LACP - NEWS of the Week
on some LACP issues of interest
NEWS of the Week

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view. We present this simply as a convenience to our readership.


September, 2016 - Week 1


New Jersey

NJ officer shot; 1 suspect killed

The officer was seriously injured and one suspect was fatally shot after a traffic stop

by The Associated Press

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — New Jersey police said a suspect was fatally shot in an exchange of gunfire outside an Atlantic City casino early Saturday and one police officer was seriously wounded.

Atlantic City Police Chief Henry White said the shooting happened around 4 a.m. after officers stopped a car with three men near a parking garage of Caesars casino.

White said at least one of the men in the car opened fire. Police were still looking for two other suspects and closed streets in the area.

"At this point I don't know what the reason for the initial stop was," White said at an early-morning news conference. "But as the officers were getting out of the car, the males opened fire on our officers, striking one."

The officer, whose name was not released, was taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center a few blocks from the shooting. He underwent surgery Saturday morning.

The New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association offered a $20,000 reward for information on the remaining suspects in the shooting.

"It's a sad commentary on society," Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian said. "These are good examples of what happens when too many of these assault weapons are in the wrong hands."

The shooting happened during the final big summer weekend for the shore resort and two days after a man fatally shot a store manager and then shot himself at a popular outlet shopping mall near where Saturday morning's shooting occurred.

The shooting also happened as the resort town prepared for the effects of Tropical Storm Hermine, which was expected to start bringing wind and rain later Saturday.



New Mexico

NM officer killed in shootout

The suspect was also killed

by The Associated Press

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. — A police officer who authorities say pursued a 38-year-old man with three active arrest warrants was fatally shot by the suspect Friday after gunfire erupted in a residential area of a small, southern New Mexico town.

The suspect, Joseph Moreno, was killed in the daytime encounter, Alamogordo police said at a news conference. They did not say who shot Moreno, and it wasn't clear if other officers were involved in the pursuit.

The slain officer was identified as Clint Corvinus, a four-year veteran who went to high school in the town about 200 miles south of Albuquerque. Authorities said he is survived by his parents, girlfriend and an 8-year-old daughter.

"I am again so very saddened to see that yet another courageous law enforcement officer has been killed in the line of duty," Gov. Susana Martinez said in a statement. "The violence against our police officers has to end, and we must do everything we can to stand up for those who put their lives on the line every single day to protect us."

Corvinus' death marks the second fatal shooting of a police officer in a rural area of the state in less than a month. Three weeks ago, authorities said an Ohio fugitive gunned down Officer Jose Chavez during a traffic stop in Hatch, a village about 100 miles west of Alamogordo that's known for its green chile crop.

Alamogordo, a desert town of about 31,000 people, bills itself as the "friendliest place on Earth." It is home to Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands National Monument.

Within hours of the shooting Friday, law enforcement across the state expressed condolences for Corvinus' fellow officers and family. Flags were being flown at half-staff outside the Alamogordo police department, and mourners had begun placing flowers outside the building.

Police said Moreno had a lengthy criminal history, and online court records showing he was scheduled to stand trial on drug charges in December.




Kan. deputy who killed driver fired in self-defense

The sheriff's deputy appears to have fired in self-defense after an 18 year old driver point a gun out the window during a traffic stop

by Tim Potter

SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. — A Sedgwick County sheriff's deputy appears to have fired in self-defense after a possibly impaired 18-year-old driver pointed a gun out of the car window during a traffic stop early Thursday, Sheriff Jeff Easter said.

The incident ended with the driver fleeing, crashing into a house and later dying, Easter said. The Pontiac in question was registered to the driver, Caleb James Douglas of Wichita, Easter said.

The driver drove about four blocks north, from the car stop in the 1100 block of Tyler Road, after the deputy fired at least 16 shots as the car was stopped and pulling away, Easter said.

Asked about the number of rounds fired by the deputy, Easter said: “We're trained to stop the threat.”

It appears that one round was fired from inside the car into the roof, he said.

The car crashed into a house in the 1500 block of North Tyler Road, and Douglas was taken to a hospital, where he died, Easter said.

An autopsy was underway Thursday. Although the cause of death remains under investigation, it appears that a bullet fragment taken from Douglas' head was consistent with a 9mm bullet – the same caliber fired by the deputy, Easter said. The gun that Douglas pointed had a different caliber.

It's not clear whether the deputy's gunfire hit Douglas other times, Easter said.

Douglas had just graduated from Goddard Academy, an alternative high school, in May, Goddard public schools spokesman Dane Baxa said.

Video taken

The deputy's dash cam recorded the incident. The sheriff provided grainy still photos taken from the video – showing what Easter said was Douglas pointing a gun out of the car and the deputy retreating.

Easter said he is not releasing the video from the dash cam because the District Attorney's Office doesn't want it provided while the investigation is proceeding.

When video has been provided in some officer shootings elsewhere, that has resulted from racial tension, Easter said. But he said that situation doesn't exist in this shooting because both the deputy and Douglas are white.

The 32-year-old deputy was not injured. He has been with the department for 14 months and worked in law enforcement for seven years before that, Easter said.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is assisting the Sheriff's Office in the investigation.

Driver pointed gun

The sheriff gave this account:

At 1:09 a.m., the deputy began to follow a possibly impaired driver and activated his dash cam. The driver crossed the center line several times and straddled lanes.

At 1:10 a.m., the deputy pulled the car over. At 1:11, he asked the driver to step outside. Seconds later, the driver pointed a handgun at the deputy's face.

The deputy rapidly moved away from the car as “the driver stuck the gun out of the window with both hands placed on the handgun and pointed it at the deputy,” the Sheriff's Office said in written account given to the media.

At 1:11 and 39 seconds, the deputy fired at the driver, it says, and the driver drove away north on Tyler Road as the deputy called for help.

About two minutes later, the fleeing car was found four blocks to the north, where it struck the house. The car engine caught fire.

The driver was found to be wounded and was taken with critical injuries to a hospital, where he later died, the account says.

Loaded handgun found

Easter said that shootings “escalate quickly,” noting that only a minute elapsed from the time the deputy got of his car until he fired the first shot.

No more than 10 seconds passed from the time the driver pointed the gun at the deputy until the deputy fired shots in defense, Easter said.

When the crime scene was investigated, a loaded handgun was found in the car, the account says.

Witness accounts

The crash scene is at the northwest corner of Tyler and Nantucket.

There, a 5-foot-long section of curb lay shattered Thursday. Beyond that, tire tracks angled to the northwest through a chain-link fence in a side yard of one duplex, through a back fence and into the corner of another duplex, where the siding was smashed and the underlying structure exposed.

Kendyl Anderson lives in the unit next to the one where the car hit. She said the impact “felt like an earthquake” and as if something had struck the roof hard.

The force knocked a large painting off the basement wall.

Benjamin Turner, who also lives near the crash scene, gave this account of the incident:

It looked like a black four-door sedan hit the house and that the car caught fire because there was a large cloud of smoke.

An officer or officers yelled to the man inside: “Step out of the vehicle! Get out of the car!”

When they apparently realized the car was on fire, officers “yanked him out.”




Ill. law enforcement intercept potential terrorist attack

Suspect described as a dangerous man who had deliberate plan to cause a mass casualty event at one or more locations in the county

by The Associated Press

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. — Authorities arrested an 18-year-old southern Illinois man who they allege had communicated with an unspecified terrorist group about a plan to an attack on at least one area location.

Keaun L. Cook, of Godfrey, was arrested Wednesday on preliminary charges of providing material support for terrorism and making a terrorist threat. He was being held at the Madison County jail on $150,000 bond and didn't have a lawyer as of Friday morning.

At a news conference Thursday, Madison County's state's attorney, Tom Gibbons, described Cook as a dangerous man who had deliberate plan to cause a "mass casualty event" at one or more locations in the county. He declined to specify which terrorist group Cook had allegedly been in contact with, but said they weren't local. He also wouldn't give the locations of any planned attacks, but said police departments and individuals at those locations were notified after authorities first learned of the threat.

County Sheriff John Lakin said authorities learned of the threat Aug. 24 when deputies did a welfare check at the home of Cook's grandmother, who has looked after him since his mother died unexpectedly of an illness in 2011. Gibbons said someone then reported the verbal threats.

Although investigators found no dangerous materials or firearms in the home, Lakin said he thinks there was a "strong possibility he could have carried it out alone."

"I'm very proud to stand here today and say that we stopped an event that could have caused a very, very, very serious situation," Lakin said.

Cook's grandmother, Debra Thomas, hand-delivered two letters to The (Alton) Telegraph (http://bit.ly/2c7oq93) on Thursday. In them, she wrote that her grandson struggles with paranoid schizophrenia and that he had spent more than 300 days in isolated confinement at a county detention center, during which his condition went untreated.

She wrote that after he got out and returned home, she couldn't force him to take his medication because he is 18 and an adult. She said she called the police, "not because that I felt a threat but because I knew that was the only way that I could get Keaun treatment."

"When he's on his medicine he is the sweetest person you know, when off like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," Thomas wrote, noting that she never would have involved the police if she thought it would have landed her grandson in jail.

Thomas didn't immediately respond to a phone message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Gibbons' office said further details about the alleged plot wouldn't be released yet because the investigation is ongoing.

Cook has no previous felony convictions in Madison County. He did have one 2011 misdemeanor conviction for damage to property for using a rock to scratch a pickup truck. Cook has no charges in St. Clair County or in nearby Missouri.



Meet the 2016 RISE Award winners

TASER | Axon and PoliceOne are delighted to announce the winners of our third annual RISE Awards

Editor's Note: Thank you to everyone who participated in our 2016 RISE Awards. So many dedicated and worthy officers and agencies were brought to our attention during the nominations process. Check out our full program coverage here.

by Rachel Zoch

After a thorough review of all the nominations, TASER | Axon and PoliceOne are very pleased to announce the winners of the third annual RISE Awards:

•  Protect Life: Karl Griffiths, Sacramento County Sheriff's Dept. (California)

•  Leadership: Anthony Wolfe, Peoria Police Dept. (Arizona)

•  Community Impact: Thomas Griffiths, Boston Police Dept. (Massachusetts)

•  Agency of the Year: Chippewa Falls Police Dept. (Wisconsin)

This year's awards drew more than 200 nominations for law enforcement agencies and officers who have risen above the call of duty to serve their communities and fellow citizens. Over the summer, we featured profiles of several of the RISE nominees. Read on for more details about each of our winners.

Protect Life: Deputy Karl Griffiths, Sacramento County Sheriff's Dept. (California)

Deputy Karl Griffiths arrived at the scene of an apparent domestic dispute to find his fellow officers outgunned as the suspect was firing rounds from the residence. Griffiths handed off his rifle to the officers taking cover behind their patrol vehicles and ran to help a seriously injured woman, dragging her to safety and calling for assistance. Griffiths stayed with the woman to keep pressure on her neck wound until they reached a hospital. The surgeon later told Griffiths that the woman would have died without his quick response.

Read more here.

Law Enforcement Leadership: Lt. Anthony Wolfe, Peoria (Arizona)

Lt. Anthony Wolfe manages professional standards and technology for the Peoria PD, earning praise for his pragmatic leadership. He champions adoption of useful technology throughout the department and the community, and he has leveraged social media to provide the public with information on warrants, safety programs, drug prevention programs and more.

In the past year, Wolfe has implemented several programs for the benefit of Peoria citizens, including a successful bike registration and anti-theft program. That program has expanded into a partnership with the local school district to serialize and register high-dollar school equipment as well.

Wolfe also enlisted the help of the community in the fight against crime with the Safe-Cam program, in which citizens and businesses register their security camera locations in a secure database. This allows investigators to quickly identify locations where video footage might exist.

These technology efforts were implemented on top of his main professional standards duties overseeing Internal Affairs and Inspections and Audits, where he introduced a leadership training partnership with FBI-LEEDA. Wolfe's dedication to the training and education of his fellow officers helps create a more effective police force and a safer community.

