August, 2016 - Week 3
Unconstitutional to Jail Poor Defendants Who Can't Pay Bail, Feds Argue
by Nicholas Loffredo
The federal government has taken a stand on the side of impoverished defendants, arguing in a U.S. appeals case that holding people accused of crimes in jail solely because they cannot afford bail is unconstitutional.
The U.S. Justice Department filed an amicus brief in a Georgia case in which a defendant was jailed for six days because he couldn't afford $160 bail on a misdemeanor charge. "Bail practices that incarcerate indigent individuals before trial solely because of their inability to pay for their release violate the Fourteenth Amendment," the Justice Department said, according to NBC. Fixed bail schedules without regard to ability to pay "unlawfully discriminate based on indigence," the government argued, as the Supreme Court has ruled that jailing poor defendants without considering alternatives "effectively denies equal protection to one class of people within the criminal justice system," the Associated Press reported.
The Georgia defendant, Maurice Walker, was initially arrested in the city of Calhoun on a misdemeanor charge of walking while intoxicated, which carries a preset $160 bail charge to avoid jail before appearing in court. Walker, who lives on Social Security disability benefits, sued Calhoun, arguing that the policy violates Supreme Court precedent on the equal protection rights of defendants. A U.S. District Court judge ruled in Walker's favor, ordering Calhoun to release misdemeanor suspects on their own recognizance, and Calhoun appealed to the U.S. appeals court.
"A system of unsecured recognizance bonds greatly reduces the incentive for defendants to appear," the city argued in its appeal. Defendants such as Walker "should not be relieved from the requirement of having to attempt to make bail merely upon a bare claim of indigent status."
Seventy percent of the 646,000 people incarcerated in more than 3,000 local jails have not yet been convicted of a crime, according to a report prepared this year by the nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative, which writes that the "constitutional principle of innocent until proven guilty only really applies to the well off." Defendants unable to meet bail aren't just the most impoverished members of society. Rather, the poorest third often cannot pay bail, the report finds, with those in jail last year having a median annual income of $15,109 before being held, which is 48 percent of the median for non-incarcerated people of similar ages.
"Because a system of money bail allows income to be the determining factor in whether someone can be released pretrial, our nation's local jails are incarcerating too many people who are likely to show up for their court date and unlikely to be arrested for new criminal activity," the report finds.
Judge seeks criminal contempt charges against Sheriff Joe Arpaio
by Kimberly Hutcherson
Tough-talking Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio could soon be facing criminal charges himself.
Federal Judge G. Murray Snow has asked the US Attorney's Office to file criminal contempt charges against Arpaio and some of his subordinates over failure to follow the court's instructions in a racial profiling case.
In May, Snow found Arpaio and three members of his office to be in civil contempt because they allegedly violated court orders designed to keep the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office from racially profiling Latinos.
Continued failure to follow the directions of the court, along with false statements and attempts to obstruct further inquiry, justified the filing of criminal contempt charges now, Snow wrote Friday.
So far, Arpaio hasn't commented on Snow's latest order.
But after the judge's decision in May, Arpaio tweeted, "I never hide from media, but my policy has been I don't talk about ongoing litigation."
'History of ... subversion'
Arpaio has "a history of obfuscation and subversion of this court's orders that is as old as this case," Snow wrote, adding that he and a deputy "intentionally made a number of false statements under oath."
"There is also probable cause to believe that many if not all of the statements were made in an attempt to obstruct any inquiry into their further wrongdoing and negligence," the judge continued.
If the US Attorney's Office decides to file criminal charges and obtains a conviction, Arpaio could face fines and even jail time.
If the office declines to pursue criminal contempt charges, Snow could appoint a special prosecutor to pursue the case, according to CNN affiliate KPHO.
'Today is a vindication'
Plaintiffs and Latino community leaders applauded Snow's order.
"Today is a vindication," said Roberto Reveles, founding president of Somos America, one of the plaintiff organizations in the case. "No one is above the law, and we all have to be believers in the rule of law."
Lawyer and community activist Daniel Ortega said the sheriff believed he's above the law.
"It is our hope that the US attorney will see fit to do what is just and what's right," he said.
Mary Rose Wilcox, a former Maricopa county supervisor who sued Arpaio over politically-motivated criminal charges, had a message for the sheriff.
"Arpaio's problems have only just begun," she said. "I think this is the beginning of the end for Arpaio. ... You're going to be facing charges and may God have mercy on your soul."
Sheriff spoke at Republican convention
Arpaio's hard stance against immigration and his aggressive roundups of undocumented immigrants have garnered national attention and a conservative fan club. He established an outdoor prison consisting of tents back in 1993. He said it saved taxpayer's money, but critics called conditions inhumane.
Arpaio has also engaged in attention-grabbing tactics such as clothing inmates in pink underwear and forcing prisoners to live on bread and water.
As recently as last year, Arpaio -- who bills himself as "America's Toughest Sheriff" -- was still insisting that President Barack Obama was not a U.S. citizen and that his birth certificate was fraudulent.
An early public supporter of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Arpaio spoke at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July.
But his notoriety may have worked against him as far as Snow was concerned. In his order, the judge wrote Arpaio continued to violate orders because of "the notoriety he received for, and the campaign donations he received because of his immigration enforcement activity."
Allegations of discrimination
In 2007, a class action lawsuit was filed against Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office over discriminatory policing and jail practices. The decision in Ortega Melendres, et al. v. Arpaio, et al. alleged racial profiling, unlawful traffic stops and illegal detention of Latinos. Friday's recommendation of criminal contempt charges stems from that case.
A federal investigation was opened in 2009, but the Justice Department said Arpaio's office "consistently refused to cooperate" over the course of 18 months.
As a result, in September 2010, the federal government sued Maricopa County under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
During that investigation, the Justice Department found that deputies "engaged in a widespread pattern or practice of law enforcement and jail activities that discriminated against Latinos," according to a December 2011 letter of finding by the department.
The stark reality that “community policing” isn't going to solve all that much
by Jazz Shaw
The very public and often acerbic debate over policing and crime in the nation's cities may eventually find its resolution not through the high profile, divisive stories which the media loves to dwell on, but the “smaller” tragedies which often go unreported. The story of Trey Dennis, which we discussed earlier this week, is only one of millions of such tales which unfold each and every year around the country. In Friday's Washington Post, Colbert King looks at another such story, this time taking place in the nation's capital. Thankfully this one doesn't involve a homicide, so it attracted even less attention from the press at large, but it was perhaps even more emblematic of the problems we're grappling with. This was the story of a shooting at a local McDonald's perpetrated by a fifteen year old child.
Shortly before noon on Friday, Aug. 12, inside a bathroom of the McDonald's restaurant at Verizon Center at 6th and F streets NW, a 25-year-old man was shot in the left side of his face, the bullet exiting his cheek.
Police arrested the shooting suspect the next day. He was 15 years old.
This kind of story gets little media coverage. It's just another snippet about black youth violence, noteworthy only because the criminal behavior occurred downtown.
We don't know the name of of the youth because the police don't release the identity of minors in such cases, but there's security camera footage showing three other persons of interest and they don't believe the shooting was random . You don't need to be a math major to add up the most likely scenario taking place here. It was almost undoubtedly yet another instance of gang violence.
King goes on to highlight several other such stories and then notes (with praise) the work which has been done by outgoing D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier, who has done much to integrate the police with those they are sworn to protect and serve in the community. But he also brings up the unpopular and politically toxic reality that no amount of police work was going to turn this shooter off the path which led him to that McDonald's bathroom.
But even Lanier, despite her skills at policing and community engagement, could not do very much about a young person who is motivated to shoot someone and has the means to do it. Police chiefs aren't mind readers. They can't be in all places at all times. Their officers can conduct searches and arrest suspects after an attack occurs, as happened in the McDonald's shooting, and hopefully get a conviction.
But when it comes to turning our youth away from robbing, stealing, shooting and stabbing one another, that burden doesn't belong on the shoulders of a police chief or any cop.
So called “community policing” is still a good thing… within reason. Getting cops out there who know the folks in the community and build bonds of trust with the law abiding will only benefit everyone in the end. But to pretend that it makes a dent in the actual problem is a politically palatable lie. Yes, you need strong bonds between law enforcement and law abiding citizens who may be suspicious of authority and the local police. That goes without saying. But for those who are actively engaged in criminal activity (at any level) in their daily lives, including younger teens, there is no amount of friendly chats or body camera mandates that will bridge that divide. For those who simply view the police as the enemy, the battle for hearts and minds is already lost.
So what could have stopped this? In the current social environment… probably nothing. But that doesn't mean that it has to stay that way forever. We can't ask the police to change the culture in our inner cities. That sort of progress requires generational evolution and it can only come from the families, the churches and the community leaders who are no longer willing to tolerate the death and mayhem. They can raise a generation of kids who will reject gang violence as the only path to “success” for some low income families. They are the ones who can foster an attitude of working with the police, not against them, to root out criminals who trade in drugs, violence and localized terror.
Until that happens, another round of government funding or better dash cams in squad cars may act as a bandage to appease politically motivated protesters, but it's not going to change the reality on the streets. And that reality is grim indeed.
Dallas police leaders planning long-term mental health care for officers
In the month since the shooting, the trauma response has shifted toward creating a long-term counseling plan for officers grieving those killed
by Tasha Tsiaperas
DALLAS — The three Dallas police counselors jumped into "triage" mode in July after a lone gunman opened fire on officers as a protest was ending downtown, killing five and injuring nine others and two civilians.
But in the month since the shooting, the trauma response has shifted toward creating a long-term counseling plan for police officers grieving those killed in the downtown ambush.
The Dallas Police Department has partnered with the mayor's office and Mental Health America of Greater Dallas to offer counseling services to police officers and their families.
There is no national standard for how a law enforcement agency should handle long-term mental health care after a mass shooting like the one in Dallas.
The department has three full-time counselors on staff and 35 employees trained to offer peer support. Counselors were sent to the southwest and north central division, where the four Dallas police officers worked. The fifth slain officer worked for Dallas Area Rapid Transit.
But three counselors aren't enough to help the entire department, which includes 3,400 sworn officers. Those counselors have been vetting outside counseling services to help officers and their families.
For many officers, though, help has come from their peers.
"A lot of what you do is establish a culture that it's OK to talk about this," said trauma surgeon and Dallas police Lt. Alex Eastman. "Emotional reactions are normal. It's OK to be upset. It's OK to cry."
Supervisors are trained on the warning signs when someone is having an unhealthy emotional response or could develop post-traumatic stress disorder, though those cases are rare.
"It crosses the line when you can't eat," Eastman said.
But even the top boss needs to be checked on. Eastman said he has asked Police Chief David Brown how he's coping.
"You don't get a pass because you're the boss," he said.
Brown told the Dallas City Council at a briefing last week that he was considering requiring all officers seek counseling. But Eastman said the department is not going to do that.
Department policy requires all officers who use deadly force to meet with a psychologist, but they are not required to go to counseling.
Counselors also are available via phone 24 hours a day. Department psychologist Trina Gordon-Hall said many of the calls come overnight, often when people can't sleep or have had nightmares.
All counseling services are free and confidential, and department officials don't know how many people have sought help. Gordon-Hall said it's important for officers to understand that what they tell her or the other counselors won't be shared with anyone.
"I do not have a direct batline to Chief Brown," she said.
At a mental health meeting last month, Gordon-Hall said her team was letting the reality of the loss of five officers sink in before reaching out to the families and friends again to offer help.
"Now it's time for the families to process," she said.
The Dallas Police Association's Assist the Officer Foundation also offers counseling services to officers and their families.
"We just want everyone to be healthy," said DPA president Ron Pinkston. "That means mentally healthy, too."
But it may take awhile for people to realize that they were even affected by the shooting. An officer might respond to a call or hear a loud noise and be emotionally transported back to that night.
And cops are notoriously bad about sharing their feelings, Pinkston said.
"We don't want to show our emotional sides," he said.
Though no dates have been set, the department and mayor's office are planning to host community meetings to talk about what happened downtown. Officials want to show that it's not taboo to seek emotional and mental support.
"We need to talk about it," said Deputy Chief Christina Smith.
NC officers help keep mother, 3 kids off street
Durham Police have paid for Swaray-Akajo and her three young children to stay at hotels and provided her with a phone to help her get back on her feet
by Colin Warren-Hicks
DURHAM, N.C. — Hope lost, Jeneh Swaray-Akajo sat collapsed, weeping, on the Department of Social Services staircase, lost for words, not knowing how to explain the circumstance to her children through tears of despair nor what to tell the security guard who had just handled her roughly and was demanding she leave.
Since Aug. 8, Durham Police Department staff members and officers have paid for Swaray-Akajo and her three young children to stay at local hotels and provided her with a cell phone, helping the N.C. Central University graduate get back on her feet.
Swaray-Akajo, who was born in Sierra Leone, came to the U.S. for "opportunity," first moving to Long Island, New York to live with her father, a civil engineer. She attended Suffolk County (N.Y.) Community before transferring to N.C. State but "didn't like it," moved to Durham and completed her B.S. degree in chemistry at NCCU, Swaray-Akajo said, later earning a master's degree online from Capella University in health care administration.
She got married and had three children, now 2, 5 and 9.
After a brief stint in California where Swaray-Akajo and her then-husband searched in vain for "better opportunity," the couple separated about eight months ago and Swaray-Akajo drove five days cross country back to Durham.
Swaray-Akajo job hunted without luck, staying in hotels before the money ran out and the mother of three sought public help to find shelter on Aug. 8.
Social Services hold her that they "lacked funding," and could not provide her a place to stay the night and that she would have to sleep in her car, police officers confirmed.
"I asked the woman (from DSS) 'Is that really the only option for me.' And she said 'Do you have any friends or family?' And I said 'No.' And she said 'Well, that's the only option we have. I'm sorry I can't help you,'" Swaray-Akajo said. "I sat down and I saw all the homeless people going around and I was afraid somebody might shoot us or harm us and I sat down and thought about this."
A security guard told Swaray-Akajo to leave the premises. But, the guard's words were lost on Swaray-Akajo -- who was lost in "deep thought."
The guard "reached" for Swaray-Akajo and said "'Hey, I told you to leave,'" and tapped on Swaray-Akajo's shoulder.
"And I said, 'Just give me like five minutes.' But, I think those five minutes were too much for him," Swaray-Akajo said. "So, he came and dragged me. By my hand, he dragged me. I wouldn't get up, so, boom."
Swaray-Akajo said the security guard looped his hands and arms beneath her shoulders and from behind picked her off the floor, "took" her "to a wall" and dropped her.
"First of all, I was in pain," Swaray-Akajo said. "But, I was so humiliated and especially my children, that they saw that. They are very young. And they were crying. They were crying. There was so much crying."
Swaray-Akajo recalls that the security guard told her that if she didn't leave, she would be going to jail and he dangled handcuffs in a menacing threat.
Durham police Officer N.P. Hawkins arrived on the scene around 7 p.m.
"She was just hugging and holding her kids," Hawkins said. "It was just the look on her face. It was like all hope was gone."
Hawkins made calls trying to find a place for the family to sleep besides their Honda CRV crammed with belongings, "They said she had to be on the list. You have to go through Social Services," Hawkins said.
Hawkins paid for a Red Roof Inn room for the family and bought a "large" Bojangles Tailgate Special with sides.
Next, Hawkins appealed to Facebook friends for further help and DPD investigators J.A. Rodriguez and K.L. Robinson answered the call, went to a 24-hour grocery store and supplied the family of four with toiletries, milk and other supplies.
A week and a half later, Swaray-Akajo has not once slept in her car because Durham police personnel have continued to donate money to fund hotel stays.
Earlier this week, Swaray-Akajo landed a job with a cleaning service.
"We have some leads about possible places in the community that are willing to take her in ... in the Durham area," Rodriguez said. "It's just a matter of time, taking her out to different locations to find a place."
Swaray-Akajo called Hawkins "an angel."
From the FBI
FBI Releases New Bank Robbers Mobile App
Asking for Help in Identifying Unknown Suspects
Back in December 2012, the FBI launched its Bank Robbers website featuring a gallery of unknown bank robbery suspects wanted by the Bureau. Because the FBI, in its own bank robbery investigations, focuses on the most violent and/or the most prolific serial offenders who often cross jurisdictions, the suspects included on BankRobbers.fbi.gov are a dangerous lot and public assistance in identifying them plays a crucial role in our efforts to apprehend them.
Today, we're enhancing our efforts to publicize these dangerous criminals by launching our mobile Bank Robbers application for iPhones (plus iPads and iPods) and Android smartphones, which should make it even easier for the public—as well as financial institutions, law enforcement agencies, and others—to view photos and information about bank robberies in different geographic areas of the country. The app, which works with BankRobbers.fbi.gov, can be downloaded for free from Apple's app store or Google Play.
Using the app, bank robberies can be sorted by the date they occurred, the category they fall under (i.e., armed serial bank robber), the FBI field office working the case, or the state where the robbery occurred. If the location services on your device are enabled, you can view a map that shows the relevant bank robberies that took place in your geographic area. You also access surveillance photos, physical description information, robbery details, and the FBI's wanted poster for each suspect. Users can also select push notifications to be informed when a bank robbery has taken place near their location.
The app also provides quick access to a link directly to the FBI online tips page so users can contact us immediately if they have information on any of the robberies or suspects.
Some of the unknown bank robbers currently being sought by the FBI include the following:
A suspect, wanted for nine bank robberies in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, displayed at various times handguns and even a sawed-off shotgun during eight of those robberies. Details
Another suspect, wanted in connection with 11 bank robberies in Pennsylvania, either carried or wore a semi-automatic handgun while verbally demanding money. Details
In California, a suspect who reportedly wears various disguises has committed four robberies at California banks while displaying a handgun. Details
And in Phoenix, this subject entered a bank, pushed an elderly woman out of his way, and pointed a handgun at bank employees and customers demanding money. Details
According to the FBI's bank crime statistics for 2015, there were 4,091 robberies, burglaries, and larcenies committed under the federal bank robbery statute in a variety of financial institutions—including commercial banks, savings and loan associations, credit unions, and armored carrier companies. Demand notes were a favorite tool used by bank robbers (2,416 times), but actual firearms were used 877 times, the threat of weapons was used 1,762 times, and explosive devices used or threatened occurred 108 times.
U.S. to Phase Out Use of Private Prisons for Federal Inmates
by Charlie Savage
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said on Thursday that it would begin to phase out the use of private for-profit prisons to house federal inmates. The Bureau of Prisons had resorted to such prisons to ease overcrowding as the incarceration rate soared, but the number of federal inmates has been dropping since 2013.
In announcing the policy shift, the Justice Department cited that decline, as well as a critical recent report by the department's independent inspector general about safety and security problems in private prisons.
“Private prisons served an important role during a difficult period, but time has shown that they compare poorly to our own bureau facilities,” Sally Q. Yates, the deputy attorney general, wrote in a memo to the bureau. Such prisons, she said, “do not save substantially on costs,” and they provide fewer rehabilitative services, like educational programs and job training, that are “essential to reducing recidivism and improving public safety.”
Ms. Yates instructed the Bureau of Prisons not to renew contracts to use private prisons as existing ones expire, or to at least “substantially reduce” the number of beds that future contracts will provide.
By May 2017, Ms. Yates wrote, the bureau is projected to house just 14,200 inmates in private prisons, down from about 30,000 in 2013. There are about 195,000 federal inmates; they make up a small percentage of the roughly 1.5 million prisoners in state and federal facilities.
As a first step, Ms. Yates said, a pending contract solicitation will be scaled down from 10,800 prisoner slots to a maximum of 3,600. Also, the bureau recently declined to renew a contract for a private prison that had provided beds for up to 1,200 federal inmates.
Advocates of prisoner rights applauded the policy shift — part of a broad effort by the administration to overhaul the criminal justice system — and called on state prison agencies to follow suit. The change was first reported on Thursday by The Washington Post.
This month, Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department's inspector general, issued a report on the bureau's use of privately operated prisons, which it said began on a small scale in 1997 to alleviate overcrowding. It found that private prisons were more violent and problematic than public prisons by many measures, including discovery of contraband like cellphones, reports of assaults, and lockdowns.
The inspector general report said that the Bureau of Prisons spent $639 million on prison contracts in 2014, and it identified three corporations as running the private prisons used by the federal government: Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group, and Management and Training Corporation.
Issa Arnita, a spokesman for Management and Training Corporation, expressed disappointment in the administration's move and pushed back. He wrote in an email that if the decision was “based solely on declining inmate populations, there may be some justification, but to base this decision on cost, safety and security, and programming is wrong.”
He cited a 2015 Bureau of Prisons report showing that it costs about $63 a day to house an inmate in a privately operated prison, compared with about $80 a day to house an inmate in a low-security public prison.
