May, 2016 - Week 2
Utah father, son captured in Wyoming after woman and four teen daughters escape basement torture
by Nicole Hensley
A man accused of holding a woman and her four teen daughters captive in a Utah basement during a meth bender surrendered and helped authorities track down his accomplice son.
Police arrested Dereck Harrison in a rural corner of Wyoming four days after the 22-year-old and his father, Flint Harrison, 51, fled a home in a Salt Lake City suburb where the duo held the woman and her children against their will, authorities said.
It's unclear how long the unidentified women were held. They managed to escape what police described as a “frightening and difficult to understand crime” on Tuesday.
The women claimed they were bound with zip ties as the men battered the mother with a baseball bat as apparent retaliation between the victim and the younger suspect. The captors put a bag over the woman's head and duct taped her mouth shut.
The teen girls, ages 13, 15, 17 and 18, tried to call police during an escape attempt, but the older suspect swiped their phones. During a second escape, one sister slapped away a shotgun aimed at her throat. Another grabbed the bat and hit the younger Harrison.
The women ran to a neighbor's home for help as the two men fled for a Salt Lake City hotel to stay the night before departing for the Wyoming backcountry south of Yellowstone National Park.
Police found zip ties, duct tape, blood, meth and a firearm while searching the basement and on Wednesday, investigators described the abduction as a “premeditated event.”
The elder Harrison surrendered in Pinedale, Wy., while police continued to comb the area for his son, evacuating a campground during the search.
He spotted a helicopter searching for him from below while taking shelter from the rain under a thick set of trees, KSTU-TV reported, citing police.
He was unarmed when taken into custody at 10:30 p.m. Saturday after walking toward a manned roadblock in Sublette County.
Both men face aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault in the attack.
Father speaks of son, who was found decapitated
by Natasha Barrett
BRAZORIA COUNTY, TX -- Jubal Alexander was taking after his father by working in chemical plants across Texas.
The father and son just had dinner together days before his son was murdered and decapitated in Angleton.
"They cut my son's head off, and they took my son's head. Who would do that? I couldn't even see my son. They won't even let me see him," Alexander's father said.
Alexander's son was sleeping in his truck under this bridge on FM 2004 in Angleton. The 24-year-old was trying to save up money for bills, working at a local chemical plant as a pipe fitter. Friends and family said he was never in trouble.
Alexander described his son's work ethic.
"He wanted me to be proud of him, so we worked exceptionally hard," he said. "His shift was at least a 10-hour, maybe a 12-hour shift. He worked all night long."
The family also said their son wasn't robbed. They said Jubal's wallet was found inside his truck with cash inside along with his guitar. A fisherman who is also a Galveston police officer found Jubal in his truck.
Alexander also pleaded for help to anyone who has any information about his son's murder.
"I don't want to say anything to the person. I want help to find the people who do this. I want enough coverage. I want people to know I don't want this to be swept under the rug or die in a cold case. I want people to know," he said.
Alexander's head has not been found.
If you have any details that could help detectives working this case, call the Brazoria County Crime Stoppers at 979-864-2279.
Chicago Mayor Emanuel to replace police review board with independent panel
Emanuel to replace police review board
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to scrap a police review board and replace it with a more independent and better-funded watchdog to investigate police shootings and other misconduct cases, he wrote in a newspaper column.
The decision to abolish the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) comes a month after a task force released a scathing report recommending a new board to help mend strained relations between Chicago's police force and the city's minority communities.
The task force report said IPRA was underfunded and staffed by former law enforcement officials whose findings were routinely reversed by the body's leaders.
Emanuel (D) has been besieged by calls for his resignation since the city, after months of delay, released a video of a white officer fatally shooting a black teenager in October 2014. In the footage the teen appears to be retreating from the police officer just before he was killed.
Obama, Macklemore make pitch for better opioid treatment
by The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama joined forces with the rap artist Macklemore to improve efforts to reach out to those addicted to opioids and those who overdose on the drug often found in prescription painkillers.
Obama and the rap artist appeared on a video in the White House weekly address to talk about a problem that has been rapidly growing worse in recent years. Macklemore noted that he abused the drugs and battled addiction.
The president said his administration is pushing for improved treatment, and he noted that Congress has moved ahead on several measures to address opioids. The House this week passed measures setting up federal grants and taking other steps to battle the drug epidemic. Democrats complained the package is not adequately funded and anti-drug advocates called it a needed but modest first step.
The House is preparing to begin negotiations with the Senate, which approved its own version in March.
“This week, the House passed several bills about opioids, but unless they also make actual investments in more treatment, it won't get Americans the help they need,” Obama said. “Deaths from opioid overdoses have tripled since 2000. A lot of the time, they're from legal drugs prescribed by a doctor.”
Macklemore backed Obama's pitch with a personal plea.
“I know recovery isn't easy or quick, but along with the 12-step program, treatment has saved my life,” Macklemore said. “Recovery works — and we need our leaders in Washington to fund it and people to know how to find it.”
Mayor Announces $17 Million Investment in Police Reforms
Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced a $17.5 million police reform package to fund comprehensive police reforms to increase public safety and build greater trust between police officers and the community including increased oversight, transparency and accountability and including violence prevention programming as part of the Mayor's Fiscal Years 2016-17 and 2017-18 proposed balanced budget.
“These critical investments in funding police department reform, rebuilding community trust, and bringing a culture change in how we handle conflicts on our streets will help keep San Francisco one of the safest big cities in the nation,” said Mayor Lee. “We are working collaboratively with the community to develop a 21st Century approach to policing in San Francisco, improving leadership, transparency and accountability within the San Francisco Police Department and strengthening policies, procedures, training and equipment to keep both residents and police officers safe. We are working under the full review of the United States Department of Justice, the nation's highest law enforcement authority.”
Pittsburgh mayor wants cop killer's profile off pen pal site
2 years after gunning down Officers Eric Kelly, Stephen Mayhle, and Paul Sciullo II, the killer was sentenced to death
by The Associated Press
PITTSBURGH — The mayor wants a pen pal site for inmates to remove a profile posted by a man convicted of killing three city police officers, a posting that includes a music video montage of crime scene photos and photos of him with weapons.
Mayor Bill Peduto sent a letter Thursday to CONPALS InmateConnections.com LLC after KDKA-TV told the mayor's chief of staff about the profile posed by Richard Poplawski, 29.
"Poplawski's page and video both inflict great pain," Peduto wrote. "On your site, Poplawski's video glorifies the massacre, replays media coverage of the carnage, posts pictures of the slaughtered, and of the mourners. All to a relentless repetition of the lyrics, 'I watched them die.'"
Poplawski was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in 2011, two years after gunning down officers Eric Kelly, Stephen Mayhle, and Paul Sciullo II in April 2009 when they responded to a domestic dispute at the home he shared with his mother. Peduto notes that Kelly and Mayhle left behind wives and children, Sciullo a fiancee, and all of the officers were survived by at least one parent, all of whom are "grief-stricken" and victimized by the profile .
The Rolling Stones song "Hand of Fate" is the soundtrack for the 4-minute, 29-second video Poplawski included with his profile.
Its lyrics include, "Yeah, I gunned him twice/Yeah, and I watched him die, watch out boy/Yeah, I watched him die" and "The hand of fate is on me now/I shot that man I put him underground/I put him underground/Yes I did."
Eugene, Oregon-based CONPALS Inmateconnections.com didn't immediately return an emailed request for comment Friday.
Peduto threatened legal action if the profile isn't removed. He also said he would pursue laws like those passed in Indiana, Florida and Missouri, where the mayor said inmate pen pals are prohibited from advertising.
Poplawski's profile is equal parts introspection and sarcasm. It lists his "release date" as "April 2196."
"For years, I've battled to maintain my identity, to not become unduly impressed upon by my environment on Pennsylvania's Death Row," Poplawski writes. "You can help. I'd like to see my reflection in your eyes. That's partly how we know ourselves. If I write you, it'll be for the right reasons. I don't need your money. Don't try to save my immortal soul. I've lost all faith in true love."
He closes his profile with this salutation: "Take it from me, Richard Andrew, Too late lasts forever."
More departments utilizing Facebook to catch criminals
In a survey by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 85 percent said they use social media to solve crimes
by Sarah M.Wojcik
ALLENTOWN, Pa. — From the time Bethlehem Township police Cpl. Shaun Powell posted the photo on Facebook — a crinkled piece of the hit-and-run driver's truck identifiable only by a partial logo that said "over 45 years experience" — it took only minutes for someone to crack the case.
A reply to the post, in March 2015, alerted township police to the business whose trucks fit the look of the crumpled metal remnant. Powell posted an updated photo later that day when authorities tracked down the damaged vehicle.
"In 12 minutes we solved a mystery hit-and-run. It's amazing," Powell said. "And all we had to do is post it. The takeaway for me is that [social media] is totally worth it."
Police departments, long dependent on traditional media outlets to distribute crime news, can now take the information straight to residents. Powell said Bethlehem Township authorities have found Facebook to be especially good when it comes to solving crimes where a suspect is caught on camera committing acts such as vandalism and retail theft.
This year alone, Facebook had a hand in solving four retail thefts, a criminal mischief case and also helped police nab a fugitive for the township police, Powell said. That's $7,000 worth of crime, he said.
"And that's really just by posting a picture," said Powell. "Before that, most of these kinds of cases, unfortunately, they just kind of fell dead."
Social media have cracked even bigger cases. Bethlehem police posted a surveillance photo of a Wells Fargo bank robber on social media in August 2014 and received an anonymous tip that led them to the suspect, Aloysuis E. Mills, who later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to state prison.
