July, 2016 - Week 2
The tragedy of Turkey's attempted coup
by Jenny White
Until Friday afternoon, Turkey remained a competent and stable, if problematic, country that served as a buffer between Europe and the imploding Middle East and a partner for the United States. It suffered from terrorist attacks like European countries, and shared a world where solidarity could be demonstrated by Facebook posts and projecting the Turkish flags on national monuments.
That changed with Friday's coup attempt.
The military action, the results of which are still unclear, took Turkey out of Europe and placed it squarely in the Middle East. It tore away the country's stability, replacing polarization with what could end up being outright civil war, whether the coup succeeds or not.
All this adds yet another conflict to those already blooming like unholy flowers on Turkish ground: ISIS suicide attacks; renewed fighting with the Kurdish separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK); wholesale destruction of Kurdish towns by Turkey's security forces , which have been given immunity; not to mention the ongoing low-level violence that infects Turkey's society, especially targeting women. Turkey can no longer be a buffer against violence; it has become a sacrifice on its own altar.
As a result, the reality is that Turkey's usefulness as a "safe" haven for Syrian refugees is now in doubt, destabilizing the already morally suspect EU pact that provides money to Turkey in return for keeping hundreds of thousands of refugees.
Meanwhile, Turkey's descent into what is likely to be a government witch hunt for "putschists" and massive violent reprisals means more anger, more polarization and a destabilized population that is more likely to seek protection from outside.
Groups like ISIS will likely capitalize on this disenchantment to seek more recruits inside Turkey. From there, they will be able to pass to Europe, just as jihadis in past years had moved through Turkey on their way to Syria as the Turkish government turned a blind eye. As the saying goes, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and ISIS and other jihadis were fighting Kurdish militants, Turkey's biggest bugaboo that blinded it to all other dangers.
The United States and opposition parties within Turkey disapproved of Friday's attempted coup. But if the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party), led by President Erdogan, neuters it, as it appears at the time of writing to have done, we can expect President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to use it as an excuse to ruthlessly crush what thin spine of opposition remains, breaking the back of the military once and for all and arresting -- or worse -- all manner of perceived and real "traitors."
The coup plotters' manifesto reportedly stated that they stepped in because, among other things, the president and government have created an autocracy that made the legal system unworkable. This much is true -- that over the past five years, the ruling party has systematically throttled the independence of state institutions, the media, education, civil society, and recently two of the highest courts in the land. In short, the AKP has been dismantling Turkey's democratic walls brick by brick.
And this is not the first time Turkey has been faced with a coup attempt. The country has a history of coups in which the military brought down governments they thought were too autocratic, too inept, or too religious in an attempt to press the democratic reset button. Yet since the AKP came to power in 2004, it has tried to muzzle the army through a series of court cases that jailed hundreds of officers , including generals. In 2011, Turkey's top military commanders resigned, saying that their soldiers were demoralized and the commanders could no longer do their jobs.
The officers were later released, and the military still remains one of the most trusted institutions in the country. But it is not the same military, nor the same citizenry as in the past. In former coups, the population was cowed into accepting, or willingly went along with, martial law. Institutions, while corrupted or closed down under martial law, remained intact, to be repopulated in the next election.
This time, thousands of Erdogan supporters heeded his call to take to the streets. They threw themselves in front of tanks and cornered terrified looking soldiers as minarets called for jihad. Yet ultimately, whether the coup succeeds or not, this brings the prospect of civil war closer -- and heightens the likelihood of a lost generation before Turkey can rebuild the image of itself. It is a dramatic departure from just five years ago, when the country had earned the respect and admiration of the world.
Friday's tragedy is largely self-inflicted by a government that has been willing to trade in a functioning democracy for dictatorial power. Ironically, it seems likely to use a failed coup to further that goal.
Attacker Mohamed Bouhlel: Why did he launch rampage?
by Paul Cruickshank
A picture is slowly starting to form of what led Nice, France, attacker Mohamed Bouhlel to carry out the deadliest ever terrorist attack by a lone individual.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Saturday said there were indications the attacker had been "radicalized very rapidly."
It appears Bouhlel also had serious mental health challenges. His father said he suffered from nervous breakdowns in which he "broke eveything," and that he believed his son's mental health deteriorated after his son separated from his wife.
By all accounts Bouhlel had a volatile personality. In March he was given a six-month suspended prison sentence after throwing a wooden pallet at a driver after a traffic accident. According to reports in the French media, a neighbor said that Bouhlel was so angered when his wife left him that he "defecated all over the place" and shredded his daughter's teddy bear.
But Bouhlel does not appear to have launched the attack in a sudden fit of anger. The fact he rented the truck three days before the attack suggests it was premeditated, as does the symbolic date chosen: July 14, the French national day, when thousands were gathered on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice to witness the fireworks.
A source close to the investigation tells CNN that local associates of the Nice attacker detained for questioning have told interrogators that Mohammed Bouhlel started speaking supportively of ISIS just days before the attack. Four of his associates were arrested late Friday and early Saturday in Nice.
The Nice attacker appears to fit a pattern. In the last two years there have been multiple terrorist attacks in the West in which there has been a blend of radicalization and mental health factors, a category of terrorist some analysts like Max Abrahms have termed "loon-wolves."
Terrorism analysts are still grappling with the reasons behind the spate of such attacks, but there is some consensus that psychological disorders can narrow the pathway between radical thought and radical action.
One such case was Man Haron Monis, who carried out a hostage attack in Sydney in December 2014 after pledging alleigance to ISIS. At the inquest into the attacks, he was described as unpredictable and a "dangerous pscychopath" suffering from narcissistic personality disorder.
Another case in point was Mohammad Abdulazeez, a naturalized American who shot dead four U.S. Marines and a sailor in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on July 16, 2015. Investigators established Abulazeez was radicalized online, but according to his family he also suffered from bipolar disorder and depression, which were significantly aggravated three months before the attack because of his arrest for a DUI.
Orlando shooter Omar Mateen, who claimed his attack was on behalf of ISIS, was described by his ex-wife as "mentally unstable and mentally ill."
It is not clear the degree to which the Nice attacker Bouhlel moved in radical circles. Acquaintances have suggested that in the past he had been contemptuous of religion and was not known to go to mosques. Four of his associates in Nice were arrested late Friday and early Saturday, but authorities have not yet said why.
Cazeneuve, the French Interior Minister, on Saturday reiterated that Bouhlel was not on the radar of French counterterrorism agencies before the attack. A source close to the investigation told CNN he was not among the some 11,000 Islamist extremists in France watch-listed with a "Fiche S" surveillance file.
But after the attack, investigators ascertained that Bouhlel's phone number had cropped up in a previous counterterrorism investigation, a source close to the investigation told CNN. The prior investigation focused on a radical associate of Omar Diaby, a 41 year old Senegalese jihadi who lived in Nice before traveling to Syria.
Diaby, who calls himself Omar Omsen, commands a French jihadi battalion in Syria affiliated with Jabhat al Nusra, al Qaeda's branch in Syria. The source said investigators made the link after cross-referencing case files after the attack. Investigators are looking into the nature of the links between Bouhlel and Diaby's associate and have not discounted they were simply part of same social circle.
While the phone linkages may raise questions about why Bouhlel was not on the radar of counterterrorism services, analysts say it is not uncommon for the target of such investigations to be in touch with dozens or even hundreds of people by phone, many of whom may just be friends or casual acquaintances. Not everybody that a suspect was in touch with can be thoroughly investigated because of resource constraints.
French counterterrorism officials have established that a series of YouTube videos Diaby recorded in Nice in 2012 before he departed for Syria helped motivate a significant number of French extremists to travel to fight in Syria. In May, Diaby revealed in a Skype interview with a French journalist that he had faked his own death in August 2015 to get medical treatment outside Syria.
The Nice attack has highlighted concerns about radicalization in the south of France, a region with a high concentration of first-, second-, and third-generation North African immigrants. Away from the glitz of Cannes and Nice on the seashore, many live in gritty housing projects where unemployment and feelings of alienation run high, making young men and women vulnerable to jihadi preachers like Diaby.
In its study of ISIS registration documents, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point has found about a fifth of French ISIS recruits whose registration documents have been found hail from the southeast coastal region of France.
In early 2014 one of them, Ibrahim Boudina, returned and was arrested in the Cannes area as he prepared a bomb attack that would have potentially targeted the Nice Carnival.
With ISIS claiming credit Saturday for inspiring the Nice attack, the worry is more attacks are inevitable.
After 2 years, probe of Eric Garner chokehold death in limbo
by Tome Hays and Eric Tucker
NEW YORK — Two years after the chokehold death of Eric Garner made "I can't breathe" a rallying cry for protests over police killings of black men, federal authorities are still grappling with whether to prosecute the white officer seen on a widely watched video wrapping his arm around Garner's neck.
The legal limbo is playing out on the watch of Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who has come under persistent pressure in the city and elsewhere to bring Officer Daniel Pantaleo to justice. The New York City case turned out to be a forerunner to a series of videotaped police killings across the country that have fueled outrage and protests.
Before becoming attorney general, Lynch ran the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn, which initiated the review of Garner's case after a state grand jury refused to indict Pantaleo in 2014, and she personally met with Garner's family in that role. Questioned by Congress this week, she said the Garner investigation remains open but gave no indication of how or when a decision will be made.
Last year, the city agreed to pay $5.9 million to settle the family's wrongful death claim, but the push for a federal case has persisted. Garner's siblings performed on a rap song called "I Can't Breathe" that was released to mark the second anniversary of his July 17, 2014, death, and his mother, Gwen Carr, has proposed converting a small park across the street from where he died into a playground named after him.
"What's in my heart is to keep my son's name alive," Carr said. "This is my work for the rest of my life."
A resolution has been hampered by a behind-the-scenes disagreement over the direction of the federal investigation of Garner's death in Staten Island, according to two people with inside knowledge. On one side are prosecutors in Lynch's former office in Brooklyn, who aren't sure there's enough evidence to charge Pantaelo at the federal level. On the other side are their counterparts in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division in Washington, who feel more confident in forging ahead.
Both people were not authorized to discuss the decision-making process and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Officials at the Justice Department declined to comment for this article.
Internal Justice Department disputes about the strength of such cases happen "more often than you think," said David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor in Miami who specialized in civil rights matters.
The nearly 100 U.S. attorneys' offices in the country are mostly given great autonomy, but Washington attorneys don't hesitate to get deeply involved when a matter falls within the jurisdiction of their specialized divisions like civil rights, Weinstein said. The two sides usually work out differences on their own, but if not, Justice Department leadership can often get its way because "whether they like it or not ... all U.S. attorneys answer to the attorney general," he said.
The disagreements reflect the challenge of finding enough evidence to prove an officer willfully deprived a citizen's civil rights, said Samuel Bagenstos, the former No. 2 official at the Civil Rights Division. Historically, the high legal bar has prevented prosecutors from charging most officers who kill unarmed men, including the one who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
"These are hard cases to prove," Bagenstos said. "That can create a lot of difficult conversations within the department about them."
For Garner's family and its supporters, the cellphone video shot by a bystander capturing the last moments of his life has always been evidence enough.
"It's been two years," the Rev. Al Sharpton said at recent gathering with Garner's family. The fatal encounter "was on video and we've not seen justice. So that's why people are questioning what's going on now."
Sharpton led a march through Brooklyn Saturday and vowed to keep marching against injustice until a culture of mistreating black people ends.
The video shows 43-year-old Garner, after being stopped by officers for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, telling the officers to leave him alone and refusing to be handcuffed. Pantaleo responds by putting Garner in an apparent chokehold, which is banned under NYPD policy, as he was taken to the ground. The heavyset Garner, who had asthma, is heard gasping, "I can't breathe." He later was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The medical examiner ruled Garner's death a homicide caused in part by the chokehold. But police union officials and Pantaleo's lawyer have argued that the officer used a takedown move taught by the police department, not a chokehold, and that Garner's poor health was the main reason he died.
Under the circumstances, "a federally protected civil right wasn't violated," Pantaleo's lawyer, Stuart London, said this week. "This was a simple street encounter where the officer performed his duties as he was trained."
The officer remains on desk duty as the New York Police Department awaits the outcome of the federal probe before deciding whether to discipline him on its own.
Obama reflects on "uncomfortable" conversations about race
by Reena Flores
After two weeks that saw America's racial tensions reach a tipping point with the deadly targeted shooting of Dallas police officers, President Obama remained adamant that the country was still unified despite the violence.
"I know that for many, it can feel like the deepest fault lines of our democracy have suddenly been exposed, and even widened," the president said in a video released Saturday. "But the America I know - the America I saw this week - is just not as divided as some folks try to insist."
The president -- who visited Dallas earlier this week for a police memorial service before convening a conference in Washington, D.C., on racial disparities in the criminal justice system -- pointed to discussions about race in those settings as proof, praising them for their honesty and productivity.
"These conversations were candid, challenging, even uncomfortable at times," Mr. Obama said. "But that's the point."
"We have to be able to talk about these things, honestly and openly, not just in the comfort of our own circles, but with folks who look differently and think differently than we do," he continued. "Otherwise, we'll never break this dangerous cycle."
The president acknowledged that improvements in policing and race relations would not happen "overnight," but urged Americans to nevertheless strive for unity and try to "do right, as equal parts of one American family."
"That's what America's all about -- not just finding policies that work, but forging consensus, fighting cynicism, and finding the political will to keep changing this country for the better," he said.
In their own video, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives touted their policy agenda for the next year, just as Congress leaves for its seven-week recess.
"Last fall, we came together and made the decision that it was time to go from being an opposition party to being a proposition party," House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said in the video released Saturday.
"We take our timeless principles, we apply them to the problems of the day, and we offer people solutions that help improve their lives," Ryan continued, prioritizing national security and military interests. "Our job in these jobs is to look at the problems facing this country and offer solutions. That's what we are doing."
Police, community bond on two wheels at Riding 4 a Safer Tomorrow event
by Anna Spoerre
PEORIA — About 40 people, young and old, mounted their bicycles Saturday morning alongside a dozen members of the Peoria Police Department.
“Kids have to see from an early age that police are as much people as they are,” said Stevie Hughes, president of the Peoria Afro-American Police League and a detective with the Peoria Police Department, which sponsored Riding 4 a Safer Tomorrow in collaboration with the Shaun Livingston Foundation, the Marcellus Sommerville Foundation and It Takes a Village.
He said he hoped the four mile-long ride from Martin Luther King Jr. Park to Manual Academy would encourage community policing, while also taking care to “highlight the senseless violence that's plagued the city,” he said.
Shaun Livingston, a Peoria High School basketball star who now plays in the NBA for the Golden State Warriors, said nonviolence, camaraderie and teamwork are some of the founding principles for a strong community, in addition to a mutual respect between the police and citizens.
But, he said he believes that, “throughout the U.S., that respect (for authority) has been lost.”
As the NBA player spoke to the crowd, he encouraged them to stand up against violence and invest in local youth.
“Grab a child, be a mentor,” he said.
Marcellus Sommerville said times are different from when he grew up, adding that globally, there is a bigger gap between police and citizens, he said.
But, he said bridging that gap starts here with our own community.
Yolanda Wright of Peoria came out to the ride with her two sons.
She said she wants to show her sons there are police officers out there who aren't bad, suggesting that opportunities like this can help teach her children about how to interact with the community.
“It has to start with us," she said. "We need to take responsibility.”
Peoria Police Chief Jerry Mitchell said he was happy about the turnout and hopes to see more police-community interactions of the kind.
“This is what community looks like,” he said.
Metro community policing efforts help keep the calm
by Rachel Crosby
In a sleeveless yellow jersey, Tyriq Beacham stood outside the front door to his family's second-story, south-central valley apartment Thursday afternoon, hiding from the heat in a sliver of shade.
From the tip-top of the apartment's stairs, the 12-year-old boy shouted down to his relatives below, who'd just pulled up in a car.
“You yellin' at me?” Officer Daryl McDonald, with the Metropolitan Police Department, shouted up to the boy from the parking lot.
“No,” Tyriq said quietly.
“You comin' to my sporting event?” McDonald shouted again, holding a stack of fliers advertising the free youth sports camp he helped plan for the community, scheduled for this week.
“What sport?” Tyriq asked cautiously, curiously.
“How 'bout you come down and see,” McDonald said.
A smile stretched across the boy's face, and he bolted down the steps. “Is it basketball?” Tyriq yelled in excitement. “I'll beat you in basketball!”
“He's too short,” interjected the boy's mother, Robyn, 30, who was now standing near McDonald, next to her car.