While acknowledging the inspector general's finding that private prisons have had a higher rate of violent episodes, Mr. Arnita said that was misleading “because it doesn't take into account the vastly different inmate populations in contract and public prisons.” The bureau has tended to house in private prisons noncitizen inmates linked to gangs, he said.
Jonathan Burns, the director of public affairs for Corrections Corporation of America, also criticized the impression left by the inspector general report, saying it “failed to account for the impact of elements such as population demographics or the scope and efficacy of efforts to mitigate contraband.”
“The findings,” he added, “simply don't match up to the numerous independent studies that show our facilities to be equal or better with regard to safety and quality, or the excellent feedback we get from our partners at all levels of government.”
But David Fathi, the director of the National Prison Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, called the policy change “an important and groundbreaking decision,” and he called on state prison agencies “to stop handing control of prisons to for-profit companies” as well.
The step joins previous efforts the Obama administration has made to overhaul the criminal justice system. A generation ago, amid a rise in crime rates, state and federal lawmakers began passing “tough on crime” laws, including mandatory minimum sentences for drug possession.
That led to a huge increase in incarceration rates; at the federal level, the inmate population swelled nearly 800 percent from 1980 to 2013, when it peaked at 220,000. As crime rates have now fallen to or near four-decade lows, political leaders at the state and federal levels and across the ideological divide — some focused on the cost to taxpayers, some on human costs — have increasingly agreed that too many people are behind bars.
The Obama administration in its first term worked with Congress to reduce the disparity in sentencing for crack versus powder forms of cocaine. And in 2013, Eric H. Holder Jr., the attorney general at the time, announced several changes intended to reduce incarceration, including a policy of not listing specific quantities of drugs in indictments, to avoid bringing mandatory minimum sentencing laws into play.
Ms. Yates said that and other changes made in 2013 had helped reduce the federal inmate population, making it possible to start phasing out the use of private prisons.
“This is the first step in the process of reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons,” Ms. Yates wrote in a blog post published on the Justice Department's website, adding that the steps put the department “on a path to ensure that all federal inmates are ultimately housed at bureau facilities.”
Why New Mexico wants to restore the death penalty
The governor of New Mexico is citing the recent high-profile killings of police officers in her state and elsewhere as a reason to bring back the death penalty.
by Lucy Schouten
New Mexico's governor is reframing the death penalty debate as the proper response to recent police killings, including one officer killed Friday in her own state.
This response to police killings bucks a national trend as many states and courts are backing away from the death penalty, in part due to practical constraints on cost and the drugs used in capital punishment. In New Mexico, the push for its return faces opposition from Democrats, which have the majority in the state legislature.
But Republican Gov. Susanna Martinez said the shooting of a police officer in Hatch, N.M., on Friday, as well as several police killings elsewhere in the nation, prove the punishment is needed to deter society's grossest crimes, Dan Boyd reported for the Albuquerque Journal.
"People need to ask themselves, if the man who ambushed and killed five police officers in Dallas had lived, would he deserve the ultimate penalty," Governor Martinez said Wednesday in a prepared statement. "How about the heartless violent criminals who killed Officer Jose Chavez in Hatch and left his children without their brave and selfless dad? Do they deserve the ultimate penalty? Absolutely. Because a society that fails to adequately protect and defend those who protect all of us is a society that will be undone and unsafe."
New Mexico repealed the death penalty in 2009, and Wednesday's announcement marked the first time the governor had brought up the issue since it failed to pass a Democratic legislature in 2011.
Third Judicial District Attorney Mark D'Antonio, whose office filed a murder charge against Officer Chavez' killers, said such crimes could be a good reason to discuss the death penalty again.
"The death penalty should be the last resort for the worst of the worst and in certain situations like for cop-killers," he said in a statement.
The new argument goes up against recent struggles even in generally conservative states to carry out executions, as one company after another has refused to sell its drugs to states for lethal injection, as the Christian Science Monitor's Patrik Jonsson wrote:
Public opinion – as shown in polls as well as the frequency of death penalty convictions – has shifted. Fifty-six percent of Americans favored capital punishment in 2015, but that's down from 78 percent just 20 years ago, according to the Pew Research Center.
Last year, the US saw only 49 death sentences imposed, a 33 percent drop from the previous year, and down from a peak of 315 in 1996. Two-thirds of last year's death sentences came from juries in only 2 percent of US counties, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
A death penalty proposal has received similar framing in Illinois, where Republican state Rep. Mark Batinick wants the killing of first responders to be punishable by death, the Illinois News Network reported. Illinois abolished its death penalty in 2011.
"These are the people that put themselves in harm's way to protect us," he has said. "They run into wherever the danger is, and right now I feel like they don't necessarily feel like we have their back and we're protecting them."
But Robert Dunham for the Death Penalty Information Center said the measure is unlikely to move forward, noting that Louisiana and Texas both have a death penalty already.
The representative cited the ambush and killings of police in Baton Rouge, La., and Dallas as giving people a new reason to support the death penalty.
"I think if you look at the incidents that have happened recently and then what the effects of those incidents are after the fact, maybe people will just start changing their mind," he said, according to the Illinois News Network.
Images show miserable conditions at Border Patrol holding cells in Arizona
by Fox News Latino
Holding cells where undocumented immigrants caught entering the United States illegally are held are cold, cramped and dirty, a newly released video shows.
The images, taken in 2015 in an Arizona Border Patrol facility, were released Thursday by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection as part of a federal court case. They show dozens of men crowded into a large cell, wrapped in heat blankets, presumably to keep warm in the frigid room.
Some of the video images reveal empty cells nearby where bedding is unused, while the crowded cell is outfitted only with benches.
Additionally, some images show women and children in a cell without bedding, wrapped in emergency blankets. They are supposed to be given a mat and blanket when entering the processing facilities, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Although the images are of short-term holding facilities, the detentions can last several days.
“They were never intended and not designed to be long-term facilities,” Nora Preciado, an attorney with the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), one of the organizations suing the U.S. Border Patrol over its treatment of migrants in the processing centers told the Times.
Both the NILC and the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona claim that conditions in the cells are so deplorable as to be un-Constitutional, and the lawsuit alleges that the Border Patrol won't allow detainees to shower or provide necessities for basic hygiene – abuses which ACLU and NILC say is not captured on the video footage.
The Border Patrol says that it maintains temperature in the cells between 68 and 80 degrees, but admits that trash can pile up. Companies are contracted to clean at each facility.
U.S. District Court Judge David C. Bury unsealed the video over objections by government lawyers.
Attorneys for plaintiffs argue that the images are only the tip of the iceberg about the conditions of detainees.
“When we start to depose people who worked at those places,” Preciado told the Times, “we'll learn a lot more.”
A Different Beat
On the heels of tragedy, community policing in Dallas remains as valuable as ever.
by Skip Hollandsworth
On a sizzling afternoon in late July, I rode through southeast Dallas, one of the city's poorest, most crime-ridden areas, with Joshua Shipp and Michael Stampley. Shipp, who is 31, has been with the police department for nine years, Stampley, who is 30, for seven. For most of their careers, they had been assigned to patrol divisions, chasing after lawbreakers and making routine arrests. But now they are members of the Neighborhood Police Team. Their job is to get to know residents and help them address problems. “We want them to understand that we're here to make their lives better,” Shipp told me. “We're here to do some good.”
Shipp, who is white, and Stampley, who is black, headed to a modest frame home, owned by an elderly woman who had called 911 to complain about a neighbor's dying pecan tree, whose limbs were hanging over her backyard. The two officers next met with a lady who had reported that her new neighbors had no running water and were urinating off the front porch. They drove to another area to check on a dilapidated house that was suspected of being used for drug buys because the residents never pulled back their curtains.
Then Shipp and Stampley rolled up to a small, cash-only grocery store, where some young men were hanging out underneath a huge “No Loitering” sign. The officers guessed they were likely members of the 357 Dixon Circle Crips, a local gang, and a couple of them quickly walked away, their hands in their pockets. A few others glared at the officers. “What you want?” one of them asked.
“We just wanted to drop by, make sure everything is okay,” Stampley replied.
“You what?” the young man said. Laughing, he too walked away.
The Neighborhood Police Team, which is made up of approximately eighty officers spread throughout the city, was created by police chief David Brown after he was appointed to run the department, in 2010. Most Americans—let alone Texans—knew little about Brown, a striking, muscular 55-year-old who shaves his head and wears thick, black-rimmed glasses, until the evening of July 7. That's when Micah Johnson, a mentally unstable veteran who had become enraged over the police shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, killed four Dallas police officers and one Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer as a peaceful Black Lives Matter march was coming to an end.
For Dallas, it was a stunning spasm of violence that fed into a larger narrative, which had been playing out across the country. But it was also confounding. Under Brown's tenure, initiatives such as the Neighborhood Police Team were designed to improve relations between residents and police.
In the aftermath of those murders, Brown, who is black, projected a calm, steady demeanor that helped ease tensions and unify the city. At memorial services and vigils for the fallen officers, he delivered heartrending speeches that captivated people around the country. MSNBC anchor Brian Williams, among others, was so impressed that he suggested the chief would make a good presidential candidate, and an unofficial Twitter campaign on Brown's behalf soon followed.
The media were also captivated by Brown's personal story. Raised in South Dallas, he attended the University of Texas at Austin with the help of an academic scholarship but dropped out in 1983 so that he could join the Dallas Police Department. He had dealt with tragedy himself: His brother had been killed by drug dealers in Phoenix; his former partner had been killed in the line of duty; and only weeks after he was named chief, his 27-year-old son, who was bipolar, killed a police officer and another man in the nearby town of Lancaster and was subsequently killed by police.
As Dallas's top cop, Brown has been a passionate advocate of a law enforcement technique known as community policing. Compared with traditional police practices, in which officers in high-crime neighborhoods race up and down streets in their squad cars, responding to 911 calls, community policing requires officers to get out of their cars and develop relationships with residents in hopes of finding ways to stop crime before it starts. It is costly, requiring additional manpower. And it doesn't immediately lead to quantifiable results. Yet Brown has long been convinced that community policing is the best way to defuse the smoldering racial tensions between minority residents and cops that have exploded in cities like Ferguson, Baltimore, and Baton Rouge. (Indeed, a scathing report just issued by the Justice Department concluded that officers in Baltimore had systematically harassed black residents.) Community policing, Brown has declared, is what modern-day police departments need to look like. “I think it should be the way we do business, a way that includes the public.”
Years ago, when Brown's friends asked him why he left UT to become a police officer, he told them he wanted to help end the crack cocaine epidemic and subsequent violence that was destroying his neighborhood. (Brown, a private man who generally shuns the media, did not respond to requests for an interview.) But he was no cookie-cutter cop. According to former Dallas police chief David Kunkle, Brown did not hesitate to “challenge the status quo in a big way.” He often argued, for instance, that a police department could never arrest its way to success in a high-crime neighborhood. “He would say that the citizens in those neighborhoods had to be part of the solution,” said Major Max Geron, a 24-year veteran of the department. “And to make that happen, those citizens had to see police officers as a force for good.”
That, of course, is easier said than done. For decades in the city's poorer minority communities, the police had been regarded as the enemy, brutal and abusive. During his own childhood, Brown had been warned by his parents and grandparents to keep his distance from police officers. (He once said that his neighborhood's mantra was “You get the police, you get in trouble.”) Officer-involved shootings of citizens only added to the suspicion. In 1986 he watched South Dallas erupt in protests after a fellow police officer shot and killed Etta Collins, a beloved black Sunday school teacher who had called police because she thought she heard a burglar.
Brown never forgot those incidents, and when he took over the department, he vowed that the relationship between police officers and residents would improve. One of the first tasks he set for himself was to go after police misconduct. In 2011 Brown fired an officer who had beaten a man with a flashlight after he had been restrained, and he publicly praised the cop who had broken the “blue wall of silence” by reporting the attack. In 2012, after an officer shot and killed an unarmed black man whom the officer had chased out of a South Dallas drug house, Brown instituted more reforms. He ordered his officers to participate in deadly-force training sessions every few months instead of every couple of years—officers were taught to use Tasers before resorting to a gun—and he revamped the rules for foot chases, allowing his officers to pursue suspects in only the most serious instances.
At the same time, he set about winning over the trust of minority residents. Besides moving officers out of patrol divisions and putting them on the Neighborhood Police Team, he ordered other officers to conduct foot patrols in high-crime areas. He also created the Youth Outreach Unit, assigning thirty officers to work with at-risk kids from the poorer neighborhoods. The officers coached basketball, soccer, and boxing leagues. They supervised gardening and robotics camps, college prep and financial education classes. One officer even taught guitar lessons.
Needless to say, plenty of Dallas cops have rolled their eyes at Brown's ideas. In fact, earlier this year, the leaders of one patrol officers' union called for Brown's resignation, claiming that he was not using officers appropriately. “Listen, I'm all for having some officers throw a football around with kids,” one veteran patrol officer told me. “And it's fine with me that we've got officers who go around and talk with people who've got complaints. But our number one job is to chase the bad guys and get them off the streets before they commit another crime. In the end, that's what the public wants.”
Brown, however, has stayed the course. Explaining the Youth Outreach Unit to a committee of city council members, he said, “Some may ask, ‘What does this have to do with crime fighting?' Everything. This is front-end work. An arrest is the back end. We want to work with youths so they don't become the criminals we arrest.” He also has been equally passionate about defending his Neighborhood Police Team, claiming that it's the best way he knows for distrustful residents to develop a level of comfort with police officers. Brown has even gone out to those neighborhoods to hold what he calls “Chief on the Beat” meetings, where he updates residents on police policies and activities.
The results appear to be promising. Police department statistics show that excessive-force complaints have fallen 80 percent between 2009 and 2015; officer-involved shootings have also decreased. What's more, according to Brown, overall crime rates in Dallas are at a fifty-year low. Although it's hard to pinpoint exactly why there's less crime in Dallas, Brown has no doubt that his budding community-policing programs should receive at least partial credit.
Neighborhood police officers Shipp and Stampley couldn't agree more. “What you see us doing might not look very dramatic,” Shipp told me during our ride through southeast Dallas. “We're not turning on our lights and sirens. But in our own way, we're making an impact. When citizens realize that we are genuinely here to help them with their problems, no matter how small, then many of them, in turn, start helping us. They start giving us tips about illegal activities that they know are taking place. They tell us about gang activity and prostitution and gambling and the locations of drug houses. They give us a chance to clean up their neighborhoods so that they can feel safer.”
Shipp and Stampley cruised past an empty, ramshackle house where they had been the previous day to talk to some kids who, according to a citizen's complaint, had been gathering there to throw rocks at cars. On this day, the kids were gone. “We'll come back around again tomorrow, and then the day after that, just to make sure the kids are gone for good,” said Shipp.
They drove on, pulling up to a stoplight. On the corner was a man smoking a cigarette. For a moment, he seemed to scowl at the officers. Then, apparently recognizing Shipp and Stampley, he raised his hand and waved. The officers waved back. The light changed, and they drove on.
Two local police chiefs visit the White House to discuss community policing
by Emily Satchell
HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Two local Peninsula police chiefs were recently invited to the White House to discuss 21st century community policing.
“It's very evident that in no time in policing's history has it been more important that we focus on things such as relationship and trust building,” said Newport News Police Chief Richard Myers.
Myers, along with Hampton Police Chief Terry Sult, were on a short list of chiefs from around the country to be part of the discussion.
“We have to constantly evolve,” Sult added. “We have to constantly evolve to the expectations of the public. We are the public's police department.”
The chiefs agree that this is the most difficult time ever to be in law enforcement. Officers now have to not only be focused on answering calls, but also getting out of the car and getting to know the people they protect.
“Well, they get to know who their police officers are,” Sult said. “They got to have trust in their police department.”
Myers says with trust, comes being able to solve more crimes.
“We will never finish learning and applying new techniques and looking at new strategies,” Myers added.
Myers and Sult say they travel a lot together. They say it gives them a change to bounce new ideas off each other.
“On the ride back from the meeting, we are able to kick around ideas,” Myers said.
“It speaks volumes that we are traveling together and we are attending together, but I think it is just the White House underscoring the importance of this initiative,” Sult added.
Sult was also asked to give a presentation on his department's “Open Data Project”. Sult says it is all about releasing as much data at possible to the community.
Foot patrolling is success of Newburgh community policing, chief says
by MidHudson News
NEWBURGH – Police brass updated Newburgh residents about the city department's successes in a forum Thursday evening.
Chief Daniel Cameron attributes the successes in large part to community-police relations with foot patrols scoring high.
“From the second we started foot patrols we were getting great feedback, which lead to invitations to different community events, and us not turning down any invitations, and us finding the funding to make sure that we can attend all these community initiatives and that's huge, huge to the point where we don't have a crowd of people in the room at a Strengthen Police/Community Relations who are angry with the police,” said Cameron. “They see what we're doing on a daily basis. They know we're committed to it and they know we've been doing it, so we do what we say.”
Since the beginning of these forums, the city police have invested the entirety of a $60,000 grant from Senator William Larkin into their community policing efforts. Also, last year, there was a 42 percent increase in self-initiated community policing activities by the city's officers; meaning, officers are integrating themselves, as well as building community relationships, more and more.
In addition, there have been a number of other programs showing success to that end. Newburgh is boasting the highest class county in the country for the Youth Police Initiative. The city's Crisis Intervention Program is becoming a best practice model for departments across the state. Their Group Violence Intervention is putting pressure on the smallest groups who are committing the majority of violent crimes, and community/police relations forums are becoming fuller, more dynamic and longer in duration.
It was apparent that the forums, which in the beginning showed an obvious tension between both parties, have evolved into a successful partnership, filled with community organizations and residents willing to commit to working together.
Imam Hamzah Alameen, the executive director of clinical services and pastoral care at Crisis Recovery Network LLC, who was very vocal during the forum, said he is pleased with the open-mindedness of Newburgh's police department, but submitted that a next step be taken to integrate the municipal programs at an even deeper level with the families.
“Newburgh is really, really at a social deficit is the best way that I can say it, and the way to improve it is through families,” said Alameen. “You can't work against the family and expect the family to work with you. You have to show the family there's some advantage to working with law enforcement and these other programs.”
Alameen, who is also a behavioral science researcher, said empirical data shows that treating a family, as opposed to focusing just on the offender is more effective.
“You've got the child in services, why don't we treat the whole family while we've got them?” Alameen asked “Why aren't we treating the mother, the father? I don't care if he's in jail or on the street, wherever he's at, let's treat them all; we have them there. Don't you know that the kid is not going to be too enthused about going into treatment, it's punitive, but the mother would be.”
Chief Cameron said they are not turning down any invitations, or input, from anyone who wants to partner with them in this endeavor.
“Any crime problem cannot be solved without the community,” Cameron said.
North Charleston council looks at outline for 25-member community police committee
by Brenda Rindge
A citizens' commission to advise the North Charleston Police Department will be made up of 25 residents selected by committees led by City Council members, according to a new draft document.
North Charleston City Council on Thursday got its first look at the proposed document that would create the North Charleston Citizens' Advisory Commission on Community/Police Relations. The commission's purpose is to enhance communications between the community and the police.
The document was first drafted by a working group of people who began meeting in May 2015, in the wake of the Walter Scott shooting, with Walter Atkinson, a community relations expert from the U.S. Department of Justice, North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers and Mayor Keith Summey.
It outlines guidelines for forming and operating the community panel that would have the authority to review department policies, hear residents' complaints, help recruit new officers and review department data, including information on traffic stops and internal investigations, in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, according to city attorney Brady Hair.
In June, a draft document was presented at two community meetings, during which some committee members complained about a lack of transparency in the way the document was drafted. None of the committee members were at Thursday's meeting.
“When we met with the public in June, this said ‘North Charleston Police Department Community Commission,' ” said Guy Van Horne of the Police Department. “The reactions were that we were trying to control things too much. Since June, we've changed our focus and tried to do everything we can to remove ourselves from playing active roles in this.”
The proposal incorporated feedback from those meetings, said Hair. Council members then added their own comments.
“We are seeking input so that we can have a good document, so that we can move forward with a commission that represents the city and works with the police department,” Driggers said.
An updated version will be presented to council next week, then it will go to the working group in September and before the community again in October, officials said.
One of the biggest changes since the original proposal is who will comprise the committee.
The original document suggested that founding members of a police panel formed in North Charleston in 2008 decide if they will serve and additional members be selected by each council member, Summey and the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. The school district would appoint two students.
Those who desire to be on the commission must apply. They have to live in North Charleston, not have any outstanding warrants and complete the North Charleston Citizens Public Safety Academy within 12 months of appointment.
“What we got (at the community meetings) is that they didn't want City Council to appoint members,” Hair said. “They wanted the people to have a voice in the appointment, and they wanted two representatives.”
Now, the plan calls for each council member to head a committee of constituents who will review and select two applicants from their district to serve. The mayor, Chamber and North Charleston's three non-magnet high schools will each select one member.