Tim Burrows, a retired Toronto police officer who runs his own consulting firm to help police departments master social media, said it's no fluke that Lehigh Valley departments that have seen this kind of success.
In a 2015 survey by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 85 percent of police departments said they used social media to solve crimes. Social media have been especially helpful in cracking small crimes, Burrows said.
"Quality-of-life crimes are pretty much the most destructive crimes," Burrows said, noting that violent, headline-grabbing crimes are far more rare and affect far fewer people.
"When you help get back the bike that was stolen from a neighborhood kid for a family that maybe couldn't afford to buy another, it's a quality-of-life issue. And that can make a community so much better."
In the Lehigh Valley, at least 20 police departments, including Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, maintain Facebook pages, though some are more active than others.
In addition to surveillance photos, updates on Lehigh Valley police Facebook pages range from warnings about Internet and phone scams to photos of lost or abandoned animals in need of homes. The social media tool also serves as a platform for police to spread news about initiatives such as prescription drug collections or aggressive driving patrols.
Burrows said social media can be especially potent for smaller departments for whom a tight-knit audience is already eager to engage and learn what's going on in their neighborhoods.
South Whitehall Township police Chief John Christman said his department has, within the last six months, led a concerted effort to use social media to reach out to the residents with crime news and other helpful information. When a rash of vehicle break-ins led to stolen credit card purchases, the department shared surveillance footage in an effort to find the thieves.
A post about a Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom break-in in February, when a group of young men and women entered the South Whitehall park after hours and climbed a 200-foot thrill ride, was shared 428 times by the public.
"We saw how many people were hitting the site and we recognized there is more potential," Christman said. "It's all about making the community more of a partner."
Upper Macungie Township police have had an active Facebook page since the department's inception in 2013. Lt. Pete Nickischer said social media not only can help solve crime but also humanize the officers.
"I think it's really important to show that side," said Nickischer, who maintains the page for the department. "It allows us to broadcast things you wouldn't typically see."
Nickischer said he's quick to share photos that endear Upper Macungie police to residents. Such was the case with a goofy holiday photo in which Chief Edgardo Colon was caught posing with officers donning festive reindeer antlers and Santa hats. The post received hundreds of likes and was, Nickischer said, a silly but effective way to remind the public about the humanity behind the badge.
As Upper Macungie searches for two new police officers, Nickischer has used the Facebook page to unveil parts of the search and interview process, which he said will end with the announcement of the department's latest hires on Facebook.
"I think it's extremely important that people get to see a kind of behind-the-scenes look at what this all entails," Nickischer said.
Police began to take notice of Facebook's potential in 2008, Burrows said, but between then and 2012, embracing the medium remained a struggle mostly because of skeptical leadership who felt investigations should be kept close to the chest.
From 2012 to 2014, Burrows said communities saw an explosion of departments starting pages, but many hadn't yet taken off with their audiences. He said that in the last two years, departments have really started to hit their stride in cyberspace as they learn how to communicate with their particular community. Still, only about one in five departments is using the tool to its full benefit.
"You really have to find your own voice. You have to identify how your audience responds to what you're putting out there," Burrows said. "I tell departments, think like your community, not like your command."
Pat Stonaker, administrative assistant with the Slate Belt Regional Police Department, said she learned that the public wanted more than just crime news after noticing how popular posts about good news and missing animals would spread "just like wildfire." Stonaker said she likes to show the public when police participate in charitable work, such as hospital visits with children or holiday shopping trips for those less fortunate.
And Stonaker doesn't stop at sharing photos of sad-eyed animals discovered by the department — she lets the public know when there's a happy ending in a reunion or adoption. She said she's received positive feedback for such posts that residents call a nice counter to negative and crime-related news.
Departments hesitant about social media because of the potential for mistakes that can go viral ought to know that training and education opportunities are now abundant and can go a long way in preventing mistakes, Burrows said.
In addition to his traveling consultant company Twelve Sixty Six, Burrows said the International Association of Chiefs of Police has its own social media initiative with resources to guide departments.
Burrows suggests departments think of Facebook as one more arm of the community-policing philosophy.
"I would take everything you do about community policing — all the best ideals — and just transfer that into the online space," Burrows said. "They really complement each other perfectly. This is a lot like when the police knock on doors and shake hands with residents. You're just shaking hands. You're just giving that handshake in a virtual space."
From the FBI
Human Rights -- FBI Reaching Out About Female Genital Mutilation
More than 500,000 women and girls across the country—most of them living in metropolitan areas—are at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation, a procedure that has long been practiced in many African and Middle Eastern countries as a cultural custom but has been illegal in the U.S. since 1996.
A report showing the number of women at risk was published in January by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the figure was much higher than previously estimated. A separate report last year by the non-profit Population Reference Bureau (PRB) determined that women and girls most at risk were concentrated in major cities like New York, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., where large diaspora immigrant communities have coalesced.
Female genital mutilation, also called cutting or FGM, involves partial or total removal of the external genitalia for non-medical reasons, with no discernible health benefits. Nearly one-third of the estimated 513,000 women at risk are under the age of 18, according to the CDC and PRB data.
The FBI is proactively investigating tips and leads on this illegal practice. Investigators are hoping victims and community members who are opposed to it will come forward and report cases.
Earlier this year, the FBI and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recognized the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (February 6) in a joint statement calling for eradication of the practice. The United Nations leads the zero-tolerance campaign, estimating that at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM.
Last July, President Barack Obama elevated the issue during a speech in Kenya. “There's no excuse for sexual assault or domestic violence, there's no reason that young girls should suffer genital mutilation, there's no place in a civilized society for the early or forced marriage of children.” Obama said. “These traditions may go back centuries; they have no place in the 21st century.”
Practitioners claim they are abiding by deeply rooted beliefs and traditions. But it is more broadly seen as a human-rights violation. “It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls,” the U.N. said in a statement.
Despite being a criminal violation in the U.S., the practice continues in a variety of ways. “We believe some of it is being conducted by medical practitioners—physicians, nurses, midwives—and some by female elders within the communities who have the distinction of being what is called a cutter,” said Special Agent Kerry Sparks, who focuses on FGM cases as part of the FBI's International Human Rights Unit (IHRU).
After legislation banning FGM in the U.S. was passed in 1996, some young women were sent on trips to their home countries to have the procedure. In 2012, Congress passed additional legislation, the Transport for Female Genital Mutilation Act, making so-called “vacation cutting” illegal.
In 2005, two Southern California individuals pled guilty to charges related to a plot to allegedly perform FGM on two minors. In 2006, an Ethiopian man living in Georgia was convicted on charges of aggravated battery and cruelty to children for performing FGM on his 2-year-old daughter.
Unfortunately, it is a rare occasion when someone steps forward to report this crime to law enforcement. Most states don't have their own laws criminalizing FGM, so many people may not know it's a federal violation.
“A lot of our efforts focus on increasing community awareness,” said Thomas Bishop, chief of the IHRU. “We want people to know that the FBI is committed to preventing FGM within the United States.”
Anyone who has information about an individual who is suspected of assisting or facilitating the practice of FGM is urged to submit a tip at: tips.fbi.gov
TSA to Frustrated Travelers: Please Pardon Our Progress This Summer
by Halimah Abdullah
The heads of the Transportation Security Administration and Homeland Security said Friday they are asking American travelers frustrated over long waits at the nation's airports for patience this summer as officials work to fix the problem.
"There will be wait times this summer as they move through aviation security checkpoints," Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson said during a press conference at the Reagan National Airport just outside of Washington D.C. on Friday. "We encourage people to have the appropriate expectations when they arrive at airports."
Officials said they will hire more officers, increase the use of overtime, ask airlines to help with tasks that are "non-security"-related, ramp up the numbers of canine teams and work to reduce size and number of carry on luggage — all in an effort to cut down on long waits.
"We want the public to know we are working hard to alleviate wait times in partnership with airports and airlines and ensure that air travel remains safe and secure in this country," Johnson said.
Problems at TSA have come into focus as the agency has faced public and congressional outcry over long lines at security checkpoints, low employee morale and high employee turnover and investigations into allegations of managerial mismanagement. An inspector general testified before Congress last year that the agency has problems with technology, procedure and human errors and that "layers of security were simply missing."
TSA administrator Peter Neffenger said the agency is doing all it can to cut the lengthy wait times at airport security checkpoints after backlash from the public and airlines.
However, he also told Congress Thursday that the TSA is struggling with a 10 percent attrition rate. That means there are nearly 5,000 fewer screening officers on the job today, compared to just a few years ago.
This does not bode well for summer travel.
The numbers are stark.
Between 2. 2 million and 3 million passengers pass through TSA screening daily. But there simply aren't enough TSA officers.
Roughly 117 walk off the job each week and 35 percent within the first year—more than 6,000 officers.
This has led to closed checkpoints and backups stretching one, two and even three hours at airports nationwide.
"We're seeing more people moving through the system than we ever saw before," Neffenger said during a congressional hearing on Thursday.
Lawmakers grilled the TSA chief on the agency giving one official a $90,000 bonus, long lines at the nation's airports and retaliation against whistleblowers.
"Your attempts on training and recruiting will be a failure and I told you that when you came in. It is a huge failing government program," Rep. John Mica, R-Florida told Neffenger on Thursday.
Neffenger, who has been on the job for just over a year, said another 768 screeners should be in place by late June.
"It's the carry-on baggage that is one of the major slow-down points at a checkpoint," Neffenger told lawmakers on Thursday.
Daytona Midtown community to resume dialogue on community policing
by Casmira Harrison
DAYTONA BEACH — Neighborhood leaders and representatives of the criminal justice system will gather in the city's Midtown district Saturday to resume a dialogue on community policing.