“Nah uh!” the boy yelled.
The back-and-forth started as McDonald — a “community-oriented policing” officer — made his rounds Thursday throughout the Silverado Village apartment complex at 3750 S. Arville St., gathering a list of attendees for the planned youth camp.
Officers such as McDonald work separately from patrol officers, he explained, but they can respond to incidents if needed. He has worked as one for about four years.
During McDonald's four shifts a week, he gets to know the community he polices, conducts crime and demographic research and works with faith-based leaders and cultural groups to form coalitions to collectively tackle community problems.
As an example, McDonald opened the fridge in the Silverado complex's leasing office.
Red boxes filled with simple, healthy meals stuffed the bottom shelf and a crate of at least 50 small milk cartons sat on the shelf above — free food for residents who can't afford to keep it on the table.
McDonald helped make that happen.
“We look at high unemployment, people living in close quarters. You have no churches, schools, parks. And the food density is bad,” he said of the area, just north of the Palms. “You look at all these factors, and when you have all these factors at once, they can create violence. People get desperate.”
So McDonald reached out to Three Square, the local nonprofit group that now provides free meals daily at the complex.
“When we bring in this stuff, it's subsidizing their needs,” he said. “They can put all their money toward rent, and we'll bring the food.”
KEEPING THE CALM
Metro's community policing efforts were emphasized July 8, when Sheriff Joe Lombardo addressed the public after the Dallas shooting that left five officers dead and the two fatal, officer-involved shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
“It's unfortunate that most jurisdictions react after a crisis before they decide to bring the community in to seek solutions to the problems,” Lombardo said.
“I'm not saying we're exempt from that theory, because it happened to us years ago,” the sheriff added. “We realized that, opened our eyes, and as a result we haven't experienced what you're seeing in Ferguson, Baltimore and now Dallas,” in terms of large-scale, sometimes violent protests.
Lombardo clarified that the Dallas shooting “had nothing to do with their community policing efforts.”
He instead described the Dallas attack as “a lone individual acting out of hate,” similar to 2014, when two shooters killed Metro officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo on their lunch break, along with good Samaritan Joseph Wilcox, 31.
Sgt. Jeff Clark, a department spokesman, said one of the reasons Metro is able to build trust with the community is the effort Metro has made to address the department's use of deadly force. The department used deadly force at one of the highest rates in the country in the early 2000s for urban police agencies, as detailed in a Review-Journal investigation.
Citizens “peacefully protested, peacefully told us they wanted change,” Clark said. “They talked to the sheriff, so what did Sheriff Gillespie do? He invites the Department of Justice in, and we work on this together with the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and come up with a lot of things.”
“Dallas on that front is also progressive,” Clark said.
Though Metro community-oriented policing officers are separate from Metro patrol officers, the department trains patrol officers to get to know their communities too, Clark said — even new officers are required to complete a community policing project within the first 24 weeks after they graduate from the academy.
“It'll never solve the problem if you're only responding to calls,” Clark said. “You've got to get to the root of the problem.”
As McDonald joked with Tyriq on Thursday, he handed the boy's mother a flier about a separate event also scheduled for next week, a farmers market offering thousands of pounds of free produce and opportunities for children to compete in a sporting tournament and parents to enter a raffle for free Regional Transportation Commission bus passes.
After the mother took the flier, McDonald turned back to Tyriq and the small crowd of young siblings and cousins who had filed out of the apartment, sat on the stairs and started listening.
“Anybody know what this is?” McDonald asked the children, pointing at his utility belt. Tyriq's mother and nearby aunts smiled.
“A Taser!” Tyriq said.
“He got it right!” McDonald said.
“I watch ‘COPS,'” Tyriq said, confident.
The boy then silently pointed at the officer's gun.
“Yes, that's my gun,” McDonald said. “What do you do when you see a gun?”
The boy paused. The other children sat quiet for a second. The adults listened.
“Don't touch it; tell an adult,” McDonald said. “Say it with me.”
As a treat, McDonald turned on his body camera, pulled out his phone and opened an application that let him view the camera's live feed.
He then handed his phone with the live feed to Tyriq and pointed his body camera at the children.
“Oh that's me!” Tyriq yelled, watching the phone and waving at the little lens on McDonald's uniform.
“You didn't point that thing at me, did you?” the boy's mother said to McDonald, the other adults laughing.
'AND YOU COME BACK'
As McDonald made his way back to the apartment's leasing office, he waved at a few passing adults, chatted with the complex's maintenance supervisor and hugged a little boy who knew him by name.
“It's a relationship-building thing,” McDonald said. “When you meet someone, and you tell them you're gonna do something” — like get food in the office or plan an event or check in with children who are having problems with their friends — “you do it. And you come back. And you come back. It's about consistency.”
Clark said that attitude is encouraged in Metro's patrol sector, too.
“If I just pull up my phone and look at social media, the sky is falling,” Clark said. “It's really easy — because we're human, too — to get stuck in that cynicism: You're seeing the worst of the worst every day, and then you're dealing with good people on their worst day.”
He paused, then continued.
“But I think by and large our officers remember the oath that they took and the pride that they had when they got their badge pinned on their chest, and the reasons that they're doing this — to make a difference and to be pillars of the community. And even in the face of all the rhetoric, I think we do it better than anybody else.”
Conversation, community policing can help bridge racial divides
by LACIE PIERSON
HUNTINGTON - As Huntington approaches the dog days of summer, the heat from events throughout the nation is making its way into the Jewel City.
People throughout the United States are struggling to comprehend the highly publicized deaths of black men during encounters with police in Minnesota and Louisiana, and the sniper killing of five police officers in Dallas, which have served to draw wider attention on the divide between police and minorities.
Years of tension have left people throughout the country wary in the policing community and minority neighborhoods, with people in every part of the spectrum seeking one another's respect and understanding.
Community leaders and law enforcement officials in Huntington say the divide between black communities and law enforcement can be bridged by conversations and efforts that they said already were underway in Huntington. However, they said no community, including Huntington, is immune to the kind of violence that has taken place throughout the U.S.
"When it comes to action on the part of police, for example, just stopping a black person because he has a brand new car, assuming he has to be a drug dealer to own it, or a black person is pulled over because an officer assumes there are drugs in the car because he is black, that is an instance of abuse," said Sylvia Ridgeway, president of the Huntington-Cabell Branch of the NAACP. "Not all police, but there are some who, for whatever reason - it might be that they are new on the force, or it's an emotional problem or maybe they've been in the military and they can't realize they're a civilian and they're stuck in a mode of defense - make those choices.
"If we come to the table to discuss what makes us feel the way we do and think the way we do, that's the first step in solving our problems."
Some of those steps already are being taken in Huntington by community and law enforcement leaders alike.
Last Wednesday, Huntington Police Joe Ciccarelli participated in a "Coffee with a Cop" meeting in Huntington's West End, where he said he was encouraged by his officers' actions in the community. He also said work was being done in the department to determine whether racial bias exists in arrest rates in Huntington.
"The thing that gives me a great level of comfort is the level of training our officers receive," he said at the event. "They get basically double of what the state requires in training."
In a poll last summer by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs, 81 percent of black Americans said police are too quick to use deadly force, compared with 33 percent of whites. A third of blacks said they trust police to work in the best interest of the community, less than half the percentage of whites.
The Rev. Donte Jackson, pastor of First Baptist Church of Huntington, said he has had conversations with city leaders in an attempt to reach understanding and progress. Jackson also hosted a community vigil event at First Baptist, on the corner of 8th Street and 6th Avenue, on July 11.
When asked if he thought if the shooting of a police officer or by a police officer could happen in Huntington, Jackson said he thought no police department or community was exempt from such an event, but he noted the training officers complete to handle themselves as well as the weapons they carry.
"What I think you're asking is do I believe it's possible for an unarmed black man to be shot and killed here in Huntington, and my response to that is I don't think we should rule out the possibility of it happening anywhere," Jackson said. "So what we now have to look at is how do we, in the event that something should happen, give a community of unrest a degree of solace when these events are becoming more prevalent? I think Chief Ciccarelli, Mayor Steve (Williams) along with Bishop Samuel Moore, and Councilwoman Sandra Clements and other concerned citizens understand that creating an environment of diversity, acceptance, and understanding through trainings, community meetings and many other means are critical to the success of avoiding tragedies such as loss of life at the hands of those who are hopeless and take the law into their own hands as well as those who are sworn to uphold and protect it."
Huntington, being a college town, has its own "town within a town" based on the description of Marshall University's Police Chief Jim Terry, who said his assessment of what communities and police officers are seeking is a combination of those things: community policing.
Terry said community policing is a principle taught to anyone pursuing a criminal justice background, and it serves as a means for officers to come in contact with people living in an officer's given community for reasons other than an emergency or criminal investigation.
"At the university, we've got a population that's pretty diverse, and we've always stressed openness, and we have campus police that's geared toward community policing," Terry said. "The people we serve know us. We see students at freshmen orientation. We're out in our cars, on our bikes. We're walking on campus, and most employees and students know an officer or at least see one on a regular basis in their normal day."
Terry said policing Marshall, a tight campus containing between 15,000 and 16,000 people with thousands of new people coming and going annually, is different than policing a city that can have upwards of 100,000 people depending on what events are going on in town, but he said the community policing model was one that requires only time and effort on behalf of those looking to achieve it.
Maurice Cooley, associate vice president for intercultural affairs at Marshall, supported the idea of community policing, saying people from different races and ethnic backgrounds have more in common than one might think, but it's misguided messages that keep people from seeing their similarities.
"Our experiences at the university support this conclusion quite strongly," Cooley said. "However, until we come together to actively share life in common social, educational and religious settings, we may not ever discover that most of our negative beliefs about each other are unfounded. Grossly irrational beliefs and mental images that we have of one another intensifies discord, and when our political leaders, with whom many people respect, broadcast Jim Crowisms, it only creates more despair for everyone."
Getting to know each other
Community and city leaders already have been part of efforts to bring people together having conversations with one another and with the public. Ridgeway said she was in the beginning stages of a forum to allow for Huntington's citizens to talk to officers and city leaders about the issues they encounter and the thoughts they have regarding policing of their communities.
Jackson said people in communities can aide police in doing their job when given the chance to know those sworn to serve and protect them.
"We don't always have the privilege of knowing the policeman and policewoman as a person," Jackson said. "When community, which is simply common unity, isn't viewed through the same lens ... then we are left to fill in those blanks for ourselves on both sides, and the loss that occurs is not merely life, but a slow deterioration that leads to misunderstanding and misconceptions about who we are as people. Things are left open to interpretation when we don't know each other.
"Compassion, empathy, common courtesy - all of those characteristics that make for a more peaceful community or common unity get lost in the shuffle when we fail to get to know one another and not let the television dictate to us how we feel about people with whom we have the potential to have a meaningful conversation with."
Community policing has worked in New Town
by Jim Crooks
Where do we go?
Since the shootings in St. Paul, Baton Rouge and Dallas, the question becomes: Where do we go from here?
We can mourn our losses, pray for the victims' families, donate to cover funeral expenses or protest in the streets, but is that enough?
We can promote interracial dialogue or diversity training for cops, but is that enough?
One approach that has worked to a degree in Dallas and Los Angeles is community policing. It has reduced tensions.
Jacksonville has an example of community policing in the New Town neighborhood near Edward Waters College, which has worked reasonably well as part of the New Town Success Zone. It started eight years ago when Sheriff John Rutherford authorized the effort. Sheriff's deputies were trained to go door to door in the community to ask residents what they wanted done to make the neighborhood a better place to live.
Some residents asked for better street lighting, and the deputies turned to JEA.
Others wanted trees trimmed and sidewalks repaired, and the deputies called the Public Works Department. It responded.
Others wanted trash removed, so the deputies recruited prisoners from the prison farm to clear debris.
The deputies then turned to the two schools in New Town — S.P. Livingston and Eugene Butler. Next to the middle school was an unused park and vacant building. The officers worked with the teenagers to clean up the area and install a basketball court. They went a step further and enrolled the Butler boys in a citywide basketball league.
At S. P. Livingston, the deputies greeted the children on the way to school and upon dismissal made sure they were safe from automobile traffic.
And they did it with smiles.
Change did not happen overnight. Piece by piece, New Town residents saw the police helping to make the community a better place to live. There were still drugs. But when incidents happened in the neighborhood, residents called the police and provided clues toward finding the culprits. Drug gangs found New Town less welcoming and some moved on.
Over the eight years the crime rate has declined by almost half in New Town. When the summer of 2015 saw an increase in gun violence in some Northwest areas, New Town remained quiet. Community policing — the police and the community working together — appeared to be working.
My question to our current sheriff, mayor and City Council as they prepare next year's budget is this: Can we find the dollars to expand community policing beyond New Town to other areas of the city where the police and residents can begin to build trust and reduce violence?
Community policing is not a panacea for all of the problems of our inner city. Unemployment, poverty, inadequate health care and unsafe housing still remain.
But police-community relations, I believe, are part of the solution. It seems to me at this day and time as we prepare budgets for the coming year, our city government could expand this successful practice to make Jacksonville a better place to live for a larger number of our citizens.
Renewed Focus On Community Policing Following Dallas Officer Ambush
by CBS News
PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – The deadly ambush shooting on police officers in Dallas took place despite years of community policing in the city and others across North Texas.
Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere said, “All it takes is the acts of one person to disrupt a really good situation.”
LaRosiliere credits neighborhood policing with his city's low crime rate. “Neighborhood policing is not a formation of a reaction. It takes years and years of relationship-building.”
The Mayor said his city has maintained excellent relations with a variety of community groups.
Before and after President Obama came to Dallas Tuesday, he's met with police, community groups and civil rights leaders to improve community policing nationwide.
Terrence Cunningham, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, met with the President this week, and came to Dallas Tuesday. “We want to be able to renew the good culture of policing and weed out the bad culture of policing. We want to provide leadership training to all mid-level and executive level police officers in the country.”
As for the Mayor, he grew up in Harlem and understands very well the long-standing complaints African-Americans have had about police. “As a young African-American man, I've had cases where I was pulled over, you have a sense of hurt and misunderstanding as to why this is happening.”
But the mayor said he has moved past that. “I think in life, you have to deal with the cards you're dealt, and move forward.”
He said the key for everyone is to hold him or herself accountable. “It's really about taking personal responsibility for who you are and what you do.”
Has Rochester done enough to make community policing work?
Nearly a week after hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters took to the streets in Rochester, both they and police agree that something needs to change to improve the relationship between the two.
In the past two years, the Rochester Police Department has made a move toward community policing but has the city done enough to make that system work?
Wednesday, when we spoke to city officials, they mentioned the reorganization of the police department as a step towards true community policing. But leaders we talked to on Thursday say there's still a long way to go.
"Our officers are forced to go from call-to-call and sometimes leave calls to go to other calls," says Mike Mazzeo, Rochester Locust Club. "That leaves individuals who they're having contact with a negative feeling."
Rochester police union president Mike Mazzeo says it's difficult to establish strong community relationships when you don't have enough officers on the street.
"We're behind where we should be," says Mazzeo. "We should be out in the neighborhoods -- those are with section offices; those are with adequate staffing. So we can provide the services to our residents that they deserve."
Right now, RPD says officers are involved in more than a dozen activities that help them engage with people in the neighborhood -- like Clergy on Patrol and volunteering at Camp Good Days.
Just two weeks ago, a group of officers recently pitched in and bought a basketball hoop for city youth residents.
We met up with Councilman Adam McFadden at a community bike ride event. He acknowledges that Rochester's community policing is still a "work in progress."
"We have some days that are good and some days that are not," he says. "You'll see here today, we'll have police officers here and we celebrate them because they keep us safe on our ride."
He also says that the city is working with RPD to improve transparency between the police department and the community.
McFadden says, "Body-worn cameras -- that's something that the community has been asking for and that's a direct response from our mayor and our council to say, 'Okay, we heard your call for that.'"
Rochester police will begin body camera training later this month up until next year. They will begin to train five to ten officers at a time or until all 504 cameras are in use.
Redacted Section of 9/11 Report on Possible Saudi Ties to Al Qaeda Released
by Anthony Kimery
Following a lengthy declassification review, the Obama administration today released a redacted version of the controversial 28 page classified section of the 2002 Joint Congressional Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 regarding possible connections between the Saudi government and the 9/11 terrorist plotters.
But the long awaited 28 pages doesn't necessarily contain the bombshell information some believed it contained. The once classified pages do, however, raise some troubling questions.