Because council members felt like a committee with more than 40 members would be too large, they elected not to automatically include the 17 founding members of the police panel. Instead, they can apply.
“It is not our intention to bring together like-minded citizens to look at what we are doing,” said Van Horne. “That's not the transparency that the community wants. We need those people to challenge us to try to help us get better.”
Councilman Mike Brown again questioned a requirement that committee members not be felons, a topic he spoke on during the community meetings.
“What we are trying to do is tailor this commission to what the public actually wants,” he said. “There is something that at both meetings people disagree with and that is that they not have felonies. Some of the people who are very active in our community have been convicted felons. They went to prison and that was their debt for the crime that they paid and now they should get the same liberty as everybody else.”
Critics of the Police Department since former officer Michael Slager's arrest in Scott's death have sought a panel with subpoena powers to investigate allegations of abuse. But the new panel will not have that authority; city leaders have said they would not agree to back that.
The push to create the board is separate from an analysis of city police by the Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services office.
Earlier this year, the city asked the COPS office to complete a six-month examination of the police force and suggest possible changes in policies and practices that would help improve its ties with locals. But that also will not probe allegations of misconduct.
Walter Scott, 50, was a motorist who fled from an April 4, 2015, traffic stop and fought with Slager before the policeman shot him five times as he ran away. Slager said that Scott had grabbed his Taser before a bystander captured the shooting death on video.
Chicago police recommend firing of 7 cops in McDonald shooting
Seven Chicago police officers should be fired for filing false reports in the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald in 2014, the police superintendent said Thursday
by Don Babwin and Michael Tarm
CHICAGO — Seven Chicago police officers should be fired for filing false reports in the fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald in 2014, the police superintendent said Thursday, in a move aimed at repairing the reputation of a department dogged by decades of cover-ups and scandal.
The release last year of official police reports that directly contradicted video evidence of McDonald's shooting by a white police officer turned a spotlight on longstanding concerns about a "code of silence" in Chicago's police force, in which officers stay quiet about or conceal possible misconduct by colleagues.
Superintendent Eddie Johnson said in a statement Thursday that after reviewing documents, video and other evidence, he was accepting the recommendation of the city's inspector general to fire seven officers because of their accounts of the incident.
The officers violated Rule 14, which prohibits "making a false report, written or oral," said Johnson. He did not name the seven officers.
Johnson will take his recommendation to the city's police board, which will make the final decision. The process typically takes about seven months, so any decision to fire the officers isn't likely until next year.
Johnson became the superintendent after Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired Garry McCarthy because of the McDonald shooting video and his recommendation marks the single biggest decision he has made for a department long dogged by suspicions that it condones or covers up the brutality and misconduct of its officers.
Dean Angelo Sr., the head of the Chicago police union, defended the officers. He said their interpretation of what unfolded may have been accurate from their perspective, noting that perceptions can be affected in high-stress situations, like shootings.
"That's what humans go through," he said. "And contrary to popular belief, police officers are human beings."
But community activists praised Johnson's announcement, saying the rare move shows he is serious about overhauling department practices.
"I think Eddie Johnson gets it. He gets the crisis that we are in and how to solve it," said Jedidiah Brown, a leader of a group called Chicago Life.
Thomas Gradel, a co-author of Crime, Corruption and Cover-ups in the Chicago Police Department, a 2013 report published by the University of Illinois at Chicago, said the recommendation that so many officers be fired was unprecedented in the city and a step toward real reform.
"I don't see how they can change back to the way things were before," he said.
Johnson's decision stems from a scene captured on dashcam video taken in October 2014 in which Officer Jason Van Dyke can be seen firing 16 times at McDonald, including when McDonald was on the ground. The release of the video the next year — on the orders of a judge — sparked days of protests, an investigation of Chicago police practices by the U.S. Justice Department and promises of reforms by Emanuel who found himself scrambling to restore public confidence in his office and the police force.
Prosecutors filed first-degree murder charges against Van Dyke, who has pleaded not guilty.
The subsequent release of police reports raised serious questions about the accounts of other officers at the scene, which contradicted what was on the video. As investigations into the incident continued, a judge took the rare step of appointing a special prosecutor to examine the actions of officers who were at the scene.
Included among hundreds of documents that the city has released are officers' accounts describing McDonald menacingly advancing on police and waving a knife threateningly at them right before Van Dyke fired.
Van Dyke's partner, Joseph Walsh, told an investigator he repeatedly yelled "Drop the knife!" at McDonald and backed up as the teenager advanced at the officers. Further, he supported Van Dyke's claim saying McDonald "swung the knife toward the officers in an aggressive manner" and that he believed McDonald was "attempting to kill them."
Another wrote that, Van Dyke "in defense of his life ... backpedaled and fired his handgun at McDonald."
Multiple officers wrote that, even after McDonald had been shot, he still posed a threat.
"McDonald fell to the ground but continued to move and continued to grasp the knife, refusing to let go of it," one report reads.
But the video belies those accounts.
In it, Van Dyke is seen stepping from a squad car and shooting almost immediately. After one or two shots, McDonald collapses, barely moving except for slight twitches as bullets pummel his body. Court filings by prosecutors say all but a few of the 16 shots hitting McDonald were fired over 13 seconds as he lay in the street. Prosecutors say the 3-inch blade was found folded into the handle.
The inspector general's report centered on the actions of 10 officers, including the seven whom Johnson says should be dismissed. Two of the officers cited in the report have since retired. Johnson said he disagrees with the recommendation to fire an eighth officer, saying there was "insufficient evidence to prove those respective allegations."
Angelo said the seven officers must rightly wonder if the police board will listen to them defend their actions that night given months of protests against police in Chicago and other U.S. cities.
"How comfortable are you that you are going to get a fair shake?" he said. "No one stands on the side of policing right now."
Wash. PD's release of arrest footage raises questions
A viral video of an officer's interaction with an apparently intoxicated man raises questions about how recordings of police interactions with the public are shared
by Jonathan Glover
SPOKANE, Wash. — A body camera video of a Spokane police officer's interaction with an apparently intoxicated man has gone viral, receiving over half a million views in just two days.
Although a success in terms of online views, the video raises legal and ethical questions about how recordings of police interactions with the public are shared.
The man's attorney and the ACLU are questioning the Spokane Police Department's motives in posting the video online, especially because the suspect's name was used in the video description and his face is in full view.
"I haven't even received any evidence yet for the case," said Frank Cikutovich, the lawyer representing the man in the video. "Who are we paying the city to post on Facebook like this and put (in) quippy hashtags?"
Spokane police spokeswoman Officer Teresa Fuller said the department has created a position with responsibilities that include finding and redacting body camera footage for public relations purposes. Fuller said she hopes the job is made a full-time position.
Body camera footage of routine incidents give the department an important tool to help the public better understand their jobs, she said.
"Those didn't make the news before because we had nothing to show for it," Fuller said. "These types of videos are ones that our citizens want to -- and should -- see."
The video appeared on SPD's Facebook page Wednesday, where it has garnered almost 4,000 shares and more than 400,000 views. The media site Worldstar Hip Hop, which often features videos of people fighting, picked it up a day later, where it has received over 150,000 views.
The four-minute video from Aug. 1 shows the young man in downtown Spokane arguing with Sgt. Eric Kannberg. The man, identified as Cory Counts in the video's description, appears belligerent and repeatedly challenges a calm Kannberg to touch him as he stands a few feet from the officer.
Counts appears to be on the phone with someone intermittently throughout the video, though he also believes he's recording the officer.
"I dare you to touch me," Counts says in the video. "All of this is being recorded."
Throughout the video, Kannberg asks Counts to step aside so he can help another man in the background who is on the ground. At about the three-minute mark, Counts slaps Kannberg's hands, prompting the officer to tell him he's under arrest. In response, Counts runs across the street and falls. The video cuts to Kannberg arresting Counts a short time later.
"Get on your stomach," Kannberg says. "Put your arms out to the side. You're under arrest."
The description of the video on the SPD's Facebook page appears to make light of the situation, saying the video should be filed in the #PatienceIsAVirtue file" and that Counts "even used his #PhoneAFriend option." Many of the comments on Facebook commend the officer's actions, heralding him for staying calm.
But Cikutovich says Kannberg likely is calm because he knows he's being recorded, while Counts is not aware of the rolling camera.
"I think it was twofold: one, to show how awesome the police officer was, who knew he was recorded, and two, to shame Mr. Counts," Cikutovich said, on why he believes the video was released the way it was. "If they want to just show how awesome the officer is, they could have blurred the video and not released his name."
Fuller said the video was released to show the public what much of police work is like and how well officers usually handle difficult situations.
Shankar Narayan, director of technology at the American Civil Liberties Union's Seattle office, has a different opinion. Narayan had previously disagreed with a state bill signed into law last year that essentially handed all responsibility of police body camera video evidence to police departments, including letting them decide what to cut out of the video and when and where they can be released.
He said the video is a clear example of why state legislators need to create restrictions on police body camera footage.
"It's possible the SPD was within the letter of the law statewide in posting the video, but the question arises, why did they post it?" Narayan said. "As you see, those are cameras that capture people not necessarily at their best moments. It's entirely at the discretion of the police as to whether they're released or not."
And it's the circumstances of the videos' posting that has Cikutovich most upset. After Counts was released from jail, his lawyer met with him and asked what had happened that night. Counts said he blacked out and couldn't remember anything, Cikutovich said.
When the SPD posted the video Wednesday, Cikutovich said it was the first time he knew any details of the case -- and was seeing it the same time as thousands of other viewers.
"It just surprised me to see that the Spokane Police Department would put a video of a pending case on the internet like that," he said.
Cikutovich and Narayan said police had an agenda other than just simply making the officer look better. In past cases, Narayan said, the suspect's name wasn't released and their face was blurred, unless the law enforcement agency was trying to damage the suspect's character.
"They can put these narratives in place, where words appear on the screen before and after the video," Narayan said. "If these cameras are meant to hold police departments accountable, then why are we handing them the keys to mount a PR campaign before these facts are seen?"
But Fuller denies such claims, saying the video was meant only to inform the public about the department's good work.
"Our intent was to show the extreme amount of patience our officer demonstrated during that encounter," she said. "Because the adult subject had been arrested and the video was taken in public, no redaction was necessary."
Cikutovich said Friday that Counts is considering filing a lawsuit against the department.
Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan acknowledged the controversy surrounding the video, but praised the officer's work and said he didn't have a problem with the city posting it, despite the explicit language used by Counts.
"The subject of that video really acted, for a lack of a better word, disorderly," he said. "I think that the police officer showed great professionalism and restraint in the way the incident was handled."
In an interview with the Spokesman-Review in March 2014, before body cameras were widely used by the department, then-police Chief Frank Straub appears hesitant about releasing embarrassing videos from body cameras.
"We see people at their best and we see people at their worst, and I wonder sometimes why it's necessary to record some of those interactions," Straub told The Spokesman-Review. "People that are grieving. People that are traumatized. People that are under the influence. Really? At the end of the day, why is that something that's good for public consumption?"
Vt. officials warn of deadly ‘Game of Thrones' strain of heroin
The strain, which dealers have coined ‘Game of Thrones', is heroin with possible fentanyl mixed in
by PoliceOne Staff
BURLINGTON, Vt. — Vermont health officials are warning street drug users and first responders of a new dangerous strain of heroin that is causing a wave of overdoses.
The Vermont Department of Health reports the strain, possibly mixed with fentanyl, is supposedly 50 times stronger — and deadlier — than what is usually found on the market. The bag bears a “Game of Thrones” logo.
A news release put out by the Vermont DOH on Monday says officials believe the drug is so popular because the bags display the logo of the television show.
Vermont officials tell TIME that at least 10 people over the weekend were given naloxone after ODing on the drug.
"If you continue to use street drugs, or know someone who does, we urge you to be aware of the current danger out there," Health Commissioner Harry Chen said in the news release. "We want to prevent deaths from overdose, and have alerted naloxone distribution sites and given some precautionary advice for those people who continue to use."
Key takeaways from the NLEOMF/COPS report on deadly calls and fatal encounters
Given the current climate of anti-cop rhetoric and increase in violent attacks on police, the findings and recommendations in the NLEOMF/COPS Office report should be taken to heart
by Doug Wyllie
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and the U.S. Department of Justice, COPS Office recently released an important report entitled “Deadly Calls and Fatal Encounters.” The report details a five-year study of line-of-duty deaths in which a total of 684 cases were reviewed.
Researchers examined line-of-duty death cases from 2010 to 2014 contained in the NLEOMF database as well as accompanying case files. They sought to better understand the types of calls for service which present the greatest potential threat to officers, as well as which self-initiated activities resulted in officer fatalities.
Each LODD was categorized for the type of call — domestics, disturbances, officer needs assistance, shots fired, etc. — and further examined for the type of information the officers had from dispatch upon arrival. Similarly, for self-initiated activities, each LODD was categorized by type of call — traffic stop, suspicious persons, etc. — and further investigated for the circumstances of the situation. The following is a collection of several significant takeaways from the 78-page report.
Domestics and disturbances
Unsurprisingly, calls related to domestic disputes and domestic-related incidents represented the highest number of fatal types of calls for service, according to the report.
“The analysis of calls for service that were classified as domestic dispute accounted for 20 of the 91 calls for service, or 22 percent, that resulted in an officer fatality. In all but one of the cases studied, the responding officers were killed with a firearm,” the report concluded.
In several cases, officers entered the scene alone, despite the fact that backup was called for and en route — in only four cases a single officer was dispatched to the scene — and in no case was any exigency present. In other words, officers could have waited until numbers were more in their favor before entering the scene.
Furthermore, in many cases, those officers were aware of a potential for violence, either from knowledge of previous calls to that location, or from information provided by dispatch. .
“A further finding from the domestic-related calls was the number of cases in which officers knew the suspect had made threats to kill others, was known to be armed, or the responding officers had knowledge of past violent acts committed by the suspect,” the report said.
The researchers recommend that call takers place greater emphasis on gathering detailed information from callers reporting a domestic, and that dispatchers share this detailed information about the situation with responding officers. They recommend also that officers heed information provided, and that unless there is an exigent circumstance of threat to an innocent at the scene, they wait for backup to arrive before entering.
Disturbance calls — such as disorderly conduct, noise complaints, welfare checks, and other calls that are typically a lower priority — were the second largest category of fatal calls for service. Among these calls, disorderly conduct comprised the majority of calls, and in most cases, responding officers had very little information about the nature of the disturbance or the subject in question. In most of those cases, the complainant shared very little information about circumstances surrounding the disturbance with the call taker. Furthermore, similar to domestics, in many cases there was only one officer dispatched — a large percentage of officers were on scene of a disturbance call alone when killed.
“In many cases the call classification and initial complaint are typically considered nuisance calls which may lull officers into a false sense of security,” the report said. “Often, disorderly calls are dispatched as routine and something that, based on the initial information, would not necessarily result in an arrest.
“The examples of officers who were dispatched to handle what, at first, were complaints about non-violent nuisance violations or minor offenses that resulted in an officer fatality, are evident in each of the 16 cases that were disturbance type calls.”
Researchers also recommend that dispatchers and call takers be vigilant about gathering and sharing information such as call history at the location, as well as the individuals who may be preset.
Officer needs assistance and shots fired
Two types of call for service automatically indicate the potential for a violent encounter upon arrival — calls that an officer needs assistance and calls that shots have already been fired.
When responding to an officer needs assistance call, cops have “an intense desire to get there and help their fellow officer,” the report said. Tragically, this intensity can have deadly consequences, as the researchers found that these calls accounted for 51 percent of the call type in which officers crashed while responding.
“In all of the cases, officers were shot as they manned perimeters when a suspect barricaded themselves, as they assisted in the search for an armed fleeing suspect, or as they attempted to rescue a wounded officer. Suspects were wielding rifles in seven cases, and of those, four were ambush-style attacks. Three of the cases involved multiple officers being shot and killed.”
Among the recommendations made by the researchers is the need to equip officers with body armor with hard armor plates, ballistic helmets, and long guns in order to deal with subjects armed with rifles. They also emphasize that police leaders and trainers need to instill in officers the understanding that in order to help the officer in need of assistance, they need to arrive to the scene safely and avoid getting into a collision en route.
For shots fired calls, responding officers are on a heightened alert upon arrival and certainly have in mind that they may encounter one or more armed individual. The trouble is, those officers frequently do not know the precise location of the gunman, as that information is not frequently made available to the call taker.
“The dispatched information on many of these calls was too vague to provide the responding officers a suspect description or precise location of the gunfire,” the report said.
Another conclusion the researchers make about shots fired calls raises the problem of complacency — officers can get lulled into a false sense of “routine” in areas where shots being fired is a nightly occurrence. Consequently, the researchers recommend that responding officers approach any and all shots fired call with extreme caution, and should seek to obtain constant updates from dispatch for any additional information that may become available.
Traffic stops and suspicious persons
Traffic stops for “a routine violation such as speeding or an equipment violation” were the most common self-initiated activity resulting in an officer fatality. This should surprise no one. Traffic stops are among the most common activity of a patrol officer, and one need look no further than the countless number of gunfights caught on dash cam to hammer home the danger of these situations for law enforcers.
“This form of contact represented 63 percent of the overall self-initiated activity examined in the study,” the study said.
Unsurprisingly, the most dangerous period of time for officers is when making contact with the driver, but a full 31 percent of officers were also shot and killed while still in their squad, just exiting the car, or beginning their approach to the offender's vehicle. Researchers also looked at the number of occupants in the stopped vehicle and found that statistically speaking, a “stop conducted upon a vehicle containing more than just the driver is no more dangerous than the stop of the single occupant vehicle.”
The researchers emphasized in their recommendations that officers conducting traffic stops vigilantly notify dispatch of location vehicle description, license plate number, and number of occupants before making contact with the driver. They also suggest that before approaching the vehicle, officers get — either from MDT in the squad or via radio with dispatch — as much information as possible about the vehicle and driver. They also recommend that officers use ear-piece radio receivers so drivers do not hear what is being reported to the officer about them, and that when possible, a passenger-side approach be employed.
The second largest category of self-initiated activity resulting in an officer fatality during the period studied was making contact with a suspicious person or suspicious vehicle. In each of the 12 cases examined, a single officer approached a parked vehicle or stopped a suspect to determine if he was engaged in criminal activity. Seven of those 12 cases involved a suspicious person.
The report said, “Part of the dangers officers face when approaching a suspicious person or vehicle are the unknowns: Is this person armed? Are they wanted? Is what the officer observed a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the situation? Officers are at a disadvantage in these cases, as they do not know what is in the mind of the suspect, or what criminal activity they may have interrupted. In some cases, it appears that the officer's mere presence prompted the suspect to react violently, feeling they were in jeopardy.”
As they do for other situations, the researchers recommend that officers call for backup before approaching suspicious persons (or vehicles) whenever possible, as well as the need to keep complacency at bay, even if the subject is known to the officer. They also emphasize the need for officers to communicate to dispatch their location and the nature of the stop. Another recommendation is for agencies to train officers to recognize the presence of a concealed firearm.
Other calls and activities
Not covered in the above summary are a host of types of call for service and self-initiated activities — burglary, alarms, armed robbery, suspicious persons, and others — which resulted in officer fatalities during the period studied.
Consequently, it is strongly suggested that you read the text of the report, which can be found here. Print it out and leave it in the squad room for officers to review before going on tour. Talk about it at roll call.
Remember that any traffic stop can turn deadly in an instant. Remember that calling for — and waiting for — backup can be an important way to prevent tragedy, particularly in the cases of domestics and disturbances. Remind your dispatchers and call takers that they should seek to gather and relay as much information as possible. Remember that in order to be of any good to anybody at a scene, you have to get there safely, so watch your speed.
At the time of this writing (mid-August 2016), gunfire deaths of police officers are up 80 percent over last year. In all, 36 cops have been fatally shot so far this year — two have been killed by assault, and nine have been killed by vehicular assault.
Being a cop has always been a dangerous business, but given the current climate of anti-cop rhetoric and increase in violent attacks on police, the findings and recommendations in the NLEOMF/COPS Office report should be taken to heart.
About the author
Doug Wyllie is Editor in Chief of PoliceOne, responsible for setting the editorial direction of the website and managing the planned editorial features by our roster of expert writers. An award-winning columnist — he is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column — Doug has authored more than 900 feature articles and tactical tips on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA). Doug is active in his support for the law enforcement community, contributing his time and talents toward police-related charitable events as well as participating in force-on-force training, search-and-rescue training, and other scenario-based training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.
Community Policing Expands in New York, but Some Question if It Works
by Ashley Southall
When Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced the next New York City police commissioner this month, he said he wanted someone who could make neighborhood policing a reality and help ease the distrust that persists between officers and residents in many predominately minority communities, like Far Rockaway in Queens.