The public is invited to participate in the forum as leaders revisit a discussion held locally one year ago, after several officer-involved shootings in Ferguson, Missouri, North Charleston, South Carolina and elsewhere captured national interest and prompted protests as well as concern about minority communities and relationships with law enforcement.
WHEN: 9 a.m. to noon Saturday
WHERE: Midtown Cultural & Educational Center, 925 George W. Engram Blvd.
WHOM: Speakers are Bethune-Cookman University criminal justice professor Randy Nelson, Police Chief Mike Chitwood, Capt. Jakari Young and Volusia County Judge Dawn P. Fields. Sponsors are city of Daytona Beach, Daytona Beach Police Department, community activist Johnnie Ponder, Midtown Association Neighborhood Watch, Save Our Neighborhoods, Islamic Center of Daytona Beach, VITAS and Daytona Express.
INFORMATION: Call Charles Bryant, redevelopment project manager, 386-671-8185
Asking About APD
Community policing needs differ across districts
by Kahron Spearman
On May 9, the city finished conducting its survey on "the Austin Police Department 's approaches to community policing and how they may be improved." In an effort to encourage participation in the survey, several City Council members held town halls. At both District 4 and District 6's town halls, a clear contrast could be seen with regards to what East Austin and West Austin residents believe APD's focus should be.
One district asks what the police can do for them, while the other asks what the police are doing to them and how can it be abated.
Among D6's complaints: promptness in calls to the outer reaches of Austin, fixing roads, and an apparent heist ring involving Indian-American residents as victims and the thieves' preference for their 24-karat gold. D4's complaints revolved around much deeper discussions of the police's overall engagement with the community, preferably at eye level. Unprompted, one D4 local – a middle-aged white male – complained about police choppers flying over his residence every weekend.
D4 Council Member Greg Casar , in a later meeting with the Chronicle , openly acknowledged the differences and his challenges. "I'm sure the helicopter is useful in some situations, but generally I'd sell the helicopter and spend it on the sorts of services that [my constituents] are asking for – that would be my preference. The hard thing is figuring out how to get there."
Recruitment was a chief topic in Casar's town hall with Richard Brady of the Matrix Consulting Group – the firm conducting the study. D6 Council Member Don Zimmerman , in his town hall, immediately highlighted the study's nearly $200,000 price point. "Reading between the lines, when the city came up with a request for proposal, it was pretty clear is wasn't just about how many police you need," Brady said. "It wasn't just about budget requests. It's really more fundamental than that. It's more about everything that is policing."
Brady noted that the department had more turnover than any department that he'd seen during his time consulting – suggesting some deep internal struggles, even some competing ideas on the future of APD's policies. It's no secret, or small issue, that significant numbers of recruits often arrive out of combat or combat training to shore up the numbers, switching their military service colors for APD uniforms.
Combined with the force's penchant to envision people as metric points, and the increasingly militarized mentality, D4 residents say patrols are often reduced to police officers rolling through neighborhoods, treating citizens like the plague. In fact, according to multiple attendees of the D4 meeting – aside from APD's "designated representatives" – officers' "interactions with the public" range from passive-aggressive to nonexistent.
One resident suggested recruitment from within Austin's underserved communities, not only for the sake of diversity, but also for the under-appreciated value of understanding a city's culture. Outsourcing for diversity helps Equal Opportunity metrics, but can prove highly problematic, if the incoming officer has little to no understanding of the community he or she will patrol. The lack of connection is tangible.
In the Office of the Police Monitor 's report for 2014, blacks accounted for 24% of arrests and 28% of use-of-force instances, despite being less than 8% of Austin's voting-age population. Latinos were arrested at a 34% clip, with a 35% use-of-force instance rate. The police's extreme focus on traffic-related events peels back additional layers. Of stops officially recorded, blacks accounted for 12% of all stops, with a 24% stop-and-search rate. Correcting disproportionality in the police via community/area recruitment could also lead to significant improvement in disproportionate arrests, use-of-force events, and general complaints (internal and external).
The challenges of homelessness and mental health made their way into the town halls – with the idea that officers could become valuable connectors to assistance for the foundational problems occurring in their communities. Residents suggested a multipronged solution, starting with better connections between APD officers and city/county resources – such as Austin Travis County Integral Care and numerous nonprofits.
In the final report of President Barack Obama 's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, it was noted "community policing must be a way of doing business by an entire police force, not just a specialized unit of that force." Further, the report quoted Camden County, N.J., Police Chief J. Scott Thomson as saying community policing "cannot be a program, unit, strategy, or tactic.
"It must be the core principle that lies at the foundation of a police department's culture. The only way to significantly reduce fear, crime, and disorder and then sustain these gains is to leverage the greatest force multiplier: the people of the community."
The tax dollars needed to effect change within APD are not in D4, which has the highest number of renters of any district and whose residents often feel targeted by the police. For those in D6, whose homes provide plenty of tax money, interaction with police often requires special circumstances. At some disturbing levels, it may be that each district is receiving the type of policing their respective tax dollars demand.
Lawmakers alter deadly force standards for Mo. police, citizens
Missouri's current law doesn't specify that a suspect must be dangerous
by The Associated Press
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri House members have voted to change the standards for when police and citizens can use deadly force.
The House voted 107-43 Thursday to bring the state's laws on when police can use deadly force into line with a 1985 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The bill says an officer can only use deadly force if a suspect is dangerous. Missouri's current law doesn't specify that a suspect must be dangerous.
The legislation also expands Missouri's "stand your ground" law to make it easier for people to use deadly force in self-defense.
Republican Rep. Rick Brattin said that measure would ensure people don't suffer legal repercussions for defending themselves.
Democratic Rep. Brandon Ellington said existing law already carries protections, and weakening that would be reckless.
The legislation returns to the Senate.
Conn. study of race, traffic stops singles out 25 cops
Researchers said the data does not prove officers were engaged in racial profiling
by Dave Collins
HARTFORD, Conn. — Twenty-five police officers in Connecticut have been singled out as stopping minority drivers at significantly higher rates than their peers, according to a new report commissioned by the state government and described by its authors as the most comprehensive of its kind.
The analysis, conducted by researchers at Central Connecticut State University and released Thursday, doesn't identify the 25 officers. Local police chiefs would not name the officers, either, saying it would be unfair to do so based on what they called flawed data.
"It is important that these results be viewed as the starting point of a dialogue and not as conclusive evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the officer," the report says.
Eight of the 25 officers were in Hamden, a suburb of New Haven, and four were in Wethersfield, a suburb of Hartford.
Hamden Police Chief Thomas Wydra and Wethersfield Police Chief James Cetran denied their officers racially profiled drivers and called parts of the report misleading. They said the minority stop rates didn't take into account people who often drive into their towns from the neighboring cities, which have much higher percentages of minority residents.
The analysis examined about 586,000 traffic stops made by officers in 92 municipal departments and state troopers from Oct. 1, 2014, through Sept. 30, 2015. It said the data do not prove officers were engaged in racial profiling.
Statewide, 14 percent of all traffic stops by police involved black drivers, when black people of driving age comprise 9 percent of the state's population. Nearly 13 percent of traffic stops involved Hispanic drivers, when Hispanics of driving age comprise 12 percent of Connecticut residents. Those rates were about the same as in the traffic stop report last year, the first time Central Connecticut State University performed an annual analysis under the state's anti-racial profiling law.
But when researchers reviewed stops made during daylight hours, when they said officers could see the race and ethnicity of drivers, Hispanics were nearly 14 percent more likely to be pulled over and blacks were about 7 percent more likely to be stopped than they were at night.
The report also says minorities were more likely to get misdemeanor summons for speeding and other infractions, while whites were more likely to get written warnings.
The analysts said five municipal departments and one state police troop showed a "statistically significant racial or ethnic disparity that may indicate the presence of racial and ethnic bias." Those agencies include Bloomfield, New Milford, Norwalk, West Hartford, Wethersfield and state police Troop H, which covers the Hartford area.
David McGuire, legislative and policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, said the report does confirm that "racial biases are still driving some traffic stops in Connecticut."
Michael Lawlor, state undersecretary for criminal justice policy and planning, said the report does not show widespread bias, because most police agencies' minority traffic stop rates were within normal parameters.
Statewide, there were fewer than 10 complaints of racial profiling against police officers last year.
The report's authors say it is the most comprehensive statewide examination of police traffic stop data among the more than two dozen states that collect such information.
For the first time, the report also analyzed traffic stops by individual officers.
The 25 officers singled out in the report work for nine municipal departments and two state police troops that were identified in last year's report as having racial disparities in their traffic stop data. Those departments and troops have 935 officers, combined.
In Wethersfield, about 27 percent of town officers' traffic stops involved Hispanics, when only 7 percent of town residents are Hispanic and of driving age. Cetran, the police chief, said the figures do not account for a large number of drivers from Hartford's neighboring South End, which has a much larger percentage of Hispanic residents, who travel to Wethersfield to shop.
Cetran said that when two ZIP code areas in nearby Hartford neighborhoods are added to the Wethersfield data, more than 50 percent of people are Hispanic and of driving age.
"I really feel we're being persecuted unfairly," Cetran said. "Until they get the ... information correct, they're giving out information that is creating problems between the community and the police that aren't there."
Wydra, the Hamden chief, said the eight officers from his town singled out in the report work in the southern part of town, which is visited often by residents of predominantly black neighborhoods in neighboring New Haven. He believes that wasn't factored into the report.
He said the eight officers are good people who haven't received any complaints about racial profiling.