"The question here is whether United States law enforcement and military fully investigated the leads in the previously secret 28 pages regarding the possible involvement of the Saudi Arabian government in the 9/11 attacks," Homeland Security Today was told by Thomas M. McDonnell, a professor of international law at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, and author of, The United States, International Law and the Struggle against Terrorism. "Recall that 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Saudi Arabian citizens as was Osama Bin Laden."
"The broader question," he added, "is to what extent has the Saudi government's financial support for Wahhabi imams and the spread of their extreme strain of Islam throughout the world have contributed to the rise of Al Qaeda, Daesh and Islamic terrorism generally. Given that Saudi Arabia has one of the worse human rights records on the planet, it is high time for the United States and the West generally to look beyond the economic interest in oil and demand that Saudi Arabia reject extremism in all its forms and begin to respect fundamental rights."
“Based on all the evidence available to the [9/11] Commission in July 2004, when the commission issued its final report, we found ‘no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded” Al Qaeda,'” said former Gov. Tom Kean and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, respectively chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission, in a lengthy statement Friday.
However, “To be sure,” they added, “there is much in the 9/11 Commission Report that is highly critical of Saudi Arabia, and the commission also sharply criticized the conduct of other foreign governments. Individual Saudis were culpable of heinous crimes: 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals. For years, the Saudi government tolerated and in some cases fanned the diffusion of an especially vitriolic extremist form of Islam, funding schools and mosques across the globe that spread it. Wealthy Saudis contributed to Islamic charities, some of which had links to terrorism. That policy has had tragic consequences for Saudi Arabia itself. Extremists made the Saudi kingdom one of their top targets. This is one of the reasons why Saudi Arabia has been an ally of the United States in combatting terrorism; many Saudi public servants have died in their battles with Al Qaeda operatives.”
Continuing, Kean and Hamilton said, “Although the commission expressed concerns about multiple individuals, only one employee of the Saudi government was implicated in the commission's plot investigation. A few other such people are mentioned in various leads, but only one turned out to be of continuing interest—a man named Fahad Al Thumairy. He was employed by the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs and was working as an imam at a mosque in Los Angeles. He became a controversial figure within the mosque and, in May 2003, after Thumairy went home to Saudi Arabia, the US government refused to let him back in the United States. He is still a person of interest. The earlier congressional panel did not interview Thumairy—or any other Saudi. 9/11 Commission staff did interview him in Saudi Arabia. So did the FBI. But we had to acknowledge in our report that ‘we ha[d] found no evidence that Thumairy provided assistance to [Al Qaeda] operatives.'”
In 2015, the 9/11 Review Commission created by Congress also reviewed the evidence gathered in recent years. That commission “reaffirmed the conclusions of the 9/11 Commission,” Kean and Hamilton said, noting, “That panel also thoroughly reviewed the Saudi-related leads in the 28 pages and concluded that despite the fact that two FBI teams continue to actively investigate the issue, there was no new evidence against the Saudi government.”
The administration sent the 28 pages, with the redactions to protect sources and methods, to congressional leadership. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and ranking member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) approved publication of the declassified section.
In announcing the release of the redacted 28 pages, Nunes said, “I support the administration's decision to declassify this section of the post-9/11 Joint Inquiry. Because the information can be released without jeopardizing national security, the American people should be able to access it.”
“However,” he noted, “it's important to note that this section does not put forward vetted conclusions, but rather unverified leads that were later fully investigated by the Intelligence Community. Many of the Intelligence Community's findings were included in the 9/11 Commission report as well as in a newly declassified executive summary of a CIA-FBI joint assessment that will soon be released by the Director of National Intelligence.”
Schiff said, “The American people have the right to know the full scope of the matters examined by the Joint Inquiry, and I have every confidence the public can assess the allegations raised in the 28 pages and the 9/11 Commission's conclusions on those matters. I hope that the release of these pages, with appropriate redactions necessary to protect our nation's intelligence sources and methods, will diminish speculation that they contain proof of official Saudi Government or senior Saudi official involvement in the 9/11 attacks. The Intelligence Community and the 9/11 Commission, which followed the Joint Inquiry that produced these so-called 28 pages, investigated the questions they raised and was never able to find sufficient evidence to support them. I know that the release of these pages will not end debate over the issue, but it will quiet rumors over their contents – as is often the case, the reality is less damaging than the uncertainty."
Kean and Hamilton explained that, “These 28 pages were not drafted by the 9/11 Commission,” they pointed out, saying, “Those pages were part of a prior report by [the joint] congressional panel investigating intelligence failures related to the 9/11 attacks. That panel completed its work before the commission began its work. The 9/11 Commission was created, in part, to finish the work the congressional panel had begun. The questions and possible leads related to Saudi Arabia thus became part of the commission's work, and the two staff members who had worked on this issue on the congressional panel joined the much larger commission staff. Thus the same substance found in the 28 pages was restated in one of several staff work plans prepared early in the commission's labors. That staff work plan (June 2003) was declassified last year.”
“This work plan joined with several other complementary work plans prepared by other parts of the commission's staff,” which “included the rest of the Al Qaeda plot team, the Al Qaeda terrorist finance team, the team investigating the overall background of Al Qaeda, the team investigating foreign state issues and US policy (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and so on), the team investigating FBI performance and the team working on terrorist travel/border security issues,” Kean and Hamilton said. “All those work plans, which were further refined over time, guided our investigation during the following year.”
Continuing, they stated, “Both the 28 pages from 2002 and the related staff work plan of June 2003 were based almost entirely on raw, unvetted material that had come to the FBI. That material was then written up in FBI files as possible leads for further investigation. As of June 2003, none of these leads had been checked out. The documents are therefore comparable to preliminary law enforcement notes, which are generally covered by grand jury secrecy rules. In general, such preliminary notes should be viewed with regard to implicating people in serious crimes before there has been sufficient follow-up investigation to determine if such suspicions are substantiated.”
“This point is crucial,” they pointed out, “because the 9/11 attacks were the worst mass murder ever carried out in the United States. Those responsible deserve the maximum punishment possible. Therefore, accusations of complicity in that mass murder, made by responsible authorities, are a grave matter. Such charges should be levied with extreme care.”
Kean and Hamilton added that, “The leads developed in 2002 and 2003 were checked out as thoroughly as possible. The lead staff team was overseen by a veteran federal prosecutor with direct experience in prosecuting international terrorism cases. That team, augmented by the commission's executive director and the work of other teams, conducted relevant interviews in California, Saudi Arabia and Europe and examined thousands of additional documents.”
Report: ICE Underreported Criminal Convictions of Aliens in FY 2014
by Hasan Abdul Karim
The Supreme Court's decision to block President Obama's plan to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants has led to a heated controversy over the effectiveness of pre-existing immigration policies.
Against this backdrop, the House Judiciary Committee recently learned that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) significantly underreported the number of criminal convictions of aliens released by the agency in 2014.
A report provided by ICE to the House Judiciary Committee claimed that 30,558 aliens with a total of 79,059 convictions were released from their custody in fiscal year (FY) 2014. However a separate report released by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a non-profit that advocates changes in US immigration policy, puts the number of total convictions at 92,347.
FAIR's report was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and revealed a discrepancy of over 13,000. ICE reported this information to the Immigration Reform Law Institute on April 5, 2016, in response to a request for information under the FOIA, calling into question ICE's transparency in reporting on the release of criminal aliens under the current Administration.
“ICE often claims that the Supreme Court's decision in Zadvydas v. Davis forces them to release aliens that they normally would not want to release back into the community,” the House Judiciary Committee said in a statement following the release of the original ICE report.
Aliens released based on the Zadvydas decision totaled 2,457 in 2014, representing only 8 percent of those released and 20 percent of crimes committed, according to the original report. This Supreme Court ruling states that the plenary power doctrine does not empower the United States to detain indefinitely immigrants under order of deportation whom no country will accept.
“ICE officials initially told the House Judiciary Committee that the criminal aliens released in fiscal year 2014 had roughly 79,000 criminal convictions, but they actually had over 92,000 convictions, including additional homicide convictions. There's no excuse for this large discrepancy,” said Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) in a statement on FAIR's findings.
Goodlatte subsequently sent a letter to Department of Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson expressing his discontent over the significant discrepancy reported.
“Based on the conviction data alone, the criminal conduct of these released aliens is nearly 17 percent higher than reported to the Committee in April 2015,” Goodlatte wrote. “This includes significantly more convictions for homicide-related offenses (17 percent), robberies (22 percent), sexual assaults (27 percent), aggravated assaults (17 percent), domestic violence assaults (11 percent), and driving under the influence (10 percent).”
Goodlatte ended his letter urging Johnson to respond to the following six requests no later than July 1st:
Provide the total number of criminal aliens released for each FY.
Provide the total number of criminal convictions for these aliens, categorized by FY and offense type, prior to their release by ICE.
Provide the total number of criminal arrests for these aliens, categorized by FY and offense type, after their release by ICE.
Provide the total number of criminal convictions for these aliens, categorized by FY and offense type, after their release by ICE.
Provide the total number of aliens who were released in any of the referenced FYs and who were subsequently re-arrested by ICE. Additionally, state whether each re-arrested alien is currently detained by ICE and, if not, provide an explanation.
For any alien who was re-arrested by ICE after the initial release, provide the total number of times the alien was re-arrested by ICE.
Goodlatte and other lawmakers have expressed concerns that the release of criminal aliens by ICE jeopardizes the security of surrounding communities and that ICE knowingly misled Congress and the American public concerning the true extent of their danger.
“The Obama Administration's record of releasing criminal aliens has gone from bad to worse,” said Goodlatte. “We already know that the Obama Administration's refusal to detain and remove tens of thousands of criminal aliens poses dangers to American communities and the rule of law, and now we know that the Administration has not been straightforward with Congress about how hazardous its policies truly are.”
ICE officials told Homeland Security Today that data pulled in November 8, 2014 for the 30,558 criminal aliens released from ICE custody in FY 2014 showed that that group had 79,056 convictions at the time the data was gathered, while data pulled on March 23, 2015 reflected 92,347 crimes for that same group through the date on which that data was gathered.
While the data covers the same group, it represents two different time periods—the second of which is longer and therefore includes a larger number of criminal convictions for the same group.
"As a part of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE is focused on the smart and effective enforcement of our immigration laws," said an ICE spokesperson. "Individuals who pose a threat to national security or public safety, or who are arrested crossing the border illegally, are enforcement priorities, and ICE is allocating enforcement resources accordingly, consistent with our laws."
"ICE's recent criminal release statistics illustrate our commitment to ensuring that individuals who pose a threat to public safety are not released from ICE custody, and demonstrate that our review processes embody and support ICE's commitment to public safety," the ICE spokesperson added.
Terrorist Propaganda Machine Continues to Threaten US Homeland
by Belle Hillenburg
Several lone wolf terrorists in the United States, including the Orlando shooter who killed almost 50 people in a nightclub in June, were likely exposed to online propaganda from terrorist organizations such as ISIS. Social media campaigns have been connected to the radicalization of several attackers within the United States.
The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations held a hearing on July 6 to understand how to counter the radicalization and recruitment efforts of terrorist organizations, specifically ISIS, over social media and the Internet.
As Homeland Security Today previously reported, social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram have been used by individuals associated with ISIS to take credit for attacks and perpetuate propaganda online. Just last month, in the aftermath of a stabbing in France that left a law enforcement officer and his wife dead, one perpetrator live-streamed a video of the attack on Facebook, encouraging ISIS supporters to engage in similar attacks against Westerners.
US government agencies, including the Global Engagement Center launched by the Department of State in January, have begun to use social media campaigns of their own to counter ISIS's propaganda machine.
“Previous efforts to address this threat have struggled to overcome bureaucratic hurdles, unclear authorities, and a lack of interagency communication and unity of effort. These structural deficiencies will continue to hinder future administrations,” said Rob Portman, chairman of the subcommittee.
Alberto M. Fernandez, vice president of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), said in order to combat the social media rhetoric used by terrorist organizations, initiatives like the Global Engagement Center should share information and stories from ISIS defectors and recanters.
“It is particularly effective to have such material tracked and disseminated by the private sector and by independent media rather than directly by governments,” Fernandez said.
George Selim, director of the Office for Community Partnerships at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), said prevention and intervention programming is important to prevent violent extremism online.
“At the Department, we are aware that there is a limit to the effectiveness of government efforts with regard to countering terrorist recruitment and radicalization to violence, particularly in the online realm, and those local communities online and offline must address these issues since they are best positioned to intervene,” Selim said.
The Global Engagement Center currently works with international governments, nongovernmental organizations and across US government agencies to implement counterterrorism strategies online.
Other counterterrorism efforts, such as DHS's newly announced Counter Violent Extremism (CVE) Grant Program will work with different levels of government, higher education institutions and NGOs to combat violent extremism. Meagen Lagraffe, chief of staff to the coordinator and special envoy at the Global Engagement Center, said these relationships are important in order to establish and maintain trust with areas targeted by global terrorist recruitment efforts.
“We're currently building our data analytic shop so that we can not only do measuring on the front end of any particular messaging campaign so we can identify what particular messages might resonate with a particular audience, but also on the back end of any campaign so we can measure our effectiveness,” Lagraffe said.
Fernandez noted that counterterrorism efforts are important online to combat the recently expanded outreach tactics of ISIS. The organization has begun to use multiple languages in the past two years, including English, Russian, German and French to target internationals. Fernandez says the variety of languages has also led to more Western media coverage.
Fernandez said ISIS's presence on Facebook has declined from 25 percent to 2 percent over the past year. However, according to MEMRI, the groups still thrive on applications such as Telegram and Instagram.
Shortly following the horrific Orlando massacre, for example, ISIS supporters began posting messages, banners, and images on Telegram praising the deadly shooting and calling for more attacks. These posts included threats against the White House, Washington DC, and California.
Furthermore, in the weeks preceding the Garland, Texas attack in May 2015, the attacker, Elton Simpson, fired off a series of tweets pledging allegiance to ISIS and calling for jihadi terror attacks on the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest using the hashtag #TexasAttack on Twitter.
These are just a few examples out of many.
“Progress has been made in removing content, in contesting or crowding the space, and in kinetic operations,” Fernandez said. “But that is not enough.”
From the FBI
Finding Solace -- FBI Crisis Response Canines Help Victims Cope With Tragedy
After the mass terrorist shooting in San Bernardino, California, the FBI's Victim Assistance Rapid Deployment Team was among the first to respond.
The multidisciplinary group consisted of victim specialists, analysts, and special agents all trained in responding to mass casualty events.
While in San Bernardino, they connected grieving victims and their families to a variety of support services during the course of the investigation. But when it came to providing relief and comfort, the team relied on two English Labrador Retrievers for help.
Wally and Giovanni are the FBI's new crisis response canines. They are part of a pilot program recently launched by the Bureau's Office for Victim Assistance (OVA).
According to OVA Assistant Director Kathryn Turman, the dogs are an additional way her team can help victims and family members cope with the impact of crime.
“The Crisis Response Canine Program was a natural evolution in developing the Rapid Deployment Team's capacity,” said Turman. “With San Bernardino and other places we've taken them, the dogs have worked a certain type of magic with people under a great deal of stress. That's been the greatest value."
Turman said the idea for the canine program stemmed from a conference she attended years ago in Canada, where she witnessed police victim service dogs in action. Turman quickly brought the concept to life at the FBI when she returned home.
With help from the non-profit organization Assistance Dogs of the West (ADW), the FBI was matched with Wally and Gio in October 2015. Turman said ADW identified with the Bureau's victim assistance program, having trained dogs with a temperament for hospital and criminal settings. Their presence in courtrooms, for example, has helped ease stress in children giving testimony and aided prosecutors in achieving convictions.
“It's amazing how quickly Wally and Gio relax and disarm people,” said Staci Beers, coordinator for the FBI Victim Assistance Rapid Deployment Team. “When we respond to a mass casualty event where emotions are high, their calming nature enable victims to engage with us and learn about the services we offer.”
Beers and rapid deployment teammate Melody Tiddle both added dog handler to their list of victim assistance responsibilities when they traveled to San Bernadino in December 2015, after the shooting that claimed the lives of 14 people and left 22 seriously injured. The dogs joined Beers and Tiddle for hospital and family assistance center visits.
Wally and Gio were even requested by FBI staff and first responders at the incident command post.
“People at the command post were working long hours and were under a lot of pressure,” said FBI Associate Deputy Director David Bowdich, who at the time was the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office. “As the dogs roamed the area, I saw agents and task force members take time out to pet them. It was a good distraction.”