Community Impact: Officer Tommy Griffiths Sr., Boston Police Department

Officer Tommy Griffiths Sr., Boston PD, volunteered over 500 hours in 2008 to help build a teen center in Franklin Field, one of Boston's toughest housing developments. In 2015, a sewage backup ruined all of the equipment, the computer lab and the furniture, and the center was shut down. Griffiths, a former chief of construction for the city, once again stepped in to champion the project, organizing an army of volunteers to renovate and restore the center – despite having no funding whatsoever – and the center reopened on July 15.

Read more here.

Agency of the Year: Chippewa Falls Police Department (Wisconsin)

The Chippewa Falls PD has grown its social media and community policing outreach exponentially, even without a full-time PIO. Through its Facebook page, CFPD posts safety tips, traffic and weather concerns. Its most popular program, #WANTEDWEDNESDAY, consists of photos and information about persons wanted for local warrants. It boasts about a 90 percent success rate and has even resulted in wanted persons turning themselves in.

Social media is also a powerful tool to highlight the good work police officers are doing every day. For Chippewa Falls, broadcasting acts of kindness by their officers serves a dual purpose — it's a way to build trust in the community and boost morale in the department.

Read more here.

Well-deserved recognition

Each RISE winner receives a $5,000 Axon Technology grant, an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2016 IACP conference in San Diego with VIP access to all TASER events and a one-year subscription to PoliceOne Academy, our certified online training system.

The hardest part of this process was choosing just four “most deserving” officers and agencies. Each nominee deserves recognition and praise for their service and dedication. On behalf of TASER | Axon and PoliceOne, we thank everyone who submitted nominations, and all of the men and women in blue who put their lives on the line without the expectation of being thanked or recognized.



From the FBI


Chicago Cold Case

Seeking Justice for a Murdered Teenage Girl

Thirteen-year-old Alexandra Anaya was brutally murdered 11 years ago this month, and today the FBI's Chicago Division—in close partnership with local authorities—marked the anniversary by requesting the public's assistance to help to solve the case.

The Indiana teen, known to friends and family as Alex, was reported missing from her home August 13, 2005—she was last seen by her mother early that morning. Three days later, boaters on the Little Calumet River in Chicago found her dismembered body floating in the water.

Both the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the Hammond Police Department in Indiana conducted an exhaustive investigation at the time and have continued to follow leads since, but Alex's killer remains at large. Her case is one of many now being reviewed by FBI Chicago's recently established Homicide Initiative Task Force.

“We believe this was not a random act of violence and that Alex knew her assailant,” said FBI Chicago Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Anderson during a press conference today in Chicago. “It has been more than a decade since Alex was murdered, and during that time people and relationships have changed. We are hopeful that someone will come forward now,” he added.

The Homicide Initiative Task Force—a collaboration between the FBI and the CPD—was launched in April 2016 to help local authorities solve some of Chicago's most violent murders. Task force members re-examine cold cases with a fresh perspective and take advantage of the most current scientific techniques and forensic processes.

“The homicide rate is extremely high in Chicago,” said Special Agent Courtney Corbett, a task force member who works alongside CPD detectives and other FBI personnel. “Because there are so many homicides here, a cold case could be 20 years old or a murder that occurred six months ago.”

CPD homicide detectives often have caseloads that are overwhelming, Corbett said. “The task force is here to provide specialized assistance and help in any way we can.” That assistance translates into FBI resources such as enhanced DNA testing, telephone record analysis, surveillance, and the deployment of Bureau experts, including dive team personnel and members of the Behavioral Analysis Unit—commonly called profilers.

In Alex's case, Corbett said, “we have been reviewing leads and re-interviewing individuals associated with this case. The DNA evidence has been well preserved, and we plan to use enhanced technology to exploit that evidence.” She added that task force members are fully invested in finding the killer. “We want to bring justice to Alex and other victims like her, and their families,” Corbett said. “To do that—and to ultimately reduce the homicide rate in Chicago—we all have to work together.”

Anyone with information regarding the murder of Alex Anaya—no matter how insignificant they think it might be—is asked to contact the FBI's Chicago Field Office at (312) 421-6700 or submit a tip online.




Dallas chief who oversaw response to sniper attack to retire

by Claudia Lauer and David Warren

DALLAS — Dallas police Chief David Brown, whose impassioned response to a sniper attack that killed five officers made him the face of a city reeling from tragedy, is retiring from the department.

Brown, who will be 56 this year, issued a statement Thursday saying he will retire Oct. 22 after 33 years with Dallas police and six years as chief. He did not give a reason for his decision to retire, but the mayor and city manager both said at a news conference that he was not being forced out.

“I became a Dallas cop in 1983 because of the crack cocaine epidemic's impact on my neighborhood,” Brown said in the statement. “I wanted to be part of the solution. Since that time I have taken great pride in knowing that we have always been part of the solution and helped to make Dallas the world class city it is today.”

Arguably his defining moment leading a department of more than 3,600 officers was his response to the July 7 fatal shootings of four Dallas officers and one transit officer as a downtown protest against police brutality was ending. But he also drew criticism during his tenure as he clashed with police union leaders and others over how to deal with a surge in violent crime earlier this year that reversed a decade-long decrease in killings.

Brown, who is black, drew broad praise from President Barack Obama and others for his leadership in the days after the shootings by a black Army veteran who said he was motivated by revenge in the wake of police shootings elsewhere that killed or injured black men. The gunman was killed when police deployed a bomb-carrying robot.

At a memorial service for the slain Dallas officers, Brown spent part of his time reciting Stevie Wonder's “I'll Be Loving You Always” to express his affection for his officers. His call for those who were protesting mistreatment of black people to join the police ranks prompted a surge in applications, although information about who those applicants are has not been released.

Yet Brown also experienced friction with rank-and-file officers during his time as police chief. Earlier this year, he sought to reassign hundreds of officers to target high-crime neighborhoods and bulk up staffing on the 4 p.m. to midnight shift, but the plan provoked intense backlash and he backed away from implementing it. At least one police union called for his resignation amid the turmoil.

Brown also had drawn criticism from unions for not doing enough to retain many officers who have left for better pay elsewhere.

Protesters who organized the July demonstration also clashed with Brown after he demanded they stop holding marches downtown.

Mayor Mike Rawlings said during a news conference Thursday that Brown was “leaving on his own terms.” Rawlings said the announcement didn't come as a surprise because Brown had told him and other leaders several months ago that he had begun thinking about his retirement and because six years as the chief of a metropolitan police force is an “eternity.”

But less than two months ago, as Brown addressed the media hours after four of his officers were killed and four others were wounded by the sniper, he hardly sounded like a man ready to leave his job. Brown talked about his love for his city and the support he felt from its leaders.

Brown was not available for comment Thursday. Rawlings said he was in Austin with family, playing golf. Brown's statement announcing his retirement said he would hold a media availability when he returned on Sept. 8.

Asked whether they could confirm Brown was not being forced to leave, both Rawlings and City Manager A.C. Gonzalez said, “I can.” Rawlings also credited Brown with transforming the department by reducing the number of officer-involved shootings and implementing other measures.

“David Brown is a straight-forward man; he's a man of integrity and courage,” Rawlings said.

Brown was the longest-serving police chief in Dallas in recent decades, Rawlings said. He noted the job is challenging because of the pressure that comes with it and its “highly political” demands.

Executive Assistant Chief David Pughes will serve as interim chief upon Brown's departure. Gonzalez, who plans to retire in January, has said the new city manager will find a replacement for Brown.

Rawlings praised the chief for pushing for greater transparency, but authorities since the sniper attack have refused public records requests for police reports, 911 calls, audio and video recordings, autopsy documents, crime scene photos and other materials.

Brown told the City Council last month that much of the information about the attack could be withheld for an indefinite period during an investigation into whether the use of force was justified.




Law enforcement agencies working to improve community policing

by Kara Dixon

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — One after another, concerned residents throughout Hampton Roads offered advice to law enforcement officers representing different agencies throughout the community Wednesday.

It was part of Governor Terry McAuliffe and the Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security's effort to expand community policing throughout the state.

The meeting, held at the Virginia Beach Police Training Academy, was the third session hosted by Brian Moran, the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security for the commonwealth.

Citizens offered advice ranging from steps on how to improve relations with different minority groups to how best to use education funding to teach children about relationships with officers.

The concept of transparency was brought up by those in attendance including Gina Best, who's daughter, India Kager, was shot and killed last year by Virginia Beach Police.

Best said she attended the meeting looking for answers about her daughter's death and transparency many in the auditorium hope for.

“They're in here speaking words that are flowerly but I'm putting flowers on my daughters grave,” she said.

The listening sessions may be the chance for those in the community to resolve issues and make relationships stronger by working together.

“We need to start by caring. That's why I'm here to show this is real,” she said.

The next session will be held in Roanoke on September 27.




Neighbors concerned about losing community police

by John Pepitone

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some neighborhood leaders are questioning a police reassignment of Community Interaction Officers to answer 911 calls.

In Indian Mound, neighbors said Budd Park had been a source of problems that specialized community officers helped eliminate.

Some are worried that without officers dedicated to specific neighborhoods to work side-by-side with citizens, proactive efforts to prevent crime and blight will greatly diminish.

In the Northeast, Community Interaction Officers have been particularly effective in connecting with neighbors at meetings and attacking crime trends. The cooperation helps coordinate neighborhood cleanups and gets action on abandoned buildings that are a source of trouble.

Police Chief Darryl Forte said he wants all police officers to build these sort of personal relationships. Some said that sounds good, but they aren't sure it can be done.

"Nowadays our officers aren't living in our neighborhoods anymore," said Manny Abarca, vice president of the Indian Mound Neighborhood Association. "So to think that the officers who patrol our streets, I've ridden along with some of those officers. We went from call, to call, to call, to call, to call. We didn't have time to stop and have lunch or stop and go to a neighborhood meeting."

Not all neighborhoods oppose the change. In nearby Pendleton Heights, a neighborhood leader said she's open to new ideas in policing. She said community police officers have been around for nearly 30 years, and it's time to try something new.

"Modern times need new thinking," said Jessica Ray, president of the Pendleton Heights Neighborhood Association.

Forte is giving commanders 90 days to develop a plan for all patrol officers to better interact with neighbors on their beats.




Filling police vacancies is latest struggle for Ferguson

Some officers have retired, while others who spent months dealing with protests and heavy scrutiny left for different jobs

FERGUSON, Mo. — Two years after Michael Brown's shooting death put a national spotlight on Ferguson police, the suburban St. Louis city is struggling to maintain the number of officers it needs.

The department is facing 13 vacancies. It's down to a staff of 36 compared to 55 in 2014. Some officers have retired, while others who spent months dealing with protests and heavy scrutiny left for different jobs.

"Some just got fed up with police work," Mayor James Knowles III said Wednesday.

Finding qualified applicants has been tough, he said, adding that leaders in the Missouri city are pushing to make the force, which was mostly white at the time of Brown's fatal police shooting, more diverse. Ferguson has sponsored two young black men at St. Louis County's police academy, paying for their training in exchange for an agreement to work in the suburb upon graduating. One recently graduated; the other is in the current class.

The plan is to continue the program with a third trainee in the next academy session.

Brown, who was unarmed, was shot by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson during a confrontation on Aug. 9, 2014. A county grand jury and the U.S. Justice Department eventually cleared Wilson of wrongdoing. He resigned in November 2014, but the shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white officer led to widespread protests and prompted a Justice Department investigation that found racial bias in the Police Department and a municipal court system that generated revenue largely on the backs of poor and minority residents.

The Police Department's staffing was already down before the recent vacancies. Financial constraints related to the fallout since Brown's death — including legal fees, reduced municipal court revenue, and costs for Justice Department-mandated changes — forced city leaders to reduce the authorized number of officers to 49 compared to 55 two years earlier.

Knowles and Police Chief Delrish Moss said the city is working to fill the positions, but there's no timetable. The starting salary for a Ferguson police officer is $45,000 a year, thousands of dollars less than larger departments in the region pay.