Morgan Wins Award for Community Policing Project
by Morgan State News
Morgan State University (MSU) was awarded a grant from the Code 3 Association, a non-profit organization that exists to influence and support relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve. In a time of strained police relations in Baltimore and cities around the country, community oriented policing offers the best solution to enhance dialogue between City residents and officials. The grant will support a Morgan Community Mile Community (MCM) Policing Project to improve community and policing relations through crime prevention efforts in the neighborhood surrounding the University.
The project's aim is to reduce the upward trend in property crime affecting the MCM areas in the short term and potentially sustain proactive policing in Baltimore City long term. Incorporating the initiatives by Major Rich Worley of the Baltimore Police Department's Northeast District (NED), MCM will work directly with district officers to address the FY'16 goal of MCM's priority area. MCM plans to implement a project design, which would utilize established community organizations like HARBEL, to establish strong support and involvement from community groups to launch and sustain effective community policing campaigns.
In addition, this grant will foster student learning by offering Morgan State University students (studying Criminal Justice, Architecture and Planning, and Sociology) applied critical thinking skills towards problem-solving and implementation of strategies used towards crime prevention and crime analysis. Furthermore, this initiative looks to establish student internship opportunities within Baltimore City Police Department and its local districts.
The Morgan Community Mile Initiative is a university-community partnership that encompasses a 12-square-mile area around the University's campus, including nearly 115,000 residents and 56 community and neighborhood associations. Since 2013, the Morgan Community Mile (MCM) initiative has engaged community stakeholders and university students, faculty, and staff in the inclusive process of community plans and projects. As an anchor institution in the heart of Northeast, Baltimore City at Morgan State University, President David Wilson, created the MCM to engage university-community partnerships in making the Northeast community a better place to live, work and play. It implements the University's strategic goal to serve as a catalyst for the improvement of the surrounding community and the City of Baltimore.
For more information or to learn how to get involved contact the Morgan Community Mile office at 443-885-4178.
Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie-classified Doctoral Research Institution offering more than 70 academic programs leading to bachelor's degrees as well as programs at the master's and doctoral levels. As Maryland's Public Urban Research University, Morgan serves a multiethnic and multiracial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. More information about the university is available at: www.morgan.edu
System harnesses thousands of network cameras for public safety
by Emil Venere
Purdue researchers have developed a prototype system that could allow law enforcement and public safety agencies to tap into thousands of cameras located in numerous venues including parking garages, college campuses, national parks and highways.
In addition to applications in law enforcement, the system can be used to quickly find damage, plan rescues and other operations during natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes and blizzards, said David Ebert, Purdue University's Silicon Valley Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of Visual Analytics for Command, Control and Interoperability Environments, or VACCINE, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security center based at Purdue.
Surveillance cameras usually are operated in closed circuits commonly called CCTV and are available only to authorized personnel.
"However, in recent years many organizations have deployed cameras for a wide range of purposes, and these are accessible to the public without the need for a password," said Yung-Hsiang Lu, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. "Although the cameras are not deployed for surveillance purposes, they can be utilized to increase public safety by properly integrating with current surveillance systems."
Purdue researchers previously demonstrated a system that can allow law enforcement to see the locations and viewing angles of CCTVs. The new work extends the previous study by including real-time streams of public network cameras. A research paper about the system will be presented this week during the IEEE International Symposium on Technologies for Homeland Security in Waltham, Massachusetts. The paper was authored by graduate students Youngsol Koh, Anup Mohan, Guizhen Wang and Hanye Xu; research scientist Abish Malik; Lu; and Ebert.
The cameras are deployed by city and state governments along highways and at intersections, national parks, construction sites and other public venues.
"We expect the number of network cameras and their coverage to grow substantially in the near future," Lu said.
The new system is a combination of two existing systems called Visual Analytics Law Enforcement Toolkit (VALET) and Continuous Analysis of Many CAMeras (CAM2). VALET can visualize multiple sets of data, including crime locations, emergency medical services runs, gang graffiti locations, calendar events and weather. CAM2 is an interactive visualization and analysis tool showing the locations and orientations of public network cameras.
"The new system integrates the public and CCTV cameras," Ebert said. "We had developed a system to quickly find which area is covered by which camera. This can be helpful when a crime occurs. This function can also help to guide the public to use safer routes and to optimize locations of new cameras based on crime patterns."
Lu said, "We have demonstrated the proof-of concept prototype using network cameras for public safety. CAM2 is an open system, allowing all interested researchers to register as users. The integrated system is based on VALET and its value can be demonstrated with two case studies. One uses crime data for investigative analysis, and the second enhances situational awareness using social media content. As part of future work, we plan to extend our system to more cities."
CAM2 is originally built for research using cloud computing and image processing.
"It is a research tool, although public safety and homeland security would be a great application," Lu said. "The system can produce very large amounts of data. CAM2 has thousands of public cameras. If we retrieve one image from each camera every minute, we will get millions of images in a single day."
Some experiments in the CAM2 project require dozens of computer processors to retrieve and analyze the data.
CAM2 locates public-network cameras, identifies certain properties such as location, orientation, whether it is indoors or outdoors, the frame size and frame rate. Information is displayed on a map so that law enforcement, as well as the general public, can visualize which locations are monitored by the public network cameras.
"Adding public cameras substantially improves the coverage of surveillance systems," Ebert said. "The tool can provide data to improve public safety by allowing law enforcement to evaluate whether the coverage is satisfactory. The locations of past crimes can also be superimposed in VALET for references. CCTV, by de?nition, has restricted access. However, when the data come from publicly available cameras, the information can be accessed by the general public."
Researchers at VACCINE are developing interactive software algorithms that create visualizations, graphics and maps with essential information to help emergency personnel who use a variety of devices, from office desktop computers to mobile phones in the field.
Large reductions in prison population can be made without endangering public safety, study says
by Jody Sundt
INDIANAPOLIS -- A paper published in the journal Criminology & Public Policy addresses one of the most important crime policy questions in America: Can prison populations be reduced without endangering the public?
That question was examined by researchers who tested the impact on public safety of California's dramatic efforts to comply with court-mandated targets to reduce prison overcrowding
The results showed that California's Realignment Act, passed in 2011, had no effect on aggregate violent or property crime rates in 2012, 2013 or 2014. When crime types were disaggregated, a moderately large, statistically significant association between realignment and auto theft rates was observed in 2012. By 2014, however, this effect had decayed, and auto theft rates returned to pre-realignment levels.
The paper, "Is Downsizing Prisons Dangerous? The Effect of California's Realignment Act on Public Safety," was authored by Jody Sundt, associate dean and associate professor at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Emily Salisbury, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and Mark Harmon, an assistant professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice in the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University.
"The results provide evidence that large reductions in the size of the prison population can be made without endangering the overall safety of the public," Sundt said. "Three years after the passage of the Realignment Act, California crime rates remained at levels comparable to what we would predict if the prison population had remained at 2010 levels."
According to the paper, within 15 months of its passage, realignment reduced the total prison population by 27,527 inmates and saved $453 million.
Realignment substantially reduced the size of the prison population by shifting responsibility for certain groups of offenders to local jurisdictions.
The researchers found that with a mixture of jail use, community correction, law enforcement and other preventive efforts, California counties have provided a comparable level of public safety to that previously achieved by state prisons.
That's a far cry from what was believed in the mid-1970s, when the U.S. prison population began a steady climb that continued until 2010, the first time in 30 years the number of inmates declined.
The prison buildup was based on the premise that incarceration improves public safety, the researchers wrote in the paper. As the buildup began, some argued that the nation had a clear choice -- build more prisons or tolerate higher rates of violent crime.
Confidence in the utility of incarceration was so great that policies to increase sentence lengths and punish a range of crimes with imprisonment were pursued with vigor over several decades by every jurisdiction in the United States, the researchers wrote.
"This issue is complicated, but I think the safety effects of prison have been oversold," Sundt said. "Many of the estimates of the effectiveness of incarceration were based on a comparison to doing nothing. The estimates tend to be too optimistic because they are not really comparing the preventive effect of prison to other options that are available for addressing crime."
The research study did not address the best ways to reduce prison populations, but Sundt said, "If we want to reduce the size of the prison population, we should think about who we are currently sending to prison and whether we can supervise them as effectively or perhaps more effectively in the community."
Another consideration, Sundt said, would be to consider "how we can reduce the length of stay in a way that balances the public safety and accountability desires of the public with the economic and social costs of prison. We can reduce sentences in ways that are rational and recognize the risk that offenders pose."
"For the first time in decades, it appears that a window of opportunity for justice reform is opening to allow for a reevaluation of the effectiveness and wisdom of policies that have created the largest prison population in the world," the researchers wrote.
Police Unity Tour begins nearly 300-mile bike ride from 9/11 memorial
When the trek ends, thousands of cops will converge on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and Museum with the goal of raising money for upkeep
by Nicole Fuller
NEW YORK — About 25 members of the Nassau County Police Department began a nearly 300-mile bicycle ride Monday to raise money and awareness for police officers killed in the line of duty.
Acting Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter was among the Nassau riders when the annual Police Unity Tour pedaled off from the Sept. 11 memorial in Manhattan to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and Museum in Washington, D.C.
After a ceremony at the Sept. 11 memorial's reflecting pools, the Nassau contingent joined with other officers, including about 200 from the Port Authority, for the bike ride.
The charity bicycle ride, in its 19th year, will cover about 300 miles over four days. When it ends Thursday, thousands of police officers converge with the goal of raising money for the upkeep of the museum and memorial — a pair of curved marble walls with the inscription of the names of every law enforcement officer killed in the United States. Last year, the bike ride raised $2.1 million.
The families and friends of the fallen, just as they do every year, will line the streets in support, carrying signs and remembrances.