Wally and Gio have been working steadily since returning from their first deployment. They deployed to Orlando in June following the mass shooting that claimed the lives of 49 people injured 53 others. And earlier this month they deployed to Dallas to help console victims and first responders following the mass shooting there that left five police officers dead.
“We are always looking for ways to make the unthinkable a little easier for people who experience it,” said Turman. “The dogs have been a positive experience for us and one that I think has a very large benefit for the FBI.”
From the Department of Justice
Department of Justice to Conduct After-Action Review of Police Response to Orlando Nightclub Mass Shooting
The Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) today announced it will conduct a comprehensive after-action assessment of the Orlando Police Department's (OPD) response to the mass shooting that took place on June 12 at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
“I commend Orlando Police Chief John Mina for his leadership in asking for this assessment,” said COPS Office Director Ronald Davis. “The lessons learned from this independent, objective and critical review of such a high-profile incident will benefit not only the Orlando Police Department and its community; it will also serve to provide all law enforcement critical guidance and recommendations for responding to future such incidents.”
“Chief Mina has proven to be a tremendous leader of the Orlando Police Department,” said U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III of the Middle District of Florida. “His decision to seek an independent review of the law enforcement response to the Pulse nightclub shootings is another example of his effective leadership. The results of this review should help not only the Orlando Police Department, but also other law enforcement agencies forced to deal with terrorist attacks.”
Through its Critical Response Technical Assistance program, the COPS Office will bring in a technical assistance provider and use subject matter experts to assess OPD's preparation and response to the mass shooting, strategies and tactics used during the incident, and how the department is managing the aftermath of the mass casualty event.
The Critical Response Technical Assistance program was designed to provide targeted technical assistance to law enforcement agencies dealing with high-profile events, major incidents or sensitive issues of varying need. The program has been used in a number of other cities, including Minneapolis, Minnesota; San Bernardino, California; Ferguson, Missouri; Tampa, Florida; and Pasco, Washington. Previous after-action assessments have provided valuable guidance on lessons learned and serve as an important tool to help the law enforcement profession advance and grow.
The COPS Office, headed by Director Ronald Davis, is a federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. Since 1995, COPS has invested more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 127,000 officers and provide a variety of knowledge resource products including publications, training, and technical assistance. For additional information about COPS, please visit www.cops.usdoj.gov
Teen's "White Boy Privilege" slam poetry goes viral
by Karen Yuan and Lucy Price
(Video on site)
New York (CNN)A young boy takes the stage. In a shaky voice, he says, "My name is Royce. My poem is titled, 'White Boy Privilege.'"
The video of the 14-year-old student's slam poem at his school has gone viral in the midst of heated national discussions regarding race and privilege.
Performed at a slam poetry competition in May at The Paideia School in Atlanta, Royce Mann's winning poem offers a reflection on the privilege he feels he has been automatically awarded as a result of his being white and male.
His piece begins with a lamentation: "Dear women, I'm sorry. Dear black people, I'm sorry. Dear Asian-Americans, dear Native Americans, dear immigrants who came here seeking a better life, I'm sorry. Dear everyone who isn't a middle or upper-class white boy, I'm sorry. I have started life on the top of the ladder while you were born on the first rung."
As Royce continues, he acknowledges the barriers that those of other genders, races and classes must confront that he is fortunate enough to avoid: "Because of my race, I can eat at a fancy restaurant without the wait staff expecting me to steal the silverware. Thanks to my parents' salary I go to a school that brings my dreams closer instead of pushing them away."
Royce concedes that, if given the choice, he would not choose to trade places with anyone else because "to be privileged is awesome."
As he reads his poem, his voice grows louder and more impassioned. "It is embarrassing that we still live in a world in which we judge another person's character by the size of their paycheck, the color of their skin, or the type of chromosomes they have."
Race, class, gender
"It is embarrassing that we tell our kids that it is not their personality, but instead those same chromosomes that get to dictate what color clothes they wear and how short they must cut their hair. But most of all, it is embarrassing that we deny this. That we claim to live in an equal country, an equal world."
His poem has captured the attention of many who applauded him for being "woke," or conscious of the ways in which racism, sexism and classism affect society. Among those is "Empire" star Taraji P Henson, who tweeted, "#TheTRUTH GOD BLESS THIS LITTLE BRAVE ANGEL!!!"
In an interview with HLN, Royce and his mother, Sheri Mann Stewart, explained that he was staying focused on getting his message spread.
Royce said that he knew about white and male privilege for most of his life, but never knew how prevalent it was in society until he attended a class called "Race, Class and Gender" that opened his eyes.
But he refused praise, claiming, "I'm not the hero of this movement or anything. There are definitely a lot of people who've done a lot more than me. I'm just trying to do my part."
Royce named Alton Sterling's son, who recently called for protests to be nonviolent after the shooting of his father and subsequent ambush of law enforcement in Dallas, a source of inspiration.
"Alton Sterling's son was really inspiring. This soon after losing his father to police brutality that definitely shouldn't have happened, to tell protesters to act in a nonviolent way."
But Royce has also faced backlash, to which he said, "There are definitely people who do deny that white privilege and male privilege exist."
"Some people feel that I'm ashamed of my race. ... In reality, I'm not ashamed at all. Nobody should be ashamed of their race because that's an uncontrollable thing. I was born this way and nobody should be ashamed of that."
He said he wanted "to reach the people who are ready to have an open dialogue about this. ... If they say, I disagree with you and here's why, I would be more than willing to discuss it with them."
Royce's mother said she didn't help him with his poem at all. "It was totally his thing. I thought he might get some mixed reaction ... but never wanted to discourage him from doing it."
The video shows Royce receiving rousing applause after he called in the poem for change and more equality: "I get that change can be scary, but equality shouldn't be. Hey white boys: It's time to act like a woman. To be strong and make a difference. It's time to let go of that fear. It's time to take that ladder and turn it into a bridge."
The teenager told HLN he thought the day will come when that ladder will turn into a bridge.
"It will be a long time, but I think within my lifetime, we'll see a lot of progress."
|FULL TRANSCRIPT OF POEM
Dear women, I'm sorry.
Dear black people, I'm sorry.
Dear Asian-Americans, dear Native Americans, dear immigrants who come here seeking a better life, I'm sorry.
Dear everyone who isn't a middle or upper-class white boy, I'm sorry.
I have started life in the top of the ladder while you were born on the first rung.
I say now that I would change places with you in an instant, but if given the opportunity, would I?
Because to be honest, being privileged is awesome. I'm not saying that you and me on different rungs of the ladder is how I want it to stay.
I'm not saying that any part of me has for a moment even liked it that way.
I'm just saying that I f------ love being privileged and I'm not ready to give that away. I love it because I can say 'f------' and not one of you is attributing that to the fact that everyone with my skin color has a dirty mouth.
I love it because I don't have to spend an hour every morning putting on makeup to meet other people's standards.
I love it because I can worry about what kind of food is on my plate instead of whether or not there will be food on my plate.
I love it because when I see a police officer I see someone who's on my side.
To be honest I'm scared of what it would be like if i wasn't on the top rung if the tables were turned and I didn't have my white boy privilege safety blankie to protect me.
If I lived a life lit by what I lack, not what I have, if I lived a life in which when I failed, the world would say, 'Told you so.'
If I lived the life that you live.
When I was born I had a success story already written for me.
You -- you were given a pen and no paper.
I've always felt that that's unfair but I've never dared to speak up because I've been too scared.
Well now I realize that there's enough blankie to be shared. Everyone should have the privileges I have.
In fact they should be rights instead.
Everyone's story should be written, so all they have to do is get it read.
No, not enough said.
It is embarrassing that we still live in a world in which we judge another person's character by of the size of their paycheck, the color of their skin, or the type of chromosomes they have.
It is embarrassing that we tell our kids that it is not their personality, but instead those same chromosomes that get to dictate what color clothes they wear and how short they must cut their hair.
But most of all, it is embarrassing that we deny this. That we claim to live in an equal country and an equal world.
We say that women can vote. Well guess what: They can run a country, own a company, and throw a nasty curve ball as well. We just don't give them the chance to.
I know it wasn't us 8th-grade white boys who created this system, but we profit from it every day.
We don't notice these privileges though, because they don't come in the form of things we gain, but rather the lack of injustices that we endure.
Because of my gender, I can watch any sport on TV, and feel like that could be me one day.
Because of my race I can eat at a fancy restaurant without the wait staff expecting me to steal the silverware.
Thanks to my parents' salary I go to a school that brings my dreams closer instead of pushing them away.
Dear white boys: I'm not sorry.
I don't care if you think the feminists are taking over the world, that the Black Lives Matter movement has gotten a little too strong, because that's bulls---.
I get that change can be scary, but equality shouldn't be.
Hey white boys: It's time to act like a woman. To be strong and make a difference. It's time to let go of that fear.
It's time to take that ladder and turn it into a bridge.
Phoenix victim's sister: Serial killer has to "pay for what he did"
by CBS News
Police are hunting for a serial killer terrorizing the Phoenix area.
Since March, nine people have been shot within about a 50-square mile area of Phoenix. Seven have died. Investigators believe all of the attacks are connected.
Authorities aren't sure whether it's one person or a group of people behind the crimes, but they're determined to catch whomever is responsible, reports CBS News correspondent Carter Evans.
Dossie Ellis Sr.' daughter, Stefanie, and 12-year-old granddaughter, Maleah, were shot and killed right on his driveway in June.
"They walked clean to the front of it, and looked through the windshield," Ellis recounted.
"And that's when they opened fire?" Carter asked.
"That's when they opened fire," he responded.
Their friend, Angela Linner, was also a victim.
"Fourteen bullets in my daughter. Twelve bullets in my granddaughter. Eight bullets in the other girl. That's thirty-four bullets," Ellis said.
Police released a sketch of a suspect but not much else.
"This guy has to get off the street and pay for what he did," said Nancy Pena, who lost her twin brother, Horacio.
"So you're still trying to cope with the loss of your brother, but at the same time, you're afraid that this could happen to you," Carter said.
"Yeah, they've not only taken my twin brother, but they've taken my sense of security away so they have many other victims along with just the ones that passed away," Pena said.
Evidence points to the same shooter or shooters. Victims have been shot at night, many outside of their homes with the killer using a handgun, arriving and departing in a sedan.
"It clearly meets the definition of a serial shooter," Phoenix police Sgt. Jonathan Howard said.
He said there doesn't seem to be any pattern to the victims.
"Right now, we have not determined a motive in any one of these eight incidents. We haven't found any relationship between our victims," Howard responded.
Stefanie Ellis' mother hopes justice for her daughter's killer will help her family move forward. "Where do you go from here?" Carter asked.
"Who knows? I really don't know," she said, choking up.
Police said they haven't had another shooting they've been able to connect to these crimes since June 12. There are dozens of investigators working on the case, and authorities have stepped up patrols in the neighborhoods most at risk.
A reward of up to $30,000 is being offered for information leading to an arrest.
Philando Castile shooting: What happened when filming stopped?
by Rosa Flores and Catherine E. Shoichet
Falcon Heights, Minnesota (CNN) -- Days after police shot Philando Castile and Alton Sterling , the investigations into their deaths are far from over.
But new details are emerging in the two cases that have sparked protests nationwide and debate over whether officers used excessive force.
Here's a look at the latest developments:
Police chief: Governor's claim 'hurt me'
What happened after the video that showed Castile bleeding inside a car went black?
Rick Mathwig says recent reports don't line up with reality. Mathwig is the police chief in Roseville, Minnesota. His officers weren't the ones who pulled over Castile or fired the fatal gunshots. But they responded to the scene in Falcon Heights after a St. Anthony police officer opened fire on Castile. In an interview with CNN, Mathwig made several points:
• Officers started administering CPR three minutes after arriving at the scene, trying to save Castile's life, Mathwig says. "It hurt me ... to hear the governor of Minnesota saying that Mr. Castile did not receive CPR," he says.
• Diamond Reynolds, Castile's fiancée who recorded the shooting aftermath in a Facebook Live video, wasn't detained by police all night, Mathwig says. The police chief says she was held for about two hours in what's called a "soft interview room" because it also contains toys, books and blankets.
• Mathwig says investigators did what they could to help Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter. Before dropping her off at home, Mathwig says an officer gave the child a teddy bear.
Judge Glenda Hatchett, an attorney for the Castile family, told CNN on Wednesday that the investigation into what happened leading up to the shooting -- and afterward -- is just beginning.
"Was there a delay? There's a question about whether he was taken to the closest trauma center," she said. "There are a lot of unanswered questions."
As the investigation continues, details are emerging about Castile's past encounters with police. Since 2002, law enforcement in Minnesota had pulled over the school cafeteria supervisor at least 52 times, according to state court records. He was charged with a number of offenses, including driving without proof of insurance, but many of the cases against him were dismissed.
Castile was pulled over an average of more than three times a year, something that protesters argue is a sign of racial profiling.
One profiling expert told CNN he agreed.
"I would say that, looking at the record, it's consistent with a pattern of being racially profiled," says Myron Orfield, a professor of civil rights and civil liberties law at the University of Minnesota.
"He's got an awful lot of stops," Orfield says. "It suggests a pattern of very excessive policing."
An attorney for the officer who shot Castile says the shooting had nothing to do with race and everything to do with a gun being present at the scene.
Data for arrests, citations and warnings in St. Anthony in 2016 suggest disproportionate arrests of blacks.
According to 2010 census data obtained by CNN affiliate WCCO, the most recent year for which data is available, black people comprise 5% of the population of St. Anthony, which includes Falcon Heights. Black people accounted for 468 of 983 arrests so far in 2016, 141 of 823 citations, and 34 of 193 warnings.
The data does not indicate the residency of people police encountered.
St. Anthony police had no comment on the data.
Family releases carry permit documentation
Castile had a carry permit for the handgun that was with him at the time of the shooting, according to a document his family provided to CNN.
A letter that accompanied the permit, dated June 4, 2015, and issued by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, includes guidelines about the document.
"You must display the permit card and identification document upon lawful demand by a peace officer," the letter says.
In her video of the aftermath of the shooting, Reynolds said Castile was reaching for his identification when an officer shot him.
The sheriff's office told CNN last week that it couldn't confirm or deny whether Castile -- or anyone else -- has a permit to carry a firearm.
"It is private data under state law," sheriff's spokesman Jon Collins said.
Sterling's son: Protests should be peaceful
Sterling's 15-year-old son, Cameron, is calling for calm.
"Everyone needs to protest in the right way -- with peace, not violence," he said Wednesday. "No violence whatsoever."
Standing outside the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, convenience store where his father was shot dead, the teen said the shooting should unite people, not divide them.
"Everyone needs to be on one chord, not a different note. Everyone needs to be together, not apart," he said. "And I truly feel that my father was a good man, and he will always be a good man."
Cameron will meet President Obama in Washington on Thursday, where he will ask the President a question during ABC's town hall about shootings, family spokesperson Ryan Julison said.
Attorney: Video 'all that matters'
Attorney L. Chris Stewart, who represents Sterling's family, told reporters Wednesday that "all that matters is that videotape."
Video of the shooting shows an officer pulling Sterling over the hood of a car in a convenience store parking lot, then pinning him to the ground.
Someone shouts, "He's got a gun." Then seconds later, an officer opens fire.
The U.S. Department of Justice is leading a criminal investigation into the case. Authorities have been tight-lipped about what happened as the inquiry continues.
But in a search warrant affidavit, a Baton Rouge detective provided a police account of what unfolded that night.
Detective R. Cook wrote that police who shot Sterling did so after seeing him reach for a gun.
Baton Rouge officers deployed their Tasers after Sterling did not comply with their orders, Cook said.
"While the officers were attempting to subdue the subject, the officers observed the butt of a gun in the subject's front pants pocket," Cook wrote.
"When the subject attempted to reach for the gun from his pockets the officers fired their police issued duty weapon at the subject to stop the threat. The subject was shot multiple times and did not survive his injuries."
Stewart told reporters Wednesday the officers didn't follow protocol.
"We're not saying they were trying to look for someone to kill. I'm saying they didn't follow proper procedure, and that they took it out of hand," he said. "The only thing you need to be judging is what you saw on that videotape."
Obama Cites 'Deep Divisions' on Tackling Race in Policing After 4-Hour Meeting
by Jordyn Phelps and Serena Marshall
One day after eulogizing five police officers killed in an attack in Dallas last week and also in the wake the deaths of two black men killed by police officers, President Barack Obama today brought together law enforcement leaders and civil rights and Black Lives Matter activists at the White House complex for a “conversation” on community policing and criminal justice reform.