Concerns about police staffing became public last week at a City Council meeting, when two former police dispatchers and the wives of two police officers demanded answers about the shortage amid concerns the city was keeping police levels down to save money.

"We are not now, nor were we ever, holding applications to save money," Moss said Tuesday, adding that doing so "flies in the face of our obligation to the people that we serve."

Ferguson isn't alone in struggling to find qualified police candidates. Mitchell Weinzetl, assistant director of education for the International Association of Chiefs of Police, said the recent shootings of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, are part of the reason that many other departments across the country face the same shortage of applicants.

He said the protests against police that started with Ferguson two years ago have been a factor, too.

"There has been a regular parading of these events in the media on a national level which, based on our discussions with other agencies, have had an impact on the number of folks applying," Weinzetl said.

Knowles is hopeful that Ferguson's situation will improve.

Ferguson voters on Aug. 2 approved a utility tax hike that will generate $700,000 annually — the city's second voter-approved tax increase this year. If the measure had failed, the police force's authorized number would have been reduced to 44, and firefighter jobs also would have been cut.

Knowles said passage of the August increase sent a message that Ferguson is on solid financial ground. The city has received 20 new applicants for the police force since it was approved, he said.

"I think we're seeing more confidence in Ferguson now, and hopefully we'll get more qualified candidates," he said.




Residents donate 170 body armor kits to Texas police department

Two hard body armor kits will be placed in each of the approximately 60 patrol cars for officers to slip on during an active shooting scenario

by Sara Flores

BEAUMONT, Texas — In 2013, Beaumont police officer Erin Smith was involved in an on-duty active shooting that he described as surreal -- a situation that even training couldn't have prepared him for, he said.

Even though he wasn't hurt, Smith, 35, said he fears not being able to return home to his three boys after such dangerous incidents.

Thanks to the efforts of Judge Cory Crenshaw and various local families and businesses, Smith and 118 other division patrol officers will have access to 16-pound hard tactical body armor kits to be worn during shooting situations.

Crenshaw said he hopes they never have to be used, but officers and their families should know the kits are always there. The kit includes a vest and two body armor plates in a carry bag.

Smith, who has been a police officer for nine years, said that in a time when violence seems to be on the rise, he is grateful to have the support of the community.

"These officers have great attitudes. They back up dangerous calls without even thinking it may be their last one," Beaumont Chief of Police James Singletary said.

Patrol division officers currently wear soft body armor on a daily basis, Singletary said. He said that two hard body armor kits will be placed in each of the approximately 60 patrol cars for officers to slip on during an active shooting scenario.

The idea for the donation project, named "Protect our Peacemakers" and valued at $100,000, came to Crenshaw during a lunch gathering with friends shortly after the Baton Rogue, Louisiana, shooting in which three officers were killed.

Crenshaw led the efforts and got area community members to donate -- and donate fast. He said the donation money was raised in six hours.

"What this group of donors has done is amazing. We are blessed to have a group of citizens that really support and care about us enough to realize how hard we're trying and how hard this job really is -- how dangerous it has become," Singletary said.

Joe Penland's family was one of 11 from the area who donated money.

"It's the easiest decision if you have the ability to do so," said Penland, board member of The 100 Club of Southeast Texas, which assists families of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty. "It humbles me to be able to honor and protect our officials."

Two businesses also were donors.

"For the countless times officers have protected us, we now provide this life saving equipment to help protect them," Crenshaw said. "This donation demonstrates through action rather than words that the community does in fact appreciate and support our police officers."




(video on site)

Community Policing At Night To Unite

by Ryan Gustafson

Tonight marked Mankato's annual Night To Unite, a chance for communities to get together, and for the Mankato Department of Public Safety to drive home their message of community policing.

Community policing is a serious business in Mankato, official police briefings and all.
44 gatherings across Mankato means there was an opportunity to make an impression on any one who wanted to go.

Commander Matt DuRose says, "This is really a coordinated effort to do something that we do on a daily basis or certainly strive to do. We're out in the neighborhoods every day on every shift, trying to connect with the neighbors and this is a great community effort to get these people out."

The philosophy goes that if people see police officers as more than just an arm of law enforcement, but also fellow citizens, it'll make the act of policing easier, and have a positive impact on crime.

DuRose says, "Each neighborhood or geographic area gets an officer assigned to it so we have a specific neighborhood officer. Everybody is in with smiles on their faces, ready to meet their neighbors and residents. Eat some good food and make some good connections."

All in a day's work.




(video on site)

Carbondale's New Top Cop Emphasizes Community Policing

by Kelly Choate

CARBONDALE, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) -- A community in Lackawanna County has a new police chief.

After serving the city of Carbondale for two decades, Brian Bognatz is now the department's top cop.  Former Chief Jeff Taylor retired from the police force.

This promotion comes at a time when police departments across the country are trying to improve the public perception of law enforcement.

Right now a part-time Carbondale police officer is facing homicide charges.

Frank Schulze is accused of shooting and killing Joseph Molinaro while he was off-duty last February.  Schulze claims he shot Molinaro in self-defense.

The new chief emphasized the importance of community policing.  Bognatz also told Eyewitness News he wants to hire more police officers while maintaining a balanced budget.




Gary mayor plans town hall to improve Region police interactions

by Dan Carden

INDIANAPOLIS — Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson is among 49 city leaders in 30 states getting noticed for taking proactive steps to improve community-police relations following a violent July.

Her idea for a Northwest Indiana town hall meeting to address issues related to Region law enforcement is included in a new U.S. Conference of Mayors publication compiling plans and programs being used across the country to ease tensions.

“This report shows that mayors are stepping up to the challenge that the recent shootings have posed to their communities,” said Tom Cochran, CEO of the nonpartisan U.S. mayors association.

“They are working with police chiefs, other local officials, clergy and other community leaders during this difficult period, examining their local situation, listening to their residents and working in partnership with them to strengthen police-community relations.”

Freeman-Wilson said her plan for a Regionwide meeting, instead of a Gary-only town hall, is needed because the population of Gary, which she noted is 85 percent black, differs markedly from neighboring municipalities.

“Many of these communities are predominantly white and their police forces reflect their demographics. We have also seen the same thing with state police and county forces,” Freeman-Wilson said.

“This creates a dynamic in which we are providing training and guidance for officers who are under our purview, while officers in the surrounding communities don't relate to our residents in the same way.”

She said Gary residents face similar issues throughout the Region when seeking employment, public accommodations or other services the law requires be provided on an equal basis.

Her town hall meeting has not yet been scheduled, but city officials said they expect it will be set for late August.

Freeman-Wilson insisted the event won't just be a “sound-off session.”

“The objective is to set the stage for solution-oriented work that will include a wider engagement ... between residents of neighboring communities, more training and discussion about implicit bias and other solutions,” she said.

The former Indiana attorney general is the only Hoosier community leader whose plan for reducing tensions is included in the U.S. mayors publication, “Community Conversations and Other Efforts to Strengthen Police-Community Relations In 49 Cities.”

It's available online at nwi.com




Report: Black men, boys shot most by Chicago police

Associated Press

CHICAGO — After threatening to sue, the Chicago Tribune has obtained data from the city's Police Department that tracks every time an officer has opened fire in the city over the past six years. The vast majority of those hit were black men or boys.

There were 435 police shootings from 2010 through 2015, in which officers killed 92 people and wounded 170 others. In all, officers fired 2,623 bullets.

The newspaper's findings show about four out of every five people shot were African-American males. It found that about half of the officers involved were African-American or Hispanic and most of them had years of experience and were not rookies.

The review also said the number of police shootings has declined over the period, from more than 100 in 2011 to 44 last year.

The city is making major changes to the department and various oversight bodies after the uproar over a 2014 shooting in which a white officer fired 16 bullets into a black teenager. Video of that fatal shooting, which was released upon a judge's order in November, contradicted officers' accounts that the teen lunged at them threateningly with a knife. The officer who fired those shots has been charged with first-degree murder.

Despite heightened scrutiny of the department and promises from the city of more transparency, the Tribune said it took seven months of arguing and the threat of a lawsuit to prod the city to release the data.

Most of the police shootings took place in South and West Side neighborhoods beset by gang violence and poverty. At least one of every five shootings involved plainclothes tactical officers charged with taking on gangs, the newspaper found.

Police union President Dean Angelo Sr. defended the department's record against accusations of racial bias.

“When you look at the map, 80 percent of narcotics arrests, gun arrests and gang arrests happen in these poor areas,” he told the newspaper. “Where you've got dope, you've got guns. It's not about ethnicity — it's about criminal involvement.”

He also said officers face split-second decisions about when to use lethal force to protect themselves.

But community activist Charles Jenkins told the Tribune he believes the race of those shot influences the investigations into the shootings.

“It's easier to believe, because they're black, that an officer was in fear of their life and get(s) off,” he said.




Region leaders seek to improve community policing

by Ed Bierschenk

GARY — Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said various police chiefs and administrators from around the Region are looking at ways to make community-oriented policing a way of life rather than just a program.

Freeman-Wilson and several other government and community leaders from around Northwest Indiana gathered Tuesday at the Genesis Convention Center to talk about ways to improve community and police relations. The town hall meeting hosted by the city officials in conjunction with the Urban League of Northwest Indiana and Lakeshore Public Media will be aired at 7 p.m. today on Lakeshore Public Television.

The event drew a large crowd out to ask questions and express opinions to Freeman-Wilson, Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor, Portage Police Chief Troy Williams, Lorrell Kilpatrick of Black Lives Matter and others.

Moderator Garrard McClendon, host of “Counterpoint with Garrard McClendon”on Lakeshore Public Television, cited one statistic that stated 60 percent of whites have confidence in police officers protecting citizens, but only 40 percent of non-whites have that same confidence. One of the audience members asked why panel members thought there was that difference.

Panelist Raymond Dix II, pastor with the Gary campus of the Bethel Church, believed the reason had historical roots and said there was a time in the African-American and minority communities when police were not used to serve and protect as much as they were to “occupy and control.”

“So we have had this generational idea that police don't necessarily mean the best for persons of color,” he said. “That comes out of the sad and terrible racial history of our country and the fact that we are unreconciled over that history creates this ongoing feeling that we don't trust the police and I think that is something that we have to address is to begin to rebuild that trust.”

Freeman-Wilson said that she thinks that everyone needs to recognize that such inequality exists in various aspects of people's lives based on race, gender, religion and other factors. She said it is important then to engage in “intentional action” as a community to do something about it to level the playing field.

Snedecor said reconciliation is an important component in trying to improve relations. He spoke of the importance of reaching out to young people and pointed to his police force's afterschool program, which he said is attended by a large number of people from different minority groups.

The youths attending the program learn to develop a positive experience with police rather than interacting with then on the street where they may have a negative experience. He said it is a “job of administrators and police chiefs to create that positive environment before they have contact on the street with our law enforcement.”

In speaking of how to make community policing a way of life, Freeman-Wilson pointed to Indianapolis where new police recruits start off in community services. She said this is a way to see if the new officers are really interested in the community.

“So I think it is really important to get people to look at community-oriented policing, to get police officers to look at it, as a way of doing business,” Freeman-Wilson said.



Virginia Beach

Law enforcement agencies working to improve community policing

by Kara Dixon

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — One after another, concerned residents throughout Hampton Roads offered advice to law enforcement officers representing different agencies throughout the community Wednesday.

It was part of Governor Terry McAuliffe and the Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security's effort to expand community policing throughout the state.

The meeting, held at the Virginia Beach Police Training Academy, was the third session hosted by Brian Moran, the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security for the commonwealth.

Citizens offered advice ranging from steps on how to improve relations with different minority groups to how best to use education funding to teach children about relationships with officers.

The concept of transparency was brought up by those in attendance including Gina Best, who's daughter, India Kager, was shot and killed last year by Virginia Beach Police.

Best said she attended the meeting looking for answers about her daughter's death and transparency many in the auditorium hope for.

“They're in here speaking words that are flowerly but I'm putting flowers on my daughters grave,” she said.

The listening sessions may be the chance for those in the community to resolve issues and make relationships stronger by working together.

