June, 2016 - Week 5
The Leave campaign of 1776 reverberates to this day
by Jeff Jacoby
Great Britain's vote last week to exit the European Union has been widely described as the country's most consequential decision in decades. But its significance is paltry compared to that of history's original “Leave” resolution, the 240th anniversary of which Americans commemorate this Fourth of July.
The unanimous vote in the Second Continental Congress, which affirmed that “these united colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states . . . absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown,” was the most far-reaching political event of the 18th century. John Adams, writing from Philadelphia to his wife Abigail, called the vote not just “the greatest decision . . . which ever was debated in America,” but possibly the greatest that ever “was or will be decided among men.”
And yet, for the longest time, sentiment in the American colonies strongly favored “Remain.” Even after the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party, even after Parliament had enacted Lord North's detested Intolerable Acts, countless Americans still craved a peaceful compromise with London. It was a sentiment their leaders expressed repeatedly. In a published message to “friends and fellow-subjects” in Ireland, for example, the Continental Congress gave its assurance that “America still remembered her duty to her sovereign” and, “though insulted and abused,” continued to “wish for reconciliation.” Despite being “charged with rebellion, [we] will cheerfully bleed in defense of our Sovereign in a righteous cause,” the statement averred. “What more can we say? What more can we offer?”
As Pauline Maier showed in “American Scripture,” her acclaimed 1997 study of the making of the Declaration of Independence, many of the most radical Founders clung to the hope that America might remain in the empire. As late as August 1775, four months after Lexington and Concord, Thomas Jefferson could still write to a correspondent “that he sincerely wished for reunion and ‘would rather be in dependence on Great Britain, properly limited, than on any nation on earth, or than on no nation.' ” What the Americans objected to was not the authority of the king — many, like Benjamin Franklin, had been devoted royalists — but the authority of a Parliament in which they had no voice or vote.
By the start of 1776, however, hope of reconciliation was gone. King George had (falsely) proclaimed the colonies to be in “open and avowed rebellion” and demanded “the most decisive exertions” to crush them. He signed into law a “Prohibitory Act” banning trade with the Americans and declaring open season on American ports and ships. In a New Year's Day attack, British troops bombarded and burned Norfolk, Va. Soon after came word that thousands of additional troops were crossing the Atlantic to quell colonial resistance. Americans had been raised to think of themselves as Englishmen and to revere the English king. Now it was becoming clear that they'd been clinging to a delusion.
In January 1776, with superb timing, Thomas Paine published “Common Sense.” It was a scorching denunciation of the “royal brute” in London, and it appeared just as Americans were coming to grips with the realization that they could no longer profess loyalty to an empire that had rejected them.
“Common Sense” was a runaway bestseller. It sold more than 150,000 copies — astonishing in a country with a population of just 2.5 million. It was “greedily bought up and read by all ranks of people,” marveled Josiah Bartlett, a congressional delegate from New Hampshire. Paine's manifesto was a ferocious attack not just on England's abusive treatment of the colonies, but on the very idea of monarchy itself. He mocked the “farcical” notion that Americans, being largely of English descent, must remain under English rule. William the Conqueror had been a Frenchman, he pointed out, and “half the peers of England” were of French descent. Did it therefore follow that England must be governed by France?
“Everything that is right or natural pleads for separation,” Paine argued. “The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, 'Tis time to part. Even the distance at which the Almighty hath placed England and America, is a strong and natural proof, that the authority of the one over the other was never the design of Heaven.”
He was making more than a political point. Paine was urging Americans to fight for independence not only because George III and Parliament had betrayed them but because they were no longer Britons. America's people had evolved into a new nation, and that new nation was entitled, by the very “design of Heaven,” to sovereignty and self-rule. A few months later, that idea would be enshrined in the opening words of the Declaration of Independence. The colonists had become “one people,” and it had become necessary for that people to sever its ties to England and become a wholly independent power — to claim “the separate and equal station” in the world that it deserved. And who had authorized American independence? Not English ministers or foreign diplomats, but “the laws of Nature and of Nature's God.”
In the Declaration, Congress laid out America's case to “a candid world,” because Americans wanted to show “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.” But respect for world opinion did not imply a willingness to submit to it. The colonies weren't asking for their independence. They were asserting it. They had made up their minds to leave. No longer could anything induce them to remain.
“We have it in our power to begin the world over again,” Paine had written. “A race of men, perhaps as numerous as all Europe contains, are to receive their portion of freedom.” Americans were the first nation in history to declare independence, replacing rule by a king with rule by consent of the governed. It was a transformation that permanently altered the course of human events. Long after Brexit has been forgotten, the events of 1776 will still be reverberating.
U.S. attorney general completes community policing tour
by Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch wrapped up her national “Community Policing Tour” in Playa Vista June 30, taking part in a Facebook Live town hall from the social media site's campus.
The event was moderated by “Fruitvale Station” and “Creed” star Michael B. Jordan, with participation from actress Yara Shahidi of ABC's “Black-ish.” It was live-streamed on Facebook Live and on the U.S. Justice Department's social media platforms.
Lynch noted that using social media is an important tool for building relationships between law enforcement agencies and the public.
“I think we can use social media to show what school officers in school are doing as well,” she said. “How are they interacting with kids? I know parents would love to see that. Other kids would love to see it. One of the things I've learned also on this tour and I've talked to young people in different communities, they talk about the fact they just want to get to know who officers are, you know, are they even people?
“It can seem like a different world. Having a way to connect and using social media is really important. It can be a great tool.”
The town hall audience included local high school and college students, Los Angeles Police Department “cadets” and 15 officers from the Hollenbeck Police Activities League and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
On June 29, Lynch met with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, Mayor Eric Garcetti and U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker for an LAPD technology briefing, discussing real-time crime analysis. Lynch was also briefed on the department's Virtual Ride Along and body-camera programs.
“The challenge for law enforcement today, the challenge of 21st Century policing, is how to ensure that we are using the best and most innovative tools available involving technology and social media, and also protect the public to ensure the well-being of our communities,” Lynch said following the meeting with Beck, Garcetti and Decker.
In move to 'enhance public safety,' Gov. Jerry Brown signs gun-control proposals into law
by Patrick McGreevy
Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed six gun-control bills into law, including new restrictions on semiautomatic rifles and a requirement that ammunition purchasers undergo background checks, saying they will help “enhance public safety” in California.
The governor vetoed five other measures, including an expansion of the use of restraining orders to take guns from people deemed to be dangerous.
The governor's action comes one day after the Legislature approved a dozen gun-control bills that were introduced in response to the December mass shooting in San Bernardino that killed 14 people. The bills gained legislative momentum after last month's massacre in Orlando that claimed 49 lives.
“My goal in signing these bills is to enhance public safety by tightening our existing laws in a responsible and focused manner, while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners,” Brown wrote in a signing message Friday.
The action appeared to be a subtle shift for Brown, whose complicated record on gun control has been marked by skepticism about whether many proposals increase public safety without infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
At a time when mass shootings are occurring with escalating frequency, it appears Brown's pragmatic side and his Jesuit training has made him more open to efforts to control firearms, according to Jaime Regalado, a professor emeritus of political science at Cal State L.A.
The National Rifle Assn. Institute for Legislative Action accused the governor of exploiting the terrorist attacks for political gain.
“Gov. Jerry Brown today signed a draconian gun control package that turns California's law-abiding gun owners into second-class citizens,” said Amy Hunter, California spokesperson for the group. “The governor and Legislature exploited a terrorist attack to push these measures through even though the state's already restrictive laws did nothing to stop the attack in San Bernardino.”
The bills signed by Brown include a ban on the sale of semiautomatic rifles equipped with so-called “bullet buttons” that allow the removal and replacement of magazines.
In 2013, Brown, a gun owner who hunted as a younger man, vetoed several gun control bills including one that would have outlawed the sale of semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines, including those with bullet button features.
“I don't believe that this bill's blanket ban on semiautomatic rifles would reduce criminal activity or enhance public safety enough to warrant this infringement on gun owners' rights,” Brown said at the time.
Administration officials said Friday that the earlier version was so broad as to have expanded California's definition of an assault weapon. The bill he signed Friday, they said, was more precisely focused on the issue of how the ammunition magazines are quickly changed out.
The decision to sign this proposal was welcomed by one of its authors, Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael).
“Military assault weapons have no place on our streets,” he said.
Brown's office noted that Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has qualified a more expansive gun control measure for the November ballot.
“The governor took swift action today and voters will have a chance to go even further in November, if they choose, with the lieutenant governor's initiative,” said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Brown.
Newsom, who had criticized the Legislature's proposals as falling short of his proposed initiative, cast the governor's actions as a start of reform that his ballot measure would complete.
“Today's steps in the right direction will grow into a giant leap forward for public safety if voters pass the Safety for All initiative to keep guns and ammo out of the wrong hands,” Newsom said.
Provisions of the initiative that are not covered by the signed bills include a process for getting felons to relinquish firearms, a requirement to report lost or stolen guns and a mandate that California share data on prohibited persons with federal databases.
Although gun control advocates including Nick Wilcox did not get everything they wanted, they saw the governor's action as a significant milestone in the movement to limit firearms in California.
“We consider this an enormous step forward,” said Wilcox, legislative advocate for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the father of a woman killed by a mentally ill gunman. “The fact that the governor signed six of the bills is a historic event.”
Meanwhile, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the gun industry, said the bills would “affect law-abiding Californians while doing nothing to stop the criminal misuse of firearms.”
When asked if it would challenge the new laws in court, a spokesman for the group said it is exploring all options.
“By acting within 24 hours after being sent these bills, and not allowing the public to voice their opinions in order to depart for his European vacation, the governor compounded the miscarriage of legislative process and procedure while demonstrating disdain for Californians who now face laws that clearly infringe on their constitutional rights,” the group said in a statement.
Among the bills fought hardest by the National Rifle Assn. was a measure by state Senate Leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) requiring those who buy bullets in California to show an ID card and have their name checked against a list of felons and others prohibited from owning firearms.
The NRA also opposed a bill by Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Oakland) that outlaws the possession of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
“These so-called ‘high-capacity magazines' are not for target shooting or hunting,” Hancock said after her bill was signed. “Their sole purpose is to kill as many people as possible in the shortest period of time.”
Brown also signed bills restricting the loaning of guns without background checks to close family members, and another increasing penalties for filing false reports of firearms being stolen.
Vetoes included a bill that would have allowed co-workers, mental health workers and school officials to petition the court for a “gun violence restraining order” for people judged a danger to themselves and others. Such orders would allow guns to be confiscated for a year.
In vetoing the bill, Brown wrote that he had agreed last year to approve a law allowing family members and law enforcement to petition the courts for restraining orders.
"That law took effect on Jan.1, 2016, so at this point it would be premature to enact a further expansion," he said.
Another bill that Brown vetoed would have put a measure on the November ballot to make all gun thefts a felony, but he noted that provision already exists in the Newsom initiative.