After the more than four-hour meeting, the president said that while there has been progress on data and outreach by the administration's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, he acknowledged "the bad news" is they are not close to where they want to be with communities of color.
"Not enough just for us to just have task force," Obama said. "We have to push this out into communities so they feel ownership for some of the good ideas that have floated around this table."
The meeting did produce a list of priorities, which the president said everyone agreed on, including building on confidence and shaping best practices, working with police departments on training and de-escalation, and putting together data to inform people on law enforcement actions in a "system of accountability."
The president said that the problem won't be solved overnight but they can set up respectful discussions.
"Not only are there very real problems but there are still deep divisions about how to solve these problems," he said. "There is no doubt that police departments still feel embattled and unjustly accused. And there is no doubt that minority communities, communities of color, still feel like it just takes too long to do what's right."
"This pace of change is going to feel too long for some and too short for others," he added.
And he said it isn't enough to just have the task force, but they must include communities and have them feel ownership to help connect the deep divisions that exist.
"We have to, as a country, sit down and just grind it out. Solve these problems. If we have that sort of sustained commitment I'm confident we can do so," he said.
Among those invited is prominent Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson, who was arrested over the weekend during a protest in Baton Rouge, the city where Alton Sterling was shot and killed by a police officer outside a convenience store last week.
Other big names in the meeting include civil rights figure and president of the National Action Network Rev. Al Sharpton, NAACP President Cornell Brooks, Black Lives Matter Minnesota activist Mica Grimm, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and National Association of Police Organizations President Michael McHale.
Also present are members of the president's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which the president launched in 2014 to make recommendations for improving relations between communities and the law enforcement departments charged with their protection.
Pleasantville community policing meeting sees progress
by The Press of Atlantic City
PLEASANTVILLE -- Transparency, communication, honesty, racism, poverty and improving police and community relations were the topics of discussion at a community meeting held Wednesday evening in the city Council chambers.
The meeting is a first of many in the city, officials said.
"This is an opportunity for us as a common to move forward," police Chief Sean Riggin told the crowd.
The meeting to discuss community policing in the city comes after the killings of five police officers in Dallas, Texas, and the shooting deaths of two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.
Present at the meeting was Mayor Jesse Tweedle, Riggin, the National Action Network, Coalition for a SaferCommunity, the Rev. Milton Hendricks, of Faith Baptist Church, and the NAACP.
"Every community is capable of being like Baltimore or Ferguson at every second," said activist Steve Young of the National Action Network who participated in the panel Wednesday evening.
A standing room only crowd crowded into the room and listened as a panel of elected officials, law enforcement and community leaders spoke about the plans and goals for community relations in the city.
Rev. Milton Hendricks stressed to the crowd that the police are not the enemy.
"They are our friends and neighbors. Don't be afraid to talk to them and introduce yourselves," Hendricks said.
Meeting attendees lined up to take their turn at the microphone.
Ella Stanley of Pleasantville took the microphone and said the taboo, fear and negative perception of police needs to stop.
Stanley applauded Riggin for his commitment to the community.
Children should not be taught to call police 'The Po-Po' and usually the people who are afraid of police officers are the ones doing wrong, Stanley said.
"There has not been a time when I've called Chief Riggin's office and he hasn't returned a call," she said.
She told the room that she doesn't believe every police officer is a white supremacist and wants to kill black men.
Young said the word that needs to be talked about is racism because it's alive and happening. Young pointed to recent videos that have captured actions and shootings of black men by police officers.
Those videos and recent incidents in other locations in the country are what has Pleasantville resident Percella Ellis alarmed.
"I don't trust Pleasantville period," Ellis told the panel and the crowd.
Ellis said she has been illegally searched and harassed and her daughter has as well. There has been confusion about warrants and little to no help from police.
Riggin told Ellis to come in and speak and file a complaint if something is wrong with an officer's behavior.
"There are some officers I can talk to and I do trust, but I don't trust, period, because of the things that have happened in the last few weeks," she said.
Tweedle said the city is striving for transparency when it comes to community and police relations. This conversation will not end Wednesday evening, instead it will be ongoing, Tweedle said.
"We want you to tell us. We are coming to you and we are not waiting for something to happen and for you to come to us," he said.
Community policing helps bind an inner-city neighborhood
by Jason Newton
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — In a city known for community policing strategies, one of its most distressed neighborhoods has no choice but to become more familiar by the day with their new, and far from shy district commander.
“What's up boy! What you doing?” Sgt. Shafiq Abdussabur yelled out of his police cruiser window to a child he once mentored.
Sgt. Abdussabur helps bring life to New Haven's Newhallville. He calls it a close-knit neighborhood where hand waves are mandatory.
“This is the ‘you gotta wave' community,” Sgt. Abdussabur said. “People kind of think Newhallville is dangerous, or can't drive through here. No! Wave at people! They'll wave back, smile back. That's the relationship.”
The ties that bind were forged also by neighbors, who look out for one another's property and have become familiar with beat cops.
“Every time I give gatherings, cookouts in my yard, I invite them to get a plate of food,” said Kenneth Ollison, who has lived on Star Street for years.
Sean Reilly moved to the neighborhood earlier this year, right around the corner from the Newhallville substation.
“The police have a good rapport with the people here,” Reilly said. “They drive down the street, beep at people and wave at them. Not much animosity toward police.”
With tensions running extremely high over the past week between police and minority residents, he said those casual interactions help cool the temperature.
“They're a bunch of great guys,” Reilly said. “I know if I have a problem they're right around the corner.”
But with police leaders like Sgt. Abdussabur, a neighborhood connection is inevitable.
“You might have to get out of your car at some point. Give somebody a hug, show them some love. You got to give out your number,” Sgt. Abdussabur said.
In Baton Rouge, Simmering Mistrust Divides Police, Community
by Greg Allen
The Triple S Mart in Baton Rouge has become a shrine and a gathering place for activists. It's where Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police officers just over a week ago.
Standing in front of a large mural of Sterling at the convenience store, his son, 15-year-old Cameron Sterling said he hoped his father's death would help bring people in the city together.
"My father was a good man," Cameron said. "That was a sacrifice to show everybody what was going on."
A police affidavit says Sterling was reaching for his gun when he was shot by officers. Sterling's supporters believe the videos of the shooting show otherwise.
The investigation is now in the hands of the federal government — not local prosecutors — and many in Baton Rouge believe that's for the best.
Two Baton Rouges
Even before last week's fatal police shooting, there was a lack of trust in Baton Rouge between law enforcement and the city's African-American community. The police force is mostly white in a city that's mostly black.
Following Sterling's death, law enforcement agencies responded forcefully to protesters, arresting some 200 people. Police say they were protecting the city from widespread violence. But that response widened the gap between the black community and the city's police force.
The Triple S Mart is on the north side of the city, a mostly African-American neighborhood. It's a world apart from the upscale restaurants and lakeside homes south of an unofficial dividing line, Florida Avenue.
Rev. Lee Wesley, the pastor of Community Bible Baptist Church, said there are in effect two Baton Rouges.
"Southeast of Florida Boulevard, you have the highest average income, the highest life, years of living, the highest education," he said. "North of Florida Boulevard is just the opposite: low life expectancy, low education, more crime. So we are divided. "
Concerns about police behavior toward the black community go back to at least Katrina, when officers took a hard line against evacuees from New Orleans, allegedly to discourage them from settling here.
Earlier this year, a white officer was videotaped repeatedly punching a black teenager in the head as other officers held him down. The officer was placed on administrative leave.
Wesley works with Together Baton Rouge, an interfaith group working to bridge the gap between the black community and the police force.
"There's a problem of fear on behalf of the police officers, fear for their lives, and in some cases justifiably so," he said. "On the part of the black community, there's the problem of mistrust."
Wesley and others say Baton Rouge needs to renew its commitment to community policing. Critics say a program begun under the previous chief stalled in recent years.
State Rep. Denise Marcelle said an officer committed to community policing would have known who Alton Sterling was.
"He was the guy that everybody called the CD man," Marcelle said. "He sat there and never really bothered anybody. And you would have approached him differently if you would have known him."
Baton Rouge police Chief Carl Dabadie said the department still believes in community policing.
"We talk to officers all the time about getting out of the cars, and walking the neighborhoods and talking to people inside your neighborhoods," he said. "The other issue with that is a lot of people don't want to be friends with the police either. You can't make somebody come talk to you."
But there's a bigger problem the police department has to deal with: its poor history in recruiting and hiring minorities.
Baton Rouge's police department has been under a federal consent decree for more than 30 years to improve its minority recruiting. Dabadie said he's making progress adding more minorities to the force, but it's a struggle.
"It is really hard, if you don't have trust in a community, for that community to come be a part of you," Dabadie said. "And that's the obstacle we're fighting daily to get over."
On police relations with the black community, even Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards conceded recently "we can do better." He said his administration is working on recommendations on how to begin building trust between law enforcement and the community.
Report: Retool Community Policing
by Paul Bass
Beat cops got a reminder at line-up Tuesday: Citizens have the right to record their actions in public.
That reminder will remain on the agenda at line-ups through this week in the wake of a new task force report calling for renewed efforts to improve police-community relations.
The report was released at a City Hall press conference Tuesday. The task force — which Mayor Toni Harp formed last year in the wake of a controversial arrest of a teenager outside the St. Patrick's Day Parade — called it “Phase 1” of an ongoing effort to review all department general orders and respond to concerns about police accountability.
“Although NHPD has long been a national leader on community policing and civilian-police relations, work still needs to be done,” the Mayor's Community and Police Relations Task Force report observes. “Some community policing practices are outdated and address concerns that were more relevant at the program's initial founding than they are in the contemporary climate of our City. NHPD and the City lack a clear definition of community policing.”
Rabbi Eli Greer, the other co-chair of the mayor's task force, said that the group included people of widely divergent views. They were able to work out their differences through “heated debate” and “real collaboration” to produce specific guidelines for how to improve relations between police and the public. “This is the voice of the community,” Greer said. “This is not the voice of an individual or the police department or the clergy.” He portrayed the group's work as an example for how communities can work together productively at a time of intense national debate over policing.
Among the report's recommendations: “NHPD training should encourage respecting a criticizing citizen's right to video, as well as instruction on how to continue an arrest or other interaction while being recorded.”
The police department agreed to do the same thing and more in February 2014 when it settled two lawsuits brought by citizens arrested for daring to record New Haven cops in action. The city, a year and a half later, updated its general order guaranteeing citizens' rights to video, as promised under the settlement agreement, and incorporated the policy into training. (Here's the rewritten general order, which was approved in October 2015.) But in several instances officers violated either the letter or the spirit of that order or other protections of free speech since then, without any repercussions for the officers involved or public reappraisal by the department.
Leroy Williams, co-chair of the mayor's task force, was asked at Tuesday's press conference what he envisions the department doing differently on the issue based on the report's recommendation.
“We didn't talk about particular incidents or cases. ... The mayor asked us to look at all policies. We looked at every single one of them. We're trying to find the best practices across the country. We've actually done that,” he responded. (Watch his full response to that and another question in the video at the top of the story.) “People have a right to know you have a right to videotape. ... Everybody has a right to have respect and dignity at all times.”
After the press conference, Chief Dean Esserman met with his assistant chiefs and his internal affairs chief, Lt. Racheal Cain, to discuss how to “reinforce” the general order. A decision was made to begin the week-long discussion of the policy at roll-call line-ups. Cain said that process began with the 3 p.m. line-up.
“We've hired almost 200 cops in the last four years,” Assistant Chief Luiz Casanova, who oversees the training division, said. “We've got to remind people, reinforce things: ‘Folks in the community can record us. Get used to it.'”
The Reality Checklist
The new task force's recommendations provide a list that the public can check in the months to come to see whether the police follow through, or if the task force's hard work and research will end up buried in the vast graveyard of government reports. In addition to the citizen video-recording recommendation, others include:
• “Adopt[ing] policies requiring officers to provide their names to individuals they have stopped, along with the reason for the stop, the reason for a search if one is conducted, and a card with information on how to raise a complaint regarding the encounter.”
• Training that “emphasize[s] deescalation and alternatives to arrest or summons in situations where appropriate.”
• Creating a “standard procedure for officers on the scene to file a report” on any police use of force, as quickly as possible. The recommendation cites a Maryland policy recommendation that cops file such reports by the end of their shift.
• Creating a general order stating that “officers who witness inappropriate use of force by another officer should be required to inervene” and “report the incident and fellow officer in question.”
• Updating the policy on use of tasers to require cops to wait at least an hour to “attempt to interview a suspect and ask whether they wish to waive their Miranda warnings” after firing.
• “Provid[ing] comprehensive training in First Amendment and protest rights” to officers and “consider[ing] writing a new [general order] regarding citizens' right to free speech, assembly, and protest that outlines expectations of civilians and police in these situations.”
• Producing “an official definition of community policing ... that clearly outlines the role and responsibilities of officers, the role and responsibilities of community members, and the interaction between the two roles,” along with “new goals” and “quality indicators.”
• Appointing a representative from each community management team to the Civilian Review Board, along with two new at-large members appointed by the mayor.
• Training officers specifically in how to deal with immigrants.”
• “Begin[ning] training new district managers and shift commanders well before a vacancy exists, to ensure seamless transitions; to maintain quality of service and relationships with communities and their management teams.”
Community-Policing Program in Bed-Stuy Aims to Improve Relations With NYPD
by Camille Bautista
BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Bedford-Stuyvesant's new Neighborhood Coordination Officers vowed to help create connections between residents and the NYPD with the kickoff of the area's new community-policing program.
“This is a perfect time for this, in light of events of the last week throughout the country,” said Assistant Chief Terence Monahan of the NYPD's Chief of Department's Office, addressing locals at a meet-and-greet Monday.
“This is the direction we as a police department need to take, this is the direction that communities need to go with us, this is a cooperative effort.”
Western Bed-Stuy's 79th Precinct introduced the department's community-policing model at the end of June. Specially-trained officers are assigned to neighborhood sectors to get to know residents and participate in community meetings.
The model aims to boost engagement between police and locals, as the same officers will be posted throughout specific areas of the precinct on a daily basis.
The Neighborhood Coordination Officers, or NCOs, will also set up work groups, in which they will collaborate with residents and stakeholders to identify problems and develop solutions.
Deputy Inspector John Chell of the 79th Precinct said the program is all-encompassing and that police will be able to focus on a range of crimes, whether it's a gang-involved shooting or figuring out who trampled on a residents' flowers.
Community members can have a direct line of communication to their NCO through officers' cellphones and email addresses, officials added, and participating precincts will be rolling out their own Facebook pages.
Community surveys will also be conducted to evaluate the program's effectiveness.
Amid recent police-involved shootings and the killing of several officers in Dallas, attendees at Monday's meet-and-greet brought up concerns of race relations between officers and residents in predominantly African-American communities.
“Are we going to be experiencing racism?” one Quincy Street resident asked, inquiring how officers would be trained. “An officer might be intimidated when I stand outside and I yell for my child, because I'm like that."
“You can't hate up close, and that's what this is about," Monahan replied. "Because I'm going to get to know you, it's not going to be the color of your skin, it's going to be you."
Officers will be encouraged to introduce themselves to neighbors, and vice-versa, for a two-way dialogue, he added to applause from the crowd.
This week's meeting comes after someone slashed the tires of five police cars outside the Brooklyn precinct where an off-duty officer who shot a motorist is based, according to officials.
Locals expressed their support and condolences for police following the Dallas shootings, and sought advice for talking to their families on how to improve relationships with officers.
“This all starts with understanding and communicating, not rushing to judgment one way or another,” Monahan said.
“Ninety nine percent of the community is good, 99 percent of law enforcement is good. There are bad apples in the community, there are bad apples in the police department.
“We're trying to remove the bad apples from our department and we're trying to remove the bad apples from the community and, if we can get that done, then we'll get closer to that utopia that we talked about.”
Residents ended the event by meeting with the NCOs designated to their neighborhood, many with whom they were already friendly.
Several officers and community members said they were optimistic, adding that the model would give them the opportunity for deeper engagement.
“You help us, we help you,” one officer said.
Before Castile Shooting, Minnesota's Racial Justice Movement Was Already Underway
The governor said it's time to confront racism. Groups like Black Lives Matter have been trying for years.
by Daniel C. Vock
It might have been a bit surprising to hear Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton -- the white governor of an overwhelmingly white state -- talk bluntly last Thursday about racism in police departments. But for the past year, Dayton, like the rest of Minnesota, has had little choice.