"It's very, very emotional," said Nassau Det. Sgt. Jo-Ann Distler, a 31-year department veteran in the district attorney's squad who will bike the tour for the third time. "These are all families of law enforcement officers who have lost their lives and it really puts into perspective what we do. . . . We remember those that sacrifice their lives for what we do for a living."
This year, the name of slain NYPD Officer Brian Moore, a Plainedge resident, will be added to the D.C. memorial.
Five Nassau police officers have died in the line of duty since 2011 — and the Nassau contingent of the unity tour will have those fallen brothers in the forefront as they ride, said Nassau police Lt. Timothy Rooney, who is on the board of New York's 37 Chapter, named for the number of Port Authority police officers killed on 9/11.
"It's one of the few memorials that will never be finished," Rooney said. "I've been there at different times throughout the years and you'd be surprised how many families of the fallen officers visit there. It's a place of solace for them. . . . It means a lot to the families."
Nationally, there have been 30 line-of-duty deaths this year through April 3, up from the 27 that occurred during the same period last year, according to statistics from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Last year, 123 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty.
Krumpter's bike-riding debut marks the first time that he, or any other Nassau commissioner, has participated in the tour.
"I always wanted to do the Unity Tour," Krumpter said. "We in law enforcement always talk about never forgetting the fallen, people that made the ultimate sacrifice, and this bike rally truly demonstrates this. . . . I always wanted to do it and now I'm in the physical condition to attempt this bike ride."
Krumpter lost 70 pounds during the past year by exercising and cutting back on junk food, he said.
The impetus for slimming down, the 49-year-old said: "Getting older; I wanna be a little more healthy."
Aurora theater shooting victims cite lack of guards, silent alarms in civil trial
Six jurors will have to decide whether Cinemark, the country's third-largest theater chain, should be held liable for the mass shooting
by Sadie Gurman
CENTENNIAL, Colo. — A gunman who killed 12 people in a Colorado movie theater was so determined that no security measures could have stopped him, an attorney for the cinema chain said Tuesday during the start of a civil trial over whether the company should have foreseen the 2012 attack.
In opening statements in the civil trial brought by survivors of the attack and their families, attorney Marc Bern said the suburban Denver movie theater should have been better prepared for the possibility of violence during the packed midnight premiere of a Batman film, where at least 1,000 people were expected. While other theaters across the country were bolstering security for the summer blockbuster, Century 16 in Aurora lacked armed guards, closed-circuit television cameras that could have spotted trouble and a silent alarm that would have sounded when James Holmes slipped through an emergency exit door and opened fire, Bern told jurors.
"Cinemark failed to be prepared in a post-9/11 world," said Bern, who is representing 27 victims. A 28th survivor who is representing herself argued the shooting left her emotionally damaged, even though she was not in the auditorium where it took place but in a theater down the hall.
The six jurors will have to decide whether Cinemark, the country's third-largest theater chain, should be held liable for what Taylor described as the first mass shooting at a theater in "the history of American cinema."
Mass shootings are still so rare that theater management could not have anticipated one at a movie theater with no history of serious violence, Cinemark attorney Kevin Taylor said.
Taylor acknowledged there were no armed guards on hand for the July 20, 2012, premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises" but argued that management had deemed them unnecessary in Aurora, which was then considered among Forbes' safest cities in the country. Guards were stationed at other Cinemark theaters. The company's procedures were "in line with industry standard and custom," he said.
The door Holmes' propped open and entered through was not alarmed because it was not an emergency exit but rather a door designed to allow people to come and go, Taylor said.
Holmes was sentenced to life in prison last year after jurors failed to unanimously agree he deserved the death penalty.
Both sides in the civil trial pointed to Holmes' months of planning to support their case. Bern said if the theater had closed-circuit television cameras or roving patrols outside, employees might have known that Holmes scoped out the theater four times before the attack, snapping pictures. Holmes' notebook with detailed diagrams of auditoriums showed he picked the theater for its lax security, Bern said.
Taylor showed photos of Holmes' weaponry, high-grade body armor and ammunition as proof that he was a "mad genius" who would not be deterred.
Holmes stood before the crowd of more than 400, threw gas canisters and opened fire with a shotgun, assault rifle and semi-automatic pistol.
"He was hell-bent on committing as much murder as he could," Taylor said. "This was a completely unpredictable and unstoppable event."
Texas police department now equipped with military-grade trauma kits
Van Alstyne police officers are equipped with the same life-saving medical kits that U.S. military forces use in Iraq and Afghanistan
by Rodney Williams
VAN ALSTYNE, Texas — Thanks to a generous program sponsored by Wilson N. Jones hospital and presented by a team of concerned medical personnel, Van Alstyne police officers are now equipped with the same life-saving medical kits that U.S. military forces use in Iraq and Afghanistan. VAPD officers will be that much more prepared to save a life — perhaps even their own.
The Downed Officer Kit Training program was presented by the WNJ Trauma Department and Director/Surgeon Dr. Kenton Schrank, along with Amy Coffman and Breanna Pratt, on April 28 to VAPD officers.
The group presented the down kits to officers along with the training necessary to use them in the field. The kits consist of a tactical tourniquet, modular bandage, gloves, a face shield, surgical tape and trauma shears, among other items.
In the kit, the two most important items to an officer in the field will be the tourniquet and the gauze. The tourniquet comes in a plastic case that is worn on an officer's belt and is to be used to stop the bleeding in cases of extreme emergency. These tourniquets can be used with one hand, meaning an officer could use one on himself in the most dire of circumstance.
The other item is the QuikClot combat qauze. Officers were instructed on how to pack the gauze into a wound — including bullet holes or open wounds. The gauze was developed on the battlefields in desert operations after military officials discovered that despite body armor, soldiers were dying from heavy blood loss from injuries to their extremities. This gauze is to be packed in those types of wounds and will clot and stop the bleeding, unlike common gauze.
"You put it in a bullet hole or a knife injury or even a major opening, it stops the bleeding," said Schrank.
The reason this has not been in major use before is that of cost — the gauze is very expensive. But after the Army reported that the gauze was saving lives, police departments across the country began to see the need.
"The big police forces, like Dallas, have had this stuff, but the smaller, especially rural, towns that are on a budget don't have this. When we found this out we started asking around to see who had it and I was surprised that hardly anybody did," said Schrank. "I'm on a mission to get all the police forces equipped with this little kit."
VAPD Chief Tim Barnes is a believer, but his small department simply did not have the budget to be able to purchase these trauma kits for its patrol units. When Barnes was notified that WNJ had a program in place to assist local departments in outfitting their patrol units with the trauma kits, he was one of the first to sign up. Barnes said all patrol units will have one of these kits, while all officers will be required to wear the tourniquet on their duty belts.
"It's great that a hospital is looking out for law enforcement," said Barnes. "And really, it's not just about law enforcement; it's about the citizens. These can be used in emergency situations because, typically, nine times out of ten an officer arrives on scene before an ambulance arrives on scene. An officer may be able to save a life."
Schrank agreed with Barnes' assessment of the kits' use outside the scope of saving an officer's life.
"In a rural area, [an officer] could be outside of Van Alstyne and if they need EMS, if it takes them five or ten minutes to get there, the officer or the victim can bleed out before anybody can be there," he said.
The program has been in existence for approximately a year and has attracted the attention of several departments in the area.
"I'm really proud of this," said Schrank. "I really feel like police forces are underappreciated. I appreciate what they do and we need to help them. If this helps even one [person] it's worth it."
Calif. officers found justified in 3 separate officer-involved shootings
The DA released police footage to help bridge transparency in the community
by Pauline Repard
(Videos on site)
SAN DIEGO — District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis on Friday released video of three San Diego police officer-involved shootings, a reversal of her previous declarations that all such footage would be treated as evidence to be seen only in court.
“The position represents a major departure from historical practices, but we recognize the times have changed,” Dumanis said in a news briefing at her offices. “... This is really new territory.”
She said the legal rights of all the parties involved must be protected and balanced against the public's desire to view such video.
“However, we know we live in a world where all kinds of video evidence is becoming more and more prevalent, as everybody uses their iPhones and androids and tablets, and they can go viral in minutes,” Dumanis said.
In the three review letters released Friday, all officers were found justified in shooting men they knew or believed were armed. One controversial fatal encounter in the Gaslamp District last fall involved two officers who fired repeatedly at a man who raised a gun in their direction twice, including after he was wounded. His gun turned out to be a fake.
Dumanis said she will release video, if it exists, from every officer-involved shooting unless the officer is to be charged with a crime. Then, she said, the video will be withheld until it is produced in a courtroom.
Such prosecutions have been rare – only six in the hundreds of shootings in the county since 1980. Prosecutors apply a legal standard that a shooting is legally justified if a reasonable officer in similar circumstances would have fired in self-defense or the defense of others. In most local cases, the officer was shot at, attacked with a lethal weapon, or believed the suspect was armed with a lethal weapon.
Dumanis said she came to her policy change in handling shooting videos after hearing from local law enforcement, citizen advisory groups and the media. Townhall-style meetings will be held to gather more input from residents, now that the first test cases have been released. Then, Dumanis said, her office will work to draft a written policy on releasing videos that takes the public perspective into account.
Leaders of all the local law enforcement agencies in the county, including San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman, agree that pertinent video of officer-involved shootings should be released whenever possible, Dumanis said.
Zimmerman has said repeatedly over the past years, as more of her officers were outfitted with body-worn cameras, that she would not release their footage to the media or the general public. She expressed concerns that such videos would be viewed out of context, that the sheer volume of footage recorded each day would be too cumbersome to prepare for release, and that privacy rights could be violated.