“While I appreciate the authors' intent in striving to enhance public safety, I feel that the objective is better attained by having the measure appear before the voters only once,” Brown wrote in his veto message.
Other bills the governor vetoed would have required stolen or lost guns to be reported within five days, limited Californians to the purchase of one rifle or shotgun per month and required those who make guns at home to register them with the state and get a serial number so the weapons can be tracked.
On rejecting the bill requiring reporting of stolen guns, Brown noted he had vetoed similar bills twice before.
“I continue to believe that responsible people report the loss or theft of a firearm and irresponsible people do not: It is not likely that this bill would change that,” he wrote in his veto message.
Programs for inmates help public safety
The question of how much to spend on programming to keep more inmates from returning to prison presents Nebraska elected officials with a classic dilemma.
In the short term it saves money for the state to keep programming expenses low. But in the long-term it will end up costing more money, as well as increasing the risk to public safety.
Currently about 31 percent of Nebraska inmates return to prison within three years. Nebraska Corrections Director Scott Frakes wants to reduce, setting the initial target at 28 percent.
A report last month by analysts from the Council of State Governments Justice Center found numerous problems with Nebraska's programming.
The system is so inefficient that numerous inmates serve their entire sentence and leave without supervision. In fact about a third of inmates within a year of parole eligibility never even have a parole hearing because they have not finished their program requirements.
The state is already budgeting more than $5 million a year for programming, and in fact has some “state-of-the-art risk-reducing programs,” but because of vacancies in staff positions, it does not always spend all the money that is allocated.
Nebraska might also need to increase spending, the report said.
Another problem is lack of space to deliver programming in Nebraska's overcrowded prison system.
Analysts with the Justice Center recommended that the state make better use of the existing space by shifting staff responsibilities that that programming is delivered in the evenings and on weekends.
Other recommendations include:
-- Increase the use of trained paraprofessionals who meet minimum educational requirements.
-- Allow inmates access to multiple programs at the same time if needed.
-- Provide incentives for community-based providers to treat people leaving prison and coordinate programming to allow inmates to start programs in prison and finish on post-release supervision or parole.
-- The department should do a better job of tracking expenditures so that it can tell if it is investing appropriately.
Frakes told the Journal Star that the department is delivering more programming now than it was a year ago, and that it's on a path to “significantly increase that.”
In quote used in the Justice Center report, Frakes said, “Our mission is described in three words; Keep People Safe.
“Programming is how we transform lives and keep our prisons and communities safe.”
That's the thought that elected officials need to keep at the top of their mind when it comes to making decisions on to hire and retaining staff and providing sufficient space needed to provide the programming.
Chicago police, lawmakers push tougher laws for gun crimes
Chicago police are joining Illinois lawmakers in a push for longer prison sentences for repeat gun offenders
by The Associated Press
CHICAGO — Chicago police are joining Illinois lawmakers in a push for longer prison sentences for repeat gun offenders who they say are driving much of the city's increase in violence.
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and state Sen. Kwame Raoul said Friday that new legislation the Chicago Democrat is introducing would ensure the criminals responsible for many of Chicago's shootings spend more time behind bars.
The measure would require judges to impose prison terms on the higher end of sentencing guidelines for offenders previously convicted of a gun crime. The existing guidelines wouldn't change.
The Police Department says there were 315 homicides in Chicago in the first half of the year — an increase of more than 100 over the same period last year. On average, nearly 15 people were shot daily in June, and more than two died.
Johnson said if the legislation were law, more than 50 people involved in shootings this year would have been in prison.
"Repeat gun offenders are driving the violence in Chicago," Johnson said.
He added that Chicago police are working diligently to keep these offenders off the streets "but we need help from the justice system to hold them accountable for their actions."
Gun control legislation has been difficult to pass in Illinois, where downstate Democrats often join with Republicans to support gun rights. In 2013 it was black lawmakers, most from the Chicago area, who derailed a measure that required stiffer penalties for felons and gang members caught with weapons.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said it was a critical to combating gang violence, but the black caucus — joined by civil rights icon the Rev. Jesse Jackson — said it was too focused on locking up young men. They argued lawmakers should be trying to improve education and jobs, not increase incarceration.
Raoul said the new legislation is "the beginning of an important conversation" about a comprehensive approach to keeping communities safe.
"The challenge of addressing gun violence is not one just for law enforcement; it's one for all of us," he said.
Report: Albuquerque police failed in use-of-force reviews
The report filed Friday in federal court by monitor James Ginger described a police department still falling short with supervisor oversight and use-of-force policies
by Mary Hudetz
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque police struggled to adequately investigate use-of-force cases amid a mostly failed review system for holding officers accountable, while the department's SWAT units showed improvement in de-escalating standoffs and other high-stress situations, a court-appointed monitor's report said.
The report filed Friday in federal court by monitor James Ginger described a police department still falling short with supervisor oversight and use-of-force policies, despite an overall commitment to reform.
Ginger is tasked with tracking reforms mandated in a settlement agreement between Albuquerque police and the U.S. Justice Department, which found a culture of excessive force among the police department ranks after a monthslong investigation that ended in 2014.
The Albuquerque Police Department also faced public scrutiny for a high rate of shootings by police between 2010 and 2014.
"Across the board, the monitoring team has found that the components in APD's system for overseeing (and holding officers accountable for) the use of force, for the most part, has failed," the report said. "Mistakes or misconduct led to reporting failures, delayed investigations, and the loss of potential evidence, including key statements."
Ginger, who the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Mexico describes as an expert on police reform, took particular issue with a case in which an officer reportedly kneed a suspected car thief in the head in October. The officer's supervisor delayed filing a report on the case, which monitors said raised serious concerns about a "superficial chain of command" for reviews.
The 352-page report from Ginger's team is its third for the Albuquerque Police Department. It reviews the department's reform efforts between December and March.
Past reports pointed to struggles with writing policies aimed at guiding officer training for crisis intervention and the use of force. Those policies have since been finalized and approved by Ginger.
Ginger said the policy for the Albuquerque Police Department's tactical teams — including the SWAT unit — is one of the strongest within the department, with officers training regularly on how to de-escalate crisis situations with the least amount of physical force necessary. The result has been fewer deaths and injuries in incidences involving the units, Ginger said.
"I think history shows that when he raises a concern, the department's response is to address it, and that's what the community can expect," said Jessica Hernandez, the city attorney for Albuquerque.
Since the reporting period, all police department supervisors have been trained on a new policy for conducting use-of-force investigations, city officials said. The deadline for training all officers against those policies was June.
"It's really important to remember and make clear that he's reporting on how investigations were being done before any of the training was in place," Hernandez said.
TASER loans Cleveland police body cams to wear during GOP convention
The four-day convention is expected to draw tens of thousands of people — including thousands of protesters
by The Associated Press
CLEVELAND — Cleveland police officers will have body cameras affixed to their riot gear during the Republican National Convention this month.
The Arizona company TASER International says it will loan 300 mounting units to the city that will allow officers to attach the body cameras to their riot gear to record interactions between police and the public. The company says the offer wasn't solicited by the city.
The four-day convention beginning July 18 is expected to draw tens of thousands of people — including thousands of protesters.
The city plans to bring in thousands of officers from police departments across the country to help with security. A Cleveland police spokeswoman tells Cleveland.com that it will be up to those departments to determine whether their officers will wear body cameras.
From the Department of Homeland Security
If You See Something, Say Something
Across the nation, we're all part of communities. In cities, on farms, and in the suburbs, we share everyday moments with our neighbors, colleagues, family, and friends. It's easy to take for granted the routine moments in our every day—going to work or school, the grocery store or the gas station. But your every day is different than your neighbor's—filled with the moments that make it uniquely yours. So if you see something you know shouldn't be there—or someone's behavior that doesn't seem quite right—say something. Because only you know what's supposed to be in your everyday. Informed, alert communities play a critical role in keeping our nation safe. "If You See Something, Say Something™" engages the public in protecting our homeland through awareness–building, partnerships, and other outreach.
IF THERE IS AN EMERGENCY, CALL 9-1-1.
Do not report suspicious activity through this website or the campaign email address. Report suspicious activity to local law enforcement. Please use this site to inquire about partnerships with the DHS "If You See Something, Say Something™" campaign only. Click here to learn how to partner with the campaign .
Reporting Suspicious Activity
To report suspicious activity, contact your local law enforcement agency. Describe specifically what you observed, including:
Who or what you saw;
When you saw it;
Where it occurred; and
Why it's suspicious.
If there is an emergency, call 9–1–1.
Iowa Supreme Court upholds rule against felons voting
by Fiona Ortiz
n"Iowa's Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, on Thursday upheld the state's ban on voting for people with felony convictions, dismissing a claim from a woman who sued to be able to vote despite a conviction for a drug crime.
The majority opinion written by Chief Justice Mark Cady said in part, "we conclude our constitution permits persons convicted of a felony to be disqualified from voting in Iowa until pardoned or otherwise restored to the rights of citizenship."
The ruling bucks a trend around the country of restoration of voting rights that has drawn support from both Democrats and Republicans as a way to improve prisoners' reintegration into society.
Wyoming, California and other states have recently restored voting rights to felons convicted of nonviolent crimes. Iowa, Kentucky and Florida have the country's harshest rules, prohibiting all former felons from voting unless they secure an exemption from the governor.
The Iowa Supreme Court justices said they were interpreting the state constitution, which says people convicted of an "infamous crime" should be disqualified from voting.
"This conclusion is not to say the infamous-crime provision of our constitution would not accommodate a different meaning in the future. A different meaning, however, is not for us to determine in this case. A new definition will be up to the future evolution of our understanding of voter disqualification as a society, revealed through the voices of our democracy," the ruling said.
The ruling responds to a lawsuit filed by Kelli Jo Griffin, who was convicted in 2008 for distribution of cocaine, a class-C felony in Iowa. She was sentenced to probation, which she completed on 2013.
She registered to vote in 2013 and voted that November, but her ballot was rejected due to her felony conviction. She filed suit in 2014 against the governor and the secretary of state, asking the courts to declare that hers was not the type of conviction that disqualified a person from voting.
A district court rejected her claim, and the case went to the Supreme Court when Griffin asked for constitutional review.
The three dissenting justices wrote in their minority opinions that Griffin's crime did not fit the state constitution's definition of an infamous crime.
Laws governing felons' voting rights range considerably in the United States. Maine and Vermont allow prison inmates to vote, while Iowa and a handful of others have a lifetime ban on voting by convicted felons.
Can the Freedom of Information Act Be Fixed?
President Obama signs into law a much-needed update. But will it change anything?
by Andrew McGill and Chris Haugh
In 1993, Monte Finkelstein filed what would become one of the longest-running requests for government records in history. Eager to complete his book on the relationship between the Allies and the Sicilian mafia during World War II, the community-college professor submitted a Freedom of Information Act request with the National Archives.
