general lack of transparency in school crime reporting as “bizarre.”
“I would think it would be very, very important for parents to know whether they want to keep their children in that school,” Laura Hudson, executive director of the South Carolina Crime Victims' Council, told The News.