The police shooting last week of Philando Castile, a 32-year-old school cafeteria worker, caused Minnesotans to think about racism in their state yet again. Castile was black. He was shot in the predominantly white Minneapolis suburb of Falcon Heights, by an officer who has been identified as Jeronimo Yanez.
“Would this have happened if those passengers or driver were white? I don't think it would have,” Dayton told reporters. “I'm forced to confront, and I think all of us in Minnesota, are forced to confront that this kind of racism exists.”
The events of the last year in Minnesota have certainly driven that point home. A separate police shooting of Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis last November sparked protests that, at different times, shut down an interstate, airport, light rail and the Mall of America. At one point, white supremacists fired on a crowd gathered around a police station and injured five protesters.
“People are starting to realize this is something that is not going away. This isn't something that happens once in a while, or that it's a weird aberration,” said Tony Williams of Minnesota Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, a group that advocates for racial and economic justice. “Yes, this is a nationwide issue, but a lot of the things we can actually do about it exist at the state and local levels.”
“We are definitely at a boiling point,” said Maria De La Cruz of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice, a Minnesota philanthropy that funds programs to address racial disparities. “The racism that exists in Minnesota is something that, as Minnesotans, we are really uncomfortable talking about. When the governor says now we have to confront this, we actually have people of color who have been demanding we confront racism for some time.”
Over the last decade, several groups have emerged in Minnesota that explicitly focus on issues of race and how it affects everything from the environment to police brutality. But the police killing of Jamar Clark last November galvanized the movement.
A Minneapolis police officer shot Clark, 24, at a party. Police said Clark interfered with paramedics trying to care for another partygoer. Clark scuffled with two officers before the shooting. Clark was removed from life support and died the next day.
Protests began the night Clark was shot, but tensions were highest during an 18-day standoff between protesters and the Minneapolis cops outside a police station. It was there that three men, apparently counterprotesters, fired on Black Lives Matter activists. Police arrested the shooters, but they also pressed to end the permanent protest outside their station. After several dispersal orders, the police cleared the camp of protesters.
In March, Hennepin County's top prosecutor announced that neither of the officers involved in Clark's shooting would be charged criminally. The prosecutor, Mike Freeman, said evidence showed that Clark was not handcuffed when he was shot, and that the officers had no chance to back away from the situation.
“This case is not at all similar to others seen around the country,” he said, referring to shootings in Ferguson, Mo., Cleveland and Chicago.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced in June that it would also not bring civil rights charges in the case.
The decisions were big disappointments to many black leaders. They did, however, get one concession from the Hennepin County attorney's office: The agency announced it will no longer use grand juries to weigh charges for police shootings. (Such an arrangement generated significant controversy when a Missouri grand jury declined to charge police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.)
Black activists in Minnesota made more progress in the statehouse than in the courthouse this year. A coalition of black groups proposed a United Black Legislative Agenda that focused on addressing racial disparities in the economy, criminal justice system and immigration policies. Dayton, the governor, pledged to spend $100 million to support the agenda.
Several of the measures the groups sought passed despite paltry minority representation in the Minnesota legislature. In a state where 19 percent of the population is non-white, less than 5 percent of the lawmakers are members of minorities. Not all of the measures passed the legislature, but the two-year budget includes $35 million for programs addressing racial disparities.
Williams, the organizer for Minnesota Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, said his group and others want to emphasize ways to reduce violence without police. They want more programs to work with youth, improve mental health treatment and give poor residents more economic opportunities. When it comes to police, Williams said simply improving training is not enough.
“We have videos showing the killing of black people that people think are outrageous, but we can never get any convictions and almost never any indictments,” he said. “It's pretty clear that the use-of-force standards are beyond the bounds of what people think are acceptable.”
Even as the governor voiced his support for revisiting issues of race, protesters kept vigil outside of his mansion calling for justice in the Castile case. The crowd of people, mostly minorities, was a jarring juxtaposition in one of the richest, whitest neighborhoods of St. Paul, said De La Cruz of the Headwaters Foundation.
“We have an opportunity, our leaders have an opportunity,” said De La Cruz, “to provide an example for the country about the ways in which justice can be realized when these kinds of civic disasters happen.”
Assault charge dropped against officer in Freddie Gray case
Prosecution rests case in Lt. Brian Rice trial
by Stephen Anthony Sobek
An assault charge against Lt. Brian Rice was dismissed Monday as the prosecution rested its case during the third day of the Freddie Gray-related trial, WBAL-TV reported.
Rice is the fourth officer to go on trial in the police in-custody death of Gray.
The judge said the state failed to prove Rice acted in concert with someone else to prove an assault charge.
Rice faces manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office charges in connection with Gray's death. The 25-year-old died April 19, 2015, a week after he suffered a neck injury in a police transport van.
Rice is the officer who initiated the pursuit of Gray when he and two others were walking in west Baltimore on April 12, 2015. Gray ran off after Rice made eye contact with him.
Prosecutors have centered their case on Rice's rank, arguing that as the shift commander, he should have been aware of proper policy when dealing with the detention and safe transport of those who have been arrested, WBAL reported.
Among the witnesses to testify Friday were neurosurgery expert Dr. Morris Marc Soriano, Baltimore police detective Michael Boyd who investigated the case, and Brandon Ross, who was with Gray on the day of his arrest.
Officers William Porter and Edward Nero were at the courthouse Friday and it appeared that at least one of them was going to be called to the stand, but the judge ended testimony for the day just before 4 p.m. Court resumed at 9:30 a.m. Monday.
Nero testified for 40 minutes on Monday about Gray's demeanor during his arrest and how Gilmor Homes was becoming "very hostile area" and "started to empty out" at that time.
During cross examination, Nero described an inhospitable environment during the initial arrest. He added that Gray was flailing, screaming and kicking inside the van.
"We just had to move and get out of there," said Nero, who added that the crowd was "getting uncomfortably close" to them.
At one point during Nero's testimony, there was a heated exchange between Nero and prosecutor Michael Schatzow during the state's redirect.
Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams gave the state some leeway in their questioning of Nero, allowing for questions the defense called leading, given his status as a former defendant in the case and since he is among five officers suing State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby over his arrest.
Porter was next to testify. He was on the stand for 30 minutes and was asked by prosecutors to recall his interaction with Gray during stops four and five. Porter testified that he asked Gray if he needed medical help, and Gray said "yes."
Porter testified that Gray's calm demeanor didn't indicate that he was injured. He also added that Rice was not present at either stops four or five.
University of Maryland Police Captain Martinez Davenport testified about seat belt audits in April and September 2014. Martinez said all districts passed inspection on whether officers were seat belting arrestees.
Baltimore paramedic Angelique Herbert, who treated Gray at the Western District, was to take the stand next.
Officer Caesar Goodson, the transport van driver, was cleared last month of all charges, including second-degree depraved heart murder. Officer Edward Nero was cleared of misdemeanor charges in May. Both Goodson and Nero opted for bench trials. The trial of Officer William Porter ended in December with a hung jury.
Legal experts believe that calling other officers charged in Gray's death to the stand is a double-edged sword for the state.
University of Baltimore law professor David Jaros said the state had to call Nero and Porter to testify to establish the chain of events surrounding Rice's actions on the day of Gray's arrest.
Still, Jaros said it continues to be an uphill battle in the prosecution's efforts to win a conviction in these cases.
"The evidence we've seen here doesn't seem much different than the cases from before...," Jaros said. "(Nero) is a double-edged sword for the prosecutor because they can bring in a lot of information such as the context of the arrest and the defense went through great effort to establish what the circumstances were at the scene suggesting that it was a chaotic scene."
Jaros continued: "The defense has an argument, and it's not a slam dunk argument, that Officer Porter's actions (at stop four) actually severs the chain of causation therefor Lt. Rice would not be the approximate cause of Mr. Gray's injuries by failing to buckle."
Defense attorney Warren Brown, a courtroom observer with no connection to the case, agrees.
"I'm not sure why (the state) put Officer Porter on the stand," Brown said. "Porter mostly talked about stops four and five and Rice's involvement with Freddie Gray was done by stop two...Officer Nero put meat on the bones for the defense that Freddie Gray was combative and the crowds were growing at stops one and two.
"The testimony of the officers either benefitted the defense or didn't prove the elements the state needed to prove (a crime occurred)."
North Carolina holds police camera videos from public record
by Anna Gronewold
RALEIGH, N.C. — Recordings from law enforcement body and dashboard cameras will not be considered public records in North Carolina under a law signed Monday by Gov. Pat McCrory.
Civil libertarians and social justice activists said the law will make it more difficult to hold officers accountable.
Bystander videos posted online have fueled protests nationwide after last week's killings of black men by white officers in Louisiana and Minnesota, and the attack by a black sniper that killed five officers at a march in Dallas. Police videos of these crime scenes have yet to be made public.
The law clarifies that body and dashboard camera recordings cannot be kept confidential as part of an officer's personnel file — a practice that has kept some images from being scrutinized indefinitely.
“If you hold a piece of film for a long period of time, you completely lose the trust of individuals,” the governor said. On the other hand, “we've learned if you immediately release a video, sometimes it distorts the entire picture, which is extremely unfair to our law enforcement officials.”
“In North Carolina we're going to walk that fine line and do the right thing,” McCrory said.
While 29 other states and D.C. have laws addressing police camera recordings, North Carolina joins at least five other states that exempt them from public records requests, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Supporters say the law, which will take effect in October, will protect the privacy of crime victims and suspects as well as officers. McCrory says the uniform system of requesting access will increase public safety.
People who appear in the police videos, or their representatives, can ask to view but not copy the recordings. But a law enforcement agency can deny such a request to protect a person's safety or reputation or if the recording is part of an active investigation.
“It comes down to a personal or moral level of whoever the police chief is,” said Wanda Hunter of the Raleigh Police Accountability Community Task Force. “If it's someone you constantly come head to head with, you can just hang it up there.”
Once denied, a requester could seek permission from a judge, who can consider whether there's “compelling public interest” in releasing it.
Prosecutors also would have access, to see whether an officer's actions were legal.
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina called it a “shameful law” that will make holding police accountable for their actions “nearly impossible.”
“People who are filmed by police body cameras should not have to spend time and money to go to court in order to see that footage. These barriers are significant and we expect them to drastically reduce any potential this technology had to make law enforcement more accountable to community members,” Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina, said in a statement.
More than 3,000 people signed a petition delivered to McCrory Friday seeking his veto of the bill, which passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support last month.
The state's sheriffs' and police chiefs' associations have offered strong support, saying the law will increase public access, because it makes clear the recordings are not personnel files and requires each agency adopt written policies for how officers use of body cameras.
“We anticipate that at some point members of the press will take the new law out for a test drive to determine how well it's going to work,” said Mark Prak, a lawyer for the North Carolina Press Association. “Lord knows the events of the past week made clear that in order for the public to understand what's going on in the world, that kind of video can be really telling.”
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Obama tries to mend tattered ties with police
As the president heads to Dallas to grieve the five slain officers, he is trying to overcome deep mistrust among some in the law enforcement community.
by Sarah Wheaton
Even as President Barack Obama offers a healing message to the grieving citizens of Dallas on Tuesday, his administration is trying to heal its relationship with police who have felt aggrieved long before five officers were assassinated by a man claiming solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Obama has the delicate task of reigniting his earlier efforts to eliminate bias and cut down on aggressive policing — a call from many in the public after police killed two black men in separate incidents that originated from seemingly minor infractions last week — while confronting the fatal consequences, even for good cops, of the roiling distrust in the communities they serve.
Obama's spokesman said that he'll try to speak to both concerns at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, where he'll appear along with Vice President Joe Biden and former President George W. Bush.
Many officers believe that Obama has helped fuel the perception that they're all prone to racism and overreaction, according to some of the union representatives who met with him and Biden on Monday.
“As I said to the president, optics and perception cannot become reality, and we leaders can't let it become reality,” said Jonathan Thompson, executive director of the National Sheriffs' Association, one of eight law enforcement groups at the meeting.
“We all have an obligation,” Thompson added in an interview with POLITICO, “to take a big step backwards and look at ourselves in the mirror because this affects every citizen of this country.”
Rhetoric has been especially heated from lawmakers and police alike over the past week as they respond to the police-involved deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile near St. Paul, Minnesota.
Democratic Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, for example, said that after watching the video Castile's girlfriend filmed right after he was shot, he didn't think that would have happened if the couple had been white. Obama also pointed directly to race as a potential factor, saying Americans should be “troubled” by the fatal shootings of the two black men while citing statistics showing blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately caught up in the criminal justice system.
The finger-pointing escalated after the massacre of five police officers in Dallas during a peaceful protest against the deaths of the black men. William Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, bluntly blamed Obama during a television interview on Friday for a “war on cops” and calling the Obama administration “the Neville Chamberlain of this war.” (Johnson was also among those who attended the Roosevelt Room meeting on Monday, according to the White House.)
“If I stand in the shoes of the average deputy or sheriff, I can see how they might perceive that,” said Thompson of the “war on cops” sentiment. There's a resentment, he said, that politicians, journalists and the public “presuppose what happened in the 30 seconds leading up to any video” and assume the result is irresponsible.
Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, said his members complained of an imbalance in Obama's responses to the week's tragedies.
When the police did the killing, FOP members heard Obama “directing his remarks to Black Lives Matter or to minority communities at the expense of police officers,” Pasco said. When the police were killed, they felt “it wasn't muscular enough in its unequivocal support for police,” he added, and police who were “doing the right thing and have died tragically.”
Obama will try to assuage the concerns of people on both sides of the divide, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday.
“There are people all across the country, again, of all races, who are grieving the loss of these innocent lives, these police officers in Dallas who were gunned down on Thursday night,” Earnest said. “But there's anxiety across the country about the shootings we saw in two other communities of black men by police officers.”
The president will also touch on “the frustration,” Earnest continued, “that exists in the minds and hearts and conscience of fair-minded Americans of all races.”
Police representatives were cheered by Obama's private characterization of the Dallas shooting as a “hate crime” on Monday. Among some police officials, there's a sense that the Dallas shooting finally clicked with Obama, illustrating the serious consequences for overheated, anti-cop rhetoric.
“If there are specific things that we can do to better support our men and women in blue, the president believes we should get about doing it,” Earnest said Monday, after repeating a concern expressed consistently by both the president and the police: that law enforcement is often stuck dealing with societal problems like poverty and addiction that the larger American public has neglected.
Biden is already playing a pivotal role in the rapprochement, leaning on his longstanding relationships with law enforcement that date to before his landmark crime bill in the mid-1990s.
“When the going gets really tough in terms of the relationship, it's usually Biden who jumps in and calls everybody to get together,” Pasco said. Monday's meeting was convened by Biden, with no initial public plans for Obama to attend.
Before Obama showed up, the vice president acknowledged that the police officials might not think Obama supports them, Pasco said.
“But you're wrong,” Biden told them, according to Pasco, who's known Biden since the mid-1980s.
Biden made the cable news rounds after the meeting on Monday.
“We're sitting down with a concrete agenda of things we can do that can open up the avenues of communication between the black community primarily and the police departments, and I think they are ready to do it,” Biden said on MSNBC. “And I think the community is.”
“The vice president is perceived as wanting to be and trying very hard to be an honest broker,” Thompson said. “I believe he's not asking for the candy-coated version, he's asking for how we see it.”
When it comes to how the community sees it, Pasco said the president may have had a point. The topic of optics came up frequently during the two-hour meeting, which was also attended by Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz and White House Counsel Neil Eggleston. Obama urged officers to consider their own role in how they're perceived in their communities.
“We always think we're projecting our concern for the community, but maybe the community isn't hearing it that way,” Pasco said. “We're willing to look at how we present, too.”
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has been trying to promote better community policing procedures based on last year's findings by the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Not all of them have been implemented, Earnest noted Monday, and the president wants “the effort to implement those best practices needs to be re-energized.”
On Wednesday, the president plans to convene law enforcement officials and activists at the White House.
In interviews with POLITICO, members of Obama's policing task force said the report had widespread familiarity, if not buy-in, from law enforcement around the country.
“It has received tremendous attention and penetration in the policing field,” said co-chair Laurie Robinson, a professor at George Mason University. “It is hard to find many police chiefs who have not at least skimmed through the report.”
There's still work to be done, she added, like building a database to make sure that problem cops from one town don't get rehired in another. Other members pointed to programs for people returning from prison and data on police killings as major areas for improvement.
But other task force members were skeptical of the whole project in the current climate.
“There was no way this president was going to be allowed to work on these issues, the country is too polarized right now,” said Constance Rice, co-chair of the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization. “I think we need a new politics in order to handle this, and I'm hoping the police will lead the way.”