Five years later and still waiting for a response, Finkelstein published his book without the documents. “To be honest, I gave up,” he said. “I just surrendered. From my point of view, it was a bureaucratic nightmare.”
On Thursday—a few days before July 4, the Freedom of Information Act's 50th birthday—President Barack Obama signed one of the most hard-fought FOIA-reform bills in decades. In doing so, he'll make permanent the presumption that all government records are public unless proven otherwise, a central tenet of his administration's efforts, and one currently vulnerable to revocation by, say, President Trump. This alone is cause for high-fives among open-government groups, who convinced many states to enshrine that common-sense provision in their laws. Until now, the United States Congress never has.
At first glance, the bill doesn't necessarily do much for people like Finkelstein. There's nothing to speed up the turnaround for a request, which can stretch into weeks for routine records. It doesn't force the government to pay the legal fees of a requestor if a judge takes the requestor's side in court. And crucially, it does little to challenge security and intelligence agencies, which try to avoid disclosing documents almost by default, sometimes before they've even looked for the requested files. This bill took almost a decade to get to the president's desk, dying a dozen deaths along the way. A cynic could be forgiven for flipping through the text and wondering, is this it?
But while it's not revolutionary, the bill lays a foundation for how open government should operate in America, experts say. And it is the necessary predecessor, its authors argue, to something far greater.
“One could say, looking at the glass, that it is half empty,” said U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, who sponsored the House version of the bill. “But government has to move in a direction and be judged based on that direction. Congress passing FOIA [reform] moved us in the correct direction.”
Before Congress passed the Freedom of Information Act in 1966, federal agencies were veiled in secrecy. Information was nearly impossible to get. Although frustration mounted in Congress, the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations successfully scuttled any attempt at reform for fear of what exposure would mean.
Lyndon B. Johnson, although similarly opposed to this kind of legislation, was less fortunate than his predecessors. On July 4, 1966, he signed the bill into law after both chambers of Congress passed it overwhelmingly. However, he diluted his endorsement, laying out a number of exceptions to the rule in his signing statement. Notably, there was no ceremony to speak of in 1966—only a tersely worded statement.
FOIA has gone through periodic updates since then. Congress passed reform legislation in the wake of the Watergate scandal, imposing sanctions for wrongly withholding documents, specifying timetables for responses, and approving fee waivers for journalists. Since then, requests have skyrocketed, but so have wait times. On his first day in office, President Obama sought to reverse this trend with a series of orders, but delays and backlogs continued.
That included Finkelstein's request, which was still in limbo in 2012, putting the professor in the unenviable position of possessing one of the longest outstanding filings in the history of the act. But he would not relent, even though he had published his book nearly two decades earlier.
“There was no way I was going to cancel the request,” Finkelstein said. “I just wanted to see those documents. I was like a dog with a bone with this thing. There was always this little hope in my mind that I would get these documents and it would all fall into place.”
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Then this year's reform bill, the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016, got passed. Beyond its centerpiece provision, which opens documents to the public by default, the bill also requires the government to turn over documents shielded by several broad exemptions after 25 years, weakening a clause that keeps internal deliberations from public view. And if an agency receives multiple requests for the same record, it must post the record online.
“That's all a win,” said Alexander Howard, a senior analyst at the Sunlight Foundation, an open-government group. “It's not the revolutionary reform that I think some people would like to see. But it's codifying a lot of the evolutionary improvements the administration has suggested so those existing wins are baked in and won't be flipped back on January 21, 2017” when the next president takes office.
Others are less optimistic. The bill's lofty language must be matched with a willingness to punish agencies if they don't comply, said Jeff Richelson, an author who has filed thousands of FOIA requests over the past 30 years. “They need to get representatives from the agencies there and grill them, and say, ‘How much would you like your budget cut? You'll be sitting on orange crates instead of chairs,'” he said. “You're not going to get a response through vaguely worded regulations.”
Why is reforming FOIA reform such a slog? For one, few Americans ever use it. While open-records requests often lead to substantive, investigative reports, few people have filled out one themselves and may have little familiarity with their importance.
And the Department of Justice, which is charged with enforcing FOIA law, has actively campaigned against changing it. Documents— obtained via FOIA, ironically —show that DOJ lawyers distributed talking points against a version of Issa's reform bill in 2014, arguing it needlessly added cost and complexity. Other documents given to the reporter Jason Leopold of Vice News showed evidence of similar efforts by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission. From the DOJ's memo in 2014:
The Administration views [the bill] as an attempt to impose on the Executive Branch multiple administrative requirements concerning its internal management of FOIA administration, which are not appropriate for legislative intervention and would substantially increase costs and cause delays in FOIA processing. In this respect in particular, this bill is vastly different from past amendments to the FOIA, which addressed substantive issues connected with access to government records.
As a result, the Administration believes that the changes proposed in [the bill] are not necessary and, in many respects, will undermine the successes achieved to date by diverting scarce processing resources.
“There's nothing to back it up,” Leopold said. “It just meant these agencies would have to be more transparent. And they don't want to be more transparent.”
The DOJ, for its part, says it now fully supports the legislation. “We remain dedicated to improving transparency and open government,” said spokeswoman Beverly Lumpkin. As for the memo, “it is not uncommon for subject matter experts to provide feedback on technical aspects of proposed legislation and its potential unintended consequences,” she said.
With all this in mind, Leopold believes it'll be years—maybe decades—before Congress passes another FOIA bill after this year's act. Issa is a bit more optimistic, with plans to begin working immediately on the next iteration. But given the slow pace of change, America might have to make do with this version of reform for quite a while.
Under the new law, journalists and advocates will have a stronger ally in the FOIA ombudsman's office, a watchdog not housed in the Justice Department. The government will automatically have to post frequently requested documents, meaning new data feeds will be available online and investigative materials could be accessible to a much wider audience than just journalists. A new central website, designed to handle records requests, could make it easier for regular people to join in.
At the same time, the Department of Defense and other security agencies will continue to enjoy strong protections, meaning news organizations will continue relying on leaks to break news and uncover scandal. And the expense of pursuing a FOIA claim in court, with no hope of reimbursement, may continue to force many requestors to drop cases they could have won.
Finkelstein's story has a happy ending. In September 2012, he received a large package in the mail from the National Archives. Hundreds of pages of declassified documents were enclosed, although they didn't reveal much new. “When you are dealing with these subjects, you need to get the truth, and the only way to get the whole truth is to get all the documentation if it exists,” Finkelstein said. “As a historian, as a scholar, you can't be dissuaded by this. Roadblocks will be put in front of you, and you can't let that stop you.”
Despite the wait, Finkelstein plans to file another FOIA request for his next book in this new, much friendlier system. He can submit his request through a central website; he can complain to an ombudsman if he doesn't get what he wants. But reform requires more than a change in government procedure—it will also require agencies to have a change in heart. This bill doesn't free up money, and it doesn't authorize new hires. It can only set an example for how transparency should look in America. It's up to the rest of the government to follow along.
Baltimore County to launch police body camera program next week
by Alison Knezevich
After more than a year of study and debate, Baltimore County police will become the latest in Maryland to wear body cameras when officers begin using the devices next week.
"We are investing in this program for one simple reason: It will improve public safety," County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said Thursday at a news conference at police headquarters. "Cameras will help in multiple ways by enhancing transparency, accountability and trust."
Starting Wednesday, one officer in each of the county's 10 precincts will begin using the cameras. A first phase of the program will see 10 officers trained each week in coming months until 150 devices are in use.
The county eventually will use 1,435 cameras. The second phase will start in July 2017, with all cameras scheduled to be in use by December 2018. Some officers, such as undercover vice and narcotics detectives, will not have to wear them.
Kamenetz and Police Chief Jim Johnson first announced plans for the body cameras in September, even though an internal work group recommended against moving forward with the program.
The awarded an eight-year $12.5 million contract to Taser International that includes Axon Flex cameras and data storage, among other expenses. The devices can be worn in different ways, including on an officer's eyewear or collar.
On Thursday, county officials released policies that will govern use of the cameras and posted an online video explaining the program to the public.
According to a report by the ACLU of Maryland released in March, last year five people died in police encounters in Baltimore County — more than anywhere else in the state.
County officials said the cameras will help shed light on such incidents, but won't necessarily capture the full scene.
"Body camera footage is not magical," Kamenetz said. "It is no substitute for a thorough investigation."
David Rocah, senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Maryland, said he is troubled by some aspects of the department's policy on how the cameras will be used — particularly a rule that requires the Internal Affairs Section to allow officers and their representatives to review recordings before giving a statement during an administrative investigation.
Rocah called the provision "ludicrous," and said it would "completely destroy the integrity" of an internal investigation.
"There is literally no other circumstance at all in which anyone who is under investigation would be given the right to see the ... evidence about that investigation," Rocah said. "It is only police. This is one more manifestation of the way in which we are simply not being serious about investigating police."
Rocah said he is also concerned the policy does not allow supervisors to use footage for performance reviews, saying a body camera "provides a way for a supervisor to virtually be there."
"Let's remember that policing is a profession in which officers are given a vast amount of authority over the people they are supposed to serve and protect," he said. "With that tremendous power comes tremendous responsibility."
Another provision in the policy gives officers discretion to de-activate the cameras in certain situations.
"I think the policy sets appropriate rules regarding mandatory activation and de-activation," Rocah said.
Chief Johnson said the policy "is specifically designed to preserve autonomy and discretion of police officers [while] requiring that video to be on in those circumstances where we all know, through history and experience, we need that video."
"I don't want this to turn officers into robotic, by-the-book figures," he said.
The chief said "if we identify officers that appear not to be activating the device and we believe that's intentional, certainly they'll be subject to our disciplinary system."
The Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 4 declined comment on the program details.
The county estimates annual operating costs to total about $1.6 million. Officials plan to use $1.1 million a year in revenue from county's speed and red-light cameras to pay for the body cameras, with an additional $500,000 in personnel costs to come from the Office of Information Technology
Officials pledged transparency will be a guiding theme. Kamenetz said there is no question that footage will be released in most cases when requested by the public.
"Body camera footage is a public record," Kamenetz said. "We will treat requests for footage the same as requests for any other public record."
The county executive said there are exceptions in the state's public information laws that allow the department to redact certain identifying information or withhold a video amid an ongoing investigation. The identity of juvenile suspects, medical information and license plate and driver's license numbers will be redacted from videos that are released.
"Absent those exceptions, we will release the footage," Kamenetz said.
State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger said body camera footage will help his office with prosecutions – especially in domestic violence cases where a victim becomes reluctant to testify in court.
In Baltimore City, the police department is in the midst of rolling out an $11.6 million program, with some officers already using the cameras. The city goal is to have all officers equipped within two years, though the program is behind schedule.
Baltimore County Council members Vicki Almond and Julian Jones, who attended Thursday's press conference, said they were both skeptical about body cameras at first, though both now support the county program.
"I think they did an excellent job" in designing the program, said Almond, a Reisterstown Democrat. "In the beginning, I had my doubts."