On Friday, Zimmerman released a statement saying she supports the new protocol and that “having our public's trust is essential to maintaining the safety of all of our communities.”
Members of the American Civil Liberties Union office in San Diego met with Dumanis during the video policy talks. Christie Hill, senior policy strategist for the ALCU locally, said the group supports the direction Dumanis is taking.
“It's important that the information is released and it's available to the public,” Hill said. “The public wants this information ... There is a call to more transparency.”
Hill said she agrees with Dumanis' plans to edit the videos to blur the faces of those who are shot, and witnesses in the background. The officers' faces also will be blurred. Dumanis also said the videos will be stopped at the point shooting stops, so officers' further actions, such as approaching the wounded person, will not be shown.
The ALCU looks forward to seeing and responding to the District Attorney's written policy once it is completed, Hill said.
Some other departments across the nation have released police camera footage showing officer actions ranging from gunning down a man who was running away to dancing or lip-syncing to popular tunes. Several officer-involved shootings of black men have sparked riots and raised calls call for reforms, spurring authorities to release video that showed the officers' actions in better light.
A Washington post study last October found that among the 49 fatal shootings by police across the country since January that year that were captured on officer body cameras, the footage was released in only 21 cases.
Washington, D.C., is working to grant wide public access to police body camera videos. In many cities, Forth Worth, Texas; Sarasota, Fla.; to Baltimore, Md., police body camera footage is subject to the states' public information laws. In Los Angeles, on the other hand, the policy allows for a copy of a police body camera recording to only be released in response to a valid court order or by approval of the police chief.
In San Diego, an officer-involved fatal shooting in April last year led to a public demand for the release of security camera footage showing the encounter. After getting a judge's permission, Dumanis in December released video showing San Diego police Officer Neal Browder driving into an alley in the Midway District and firing at Fridoon Rawshan Nehad, who was walking toward the officer.
Dumanis said she was doing so to give the community a more complete picture of what had happened. Several people near an adult book store reported to police that a man was threatening people with a knife. Browder said he saw a shiny object in Nehad's hand and Nehad ignored orders to drop the item and to halt. Police said he was later found to not have a knife.
Here are summaries of three shooting reviews released on Friday, and videos of the incidents released by the District Attorney:
The fatal shooting of Lamontez Jones, 39, in the Gaslamp Quarter on Oct. 20. It raised public concerns because some witnesses said officers fired a second volley at him after he was down. Videos shot from cellphones at two locations, and from a security camera showed Jones aim a pistol at motorcycle Officer Scott Thompson, who fired at him and wounded him. Jones fell to the street, then raised up a little and lifted the gun again. Thompson and Officer Gregory Lindstrom then shot him repeatedly.
They did not turn on their body-worn cameras. Zimmerman has defended that oversight, saying events moved too quickly. Jones' mother has filed a claim of wrongful death against the officers, the city, and the San Diego Police Department.
The fatal shooting of Dennis Richard Fiel, 34, on May 17, 2015. Fiel, suspected in a series of shootings, led police on a pursuit in Serra Mesa. He ditched his car, ran into some bushes and pulled a handgun from a backpack. He and officers Joshua Hodge and Mario Larrea exchanged gunfire. One body-worn camera showed the officer's extended arm holding a gun and picked up his voice yelling for Fiel to get on the ground, then gunshots. Officer Heather Seddon was wounded in the neck by one of the officers' rounds or a richochet.
The non-fatal shooting of Michael John Taylor, 28, on March 12, 2014. Members of the San Diego Regional Fugitive Task Force followed him into a Ramada Inn parking lot in Point Loma. He was in a stolen car and video from an elevated surveillance camera showed him back into a U.S. Marshal's deputy's car, then hit police Officer Brian Sanchez' car. Sanchez walked in front of Taylor's vehicle and Taylor pulled forward, hitting Sanchez. Sanchez fired four rounds into the windshield, wounding Taylor.
Dumanis said she plans to release reviews of officers shootings, and related videos, on a more timely basis than has been done in the past year. She said there are about 11 cases with completed reviews, and those will be released a few a time in coming months.
Her office provided a tally of officer-involved shootings across the county that showed 17 in 2013, 12 in 2014 and 19 in 2015.
Kan. detective fatally shot, suspect arrested
Police say the shooter fled in the detective's car, then carjacked a vehicle with two children inside
by The Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Kansas City, Kansas, police detective helping respond to a report of a suspicious person near a racetrack was fatally shot Monday, and a parolee sought for questioning in that and an ensuing string of reported carjackings was wounded after a shootout with police in neighboring Missouri.
The detective was shot at least twice about 12:30 p.m. near the Kansas Speedway, underwent surgery at a hospital and later died, his department said in a statement. His name was not immediately released, though a police spokesman, Patrick McCallop, called him "a seasoned officer."
Police said the gunman, after wounding the detective, fled in the officer's unmarked car, then hijacked a vehicle with two children inside before abandoning it in nearby Basehor, Kansas, leaving those kids unharmed.
Police publicly appealed for help in trying to find Curtis Ayers, 28, for questioning in the shooting. That Tonganoxie, Kansas, man ultimately was taken into custody in Kansas City, Missouri, when he crashed the car he was driving while being pursued by officers, then was shot by police after trying to carjack a woman's vehicle.
That woman was wounded and taken to a hospital, a Kansas City, Missouri, police spokeswoman said without specifying her medical condition. Ayers was hospitalized in stable condition, McCallop said.
"This individual was very dangerous. We are so happy that this individual is in custody," Kansas City, Missouri, police spokeswoman Kari Thompson told reporters later. "We are so glad this situation has come to an end."
Ayers has had longstanding trouble with the law, having served time in Kansas prison in recent years for convictions involving child abandonment, fleeing or trying to elude law enforcers, and interference with a law enforcement officer, according to Associated Press research.
Ayers previously had been charged in North Carolina with offenses ranging from misdemeanor theft to possession of stolen goods and burglarizing vehicles.
Ariz. officer shot multiple times in drive-by during traffic stop
The sheriff tweeted the ‘war on cops continues'
by PoliceOne Staff
TEMPE, Ariz. — A Maricopa County sheriff's deputy was injured in a drive-by shooting Saturday while conducting a traffic stop, AZFamily reported.
The gunman opened fire while driving by the 10-year veteran deputy during a DUI stop, Deputy Joaquin Enriquez said. The deputy was walking back to his cruiser when the incident occurred.
"As far as why, we don't have a motive or have any suspect information on why this occurred," Enriquez said. "We do know this person who fired the rounds knew this was law enforcement. The vehicle was activated – red and blue lights – it was a traffic stop, clearly, so he knew what he was doing as he fired at the deputy sheriff.”
The officer suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the legs and was taken to a local hospital. He was expected to fully recover, but the department was on high-alert.
"The war on cops continues, “ Sheriff Joe Arpaio tweeted.
“Something is wrong out there and has to be corrected," he told the news site. "When I say war on cops, I think that's a good title I give it, that's what it is – a war on cops.”
Arpaio urged the gunman – who is still at large – to turn himself in.
“We've got to get him off the street because if he does this, he can do more,” Arpaio said. “I don't want to call him a scumbag, a coward but I would like him to surrender, face the music, be a man.”
The identity of the deputy was not released.
San Francisco officer suffers chemical burns in bleach attack
The officer was struck on the face
by Veronica Rocha
LOS ANGELES — A San Francisco police officer suffered chemical burns after a woman poured bleach onto him from a sixth-floor window, authorities said Monday.
The officer was talking to a victim and witness about an argument involving a dog bite at about 11:06 p.m. Saturday outside a building in the 100 block of Hyde Street, said Officer Albie Esparza, spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department.
As the officer investigated the dispute, a 47-year-old woman poured bleach from the window.
The officer was struck on the face and was taken to an area hospital, Esparza said. The officer suffered injuries that were not life-threatening, Esparza said.
The woman, whose name was not released, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a caustic chemical.
'No idea how cops survived': Videos released in La. gunbattle
The suspect fired a minimum of 20 rounds from an AR-15 while officers returned a minimum of 34 rounds
by Bryn Stole
BATON ROUGE, La. — Video released by the East Baton Rouge District Attorney's Office Monday of a Feb. 13 shootout between two Baton Rouge police officers and a 22-year-old man killed in the gunfight shows the officers were justified in shooting the gunman, the district attorney said Monday.
The video shows that officers Theodore Smith III and Sean Garic returned fire and shot Calvin Smith in self-defense in the harrowing encounter, District Attorney Hillar Moore III said at a news conference. Smith fired a minimum of 20 rounds from an AR-15 rifle while the two officers returned a minimum of 34 rounds during the gunfight that was estimated to have lasted about 20 seconds.
“The officers' actions were not only warranted, but necessary to protect themselves and the public,” Moore said.
Both officers were wounded in the shooting. They have since recovered and returned to duty.
The video's release Monday marks the end of a review of the shooting by Baton Rouge Police Department investigators and the District Attorney's Office, which cleared the officers of any wrongdoing, Moore said.
Moore said the case will not be presented to a grand jury.
The footage of the shooting — captured on dashboard cameras inside the two officers' patrol cars and on a body camera — shows Smith pointing the rifle and opening fire as the officers pulled up in their marked patrol cars following a high-speed chase, Moore said.
Garic was grazed on the side of the head by a bullet, and Theodore Smith was shot in the right side by a bullet that penetrated the stitching on the side of his vest.
Calvin Smith was rushed into surgery but died from his wounds that night. Moore said Monday that Calvin Smith had alcohol and three drugs in his system at the time of his death.
One of police cars was hit eight times while the other was struck several times.