“I believe it's going to change this city,” Mr. de Blasio said when he announced that James P. O'Neill, the chief of the Police Department, would succeed Commissioner William J. Bratton in September. “I believe it's going to become a model that'll be looked at around the country because it really answers what people are aching, everyone's aching for it.”
In the days that followed, Mr. de Blasio and Chief O'Neill described their visions of residents being on a first-name basis with the officers who patrol their neighborhoods and even having their cellphone numbers. The goal is that the police and neighborhoods would work together to solve percolating issues before they grow into bigger crimes. Mr. Bratton has championed this policing method since he was an officer in Boston in the late 1970s, and it is now embraced by Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat. Chief O'Neill has been credited as the architect of the current model.
In the 101st Precinct in Far Rockaway, a former beach resort dotted with public housing projects and pockmarked by poverty and crime, a pilot program has been underway for 15 months and the reviews are mixed. Some residents said they were unaware of the program, while area leaders and others praised it.
“I've never heard of it,” Noel Cora, 35, said as he buzzed a man's head at Franco's Unisex Salon on Beach 20th Street in the downtown area, where a planned $91 million redevelopment project is expected to bring mixed-income housing, new businesses and beautified public spaces.
But Councilman Donovan Richards Jr., a Democrat who represents Far Rockaway, said that in areas patrolled by neighborhood coordination officers, or N.C.O.s, “they are very effective.”
He recalled that after the arrests in June of 22 people, including several members of a street gang on drug charges at the Redfern Houses, a public housing complex, the officers attended a tenants' meeting to discuss the arrests and address concerns.
“It's amazing to see these people, the tenants and the civic associations, know who their N.C.O. officers are and have their cellphone numbers,” Mr. Richards said. “They really are making the effort.”
While it is difficult to assess the success of the program, crimes that include murders, shootings and robberies have declined in the precincts in the pilot program compared with 2015, according to police data, a drop that mirrors decreases citywide. The Police Department, however, has little evidence that the program has helped bridge the searing divide between officers and the public, kindled in recent years by police killings of civilians, especially black men. The Police Department has yet to conduct a long-awaited survey meant to gauge the sentiment of residents.
Chief O'Neill said, for now, officials would judge the program's efforts based on crime statistics and anecdotal evidence.
“By the numbers, we are doing well,” he said at a crime briefing this month at Police Headquarters. “And anecdotally talking to the cops, we're doing well, and in talking to people in the community, I know we're doing very well also. And again, this is a program that has just begun, so we have a long way to go.”
Leaders and activists in Far Rockaway said one reason residents may be unfamiliar with the program could be its size: Of the roughly 200 uniformed officers in the 101st Precinct, just 12 officers and a sergeant are neighborhood coordination officers. Eight officers are assigned to four patrol areas and another four work in public housing developments, where they replaced a precinct satellite.
Jazmine Outlaw, the president of the 101st Precinct Community Council, a group that meets with precinct commanders, said the police officers were rarely visible except at scheduled events and meetings, which residents who are skeptical of the police in the predominantly black, Latino and Caribbean neighborhood do not attend. Officers also rarely step out of their patrol cars to talk to people on the street or inside businesses, she said.
“It's a great idea,” Ms. Outlaw said. “It's just not being implemented, and I don't know where that disconnect is happening.”
Milan Taylor, 27, the founder of the Rockaway Youth Task Force, said the disconnect was obvious. He said race was “the elephant in the room.” The officers in Far Rockaway are mostly white, Mr. Taylor said, unlike the people they encounter on the streets.
“They seem very uncomfortable with everyday folks,” he said. “Until we actually see people who are comfortable in this community, I don't think much will change with the N.C.O. program.”
The police commander in Far Rockaway, Deputy Inspector Justin C. Lenz, said officers' personalities can matter more than their race.
“We've made a few changes since we started; it's not the same group,” he said. “And we feel that we have the right mix of officers.”
The neighborhood policing program has now been rolled out in 32 precincts and public housing areas across New York, and police officials plan to expand it to 44 total commands by October, or just under half of the city's police precincts and all nine of its public housing complexes.
Inspector Lenz said the public housing complexes were his biggest challenge because after the precinct satellite disbanded, residents worried that they would not be protected. But, he said, they were eventually won over by an increase in police patrols and in the accessibility of the coordination officers.
He credited the changes to a drop in shootings in the 101st Precinct, which have decreased this year to eight from 12 during the same period in 2015.
“Every month,” he said, “it's getting better and better.”
Study: Austin police don't dedicate enough time to community policing
by Philip Jankowski
In every region of the city except for downtown, Austin police officers have far less free time to conduct community policing than the roughly 35 percent of officers' time that is typically the benchmark, a city-hired consultant told the Austin City Council during a budget workshop meeting Wednesday.
While police officers assigned to downtown spend 69 percent of their time on what he called “proactive” activities, most of the city's officers spend only 13 percent, according to a presentation by Richard Brady, president of the consulting group tasked with analyzing the Austin Police Department's community policing efforts.
“This level of proactivity is the lowest we have ever seen, and we do this a lot,” Brady said.
“Proactivity” is a key metric in community policing, a philosophy that calls for officers to spend more time interacting with the communities they serve in nonemergency settings. The belief is that those interactions help improve community relations and tamp down crime.
The numbers shocked some council members, but none showed enthusiastic support for the study's recommendations, which include hiring about 100 new officers immediately. The proposed $402 million Police Department budget for the next fiscal year calls for the city to hire 12 new officers as well as 21 civilians who would help officers currently in desk jobs move to the understaffed patrol unit.
Mayor Steve Adler said he was sold on the concept of community policing but was struggling with its implementation.
“How do we get from here to there to do that?” he asked.
No one answered.
The main sticking point for the council appears to be that community policing will require an infusion of dozens of new officers, and therefore much more funding for a department whose budget has already grown greatly in recent years, yet still faces staffing shortages.
Those struggles are affecting the patrol unit in particular. Police leaders have implemented a rotation program that is pulling most detectives and other nonpatrol officers from their standard duties to fill in short-staffed patrol shifts. In the wake of the Dallas police shootings, the Austin Police Department instituted emergency staffing to fill all patrol shifts 100 percent, even if it required paying officers overtime. That measure has since ended, police said.
The department has a 19 percent vacancy rate. Recruitment has been a problem, police have said, but it is improving. Brady said low unemployment rates have made it harder for police departments to attract candidates.
But even if all vacancies are filled, more officers still need to be hired.
“We're saying the need exists now,” Brady said. “And it is going to grow by 20 officers a year over the next few years. This is about a demonstrable need.”
Police say pursuit policies are a balance between need and public safety
by John Scheibe
One of the most dangerous things law enforcement officers engage in is pursuing a motorist who refuses to stop.
At least 11,506 people were killed during police chases across the nation from 1979 through 2013, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
"The risk is not only to our officers but also to the public," said Rick Vazquez, a sergeant with the Oxnard Police Department. That's why the department and many other agencies have well-defined policies about when officers should engage in a vehicle pursuit, Vazquez said.
Even with such policies in place, bystanders are still killed during vehicle chases involving police.
An example is what happened July 22 in Ventura.
Police were chasing a vehicle that they said was being driven recklessly on westbound Highway 126. The vehicle hit an unmarked police car carrying two Ventura detectives on the highway, police said.
The unmarked police car pulled over after the crash, but the other vehicle continued on the highway, authorities said. Ventura police said the detectives in the vehicle were unable to catch the suspect because of high speeds. The vehicle exited the highway at Kimball Road, and an officer tried to pull it over, authorities said. But the driver instead sped up and ran a red light before the vehicle crashed near Blackburn and Kimball roads into three others, including a motorcycle headed south on Kimball, according to authorities. The motorcyclist was killed.
Ventura County prosecutors later filed vehicular manslaughter charges against the alleged driver, Victor Antonio Martinez, 24, of Santa Paula.
Martinez is also charged with a felony count of fleeing the scene of an accident involving a death, a felony count of evading an officer causing death, another felony count of carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle and a count of hit-and-run.
The Ventura Police Department reviewed the chase, something it does with all vehicle pursuits, said Tom Higgins, a commander with the department.
The policy governing vehicle pursuits in Ventura includes having "a minimum of three officers" involved, Higgins said. A supervisor at police headquarters also monitors the pursuit, looking at numerous factors, including the dangers presented to the public and officers as well as what crimes the fleeing motorist is suspected of committing.
"The goal of a pursuit is to safely take an individual or individuals into custody with the minimum amount of danger to the public," Higgins said. Police also weigh the seriousness of the crime involved, he said.
"Say someone stole a jacket from Macy's. Is it really worth chasing that person in a vehicle through a lot of traffic?" The answer is no, he said.
Other law enforcement agencies across the county consider the same things.
"If we can identify the suspect, if we know who it is, then we probably can catch them later, rather than engage in a pursuit," said Capt. Garo Kuredjian, a spokesman for the Ventura County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies also are trained for vehicle pursuits "to make sure their skills sets are high," Kuredjian said.
The training includes the use of a simulator presenting different scenarios during a pursuit, he said.
"It all looks and feels as if you're driving in a real car," he said. The simulators, with four or five to a room, are linked to each other to mimic a real-world pursuit with numerous squad cars involved.
As with Ventura and Oxnard police, a watch commander back at the station monitors pursuits. Anyone involved in a chase, whether at the station or in the field, can cancel a pursuit if they deem it too dangerous to continue, Kuredjian said.
His agency also will try to get a helicopter to help with a pursuit.
"Helicopters are very, very effective," he said.
Ventura County has a countywide protocol that governs pursuits that cross into different law enforcement jurisdictions. The protocol covers such things as when another law agency takes over a pursuit as well as requests for assistance from other agencies and the termination of a pursuit.
Lucas Aragon, who works as a design director for ABC television in Los Angeles, lost a sister during a police pursuit in Albuquerque in April 2010.
Police had been chasing a bank robber, Jeremiah Jackson, when his vehicle crashed into a car carrying Aragon's sister, Kim Aragon Nunez, and her co-worker, Janice Flores, killing both women.
Jackson later was sentenced to life in prison, Aragon said, "mostly because he robbed a bank, and not because he took the lives of two people."
Aragon later became a member of PursuitSafety, a national nonprofit group that seeks to find safer ways for law enforcement officers to apprehend suspects and to cut down on the number of deaths and injuries related to police pursuits.
The group cites records kept by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the International Association of Chiefs of Police showing that on average, a person a day is killed during a police pursuit.
"More than one-third of them are innocent bystanders," Aragon said. In addition, a police officer is killed every six to eight weeks during a pursuit.
Aragon and other members of the group suspect the actual numbers of those killed or injured in a pursuit are higher, since there is "no mandatory reporting system in the U.S. right now," he said.
In addition to having a mandatory reporting system, Aragon would like to see a nationwide policy governing police pursuits, something that does not exist now, he said.
"My sister was killed by someone who had robbed $2,000 from a bank," he said. "She left behind a family, including three children," he said. "Was the $2,000 that he stole really worth her life and that of her co-worker?"
Too often, especially in places such as Southern California, where automobiles are such an important part of the culture, vehicle pursuits have become entertainment, something that captivates people's attention as helicopters transmit TV images of a chase.
"What people forget is that all too often, these chases result in real victims, including police officers and innocent bystanders," Aragon said.
Social media threats toward Milwaukee officer intensify
Close to 3,000 people have shared a Facebook photo that includes the officer's name and home address
by The Associated Press
MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee police officer has been targeted by online threats from people who say he fatally shot the black man whose death has sparked violence in the city.
Police haven't released the name of the officer who shot Sylville Smith on Saturday, but widely shared social media posts and at least one news report Tuesday identified him as a 24-year-old patrolman — matching the age and departmental experience that police released. Many posts contained threats against him and a photo.
The department said in a statement Tuesday it has noticed a "disturbing national trend" in which social media users have identified officers involved in fatal shootings and threatened them and their families. A spokesman declined to confirm the identity being circulated online.
The department said it is aware of some local threats against its officers and is investigating.
Smith, 23, was shot and killed Saturday after a brief foot chase that followed a traffic stop. Police say Smith had a gun in his hand when he turned toward the officer, who opened fire. The state is investigating.
The officer is also black.
A few hours after the shooting, violence erupted on the city's largely black north side, with protesters hurling rocks at police and burning six businesses. A lighter night of protests followed Sunday. Monday was calm, though 10 people were arrested. There were no reports of protesters Tuesday.
Chicago officer suffers graze wound to the face, suspect in custody
The officers saw a vehicle that fit the description of a carjacking and tried to stop it when the man behind the wheel fired shots at their squad car
by Alexandra Chachkevitch and Jeremy Gorner
CHICAGO — A man is in custody after being accused of firing shots at Chicago police officers and grazing one police officer in the face Tuesday evening in the Rosemoor neighborhood on the South Side, police said.
The incident started just after 10 p.m. as 22nd District patrol officers investigated a possible carjacking in the area of 103rd Street and Lowe Avenue, according to police.
The officers saw a vehicle that fit the description and tried to stop it, but the man behind the wheel stuck a gun out the window and fired shots at their squad car while driving in the 600 block of East 100th Place, according to a statement from the Chicago Police Department.
One of the bullets struck the squad car and grazed one of the officers in the face.
Officers in another nearby police squad car observed the shooting and returned gunfire. The suspect fired multiple times at the second squad car as well, Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said.
The suspect was not hit, but he crashed his vehicle in the 10000 block of South Eggleston Avenue and tried to run away. Officers took the man, who is on parole, into custody a short time later, according to a police source. A 9mm handgun was recovered at the scene of the shooting, police said.
The wounded police officer, who is in his early 30s, was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center. His injury was not life-threatening, Johnson said. No one else was injured as a result of the shooting.
"The officer is expected to be okay," said Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. "We're just so incredibly happy (it wasn't worse)... It just came really close."
Johnson, who stood in a baseball cap and plain clothes outside Advocate Christ late Tuesday evening, also expressed relief that the shooting didn't turn out worse.
"It just goes to show you again how people are out here with all these weapons, and they're not afraid to use them," Johnson said. "The same individuals, repeat gun offenders, continuously create havoc in our neighborhoods and we just have to send them a message that we're sick of it and we should be."
At the scene of the shooting in the 600 block of East 100th Place, officers cordoned off evidence with yellow crime tape.
Several nearby residents gathered near the crime tape to see what happened.
Vivian Reid, 80, said she and her son, who live on the block, heard several shots while they stood outside their home.
"It was bam-bam-bam, and then police came out of everywhere," she said.
Reid, who has lived on the same block since 1967, said she has never seen anything similar happen next to her home.
"It's getting bad over here," she said as she stood on the porch of her home with her hands on her hips. A week ago, Reid said she was in her backyard when she heard a series of gunshots that killed Demarco Kennedy, 32, four blocks south.
Kennedy was shot in the neck as he sat at a table in his second-floor apartment in the 600 block of East 102nd Place around 8:10 p.m. on Aug. 9.
Reid said the recent incidents make her scared, but she is not planning on moving out of the neighborhood.
"I don't bother nobody, and I'm close to God," she said and smiled.
Boston police to be assigned body cameras
An agreement between the city and the union called for 100 officers to wear the cameras in a six-month pilot program
by Antonio Planas and O'Ryan Johnson
BOSTON — Some Boston police officers will learn today they must wear body cams as part of a controversial pilot program — which saw zero officers volunteer — but legal experts say the contentious issue could be settled in court if the police union doesn't relent.
"We had a good conversation with the union last night over some issues," police Commissioner William B. Evans told the Herald. "We let them know we're going to be assigning officers cameras this week with the hope of training them next week. It's something the mayor and I have been committed to. We've seen the value in Milwaukee and other places. We're hoping the union will go along with us."
Evans said the 100 officers wearing the cams will be part of a study by Anthony Braga, director of Northeastern University's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Evans said the department will have no say over who is assigned the devices.
He said Braga is aiming for a mix of officers that "best reflect" the city's racial makeup.
"They're going to be going by district, they're going to make sure we have the right mix of younger officers and older officers and the right diversity to best reflect the city," he said.
Evans noted Braga also did studies of camera programs in Las Vegas and New York.
An agreement between the city and the union hashed out earlier this summer called for 100 volunteer officers to wear the cameras in a six-month pilot program in exchange for $500 bonuses.
Patrolman's Association President Patrick M. Rose has said forcing officers to wear body cameras goes against the deal the union reached with the department. Rose did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.
Attorney Mark F. Itzkowitz, who has successfully sued municipalities in the past, said the order could face a court challenge.
"I almost would be surprised if it didn't go into court — I would assume that they will fight it," Itzkowitz said. "That has been their history. They are not shy about fighting the department."
Itzkowitz said officers in the program might also try to sue the city.
Attorney Leonard Kesten, who regularly represents officers, said the union may claim "unfair labor practices" if it deems that body cameras are a change in working conditions. But personally, he said he is in favor of them.
"Officers usually do the right thing, so they should get it on film," Kesten said.
Boston NAACP President Michael Curry lauded Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Evans for forcing cops' hands.
"This is a step in the right direction for police transparency," Curry said. "There is valuable information and data to be obtained from this pilot."
Officials: Suspects in Ga. police shooting are gang members
Officer Scott Davis, a 10-year veteran of the force, was shot in his leg when responding to a call
by Lauren Foreman
MARIETTA, Ga. — Two juveniles arrested in connection with the shooting of an on-duty Marietta cop are Bloods gang members, police said Monday.
The juveniles, both 15 years old, face charges of violation of Georgia's Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act, aggravated assault on a police officer, unlawfully entering an automobile, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and theft by receiving.
"MPD will not be releasing the name of the juveniles at this time," Marietta police Officer Brittany Wallace said.
Officer Scott Davis, a 10-year veteran of the force, is expected to recover from a shot to his leg, Wallace told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Davis and two other Marietta officers were responding to a call about people entering cars outside The Gallery Apartments in the 700 block of Franklin Gateway when the shooting occurred before 4:30 a.m.
"At least one of the suspects opened fire striking one Marietta Police Officer," Wallace said. "All three officers returned fire striking one of the suspects."
Davis and the injured teen were taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Davis is out of surgery and in recovery, Wallace said.
Police later determined at least one of two guns recovered at the scene was stolen, she said.
"Officer Davis and the two other officers, which were involved in the incident, will be placed on administrative leave per policy standards," Wallace said.
Davis was one of two officers shot during separate incidents just hours apart. Eastman police Officer Tim Smith was shot and killed as he investigated a suspicious person call about 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of Smith and Main streets. Eastman, in Dodge County, is about 55 miles south of Macon. Royheem Delshawn Deeds, the man accused of fatally shooting Smith, was arrested early Monday in Florida.
Louisiana Flooding: Volunteers Descend on Stricken State to Assist Relief Efforts
by Alexander Smith
More than 1,000 volunteers from every state were descending on flood-stricken Louisiana Wednesday to assist relief efforts for what the Red Cross called the nation's worst disaster since Superstorm Sandy.
At least 11 people have been killed, some 40,000 homes affected and 30,000 people rescued in what officials have described as some of the worst flooding ever to hit the state.
Around 8,000 people remain in emergency shelters, days after the deluge began.
Most of Louisiana has received at least one foot of rain since Friday — with some places getting as much as 30 inches, according to the National Weather Service. Although the water has receded in some areas, it's still rising in others as the floodwaters move downstream toward the Gulf of Mexico.
The scale of the devastation was only starting to come to light.
"The current flooding in Louisiana is the worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Superstorm Sandy [in Oct. 2012]" said Brad Kieserman, the Red Cross's vice president of disaster services, operations and logistics.
He said in a statement Tuesday that the relief operation would cost at least $30 million — warning that the price tag "may grow as we learn more about the scope and magnitude of the devastation."
Grammy award-winning musician Taylor Swift said she was donating $1 million to flood relief because of the warm welcome she was given when kicking off her world tour in the state last year.
"The fact that so many people in Louisiana have been forced out of their own homes this week is heartbreaking," the 26-year-old performer said in a statement. "I encourage those who can to help out and send your love and prayers their way during this devastating time."
The Red Cross said volunteers from all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, were helping thousands of residents get to a safe place, as well providing them with food and water.
Twenty parishes were under a federal disaster zone and more than a dozen were subject to overnight curfews. At least 10 people have been arrested for looting in East Baton Rouge parish, according to Sheriff Sid Gautreaux.
Gautreaux told a news conference Tuesday that there were "significant" power outages and some homes and businesses had experienced "total devastation."
Among the worst affected was Livingston Parish, where more than three quarters of all homes have already been "lost to floods," Lori Steele, a spokeswoman for the parish, told NBC News.
"We're devastated in Livingston," Livingston Sheriff Jason Dore told the news conference.
Floodwaters were slopping over the top of the the Laurel Ridge levee, which protects the parish in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area from the Amite River, according to the Ascension Parish Homeland Security Office.