Jones, a Woodstock Democrat, said he hopes the body cameras will cut down on negative interactions between the public and police officers.
"I think it will change people's behavior when they know they're being recorded," he said.
Mayor vows to fight Kush epidemic, public safety issues
by Lea Wilson
HOUSTON -- Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, acting Houston Police Chief Martha Montalvo, EMS director Dr. David Persse and METRO announced an aggressive plan to improve public safety throughout the city and address the Kush epidemic.
The announcement came after at least a dozen people overdosed on the drug earlier this month in Hermann Park.
Kush, also known as Spice and K2, is a dangerous synthetic drug that causes aggressive behavior or renders a victim comatose. More than 100 different types of chemicals can be used to produce Kush, which became illegal in 2012.
Since last September, almost half of the city's 3,000 ambulance runs were for drug overdoses linked to Kush.
"These folks are very often complicated from a medical standpoint, they chew up the resources of the emergency department, the nurses and the doctors," Dr. David Persse.
"Several parks, the downtown library, METRO rail stations and other areas are being taken over by drug users," Turner said. "They are scaring away families and taxing our emergency medical services with their calls for help when they overdose.
"We can't have people smoking Kush and passing out just feet from where our children are playing. We are going to take back our parks and at the same time improve public safety throughout the city."
His plan involves the deployment of 175 patrol officers from desk jobs to beat patrols, 13 additional park rangers, an overtime program for roving HPD patrols in targeted parks and a new patrol division dedicated to the Central Business District.
"There will be high visibility with uniformed presence. Bike officers, crime reduction officers, tactical officers as well as mounted officers," Montalvo said.
METRO has also increased enforcement along the rail line, since the Kush problem appears to primarily run through the heart of the city.
The enforcement effort will be concentrated in Hermann Park, Peggy's Point at the corner of Main Street and Richmond Avenue, the Central Library/Tranquillity Park/Hermann Square area and Main Street Square.
"Wherever the problem is, we have to be dynamic and fluid enough to go where the problem is," Turner said.
He also said the city will start targeting the people and places responsible for making the drug, working to get it off the streets one step at a time.
Turner urged people who use Kush or who suffer from substance abuse to seek help by contacting the Houston Recovery Center at 713-236-7810. Others looking for information and referral services can contact the Council on Recovery at 713-914-0556.
Baltimore police issue new use of force guidelines
The department's use of force policy is among many departmental updates to be rolled out this year
by Juliet Linderman
BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Police Department on Wednesday updated its use of force policy to mandate that officers immediately render aid if someone in custody complains of an injury a year after an arrestee suffered a critical spinal injury in a police van but was initially denied medical treatment.
The new policy provides a complete overhaul of the old, which included very little information about what constitutes appropriate use of force. Instead, the policy largely focused on how to document incidents with supervisors.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis began the process of overhauling the policy last fall, after Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man from West Baltimore, died a week after his neck was broken in the back of a police transport van. Six officers have been charged in his death and two acquitted. A third will be retried after a mistrial in December.
At least twice during the 45-minute wagon ride from the site of his arrest to the police station where he arrived unconscious, Gray indicated that he wanted to go to a hospital, but the officers never called a medic because they did not believe he was really injured, but simply trying to avoid going to jail. The new policy leaves no wiggle room: If a prisoner says he is injured even if he shows no signs of distress, officers must take him to a hospital.
The updated version, which is 14 pages rather than just six, includes sections on de-escalation tactics, and mandates that officers immediately render aid if someone is injured in police custody or complains of an injury.
The department's use of force policy is among many departmental updates to be rolled out this year, including body-worn cameras and the launch of a new online platform that will ensure all officers read and understand general orders as they are issued and updated.
According to the new rules, which will go into effect across the department July 1, officers must attempt to de-escalate a potentially violent situation before using force, if possible, employing tactics that include verbal persuasion and warnings. Additionally, the new policy specifies that officers may use force only if it is objectively reasonable, necessary and proportional to the circumstances.
Unlike the previous policy, the new guideline instructs officers when they aren't permitted to use such force: if a person's actions only threaten property or themselves. The policy also prohibits chokeholds and requires officers to step in and prevent unnecessary or excessive uses of force by other officers.
Police: Man plotted armed mannequin, bomb attack on cops
51-year-old Timothy Ward was planning to use mannequins to shoot officers and blow up a police station
by The Associated Press
HARTVILLE, Ohio — Police in Ohio have arrested a man who they say was plotting to attack a police station using armed mannequins and explosives.
Police say they were alerted that 51-year-old Timothy Ward was planning to use mannequins to shoot officers and blow up the police station in Marlboro Township, Stark County, about 30 miles outside of Akron.
Federal and local law enforcement officials searched both his and his father's homes. Marlboro Township Police Chief Ron Devies says the FBI told him that they found bomb making materials, but not complete bombs.
WJW-TV in Cleveland reports there's video showing Ward posing with mannequins, and that police have several such videos that were posted online.
Ward was arrested Tuesday on retaliation and weapons charges. It wasn't immediately known if he has an attorney.
NC legislature OKs police footage access rules
The final edition of the bill still makes clear that such video is not a public record, which would open up access widely
by Gary D. Robertson
RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina legislature agreed Wednesday to a detailed framework for how someone can access or obtain the footage from a police body camera or vehicle dashboard camera.
The legislation is a response to the emerging criminal justice technology, which also has received more attention after a series of violent confrontations nationally between officers and alleged suspects.
The final edition of the bill, which received both House and Senate approval Wednesday, still makes clear that such video is not a public record, which would open up access widely. Bill supporters say the privacy of officers, crime victims and suspects should be protected. But it's also not a personnel record, which would limit transparency in potential cases of police brutality.
The bill says a person who is the video's subject or the person's representative can ask to view the footage. But a law enforcement agency could withhold access if the department believes it could jeopardize a person's safety, harm a person's reputation or is part of an active investigation. A requester can go to court if a sheriff or police deny the request.
A copy of a recording can only be made public or given to a single person by a court order. A Superior Court judge could place limits on its release.
The final version also contains provisions added by the Senate that lay out how local health departments and nongovernment agencies can create needle and syringe exchange programs. The programs, used in other states, have been endorsed as a way to reduce the spread of HIV, hepatitis C and other diseases when drug addicts share dirty needles.
"This bill weighs a little more than when it left here, but it's still a good bill," Rep. John Faircloth, R-Guilford, a co-sponsor of the bill said on the House floor before the final bill was approved 88-20. The bill now goes to the Gov. Pat McCrory, who will be asked to sign it into law. His office didn't immediately responded Wednesday night for a request for comment on the bill, which also passed the Senate 48-2.
The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union asked McCrory to veto the bill, saying individuals who have been filmed shouldn't have to spend time and money in court to obtain the footage.
"Giving law enforcement such broad authority to keep video footage secret ... will damage law enforcement's ability to build trust with the public and destroy any potential this technology had to make officers more accountable to the communities they serve," state ACLU policy counsel Susanna Birdsong said in a release.
The camera footage rules were developed after a House study committee looked at the issue earlier this year. Police and sheriff's departments aren't under any state mandate to use body cameras. The state Highway Patrol uses dashboard cameras.
The needle exchange provisions would allow programs to provide drug users with replacement needles and hypodermic syringes, provided no public funds are used to purchase those supplies. Program volunteers, workers and participants would avoid possible drug-related charges. The programs also would have to help participants with addiction treatment.
Birdsong called the needle program a "sensible measure to promote public health." At least one House member, Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, said he couldn't support the bill because the program was added by the Senate.
41 killed, 130 injured in Brussels-style Istanbul Atatürk Airport terror attacks
by The Daily Sabah
At least 41 people were killed, 130 injured Tuesday in a triple suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul's main Atatürk airport, in the latest deadly strike to rock Turkey's most-populated city, which had many similarities with the deadly attacks carried out in Brussels in March.
Flights partially resumed in the airport on Wednesday morning, while many of the schedule flights were cancelled or delayed.
Reports have said that one Ukrainian and one Iranian national was among those who were killed by the terrorist attack in the airport.
Among the 37 identified victims were 10 foreign nationals and three dual citizens, the Istanbul Governorate said in a statement on Wendesday.
The assessments show that three suicide bombers carried out the attacks in three different spots at the airport, Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin said in a statement released after the attack.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that initial indications suggest the Daesh terror group was behind the attack but the investigation is still underway.
A health official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to restrictions, said to the media that six injured were in a critical condition.
The blasts occurred at the entrance of international flights terminal, domestic flights terminal, and the parking lot.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said that one of the terrorists opened fire on people with an AK-47 automatic rifle and then blew himself up.
PM Yildirim said the air traffic has returned to normal after the attack.
The President met with Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar at the presidential complex upon receiving news of the explosion in Istanbul. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, Deputy PM Numan Kurtulmus, Transportation Minister Ahmet Arslan and Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Betül Sayan will travel to Istanbul.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged an international "joint fight" against terror after the attack, the fourth deadly bombing in Istanbul this year alone.
According to a Turkish official who spoke to Daily Sabah on the condition of anonymity, security forces fired shots at suspects at the international terminal's entry in an effort to neutralize them.
Eyewitnesses said that they saw some 30 ambulances enter the airport. The wounded, among them police officers, were being transferred to Bakirköy State Hospital.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim was briefed by Interior Minister Efkan Ala and Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin and has ordered the formation of a crisis desk. Yildirim also arrived at the airport to follow up with the investigation.
The Turkish airport attack also follows coordinated suicide bombings at Brussels airport and a city metro station in March that left 32 people dead.
Security experts have said that there are striking similarities between Istanbul airport attack and the recent attacks in Brussels airport.
Brussels airport tweeted its condolences, saying: "Our thoughts are with the victims of the attacks at @istanbulairport.
"We wish them, their relatives & all airport staff strength & courage."
Meanwhile, United States Ambassador to Ankara John Bass has sent a tweet condemning the attack. "Horrified by tonight's attack at Atatürk airport. We mourn with the families of those lost, and pray for speedy recovery for those wounded," he said. Meanwhile, the U.S. President Barack Obama was also briefed on the attack.
There have been no claims for the responsibility of the attacks.
11 people were killed in an attack at Istanbul's city center three weeks ago. The attack, claimed by the PKK-affiliated Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), followed two suicide bombings that hit tourist-heavy areas of Istanbul this year, which were blamed on Daesh.
Located just outside Turkey's biggest city, Atatürk airport served more than 60 million passengers in 2015, making it one of the busiest in the world.
911 written logs from Orlando nightclub shooting released
by CBS News
ORLANDO, Fla. - Police dispatchers heard repeated gunfire, screaming and moaning from patrons of the Pulse nightclub who called to report that gunman Omar Mateen was opening fire inside the club, according to written logs released Tuesday. The logs provide the a new glimpse of the horror from the perspective of those inside.
