September, 2016 - Week 2
From the FBI
FBI Has Evolved in Response to Changing Threats
(multiple videos on site)
This weekend, the FBI joins the nation in remembering and honoring the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks, which occurred 15 years ago this month.
It was then that the Bureau began the most massive investigation in its history, after terrorists hijacked and crashed four commercial airliners—two at the World Trade Center in New York, one at the Pentagon, and one in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania—killing 33 crew members, 213 passengers, and 2,730 people on the ground. Thousands more were injured.
Since the attacks of 9/11, the FBI has transformed from a reactive, investigative-led model to a proactive, intelligence-driven one where intelligence informs our investigative strategies, enhances our understanding of terrorism threats, and increases our ability to address and mitigate these threats. The terrorism threats against the U.S. have evolved since 2001, but they remain, according to Director James Comey, “persistent and acute,” especially those posed by individuals who are recruited domestically and travel abroad to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and by homegrown violent extremists who may aspire to attack the United States from within.
In response to these evolving threats, the FBI uses all lawful investigative techniques and methods at its disposal. With our domestic and foreign partners, the Bureau collects and analyzes intelligence information as it pertains to foreign terrorist organizations and homegrown violent extremists. We also encourage information sharing, working closely with the many federal, state, local, and tribal agencies assigned to our Joint Terrorism Task Forces around the country.
“Rest assured,” said Comey, speaking before a congressional committee earlier this year, “the FBI continues to strive to work and share information more efficiently and to pursue technological and other methods to help stay ahead of threats to the homeland.”
The Bureau also strives, on a daily basis, to ensure the safety of the American public from the threat of terrorism and other crimes while safeguarding citizens’ constitutional rights.
After planes crashed in New York and Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001, employees at the Pittsburgh FBI weren't sure where to respond. Then news came of a fourth plane--United Flight 93--heading their way.
Remembering 9/11: In Their Own Words:
Special agents who worked on investigations and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, recalled their experiences in interviews conducted in the decade after the 9/11 attacks.
(multiple videos on site)
from the Pentagon:
Special Agent J.P., assigned to the Washington Field Office Joint Terrorism Task Force, was one of three on-scene commanders at the Pentagon.
Special Agent M.G. led the PENTTBOMB team that investigated the 9/11 attacks. "There isn't a week that goes by that I don’t think about September 11th," she said. "It affects who you are."
Special Agent C.C. was the Assistant WMD Coordinator on the National Capital Response Squad out of the Washington Field Office at the time. He set up the first FBI command post at the Pentagon and was the first on-scene commander.
from the World Trade Center:
Special Agent A.B. worked near Ground Zero after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, and served as the liaison between the FBI and the New York City Mayor’s office on victims’ issues.
Special Agent J.S. was a member of an organized crime squad in New York City and responded to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers.
Special Agent J.M. worked at the Bureau’s forensic recovery operations at Staten Island, N.Y., after the attack on New York City on September 11, 2001. She also worked at the Command Post near Ground Zero until it closed at the end of May 2002.
from Shanksville, Pennsylvania:
Special Agent D.H. was a member of the Pittsburgh Division’s Evidence Response Team and responded to the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 near Shanksville, Pa. He was one of the first FBI agents on the scene. He worked as a liaison with the mining engineers who handled the heavy excavation equipment at the site.
Retired Special Agent M.S. was one of three supervisory agents from the Pittsburgh Division on the scene after terrorists crashed a plane near Shanksville, Pa., on September 11, 2001. He was in charge of site logistics.
Special Agent A.B. was assigned to the Laurel Highlands Resident Agency in Johnstown, Pa., when terrorists crashed a plane near Shanksville on September 11, 2001. He was one of the first FBI responders to the scene, and later worked at the temporary morgue with the county coroner.
From the Department of Homeland Security
DHS Remembers September 11, 2001
by J. Todd Breasseale
This year on September 11 th , we pause to remember events that occurred fifteen years ago, events which prompted the formation of this Department.