A third of Ascension's 45,000 homes have been flooded — and waters there are expected to rise.
"The next 24 to 48 hours is going to be a significant indication of just how much risk the parish remains in," said Rick Webre, director of the Homeland Security Office.
Forecasters said the worst of the rain is likely over, but the southern part of the state is still expected to see some 2 inches more of rain through Friday, the NWS said.
Louisiana residents are struggling with how to cope amid the uncertainty.
Ascension Parish resident Nick Babbin had just bought his home in February, and was forced out by the floodwaters Saturday. He returned Tuesday to find it completely destroyed.
"I try to hold back as many tears as I can," Babbin told NBC affiliate WDSU.
Flood victim Samuel Ancar was evacuated Saturday from his Baton Rouge home with his 3-year-old daughter and mother in tow, he told NBC affiliate WVLA. He said he survived Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when it seemed like "the world was coming to an end."
This time around, he has lost all of his belongings — again, he said. But he is thankful his family is OK, and remains hopeful that they can rebound.
"Just leave it in God's hands and it will all work out," Ancar said.
Men Seen Walking in Inglewood with 'Assault-Type' Weapons in Custody.
The men were walking the neighborhood in a Black Lives Matter-type protest, according to reports from the scene.
by PATCH SOCAL
LOS ANGELES, CA — Los Angeles police Tuesday detained two men in Lake View Terrace who, authorities said, were walking around in the Inglewood area carrying rifles earlier Tuesday morning.
The men were taken into custody for questioning shortly before 7 a.m. near Foothill Boulevard and Terra Bella Street, the Los Angeles Police Department reported.
About 12:45 a.m., two armed men dressed in military garb were seen walking on Century Boulevard between Yukon Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard in Inglewood.
The men carried “assault-type gear,” and officers monitored their activity but took no action for the safety of several bystanders watching, according to Lt. Greg Held of the Inglewood Police Department.
Held said although the men were carrying weapons, their activity didn't seem threatening and officers decided to avoid confrontation and just monitor them. The incident remains under investigation, Held said.
The men were walking the neighborhood in a Black Lives Matter-type protest, according to reports from the scene.
“Right now we are giving a peaceful demonstration,” one of the men told a news photographer at the scene. “Nobody's being shot. Nobody's being brutalized. We're out here just exposing racism, white supremacy.”
Other video showed both men walking along various streets, with one saying they were just out on patrol.
“If they (police) can do it half-assed, why can't I do it?” one man told a CBS2 photographer as he walked by. “Ain't nobody been hurt.”
LAPD Deputy Chief Bob Green told reporters that Los Angeles police officers began monitoring the men about 3 a.m.
“There was video footage of two individuals … with what appeared to be assault rifles, body armor, and Kevlar helmets,” Green said. “So, investigatively, since then we've been moving forward to try and determine if these are legal assault weapons, and what the intentions of the individuals were.”
Green said police followed the men's vehicle to Foothill Boulevard and Terra Bella Street, where the vehicle stopped.
The men got out, but they “failed to comply with the officers' commands” and officers used a non-lethal device — apparently firing a rubber bullet — in taking the driver into custody. The passenger sat down and was also taken into custody.
Late Tuesday morning, police were preparing to serve a search warrant at a Panorama City apartment where one of the suspects lives.
According to reports from the scene, the men left Inglewood and went to the Panorama City apartment, followed by LAPD officers. Shortly before 7 a.m., they drove away from the apartment and went to Foothill Boulevard and Terra Bella Street, where they stopped and were taken into custody.
Police chief and sheriff discuss forum plans, community policing
by Monica Vendituoli
Two local law enforcement leaders discussed ways their employees are engaging with the community and plan to host a forum on policing in light of officer-involved shootings nationwide Tuesday evening.
Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler and Fayetteville Police Chief Harold Medlock addressed the Fayetteville-Cumberland Human Relations Commission at 5:30 p.m. at Fayetteville City Hall on Hay Street.
The commission consists of 11 city residents, four county residents and three military ex-officio members from Fort Bragg that provide the City Council and County Commissioners with suggestions on promoting peace between racial and ethnic groups, according to the City of Fayetteville's website.
Butler started the meeting by discussing issues in the Cumberland County Detention Center.
"The sheriff's office is just like the city," Butler said before adding, "I will say one thing, Harold don't have a jail and I do."
Butler said the jail is currently averaging about 780 inmates at a time.
"It seems like we are running a prison rather than a jail anymore because a lot of them are there for extended periods of time," Butler said.
Butler said he is especially proud of a new program in the detention center that offers high school equivalency classes and the possibility of earning a high school equivalency certificate.
Butler also highlighted a check-in program called "R U Ok" for vulnerable adults. A sheriff's office employee calls the adults to check in on them everyday. If the adult does not answer, a deputy goes to their residence, Butler said.
Butler concluded with saying that he always calls residents who have questions about his department back.
"If you get to know people, they don't mind calling," Butler said.
Medlock began his speech by lauding Butler's efforts to eradicate video gambling in the county.
"I want to start this by giving our sheriff some credit for something he did three and a half years ago that has really changed the look of our city," Medlock said. "Sheriff Butler, one of the first sheriffs in the state, decided to take on the gambling [machines]."
Medlock then discussed his department's efforts to reach out to the community through social media, new vendors and meetings with high school students.
Earlier this week, the department joined the image and video messaging mobile application Snapchat under the username "fayettevillepd" in order to reach more young residents. Medlock said the department's student advisory program in which high school students meet with the chief to discuss problems has expanded to include several area high schools.
Medlock added that the department recently met with a vendor dedicated to giving each officer business cards with their badge number and a survey service number to text. Using the service, residents could answer a survey via text message on their experience with the officer to the department. Discussions are underway to bring the program to the department.
Medlock said he is focused on listening to residents to solve problems.
"One of the things I've learned over the past three and a half years is to shut up and listen," Medlock said.
After both law enforcement officials spoke, they answered questions from the commission on general community policing and creating a forum to discuss recent national events, such as the protests in Milwaukee after police shot and killed an armed man Saturday. The commission members and officials floated around the possibility of holding multiple scheduled forums during the year.
Medlock suggested that law enforcement officials should aim at going to where young people are rather than expecting them to come to them. Butler nodded in agreement. Medlock added that future forums should be held immediately after national tragedies.
The meeting concluded with commission member Sheila Cuffee asking about holding a event for young black residents on how to act during traffic stops. Cuffee said many young people have told in her they are afraid to stop when pulled over.
Medlock said he thought an event like that would be a great idea. He concluded by telling a story about when he was dirt-biking in the North Carolina mountains more than 30 years ago. He said he accidentally drove onto state property, which led to a deputy pointing a gun at him and his friends.
After explaining his mistake to the deputy, the deputy let him go, Medlock said.
"When folks say, 'Well you've never had a gun, chief, you've never had a gun pointed at you by a cop" - Yes, I have and it wasn't a fun experience," Medlock said. "Was I scared? Absolutely, but I did exactly what that man told me to do."
Community Policing: The Way Ahead?
by Adam Herndon
In today's climate of perceived police brutality and distrust between communities and police officers, something has to give. Over the years, evidence has shown a need for a police force that is in tune with the community to which it serves. This idea has brought about the community policing strategy which began in the UK and many other countries whom were transitioning from authoritarian to a liberal democracy during the 1970s.
At the time of the inception of this idea of community policing, it was considered widely as the “new orthodox” and would later be adopted here in the United States.
The year 1992 turned out to be one of the worst years of totality of crimes nationwide and President Bill Clinton and his administration knew something had to be done. The proposed and enacted solution was Community Policing Grants.
Community Policing Grants allowed the federal government to fund local communities for a three-year term in an attempt to fix problems within individual neighborhoods.
Implementation in Kansas City
In Kansas City, along with other regions around the country, the formation of a Community Action Network (CAN) occurred in 1994 as a result from the grants authorized through President Clinton's administration. The Westside CAN in Kansas City employs a director, a neighborhood specialist, a code enforcement officer, and two Kansas City Police Officers who work in plain clothes.
The group maintains a mission of creating a “safe, healthy, viable, civically-engaged neighborhood in which to live, play, and work.” They operate under the pretense that they work for the community and in doing so have altered the trust pendulum the community has for the police.
During the early 1990s, the Kansas City community as a whole largely refused to inform the police of any illegal activity due to the perception of corruption and distrust between the local population and the policing force. The authoritarian method being used during this time, primarily immigration sweeps, had no traction in cutting the violence within the area, but rather quite the opposite.
I conducted an interview with Retired Officer Matt Tomasic, one of the first officers to run and implement Community Policing within Kansas City, and he said this “zero tolerance” way of policing and the use of “immigration sweeps accomplished nothing for cleaning up the streets or deterring those committing crimes.” Tomasic added, “No matter how many people we arrested, nothing changed. We come to find out we would hurt one person and help another at the same time. As we took one criminal off the street, it only promoted the next person in the criminal hierarchy.”
Change in Methods
After many years of trial and error, Tomasic and his partner, Officer Chatto, adapted to their community and began community policing by adhering to the link of social order.
This theory, introduced by George Kelling and James Q. Wilson in 1982, rationalized that “If a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken. This is as true in nice neighborhoods as in run-down ones…One unrepaired broken window is a signal that no one cares, and so breaking more windows costs nothing.”
The Westside CAN took this theory that “early signs of neighborhood deterioration escalate quickly into increased crime and blight” and began a mission to change the community to discourage crime and illegal activity. Tomasic and Chatto, along with the other members of the CAN, improved the image and the culture of the way people think of police within their neighborhood. This has resulted in reduced crime through neighborhood maintenance, prevention, enforcement, and community bonding activities.
Is it Working?
Tomasic stated: “To effectively fix a community ridden with crime, you have to treat the people with respect, and it starts with the kids.”
Since incorporating this mentality crime rates have dropped more than 50 percent, and the quality of life has improved. This has, in turn, increased economic development and growth. The use of community policing has changed the life of the residents residing within the Kansas City region and has brought the community and the police force closer together.
Is this something that should be studied and looked at closer to help fix the stigma and tension between communities and the officers who patrol it?
“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.” – James Cash Penney
Auditor calls for DOJ oversight of Calif. gang database
California's database of suspected gang members that is shared by police agencies around the state may violate privacy rights
by Vivian Ho
CALIFORNIA — California's database of suspected gang members that is shared by police agencies around the state may violate privacy rights by including many people without proper justification, according to a report released by the state auditor that calls for stricter oversight.
The CalGang database, funded by the state Department of Justice, tracks roughly 150,000 alleged gang members and associates, 85 percent of whom are Latino or African American.
But the system “does not ensure that user agencies collect and maintain criminal intelligence in a manner that preserves individuals' privacy rights,” stated the report by Auditor Elaine Howle.
Because of the lack of oversight, four sample agencies examined by the auditor's office — which included the Sonoma County and Santa Clara County sheriff's departments — entered groups into the database that did not meet the CalGang criteria for inclusion, the report said.
Thirteen of 100 individuals reviewed were listed in the database as suspected gang members but lacked the proper criteria, the report said. Forty-two individuals in the database were supposedly younger than 1 year old at the time of entry.
In addition, the auditor found, more than 600 individuals in CalGang had “purge dates” — when they were to be removed — that extended beyond a five-year limit.
The database was created 20 years ago as a way for agencies in different jurisdictions to share information in a bid to stop gang activity. Agencies can add individuals to the database once they have “sufficient source documentation” showing they meet at least two gang membership criteria such as admitting gang membership, being affiliated with known gang members, having gang tattoos, frequenting gang areas and exhibiting gang clothing or behavior.
The system is meant to act solely as an investigative tool, and a person's inclusion in the database is not meant to be used in court or in employment.
But the audit found at least four court cases in which CalGang was cited as a source or a person's gang involvement, and three law enforcement agencies responded to a statewide survey admitting they used the database for employment or military-related screenings.
“These instances emphasize that inclusion in CalGang has the potential to seriously affect an individual's life,” the report states. “Therefore, each entry must be accurate and appropriate.”
The audit also uncovered problems with the treatment of juveniles, saying the Los Angeles and Santa Ana police departments — the other two agencies examined by the auditor — flouted the law by failing to notify many juveniles placed in CalGang and their parents so that they could contest their inclusion.
The auditor recommended that the Legislature designate the Department of Justice to take over CalGang, which is now operated under contract, and that the state develop and implement best practices. The report recommended that local agencies review both the gangs and suspected gang members they've entered into the database.
Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith responded to the report's findings by saying her office “agreed to a certain extent with the recommendations.” She wrote in a letter that her office looks forward to working “to improve the CalGang Intelligence System and in turn safeguard the rights of those in the system.”
Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas disagreed strongly with the report's findings. His agency acts as a “node,” which means it is responsible for the CalGang operations of 30 counties in Northern California.
In a letter included in the report, Freitas said he believed that his office “has met or exceeded the statutory guidelines for administering a model Criminal Intelligence System that is used nation-wide.” He was critical of the auditors, noting they had never audited a database like this before.
But his office said Thursday that while it disagrees with some parts of the report, it looked forward to discussing the audit and agreed that the Department of Justice should take over the database.
Calif. police recruit hopes to shatter race and gender perceptions
Renata Phillip wants to be an example to those who've never dealt with a black law enforcement officer
by Amanda Lee Myers
LOS ANGELES — Renata Phillip was 11 years into a satisfying teaching career when she shocked her friends and family last August by deciding to make a drastic career change: become a police officer.
Her decision came amid growing concern over police tactics in the wake of a number of deaths at the hands of officers of unarmed black men across the country. Most recently, the fatal police shooting of a black man who had a gun in his hand police sparked violent unrest in Milwaukee.
Phillip, a black woman who grew up in a mostly white, upper middle class neighborhood 30 miles east of Los Angeles, said she wasn't motivated by race. But race is a motivation now as she completes her training to become a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy.
"Everything that's going on, it drives me to work a little harder," the 36-year-old said during a break at the department's grueling training academy.
Phillip hopes to be an example to those who've never dealt with a black law enforcement officer. "If I can have a positive experience with someone and maybe help them change their mind, why not?" she said.
A little more than a year ago, Asia Hardy was in Phillip's shoes, training to become an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department.
The 26-year-old, who grew up in an idyllic, close-knit neighborhood in Pasadena, has been a probationary officer for just over a year, working the beat she requested in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Los Angeles.
She said Phillip should expect both criticism and pride on the streets.
"I get called a sellout sometimes," she said. Some will tell her: "Why are you doing the white man's job?"
Others see Hardy as a beacon.
"They'll say, 'I'm glad you're out here representing us,'" she said. "Or you get the little girl pointing at you and saying, 'Look, Mommy, there's a girl cop.' Things like that make my day. I want that little girl to know she can grow up and be a cop if she wants to."
Black officers made up about 12 percent of all police in 2013, the most recent year nationwide statistics are available. That compares to the overall black population of 13.2 percent.
Departments have long struggled to recruit black candidates, said Nelson Lim, a researcher at the Rand Corp. who helps organizations diversify.
In 2004, Lim consulted with the LAPD, which was under a federal consent decree to hire more minorities. Even then, he said the department failed to meet its diversification goals.
Now with increased tensions, Lim said it's only going to be harder.
"You don't need a study to conclude that would have a negative impact," he said.
In the days after a sniper attack killed five of his officers last month, Dallas Police Chief David Brown urged black people to leave protests and join the department to work for change from within.
"Serve your community," said Brown, who is black. "We're hiring. Get off of that protest line and put your application in."
Phillip, the Los Angeles sheriff's recruit, was settled into her teaching career at Ganesha High School in Pomona, a middle-class city near her hometown of Diamond Bar but far from it in terms of gangs and violent crime.
But she decided to become an officer after realizing she was spending more and more time helping her students with problems outside the classroom, and that she was enjoying it.
One student had lost a friend to gang violence. He started acting out by disrupting class, getting into drugs and into trouble.
Phillip said she worked to gain his trust and build rapport, which eventually allowed her to find out what was bothering him and help him transfer to another school. The change removed him from negative influences, allowing him to focus on school.
"Now you see a person who has taken charge of their past and isn't letting someone else determine what they will or won't do," she said. "I thought, 'I need to spend more time doing this.'"
Phillip is one of just two black women in her class of 84 recruits. More than half are men and most are white or Hispanic.
Only three recruits out of every 100 will make it to graduation, said Capt. Scott Gage, who's in charge of training at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
He cited extensive background checks, rigorous physical requirements, dozens of tests and determination to stick with the yearlong process.
Phillip's mother worked as an accountant, her father as an engineer. When Phillip told her family about her decision to join law enforcement, there were tears.
"My heart really just sank," said Phillip's mother, Gloria Solomon. "Honestly, this is awful to say as a mother, but I almost wished she didn't get through."
Solomon said she was concerned not because of racial tensions in the U.S., but simply because policing is a dangerous job.
After praying about it and seeing how passionate her daughter was about law enforcement, Solomon said she's now fully on board.
"I'm just really proud of her and I just really want her to be safe," she said.
Hardy, the rookie LAPD officer, said she specifically requested to work in the most crime-ridden division.
"I knew a lot of African Americans live there and I wanted to be there to reach out, I want everybody to do better," she said. "Them seeing me out there and knowing, 'Wow, there goes a female cop. A black female cop.' I wanted to be that example."
Phillip also hopes to work in troubled neighborhoods.
"If I'm not putting myself in the position to really effect change then what am I doing?" she said. "Hopefully somewhere I have the opportunity to change someone's mind. Hopefully that someone standing on the news protesting maybe sees me on the street one day and says, 'Maybe I could do that.'"
The New American Cop: Smarter, More Diverse, Better Equipped and Scared
by Max Kutner
On July 6, Nakia Jones, a police officer in Warrensville Heights, Ohio, was awakened by her teenage son bursting into her room, on the verge of tears. “Did you see the shooting?” he asked. The day before, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, someone had filmed two police officers tackling and then shooting to death a black man named Alton Sterling. The video showed in bloody detail how quickly an officer can take a life at point-blank range. The clip left Jones's son, a straight-A student and captain of the school band, sad and confused.
“Mom, not only am I afraid of being shot by another black male,” she recalls him saying. “Do I also have to be afraid of somebody who wears the same uniform as you do?”
Jones says she is the first black woman to serve on her town's force, and she understands the split-second decision officers have to make when they face a threat (her husband is also a cop). But as a mother of four girls and two boys, she also knows that the next young black man killed by police could be one of her sons. As she watched the Sterling video, she felt torn in a way that she hadn't before, despite similar incidents. Other police killings seemed justified, she had told her children, but this one made her feel different, as if she had “half of my body in a uniform and half of my body in civilian clothes.”
Jones was so upset she recorded a video on Facebook Live. “How dare you stand next to me in the same uniform and murder somebody!” she said, her voice growing louder as she lambasted racist cops. Her eyes filled with tears as she asked people to support good police officers and take a stand against the bad ones. The video now has 8 million views.
The next few days were hard on Jones. First, an officer in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, shot and killed a black man—Philando Castile—after pulling him over for a traffic stop, another act caught on camera. Then came the retaliation: five Dallas police officers shot dead by a black gunman and former soldier who officials said had targeted white cops. Ten days later, another gunman, a former Marine, killed three officers in Baton Rouge.
“It's almost like a nightmare,” Jones says. “My heart goes out to the families of Alton Sterling and the other man that was killed…. But then, at the same token, these are my brothers and sisters in blue. Now they're families have lost [loved ones].
“It feels,” she adds, “like I'm torn on both sides.”
In police departments across the country, a growing number of officers have more in common with Jones than with those who make headlines for killing black men. Although sometimes portrayed as a white occupying army at war with black civilians, American law enforcement has never been so diverse. In 2013, around 27 percent of the country's 477,000 sworn local police officers were racial or ethnic minorities, up from 15 percent in 1987, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. There are now more female cops than there were decades ago—around 12 percent of local police—and more openly gay, lesbian and transgender officers as well.
Today's police are also entering the force with higher levels of education and more special abilities, such as foreign language skills and technological expertise. Once they join a department, they often receive better training and equipment than at any other time in history. And regardless of what the public has seen in shocking videos of shootings, today's cops have been trained to act with more sensitivity and restraint than previous generations of officers. The common refrain among those on the force is that they are guardians, not warriors.
And yet the tension between law enforcement and large swaths of citizens has not been this high since the 1960s and '70s, when riots and targeted cop killings were common. Many Americans feel the country's 18,000 police departments need major reform, especially when it comes to the use of deadly force. Last summer, a Gallup poll found that confidence in the police was at its lowest level since the beating of motorist Rodney King in 1991 led to massive riots in Los Angeles. That incident was when filming police using excessive force emerged as a new phenomenon.