5 Shot During Candlelight Vigil
by Meghan McCorkell
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Shots rang out at a candlelight vigil in west Baltimore. Five people were injured when bullets began to fly; four of them are women. The violence comes just hours after a murder victim's mother begged for peace.
Those five people were all hit by bullets as they came to pay their respects for another shooting victim.
Balloons and candles were strewn across the sidewalk after those attending a candlelight vigil in west Baltimore were forced to run for their lives.
“Here are are again investigating a senseless crime,” said Detective Donny Moses. “A heinous crime.”
Investigators say 20-30 people were gathered at the corner of North and Fulton avenues Monday evening to honor 24-year-old Jermaine Scofield, who was killed early Sunday morning. As the vigil was underway, someone in the crowd started firing.
“We're trying to celebrate where one person lost his life, trying to pay him respects and someone maliciously and foolishly walked into the crowd and opened fire,” Moses said.
Five people were hit by the bullets, four of them women. The gunman got away.
Community members are disturbed by the constant violence.
“I see how things are happening in the neighborhood,” said Rev. Keith Bailey, Fulton Heights Community Association. “People are losing their lives over small, little things.”
Scofield was among three people killed early Sunday morning. His mother begged for no retaliation.
“It's not going to bring my son back. I just want to bury my son,” she told our media partner, the Baltimore Sun.
Now her son's vigil has turned into a crime scene and police want answers.
“We know somebody saw something,” Moses said. “We know somebody saw something.”
And investigators want them to come forward.
All the victims from Monday night's shooting are expected to be okay.
Investigators say two victims were found at the scene. Three others walked into hospitals.
Real Americans put their principles on the line
by Tony Norman
Two hundred and forty years ago last week, a people weighed down by colonial exploitation embraced a revolutionary idea — “freedom” shouldn't be the exclusive reserve of those who consider themselves the very top of the social order. Once this revolutionary idea became something worth fighting and dying for, a strange and ornery people who would one day come to be known as Americans were born.
So, America roared out of the revolutionary ferment of the Enlightenment like the proverbial bat out of hell. Because we refused to fully open our eyes to the wild contradictions of our history, we Americans find it convenient to never look back. If we were the slightest bit conscientious about our history, the fireworks on July 4 would constantly remind us of our combustible origins, but they never do.
Because we're Americans, we pride ourselves on being insensitive to metaphor and irony. “The rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air” that Francis Scott Key wrote about become just another occasion to stuff our faces with hot dogs and beer and complain about whatever new wave of immigrants has washed up on our shores that day.
We forget that we are the descendants of the religious and civil riffraff once deposited here by England and other colonial powers. We flatter ourselves by imagining that we're just the sons and daughters of those who would become the landed gentry and the mercantile class who found common cause against British tyranny. We forget that we're also the children of those “yearning to breathe free” and those forced into the bitter limbo of slavery.
We forget that honest, paid labor cost more than a young nation emerging from a revolution that nearly bankrupted it was willing to pay Africans. So slavery became another acceptable form of “freedom” for those who exploited black labor and broke black bodies and whose religion denied the existence of black souls. Self-serving myths and the refusal to acknowledge the tensions in our narrative muddy the waters and make an honest reckoning of facts nearly impossible.
That's why so many are surprised and outraged by the spirit of protest that has shadowed and critiqued the American experiment from the beginning. There are those who are always offended by other Americans who act as if the country is deficient in some way. These flag-waving amnesiacs believe that our history is better thought of as static, not dynamic. Change spurred by protest causes suspicion and fear.
That's why so many Americans held the abolitionists, the suffragists, the labor movement and the civil rights marchers of the 1950s and 1960s in such contempt, even though they embodied the American ideal far better than the majority of conformists who preferred to do nothing. Those who dare to offer a critique of any aspect of American political reality or suggest ways to make it conform to the “more perfect Union” ideal set forth in the preamble of the Constitution are threats or worse — traitors and revolutionaries. That's why #BlackLivesMatter is the bogeyman of choice today.
Still, I'm more hopeful these days than I've ever been that most Americans are waking up to the fact that not all citizens are treated with respect and dignity by this country's laws and institutions. Last week, the killing of two black men in Minneapolis and Baton Rouge by police captured on cell phone videos underscored the disparity in treatment. Millions of white citizens were genuinely shocked and have begun openly discussing the disparity in outcomes for what should be routine police stops.
Because so many Americans are questioning what's going on, the horrific “revenge” attack by a black racist on the Dallas police department that killed five white officers and wounded seven failed to ignite the race war he desperately wanted. The murderer's weak-minded nihilism merely got him blown up by the first “robot bomber” ever utilized on American soil. His murderous rampage failed to generate support anywhere.
Meanwhile, a former New York mayor, a Texas lieutenant governor, a crazed half-term Alaskan governor and an unhinged former congressman-turned-radio talk show host blamed #BlackLivesMatter and President Barack Obama for mounting a “war on cops” that resulted in the shooting in Dallas. It was more than a little gratifying to see all of them ridiculed by most pundits and commentators as “extremists,” because that's what they are. Blinded by fear and some degree of racial resentment, they don't realize they're the moral equivalent of the British in 1776 and the segregationists of the 1950s. They arrogantly think of themselves as the “real Americans.”
But the “real” Americans are those who conducted peaceful protests in the streets of Baton Rouge and got arrested even after the horror in Dallas earlier in the week. They marched even when they were told it was disrespectful and dangerous. To their credit, they refused to surrender the right to make this country better by forcing it to open its eyes. These are the citizens who take the weight of what it means to be an American seriously. They are part of a long and noble tradition of American revolution.
Ex-NOPD chief would like to see return of community policing
by Meg Farris
NEW ORLEANS - In the wake of protests against police shootings, both a former chief and community leader say community policing worked, and should be funded and returned to the city.
"We need policy makers to actually come forward and put the money where the mouth is and say, 'You know, what I don't know what the right number of police officers is, but I know we don't have enough to do community policing,'" said Dr. Ronal Serpas, a former police chief in New Orleans, Nashville and in the state of Washington. He is now a professor of Criminology and Justice at Loyola University.
Serpas and a local reverend say community policing should return.
"Community policing advances one thing, which is the most important, and that is trust and confidence. But from the police investigative standpoint, what community policing advances is information flow, and without information flow, you can't solve these crimes," said Serpas.
"I believe it's common sense. I mean, it just makes sense for there to be a relationship between police officers and the community residents. I think it does build trust," said Reverend Jamaal Weathersby, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church.
But Serpas says lack of a budget to hire more officers cancelled the program that was proven to work.
He also says that most people arrested over and over have a mental illness or addiction.
"Those people are being treated by jailers and cops instead of doctors and nurses. When did we ever think that was going to work?" asked Serpas.
While he says politicians need to fund community policing and mental health treatment, Reverend Weathersby says his congregation makes sure they are equally outraged about neighbors killing neighbors, as they are when there are police shootings.
"All lives matter. It doesn't matter who takes the life. It doesn't matter when the life is taken, how the life, all lives matter," said Weathersby.
He says historically, there has been a lack of trust among minorities towards police. But he believes the current public dialogue can repair a partnership on both sides. In fact, he had an officer come today to talk to his young campers.
"I think it's foolish for anyone to try and pit the community against the police officers because, I mean, it's just, it would be total chaos if we didn't have law enforcement," said Weathersby.
Dr. Serpas says in Seattle and Miami, when police are given alternatives to arrest for the mentally ill, and drug and alcohol addiction, they use it almost every time, otherwise those people spend a life in prison, repeating two days at a time. And that cycle of arrests, he says, causes community anger.
New Haven police chief: City could help teach community policing in wake of national tensions
by Anna Bisaro
NEW HAVEN >> Federal lawmakers should focus on creating a national policing curriculum as one step toward easing the growing tension between the public and police across the country, New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman said Monday.
Rather than one unified police force, all practicing the same police tactics, “we wear 18,000 different uniforms,” Esserman said.
There is no national standard for policing, and each individual department across the country adheres to its own rules, but the New Haven police chief said he believes the city department could serve as a model for other departments across the country.
“There are things we could teach with humility,” Esserman said. “There are things that are working here in New Haven that we can teach.”
Esserman spoke as a group of local lawmakers, clergy, and city police met with Mayor Toni Harp, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-3, Monday to discuss the recent police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana and the subsequent fatal violence against police in Dallas Thursday night.
“This week has been a nightmare,” Blumenthal said to open the discussion. “Gun violence, with horrifying repetition, continues to take lives.”
“Local leadership is going to make the real difference here,” he added.
Blumenthal asked Esserman for a list of recommendations for the senator to bring to Washington to help lawmakers address the tensions between communities and police. In addition to a national curriculum, Esserman said the idea that “cops count” has to be reinstated in the American people.
“This is a tough time for America, so it's a tough time for America's police,” the police chief said.
Many officers across the nation wear their blue uniforms with pride, Esserman said. But, for many in the public, that same blue uniform instills fear and anger.
“I think this is a department that needs to feel others' pain if it wants others to feel our pride,” he added.
Assistant Chief Luis Casanova echoed Esserman's sentiments, expressed feelings of pain and loss for the officers who died in Dallas last week, and said he and other members of the department were willing to teach other police officers across the country how to effectively use community policing to reduce crime and be more integrated in the cities where police work.
Casanova, who heads the city's police training bureau, said the New Haven Police Department also needed to continue its efforts to get locals into the force. But, more importantly, officers need to listen to the needs of the public and communication needs to improve.
“New officers need to understand the community they are going to police,” Casanova said. “We are one community and we need to stop causing a divide.”
Casanova encouraged the mayor and congressmen to push for meetings like the one held Monday to occur more often, and not just in reaction to tragedies.
Community policing, long lauded in the city as the best way to reduce violence, is working, Harp said, but the city still has a way to go.
“We are an example in New Haven, but we are not perfect,” she said. “I know when we work together we can solve problems.”
Many around the table Monday were critical of Washington for failing to act on gun control legislation or other issues that might help curb violence by and against police. Among those most vocal was Eli Greer, co-chairman of the mayor's Community and Police Relations Task Force.
“(Lawmakers) can have all of the meetings and grandstanding ... but there has to be action,” Greer said.
Until action results from meetings like those that took place Monday, no progress will be made, he said.
Blumenthal and DeLauro noted recent events in Washington, including the filibuster by U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and the House Democrats' sit-in over gun legislation. But they also agreed that more action needs to be taken to ensure no community is complacent about these issues of police violence.
“It's not a single issue,” DeLauro said, noting that there are many problems that contribute to racial tensions and violence by and against police.
“We will do everything we can to bring your voices to Washington,” she said.
Police, community unite in light of recent shootings
by Jack Cullen
Be compliant, answer questions.
Davenport Police Chief Paul Sikorski directed that message Monday to mothers worried about their black teenage boys behind the wheel.
“If he gets pulled over for a traffic violation, he should not have to get out of his vehicle,” Sikorski told about 60 community members at a meeting organized by a grassroots organization called Boots on the Ground, urging parents to share his words with their sons.
But others in the audience respectfully responded with concerns of their own regarding distrust between police and minority communities in the Quad-Cities and throughout the country.
“We hear what's supposed to happen, but it doesn't always play out like that when we're in the streets,” said the Rev. Daniel Teague, who leads Boots on the Ground.
The group pushed up its monthly meeting in light of last week's police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota and the ambush of Dallas police officers.
“We don't have those issues here,” Teague went on to say. “We need to respect our officers.”
Discussion transitioned from the recent tragedies across the country to local community policing efforts.
Heidi Graves brought her teenage niece and daughter to the meeting. They both knew Ayana Culbreath, the 15-year-old girl who was shot and killed June 26 in Davenport.
“I think they need to see there are more people in the community who want to help,” she said. “Not everyone's against them.”
Two Davenport teenagers with a history of gun offenses have since been charged in connection with the fatal shooting.
Sikorski stressed his department is focused on reducing gun violence in the community.
“It's our highest priority,” he said. “We are tracking every single firearm we come across.”
While some people expressed their fears of police, several addressed their concerns about a lack of strong parenting.
Jackson Horace, who raised seven children in Davenport, said families should hold as much responsibility as police when it comes to setting an example for children.
“We're going to quit pointing the finger at the police, and the police are going to quit pointing the finger at us when we start doing something about this,” he said. “The police aren't going to do it all, so we need straighten this up.”
Sikorski encouraged the discussion, noting his commitment to increased interactions between the department and the community.
"These problems don't go away," he said. "We need to stay committed, and it takes all of us."
Some police agencies are easing racial tensions
by Alan Gomez
In Seattle, police have the power to send drug offenders to a rehabilitation center instead of jail. In Kalamazoo, Mich., officers are evaluated less on the number of tickets or arrests they make and more on their "customer service."
And efforts in Camden, N.J., to improve interactions between police and citizens prompted President Obama to call the city "a symbol of promise for the nation."
Law enforcement agencies across the country have implemented radical new programs and re-trained their officers to improve relationships with minorities in their communities. Many police chiefs try to better educate their officers to ease the type of racial tension that peaked last week after the deaths of several black suspects and five Dallas policemen, said Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation, a Washington-based non-profit research organization.
"There are obviously some police chiefs and sheriffs who don't have any interest, but I think they're in the minority," Bueermann said Sunday. "The overwhelming majority of police departments really do want to engage communities and be responsive."
Criminal justice experts say two major problems face those efforts. The first is the difficulty understanding what strategies and tactics actually work.
Beeurmann, a former police chief in Redlands, Calif., said it has been difficult for many officers to adapt to an ever-changing job description. Officers increasingly become the first responders to people with mental health problems, homelessness and drug and alcohol addiction. He said few have any training to understand those people and how to respond.
"Most police training relates to the mechanics — how to drive your car, how to investigate a crime," Beeurmann said. "But if you look at everything they have to do, they're really social agents."
Beeurmann said many officers don't understand the racial complexities they encounter every day, such as the history of abuse that African Americans endured at the hands of law enforcement. That means police aren't prepared to respond to suspects who act nervous or aggressive when pulled over by a white officer.
"Every cop going through an academy ought to have a block that relates to the history of slavery," he said. "Asking them to just collect facts and investigate crimes — that's not enough anymore."
That leads to the second problem facing agencies that want to improve their relationship with black citizens: the Dallas massacre.
Karlos Hill, an associate history professor at Texas Tech University who studies racial violence, said there was a moment last week where he thought the American public was ready to make wholesale changes in law enforcement.
Hill said the tide seemed to shift after witness videos surfaced last week of the deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., and Philando Castile near St. Paul after being shot by white officers. He thought the Black Lives Matter movement was gaining ground and convincing elected leaders to take action to reduce violent encounters with police.
"Any hope for mobilizing our congressmen or our state officials to pass legislation or push police unions and police departments to change police practices, I think that all went away when that individual decided to take the lives of those five officers," said Hill, author of the book, Beyond the Rope: The Impact of Lynching on Black Culture and Memory .
Hill said officials can't simply ignore the mass protests taking place around the country and must show they're responding to the African-American community. On the other hand, Hill said any police chief who announces changes in police training or practices too soon after the Dallas shootings will face severe blowback from officers and their unions.
"They can't appear to be siding with the Black Lives Matter activists," Hill said. "They won't long have a job if they do that."
Dan Slaughter, the police chief in Clearwater, Fla., disagrees.
His department has long been hailed for being proactive in adopting community policing practices. In 2012, the department won the International Association of Chiefs of Police Community Policing Award for Operation Graduate, a program that uses police to help identify at-risk youth and provide them with help to graduate high school and learn other life skills.
Slaughter said Sunday that the Dallas shooting will definitely get police officers around the country on alert, but it shouldn't slow any attempts to modernize and improve the way police departments engage with minorities in their communities.
"I don't think police leadership will get derailed because of one person who did a horrific, heinous act," Slaughter said. "It may change how we respond when we respond to certain events. But no, I wouldn't see that it would change anybody's impression of how they should engage the public."
Rocky Mount Police Department breaks down barriers between police and community
by Amanda Keneny
ROCKY MOUNT, Va. (WDBJ7) A hometown in Franklin County says it's bridging the gap between police officers and the community it serves and it starts with a new position on the force.
Within the last year the department's chief replaced a captain's position with a community resource officer, whose purpose is to communicate with the community.
In light of recent events across the country, the department believes this job is more important than ever.
When Officer Ryan King walks up to kids playing in the streets of Rocky Mount, you'll hear something you don't hear often.
“Can I get a hug?,” he says.
Then, you'll see something you don't often see -- a big group of kids hugging a police officer all at once. It's a moment that Officer Ryan King believes can impact a child's life.