“We need to start by caring. That's why I'm here to show this is real,” she said.

The next session will be held in Roanoke on September 27.



Why SPLC says White Lives Matter is a hate group but Black Lives Matter is not

by Katie Mettler

In the 1980s, the Southern Poverty Law Center — an organization born of the civil rights movement — began tracking extremist organizations they deemed “hate groups” in the United States.

At the time, most were white supremacist organizations finding renewed footing after a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan.

They called it Klanwatch, then eventually the Intelligence Project.

In the nearly 40 years since, hundreds of groups that ascribe to varying brands of inflammatory ideology — Neo-Nazism, anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, Holocaust denial, black separatist — have been lumped into the list. There is even a “general hate” category.

The law center's definition of hate groups — “those that vilify entire groups of people based on immutable characteristics such as race or ethnicity” — mirrors the one used by the federal government when prosecuting hate crimes.

And while the news media routinely cites SPLC hate group designations as if they were definitive, some categorizations have in fact been controversial.

The law center is left-leaning, a nugget conservatives and even moderates have used to deem some SPLC distinctions illegitimate — especially when it labeled the Family Research Council, a conservative organization, a hate group for its stance on homosexuality.

But the center's most recent critique came this summer from some conservatives after ambush shootings killed eight police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, days after Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the country following the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of law enforcement.

Thousands signed Change.org petitions, the center received direct requests and conservative commentators joined the chorus of critics demanding a hate group designation for Black Lives Matter, claiming its rhetoric was inflammatory.

The SPLC refused.

This month, the organization announced the latest additions to its Hate Map tracker.

Black Lives Matter is not on the list.

White Lives Matter is.

Though separated in name by just one word, the organizations are rooted in far different ideologies and end goals, according to the SPLC, which is why the center claims one is founded in hateful principles and the other is not.

Neither group has a singular, concentrated leadership structure. Most commonly, the phrases that define them are used in a symbolic way, to represent a school of thought, not all that different from the catchphrases of the antiwar protests decades ago.

“Make love, not war,” meant something to those who said it, but it didn't necessarily have an attached organization, unlike, for example, the political slogans of presidential nominees. “Make America Great Again” is linked to a political ideology, but also to a specific politician.

These movements are more diffuse and at times amorphous.

In mid July, SPLC president Richard Cohen wrote a blog post titled “Black Lives Matter is Not a Hate Group” with a nuanced explanation for that declaration.

“We have heard nothing remotely comparable to the NBPP's bigotry from the founders and most prominent leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement and nothing at all to suggest that the bulk of the demonstrators hold supremacist or black separatist views,” Cohen wrote. “Thousands of white people across America — indeed, people of all races — have marched in solidarity with African Americans during BLM marches, as is clear from the group's website. The movement's leaders also have condemned violence.

“There's no doubt,” he added, “that some protesters who claim the mantle of Black Lives Matter have said offensive things, like the chant ‘pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon' that was heard at one rally. But before we condemn the entire movement for the words of a few, we should ask ourselves whether we would also condemn the entire Republican Party for the racist words of its presumptive nominee — or for the racist rhetoric of many other politicians in the party over the course of years.”

Black Lives Matter was born in 2014 after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. It first surfaced as a trending social media hashtag, then grew to a nationwide political movement. Its leaders have called for increased scrutiny of police brutality against racial and ethnic minorities, an end to mass incarceration in the U.S. and a heightened awareness of institutional racism.

Black Lives Matter, the organization, has more than 20 chapters across the U.S. and Canada, but the broader movement is not limited by those structured groups. The phrase itself has been used by protesters and online activists across the country who feel solidarity with the movement but may not be specifically tied to the organization in a traditional, membership-based sense.

While variations of the “Lives Matter” concept has been used by a variety of individuals and activists, SPLC sees White Lives Matter as a definitively dangerous iteration, calling it “a radical counter-movement” with “racist activists working hard to spread its claims.”

“Its main activists, to put it plainly, are unvarnished white supremacists,” Sarah Viets wrote in a blog post.

It's a hate group, SPLC argues, because the message has been co-opted by a handful of proven white supremacists. Two such groups, the Aryan Strikeforce, a skinhead group, and the National Socialist Movement, America's largest neo-Nazi group, largely inspired the designation, Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project, told the Boston Globe.

The law center identified Tennessean Rebecca Barnette, a leader in both groups, as one of White Lives Matter's “key leaders, if not the leader.”

“Barnette, who describes herself as a ‘revolutionist' who is working to ‘create a new world' for white people, appears to run both the WLM website and the movement's Facebook page,” Viets wrote on the law center blog.

The group's website promotes the idea that a “white genocide” is sweeping the United States, caused by “mass third world immigration, integration by force and 24/7 race mixing propaganda.”

“It supports breeding practices that improve fitness, opposes dysgenic immigration,” the website continues, “and takes a libertarian stance on other right wing gripes that don't directly turn the population non-White.”

White Lives Matter is not a white supremacist or anti-Semitic group, the website claims, but it believes “ethnic Europeans are worth preserving” and that, though “Jews are generally likeable,” it opposes “Jewish aggression.”

The Texas-based Aryan Renaissance Society, another group of which SPLC alleges Barnette is a member, claims to be “the leading force behind the WLM Movement,” according to the law center. And researchers linked the ARS to a protest that was held outside the Houston headquarters of the NAACP last week.

Men and women waved Confederate flags, criticized the Black Lives Matter movement and called the NAACP “one of the most racist groups in America.”

One sign read “14 words,” a reference to the white supremacist motto: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

In reaction to the SPLC hate group declaration, a YouTube channel labeled White Lives Matter posted a video this week of a white man outside a BP gas station, inserting so-called “Black on White crime” fliers into the free coupon box.

“While groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center say we are terrorists and we are a hate group, at the grassroots, small town America, just normal, casual USA, everybody knows the truth,” the man says. “White Lives Matters. Black Lives Matters is the largest terrorist organization in America, right now, today. They riot, they loot, they pillage.”

Wednesday, NBC News published a statement it said came from White Lives Matter, albeit without saying specifically which group or person issued it:

White Lives Matter is really about recognizing the contributions that people of European descent have made to civilization, and that we as a people and culture are worth preserving. We reject the notion that it is morally wrong for people of European descent to love and support their own race. We value Western civilization and believe that at the very least, immigrants should not make us dumber or poorer.

White Lives Matter is not the only “lives matter” counter-movement. As law enforcement began receiving increased scrutiny from the public over officer-involved shootings and a lack of accountability for them, police supporters used the phrase Blue Lives Matter. Another iteration, All Lives Matter, was created by those who think focusing on only the black and brown victims of police brutality is divisive and distracts from the larger issue.




Chicago Police Dept. Moves To Fire 5 Officers Over Laquan McDonald Shooting

by Camila Domonoske

Chicago's police superintendent is moving to fire five officers who were involved in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old LaQuan McDonald in 2014 — one who pulled the trigger, and four who are accused of giving false statements about what happened.

McDonald, who was black, was shot 16 times by officer Jason Van Dyke. Other officers said that McDonald had lunged at police before he was shot. But dashcam footage of the incident — released under a court order — contradicted their testimony.

Van Dyke, who is white, has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting. He has pleaded not guilty and remains free on bond, NPR's David Schaper reports.

Now Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson is seeking the dismissal of Van Dyke, as well as four other officers accused of giving false statements during an investigation into the shooting.

Chicago's inspector general had recommended that 10 officers be fired for the shooting — Van Dyke and nine others.

Of those officers, four have since either resigned or retired. In the case of one officer, a police spokesman said, there was "insufficient evidence" to prove that the officer willfully lied during investigations.

Johnson has filed administrative charges with the Chicago Police Board to request the dismissal of the five officers.



Washington D.C.

Obama cuts short the sentences of 111 federal inmates


WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama cut short on Tuesday the sentences of 111 federal inmates in another round of commutations for those convicted of nonviolent drug offenses.

Obama has long called for phasing out strict sentences for drug convictions, arguing they lead to excessive punishment and incarceration rates unseen in other developed countries.

White House Counsel Neil Eggleston said the commutations underscored the president's commitment to using his clemency authority to give deserving individuals a second chance. He said that Obama has granted a total of 673 commutations, more than the previous 10 presidents combined. More than a third of the recipients were serving life sentences.

“We must remember that these are individuals — sons, daughters, parents, and in many cases, grandparents — who have taken steps toward rehabilitation and who have earned their second chance,” Eggleston said. “They are individuals who received unduly harsh sentences under outdated laws for committing largely nonviolent drug crimes.”

Eggleston noted that Obama also granted commutation to 214 federal inmates earlier in the month. With Tuesday's additions, Obama has granted the greatest number of commutations for a single month of any president.

Eggleston says he expects Obama to continue using his clemency authority through the end of his administration. He said the relief points to the need for Congress to take up criminal justice reform. Such legislation has stalled, undercut by a rash of summer shootings involving police and the pressure of election-year politics.

Two goals of the legislation are to reduce overcrowding in the nation's prisons and save taxpayer dollars. In 1980, the federal prison population was less than 25,000. Today, it is more than 200,000.

But the legislation's supporters have encountered opposition from some Republicans who argue that changes could lead to an increase in crime and pose a greater danger to law enforcement.

Eggleston said Obama considered the individual merits of each application to determine that an applicant is ready to make use of their second chance.

One of those granted relief was Tim Tyler, who at 25 was sentenced to life in federal prison for selling LSD while traveling the country following the Grateful Dead. The sentence now will expire on August 30, 2018, conditioned upon enrollment in residential drug treatment. Families Against Mandatory Minimums, an advocacy group, said it had been working on the Tyler family's behalf.

“Mandatory sentences, and especially mandatory life sentences for nonviolent offenses, should be abandoned once and for all,” said Julie Stewart, the group's president. “We applaud the president for using the clemency power to free people who fully expected to die in prison and for shining a light on the excesses of federal drug sentencing.”

The release dates for the inmates vary. For most, Obama commuted their sentences to end on December 28.

Between Tuesday's 111 commutations and those of 214 federal inmates earlier this month, Obama has granted the greatest number of commutations for a single month of any president.




Region leaders seek to improve community policing

by Ed Bierschenk

GARY — Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said various police chiefs and administrators from around the Region are looking at ways to make community-oriented policing a way of life rather than just a program.

Freeman-Wilson and several other government and community leaders from around Northwest Indiana gathered Tuesday at the Genesis Convention Center to talk about ways to improve community and police relations. The town hall meeting hosted by the city officials in conjunction with the Urban League of Northwest Indiana and Lakeshore Public Media will be aired at 7 p.m. today on Lakeshore Public Television.

The event drew a large crowd out to ask questions and express opinions to Freeman-Wilson, Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor, Portage Police Chief Troy Williams, Lorrell Kilpatrick of Black Lives Matter and others.

Moderator Garrard McClendon, host of “Counterpoint with Garrard McClendon”on Lakeshore Public Television, cited one statistic that stated 60 percent of whites have confidence in police officers protecting citizens, but only 40 percent of non-whites have that same confidence. One of the audience members asked why panel members thought there was that difference.

Panelist Raymond Dix II, pastor with the Gary campus of the Bethel Church, believed the reason had historical roots and said there was a time in the African-American and minority communities when police were not used to serve and protect as much as they were to “occupy and control.”

“So we have had this generational idea that police don't necessarily mean the best for persons of color,” he said. “That comes out of the sad and terrible racial history of our country and the fact that we are unreconciled over that history creates this ongoing feeling that we don't trust the police and I think that is something that we have to address is to begin to rebuild that trust.”

Freeman-Wilson said that she thinks that everyone needs to recognize that such inequality exists in various aspects of people's lives based on race, gender, religion and other factors. She said it is important then to engage in “intentional action” as a community to do something about it to level the playing field.

Snedecor said reconciliation is an important component in trying to improve relations. He spoke of the importance of reaching out to young people and pointed to his police force's afterschool program, which he said is attended by a large number of people from different minority groups.