Officials had previously only released transcripts of the 911 calls from Mateen. At the beginning, they refused to provide any details of the hundreds of 911 calls made by victims and witnesses during the Orlando shooting to a coalition of news organizations, citing confidentiality under Florida law, and arguing that an ongoing investigation kept the tapes secret.
It's not clear why they chose to release the written logs on Tuesday.
The first call of "shots fired" came in at 2:02 a.m. and the caller reported "multiple people down."
One caller said Mateen had gone upstairs where six people were hiding. Dispatchers heard up to 30 gunshots in the background at another point as callers screamed and moaned.
"My caller is no longer responding, just an open line with moaning," one dispatcher said in the report.
Another dispatcher wrote, "Hearing gunshots closer, multiple people screaming."
A caller described Mateen as wearing a gray shirt and brown pants.
Mateen opened fire at the club on June 12, leaving 49 patrons dead and 53 injured in the worst mass shooting in recent U.S. history. In calls with the police after the shooting began, Mateen pledged his allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State group, declared himself to be an Islamic soldier and demanded that the United States stop bombing Syria and Iraq, the FBI said.
"Saying he pledges to the Islamic State," a dispatcher wrote at 2:40 a.m.
The report recounted where patrons hid in the nightclub: in an office upstairs, in a closet, in a dressing room and behind a stage. Ten people were hiding in the handicap stall of a bathroom. One caller described patrons using their hands to stop the bleeding of shooting victims.
At several points, callers relayed misinformation to the dispatchers. One caller said there was a second gunman and another thought Mateen had a bomb.
Mateen "is saying he is a terrorist ... and has several bombs strapped to him in the downstairs female restroom," the dispatcher notes said.
According to the time-stamped calls, nine people were evacuated through the air conditioner window of a dressing room at 4:21 a.m. At 5:07 a.m., dispatchers heard an explosion as SWAT team members tried to knock down a bathroom wall to free 15 hostages. At 5:17 a.m., dispatchers heard: "Bad guy down."
Emails, inspection reports and texts released by the Orlando Fire Department on Tuesday suggested that one of the exits at the Pulse nightclub wasn't operable weeks before the massacre, but a fire department spokeswoman and an attorney for the club both said that wasn't true.
The last fire inspection at Pulse was conducted in late May when the inoperable exit door was discovered, according to an email exchange between Orlando Fire Marshall Tammy Hughes and Fire Chief Roderick Williams. A follow-up visit was planned but hadn't been assigned so it wasn't known if the problem was fixed, the emails said.
But Pulse attorney Gus Benitez said Tuesday that none of the six exits at the gay nightclub was blocked during the inspection. The inspector only found that a light bulb in an exit sign needed to be replaced and a fire extinguisher needed to be hung on wall. Both items were corrected, Benitez said in a statement.
Fire department spokeswoman Ashley Papagni backed up Benitez's contention on Tuesday. She said the exit door was deemed inoperable because of the light bulb problem in the exit sign.
Pulse had twice the number of exits needed to accommodate its maximum occupancy of 300 patrons, according to the emails and texts.
The emails and dispatcher notes were released on the same day that a legal tug-of-war broke out over which court should be the venue for determining whether 911 tapes from the Pulse nightclub shootings can be made public.
Nearly two dozen news media organizations - including The Associated Press, CNN and The New York Times - contend city officials are wrongly withholding recordings of 911 calls and communications between gunman Mateen and the Orlando Police Department. Mateen was killed by police after a standoff in the shooting at the Pulse nightclub.
City officials claim the recordings are exempt under Florida law and are part of an FBI investigation.
A hearing had been scheduled Tuesday in a Florida courtroom in Orlando but it was abruptly canceled after the U.S. Department of Justice was added to the case and Justice officials asked for it to be transferred to federal court.
Attorneys for the news media organizations said they will fight to keep the case in state court.
TPD working with expert to improve community policing
by Carissa Planalp
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -- Leaders in the Tucson Police Department will be working with an expert to improve several aspects of the agency, including community policing.
The White House has assigned Sue Rahr, Director of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, to work with TPD as part of the president's 21st Century Policing Initiative. Rahr is expected to visit Tucson in the coming weeks to review policies and procedures with TPD command staff.
TPD was selected this month as one of 15 police agencies in the country to be a model for best practices. Assistant Chief Ramon Batista said the initiative covers six items: building trust and legitimacy within the community, developing policy and oversight, development of technology and social media, community policing and crime reduction, training and education, and officer wellness and safety.
Since Chief Chris Magnus has joined the department earlier this year, the agency has been restructured with a focus on community policing. Batista said TPD has made strides in positive neighborhood interactions. Most recently officers conducted a neighborhood clean-up at an illegal dumping site that was the focus of many resident complaints.
“We have officers in after-school programs, or that we have officers going to an apartment complex to read to kids and cook burgers," Batista said.
One way officers are improving their image in the community is through their increased social media presence where they can share information, ask the community for tips, and post news of their good works.
“Because that's how we get our message out," Batista said.
Batista said the three top problems plaguing Tucson are traffic accidents, property crimes, and substance abuse. He said the department is in the early stages of exploring ways to better handle people caught with small amounts of drugs.
“If somebody gets arrested and they have a small quantity of drugs, we may be in a position where the officer has a choice about whether or not that person gets booked or that person is sent to treatment," Batista said.
He says TPD could also use some help working out some challenges with body cameras. Batista said the agency is applying for a federal grant to get more cameras to not only boost transparency but improve officer training.
Batista said the department is already seeing gains in tackling property crimes after the recent restructuring. He said the midtown division recently arrested eight burglary suspects in the span of a week and a half.
“Because we have more officers in the field, they actually have more time in order to go out and follow up on leads, talk to neighbors to see if there was anything they saw,” Batista said.
When Rahr arrives in Tucson, she's expected to review TPD's use of force reporting, de-escalation practices, and crisis response, among other items.
New Manual Identifies Community Policing Practices To Prevent Violent Extremism
by Duke Today
A new manual designed for police departments identifies a set of promising practices for using community policing to prevent violent extremism.
“Creating a comprehensive community outreach program can build the kind of trust necessary to combat violent extremism,” said Elizabeth Miller, lead author of the report and a research associate at the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).
The manual is based on a research project led by David Schanzer, associate professor at Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy and director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security.
“We believe community outreach and engagement with communities are key to preventing more tragedies like the one that took place in Orlando,” Schanzer said.
“Building trust between communities, the police and other government agencies can create the type of environment where community members will feel more comfortable identifying individuals who may be contemplating violence,” Schanzer said.
“The importance of community policing cannot be overstated,” said Jessica Toliver, director of technical assistance at PERF. “Using the tools and strategies outlined within this practitioner manual will assist police executives and their outreach teams in building relationships of trust with all members of the community.”
The manual includes advice on how police departments can plan and implement a community outreach and engagement program to prevent violent extremism. These techniques can be used to address multiple forms of violent extremism and promote public safety.
The recommendations include:
• Using a “whole of community approach” so that no single ethnic or minority group feels singled out for scrutiny
• Ensuring that community outreach and engagement programs are kept separate from police units that collect intelligence and conduct criminal investigations
• Staffing programs with officers who are committed to community interaction and reflect the racial, ethnic, religious and gender composition of communities they serve
• Partnering with other local agencies to provide needed social and mental health services to community members
• Creating intervention programs to assess and, if appropriate, provide services to individuals who have not engaged in criminal activity but may be at risk of engaging in violent extremism.
The research project and manual were funded by the National Institute of Justice, United States Department of Justice. The opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these publications are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.
The manual, “Promising Practices for Using Community Policing to Prevent Violent Extremism: How to Create and Implement a Community Outreach Program” by Elizabeth Miller, Jessica Toliver, and David Schanzer, is available online at http://sites.duke.edu/tcths/2016/06/21/promising-practices-for-using-com...
A 13-minute instructional video is available online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccwTHD8Rd_I.
The research report, “The Challenge and Promise of Using Community Policing Strategies to Prevent Violent Extremism,” is available online at http://sites.duke.edu/tcths/files/2013/06/2015-full-report-FINAL1.pdf
Contact: Jackie Ogburn
Phone: 919) 613-7394
'We have a divided community': Madison leaders call for changes to policing standards
by Abigail Becker
United in their stance that the actions of Madison police officers involved in the arrest of Genele Laird at East Towne Mall last week were inexcusable, a group of city, county and state officials and community leaders called for change at a media event Tuesday.
That change ranged from adopting a national task force's recommendations on policing to, more extremely, demanding Madison Police Chief Mike Koval's resignation.
Brandi Grayson, a Young Gifted and Black community organizer, urged the public to keep 18-year-old Laird at the center of the discussion and not to forget “her humanity and the humanity of black people everywhere.”
In a video of the arrest captured by a bystander on the afternoon of June 21, Laird, an 18-year-old African-American woman, is seen resisting arrest by one MPD officer after an incident in which she allegedly threatened an individual at the mall, security personnel and MPD officers with a knife.
A second officer entered the scene to assist with the arrest and can be seen forcefully taking Laird to the ground and striking her with his knee and fist. One officer used a Taser while attempting to handcuff Laird with her hands behind her back.
Grayson also called for the officers involved to resign, for community control of the police department and for “nice white liberal Madison” to “put niceties aside.”
“Until we ... accept that this is racism, built-in white supremacy on the foundation of a genocide of one race and an enslavement of another, then we are walking blind and we are not making progress until we acknowledge the wounds,” Grayson said.
Former MPD Chief David Couper called for a return to true community policing and reforming what he called the “militarization” of police training. He also argued that national standards for policing are too low.
He encouraged the Madison City Council to consider recommendations from Obama's task force on 21st Century Policing — a core tenet of which is to build trust — and to include them in a recently approved comprehensive review of MPD policies and procedures.
“It only takes one (incident) to erode the efforts of police to rebuild trust and support in their communities,” Couper said. “It impedes their growth, it impedes their improvement and their effectiveness.”
State Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, said Madison has the opportunity to demand a shift in policing from a “warrior” to a “guardian” mentality.
“The state standards are minimum standards,” Taylor said. “They are not model standards.”
At the city level, Ald. David Ahrens, District 15, suggested creating a public investigative body to look into incidents such as Laird's arrest. The body would be comprised of police and citizen representatives.
He also doubted the success of an internal investigation of the arrest led by MPD with assistance from the Dane County Sheriff's Department.
“Is there a lieutenant or anyone else subordinate to the chief that's going to publicly say that the chief was wrong in his conclusion?” Ahrens asked.
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne referred Laird to Dane County Community Restorative Court. She will not be charged on six counts — three felonies and three misdemeanors — if she successfully completes the program.
Critics of that decision called it “parole light” and “surface healing,” arguing that Laird should not be required to first accept responsibility for her charges.
“We have a divided community, and it's a result of this incident at hand and that's really not something that's tolerable now or in the long term,” Ahrens said.
Those at the press conference also questioned Koval's recent interactions with City Council members and how he expressed himself in a blog post published before what turned out to be a tense and confrontational discussion over funding for a police department review.