“I have no idea how these officers survived this firefight,” Moore said.
The fatal incident began around 5:30 a.m. on Feb. 13, a Saturday, when Baton Rouge police received a call about damage to a vehicle near the 700 block of Monet Drive.
Moore said Calvin Smith pounded on the door of his ex-girlfriend the morning of the shooting and her mother's boyfriend answered the door and told him to leave. Calvin Smith had previously asked the mother's boyfriend to tell his ex-girlfriend that he needed her back. He also threatened suicide in a number of text messages and Facebook messages, and tried to kick in the ex-girlfriend's mother's front door the night before the shooting, a report on the shooting also released Monday says.
After being chased away from the apartment that morning, Smith slashed the tires of a vehicle in the parking lot, smashed the windshield and dented the hood with a baseball bat, the report says.
The ex-girlfriend's mother's boyfriend confronted Smith outside and fired two rounds in Smith's direction before calling police.
When officers arrived, Calvin Smith had already fled in a 2013 Dodge Avenger. The ex-girlfriend's family and other witnesses provided a description of the car, which was spotted by Officer Smith moments later as it turned onto Airline Highway from Tom Drive, the report says.
When the officer tried to pull Smith over, he sped off and lead the officers on a six-minute chase that ended when Calvin Smith swerved to a halt in front of the home where he'd been staying at 5629 Fairfields Ave., according to police. Moore said the chase lasted about six minutes.
Police said Calvin Smith quickly emerged from the car with a semi-automatic rifle and opened fire on Officer Smith before turning the rifle on Garic, wounding both and striking the patrol cars multiple times as the officers struggled to take cover and return fire.
“(Calvin) Smith clearly had the drop on them,” the district attorney said.
An autopsy report says Smith was shot at least four times in the neck, leg and chest.
From the beginning of the probe, authorities have said the footage of the shooting — captured on dashboard cameras in the officers' patrol cars and on body cameras — provided a clear picture of the shootout and provided compelling evidence that Smith was the aggressor in the encounter.
The report says Smith had a history of mental illness, including severe depression, and was prescribed several medications.
Moore said several people close to Smith said he'd stopped taking his medication in the months before the shooting. Moore also said Smith's family had struggled to find him treatment in Baton Rouge.
Smith and his ex-girlfriend had been in a “tumultuous” relationship for many years but had recently broken up, the report says. She petitioned for a restraining order against Smith in January, court records show, saying Smith punched and choked her on Christmas while threatening to kill both her and himself.
Moore said Smith had a history of past suicide attempts and threats.
From the Department of Justice
Florida Man Sentenced for Threatening to Firebomb Two Mosques and Shoot Congregants
The Justice Department announced today that Martin Alan Schnitzler, 43, was sentenced to one year and a day in prison for calling two mosques in Pinellas County, Florida, and threatening to firebomb them and shoot their worshippers.
Schnitzler pleaded guilty on Feb. 12, 2016, to obstructing persons in the free exercise of religious beliefs for issuing the threats. He was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge James D. Whittemore of the Middle District of Florida.
As part of his plea, Schnitzler admitted that on Nov. 13, 2015, he intentionally obstructed members of the Islamic Society of St. Petersburg, Florida, and the Islamic Society of Pinellas County from practicing their religion when he left voicemail messages threatening the safety of the mosques' congregants. Schnitzler claimed that his threats were prompted by the terrorist attacks in Paris. Among other things, Schnitzler also admitted that in one of the voicemails he threatened to “personally have a militia” report to one of the mosques and “firebomb you, shoot whoever is there on sight in the head. I don't care if they're [expletive] two years old or a hundred.”
In response to the threats, both mosques requested increased law-enforcement presence at their locations and took extra safety precautions for congregants.
“Criminal threats of violence that target people and communities because of their religious beliefs threaten the core values that define a fair and just society – equal protection and mutual respect for all,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. “When individuals commit religion-based hate crimes, we will hold them accountable for their actions and ensure they face justice.”
“This prosecution sends a clear message to anyone who contemplates the use of threats or intimidation to interfere with the right of individuals to worship as they choose, without fear,” said U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III of the Middle District of Florida. “The U.S. Attorney's Office is committed to taking whatever action is necessary to protect this important First Amendment right.”
The FBI investigated the case with the assistance of the St. Petersburg Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel George and Daniel Irick of the Middle District of Florida and Trial Attorney Gabriel Davis of the Civil Rights Division's Criminal Section.
ICE's Release Of Nearly 20,000 Criminal Aliens Put Local Communities At Risk
by Amanda Vicinanzo
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last year released nearly 20,000 criminal illegal aliens who have been convicted of 64,197 crimes — including homicide, rape, kidnapping, and other egregious crimes—which put local communities at risk.
Criminal convictions included 208 homicides, 216 kidnappings, 352 commercialized sexual offenses, 804 robberies, 1,317 weapon offenses, 1,728 assault charges, and 12,307 drunk driving incidents, according to data from ICE.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing on April 28, 2016 to examine the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) policies and procedures relating to the release of criminal aliens, and to assess the impact of those policies on public safety.
Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) asked ICE, “How many drug dealers, how many rapists, how many kidnappers do you let get an ‘out of jail free card?'”
Although the number of criminal aliens released from ICE custody decreased in 2015 compared to the previous two years, from 36,007 in 2014 to 19,723 in 2015, the alarming number of criminal aliens released onto US streets is alarming and continues to raise questions over the safety of US communities.
In June 2015, 41-year-old Jean Jacques, a Haitian national, was convicted in the killing of 25-year old Connecticut woman Casey Chadwick. Jacques had a previous attempted murder conviction and should have been deported, but Haiti refused to take him back.
During the hearing, Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) told ICE, “I want you to prioritize Americans rather than those other countries… Let's know and understand which countries are not taking back the criminals that came here illegally and should be deported back into their country. ”
Casey's mother, Wendy Hartling, testified at the hearing. She noted that the family is eagerly awaiting the results of an investigation into the matter by DHS's Inspector General. In the meantime, they are mourning a death that they believe was avoidable.
“If ICE and Homeland Security had done their job Casey would not have died and I would not be here as part of the club of Homicide Survivors which no parent wants to join,” Hartling said.
Another recent example of the risk of criminal aliens to US communities is the July 2015 shooting of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a Mexican illegal immigrant with a criminal record who had been deported several times. Steinle died in a hospital two hours after a bullet struck her in the back while strolling on Pier 14 in the Embarcadero district in San Francisco, California.
Immigration enforcement policy again came into the spotlight with the death of Sarah Root. Sarah was killed on Sunday, January 31, 2016 at approximately 2:00 a.m. by a drunk driver and illegal immigrant, Edwin G. Mejia. Sarah's father, Scott Root, told the panel that less than 24 hours before Sarah was killed, she walked with a 4.0 GPA with a Bachelor's in Criminal Investigations from Bellevue University.
“My family and friends will not stop until people at the local and federal level are held accountable and her killer brought to justice,” said Root. “When Edwin is caught, he will face 20 years in prison, 8-10 years with good behavior, but my family is facing a life sentence without her. Her death was avoidable and would not have occurred if not for the failed policies of the Obama administration that allowed the laws to be ignored and an incompetent local judicial system.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) questioned, “Why [was] the killer of Sarah Root not detained…? I'm looking back so we can look forward and prevent the next one [from happening] and that's about all we can do… look back and see what facts we were given.”
Ralph Martin, Police Chief for the City of Santa Maria, California, testified regarding the case of 64 year old Santa Maria resident, Marilyn Pharis, who became the victim of a “brutal and vicious attack” on the morning of July 24, 2015 when two suspects broke into her home, sexually assaulted her, strangled her, and beat her about her head and face with a hammer.
One of the suspects, Victor Martinez-Ramirez, is an illegal alien from Mexico who had been arrested by the Santa Maria Police Department six times in the previous 15 months. He was released from the Santa Barbara County Jail 96 hours before he attacked Pharis.
“Whenever the federal or state government fails to do its job, it falls on the shoulders of local government, which is not equipped to deal with the issues, either financially or in dedicating personnel,” said Martin. He added, “I've been in this business for over 40 years, and every time I hear the term ‘senseless tragedy' or ‘terrible accident,' I cringe. When our federal and state laws are not enforced, all we really have is predicable consequences.”
Despite these incidents, Chris Burbank, Director of Law Enforcement Engagement at the Center for Policing Equity, testified that research conducted over the past thirty years has consistently shown that immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes or to be incarcerated, and that violent and property crime has decreased as undocumented immigration has increased over the past ten years.
“Public policy must be driven by evidence and not anecdotes,” said Burbank, who sees no correlation between immigrants and crime
ICE Director Sarah Saldana sees ICE's recent criminal release statistics as a demonstration of the agency's commitment to ensuring that individuals who pose a threat to public safety are not released from ICE's custody. Saldana cited a 15 percent reduction in criminal releases from 2013 to 2014, and a 30 percent reduction from 2014 to 2015.
“Apprehending and removing individuals who pose a threat to national security, border security, or public safety is DHS's highest immigration enforcement priority,” said Saldana.
Ferguson to swear in new police chief
by Faith Karimi and Joshua Berlinger
The Ferguson Police Department is set to swear in its first African-American police chief Monday at 4 p.m. ET.
Major Delrish Moss, a veteran Miami officer, was selected in April after a three-month, nationwide search, the city said in a news release.
"Major Moss exemplifies the type of experience in law enforcement that we believe will enhance the many new programs within the Ferguson Police Department," said City Manager De'Carlon Seewood.
Though he's new to the department, the problems he faces are not.
He'll be tasked with healing a fractured community in the spotlight since the 2014 shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown.