The youths attending the program learn to develop a positive experience with police rather than interacting with then on the street where they may have a negative experience. He said it is a “job of administrators and police chiefs to create that positive environment before they have contact on the street with our law enforcement.”

In speaking of how to make community policing a way of life, Freeman-Wilson pointed to Indianapolis where new police recruits start off in community services. She said this is a way to see if the new officers are really interested in the community.

“So I think it is really important to get people to look at community-oriented policing, to get police officers to look at it, as a way of doing business,” Freeman-Wilson said.




Rangeley chief focuses on community policing

by Donna Perry

RANGELEY — Police Chief Russell French is more likely to be seen on patrol, walking around town, or at a community event than in his office.

In his nearly seven months as chief, French has been out and about getting to know people and making sure they know he and his officers are available and ready to listen and help.

He is a staunch supporter of community policing.

“I think a lot of officers believe they are doing community policing just by being out in the community and assisting someone,” he said. “What we've done is play on the importance of community policing. What I wanted my officers to do is put an emphasis on making citizens feel comfortable enough to come up to them while they are working.”

He wants them to be more visible and more approachable.

“I know myself, I will only be in this building when I need to make a phone call or meet with someone,” he said.

It is important for the chief and officers to be out on the road and talking to people, he said.

“I think we are turning the corner,” he said. “The other day I had a citizen approach me to tell me it is nice to see police out on the roads. I think it is very positive and we want to keep expanding on it and moving it forward.”

Town Manager Tim Pellerin said French has done a "phenomenal job with community policing. I am absolutely thrilled."

French has been involved in the investigation of a deadly home invasion in late July. A New York man was shot to death and two others injured at a rental unit on Main Street in the downtown. Maine State Police are still investigating, and no one has been charged.

French told those at a news conference that day that the town is very safe.

“We do feel safe," resident Danielle Lemay said Wednesday. "Because of the circumstances and what it was I don't feel unsafe. It was very surprising, but coming from Southern California, this was something that was common near the border.”

French has lots of ideas about what he would like to see his officers do, including having an officer patrol the area on a bicycle, which he did through a partnership with local business AJ's Cycles, he said.

“As we expand our community policing down the road, I want to do a citizens police academy,” French said.

People are beginning to share information and concerns with him.

Besides the chief, the department has two full-time officers, Sgt. Jared Austin and officer Jacob Richards. There are also three reserve officers and French is looking to hire one more.

Richards is currently attending the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.

“As a first-time chief, there is a lot of pride in developing a police officer,” French said.

He is also getting a handle on what is going on with illegal drugs in town.

“The community needs to know they are here and probably here to stay,” he said. “We need folks to report suspicious activities.”

Besides getting drugs off the street, police are willing to help people who may be addicted to them, he said.



North Carolina

More details emerge in NC police shooting

Officer B.F. Burleson was responding to a call about a man with a gun when shots were fired

by The Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. — A man was killed and a police officer wounded after shots were fired at the end of a foot chase Monday in Raleigh, an official said.

Officers responded about noon to reports of someone with a gun on the city's east side, Raleigh Police Department spokesman Jim Sughrue said in a statement.

An officer responding to the call spotted the man in the street and began a foot chase, then a second officer joined him, Sughrue said. The chase ended with shots being fired.

Jaqwan Julius Terry, 24, of Raleigh was killed and Officer B.F. Burleson, 29, was shot in the leg, the spokesman said. Burleson was being treated at the hospital for wounds that were serious but not life-threatening.

Officer B.S. Beausoleil, 30, was identified as the second officer involved in the foot chase. Details about who fired the shots were not available Tuesday night.

Sughrue said both officers will be placed on administrative duty, as is department policy, while the shooting is investigated by the Raleigh Police Department and the State Bureau of Investigation.

The races of the officers and the man weren't immediately known.




Mo. officer dragged by motorcyclist

Sgt. Rusty Rives approached a motorcyclist during a traffic stop when he became entangled in the suspect's sweatshirt as the motorcycle took off at a high speed

by Jeff Lehr

JOPLIN, Mo. — A Joplin police officer was injured early Saturday morning when he was dragged by a motorcyclist whom he was trying to apprehend.

The operator of the motorcycle, Paul G. Haney, 19, of Joplin, was arrested the following day in Newton County and charged with felony assault on a law enforcement officer.

Capt. Bob Higginbotham of the Joplin Police Department said in a news release today that about 1 a.m. Saturday police Sgt. Rusty Rives observed two motorcycles eastbound on 32nd Street from Wisconsin Avenue traveling at 124 miles per hour.

Both motorcyclists were known to police as suspects who have had multiple interactions with patrol officers in recent weeks, allegedly taunting officers with the operation of their motorcycles in apparent efforts to provoke pursuits.

Rives observed the motorcycles again a short time later traveling north on Main Street from 32nd Street. One of them, believed to have been Haney, drove into the oncoming lanes directly at a southbound patrol car before going around the car and continuing northbound.

Rives subsequently waited on foot for the motorcyclists at 15th and Main Streets. When they stopped at the light there, he approached Haney on foot and attempted to take him into custody. But when Rives grabbed Haney's hooded sweatshirt, he became entangled in the garment as the suspect took off at a high rate of speed, dragging him a short distance with the bike and dislocating the officer's shoulder.

Rives drove himself to the hospital where he was treated and released.

Multiple agencies began a search for the suspect, including the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Jasper County Sheriff's Department and Newton Country Sheriff's Department, with Newton County deputies finally locating him on Sunday and making the arrest.

Haney remained in custody today on a $5,000 bond.




Chicago police face most violent month in 20 years

There have been at least 78 homicides, which is the deadliest month since October of 1997, when there were 79 homicides

by Jeremy Gorner, Peter Nickeas and Elvia Malagon

CHICAGO — In the weeks since he was shot in the back, 10-year-old Tavon Tanner has undergone several operations to repair the damage from the bullet that tore through his small body and remains lodged between his shoulder and his chest.

The fifth-grader is still in the hospital and still in pain, according to his mother Mellanie Washington. He doesn't talk as much and cries more often. Sometimes he'll ask if police have arrested the person who shot him.

"I tell him they will soon," Washington said. "They will." No one was in custody as of Monday.

Tavon was among more than 400 people shot in Chicago this month. There have been at least 78 homicides, marking August as the most violent month in the city in almost 20 years, according to data provided by the Chicago Police Department. And there are two more days to go.

The city hasn't seen a deadlier month since October of 1997, when there were 79 homicides.

For the whole year, the count was 761, according to department numbers.

Chicago has recorded 487 homicides and more than 2,800 people shot so far this year, compared to 491 homicides and 2,988 people shot all of last year, according to Tribune data.

Chicago has a lower homicide rate than many other U.S. cities that are smaller in population.

But this year, the city has recorded more homicides and shooting victims than New York City and Los Angeles combined, even though the two cities are larger than Chicago's population of roughly 2.6 million.

New York, with more than three times the population of Chicago, has recorded 760 shooting victims and logged 222 homicides, according to NYPD crime statistics through Aug. 21. In Los Angeles, a city of about 4 million, 176 people have been slain and 729 people shot, according to LAPD crime data through Aug. 20.

The gun violence in Chicago has been concentrated on the South and West sides that have lost population over the years as other areas have grown.

The Harrison District on the West Side, for example, has had almost 400 people shot this year after logging 350 all of last year. Englewood saw 330 people shot all of last year and has tallied close to 300 this year.

The Harrison District covers a lot of the Lawndale neighborhood, where Tavon lives. The boy was playing out front with his twin sister in the 3900 block of West Polk Street when someone fired as many as nine shots.

He collapsed as he followed his mother through the front door. His twin sister, Taniyah, sat next to him, holding his hand, trying to keep him calm, according to their mother. "Twin don't leave me, twin don't leave me," she kept yelling.

Tavon was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he underwent nearly four hours of surgery, Washington said. The bullet damaged his pancreas, intestines, kidney and spleen as it entered his lower back and lodged in his chest, she said.

In the hours before Tavon was shot, a man in his early 20s was shot in the head at a basketball court down the block where Tavon was not allowed to play. And an older man was shot and killed about four blocks away.

Tavon's twin sister started school last week without her brother. Washington, who has spent the past couple of weeks in the hospital with her son, said she feels restless as her son's future remains uncertain.

"Oh, I'm real tired," she said. "Just waiting on him to get better."

Chicago police officials have cited the constant flow of illegal firearms through dangerous neighborhoods and an intractable gang problem -- with some disputes beginning on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter -- as strong contributors to the city's violence.

In recent months, police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has been pushing lawmakers in Springfield to pass legislation requiring harsher sentences for criminals arrested repeatedly for carrying illegal guns.

Earlier this month, Johnson met with several police chiefs from across the country to discuss the nation's gun violence problem, noting that over 40 U.S. cities experienced spikes in violence last year after years of decreases in the number of killings.

Cities like Milwaukee and Washington, D.C -- both much smaller than Chicago in population -- saw homicide spikes that they haven't experienced in more than two decades.

The surge in violence comes at a tumultuous time for the Chicago Police Department. It is still dealing with the aftermath of the court-ordered release of video showing Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times, killing the teen as he walked away from police with a knife in his hand.

The public furor from the video's release last November led Mayor Rahm Emanuel to fire Garry McCarthy as the superintendent. Murder charges were filed against Van Dyke, the head of the police oversight agency resigned, and the U.S. Department of Justice began a wide-ranging civil rights investigation into the department.

Earlier this year, the Tribune reported a precipitous drop in morale among Chicago police officers, based on interviews with officers.




Va. police cruiser targeted in shooting

The passenger's side front window was shattered and there were at least two holes in the back

by Keith Epps

KING GEORGE, Va. — Someone shot up a King George police cruiser sometime Sunday or early Monday, authorities said, but fortunately no one was in it.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Kecia Wharton said a cruiser used by one of the county's K-9 officers was dropped off at Devers Auto Center on Jersey Road in King George about 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

At 8 a.m. Monday, a couple of deputies were at the auto center when they noticed that the cruiser had been struck by multiple bullets.

The passenger's side front window was shattered and there were at least two holes in the back, photographs show.

Wharton said it appeared to be a drive-by shooting. She said it was clear that the police cruiser was targeted because none of the other vehicles on the lot were hit.

Wharton said the Sheriff's Office frequently has its vehicles serviced at Devers and she doesn't recall any prior incidents.

“Any time it appears that our profession is being targeted, it's obviously concerning,” Wharton said.

Sheriff Steve Dempsey sent out a message to all his employees reminding them to be extra vigilant while making their rounds.




Chicago mayor to unveil plan for new police oversight agency

The new agency would be called the Civilian Office on Police Accountability

by The Associated Press

CHICAGO, Ill. — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to outline his plan to overhaul the city agency that investigates police misconduct.

The Chicago Tribune reports that members of the Chicago City Council were told Emanuel will introduce the measure Tuesday and hopes for a vote in two weeks.

The mayor's plan comes as the city deals with the aftermath of a white Chicago police officer fatally shooting a black teenager 16 times in 2014. Officer Jason Van Dyke has pleaded not guilty to murder charges in Laquan McDonald's death.

The new agency would be called the Civilian Office on Police Accountability. Alderman Scott Waguespack tells the Chicago Sun-Times that he's generally pleased with the draft ordinance but there are several points of contention.



Young People Must Have the Right to Counsel Before They Are Questioned by Police

by Bernadine Dohrn

Millions have seen young Brendan Dassey being interrogated by police and prosecutors, in the path-breaking Netflix series, Making a Murderer . Last week, a federal judge overturned the 16-year-old's conviction on first-degree murder, sexual assault and mutilation of a corpse based on his "involuntary" coerced confession to investigators who used "deceptive" interrogation tactics that overbore Dassey's free will. Neither his lawyer nor an adult was present during his interrogation.