“That is never appropriate for the chief to be angry, sarcastic or bullying,” Couper said.
Ald. Samba Baldeh, District 19, M Adams of Freedom Inc., Dane County Supervisor John Hendrick and Urban League CEO Ruben Anthony were also present at the press conference.
Supreme Court Rules Domestic Abusers Can Lose Their Gun-Ownership Rights
by Carrie Johnson
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in a 6-2 vote that domestic abusers convicted of misdemeanors can be barred from owning firearms.
The majority opinion, written by Justice Elena Kagan, concludes that misdemeanor assault convictions for domestic violence are sufficient to invoke a federal ban on firearms possession.
The plaintiffs in this case, Stephen Voisine and William Armstrong, both of Maine, had pleaded guilty in state court to misdemeanor assault charges after slapping or shoving their romantic partners. Several years later, each man was found to have firearms and ammunition in their possession in violation of a federal law affecting convicted domestic abusers.
Both argued that the weapons ban should not apply to them because their misdemeanor cases were for "reckless conduct" rather than intentional abuse.
Their appeal had been rejected by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but the plaintiffs carried it on to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear it. Five justices concurred in Kagan's opinion, while Justice Clarence Thomas dissented and Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented in part.
Similar domestic abuse laws are now on the books in 34 states and the District of Columbia, triggering the federal weapons ban. But if the Supreme Court had ruled the other way today, that ban would no longer have applied in such cases.
The case, Voisine v. United States , had attracted attention in recent days because Congress has been in turmoil over efforts to tighten controls on firearms — especially to limit the number of people who can buy guns despite their past actions.
When argued in open court on Feb. 29, the case drew attention because Thomas asked questions in oral argument for the first time in a decade. He drew gasps when he asked several questions from the bench.
Thomas had asked the attorney defending the conviction of the two men whether any other misdemeanor conviction could cause a defendant the loss of "a constitutional right." Thomas has been known as a staunch defender of the Second Amendment guarantee of a right "to keep and bear arms."
From the Department of Justice
Attorney Gen. Lynch visits Phoenix as part of community policing tour
WASHINGTON – Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch will travel to Phoenix on Tuesday, June 28 as part of her national Community Policing Tour.
In this second phase of the tour, the Attorney General will visit six jurisdictions around the country that have excelled in each of the six pillars discussed in the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing final report:
(1) Building Trust and Legitimacy
(2) Policy and Oversight
(3) Technology and Social Media
(4) Community Policing and Crime Reduction
(5) Officer Training and Education
(6) Officer Safety and Wellness.
Events in Phoenix will highlight Pillar 5 – Training and Education.
“One of my top priorities as Attorney General is strengthening relationships between law enforcement officers and the communities we serve and protect,” said Attorney General Lynch. “During the second phase of my Community Policing Tour, I will be highlighting some of the innovative efforts underway around the country to build trust, foster cooperation and enhance public safety. I look forward to meeting with law enforcement officers, local leaders and residents in the weeks and months ahead to discuss how we can ensure that every American benefits from neighborhoods that are supportive, safe and strong.”
U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo of the District of Arizona said: "Too often, members of the community only hear about the police when something goes wrong, which is unfortunate. We would like to take this opportunity to highlight the Phoenix Police Department and the Arizona Law Enforcement Academy, which are examples of law enforcement agencies that are doing things right, by using innovation to train officers to confront today's challenges.”
While in Phoenix, the Attorney General will visit the Arizona Law Enforcement Academy (ALEA) where she will observe how law enforcement uses de-escalation strategies and the Blue Courage curriculum to be to build stronger bonds with the communities they protect. ALEA is a state of the art law enforcement training facility offering recruits the latest in police training tactics and equipment, and is committed to producing law enforcement officers who will go forward providing the highest quality public safety services. Following the training demonstrations, Attorney General Lynch will also hold a press availability.
COMMUNITY POLICING TOUR
Pillar 1 – Miami/Doral, Florida – Building Trust and Legitimacy
Pillar 2 – Fayetteville, North Carolina – Policy and Overnight
Pillar 3 – Los Angeles, California – Technology and Social Media
Pillar 4 – Portland, Oregon – Community Policing and Crime Reduction
Pillar 5 – Phoenix, Arizona – Training and Education
Pillar 6 – Indianapolis, Indiana – Officer Safety and Wellness
More information on the #CommunityPolicing tour is available at the following page: http://www.justice.gov/ag/community-policing-tour.
The Attorney General's national Community Policing Tour builds on President Obama's commitment to engage with law enforcement and other members of the community to implement key recommendations from the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing final report. The first phase of the tour launched on May 19, 2015, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and also included visits to Birmingham, Alabama; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; East Haven, Connecticut; Seattle, Washington; and Richmond, California. Attorney General Lynch launched the second phase last February in Miami Dade County, Florida, and she visited Portland, Oregon, in March as well as Indianapolis, Indiana, in April. The Attorney General will visit Los Angeles, California, later this week as the last stop of the second phase of the tour.
Arizona Law Enforcement Acadmey Training Sessions on de-escalation and Blue Courgage
WHO: Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch; U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo of the District of Arizona
WHEN: Tuesday, June 28 at 10:20 a.m.
WHERE: Arizona Law Enforcement Academy, 10001 S. 15 Ave. Phoenix, AZ 85041
OPEN PRESS (Media Gather Time: 8:00 a.m.; Final Access: 9:00 a.m.)
WHO: Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch
WHEN: Tuesday, June 28 at 12:05 p.m.
WHERE: Arizona Law Enforcement Academy
From the Department of Justice
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Delivers Remarks at the National Summit on Youth Violence Prevention
Thank you, Assistant Attorney General [Karol] Mason, for that kind introduction and for your outstanding leadership of the department's Office of Justice Programs. I also want to thank the leadership of the My Brother's Keeper Task Force and the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention for all of their hard work in organizing this important summit. It is a pleasure to be here this afternoon and it is a privilege to join so many dedicated advocates, devoted public servants and inspiring leaders as we gather to reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that every young person in the United States can grow up in safety and security – free from harm; free from fear; and free from the shadow of violence.
As each of you knows all too well, that shadow clouds the lives of far too many young people throughout our country. While national crime rates remain at historic lows, a number of cities have experienced increases in homicides and violent crime – including crimes involving young people. In the United States, homicide is the third leading cause of death for youths between the ages of 10 and 24. Every day – every day – 13 young people are murdered in our country. This means that every day, 13 young people are robbed of their chance to live a full and rich life. Every day, 13 families lose a child and are left to grapple with devastating loss and unimaginable pain. And every day, the country loses 13 people who might have grown up to defend the vulnerable or heal the sick; to inspire a community or lead a city; to raise a family or chart a future. Today, in America, this reality is simply unacceptable.
And as awful as these numbers are, they do not tell the whole story – because the dead are far from the only victims of violence. Its effects are felt far beyond a crime scene, inflicting invisible wounds on all who live in its presence. There are the families – whose existence is forever punctuated by the world before their loss and the darkness after. And there are the young people – our children still with us. Children who grow up accustomed to the sound of gunshots; who go to schools where disputes are resolved with fists instead of words; who are raised in homes filled with conflict, not comfort; who attend the funerals of relatives, friends and neighbors with tragic regularity – these children, too, are victims of violence.
We know that exposure to violence at a young age is associated with long-term physical, mental and emotional harm. It puts youths at greater risk of failing in school and struggling to find and hold a job. And it makes it more likely that they will become involved with the juvenile and criminal justice system. Well, of course – how can you hold life dear when you have seen it go for almost nothing?
These are significant consequences, with profound implications not only for young people directly affected by violence; not only for communities where violence is a constant presence and for the families who bear its cost; but for all of us. Violence deprives us of the skills and talents of a large portion of our population, preventing our country from fulfilling its full potential. It sows feelings of alienation and mistrust and contributes to a pernicious cycle of poverty, crime and incarceration. And, above all, it degrades our highest ideals – our founding promise that every person has a right to safety, equality and opportunity.
At the Department of Justice, we are determined to use every tool at our disposal to prevent, reduce and end this violence – especially against young people – and to make that founding promise real. That is why we are working with partners across the federal government as part of the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, which President Obama established in 2010 to raise awareness about this critical issue – an issue of both public safety and public health – and to support communities' efforts to address it. As one of the agencies leading the forum, we are engaged with our federal partners across the administration and with diverse stakeholders around the country to learn about and promote what works to prevent youth and gang violence; to support innovative solutions; and to create durable progress. We have provided funding and support to help reduce violence in Boston; to help increase school attendance in Long Beach; and to help promote safe communities in New Orleans – where I'm proud to say that we have realized a more than 30 percent drop in homicides over the last year. We are joining with faith and community–based organizations, youth and family groups and business and philanthropic leaders in neighborhoods from coast to coast. And our U.S. Attorneys' Offices are working closely with local enforcement and elected leaders in their districts to reduce violent crime, to build capacity and to promote holistic responses to violence and its consequences. The Justice Department is proud to play a key role in this groundbreaking administration-wide effort – one of the many ways we are responding to milestone number six of My Brother's Keeper: keeping kids on the right track and giving them second chances. We will continue to contribute to the forum going forward.
In addition to our federal efforts, we are advancing a number of comprehensive, collaborative initiatives with state and local partners – because we understand that the best way to make a difference in communities is to work hand-in-hand with the people who live and work in our communities every day. Through the Community-Based Violence Prevention Demonstration Program, managed by our Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, we are supporting communities as they bring together local law enforcement officers, service providers, faith organizations and residents to develop evidence-based strategies for addressing public safety challenges, resulting in less gun violence and more civic engagement. Through the Office of Justice Programs' Diagnostic Center, we are helping local policymakers use data to make more effective law enforcement decisions, at no cost to their municipalities. Our Violence Reduction Network gives local law enforcement agencies in 13 cities access to the full range of the Justice Department's tools for combatting violent crime, including customized training and technical assistance. And our Defending Childhood Initiative encourages local communities to adopt evidence-based treatment for children who have been affected by violence and helps them revise policies and practices within the public systems that serve children and families.
These are all vital steps and I am tremendously proud of the work that we have done to take a stand against violence. But I am also well aware that none of these efforts would be possible without the participation and the partnership of dedicated citizens and leaders like you. These are the tools we use for and, most importantly, with all of you. After all, you know your communities best. You have the legitimacy and authority to convene disparate groups, to open difficult conversations and to propose new approaches. You know which schools are grappling with the highest dropout rates, which neighborhoods are plagued by gangs and which children are struggling with turbulent homes. We understand that we need multi-faceted solutions to our challenges and that supportive environments at home, school and in the community are essential for preventing violence. We rely on you to help us direct our resources and apply our expertise where they can have the greatest impact – and we will continue to depend on you, to listen to you and to work with you in the days ahead to further our progress toward the more just and peaceful society that we know is possible. This is nothing more and nothing less than a tremendous team effort. And I am so proud to be on your team.