He'll have to navigate a mostly-white police department in charge of a majority black city.
And he'll be expected to reform the Police Department under the wary eye of the U.S. Justice Department.
"Ferguson somehow spoke to me in a way that said, you've gotta go there, you've got to try and make a difference there," Moss told CNN affiliate WFOR.
The feds have demanded police reform in Ferguson and sued the city over alleged patterns of discrimination and unconstitutional police conduct.
And the government is not backing down.
"We intend to aggressively prosecute this case, and we intend to prevail," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in February.
In its scathing report last year, the Justice Department highlighted a policing system that uses arrest warrants to make money out of residents. The report described police practices "shaped by the city's focus on revenue," not public needs.
"This emphasis on revenue has compromised the institutional character of Ferguson," the report noted.
African-Americans made up 93% of arrests from 2012 to 2014 in Ferguson but only 67% of the city's population.
The disproportionate number of arrests of minorities was a result of bias, not crime, the report said.
"These violations were not only egregious, they were routine. They were encouraged by the city in the interest of raising revenue," Lynch has said. "They were driven, at least in part, by racial bias and they occurred disproportionately against African American residents of Ferguson."
Ferguson averted further legal woes in March by unanimously agreeing to accept a Justice Department overhaul of its troubled police force and municipal courts.
As Ferguson works to recruit more minorities, a big part of the police chief's role will be reaching out to a community scarred by deep racial distrust.
The 2014 shooting of Brown, an unarmed black teen, by white police officer Darren Wilson brought Ferguson's racial wounds national attention.
But the Justice Department report described a town where officers handcuff minority residents without probable cause, use racial slurs and retaliate against those who question police tactics.
"The residents of Ferguson have suffered the deprivation of their constitutional rights, the rights guaranteed to all Americans, for decades," Lynch said last year. "They should not be forced to wait any longer."
Public Safety Chaplains Corps revived in Grand Island
by Jeff Bahr
The Public Safety Chaplains Corps has been revived in Grand Island, primarily to help the public.
A similar group existed years ago. But it has been brought back at the urging of the Grand Island police and fire departments, Hall County Sheriff's Department and local emergency management.
The group consists of local chaplains.
In doing their jobs, law enforcement and emergency responders run into situations where they can help people, said Police Chief Steve Lamken. But when it comes to people who are suffering or have other needs, a chaplain can “go further” than law enforcement could do at the scene, Lamken said.
The primary role of the Chaplains Corps is to help the public. But the pastors can also help officers, firefighters, deputies and emergency management workers who might be “suffering from an event,” have problems or “just need to talk to somebody,” Lamken said.
“Where we really saw the need for a Chaplains Corps was at the fire at the Towers,” he said, referring to the fire at Centennial Towers last November, during which a person died.
“There were firefighters and law enforcement officers that witnessed the lady falling out of the window,” Lamken said. Residents of the towers were displaced and needed help because they saw the woman fall to her death.
Chaplains can also be of significant help in notifying families of a death. The Rev. Todd Bowen, the head of the Chaplains Corps, said that's one of the tougher things officers have to do.
“They're just very difficult situations to be in, where someone's world is about to be turned upside-down,” said Bowen, the pastor of Grace Covenant Church.
He assisted on one death notification. Afterward, the officer told him it was helpful to have a chaplain along.
Death notifications can take place at home or in the workplace. Officers try to deliver the news as soon as they can, Bowen said. Police find out where the appropriate people are who need to be informed. “Wherever they are, they go out,” he said.
A couple of other chaplains have assisted with those visits as well.
Steps to reactivate the Chaplains Corps began last fall.
Scott Jones of Third City Christian Church said the pastors are firmly under the direction of local police and firefighters.
“When we come on the scene for whatever reason, we're there to do what the first responders need us to do,” Jones said.
The chaplains take their lead from the chiefs and captains.
“They are the ones who determine what our role should be,” Jones said.
Another participant is Carlos Barcenas, pastor of Vida Nueva.
The chaplain group is needed for both the Hispanic community “and for everybody. We need to work together,” Barcenas said. “Yes, and I'm so glad to do it.”
The other pastors involved include Mark Oberbeck of Northridge Assembly of God, Dan Brenton of Grand Island Evangelical Free Church and Bill Rowland of Beacon of Hope Church.
The group received training from Bobby Payne, a chaplain who works with law enforcement officials from Kearney and Buffalo counties.
The chaplains have toured facilities, including the law enforcement center and the 911 center. They've started to do ride-alongs. They're also going to make an effort to attend department briefings, Bowen said.
The chaplains want to be “a source of help,” he said.
But in order to do that, they need to be visible and build relationships with officers, firefighters and emergency personnel.
“That trust and rapport doesn't just automatically happen,” Bowen said.
In a ride-along with the Police Department, Jones also had some interaction with the public.
Even though it was a training session, he could see the need for the Chaplains Corps.
The organization, Jones feels, is going to be something positive for the community.
Gratitude for those who serve and protect
by Haven Scott
The weather was dreary, the rain was intermittent, but there was appreciation in the air and handshakes galore.
On Saturday, more than 100 residents, police officers, firefighters and their families took over Main Street park in Cedar City for the first Public Safety Responder Appreciation Day.
Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson said the event was initiated and organized by Ron Lewis of the American Legion, and many other city officials and community members chipped in to help.
“From the first meeting we had to discuss this event I have wholeheartedly supported them,” Wilson said. “These men and women risk their lives every day to protect our community. So this is a special day to recognize them and their families and a great way for the community to meet and bond with them.”
Veteran police officer, Lt. Keith Millett with the Cedar City Police Department, said police work is often a thankless job, so it was encouraging to see the community support.
“For me being a police officer is about creating a community that everybody enjoys living in,” he said. “You have to have trust from the citizens you represent. They need to know that we are here to protect them, keep them safe and trying our best to make their community a better place for everybody.”
Rookie Cedar City Police officer Stenson Bergstrom had the same sentiments, saying he started off in animal control but worked toward becoming an officer, a goal he attained in December.
“It definitely takes somebody with a community mindset,” he said. “Nobody got into this job for the money. There are aspects of being a cop that are exciting, and there are lots of times the job can be heartbreaking.”
But throughout the entire law enforcement community, responders look out for each other and that's what keeps them going, Bergstrom said.
“A lot of people never get to see the relationships that are formed behind the scenes,” he said. “The support I receive from everybody I meet in law enforcement and emergency response makes coming to work a good time.”
The Cedar City Masters Singers were on hand for music, and elementary-aged children sang patriotic songs that many said warmed the hearts of those in attendance.
“This will be their day every year,” Wilson said of the gathering. “They have earned it.”
Procedural justice: How a simple concept can help cops make a big impact
Procedural justice often boils down to people treating other people with dignity and politeness, regardless of whether they're a suspect or a cop or somewhere in between
by Mariano Delle Donne
In law enforcement, there is perhaps no more important concept than that of procedural justice. At its core, this is the idea that a certain basic fairness must exist in the policing process, not only to help resolve certain disputes but also to allocate resources to where they can help do the most good.
Indeed, procedural justice is intertwined permanently to the idea of due process, which is the legal requirement that dictates a person must have all of their legal rights respected as they move through the justice system, regardless of the reason.
Breaking Down Procedural Justice
Procedural justice is at play in nearly all aspects of a law enforcement agency, whether people explicitly realize it or not. In terms of communications, for example, procedural justice helps to guarantee that the use of fair procedures not only helps to communicate to police officers and other employees that they are valued members of the community, but that they are also truly making an impact. It is also directly related to fairness regarding outcomes and the decisions that are made throughout the day.
The philosopher John Rawls — famous for a number of documents including “A Theory of Justice” — wrote that there were two core characteristics in a perfect procedural justice scenario. Not only must there be an independent definition of what “fair” means given the circumstances, but a procedure must be created to help guarantee that a fair outcome will be reached.
Procedural justice is a broad concept, but in terms of the day-to-day activities of a police officer, it is often quite simple. The idea can be as simple as giving a person the chance to tell his or her side of the story to you before you make a decision about what to do. It can be as easy as a police officer reacting to evidence in a neutral way, paying attention to the facts of the matter and not trying to prove some preconceived notion the officer already has. It often boils down to people treating other people with dignity and politeness, regardless of whether they're a suspect or a police officer or somewhere in between.
Procedural Justice in Action
Oftentimes, success in terms of procedural justice doesn't just deal with the way a police force deals with a community — it also has to do with the way an agency deals with itself. Take New Orleans, for example. Since 2010, Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas has been undertaking a massive and comprehensive overhaul of the area's police department aimed at cementing these ideas of procedural justice (including integrity, transparency and accountability) in place for future generations. Serpas created a series of 65 steps to help him do it. Interestingly enough, 10 of those steps had to do with taking a closer look at hiring and training processes — taking advantage of these core values as early as possible to help create a newfound sense of legitimacy throughout the agency.
Serpas said, “The New Orleans Police Department will no longer tell neighborhoods what their problems are. Instead, [they] will listen, collaborate, and respond proactively.”
Since 2010, significant, positive impact on both crime and community relations in New Orleans and the surrounding communities has been seen as a result of this plan.
New Orleans is just one of the many examples of the power of procedural justice in action. Regardless of whether a police officer works for a small agency or a large one, on the East Coast or the West, they all have one thing in common — they strive to help leave communities in a slightly better condition than the one they found them in.
That simple idea is what procedural justice is all about.
About the Author
Mariano Delle Donne is CEO and founder of Adventos Corporation, a company developing law enforcement intelligence and community policing software. Mariano also hosts ReturningBlue, a podcast series dedicated to sharing public safety insights and stories.