Across Europe, nations are racing to provide lawyers for children prior to questioning or interrogation by police, not counsel after arrest or typically, 24 hours or even days later at the youth's first court appearance, as is the common practice in the US. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has repeatedly clarified that, indeed, it fully intended to decide that "access to a lawyer should be provided as from the first interrogation of a suspect [Salduz v. Turkey (2008)] by the police." And in the parallel case of Panovits v. Cyprus, the ECHR held that juvenile suspects have a right to counsel prior to and during interrogation by police, not just the right to consult with a lawyer.

As European countries scrambled to cobble together some formal or technical form of legal representation before youth are questioned by police, the ECHR and other EU bodies consistently re-asserted that, indeed, the youth-specific requirement included special protections for youth: a prompt, qualified, individualized, legal representation-type of real lawyer, not a warning, not a video, not, as one federal judge put it, someone assigned to protect the interests of a youth who acted as "a potted plant."

This special protection to be accorded youth is rooted in international human rights law and children's rights standards (still largely out of the legal reach of the US), as well as in adolescent behavioral development and brain science, which have now been acknowledged by the US Supreme Court in a case abolishing the juvenile death penalty (Roper v. Simmons) and a case restricting the use of juvenile life without parole (Graham v. Florid).

A deeper conversation about an immediate right to counsel at the beginning point of police questioning (when it matters most) and the perils of police interrogation of youth is essential for all youth and youth advocates within the US, to clarify where our strategies for youth justice are headed. Racial and ethnic disparities have long evidenced the current and historical differences in access to legal rights in the US. As the W. Haywood Burns Institute has thoroughly documented, the ethnic and racial disparity gap between African American and white youth, and between white youth and all youth of color, is obscenely unequal and the discrepancy accelerates from the moment of initial police contact, through detention, conviction, sentencing and incarceration. Nearly 55,000 youth were incarcerated on any given night in 2013, most (87 percent) for nonviolent offenses. The majority (66 percent) were youth of color."

This year, the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force documented the need to give youth, and particularly youth of color, stronger legal protection from police abuse. African American youth are "far more likely to be arrested and so more at-risk of potential abuse: Three-fourths of the 14,600 arrests of juveniles in Chicago in 2015 were of Black children and teens," according to an article from The Chicago Reporter on data from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority.

In its widely publicized April 2016 report that was sharply critical of police practices overall, the task force wrote:

CPD [Chicago Police Department] has not made the legal rights of juveniles a priority. We have heard that police frequently tell lawyers working on behalf of juveniles that their clients do not have a right to counsel or that the juvenile's guardian must approve a visit by a lawyer. Youth should be receiving more, not less, protection.

The task force found that attorneys filled out visitor request forms in less than 1 percent of all Chicago arrests in 2015. For youth, the Chicago Defender later found, the numbers were even worse: less than one-tenth of 1 percent of arrested juveniles had an attorney when in police custody.

Historically, legal developments in the US have focused on the ability of young people to comprehend Mirand a warnings, a familiar but often empty Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. But one year after Miranda , the US Supreme Court focused on children's right to counsel in court, rather than when that Sixth Amendment right to a lawyer arises: Does it arise prior to a youth being interrogated? Or when a youngster is initially in custody? Or only when the youth appears in court?

In addition to these issues of when counsel is required in delinquency and criminal matters, juveniles in the US also do not have a consistent legal right, at all, to an appointed lawyer in numerous other areas of law critical to their life, liberty and well-being: in child protection cases, in immigration courts, or in parole or probation revocations, for example.

The European rulings, subsequent national decisions and legislation, and further codification in an EU Directive and Guidelines for Child Friendly Justice of the Council of Europe are having the effect of encouraging police and prosecution forces, in a wide variety of national settings, to rely more on forensic evidence (physical evidence, DNA, witnesses, victim accounts) and technological records (cell phones, cameras) for charging, prosecution and convictions, and less on confessions or admissions by youthful suspects (and adults).

In the US, the challenges by Black Lives Matter to race-based police stops, interrogations, arrests and state-sponsored shootings of people of color have opened the possibility for serious structural and legal reforms -- should we mobilize and campaign for them. These now-visible examples of police violence are building on prior revelations of wrongful convictions of youth, on struggles against police "stop-and-frisk" practices and disclosures of militarized police shootings before questioning. This is a historic opportunity we cannot afford to disregard.

Hopefully, in 2017, we will commemorate -- as a challenge, not yet a celebration -- the 50th anniversary of the germinal Supreme Court case in children's rights, In re Gault. In 1967, 15-year-old Gerald Gault was charged with making a "lewd and indecent" phone call to a neighbor woman, Mrs. Cook -- an offense that might then have resulted in a $50 fine and two months in jail for an adult, but instead resulted in a sentence of six years' incarceration for young Gerald. However, in 1967, the US Supreme Court concluded that Gerald Gault had the same full procedural due process Fourteenth Amendment constitutional rights as an adult (except bail), including the right to notice of charges against him, the right to legal counsel, the right to protection against self-incrimination, the right to confront witnesses and the right to appeal. The right to a lawyer, when there was a possibility of deprivation of liberty, was essential. Gerald's liberty was at stake. He was facing incarceration for six years. The highest court overturned his conviction.

Before Gault , "the kinder, gentler" processes of juvenile court were thought to be sufficient for children and youth. After Gault, children were acknowledged to be constitutional persons with a right to conscientious, meaningful legal representation.

In the decades following Gault , children's rights have indeed expanded in the US (see Roper v. Simmons , Graham v. Florida and JDB v. North Carolina, for example), but the effective right to counsel remains full of holes, in theory and in practice.

Beyond the right to counsel in juvenile court, guaranteed by the Due Process Clause of the US Constitution and Gault , state provisions for counsel for children in delinquency or criminal proceedings vary greatly. Counsel may not be appointed until the first court appearance, or after. In numerous jurisdictions, proof of indigence is required for appointment of publicly funded juvenile defenders or appointed private counsel. The right to a lawyer in criminal/delinquency cases, as a matter of law, was presumed to come into effect after arrest in Florida, for example, where a child's attorney "shall be allowed to provide advice and counsel to the child at any time subsequent to the child's arrest, including prior to a detention hearing while in secure detention care."

In California, pending legislation SB 1052, will require youth under the age of 18 to consult with legal counsel before they waive their Fifth Amendment constitutional Miranda rights. Much of the struggle for defendants' rights in the US has been focused on the Fifth Amendment, rather than the Sixth. When law enforcement conducts a custodial interrogation, they are required to recite basic constitutional rights to the individual, known as Miranda rights, and secure a waiver of those rights before proceeding. The waiver must be voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently made. Miranda waivers by juveniles present distinct issues. According to a legislative fact sheet released by California State Senator Ricardo Lara, "Recent advances in cognitive science research have shown that the capacity of youth to grasp legal rights is less than that of an adult. This is especially true for very young, developmentally disabled, or cognitively delayed children, and for those with mental health problems." Currently, in California, children of any age can -- and regularly do -- waive their Miranda rights. This bill would also provide courts with guidance for determining the validity of a Miranda waiver and provide some measure that the outcomes of interrogations will preserve a youth's constitutional rights.

Recent Illinois law is also emblematic of the struggle for an early, effective right to counsel for children in delinquency and criminal cases. Even its own advocates point out that the Illinois bill, SB 2370, is an embarrassingly tepid step forward. But the law raises the age from 13 to 15 years at which children being questioned in murder or sex offense cases (only) must have an attorney present. It requires police to read a simplified version of Miranda rights to all juveniles under the age of 18. After reading the statement, police are required to ask the minor: "Do you want to have a lawyer?" and "Do you want to talk to me?" And, in a significant step forward, it requires that police videotape all interrogations of youth under 18 years of age. Despite national and local efforts to provide children with more legal protections, the laws governing the rights of children in police custody still vary widely from state to state. Most states have no requirement at all for a lawyer's presence when a child is in police or detention custody, or for the videotaping of police interrogations of youth.

In Europe, the logic of the landmark ruling of Salduz is that the right to a fair trial requires that "access to a lawyer should be provided as from the first interrogation of a suspect by police." This right may only be restricted when authorities demonstrate in a particular case that there is a compelling reason for doing so. This takes care of the "desperate emergency" scenario in which a suspect's information might, theoretically, save lives. According to the European Court, "the rights of the defense will in principle be irretrievably prejudiced when incriminating statements made during police interrogation without access to a lawyer are used for a conviction." Pointedly, the court explicitly emphasized "the fundamental importance of providing access to a lawyer where the person in custody is a minor."

Thus, under the case law of the ECHR, the right to counsel as from the initial stages of criminal justice is considered a fundamental value of the right to a fair trial.

The challenge for advocates in the US is to press forward vigorously, to breathe effective life into the Sixth Amendment right to counsel for children and youth on the anniversary of the landmark Gault decision. Children, adolescents and youth have a right to meaningful counsel at the point of questioning by police and prosecutors. Let us use the European experiences as an inspiration and an obligation. That would be a real tribute to the brave, forward-thinking attorneys who once took the Arizona case of Gerald Gault all the way to the US Supreme Court. Conscience requires that we press for the right to counsel for children at the time when it matters most, and which fortifies the right to a fair trial: before and throughout police/prosecutorial interrogations of children and adolescents.



From the FBI

Take the Safe Online Surfing Internet Challenge

Available Soon for 2016-2017 School Year

What do more than 870,000 students across the nation have in common?

Since 2012, they have all completed the FBI's Safe Online Surfing (SOS) Internet Challenge. Available through a free website at https://sos.fbi.gov , this initiative promotes cyber citizenship by teaching students in third through eighth grades how to recognize and respond to online dangers through a series of fun, interactive activities.

Anyone can visit the website and learn all about cyber safety, but teachers must sign up their school to enable their students to take the exam and participate in the national competition. Once enrolled, teachers are given access to a secure webpage to enroll their students (anonymously, by numeric test keys) and request their test scores. E-mail customer support is also provided. Top-scoring schools each month are recognized by their local FBI field office when possible. All public, private, and home schools with at least five students are welcome to participate.

Now entering its fifth season, the FBI-SOS program has seen increased participation each year. From September 2015 through May 2016, nearly a half-million students nationwide finished the activities and took the exam. We look forward to even more young people completing the program in the school year ahead. The challenge begins September 1.

A Sampling of Teacher Comments from the 2015-2106 School Year

“My 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students LOVE Cyber Surf Islands!”

“We will begin using your site! It's awesome!”

“We have been in your program for the last three years and have gotten good response from the students and parents about your program.”

“Thank you for providing a wonderful learning experience for students.”

“I love the program and want my students to participate.”

“This was a very good exercise. I plan on doing it again next year.”

“Thank you for such a great resource!”



From the Department of Homeland Security

Statement by Secretary Jeh C. Johnson on Establishing a Review Of Privatized Immigration Detention

On August 18, the Department of Justice announced that the Bureau of Prisons will reduce and ultimately end its use of private prisons. On Friday, I directed our Homeland Security Advisory Council, chaired by Judge William Webster, to evaluate whether the immigration detention operations conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement should move in the same direction. Specifically, I have asked that Judge Webster establish a Subcommittee of the Council to review our current policy and practices concerning the use of private immigration detention and evaluate whether this practice should be eliminated. I asked that the Subcommittee consider all factors concerning ICE's detention policy and practice, including fiscal considerations.

A subcommittee of the HSAC will undertake this review, and the full HSAC will provide to me and the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement its written report of its evaluation no later than November 30, 2016.




Policing Baltimore after Justice report: Our view

Solutions remain complex, but several cities have managed a turnaround.

The Editorial Board

Even those who've long known about racial disparities in Baltimore policing found last week's Justice Department report stunning in the systemic and brazen intrusions it revealed:

  • Police stopped one black man in his mid-50s 30 times in less than four years, frequently detained him to check for warrants, but never issued a single citation or criminal charge against him.
  • Supervisors directed a shift of patrol officers to arrest “all the black hoodies” in a neighborhood. In another instance, when a patrol officer protested that there was no reason to clear a group of black men standing on a corner, a sergeant told him to “make something up.”
  • An African-American teenager was strip-searched on a public street, in front of his girlfriend, by an officer who was looking for the teen's older brother — one of many strip-searches that resulted in multiple lawsuits and 60 complaints against police.
  • Officers allegedly used racial epithets, including the n-word, and made threats when interacting with African Americans, including knocking down an 87-year-old grandmother and telling her she was "no better than any of the other old black bitches I have locked up.” The city paid $95,000 to settle her lawsuit.