“Because as they grow up I want them to know that not only the officers in Rocky Mount but wherever you live in the United States officers are there to help them,” says King.
It's Officer King's job to get to know these kids, and their community.
“I feel very strongly about community policing,” said Rocky Mount Police Chief Kenneth Criner.
He has made it a priority when he took over about two years ago.
“By putting Officer King out there he can go talk to them, he can come back, and we have other people that we work with that. We can take care of every problem pretty much,” says Chief Criner.
We first met Officer King a few months ago to explain his new job within the department.
Now, he knows these kids by name.
In fact, Jamarre and Shymek want to be just like Officer King when they grow up.
“Police officers help people and help them be safe and help them live,” says 6-year-old Jamarre Logan.
These kids get excited when he comes around.
“He teach me how to be safe,” says 5-year-old Kavion Claybrooks. When asked how, he explains by saying “like staying out of trouble.”
“They're cool!” says Kathryn Minter. “Because they just protect us and they won't do anything to harm us, they don't hurt people.”
It's those words that inspire Officer King.
He's trying to break down a barrier the nation seems to have created in recent years.
“Officers are here to help,” says Officer King. “We're not the enemy, we are here to help and so it makes me want to get out here even more and work even harder.”
The Rocky Mount Police Department is trying to break down that barrier in a couple of different ways.
All officers have taken a two-day course on community policing.
And since Chief Criner took over, he added bicycles to their fleet.
He wants them out of their cars and on a bike or walking instead.
Chief Criner says that alone makes them more approachable and human.
SAPD believes gunshots were targeted for Public Safety HQ
by ZACK HEDRICK, NEWS 4 SAN ANTONIO
SAN ANTONIO -- As officers continue to look for the shooter, they say the multiple gunshots that struck the Public Safety Headquarters Saturday night, were specifically targeted at police.
The department is saying they believe police headquarters was specifically targeted in the shooting.
The east side of the building was hit multiple times.
But despite the shooting last night Chief McManus says it was business as usual Sunday.
"This is not open season on police officers here in San Antonio or anywhere else," said McManus. "We're not going to allow that to happen."
The statement by Chief McManus late Saturday night was personified by a police officer Sunday morning, seen patrolling the front steps of Public Safety Headquarters with his rifle by his side.
"We are not going to be targets," said McManus.
Multiple shots struck the building a little before 10 Saturday night but no one was injured.
"We found shell casings in the alley behind the old public safety headquarters building, in Graham Alley there," said McManus.
Officials are still working to identify what type of gun was used in the shooting.
Meanwhile police are looking for a suspect they say was last seen running away from the alley.
"[He] was wearing an orange shirt and blue pants," said McManus.
The bomb squad was called out to check out a suspicious vehicle.
"[It] was unoccupied and not in a legal parking space," said McManus.
But the bomb squad was called off before they showed up, after an employee of a nearby business said the car belonged to them.
Police did question a man they found in the alley.
The department says he was not involved in the shooting but was arrested for unrelated warrants.
If you have any information about the suspect officers are looking for, give police a call.
New Haven officials hold discussion on community policing
by Stephanie Simoni, WTNH Reporter
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– New Haven is tackling how they police the Elm City. Politicians, the mayor, police, and clergy are meeting in a just a few hours at city hall to talk about this. It's all happening at city hall in just a few hours. And they're talking about ways to change policing.
All of this comes after the unity rally Sunday afternoon. It's where Mayor Toni Harp, police, and neighbors came out to talk about the recent police involved shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota. As well as the shooting in Dallas where 5 officers died.
Speakers included NAACP leaders and clergy in the city. Now Monday, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, the mayor, police, and religious leaders say they'll talk about better ways to collaborate police and communities of color.
We spoke with one New Haven sergeant who is the district manager for Dixwell Avenue. She's been with the department since the 80s. She says she fell in love with community policing, but sees both sides of the issue.
“I've been conflicted again, I share both perspectives. As a native of New Haven and as a black female, I relate with what's happening with my people,” said Sgt. Jacqueline Hoyte, New Haven police.
So far, the politicians did not give specific initiatives on what they would like to see changed. We're hoping those will come out at 9 a.m. Monday morning at city hall.
New focus for officers: Community policing
by DUSTIN WALSH
Public furor over police shootings of black Americans, coupled with the sniper shootings that killed five officers in Dallas last week, may cause police departments nationwide to refocus on community policing principles.
Research suggests increasing the presence of officers in communities, on foot or bike, and not in a vehicle, greatly reduces the fear of crime and policing, said Harry Dolan , former chief of the Grand Rapids Police Department and now CEO of Raleigh, N.C.-based firm Dolan Consulting Group LLC .
But following the terror attacks of 9/11 and other terrorism-related incidents, police departments shifted training resources to shootings — at the expense of community-policing techniques and training.
In Detroit, Police Chief James Craig has touted community-policing since arriving from Cincinnati in 2013. He launched the Neighborhood Police Officers Program in 2014 to get to know businesses, residents, churches and neighborhood groups in their assigned precincts. The program has been credited with improving the trust of Detroit residents. Additional training for officers has focused on defusing volatile situations officers encounter.
The chief also initiated community advisory groups within each precinct to meet regularly with the captains in those districts, said Cathy Govan, executive director of the Detroit Public Safety Foundation , which raises money to support police programs not covered by city budgets.
Dolan, who served as the chief in Grand Rapids from 1998 to 2007, agrees that working with business in city neighborhoods can help boost community policing efforts.
"Businesses have established incredible mechanisms to reach people," Dolan said. "They can play a vital role in coordinating information sharing and support these initiatives beyond the resources available to local (police) departments."
Dolan and his consulting firm are hosting a training session, called "Community Policing: Winning Back Your Community," on Aug. 3 at the Velocity Center in Sterling Heights. Tickets are $195. For more information, go to dolanconsultinggroup.com.
What the Dallas Police Department does right — and why doing those things could now be more difficult
by Radley Balko, Washington Post
As I pointed out in today's morning links, one particularly unfortunate aspect of the murder of five Dallas police officers Thursday night is that the city's police department is a national model for community policing. Chief David Brown, who took office in 2010, has implemented a host of policies to improve the department's relationship with the people it serves, often sticking out his own neck and reputation in the process. At risk of stating the obvious, no sane person would argue that these murders would have been okay if they had occurred in a city with a less community-oriented police department. Nor am I suggesting that the killer or killers represent any legitimate faction of the police reform or racial justice movements. But because Dallas is grieving right now, and the rest of us with it, it's worth pointing out that in its police department, the city has much for which to be proud. Here are some of the areas where Brown and his administration have made changes:
Use of force
After a series of officer-involved shootings in late 2013, Brown overhauled the department's lethal-force policies, including a requirement that officers undergo training every two months instead of every two years. The new policies won him a lot of public criticism from police groups and police advocates. He was even criticized by the Dallas Morning News, which accused him of being “reactive” and “moving too quickly.” Brown significantly expanded the data the department gathers on shootings by police, and has set up a team to regularly review that data to identify trends and potential problems. The Dallas PD's lethal-force policy includes a statement that “protection of human life” is the agency's primary goal, emphasizes that deadly force should be used with “great restraint,” only “as a last resort,” and requires officers to use all reasonable alternatives before resorting to lethal means. After an incident in which Dallas officers shot and killed a schizophrenic man, the department teamed with the National Alliance on Mental Illness to provide better training for intervening when someone is having a mental health crisis. Moreover, all of the data on the city's officer-involved shootings is not only available to the public , there's also a prominent link to the data on the department's homepage. Brown also seems to understand the important distinction between the cop as warrior and the cop as guardian. And his top aides also seem to understand that when it comes to the harms caused by police militarization, imagery is as important as the gear and how it's used.
Has it worked? It would appear so. After hitting a high in 2012, officer-involved shootings in the city dropped in each ensuing year. I don't completely agree with everything Brown has done. In 2013, for example, Brown quietly introduced a policy that allows police officers to wait 72 hours before answering questions about a shooting. I find the research suggesting that a wait time improves an officer's memory to be lacking. And I've seen too many incidents of cops corroborating on a narrative to believe that isn't how such a wait time would primarily be utilized. But that's one issue. On the whole, Brown's record demonstrates that he takes officer-involved shootings very seriously and is implementing policies designed to reduce them — and at times has taken quite a bit of heat for it.
Brown has fired more than 70 Dallas cops since taking office. But he doesn't just fire bad cops, he also announces the firings — and the reasons for them — on social media. It's a bold sort of transparency for which, again, he's been criticized by police groups. Shortly after taking office, Brown fired a police officer who had kicked and maced a handcuffed suspect. But he not only fired the cop, he publicly praised the officer who turned that cop in, an implicit acknowledgment and criticism of the notorious Blue Wall. “One of the things that I really want to express about Officer Upshaw's action is that we should not as a department ostracize him in any way. We should applaud him coming forward, him intervening,” Brown said.
In addition to publicly announcing the termination of bad cops and making the data on police shootings publicly available, Brown has implemented a policy of collecting and releasing data on all use-of-force incidents. Brown has also implemented a body camera policy that's mostly consistent with the model policy recommended by the American Civil Liberties Union. He also regularly makes himself available to the media. In a 2014 op-ed shortly after Ferguson erupted, Brown stressed the importance of transparency, disclosure and honesty in the hours after a police shooting. In another interview, he stressed the importance of staying connected to and in touch with the community, even when tensions are high: “I would much rather have a couple of hundred folks shouting at me in a church than on a protest line after a police shooting because ‘I never talked to them,' or ‘I never listened to them,' ‘I never had a meeting with them.'” DPD has also emphasized and publicized the fact that citizens have a First Amendment right to record police officers (although the agency's actual written policy could definitely be improved).
Since the Ferguson protests in 2014, there has been a lot of reporting about the devastating effects on the poor that come from the aggressive enforcement of traffic infractions and other petty crimes. Brown was ahead of the curve here, too. Between fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2013, the number of traffic tickets issued in Dallas dropped from 495,000 to under 212,000. That's a massive cut. Brown reassigned traffic patrols to beats he felt were more conducive to public safety. In the past few years, we've seen appalling examples of cities stepping up enforcement of petty laws — often at the expense of policing for violent and property crimes — to help make up for budget shortfalls. Brown rejected that approach. “The purpose of traffic enforcement is to improve traffic safety, not to raise revenue,” Brown told the Morning News. “We don't believe the citizens of Dallas want its police department writing citations to raise revenues.” The drop in citations did not cause a noticeable change in accidents or roadway fatalities.
In the hours leading up to Thursday night's attacks, the Dallas Police Department's Twitter feed was posting photos of officers posing with Black Lives Matter protesters. That isn't surprising. This is a police department that understands the importance of free expression. One of Brown's top aides is Maj. Max Geron, about whom I've written here at The Watch. Geron is a security studies scholar who wrote his master's thesis on the police response to Occupy protests across the country. In an interview with me, Geron emphasized how important it is that police be seen as facilitators of speech and protest, not a force sent to keep protesters at bay. From that interview:
“The ideal police response to a protest is no response at all,” Geron says. … “You want to let people exercise their constitutional rights without interference.”
Barring that, Geron says, it's important for police to communicate with protesters to establish expectations. “The technical term is negotiated management . What that means is that you want to come to an agreement about what's expected, what's allowed, and most important, you want to reach an agreement about what won't be allowed.”
But Geron cautions against setting arbitrary expectations, such as mandatory dispersal times. “Most protesters will meet, protest, and go home when they feel they've made their point. If they aren't breaking any laws, they can be left to express themselves.” Establishing a dispersal time then gives protesters something to rebel against. “When you establish arbitrary rules that have no basis in law, the police then feel they have to enforce those rules or they look illegitimate. They can set these rules with the best of intentions, but they just end up creating more problems for themselves.”
Geron also stresses fluidity and the ability to adjust on the fly. Police organizations are fond of protocol and standard operating procedures. But protests can be unpredictable. “The standard or by the book response may not be the best response,” he says.
Geron stressed that he was expressing his own opinions here, and not necessarily the position of Dallas PD. But it's telling that Brown would have a high-ranking adviser with such views, and those views are certainly consistent with Brown's previous comments about protest and free expression.
Of course, a police agency's primary responsibility is to protect the rights and safety of the people the department serves. Even the most well-intentioned policies won't matter if they fail to promote public safety. It's always dicey to credit a particular policy, public official or even set of policies for statistical trends that are likely driven by a broad range of variables. What we can say is that during Brown's tenure, the trends that matter are mostly moving in the right direction. After his first few years on the job, crime in Dallas dropped more than under the leadership of any of the city's previous 27 police chiefs. In 2014, murders in the city hit a 50-year low. At the same time, both use of force and citizen complaints about excessive force dropped dramatically.
But crimes rates do waver. After that 50-year low, homicides in Dallas ticked up last year. After a particularly violent spring this year, including 10 murders in a single week (the city had 136 murders all last year), the critics came out in full force. Crime is also an easy thing to demagogue. Much of the public instinctively believes — incorrectly — that the only real way to fight crime is with more force, more aggression and less respect for basic rights and freedoms. When crime rates are falling, there's some tolerance for policies that emphasize restraint. But at the slightest hint of an increase, those policies are pretty easily scapegoated. Hence the calls for Brown's resignation earlier this year. The police advocacy groups and critics calling for Brown's head would never credit his policies for the steady drop in crime to a 50-year low (and again, I'm not certain how much credit his policies should get for that either), but they were quick to blame them for a short-term spike punctuated by a anomalous rash of murders over the course of a week.
Changing a culture that has been honed and ingrained for decades can be extremely difficult. Brown has not only faced criticism from police groups, but he's also faced a significant loss in personnel. His critics blame the personnel shortage on low morale driven by Brown's policies. There may be some truth to that. But if officers are leaving because they can't handle policies that emphasize restraint, transparency, community involvement and accountability, perhaps Dallas is better off without them. In any case, the personnel shortage also seems also to be driven by low pay, which isn't really Brown's fault. (I suppose someone could argue that the decrease in revenue from traffic fines could be affecting the city's ability to pay better salaries, but I'm not familiar enough with how the city operates to know if there's a real connection there.)
But we've seen similar backlashes against community-minded police chiefs, in Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, Denver and Nashville. The backlashes demonstrate the ratchet effect of crime policy. When crime is up, we give police and prosecutors broader and more authoritative powers. We pass laws and lengthen prison sentences. But after a decades-long drop in crime across the country, few if any of those laws and policies were revoked. What modest progress has been made is a quick and easy target of blame at the first sign that crime is up. If rates continue to rise, we tighten the ratchet again, even if rates are still far, far below their previous highs. (Dallas's murder rate was 10.7 per 100,000 last year. That was 17 percent up from 2014. It was still half of what it was in 2004.)
I've already seen some criticism on social media suggesting that Brown's permissive approach to policing protests may be partly to blame for what happened last night. Even given how little information we have right now, this is absurd. We live in a free and open society. The simple fact of the matter is that anyone who is determined enough can inflict a lot of carnage in a short period of time. It's true that guns make such attacks easier. But guns also aren't necessary, as we saw with the Boston Marathon bombing. Attacks like this one won't be prevented with more aggressive policing, less police transparency, more tolerance of police brutality or more permissive use-of-force policies. To truly eliminate the risk of such attacks would require massive shifts of power and authority that would fundamentally alter our concept of what makes a free society free.
One might also potentially argue that fewer cops would have died if they had all been wearing riot gear, or policing the rally in armored trucks. Possibly. But this wasn't a protest that got out of hand. The protest was peaceful, and was winding down when the shooting began. This was clearly a planned, premeditated attack. If the shooter or shooters' intent here was to kill a lot of cops in a short period of time, they could have picked any event with a large law enforcement presence. Unless we're prepared to have cops permanently outfitted with heavily armored vehicles and full riot gear at every public event, it's unclear how the Dallas shootings demand that protests in particular require a militarized response. As discussed here earlier this week, there's lots of evidence that such responses actually foment violence by giving troublemakers and peaceful protesters a common enemy.
Early information suggests that the Dallas shooter was motivated by the recent police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana. That he chose a police department whose leadership “gets it” on so many of these issues makes the attack all the more tragic — it's tragic for the sheer nature of the crime and loss of life, it's tragic because DPD was doing things right, and it's tragic because it has the potential to make Brown's push for reforms a hell of a lot more difficult.
Again at the risk of stating the obvious, there is no “right” police target on which it would be anything less than abhorrent to unleash violence in some delusional protest against police brutality. It's just that Dallas Police Department is a particularly wrong one.