What's angered many is the spate of high-profile homicides by police of unarmed African-Americans. Since Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown in 2014, American police have killed nearly 3,000 people, whether justified or not, according to Fatal Encounters, a website that tracks deaths caused by law enforcement. A July report by the Center for Policing Equity, a think tank at UCLA, said police departments tend to use 3.6 times more force on black residents than on white residents. Police reform advocates decry the fines and fees municipalities make defendants pay for less serious crimes, sometimes in order to raise revenue, which can put poor offenders in debt or behind bars if they don't have the money. Advocates also criticize the billions in Defense Department equipment that now make many local cops look as if they're about to invade Fallujah.
The murders of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge are part of another troubling trend that has some political commentators claiming there's now a “war on cops.” A July report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit that maintains the national monument to fallen officers in Washington, D.C., showed a 78 percent spike in firearms-related officer fatalities this year compared with 2015, with 32 shooting deaths of police since January 1 and a 300 percent jump in ambush killings. Demonstrators have upended or tramped squad cars in Ferguson and Baltimore, and in New York City they have chanted, “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want them? Now!”
Not only are police increasingly having to protect people who despise them, but their jobs have expanded too. As social services in the United States fail and threats such as terrorism and mass shootings grow, officers are having to step into new roles, whether they're prepared for them or not. “This is the most challenging time I can remember,” says Santa Barbara County, California, Undersheriff Bernard Melekian, a law enforcement veteran of four decades. “The public demand and the public scrutiny are more than I've ever seen.”
It's no wonder fewer people want the job—departments are reporting low numbers of applicants. “We're hiring idealistic young men and women who want to protect the good people from the bad people,” says Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn. “Right now, they are being portrayed as faceless others. Automatons. Star Wars stormtroopers.”
Jones has to deal with these conflicts and contradictions every day. Her 6-year-old daughter has started kissing her and begging her to come home safe before she leaves for her shift each night. “The tension is so high between the community and the police,” she says. “It's like we have no middle ground…. Both of us feel like there's a target on our backs.”
Dead Bodies and Broken Windows
On a hot, overcast day in August, New York City Police Department Commissioner William Bratton stood beneath a portrait of Alexander Hamilton at New York's City Hall and announced he would soon resign. Bratton, dressed in a pinstripe suit and tie, his white hair neatly combed, projected confidence and optimism despite protests that morning from reform advocates (who called for his resignation) and his own officers (who are demanding better pay)—as well as a growing controversy over recent allegations that the NYPD roughed up a black state assemblyman.
“This department will have a seamless transition, and there has never been a time in American policing history when that is more important than now,” Bratton said as he announced his successor, current NYPD Chief of Department James O'Neill. “As we go forward and face the crises of race in America, crime in America, fear of terrorism, and in the midst of the turmoil of this presidential election, there is no police department in America that will be better prepared.”
In recent decades, few cops have been as influential—and controversial—as Bratton. He joined the Boston Police Department in 1970 and climbed the ranks to commissioner, a position he held from 1992 to 1993. But it was his first stint as the NYPD's top cop, starting in 1994, that made him legendary, or notorious, depending on whom you ask. Building on the work of social scientists James Wilson and George Kelling, Bratton popularized the “broken windows” style of policing, which considers no crime too small to fight, from turnstile jumping to public urination. The idea is that minor offenses can snowball and create an atmosphere of lawlessness and disorder.
During Bratton's first tour as NYPD commissioner, New York began to transform itself from a place where people were afraid to ride the subway at night to one of the safest, most desirable major cities in the world. In the five years after his appointment, crime fell by one-half, and murders dropped by two-thirds.
Bratton's detractors decried his methods, saying that the correlation between “broken windows” and crime was never clear and that his tactics disproportionately targeted minorities. Though Bratton left his post in 1996, his crime-fighting philosophy stuck, and distrust between the NYPD and minorities continued to grow thanks to the department's stop-and-frisk policy, which permitted officers to temporarily question and search people for weapons.
The backlash grew to such an extent that the current mayor, Bill de Blasio, made police reform one of the central tenets of his 2013 campaign. A year later, the day after he took office, he brought Bratton back as commissioner to keep the crime rate low, as well as repair the damage to community relations. This included scaling back stop-and-frisk after a judge declared it unconstitutional. Bratton also set out to implement some new strategies he had picked up in his almost two decades away, while leading the Los Angeles Police Department and consulting for the police in Oakland, California.
Days before he announced his resignation, the New York police commissioner sat down with Newsweek in what his team calls the command center, a windowless room in the police department's downtown Manhattan headquarters. The 200 monitors lining the walls show CompStat maps and statistics, 911 calls and surveillance footage from a network of 8,000 cameras.
“If we're having a demonstration, I can zoom in on all the cameras in that area,” Bratton explains. He can monitor his officers too: Using GPS, he says, he can “basically see where any [squad] car in the city is at any time, who's assigned to it, what their call is.”
During the interview, Bratton stresses the importance of coupling high-tech strategies with building on-the-ground neighborhood relations. He now advocates “precision policing,” which he likens to zapping cancerous cells with a laser instead of using surgery to cut out large chunks of tissue. He also recently announced the department is spending $1.9 billion on improvements to facilities, training and equipment, including bulletproof squad car doors, stronger pepper spray and heavy-duty helmets and vests capable of stopping rounds fired from automatic weapons like those that felled the Dallas and Baton Rouge officers. But he still hasn't budged on his “broken windows” philosophy.
Going after quality-of-life crimes “is very important and I still believe an essential component of what we do,” he says. “If we stopped dealing with minor crime, we're going to lose the trust of the public…. The vast majority of calls are coming from inner-city neighborhoods,” he adds, stressing that ending “broken windows” would hurt minorities the most.
Yet as Bratton steps down and O'Neill takes over, some police reform advocates say Bratton's algorithms, fancy command center and RoboCop-like armor have done little to repair the rift between New York City's police and the communities they serve. “There's a change in face, but I think we also want to see some change in policy,” says Jose Lopez, a lead organizer with Make the Road New York, a Latino and working-class community action group, and a member of President Barack Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
What's really broken, reform advocates say, is “broken windows” itself.
Bad Apples in Many Colors
One important change implemented by Bratton this time around (along with his predecessor, Ray Kelly) was to ensure that the NYPD is more diverse. It's a trend in police departments nationwide. Across America, more and more officers reflect the communities they serve. Monica Only, a black female officer and recruiter for the police department in Orlando, Florida, says she hasn't had any race-related problems with her colleagues. Jim Ritter, a gay officer in Seattle, says he feels comfortable being out. His police chief, Kathleen O'Toole, says she hasn't faced any insurmountable obstacles due to her gender.
Several large departments today are even majority-minority, including those in New York, Detroit, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Adding women to the force has lagged, and much of the diversity has taken place only in bigger cities, but experts say the nearly all-white, all-male departments of the 1950s and '60s are fast becoming a relic.
And that's a very good thing, for the police and the communities they serve. Evidence suggests that diversity can improve the overall department, says David Sklansky, a Stanford Law School professor who first wrote about police demographics a decade ago. Having a more diverse agency can help break down the rigid mentality that often develops among officers and makes it easier to implement reforms. “Fifty years ago, there was one way, basically, to be a police officer, one way to think like a police officer,” he says. “That's not true anymore.”
For instance, diversity advocates argue that female cops are better with domestic violence calls, which are the largest category of 911 calls in the U.S. One study found that 40 percent of police officers surveyed admitted they had “behaved violently against their spouse and children” in the previous six months. Kathy Spillar, a founder of the National Center for Women and Policing, points to untested rape kits (there are an estimated 400,000) as evidence that some men with badges do not take women's issues as seriously as a woman will.
Perhaps, but reform advocates say hiring more women and minorities isn't a panacea, and some police chiefs use Benetton-like diversity to mask the need for greater reform. Female or minority officers can still “do stupid things,” says David Klinger, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a former Los Angeles cop. Rather than focus on race or gender quotas, he says, “the issue is, Am I getting sound policing?”
Newark, New Jersey, has a mostly minority police force, but in 2014 the Justice Department found evidence of widespread police misconduct, including unjustified stops and arrests, excessive use of force and officer thefts. Cops “do not have to break the law or violate the Constitution to be a good police officer,” says Anthony Ambrose, a former police chief who returned in January as public safety director to try to repair the department.
Federal investigations in other cities suggest police misconduct is systemic, regardless of race. In Cleveland and Seattle, the Justice Department found patterns of excessive force; in Ferguson, it exposed how cops targeted minorities with fines to generate revenue.
More recently, on Wednesday, the Justice Department announced it believes that Baltimore City Police Department (BPD) officers stop, search and arrest people without cause, especially African Americans, retaliate against critics of the police and use excessive force. The federal agency said the misconduct is the result of “systemic deficiencies that have persisted within BPD for many years,” and detailed investigation findings in a 164-page report. Lawsuits have turned up similar abuses around the country.
“It's not just bad apples,” says Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. She points to the case of Eric Garner, a black man NYPD officers confronted in 2014 for allegedly selling loose cigarettes; he died after an officer put him in a chokehold. “You had several officers on the scene,” she says, “and nobody, not a single one of them, did anything to de-escalate that situation. That's a culture where blue loyalty is valued more than morality.”
Free Hot Dogs and Inflatable Slides
New York City's 75th police precinct has a reputation, and it's not for balloon animals, bouncy castles and clown noses. One writer recently described the area, home to Brooklyn's East New York neighborhood, as “sicker, sadder, more dysfunctional, more isolated, harsher, frailer, madder, toxic—broken through and through everywhere.” There were 15 murders there this year through the end of July, making it the deadliest precinct in the city. That's part of what makes the Seven-Five a surprising place for National Night Out, an annual event across the country in which police throw parties for their communities.
The event, held in a local park hours after Bratton announced his departure on August 2, offers free hot dogs, an inflatable slide, a face-painting station and a DJ playing Beyoncé and other popular artists. At one point, kids from a drum line march through the crowd, with six dancers in black track pants and shimmering blue tank tops in the lead, followed by drummers in wrinkled blue uniforms and blue hats with yellow on top. Locals trail behind them, dancing and wielding camera phones.
Officer Marcus Johnson, who is black and handles community affairs for the precinct, seems almost hurt when asked about the crime rate in his precinct. “We're all out to have a good time and support the community,” he says. “And likewise, the community comes out to support us.” A trio of older black women interrupts so they can get a photo with him. Later, another woman approaches and gives him a hug.
Taking pictures with people or giving them hugs isn't everyone's idea of policing. But the type of cop America needs is always evolving. It may no longer be the officer at a diner counter chatting with a young runaway, as in the iconic Norman Rockwell cover of The Saturday Evening Post; it could be a cop passing out hot dogs or balloons. It could be an officer disarming a mass shooter or stepping in when social services have failed a family.
In recent decades, many of America's social problems have only grown worse, as the institutions charged with taking care of those in need have been decimated by budget cuts. The number of Americans on food stamps is now 16 times what it was in 1969, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Nationally, there are more than 200,000 fewer public housing units available than in the 1990s, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently reported. And if police find themselves confronting more people suffering from mental health crises, it's likely because, according to one estimate, 95 percent of the public psychiatric beds available in 1955 are gone.
Police officials in some of America's largest cities tell Newsweek the same thing—that all of these social problems fall on their officers' shoulders. Police chiefs estimate that three-quarters of their job now involves playing social worker or surrogate parent, especially in poor communities. The hundreds or even thousands of people killed in officer-involved incidents each year, they point out, are a fraction of the estimated 40 million people 16 or older who have contact with law enforcement annually.
“If there was not a single police shooting,” says Charles Ramsey, a former police chief in Washington, D.C., and police commissioner of Philadelphia, “we'd still have about 13,000 murders” nationally per year. And those murders affect African-Americans at a higher rate than other groups. Which is one of the reasons why police find the anti-cop rhetoric so frustrating. As Flynn, the Milwaukee police chief, puts it: “We are the only organization in society whose members get killed protecting black lives.”
Long before four of its men (plus a transit cop) were gunned down in July, the Dallas Police Department was facing an officer shortage and plummeting morale. Low pay and poor management were part of the problem, but given how hard policing has become, the tension between cops and the people they're sworn to protect, and the ubiquity of camera phones and how they subject every stop or arrest to scrutiny, it's no wonder fewer people are signing up for the force. In many municipalities, there's been a “cop crunch” for at least a decade. In 2002, 61,000 people entered police training. In 2013, the number was 45,000.
Jeremy Wilson, a criminal justice professor at Michigan State University and founder of the Police Consolidation and Shared Services program, blames changing generational preferences (millennials don't want to work such bad hours) and competition from related industries, like private security. But the anti-police rhetoric and high-profile killings by law enforcement have likely discouraged people too, he says. No one wants to become the next Darren Wilson.
Yet some police chiefs hope to find new recruits in an unlikely place: among their staunchest critics, such as those who support Black Lives Matter. “We're hiring,” Dallas Police Chief David Brown said after the July 7 slayings. “Get off that protest line and put an application in, and we'll put you in your neighborhood, and we will help you resolve some of the problems you're protesting about.”
The Dallas Police received 467 applications in the 12 days following the shooting, a 243 percent increase over the same period in June. Similar upticks occurred in Baton Rouge and Orlando after the recent tragedies in those places.
One person who heard Brown's call was Jaiston Sawyer, a 30-year-old African-American Navy veteran who lives in Denton, Texas, about an hour and a half north of Dallas. He works as a security guard and had often complained on social media about police brutality. When Brown issued that challenge, Sawyer says, “it was like he was talking to me.” Posting about police brutality on Facebook, he says, “you get a few likes and a few people agree with you, but after a couple of days that post is dead and nothing was accomplished. I have three sons, so instead of hoping my sons don't run into a bad cop, I can be the cop out there patrolling the community that I grew up in.” He applied to take the civil service exam in Denton and will likely apply in Dallas too.
Sawyer is hopeful for the future cops of America. So is Nakia Jones, the officer who made the viral video. Her son, the one who showed her the Alton Sterling clip, wants to be a neurosurgeon. But her 6-year-old daughter—the one who now tells her each night to come home safe—has long talked about becoming a police officer—and still does.
“I want to be a police officer just like you and Daddy,” she tells her mother. “I want to protect people.”
Civil liberties groups ask FCC to probe Baltimore police use of cellphone tracking devices
by Ellen Nakashima
Several civil liberties organizations filed a complaint Tuesday asking the Federal Communications Commission to investigate the use of cellphone tracking devices by the Baltimore Police Department.
The complaint alleges that the Baltimore police, like many other police agencies across the country, are using devices that mimic cellphone towers to track suspects through their cellphone locations, in violation of federal law that requires a license.
The groups are also alleging that the use of the disruptive surveillance technology overwhelmingly affects black residents — and does so without appropriate transparency and oversight.
“There's a pattern of law enforcement agencies around the country engaging in racially discriminatory policing, and that extends to surveillance technology,” said Laura Moy, director of Georgetown University's Institute for Public Representation, who filed the complaint on behalf of the groups.
The Communications Act, the groups say, requires a license to operate the devices on frequencies reserved for wireless carriers.
But an FCC official said Monday that local police agencies do not need a license under the law. She said at one point that the devices did not transmit on the wireless spectrum — which experts dispute. At another point, she suggested that local law enforcement is exempt from the requirement. In general, she could not give a clear explanation of why a license was not needed.
Nonetheless, Moy said, “I think it's a pretty clear violation, and I think the FCC has been looking the other way for a long time, hoping nobody will notice.”
The use of the cell site simulators, which are sometimes called Stingrays after one of the most popular models, has stirred controversy over the years because of the great secrecy surrounding their use. In September, the Justice Department announced a new policy that requires federal law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant to use the devices and to inform judges when they plan to deploy them. But the policy does not apply to state and local agencies.
The devices are boxes about the size of a small suitcase that can help police locate suspects by identifying signals coming from their cellphones. But the machines also sweep up data from innocent bystanders in the suspect's vicinity, raising privacy concerns. The data captured by the devices are serial numbers from cellphones, not GPS coordinates.
The Baltimore Police Department is also violating the law by “willfully interfering” with the commercial cellular network through its use of the equipment — in this case the Hailstorm model, alleged the Center for Media Justice, ColorOfChange.org, and New America's Open Technology Institute.
The devices send out signals that force nearby cellphones to connect to them, disrupting regular cellphone service as people who were on or making a call lose their connection to the real tower. Such disruptions could also interfere with emergency services, the groups said in their complaint, a copy of which was shared with The Washington Post.
The FCC official said the commission is reviewing that issue. In 2014, it warned the public in an advisory that “it is illegal to use a cell phone jammer or any other type of device that blocks, jams or interferes with authorized communications.” The prohibition, the FCC said, “extends to every entity that does not hold a federal authorization, including state and local law enforcement agencies.”
The harms that result from police use of the equipment “fall disproportionately” on Baltimore's black residents, the advocacy groups said.
The complaint comes on the heels of a scathing Justice Department investigation that found that the police department routinely violated the civil rights of the city's black residents. The police engaged in a “pattern or practice” of making unconstitutional stops, using excessive force and retaliating against residents exercising their right of free speech, the Justice Department said.
“The Baltimore Police Department uses cellphone interceptors at an astronomically higher rate than other law enforcement agencies, and mostly does so in black neighborhoods,” said Steven Renderos, senior campaign manager at the Center for Media Justice. In light of the Justice Department report, he said, “the Federal Communications Commission cannot allow a device as powerful as a cellphone interceptor to operate in obscurity. Unlicensed use of this technology decreases police accountability and increases the potential for harm against African Americans.”
In March, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals held that the Baltimore police must obtain a probable-cause warrant to use a cell site simulator and disclose the intended use to a judge. That state appellate court ruling came in a case involving a man wanted on charges of attempted murder.
Amber bus light law goes into effect Tuesday
by Emily Davies
STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) -- A familiar rumble and roll will soon fill the air as the education transportation turns the corner for a fresh school year like a sunrise on a new day. A face recognizable by the young minds of yesteryear will greet students for a new season of learning. That face belongs to that of the bus driver, Rodger Placzek to be exact.
"In many cases we're the first school district personnel that the student sees in the morning and often times the last school district personnel they see at night going home."
Placzek drives for the Stevens Point Area School District.
"I love the connectivity of the students. The kids are great," said Placzek.
This year he has new buttons and procedures to learn on top of kids names. On Tuesday, August 16, Wisconsin will catch up to a national standard on busing, adding flashing amber lights to warn drivers before the red flashing lights, stop sign, and crossing bar is activated.
"It's basically like the yellow light and the stop and go light saying the red light, so slow down and prepare to stop," said Brad Carriveau District Transportation Manager.
Bus drivers will turn on the amber lights 100-300 feet before they stop and flip on the red lights. Drivers are allowed to pass buses while the amber lights are on, but only if it is safe to do so. Once the red lights are on, drivers must stop at least 20 feet away from the bus and remain stalled until the red lights are turned off or the bus begins moving again.
If a car is approaching a bus from the opposite direction, it does not have to stop on the flashing red if it is a divided highway, but if there is no divider, drivers still must stop. The same rules apply to transit buses.
Carriveau noted Wisconsin is the last state to adopt the law.
"This is a great step for the State of Wisconsin," he said. "It should have been done years ago."
The new legislation requires an extra pre-trip check of the bus.
"We want to make sure the bus is visible at all times," urged Placzek. "The bigger learning curve will be the general drivers out in the public."
Placzek said bus drivers are in charge of making sure students are safe both inside and getting off the bus.
Portage County Sheriff Mike Lukas made it clear his deputies will be strictly monitoring drivers to hold them accountable for the safety of the children and other pedestrians in the area.
"The opening of school, we're going to be out with undercover vehicles. We're going to be monitoring situations, following buses. We're going to make sure that the citizens in Portage County, along with their youth that are getting on the school bus are being safe."
"All of our drivers have experienced drivers ignoring the stop signs, doing the things they are not supposed to do," added Placzek. "It just adds additional pressure on the school bus driver to be attentive and be proactive and anticipate sometimes the things that drivers shouldn't be doing."
Drivers who fail to follow the law can be cited with a fine of $326.50 and lose four points off their license. Lukas said officers do not have to see the violation to give a ticket. A citizen can report the violation and a ticket could then be issued to the owner of the vehicle responsible for the violation.
"It does not make sense to be in that big of a hurry when you see that these are our children out in society," pleaded Lukas.
He said they do not have many reports of injuries or deaths from drivers not following the bus light laws, but it only takes one mistake to change a life forever.
An Inside Look at the NYPD's Community Policing Program Shows Focus on Crime Fighting and Community Building
by Dean Meminger
There has been lots of talk from the outgoing and incoming police commissioners about their new community policing program. It is supposed to help fight crime and improve police-community relations in neighborhoods of color. NY1 Criminal Justice Reporter Dean Meminger went on a ride along with cops in Brooklyn to check it out.