During the five-and-a-half years studied, 91% of those arrested in Baltimore for “highly discretionary offenses” such as “failure to obey” or “trespassing” were black, in a city that is less than two-thirds black. On the roads, African Americans — about 60% of the driving-age population  — accounted for 82% of traffic stops.

Such findings have become all too familiar across the nation. In the past two years, the Justice Department has found similar patterns of racist practices in Ferguson, Mo. , and excessive use of deadly force in Cleveland. Now, Chicago police are deservedly under the microscope.

What to do?

Integrating police departments, long sold as a panacea for these sorts of problems, is essential but insufficient. The disproportionate stops and arrests of African Americans were nearly the same in Baltimore, where about 50% of police were black and the city is led by a black mayor, as in Ferguson, a predominantly black city where in 2015 the power structure was white, as were 94% of police.

"Zero tolerance" policing — cracking down on small offenses such as public drunkenness or trespassing in a bid to prevent violent crimes — appears to do more harm than good. Even though Baltimore police and political leaders have disavowed zero tolerance, the Justice report found that its legacy lives on. As supervisors "inculcated in the era of zero tolerance continue to focus on the raw numbers of officers' stops and arrests," it leads to harassment that poisons relations with the black community, the report found.

Nor is the problem about "a relatively small number of police officers over many, many years," as Police Commissioner Kevin Davis would have it. A "small number" cannot produce 132,000  stops, many of them unconstitutional, concentrated in two African-American police districts over five-and-a-half years.

Solutions remain complex. Police have dangerous, difficult jobs. In inner-city neighborhoods, they frequently face the brunt of societal problems they didn't create and over which they have no control. But that's not an excuse for condoning racial bias, protecting bad cops or avoiding systemic changes in policies, training, oversight and accountability.

Cities such as Camden, N.J. , Cincinnati and Washington, D.C ., have managed to turn problem departments around through restructuring, strong leadership or a commitment to community policing. If they can do it, so can others.

USA TODAY's editorial opinions are decided by its Editorial Board, separate from the news staff. Most editorials are coupled with an opposing view — a unique USA TODAY feature.




Right to protest also means freedom from militarized police: Column

Despite political and police rhetoric, maintaining ban is best way to ensure that protesters are protected

by Lindsey Allen, Annie Leonard and Erich Pica

On Aug. 1, the Movement for Black Lives , a coalition of more than 50 groups, released a sweeping and comprehensive platform that many news organizations and policy networks are still digesting. This Vision For Black Lives arrived almost two years to the day that a police shooting in Ferguson, Mo. , sparked a newly framed national conversation about race and police-community relations in America.

One of the earliest policy impacts of that movement was a May 2015 federal ban on transferring certain militarized equipment to local police departments. The ban largely began in response to startling images of police officers with weapons raised confronting unarmed protesters. Those images shocked not only the general public but military experts as well.

But after the horrible killing of five police officers in Dallas, several law enforcement officials urged the White House to lift the ban on militarized equipment for local police departments. And as election season comes into full swing, the posturing from those claiming to stand for “law and order” poses real threats to one of the hallmarks of American society: The right to peacefully protest.

The ban on military equipment was a direct response to the national debate on greater police accountability, criminal justice reform and an honest and effective approach to end systemic racial injustice. But it also influences every activist in this country who believes in the right of protest without the threat of violence.

It's impossible for any groups to win fights against Arctic drilling, the Keystone XL Pipeline and new fossil fuel leasing and fights for action to combat global climate change without the opportunity to protest.  But convincing members and activists to protest under threat or intimidation becomes more difficult when police are ill-trained and militarized. Federally arming police with weapons of war silences protesters across all justice movements.

Peaceful protest and civil disobedience have played a critical role in changing minds and policies in this country — from shutting down bridges and freeways in the fight for civil rights to shutting down coal plants in the fight for our planet's future, from suffragettes marching in the streets for the right to vote to activists raising the alarm about AIDS awareness. These tactics of disruption have frequently been the only avenue available to stop legal, yet devastating, practices.

We have seen abuses of power exerted by militarized police forces across the globe — an over-reaching police apparatus can intimidate and stifle demonstrators through consistent, peremptory and heavy-handed exhibitions of lethal force. Some news media outlets regularly misrepresent peaceful protest as violent and threatening. But people demanding justice, demanding accountability or demanding basic human rights without resorting to violence, should not be greeted with machine guns and tanks. Peaceful protest is democracy in action. It is a forum for those who feel disempowered or disenfranchised.

Protesters should not have to face intimidation by weapons of war. At a time when trust between communities and law enforcement is at such a low, arming local police forces with militarized equipment is a terrible proposition. These tactics only serve to escalate tension and raise the imminent threat of violence. The systematic militarization of the police can only be seen as an effort to stifle voices and dissuade dissent.

Instead of training officers to use weapons of war against citizens, we should be prioritizing community-based conflict resolution that restores the health and safety of communities of color.

As we grapple with the fundamental problems in our criminal justice system, we need to build a safer environment for freedom of assembly and expression. Let's keep grenade launchers and armored vehicles off our streets.

Lindsey Allen is executive director of  Rainforest Action Network.  Annie Leonard is executive director of  Greenpeace USA. And Erich Pica is president of Friends of the Earth U.S.




Mich. community seeks answers on police shooting

by ED WHITE, Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) — Police in Michigan repeatedly shot a mentally ill man in a parking lot as traffic passed in broad daylight. Weeks later, his family and others in Saginaw are still waiting for an explanation of why officers chose to use deadly force.

They have become angrier since the release of video that shows Milton Hall collapsing in a hail of gunfire on July 1. The video, taken on a witness's cellphone the day of the shooting and later obtained and aired by CNN, shows police confronting Hall in a parking lot of a shopping center and ordering him to drop a knife. It's not clear if he followed the order.

The confrontation happened during the day, and the video shows cars going by on a busy street as police open fire. Hall's mother said Tuesday that she won't watch it.

"It's very hard to understand," said Jewel Hall, of Rio Rancho, N.M. "It's barbaric, unbelievable."

The U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the Michigan State Police are investigating the shooting in Saginaw, 100 miles north of Detroit. Six officers who were at the scene have been assigned to other police work while Hall's death is reviewed.

"The sooner this is done, the sooner we can address the conclusions. Unfortunately, we don't control that," said Phil Ludos, an assistant city manager who oversees public safety. "The longer this drags out, the longer the tensions and the questions."

Little information has been released so far, including how many times Hall was shot. The local medical examiner's office said an autopsy report has not yet been completed.

Debra Freid, a lawyer who represents Hall's family, said police were pursuing him based on a complaint that he had taken a cup of coffee from a convenience store. Freid said she plans to file a lawsuit against police. The video shows what appears to be several feet between Hall and the officers before shots were fired.

"They handled this event horribly," she said. "They controlled the location and the space between themselves and Milton. There was absolutely no indication of imminent threat."

Hall, 49, was a Saginaw native who spent some teen years in Albuquerque, N.M. He attended Knoxville College in Tennessee before transferring to the University of New Mexico. He didn't graduate.

Jewel Hall, a retired teacher, said her son received federal disability benefits because of a mental illness. She described him as "nomadic" and a "free spirit," who was well-known by police and others in Saginaw. She believed Hall had a small apartment, but others who tried to help with meals and personal needs said he appeared to be homeless.

"His disability became apparent in young adulthood as it impacted his ability to work," Jewel Hall said. "He was able to manage his own affairs for many years and longed to be free and independent as many people do."

The Rev. Judith Boli of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, who spoke at Hall's funeral, said he wasn't a dangerous man but his mental illness often made it impossible for him to participate in group settings at her church.

She said the Justice Department's investigation gives her confidence that the shooting will lead to something positive, perhaps more training for officers who deal with mentally ill people. But Boli said the lack of public information after seven weeks is unsettling.

"Let the facts come out," the pastor said. "One of the reasons the community is upset is because of too much secrecy. Knowledge heals."




Community police begin patrols in Jordan's camps for Syrian refugees to try to defuse tensions

ZAATARI REFUGEE CAMP, Jordan (AP) — Community police have begun patrolling the alleys of Jordan's two main camps for Syrian refugees, hearing grievances and trying to spot problems.

The new police assistants are retired Jordanian officers trained in a British Embassy program.

They toured the Zaatari camp of 80,000 refugees Monday. Wearing neon-yellow vests, they drove in a van that doubles as a mobile office. Deployment also began in Azraq camp.

It's the first time security officers regularly patrol in camp neighborhoods.

Zaatari camp manager Hovig Etyemezian says he hopes the 26-member strong mobile force will build trust and that "refugees will reach out'" to the officers before conflicts escalate.

More than 4 million Syrians have fled their country since conflict erupted there in 2011. Jordan hosts about 630,000 Syrian refugees, including about 100,000 in camps.



Cleveland, Ohio

Community policing is centerpiece of reform agreement between Cleveland, Justice Department

by MARK GILLISPIE, Associated Press

CLEVELAND (AP) — The centerpiece of an agreement between the city of Cleveland and the U.S. Department of Justice on how to reform the city's troubled police department is creating an organization that is more accountable and engaged with the people it serves.

Community policing, improved training and policies concerning the use of force and more sensitivity in dealing with the mentally ill are key elements in the 105-page agreement filed Tuesday in federal court. A judge must now approve the settlement as well as the city's selection of an independent monitor who will oversee reforms.

The agreement calls for the creation of a community police commission consisting of 10 residents and three police union officials that will make recommendations on practices aimed at making policing free of bias, accountable and transparent. There is an expansive list of items in the settlement aimed at easing longstanding tensions between police and residents, especially in the black community, which makes up more than half of Cleveland's population.

Mayor Frank Jackson said at the news conference announcing the settlement on Tuesday that the Cleveland police department has an opportunity to become a positive example for the rest of the country.

"As we move forward, it is my strong belief that as other cities across this country address and look at their police issues in their communities, they will be able to say, 'Let's look at Cleveland because Cleveland has done it right,'" Jackson said.

The Justice Department in December issued a scathing report accusing Cleveland police of using excessive force and violating people's civil rights. The worst examples in the report involved officers endangering lives by shooting at suspects and cars, hitting people over the head with guns and using stun guns on handcuffed suspects.

The agreement was announced just three days after a white Cleveland patrolman was acquitted of manslaughter for his role in a 137-shot barrage of police gunfire that killed two unarmed black suspects in 2012.

The city is still awaiting decisions on whether officers will be prosecuted in the deaths of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy killed by a white rookie officer while playing with what turned out to be a pellet gun, and 37-year-old Tanisha Anderson, a mentally ill black woman who suffocated after officers put her on the ground and handcuffed her. Both deaths occurred eight days apart in November.

U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach said Tuesday that reforms "will help ensure the many brave men and women of the Cleveland Division of Police can do their jobs not only constitutionally, but also more safely and effectively."

Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, said he and the union's attorneys are studying the agreement.

"I'm hopeful it has reached some good conclusions," Loomis said. "But the devil is always in the details for these kinds of things."

Michael Nelson, co-chairman of the Cleveland NAACP's Legal Redress and Criminal Justice Committee, said it is important that there be "bona fide community participation" on the community police commission, people independent of city officials and agencies. Also, he said the agreement should acknowledge that race has been an issue in Cleveland policing and that such bias must be combated.

The Justice Department has launched broad investigations into the practices of more than 20 police departments in the past five years, including agencies in Ferguson, Missouri, and, most recently, in Baltimore. Both cities were convulsed by rioting and looting in recent months over the police-involved deaths of black men.

Then U.S. Attorney Eric Holder said in December that the Justice Department had intervened in 15 police departments in the country, including eight that are operating under court-ordered consent decrees.