Now, I know the pace of that progress can seem painfully slow. I know, as you do, that we will not build that society overnight. But as I look out over this gathering of advocates and academics, volunteers and students, pastors and police officers and public servants, I am confident about the direction in which we are headed. I am excited about all that we can achieve. And I am inspired by your tireless work, your exceptional courage, your unbreakable faith and your extraordinary determination to meet the greatest tests of our time. You have already taken the most important step. Faced with daunting challenges, you joined the struggle. Encountering persistent problems, you rose above the easy temptations of cynicism and despair. And confronted by the darkest impulses of mankind, you have responded with light, with compassion and with love. People like you have made this country what it is today. People like you have brought us through the darkest hours of our past. And people like you point the way to a brighter future for us all.
I want to thank each of you for all that you do every day to help bring us closer to that brighter future – to what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called the “beloved community.” I want to commend your devotion to peace and your commitment to justice. I pledge to you my ongoing support and my steadfast commitment to our shared work. And I look forward to all that we will accomplish together in the service of that mission and in the furtherance of that cause, in the days and months to come. Thank you.
At least 10 injured -- some stabbed -- at California rally, authorities say
by Ralph Ellis
Ten people were injured Sunday after violence broke out between a white supremacist group and counter-protesters, said authorities in Sacramento, California.
Two of the injured had critical stab wounds, Sacramento Fire Department spokesman Chris Harvey said.
The nine men and one woman were between 19 and 58, the fire department said in a tweet, and all had multiple stab and laceration wounds. One of the injured refused to go to the hospital, Harvey said . It was not clear how many remained hospitalized Sunday night.
The Traditionalist Worker Party, or TWP, whose leader describes it as a "white nationalist" group, had a permit for a noon rally near the state Capitol, said Officer George Granada, California Highway Patrol public information officer with the Capitol Protection Division. Another group showed up "to stop them from carrying on their permit," he said.
"They (counter-protesters) showed up ahead of time in a large group, probably 300 or more," Granada said. "They were positioned around the Capitol to stop them (TWP demonstrators) from carrying on their permit."
Around 11:45 a.m. PT, TWP members and supporters came out to a location south of the Capitol building, he said. It's unclear how many TWP members participated, but they were clearly outnumbered.
"At that point the word spread pretty quick and a mob ran in that direction and they clashed immediately with each other," he said.
Video showed people running and being pursued by others with sticks. Some of the people hid their faces with scarves and masks.
The victims had stab wounds that required critical medical care, said Sacramento Police Department Officer Matt McPhail. Their conditions were not immediately known but it's believed the injuries were not life-threatening. Other people had scrapes and bruises that didn't require hospitalization.
It was unclear which groups the injured were associated with, McPhail said.
Yvette Felarca, who said she was a member of the group By Any Means Necessary, told CNN she came out to let people know that racist and anti-immigrant viewpoints would not be tolerated.
"They're not welcome," she said of the TWP rally. "If they trip and fall in the process, good. We succeeded in shutting them down."
Matthew Heimbach, leader of the Traditionalist Worker Party, was not at the rally but told CNN that TWP members armed themselves with knives, with blades within the California legal limit. He said they'd been threatened on social media forums. An affiliate group, the Golden State Skinheads, joined them for the rally, he said.
The TWP was charged by a group that describes itself as anti-fascist, he said.
"The anti-fascists used knives, bottles, bricks, and chunks of concrete they broke off a construction site. When they attacked, our men defended themselves to be able to drive the attackers off," he said.
Heimbach said two "comrades" were hurt -- one stabbed and the other hit in the face with a bottle.
The TWP called off its rally and a group of counter-protesters remained on the scene for about an hour, McPhail said.
So far, nobody has been arrested, authorities said.
McPhail said a loaded firearm was found on the ground where the brawl occurred, but police did not yet know who it belonged to, why it had been brought to the scene or whether perhaps it was a lost or stolen weapon. The type of firearm found was not disclosed.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, the party was founded in January 2015 as part of a right-wing extremist "umbrella group that aims to indoctrinate high school and college students into white nationalism."
The clashes Sunday at the state Capitol apparently were not unexpected by the TWP organizers of the rally. A website promoting the gathering in advance said:
"The upcoming rally this weekend on the 26th promises to be one to remember, due to the fact many stand to stop us yet we refuse to yield!"
Under the party's banner, "many Nationalists will unite and take a stand ... Although, our enemies have already openly planned to gather and use violence against us, as always we will stand our ground."
Heimbach appeared on television news reports about a March 1 Donald Trump rally in Louisville, Kentucky, at which anti-Trump demonstrators were harassed.
A federal lawsuit filed against Trump, Heimbach and others alleges Heimbach shoved a woman protester and shouted "leftist scum" at her.
Trump and others have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The plaintiffs have until Monday to file a response to that motion.
The counter-protesters marched around before the clash, with a leader chanting "When the Nazis and skinheads come to town, what do we do?" and the rest of the group answering, "Shut them down!"
Felarca complained that the TWP was allowed to protest at all.
"They never should have gotten a permit to begin with," she said. "The police were out here protecting them. One of our main chants is, 'Cops and Klan go hand in hand' because we know the police are out there to back them up."
Art Roderick, a CNN law enforcement analyst, said it's common for opposing groups to hold simultaneous protests, but law enforcement usually keeps them separate. It appears the counter-protesters simply overwhelmed the TWP, he said.
"They (the counter-protesters) were there for one reason and that was to use violence to break the other group up," Roderick said. "It looks like anywhere from 100 to 200 of them showed up against 30 of the other."
Ransomware: A Ticking Bomb for Public Safety
by Matthew R. Streger, Esq., MPA, NRP
On February 5, 2016, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center was virtually shut down after its computer systems were infected with a virus that encrypted the hospital's electronic medical records system. The hospital was rendered operational again only after paying a ransom of $17,000 in Bitcoin, a virtually untraceable internet currency.
A little more than one month later, Medstar Health was the target of a similar attack that disabled the integrated computer system across 10 hospitals in Maryland and Washington, D.C. Medstar eventually regained full operational capacity, reportedly by restoring functionality from backups and other internal processes.
Both of these events put patient care at risk by disabling critical information systems, and both clearly cost the hospital systems untold sums of money from business interruption and lost productivity.
From January to March 2016, the FBI reports a total of $209 million in ransom payments from cybercrime events, up from $25 million in 2015.
These types of incidents are becoming more common. Police departments in Massachusetts, Maine and Illinois recently fell victim, paying ransoms to re-enable their computer systems. The high-level encryption used by these attacks makes it virtually impossible to crack the systems and defeat the ransom directly.
It is only a matter of time before EMS agencies become victims of these attacks. EMS systems continue to have greater dependence on technology, with electronic medical records systems, computer-aided dispatch systems, other communications systems and standard computer networks accessed by a variety of devices from handheld phones and tablets to dedicated computers.
These systems are not always well-protected, updated and controlled, resulting in soft targets for hackers. In fact, the interconnected nature of the systems presents a cascading series of vulnerabilities, and may place larger systems that EMS technology connects to at secondary risk.
Protecting Your Agency
Back up your system: Just like personal computing best practices, your critical computer infrastructure should be backed up. You should have multiple backups in multiple places, and these backups should include your operating system and software, as well as your data. Test your process for restoring from a backup to regain operational capability. This single factor, if properly employed, will reduce ransomware exposure to almost zero. The worst-case scenario, with a solid backup methodology, would be to restore your systems, patch your vulnerabilities and continue to operate. This type of backup best practice also protects your system from other disasters as well.
Protect your passwords: The easiest way to compromise a computer system is simply by walking in through the front door, so if your devices or login credentials are not protected this is a critical vulnerability. Do not fall for the false security of requiring users to change passwords every 90 days, as it will result in users simply writing their credentials on a piece of paper next to the computer. That being said, requiring users to have complex passwords, disallowing common words and requiring the password to be different from those of other systems are good practices for security.
Get expert advice: Systems should employ information systems specialists to ensure system reliability and validate those activities with an outside security audit. Patch common application vulnerabilities as soon as issues are identified and ensure older known issues are patched as well. Robust firewalls should control outbound communications, preventing some problems and providing early identification of others.
Train your personnel: Training should include device and password security, as well as identifying phishing and spearphishing attacks. Phishing attacks involve e-mails that appear to be valid requests for information, or requests to reset a password or take a specific action that results in negative action or vulnerability, and spearphishing attacks are well-formed and directed to a specific individual. Users should have awareness of these types of attacks and what do to, and what not to do, if they receive such an e-mail. Awareness of these threats is the most effective protection.
Bring your own device (BYOD) policies are more common in the workplace, but present a set of vulnerabilities that may not be worth the costsavings or convenience to personnel. Carrying two separate phones, for example, is annoying but that remains a small price to pay for ensuring that your employees' inadvertent actions do not compromise your system integrity. There are reports, for example, of malware that appear to be common games such as Candy Crush Saga that infect Android handsets so deeply that it may be necessary to replace the phone. The root-level access that these apps establish can grant access to a phone's entire file system, and potentially your computer system as a result. This may happen as a result of an unsophisticated user who installs apps from outside the normal channels (Google Play, Apple App Store), or from a sophisticated user who “jailbreaks” an iPhone to remove security restrictions.
Matthew R. Streger, Esq., MPA, NRP, is a Partner at Keavney & Streger, LLC, in Princeton, NJ, and a senior consultant with Fitch and Associates. Matthew is a paramedic with over 30 years of healthcare experience, and is a member of the EMS World Editorial Advisory Board.
Fentanyl's deadly risk to cops is changing the way narcotics officers operate
No police deaths have been blamed on fentanyl, but there have been close calls during drug investigations
by Jim Salter
ST. LOUIS — The street version of fentanyl blamed in the deaths of thousands of Americans is also threatening police officers, forcing changes in long-standing basics of drug investigations, from confiscations to testing and undercover operations, law enforcement officials say.
Overdose deaths have surged as drugs such as heroin, cocaine and counterfeit prescription pills are now commonly laced with fentanyl to increase potency, though drug investigators say it is increasingly sold by itself, too. A speck the size of a few grains of salt can potentially kill a 250-pound (113-kilogram) man, said Tommy Farmer, special agent in charge of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled if it becomes airborne. Because such a small amount can be deadly, police agencies big and small are changing the way they go about keeping officers safe. James Shroba, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's office in St. Louis, said agents are even trained in how to give themselves the anti-overdose Narcan in case of accidental exposure to fentanyl because "if they actually touch it or inhale it, they could die."
"This is a whole different dynamic of how we process evidence," Shroba said.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opiate, can be legally used, typically in a patch, by those in severe pain, such as end-stage cancer patients. The street version, which is mostly made in China or Mexico, comes in various forms — tablets, patches, powder, spray. The DEA says it is 40 to 50 times more potent than heroin. Experts say its potency can vary because it is haphazardly manufactured, creating the risk of instant death. Music legend Prince died of a fentanyl overdose in April, though authorities are still investigating whether it was obtained legally or illegally.
Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids were involved in 5,554 overdose deaths in 2014, a 79 percent increase over 2013, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Statistics for 2015 and 2016 aren't available, but narcotics officers say the problem is getting worse.
The danger extends beyond the user. The potency makes it potentially deadly for first-responders. No police deaths have been blamed on fentanyl, but there have been close calls.
Atlantic County, New Jersey, detective Dan Kallen and colleagues were searching a home in August when they found a box full of drug paraphernalia, along with a bag of white powder. Kallen and detective Eric Price opened the bag and performed a field test to determine what it was. A small amount became airborne as Kallen closed up the bag, he said.
Suddenly, both detectives became ill.
"It hit us like a ton of bricks," Kallen, 40, said. "It became very difficult to breathe. Our hearts were racing. We were nauseous, close to blacking out.
"I felt like, 'Holy crap, I'm going to die right now,'" Kallen said.
Both detectives were rushed to the hospital and made full recoveries. Testing later showed the confiscated drugs were cocaine and heroin mixed with fentanyl.
"We got the party platter," Kallen said.
Fighting the drug trade is inherently dangerous. In addition to the threat of violence posed by drug lords, distributors and dealers, narcotics officers face risks such as inadvertent needle pricks and exposure to deadly chemicals and fires from methamphetamine production.
Fentanyl is a game-changer, though, many leading law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.
"We definitely see it as the next big danger," Farmer said. "With fentanyl, if the officer is simply patting somebody down, or if he's getting a little bit out to try to do a field test and it accidentally comes in contact with his skin or the wind blows it in his face, he could have a serious problem."
The DEA issued a memo this month urging police to use caution from the outset of a stop. Officers should wear protective gloves before reaching into a suspect's pockets in order to avoid skin contact with loose fentanyl, and wear masks to protect their lungs in case it becomes airborne. The DEA discouraged field testing of drugs, saying confiscated materials should be sent straight to a lab.
The drug is also affecting undercover work, which is the basis of many investigations.
Lt. Jason Grellner of the Franklin County (Missouri) Sheriff's Department said undercover officers are being told to accept drugs in baggies or aluminum foil, not directly by hand.
"Any number of things can occur and kill you," said Grellner, who is also the president of the Missouri Narcotics Officers Association.
Sgt. Mike Toles, of the Indiana State Police, agreed.
"We're telling our people, 'If someone is telling you this is methamphetamine or heroin, don't take their word for it. Assume it is fentanyl," Toles said.
The DEA keeps Narcan at the ready during undercover operations, with officers monitoring from afar ready to assist the undercover officer in case of exposure, Shroba said.
The concerns extend to police dogs, which can be imperiled if they get too big a whiff of fentanyl. The DEA memo urges handlers to be careful with their dogs.
"They're going to take in a larger dose because that's how they're trained to sniff it out," Shroba said.
Kallen, who has been a detective for 15 years, said his encounter forever changed the way he does his job.
A majority of our stuff has fentanyl in it," Kallen said. "We don't even field test. It's not worth it to open up those bags and put that stuff in the air or get it on your skin."
Several States Look to Keep Teenagers Out of Criminal Court
by Sarah Barr
This year, several states have passed or are considering reforms that aim to reduce the number of teenagers charged in adult criminal court.
Some of the most aggressive changes focus on limiting prosecutors' authority to charge juveniles in adult court without a judicial hearing — a process known as direct file.
This spring, lawmakers in Vermont eliminated direct file for most crimes as part of a sweeping package of changes, and reformers in California hope voters will support a ballot initiative in November that would completely do away with the practice.
The California initiative goes a step further than Vermont's new law by eliminating a requirement that some serious crimes automatically be tried in adult court, one of the strongest challenges yet to the idea of sending teenagers to adult court without judicial review.
The initiative's supporters say teenagers deserve a second chance — and at the very least should not have their path decided by the prosecutors they face in court.
“We don't want to waste their potential by throwing them away in the adult system,” said Frankie Guzman, staff attorney at the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL).
Other reforms related to transferring youth to criminal court include a new law in Indiana that creates a reverse transfer process for some youth sent to adult court and a proposal in Michigan to narrow the scope of crimes that must be charged in adult court. A bill to limit direct file in Florida, one of the most prolific users of the practice, moved fairly far during the legislative session before failing.
Though some communities and states are reluctant to embrace changes to how teenagers end up in adult court, progress is undeniable, said Marcy Mistrett, CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice.
The states taking action are not working in isolation but reflect a trend toward policies that emphasize rehabilitation for teenagers who are still maturing.
“We're starting to see all of the research and evidence trickle to people who have fought this. I would say hearts and minds are changing, not just policies,” Mistrett said.
States' transfer policies generally fall into three broad categories: direct file, judicial waiver and mandatory policies set in law. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia allow direct file. For many years, states primarily relied on judicial waiver to charge juveniles in adult court, but in the 1980s and 1990s, some states shifted toward giving prosecutors more power.
Direct file disparities
As the debate around the California ballot initiative shapes up, advocates are highlighting how direct file has played out in the state's 58 counties. They say the policy has applied unevenly, leading to geographic, racial and ethnic disparities.
For example, the share of juveniles who end up in the California criminal system because of direct file, as opposed to a judicial hearing, grew from 50 percent in 2003 to 80 percent in 2014, according to a recent report from NCYL, the W. Haywood Burns Institute and the Center for Juvenile & Criminal Justice.
And the counties varied widely in their use of direct file. Some only used judicial hearings, while 14 relied exclusively on direct fire.
“It all comes down to the philosophy of the top prosecutor,” Guzman said.
In addition, the report showed Latino and black youth were more likely than their white counterparts to be charged in criminal court by direct file — a gap that grew during a decades' worth of data.
In 2013, for every white teenager who experienced direct file, 2.4 Latino youth and 4.5 black youth faced the same situation. By 2014, 3.3 Latino youth and 11.3 black youth faced direct file for every white young person.
“These disparities are unsurprising when considering our nation's historic treatment of people of color — a history that continues to influence perceptions of youth of color as inherently more violent and therefore deserving of harsher and more punitive treatment,” the report said.
Because the state does not require detailed data reporting on direct file, the researchers could not determine details on youths' backgrounds, case outcomes or whether a case was required by law to go to criminal court.
Supporters of the ballot initiative to eliminate direct file cleared a major hurdle earlier this month when the state Supreme Court ruled the process could move forward. The initiative had been challenged under state election law after major amendments related to the criminal justice system were added to it.
Now, supporters are waiting for signatures they collected in support of the initiative to be certified, a move that's likely to happen in the coming weeks.
Laura Ridolfi, policy director at the W. Haywood Burns Institute, said supporters want to show that teenagers do better when they stay in the juvenile system — and thus everyone in the community benefits.
“ We're trying to encourage shifting the dialogue to think long term about our public safety decisions,” she said.
Vermont ends direct file
In Vermont, prosecutors have long been able to charge older teenagers directly in criminal court for any misdemeanor or felony. Reformers tried to make changes for years, such as strengthening the use of assessments prosecutors use when deciding where to charge.
“We've kept trying to educate and nibble away at the issue,” said Karen Vastine, senior advisor to the commissioner at the Vermont Department for Children and Families.
But the new law ( HB 95 ) will phase in a requirement that nearly all youth begin in juvenile court. Prosecutors now will have to go before a judge to move a case up to criminal court.
“We want to make sure for kids who make mistakes there are not lasting collateral consequences that follow them along for the rest of our life,” Vastine said.
The law will maintain Vermont's “Big 12,” serious offenses that prosecutors are required to charge in criminal court for most teenagers.
The Vermont law also extends eligibility for youthful offender status from age 17 to 21 and requires incarcerated young adults ages 18 to 25 to be housed in a facility dedicated to youth.
In addition, the law requires a committee to study a variety of potential reforms, including the fiscal implications of including all youth up to age 21 in juvenile court, housing options for 16- and 17-year olds convicted of “Big 12” offenses, and the creation of an Office of Youth Justice for youth ages 25 and younger.
“This was a remarkable session for us, but in some ways it was just the beginning,” Vastine said.
NY Teens Refuse to Accept Gun Violence
by Christina Thornell
ALBANY, New York — New York has some of the strongest gun laws in the country but that hasn't stopped gun violence from affecting the lives of many. According to the Crime, Arrest and Firearm Activity report issued by New York's Division of Criminal Justice Services, there were 127 gun deaths in 2015. And for each of those deaths countless family and friends were affected.
Kyler Childs, 17, lost her uncle to a bullet at a Queens liquor store two years ago. “My mom got a phone call and I heard her yelling and screaming and crying,” Childs said. That's when she found out her uncle had been shot.
Childs was one of about 20 Jamaica High School students who boarded a bus to Albany in May to speak to members of the state legislature about strengthening gun laws. Specifically, to urge support for A2217, which imposes additional license conditions and restricts commercial practices. The assembly session has adjourned for the year. The bill will be taken up in the new session.
The students had questions and experiences they hoped to share for a more personal appeal.
At the Capitol in Albany, the students packed into the office of Michael Miller, assemblyman for District 38 in Queens, but he wasn't available to meet them. Instead, they met with Miller's intern Imran Hossain, who fielded questions about the current gun violence situation and the importance of voting.
When asked by a student if he had ever dealt with gun violence directly, outside legislative proceedings, he said he had been a witness to gun violence while growing up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and promised to relay the class' message to Miller.
Assemblyman Miller was unavailable to comment about his absence, but his office said “his stance on gun violence speaks for itself.” The assemblyman has been a consistent supporter of gun control legislation.
Tiyana Sherman, 15, was among the students at the meeting. “It could have been a lot better if we had talked to the congressman,” she said. “The topic was important but not important enough to talk to us.”
Sherman has been dealing with the reality of gun violence since January, when her friend Nicholas committed suicide with a gun he found in his home. “I didn't know so much was happening for him to have to pull the trigger,” she said.
Like Childs and Sherman, other students on the bus live with the hurtful effects of gun violence. Maximus Sampson, 15, witnessed a shooting outside a deli in Brooklyn that continues to traumatize him. Gabriel Rios, 15, lost an uncle to a bullet after a heated game of dice.
As one of the strictest states in the nation regarding gun control, New York has passed various gun laws. One of the toughest and most thorough measures is the NY SAFE Act, passed in 2013. Its regulations range from high-capacity magazine bans to expanded background checks. The Act was passed in direct response to the Sandy Hook school shooting and was met with criticism that it had been rushed through by the state legislature and restricted civil liberties.
Along with A2217, the students were in Albany to support the latest legislation on the table: A00053A or “Nicholas's Law” named after 12-year-old Nicholas Naumkin, who was shot to death by a friend playing with his father's unlocked gun. The law would require the safe storage of guns to prevent child access.
It died in the state Senate, but is up to its third reading in the state Assembly, where it could be amended and resubmitted to the Senate to go through the committee process again.