In the 79th Precinct, they're known as Salt and Pepper. John Bruchanan and Robert Bramble are Neighborhood Coordination Officers, which makes them part of an expanding program in which the same cops work the same streets every day to get to know the people they're supposed to serve and protect.
The Neighborhood Coordination Officer program began last year, and just moved into the 79th Precinct this summer.
It's a return of the old community policing concept encouraging officers to solve problems while also breaking down the mistrust that can develop between cops and the neighborhoods they police.
But don't mistake it as soft on crime.
"The purpose of collaborating with different sources and different people in the neighborhood is so that we gain information that we otherwise would not have gotten," Bramble said.
"We are not shaking hands and kissing babies and that is all we do," Bruchanan added. "We are still cops. And our main function is crime fighting we are just using the community and networking to do that."
The program is expected to be a cornerstone of incoming Commissioner James O'Neill's strategy - as Chief of Department, he helped develop it.
Along Fulton Avenue business owners say the program works and they appreciate it.
"We have been getting to know them and they have been getting to know us," said one business owner. "We feel very comfortable with them. We feel very secure that they are on the job."
"Always coming here, say you okay, everything all right, you don't have no problem," added another. "Any problem, call us."
The officers say their age enables them to work with young adults in making the community safer.
"A lot of the times the people who have significant problems in the neighborhood, significant information to provide us are the younger folks and they have not been really reached out to and now as a younger officer, I feel I am more able to do that," said Bramble.
By this fall, the NCO program is expected to be in half of all precincts including all public housing commands.
Public safety main priority in Milwaukee
MILWAUKEE, WI (Wisconsin Radio Network) - Following days of violent protests in Milwaukee, Governor Scott Walker says the most important role of government in the city right now is to protect the safety of the public.
“If you don't have public safety, you don't have anything else,” Walker told reporters after a meeting with Milwaukee area law enforcement on Monday evening. “If people can't live in their communities and their neighborhoods without fear, everything else is kind of irrelevant.”
Demonstrators have been taking to the streets since Saturday night, after a Milwaukee police officer fatally shot an armed black man in the city's Sherman Park neighborhood. Police have said 23-year-old Sylville Smith was turning towards the officer with a gun in his hand at the time of the shooting. The protests have resulted in multiple injuries and numerous incidents of property damage, including burned buildings and rocks thrown at police squad cars.
Police and the Mayor Tom Barrett have called for the Department of Justice, which is handling the investigation of the shooting, to release footage from the officer's body camera. Walker on Monday said the DOJ should follow the law and not impeded its ability to conduct a thorough investigation. “We don't want to rush their investigation, the law is important to have an independent review.”
Mayor Barrett on Monday instituted a curfew for anyone 17 and younger that was set to take effect at 10pm. Walker said his “hope and prayer” for the city is that things will calm down.
Walker also responded to critics who have claimed economic conditions in Milwaukee's black community have helped fuel some of the violence in recent days. The governor says those concerns are ones he has been working with lawmakers from the city to address, through actions such as job training programs.
Walker said he plans to continue those discussions once safety is restored. “If you want to address poverty, if you want to address living conditions, you want to address housing – all of those things are legitimate issues…but if you've got neighborhoods where businesses are burnt down, where people are afraid to live, it's only going to make those problems more difficult.”
1 person shot on 2nd night of Milwaukee protests
Officers say an 18-year-old Milwaukee man was seriously injured when he was shot during the unrest Sunday ni
by Todd Richmond
MILWAUKEE — One person was shot and wounded during a second night of violent unrest in Milwaukee to protest the fatal shooting of a black man by police, but there was no repeat of the widespread destruction of property.
On Sunday night, two dozen officers in riot gear confronted protesters who were throwing rocks and other objects at police near where Sylville K. Smith was fatally shot a day earlier. Police tried to disperse the crowd and warned of arrests.
The city's police chief said Smith, 23, was shot and killed by a black police officer Saturday afternoon after he turned toward the officer with a gun in his hand. The officer's identity has not been released. The killing touched off violence that led to the destruction of six businesses on the city's mostly black north side Saturday night. Wisconsin's governor put the National Guard on standby to protect against further violence.
TV footage showed a small group of protesters running through the streets Sunday night, picking up orange construction barriers and hurling them out of the way. Police posted on Twitter three locations where they said shots were fired. Police said an injured officer was taken to a hospital after a rock broke the windshield of a squad car.
Police said early Monday that an 18-year-old Milwaukee man was seriously injured when he was shot during the unrest Sunday night. Officers used an armored vehicle to retrieve the man and took him to a hospital. Police did not say who shot the man, but that they continue to look for suspects.
There were no other reports of injuries and no major destruction of property.
Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said at a press conference earlier Sunday that Smith turned toward an officer with a gun in his hand. Flynn cautioned that the shooting was still under investigation and that authorities were awaiting autopsy results, but that the officer "certainly appeared to be within lawful bounds," based on video from his body camera.
He said the officer told Smith to drop the gun and he did not do so. It was unclear how many rounds the officer fired. Smith was hit in the chest and arm, Flynn said.
At the same news conference, Mayor Tom Barrett said a still image pulled from the footage clearly showed a gun in Smith's hand as he fled a traffic stop Saturday.
"I want our community to know that," Barrett said. But he also called for understanding for Smith's family.
"A young man lost his life yesterday afternoon," the mayor said. "And no matter what the circumstances are, his family has to be hurting."
Flynn declined to identify the officer who shot Smith but said he is black. The police chief said he wasn't sure what prompted the stop but described Smith's car as "behaving suspiciously."
In addition to the businesses that were burned to the ground Saturday night, 17 people were arrested and four police injured.
Gov. Scott Walker put Wisconsin's National Guard on standby Sunday, and 125 Guard members reported to local armories to prepare for further instructions, although they were not deployed.
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said Smith had been arrested 13 times. Online court records showed a range of charges against Smith, many of them misdemeanors.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Smith was also charged in a shooting and was later charged with pressuring the victim to withdraw testimony that identified Smith as the gunman. The charges were dropped because the victim recanted the identification and failed to appear in court, Chief Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern told the newspaper.
Speaking at a Sunday night vigil, Smith's sister, Kimberley Neal, told The Associated Press that the family wants prosecutors to charge the officer who shot him.
The anger at Milwaukee police is not new and comes as tension between black communities and law enforcement has ramped up across the nation, resulting in protests and the recent ambush killings of eight officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Dallas.
Nearly 40 percent of Milwaukee's 600,000 residents are black, and they are heavily concentrated on the north side.
Milwaukee was beset by protests and calls for police reform after an officer shot and killed Dontre Hamilton, a mentally ill black man, in 2014.
In December, the U.S. Justice Department announced it would work with Milwaukee police on changes.
Critics said the police department should have been subjected to a full Justice Department investigation like the one done in Ferguson, Missouri, after the killing of black 18-year-old Michael Brown in 2014 touched off violence there.
Suspect who fatally shot Ga. officer arrested in Fla.
The Nassau County Sheriff's Office in Florida says Royheem Delshawn Deeds was booked into jail just before 3 a.m. Monday
by The Associated Press
MCRAE, Ga. — Authorities in south Georgia say a man accused of fatally shooting a police officer has been arrested.
The Telfair County Sheriff's Office said in a statement on its website that 24-year-old Royheem Delshawn Deeds was in custody. The website of the Nassau County Sheriff's Office in Florida says Deeds was booked into jail just before 3 a.m. Monday.
Authorities say Deeds killed Eastman Patrol Officer Tim Smith about 9:30 p.m. Saturday in a residential area of that city, which is about 60 miles southeast of Macon.
Authorities say the 31-year-old Smith was responding to a suspicious person call when he encountered Deeds, exited his patrol car and was shot.
The sheriff's office statement did not provide any additional details on the arrest, and it wasn't immediately clear whether Deeds has an attorney.
Smith had been with the Eastman Police Department since 2011 and was a father of three.
Smith was white, and Deeds is black.
Mass. police chiefs weigh in on amnesty for addicts
Chief Leonard Campanello decided last summer to offer amnesty to drug addicts who walked into his station looking to get clean
by Brad Petrishen
WORCESTER, Mass. — Long before opioids firmed their grip on the middle class and became everybody's problem, they were mostly the problem of the police.
A decade ago, when many current police chiefs were still climbing the ranks, there were no omnibus opioid bills, no destigmatization campaigns, no widely available, life-saving sprays.
Public sentiment did not sway toward the heroin abuser, and the prime charge of police officers was to arrest, not triage.
But people were still dying – perhaps not as many, perhaps not as publicly – and those deaths, as they increased over the years, grated on the men and women who had to watch them die, place them under sheets and speak to their families.
So it shouldn't be a surprise that many of those officers – including many in Central Massachusetts – are embracing, in varying degrees, a new model of dealing with addicts started by a fed-up chief in Gloucester.
“I start with an apology,” Chief Leonard Campanello said as he described his talks nowadays with loved ones of opiate scourge casualties. “I say, ‘We didn't get it. We were asked to arrest people without looking at the bigger picture.'”
Chief Campanello has in the past year become the face of a paradigm shift in law enforcement surrounding opioid addicts. When he decided last summer to offer amnesty to drug addicts who walked into his station looking to get clean, he generated headlines around the world, and has since created a nonprofit organization aimed at helping others implement his philosophy across the country.
“We are absolutely not soft on crime. But people need help,” said Southbridge Chief Shane D. Woodson, who launched a program similar to Chief Campanello's last month.
A year after Chief Campanello's bold announcement, more than 130 police departments in 28 states – including Nashville, Tennessee, and Anaheim, California – have partnered with the movement.
“We're on board,” said Worcester Police Chief Steven M. Sargent, whose department has for months been following up and trying to help people treated with the life-saving drug Narcan.
An unscientific email survey of Central Massachusetts police chiefs last week found general support for the Gloucester model among respondents. And while the largest collection of police chiefs in the state has yet to endorse the idea – taking a nod, perhaps, from district attorneys who have voiced opposition – it's clear that a sea change is underway in many departments.
“I think eventually this is going to be the norm,” Chief Woodson said. “What we've been doing hasn't worked.”
“Cops are people, too”
Talk to police chiefs who have been in the business for a while, and they'll tell you: The job was a lot different 30 years ago.
“When I came on 20 years ago, we had one, two, maybe three suicide calls a year,” said Sutton Police Chief Dennis J. Towle. “We get a suicide call a week now.
“What the hell is going on? I don't know,” he asked, lamenting a narrative many have advanced: police have become the de facto guardians against a host of society's failings.
“We're called upon to be social workers, teachers, parents – I look back on what we did in law enforcement 30 years ago, and it's totally different,” Fitchburg Chief Ernest F. Martineau said.
As the roles of police officers have expanded, so too has frustration. The opioid epidemic is a prime example; while compassion is certainly a prime motivator in the latest policing shift, exasperation is admittedly one, too.
“Enough is enough,” said Chief Campanello, who, like many chiefs, is sick of expending resources arresting the same people over and over, and disgusted by what he sees as a lack of accountability on the part of industries seen as contributing to the epidemic.
“We're not doing the jobs of pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies anymore,” he said. “Incarceration and arrest have not been enough for 50 years.”
And so, Chief Campanello and others are working to get nonviolent drug offenders out of their holding cells and into treatment facilities. Their programs are designed to help those who seek the help themselves, but, several chiefs acknowledged, individual police officers are increasingly using discretion when they catch people with opioids out on the streets.
“The strongest tool we have in law enforcement is discretion, and I encourage my officers to use that tool very wisely,” said Chief Martineau. He said while he's not whetted to giving “free passes” on criminal activity, each circumstance is different.
“If you've got an addict with a criminal history – he's done 12 B&Es – will (an officer) give that person a pass? Probably not,” he said. “But if there's a soccer mom's kid hooked on percs (Percocet) with no criminal history, and we might catch him with an illegal substance – that's where discretion comes into play.”
“You temper justice with mercy,” Chief Towle said. “Cops are people, too. They've got friends, family and relatives who have been affected by this.”
Chief Towle, the head of the Central Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, said he believes most area departments are sick of dealing with overdoses and bodies, and looking for ways to change.
He, like many area chiefs, has accepted the idea that opiate addiction is a disease that grabs hold of the body and won't let go.
“It's like walking into a pool,” he said. People start by wading in – maybe they took pain pills after a surgery – and before they know it, they're in the deep end, struggling to keep from drowning.
“It's disgusting – to see where some of these people are – 99 percent of them are good people, they just took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in a mess,” he said.
Chief Towle said he doesn't believe there are many police officers who wouldn't try to help an addict who walked into the station asking for help. And officers can use their discretion on calls, too, he said – selectively.
“Many of these people are being untruthful,” he said, and people caught in the commission of drug-fueled crimes like theft will be arrested.
But sometimes, the chief said, officers run into people – in his town, often at the Econo Lodge Motel on Route 146 – who need compassion.
“We run into people with some pretty sad stories down there,” he said. “Yeah, we're going to try and help them out.”
Not everyone in the law enforcement community thinks Chief Campanello's idea is a good one.
His county's district attorney, Jonathan W. Blodgett, has criticized the idea, warning Chief Campanello in a May 20, 2015, letter that “an explicit promise not to charge a person who unlawfully possesses drugs may amount to a charging promise that you lack legal authority to make.”
And on Thursday, David F. Capeless, the Berkshire County District Attorney and the president of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, offered highly skeptical remarks to a reporter.
“Are people taking advantage of this, or is this simply a get-out-of-jail-free card?” Mr. Capeless asked. He noted that many prosecutors already have jail-diversion programs, while more and more drug courts – courts that give addicts second chances – are popping up.
Mr. Capeless said it is unclear to him whether the Gloucester program is “working” – or if there is even a definition for what “working” would be.
“The concern we have with the Gloucester program is – we'd like some facts about what, if anything, it's actually doing, and we're not getting any answers.”
Chief Campanello's nonprofit – The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative – has been tracking results of the “Gloucester Angels” program with the help of one of its board members.
Mr. Capeless said that the DAs have requested results from “someone who helped set it up” but have “not received anything back.”
Chief Campanello disputed the statement, saying not one district attorney has asked anybody in his department or at PAARI for any facts related to the program.
Another criticism Mr. Capeless had is that, by offering amnesty to drug addicts walking into the station, police are effectively eliminating discretion and creating policy. It is the DAs, he noted, that are elected to determine who gets prosecuted for what.
“Spoken like a true elected politician,” Chief Campanello said when informed of the remark. “Prosecutors are responsible for adjudicating people postarrest. They have no discretion in prearrest decisions before people enter the court system.
“Police officers' jobs are steeped in discretion that crosses into policy and procedure on every page of every police department's manual.”
Chief Campanello said he sees little difference between his program and DA-supported efforts such as gun buyback programs, which accept the firearms no questions asked.
“For some reason, when we started offering people the opportunity to get help without the stigma of arrest over their head, they (the DAs) started jawing about it, and I don't know why,” he said. “I can only surmise they feel their toes are being stepped on. And I would ask, ‘What jurisdiction, prearrest, do prosecutors have?'”
Chief Campanello chuckled when informed of a statement Mr. Capeless made about the criminal justice system often being the best thing to happen to many people.
“The community doesn't want us further stigmatizing, further blockading a person, from recovery by adding an arrest to their already difficult lives,” he said, stressing that the current model just isn't working.
“How long can you be a lemming, when logic is slapping you in the face?”
That logic has appealed to the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police Association as well as several local departments – Worcester, Marlboro, Lunenburg, Sturbridge and Southbridge – all of whom are official PAARI partners.
But the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association – the largest collection of police chiefs statewide - has yet to sign on.
“I'd call the level of support tepid right now,” said Executive Director Mark K. Leahy. “Given the difference of opinions, some chiefs are hesitant to conflict with their district attorney, who is the chief law enforcement officer in the county.”
The office of Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. did not respond to a request for an interview or statement on the topic.
Chiefs Sargent and Woodson said Mr. Early has not reached out to them with any concerns about their programs.
“This epidemic is at every socioeconomic level,” said Chief Sargent. He said that since August 2014, Worcester police officers alone – no EMTs or firefighters included – have revived 120 people suffering from overdoses.
“We know we can't arrest our way out of this problem, so we need to attack it as a disease,” he said.
Chief Sargent said if an addict walks up to a police officer in the city today and, in good faith, hands over a bag of heroin and asks for help, they will receive it.
“We're trying to remove the stigma,” he said. “We're breaking down barriers.”
“I like to have less business”
Dudley District Court First Justice Timothy M. Bibaud, who presides over the district's drug court, said he supports programs like the ones in Southbridge and Gloucester.
“I'm not worried about any toes getting stepped on,” Judge Bibaud said. “The quicker we can get folks into treatment, the better.”
Judge Bibaud is proud of the 33 addicts who have graduated from his court's program in the last 14 months, but said if nonviolent offenders can be safely diverted from the court, that's fine, too.
“I like to have less business,” he said. “If they're in treatment somewhere, I don't care how they get there.
“We're looking at a really horrific situation here,” he added of the epidemic. “I'm a hopeful guy, but we're getting steamrolled by this thing.”
While Essex County DA Blodgett has concerns about the program, Essex County Sheriff Frank G. Cousins Jr. does not. Not only is he a partner of PAARI, but he runs his own pretrial detoxification program for men and women facing drug charges.
“This whole county has taken a different approach,” said Sheriff Cousins, whose program has, in the last six months, helped more than 270 people resolve their cases in court following the 28-day detox.
“We're going to have 1,400 people in this state die of drug overdoses this year – more than guns, more than drunken driving,” he said, going on to estimate that 90 percent of the people in his jails have substance abuse problems.
“I have almost 1,300 people locked up today at the Middleton House of Corrections – the largest inmate population in the state – and that's nothing to be proud of,” he said. “It's all drugs.”
Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis agreed with his colleague's 90 percent figure.
“The jails are full because of substance abuse,” he said, and most people committing crimes are doing it to get high.
“This is a war we're in now. We lost 58,000 Americans in Vietnam. We lost 48,000 Americans last year to opioid addiction,” he said.
Sheriff Evangelidis has created several “community correction centers” – nonresident programs that act as an alternative to jail time for drug offenders who violate probation.
Somebody who might go to prison for a dirty urine test, should they be deemed eligible, could go to the center instead, the sheriff said, where, as long as they stay clean, they can avoid jail and take advantage of a number of transportation, recovery and educational services
“I'm fully supportive of creatively approaching this epidemic that's killing our young people,” said the sheriff. He is reserving final judgment on the Gloucester program, but reasoned that, since participants seek out police, they are more likely to succeed.
David L. Rosenbloom, a Boston University School of Public Health professor who sits on the PAARI board and is studying the program, said early returns are promising.
Ninety-five percent of the more than 450 people who have come through the Gloucester “Angel” program were placed in treatment within hours of walking into the station, he said.
“The evidence is very strong that getting someone in quickly is an extraordinarily effective starting point,” he said, noting that after police make the connections, it's up to the patients and the treatment facilities to work on the addiction.
That's a fact Chief Campanello knows too well. One day last December, he learned that Stephenie O. Jesi, a 33-year-old woman who had been in and out of his program, had lost her struggle.
“The death was devastating, personally and professionally,” Chief Campanello said. “I felt we had not done our jobs.”
But Ms. Jesi's family did not share that view. They asked people to donate to PAARI in the obituary. They hosted an event to raise money for the cause. And, on a frigid Saturday before Christmas, they asked Chief Campanello to deliver the woman's eulogy.
“They said the police were the only ones that answered the phone when they called for help,” Chief Campanello recalled. “The family was so supportive (of me) when they should have been the ones being supported.”
PAARI has established a $1,000 scholarship in Ms. Jesi's name, to be given to three Angel participants each year.
“There's a cliché – ‘If you save one life, it's worth it,' ” Chief Campanello said. “I know we can save more than one life in law enforcement, and I know my officers, and officers in other communities, have been building trust and good relations with the public - and that is sorely needed.”
DEA warns of Fentanyl's 'unprecedented threat' to cops, K-9s
The DEA released a video to law enforcement nationwide about the dangers of improper handling and its deadly consequences—especially to drug-sniffing police dogs
by Christine Stapleton
WASHINGTON — Fentanyl, the powerful painkiller more than 50 times stronger than heroin, has become so prevalent that the Drug Enforcement Administration is warning police and first-responders not to touch or field-test drugs they suspect contain it.
Calling fentanyl an "unprecedented threat," the DEA released a video to all law enforcement agencies nationwide about the dangers of improperly handling the drug and its deadly consequences -- especially to drug-sniffing police dogs.
"Fentanyl is being sold as heroin in virtually every corner of our country," said acting Deputy Administrator Jack Riley. "A very small amount ingested, or absorbed through your skin, can kill you."
Riley urged police to skip testing on the scene.
"Don't field test it in your car, or on the street, or take it back to the office," Riley said in the video. "Transport it directly to a laboratory, where it can be safely handled and tested."