Dept of Justice

(Video on site)

Justice Department: Community policing key to reforming Cleveland police department

by MARK GILLISPIE, Associated Press

CLEVELAND (AP) — A commitment to community policing is one of the key reforms the U.S. Department of Justice expects from the Cleveland police department after issuing a report that says officers too often use excessive force and violate people's civil rights.

Deputy Attorney General Vanita Gupta said at a news conference Thursday led by Attorney General Eric Holder that accountability and community policing make the job of delivering police services easier and safer.

The DOJ spent 18 months investigating use of force policies in Cleveland after a series of well-publicized incidents, including the killing of two unarmed civilians in a hail of police gunfire after a high-speed chase.




Learn what it's like to be an officer: Pttsfield Police Department to host Community Police Academy

by The Berkshire Eagle

PITTSFIELD The Pittsfield Police Department has announced plans for the 2016 Community Police Academy.

The academy provides an opportunity for individuals to learn more about how police officers work, as well as gain a better understanding of department operations by familiarizing residents with our community policing philosophy, internal policies and the guiding principles of law and ethical conduct governing the delivery of police services within our community.

Topics for the upcoming academy include patrol operations, introduction to criminal law, motor vehicle stops, animal control, police use of force, accident investigations, OUIs, drugs, crime scenes, police K-9, firearms, and special operations.

The department is seeking interested citizens, volunteers, community policing partners, local business leaders, and educators to apply for this opportunity.

"The Pittsfield Police Community Academy provides attendees with firsthand exposure to the working lives of Pittsfield police officers during six, three-hour classes, held at PPD headquarters, instructed by our own officers," said Lt. Gary Traversa. "Community members of all adult ages can benefit from a better understanding of the many facets involved with the day-to-day operations of the Pittsfield Police Department, and they will experience the training involved, firsthand. We always strive to improve our community partnerships, and the academy is a valuable part of those efforts."

Classes will be at the PPD Headquarters, 39 Allen St. (Squad Room). They will be held:

Thursday, Sept. 8, 6 to 9 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 12, 6 to 9 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 22, 6 to 9 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 29, 6 to 9 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 17, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Range)

Thursday, Oct. 6, 6 to 9 p.m.

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and live or work in Pittsfield. All applicants will be subject to a criminal history background check, as some prior criminal offenses may be disqualifying.

Interested applicants should contact Officer Nicole Gaynor via email at ngaynor@pittsfieldpd.org with any questions, or to obtain an application and recruiting materials. Applications can also be picked up at the front lobby of the police station, or accessed via the internet at pittsfieldpd.org under the "Forms" tab.

The deadline to apply for the program is Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Applications should be submitted to Gaynor in person at PPD headquarters, via email, or via USPS to 39 Allen St., Pittsfield, MA 01201.

Rolling admission notifications will be made through Wednesday, Sept. 7.

Those not selected for the current session will be placed on an eligibility list to attend the next scheduled class. Traversa said the enrollment will be capped at 22 attendees.

PPD Chief Michael Wynn said the department also held Community Academy programs in 2004 and 2007.

The return of the Pittsfield Police Department's Community Academy is partially funded by a U.S. Department of Justice Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant.




GE, Atlanta launch community policing partnership

by Dave Williams

General Electric is investing $1 million in a partnership with the city of Atlanta aimed at strengthening community policing.

GE's efforts will focus on combining data analysis and enhanced training to improve public safety in the city.

“Our officers need enhanced training and capabilities to build community trust and improve as a police force,” Mayor Kasim Reed said Friday. “GE is one of the world's leading companies, and when I asked for support, they responded without hesitation. I cannot thank our partners at GE enough for joining us in this essential partnership.”

The Atlanta Police Department (APD) has begun to put in place a policing plan based on the recommendations of the White House's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. In support of the plan's implementation, APD and GE will jointly develop platforms that are transferable and sustainable.

Areas of focus will include enhanced training methods, including the use of digital tools, improving data collection and analytics, leadership development and culture change practices.

“The Atlanta Police Department is honored to work with GE on this important leadership initiative,” Police Chief George Turner said. “I am confident that this partnership will be a vital component to APD's overall policing strategy.”




Oct. 29 forum to focus on Pasco community policing

by The Tri-City Herald

The Latino Civic Alliance plans a pair of forums to develop a vision for community policing in Pasco and Moses Lake in October.

The Pasco session will be 1 to 5 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Pasco Senior Center, 1315 N. Seventh Ave. and is open to all community members. The visioning session will advance community policing strategies.

Participants will review recommendations from the U.S. Department of Justice and the the American Civil Liberties Union on local policing following the February 2015 death of Antonio Zambrano-Montes. He was fatally shot by Pasco police officers when he was high on methamphetamine and throwing rocks at cars and officers.

This week, the Department of Justice released a 65-page evaluation of the Pasco Police Department that recommended better training on the use of force and deescalating conflict. The ACLU released a similar report earlier this year.

The Moses Lake session is 1 to 5 p.m. Oct. 1 at Family Services of Grant County, 1402 E. Craig.




Waterloo mayor, police chief seek advice on community policing

by Tim Jamison

WATERLOO — Waterloo is looking to Charlotte, N.C., for help building bridges between law enforcement and the community.

Mayor Quentin Hart, Safety Services Director Dan Trelka and police Lt. Aaron McClelland traveled to Charlotte last week to learn about that city's award-winning community policing program.

“One of the things we learned was that community policing involves more than just stopping in occasionally at a store,” Hart said. “You need programs that empower a community to build lasting relationships.

“We want to make sure we're doing everything we can in Waterloo to keep our community engaged and working to move forward as a collective group,” he added. “Part of that involves building bridges of trust in the community.”

Hart said the trip grew out of information and contacts he made while attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors and African American Mayors Association earlier this year.

Charlotte is one of many cities working to implement recommendations from President Barack Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

The Waterloo delegation met with Garry McFadden, a decorated 34-year veteran of Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, who retired in 2011 but was immediately rehired to help lead the department's community outreach efforts.

“They have outreach folks in the police department who go out every day and build bonds,” Hart said. “Their police department provides a multiplicity of different services,” such as a youth diversity and back-on-track programs and a teen court.

“While our police do a great job, for anyone — including the mayor — the biggest room is the room for improvement,” Hart said.

Hart and many of those he defeated in last year's mayoral election vowed to look for ways to help reduce the city's crime rates.

“This is going to be a cultural change that requires courageous conversations,” Hart said. “We have to work together more so in different ways than we have in the past.”

Hart said he hopes to bring McFadden to Waterloo to help the city ramp up its community policing efforts. A date for the visit has not been set.




How can community policing work in Fort Myers?

by David Hodge

FORT MYERS -- If you want the talk of the town head to Boomz Barber Shop on South Cleveland.

"We talk about everything," barber Brian Johnson said.

A lot of those conversations center around street violence, police violence and shootings. The shooting at Club Blu brought out a lot of opinions.

"Still haven't caught nobody you know, like always. Seems nobody wants to talk," Johnson said.

It's that rift in communication between Fort Myers Police and some in the black community that Johnson and others want to see fixed. But in the six years he's been at Boomz, he says not once has an on-duty officer walked in to say hi.

"Just come and introduce yourself. You're patrolling my community," Johnson said.

We showed him a list of the community police officers from the Fort Myers Police Department. Johnson says he didn't recognize a single name.

"No, no , no. Sadly I don't," he said.

New Police Chief Derrick Diggs has indicated "community policing" will be a priority in his tenure.

"Once we start improving our relationships with the community, then the crime will go down," Diggs said.

But NBC2 dug through its archives and found he's not the first to make that pledge.

In 2012, former Chief Doug Baker requested the Office of Justice Programs visit Fort Myers and research ways to help solve homicides and improve community policing. While the study came at no cost to the city, an OJP spokesperson said those programs typically cost $100,000 for their office to complete.

Last August when Interim Chief Dennis Eads was appointed, he also hailed community policing as a way to improve crime rates and said he would work with Pastor William Glover to help develop a community program.

Glover, who is the senior pastor of Mount Hermon Ministries, says the issue has been a revolving door in leadership.

"I think the problem has obviously been sustainability and consistency and seeing processes through," he said.

Glover has long been involved in community policing initiatives. The 2012 OJP study recommended more collaboration with the faith-based community to help improve relationships.

"The work is happening, it just doesn't happen fast enough," Glover said.

Glover pointed at recent community meetings between the police department and the black community as promising.

"In 2016, there were a series of focus group meetings held throughout the community, about 25 of them."

But he's found a point of contention with law enforcement that he believes exacerbates the issues between them. He says when police call out witnesses for not stepping up with information, their judgment is misplaced.

"They're blaming victims. They're blaming people who are afraid," Glover said.

He says they're afraid because of criminals who threaten retaliation.

"They harass and they threaten and guess what -- that witness rescinds," Glover said.

"That's not just theoretical you're saying this happens?" reporter David Hodges asked.

"No, this happened. This is real life. This happens," Glover replied.

The Fort Myers Police Department did not respond to our request to interview Chief Diggs and former Chief Eads. At a recent Tiger Club meeting, Eads told residents he believes the threat of violence exists.

"To an extent, I go along with it," Eads said.

He also told attendees he's seeing the community step up and report.

"I firmly believe in the community a lot of folks do come forward," Eads said.

But minutes later, he also described a staged scenario in which Fort Myers Police towed a car downtown, broke into it in front of witnesses, and still no one reported it.

"We got zero 911 calls," Eads said.

The issue of retaliation and witnesses was also the first finding in the OJP 2012 report.

Glover says the burden to build a relationship is shared by police and the community, but he believes police need to make the first step.

"You have greater moral and legal responsibility than the community does," Glover said.




Calif. officer's badge saves life during shootout

The gun-battle pursuit started after a man fled from his home when police responded to a domestic violence call

by Joshua Sudock

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — A police officer's badge deflected a bullet heading for his heart in a gun battle during a car chase Friday morning.

The officer was not hurt.

The gun-battle car chase started in the area of Bushard Street and Yorktown Avenue after a man fled from his home when police arrived after midnight responding to a domestic violence call.

"When the officers arrived at the location, a male suspect got into his vehicle and drove away," said Officer Jennifer Marlatt, a department spokeswoman.

The man drove east on Yorktown with officers in pursuit. Then, abruptly, he made a U-turn and opened fire on the two approaching patrol cars.

"One of the bullets struck an officer in the badge," Marlatt said.

"The round came through the front windshield of the officer's car, struck the officer's badge and deflected off. The round did not go through the badge or hit the officer's vest," Marlatt said.

Both officers returned fire, one from the driver's seat of his moving patrol car, Marlatt said. The officers turned their cars around and continued to chase the man.

"The pursuit reached high speeds and, at one point (near Harbor Boulevard and the 405 freeway), we lost sight of the driver," Marlatt said.

Costa Mesa Police and the Huntington Beach Police Department's helicopter relocated the suspect's vehicle and continued the pursuit onto the northbound 55 freeway, eastbound 91 and northbound 15 freeway, with The California Highway Patrol taking over somewhere along the way.

The fleeing man lost control of his car and crashed down an embankment at Cleghorn Road in the Cajon Pass. "His vehicle burst into flames, and he was pronounced [dead] at the scene," Marlatt said.

Marlatt said the officer whose badge absorbed the impact of a bullet is doing fine.

"Adrenaline kicked in, and he didn't even know he was hit until he pulled over in Costa Mesa," Marlatt said of the officer, who has served with Huntington Beach PD for 10 years.

Depending on the shape and size of the officer, the exact way the badge is positioned in relation to the bulletproof vest could vary, Marlatt said. In this case, the badge's position -- which was on the edge of his body armor -- may have prevented the bullet from striking flesh rather than the officer's protective vest and saving his life.

Police Chief Robert Handy, who spoke with the officer in the hospital and, later, at the station said, "He's doing great. He's in really good spirits ... It's safe to say the badge saved his life ... This officer was very lucky."

I'm super-proud of these guys," Handy said.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department is handling the investigation into the shooting, and The California Highway Patrol is handling the pursuit investigation, which spanned about 70 miles, Marlatt said.