Boynton Beach Police Chief Jeffrey Katz said the DEA warning was "quite scary, but not something we've been blind to."
"Anytime you have a substance that's cooked up in people's garages and labs, you never know what's in it," Katz said. "Every recipe is different."
There seems to be no lull in efforts to invent increasingly more potent -- and lethal -- drugs, Katz said. That means more overdoses and higher risks for police, too. In one recent overdose, the drugs were so powerful that it took ten times the normal dose of naloxone, also known as Narcan, to revive the addict, Katz said.
"As the drugs become increasingly more toxic and cut with material that makes them more addictive and more deadly, exposure to that stuff is increasingly dangerous," Katz said. "We're running into drugs that are more potent than fentanyl."
When Delray Beach police, test drugs they wear rubber gloves and paper masks, said Sgt. Paul Weber, with the department's Vice, Intelligence & Narcotics unit.
"It's safe to assume there is some fentanyl in all heroin bought around here," Weber said. Dealers often mix heroin with fentanyl to increase profits, Weber added. But when drug dealers mix drugs, there is no quality control, like there is with prescription drugs, Weber said.
"Users are throwing dice every time they buy," Weber said. "For that reason, it's a hazard for law enforcement, too."
During the past two years, the distribution of clandestinely manufactured fentanyl has been linked to an unprecedented outbreak of thousands of overdoses and deaths, according to a DEA news release. The overdoses are occurring at an alarming rate and are the basis for the officer safety alert.
Fentanyl is used in surgery as anesthesia and to treat chronic and severe pain. It is available in pills, a film that dissolves in the mouth and a transdermal patch, which delivers the drug directly through the skin. According to the DEA, the fentanyl being sold on the street is produced clandestinely in Mexico, and also comes directly from China.
Between 2005 and 2007, more than 1,000 U.S. deaths were attributed to fentanyl -- many of which occurred in Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia. Last year in Palm Beach County, fentanyl was among the drugs responsible for 95 overdose deaths.
The drug is so potent that doses are measured in a microgram, one millionth of a gram -- similar to just a few granules of table salt. The high levels of the drug found in fatal overdoses are especially alarming.
A 25-year-old West Palm Beach man who overdosed in April had six times more fentanyl in his system than a normal dose in a patch.
Although fentanyl is often mixed, Christian Ty Hernandez, a 23-year-old Wellington man, died in February of a pure dose of fentanyl.
The drug dealer who sold Hernandez the fentanyl, Christopher Massena, was convicted on Aug. 8 for selling Hernandez the fatal dose. He faces 100 years in prison for selling that dose and four others of heroin and fentanyl to undercover officers.
The DEA crackdown on fentanyl includes a major bust in Atlanta, which resulted in the seizure of 40 kilograms of fentanyl -- initially believed to be bricks of cocaine -- wrapped into blocks hidden in buckets and immersed in a thick fluid. The fentanyl from these seizures originated from Mexican drug trafficking organizations.
Fentanyl is also being sold as look-a-like hydrocodone or oxycodone tablets. The fentanyl tablets are marketed to mimic the authentic narcotic prescription medications and have led to multiple overdoses and deaths.
Maryland FOP conference opens to protests in Baltimore
Demonstrators were charged with trespassing after they chained themselves to an escalator inside a hotel to protest the Md. FOP on the first night of the union's conference
by Colin Campbell
BALTIMORE — A dozen demonstrators were charged with trespassing Sunday after they chained themselves to an escalator inside an Inner Harbor hotel to protest the Maryland Fraternal Order of Police on the first night of the union's four-day conference in Baltimore.
The protest included references to last week's blistering Department of Justice report on the Baltimore Police Department, which detailed a pattern of civil rights violations and racially discriminatory policing.
It followed riots Saturday in Milwaukee over a fatal police shooting, the latest such incident to stoke unrest between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
Those arrested at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore on Sunday, and some of the roughly 60 other protesters outside, wore shirts that read "Justice 4 Korryn Gaines." Gaines was the 23-year-old hairdresser who was shot to death in her Randallstown home by a Baltimore County police officer this month after a nearly seven-hour standoff.
Police say they attempted to serve Gaines a warrant for failing to appear in court to respond to an alleged traffic violation. Police say she refused to come out of her apartment, threatened to kill officers and raised a shotgun at them. Police say a tactical officer shot her. Her 5-year-old son was injured by police gunfire.
Protesters Sunday demanded to know the names of the officers who shot Gaines and her son, as well as those of the officers whose conduct was described in the Department of Justice report.
Protest organizer Ralikh Hayes called the police union a "good ol' boys club that prioritizes the legal protection of officers over citizens and public safety and justice."
Hayes detailed the demands of the "Vision for Black Lives Platform" outside the hotel. He said the union's 79 lodges in Maryland should be disbanded and turned into community centers or shelters for the homeless. Barring that, he said, additional community oversight is needed on their contracts and negotiations with local governments.
Hayes said citizens must be included on internal police department trial boards, and the officers whose unconstitutional and inappropriate actions -- such as strip-searching individuals on the street for no reason -- were detailed in the Justice Department report must be fired.
As of Wednesday, no officers had been terminated or disciplined as a result of the Justice Department report.
Davis said last week he and his command staff would be going through the report extensively and be paying attention to any information outlining specific misconduct.
"If in fact that information is new to us and deserves an investigation, then we'll absolutely consider doing that," he said.
The protest group also seeks divestment and demilitarization of police.
"Our vision is a world where safety and security is not dependent on the enforcers of the state but rather where all people have access to quality food, shelter, health care and education and where racial, economic and gender equality flourish," Hayes said.
The state Fraternal Order of Police did not respond to a request for comment.
Officers were called to the lobby of the Hyatt at about 1:45 p.m. Members of the Baltimore Bloc and the Black Youth Project 100 protest groups had chained themselves to a railing and were refusing to leave, Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith said.
Smith called the protest a nonviolent act of civil disobedience. Because it took place on private property, he said, those involved would be charged with trespassing.
They were being processed at Central Booking Sunday afternoon. Police did not release their names.
Police said they were a 26-year-old Columbia man; an 18-year-old Ellicott City man; a 30-year-old Pikesville man; a 22-year-old Chicago woman; a 39-year-old Montgomery County woman; three Washington residents, a 24-year-old woman and two men, ages 34 and 26; and four Baltimoreans, a 24-year-old man and three women, ages 30, 27 and 21.
The rest of the protesters cheered for them as they were loaded into police wagons, followed them to Central Booking and set up online fundraisers to pay for their bail.
The biennial FOP conference opened Sunday night with a welcome reception at the hotel, according to the agenda. The week's events include a happy hour on Monday, an Orioles game Tuesday and a dinner Wednesday.
The Rev. Cortly "C.D." Witherspoon, a Baltimore pastor and activist, said protesters were taking issue with the Fraternal Order of Police over comments by Baltimore lodge officials after the Freddie Gray riots last year and the dismissal of charges this month against all remaining officers indicted in his arrest and death.
Gray, 25, died last year after suffering a severe spinal cord injury in police custody. Six officers were charged in his arrest and death. Three were acquitted in bench trials, and State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby dropped the charges against the rest.
"For us, quite frankly, the Fraternal Order of Police is an old boy's network, it's a segregated country club, it has no African-American or non-white members in its ranks of leadership," Witherspoon said. "We do not believe that a organization of this particular capacity should be able to function in Baltimore City."
The state Fraternal Order of Police has two men of color on its leadership board: President Ismael Vince Canales and Darryl Jones, the union's elected conductor, who organized this week's convention. Both are from Prince George's County.
Witherspoon later clarified his comments, saying he was referring to the union's Baltimore chapter, Lodge 3. The city police union president, Gene Ryan, did not respond to a request for comment.
In Milwaukee, which is among the nation's most racially segregated cities, a group of about 100 protesters threw stones, set buildings on fire and surged against a line of police officers.
Police said one officer was hit in the head with a brick thrown through the window of a squad car and was hospitalized.
Milwaukee police officers earlier had pulled over a "suspicious vehicle," and two people fled in different directions, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. A six-year veteran officer chased one of the men, a 23-year-old identified by his family as Sylville Smith. Police say he was carrying a gun, and refused to drop it.
The officer shot him twice, in the chest and arm, Barrett said.
Police Chief Edward Flynn refused to identify the officer but said he is black, according to the Associated Press.
The Baltimore protest in the sweltering Sunday afternoon sun was punctuated by the familiar Black Lives Matter call-and-response chants of "This is what democracy looks like!" and "No justice, no peace! Jail killer police!"
Less familiar was the backdrop: Hotel guests and others in all manner of costume were in town for the Otakon anime convention at the Baltimore Convention Center. Several who walked past looked as startled by the protest as onlookers often are by their cartoon costumes.
The protest was interrupted for a few moments just before 3 p.m., when smoke began billowing over from an exterior walkway above the hotel parking garage. Two fire engines responded and firefighters quickly put out a fire.
Second Night Of Unrest In Milwaukee Following Police Shooting Saturday
by Camila Domonoske
Milwaukee saw a second night of unrest on Sunday following a fatal police shooting this weekend. Sunday's protests were smaller and less destructive than the previous night's, although some violence continued and one person was shot and wounded under unknown circumstances.
The weekend's demonstrations and rioting were prompted by the police killing of a 23-year-old black man, identified by police as Sylville Smith, on Saturday. Smith ran from police during a traffic stop. Police say he was carrying a gun.
Police Chief Edward Flynn has not identified the officer who shot Smith, but says the officer is black, The Associated Press reports.
Police say Sylville had been arrested 13 times before, Chuck Quirmbach of Wisconsin Public Radio reports. The Wisconsin Justice Department is reviewing the shooting.
As we reported, the protests immediately after the shooting were destructive and volatile. Six businesses were set on fire, 17 people were arrested and four police injured on Saturday, NPR's David Schaper reports.
Protests on Sunday were "not nearly as large nor as violent," David says. The AP reports there were some people throwing rocks and construction barriers.
Little is known about the one person who was shot at a protest Sunday evening; police retrieved that victim in an armored vehicle and took him or her to the hospital.
"There were no other reports of injuries and no major destruction of property," the AP writes.
NPR's Cheryl Corley reports that authorities are waiting for autopsy results, and body camera footage of the shooting has not been released to the public. Meanwhile, the National Guard is on standby if Milwaukee authorities say they need help.
Cheryl reports from Milwaukee:
"In the park not far from where Sylville Smith lost his life, dozens of people gathered earlier in the day for a prayer vigil — and to clean the debris around the gas station that was destroyed Saturday night. An odor of smoke still lingers.
"Sonia Mack, who brought her young daughter to the clean-up, calls it the smell of hopelessness and she says she's going to conduct a street ministry for the city: 'That means saying good morning, that means picking up trash like we did. That means praying for people if they want it. That means giving whatever we can to the streets of Milwaukee because the streets are hurting.'
"In a way, it's a long-standing problem for Milwaukee. Two years ago, the city was rocked by months of protests after an officer shot an killed Dontre Hamilton, a mentally ill black man. In December, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it would work with Milwaukee police on reforms."
Officials cite Milwaukee shooting victim's criminal record
Online court records show multiple charges against Sylville Smith dating back to 2013, ranging from minor charges to felonies
by The Associated Press
MILWAUKEE — When police identified Sylville Smith as the Milwaukee man shot by an officer Saturday, triggering a violent uprising on the city's mostly black north side, Chief Edward Flynn cited Smith's "lengthy criminal record."
Online court records showed multiple charges against the 23-year-old Smith dating back to 2013. One was as minor as retail theft — which was dismissed — and other less serious offenses included speeding, driving without insurance, driving with a suspended license or having open intoxicants in a vehicle.
There were more serious charges. Smith was accused in a shooting last year and charged with recklessly endangering safety, a felony.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Smith was subsequently accused of pressuring the victim to recant statements that identified him as the gunman and was charged with trying to intimidate a witness. The charges were dropped because the victim recanted the identification and failed to appear in court, Chief Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern told the newspaper Sunday.
Smith also pleaded guilty to carrying a concealed weapon in 2014.
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said at a news conference that Smith had been arrested 13 times.
"He's got a bunch of drug arrests here, robbery, use of force," Clarke said.
But Smith was father to a 2-year-old toddler, too, his mother said.
"My son is gone due to the police killing my son," a distraught Mildred Haynes told the Journal Sentinel on Sunday. "I am lost."
Smith's younger sister, Sherelle Smith, 22, told the Journal Sentinel that her brother carried a gun because he was scared and needed to protect himself, not because he was violent. She said he was known around the neighborhood for his style and dance moves.
"He was a ladies' man. That's the worst thing about him," she said
"I'm not going to say he was an angel. He was out here living his life," Smith's godmother, Katherine Mahmoud, told the Journal Sentinel.
Mayor Tom Barrett called for empathy for Smith's family.
"I think we have to recognize that ... a young man lost his life yesterday afternoon," the mayor said. "And no matter what the circumstances are, his family has to be hurting."
Smith's death sparked explosive protests in northern Milwaukee, a town of 600,000 where roughly 40 percent of residents are black. Several businesses were burned down in the protests that stretched into Sunday morning, leading Gov. Scott Walker to activate National Guard troops in case violence persists.
NY officer stabbed in face while responding to call
The officer has serious but non life-threatening injuries and underwent surgery at a local hospital
by Darran Simon
SUFFOLK COUNTY, N.Y. — A Suffolk County police officer was stabbed several times in the face Saturday afternoon inside a Central Islip home while responding to a domestic incident, authorities said.
The armed suspect was shot and wounded by another officer but still had to be subdued, Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said.
The officer who was stabbed has serious but nonlife-threatening injuries and underwent surgery at Stony Brook University Hospital, Sini said.
The incident unfolded shortly after officers responded to a 911 call from a home on Oakland Avenue about 1:20 p.m., police said.
Officers at the scene learned that an armed man — later identified as Mark Caraway, 40, of Central Islip — was threatening to hurt himself and others in the house, Sini said.
The emergency service unit, Suffolk's SWAT unit, was then called, and several of those officers entered the home.
"The officer who was stabbed was the first officer through the door," Sini said.
Another officer shot the suspect once in the abdomen, but he continued to assault the first officer in the basement of the home. Several officers eventually subdued Caraway, according to Sini.
Caraway, who doesn't live at the residence, was armed with several knives when officers entered the home, according to police spokesman Justin Meyers.
The knife used to stab the officer was recovered in the home, police said.
Caraway was taken to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, where he was in stable but critical condition, police said.
The wounded officer, who was not immediately identified, joined the department in October 1995 and has been an member of the emergency service section for 12 years, Sini said.
"This is a stark reminder of dangers that officers face every day when they put that uniform on," Sini said.
Detectives from the Homicide Squad and Internal Affairs Bureau were investigating. Criminal charges were pending.
Kansas City Deaths Raise Homicide Total to 7-Year High
by The Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – The shooting deaths of two Kansas City boys over the weekend doubled the number of juveniles fatally shot in the city in the past six months.
The Kansas City Star reports that the latest shootings happened early Saturday in the same place where two men were gunned down at a street party in 2013.
The deaths of the boys, ages 8 and 9, raised the city's 2016 homicide total to 67, the highest number by this time of year in seven years. A 16-year-old girl who was shot at the home is expected to survive.
News of the shootings angered local leaders, including Mayor Sly James, who said he is tired of hearing about kids getting killed.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker called Saturday's killings “another senseless tragedy.”
Mayor de Blasio wants to beef up NYPD neighborhood policing, but faces a challenge from the past
by Eugene O'Donnell
For cops who patrolled the Big Apple in the 1980s and '90s, it's hard to get used to seeing people in once-dangerous places waiting for their 3 a.m. Uber after a night of clubbing.
A quarter-century ago, crime and open-air drug selling were rampant — 1990 was a year of almost unimaginable violence, with six people murdered a day.
David Dinkins, the city's first black mayor, faced crises that are hard to imagine in a New York that's now comparatively awash in money.
He had to make constant cutbacks in lean times, and in 1993, he faced a mayoral rematch with GOP rival Rudy Giuliani.
Giuliani exploited public anxiety over disorder and crime.
And in the summer of 1991, Yankel Rosenbaum was killed amid what were — to say the least — disorders in Crown Heights. It was Giuliani and his backers who rushed to call them riots.
The NYPD was accused of standing down at the direction of Dinkins, a thinly veiled suggestion the black mayor felt an automatic empathy for hoodlums.
Dinkins' goal of targeting crime through community policing, i.e., assigning cops to work in collaboration with communities to prevent crimes from happening, was also under fire.
But crime started dropping, and Dinkins' goal was to increase community policing even more. That opportunity was lost when Giuliani won the mayoral race. He slashed the number of cops and said aggressive targeting of “quality of life” crimes would make up for it.
We've come full circle. Mayor de Blasio hopes to reengineer the NYPD for neighborhood policing. But he faces a challenge. For de Blasio to truly give community policing a shot, he has to address the fact it is increasingly difficult to attract people to the job and that police aversion to engagement is historically high. Plus, he has to recognize understaffed precincts will have a hard time finding cops to spend time with the community.
O'Donnell is a professor of law and police studies and a former NYPD officer and New York City prosecutor.
'Grim Sleeper' headed to death row, but mystery remains
Police are still trying to identify 33 women whose snapshots were found in Lonnie Franklin Jr.'s home after his arrest
by Brian Melley
LOS ANGELES — The death sentence of the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer last week put to rest a case that spanned more than three decades, but it left another mystery wide open.
Police are still trying to identify 33 women whose snapshots were found in Lonnie Franklin Jr.'s home after his arrest.
The images were part of a chilling discovery of nearly 1,000 photos of women or teenage girls — many nude and some who appeared to be unconscious or dead — hidden in Franklin's house. The collection included photographs of several victims, which leads police and prosecutors to believe Franklin left behind many more.
Detective Daryn Dupree said Franklin is one of the most prolific killers and could have killed as many as 25 women from the late 1970s until his arrest in 2010. That includes the period of 1988 to 2002 when police originally thought the killer took a break — an apparent hiatus that helped coin his nickname.
"I don't think he stopped because he was getting away with it," Dupree said. "I think he slowed down, but I don't think that big gap was as much as we thought it was."
Franklin, 63, was sentenced to die Wednesday for murdering nine women and a 15-year-old girl in South Los Angeles. Prosecutors outlined evidence of three additional slayings he wasn't charged with and two other women who went missing and they suspect he killed.
The student identification card of Ayellah Marshall, 18, who disappeared in 2006, was found in Franklin's garage along with the Nevada driver's license of Rolenia Morris, 29, who was last seen in 2005. Two snapshots of Morris were found in his photo collection.
Defense attorney Seymour Amster wouldn't comment on the possibility that his client was involved in other killings. Franklin denied any role in the killings to investigators, and his attorneys had suggested a mystery man was the real killer.
Many of the slayings occurred when U.S. cities were reeling from the crack cocaine epidemic. Franklin targeted young women in the poor area where he lived. Some were drug users who had turned to prostitution in desperation to support their addiction.
"Back then, you'd drive down the street and girls would be trying to jump in your car," said Dupree, who grew up in the area and witnessed the crack's effect.
Several other serial killers prowled the area, preying on the same type of victims, who were often sexually assaulted and then dumped in alleys, parks or trash bins.
The killings were believed to be the work of one man dubbed the "Southside Slayer," though several culprits were later arrested and charged with additional crimes as DNA evidence became more sophisticated.
The killings inspired the formation of a community group, the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders, to raise awareness of the danger to women and pressure police to investigate more thoroughly.
One of the group's founders, Margaret Prescod, continues on that mission. She distributes fliers with the photos of the unidentified women found in Franklin's house and said she wants to find out what happened to about 200 women who have gone missing in that area or whose killings remain unsolved.
"We're glad there's a killer off the street, but that doesn't mean everything is resolved," she said. "There is a whole set of women and nobody knows what happened to them."
She is hopeful that the women in those photos turn out to be alive. Police originally reached out for the public's help identifying 166 women. It's been narrowed to 33 faces.
Dupree said officers get inundated with calls every time there's a story about the photos. He thinks another case will eventually connect back to Franklin as more DNA from older cases gets added to a databank.
Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman, who put Franklin and two other serial killers in the area behind bars, is not so sure.
For one thing, she said, the task force that finally caught Franklin screened 400 cold cases. Secondly, Franklin, a former garbage collector, disposed of many of his bodies in dumpsters.
"Knowing he worked for the city as a sanitation truck driver and had access to the landfill, who knows how many bodies were taken away," she said.
One victim, Janecia Peters, could have ended up on the way to the dump if a homeless person looking for cans hadn't noticed her red fingernails poking through a trash bag on New Year's Day 2007.
When DNA on Peters' body connected her to previous cases, Police Chief William Bratton created the task force that re-examined all the murders and eventually arrested Franklin.