We continue to commemorate 9/11 and, at the same time, move forward. On Friday, September 9, we commemorated the federal government's return to the new One World Trade Center in New York City. Those employees who report to work at the building will carry on the legacy of those who came before them, and commit their work every day to protecting our Nation.
Over the last fifteen years our government has become adept at detecting and preventing terrorist plots against the homeland from overseas. Through the good work of our military and others in national security, those involved in the 9/11 attacks are either dead or captured. Core al Qaeda has been seriously degraded. Meanwhile, a glittering new World Trade Center stands even taller than the old one, and the Pentagon has been rebuilt and modernized. We continue to honor and remember those killed on 9/11, but we've come back stronger than before.
Fifteen years later the terrorism threat we now face has evolved. We've significantly improved our ability to prevent complex attacks like 9/11, which has forced terrorists to turn to less complicated acts of violence such as mass shootings. It is this type of attack that we saw at San Bernardino, in Chattanooga, and in Orlando earlier this year.
So, what is your government doing about this?
For the President and his entire national security team, the safety of the American people and our homeland is our first priority. At President Obama's direction, the U.S. military continues to take the fight to ISIL abroad. With our international partners, we've reduced ISIL's territory in Iraq and Syria considerably, compared to two years ago, and the group has been unable to launch a major ground offensive in over a year. Just days ago in Syria, our special forces killed ISIL's top external operations plotter and spokesman, Abu Muhammed al-Adnani. But overseas battlefield successes alone will not defeat the current terrorist threat.
At the federal level, we've taken a Whole of Community approach. We have strengthened our relationships with local law enforcement – working with some 1,800 local police departments around the country -- to improve the capacity of our state and local officials to support the homeland security mission.
The FBI continues to do an excellent job of detecting, investigating, and preventing terrorist plots in this country, while disrupting others trying to leave this country and join terrorist groups overseas. For state and local law enforcement, we support the acquisition of better first-responder, communications, surveillance and homeland security equipment. We have also strengthened our relationships with our foreign partners. As the President stated in the National Security Strategy of 2015, “In an interconnected world, there are no global problems that can be solved without the United States, and few that can be solved by the United States alone.
We've hardened the security around military and civilian government installations in this country.
We've doubled down on aviation and airport security, required enhanced screening at airports overseas with direct flights to the United States and enhanced TSA screening at domestic airports. As the public knows, screening enhancements coupled with increased travel volume led to longer wait times at security checkpoints earlier this summer. But, with the expedited hiring of more full-time TSA officers and the addition of other resources, we've reduced wait times without compromising security.
We are expanding the capability to pre-clear passengers at overseas airports, enabling our security personnel to prevent suspicious persons from boarding flights bound for the U.S. This capability exists at 15 overseas airports and we plan to expand this important effort to more locations.
We're doing more to disrupt the flow of foreign terrorist fighters in and out of Syria, Libya, and other areas of jihadist activity, and to prevent the travel of potential terrorists to and from this country. We've now built a state-of-the art capability to monitor known or suspected terrorists, and to track suspicious travel patterns of those we don't already know. We're providing these tools to foreign allies in Europe and elsewhere, and insisting they do more themselves to track the travel of potential terrorists and monitor their own borders. Within the last two years, we've greatly enhanced the security of our refugee resettlement program, and the program by which travelers from certain countries are able to enter this country from certain others without a visa.
In addition to law enforcement and security measures, we are working to prevent American citizens from falling prey to the hollow promises of terrorist recruitment campaigns. We are doing this by building bridges to communities across the country, including our American Muslim communities. In the current environment, this is critical to our homeland security mission. We must reach out to American communities that ISIL and other terrorist groups have targeted for recruitment so we can work together to protect Americans, especially young people, from such groups.
Finally, there is always a role for the public at large to play too. “If You See Something, Say Something” is more than a slogan. Public vigilance and awareness can and do make a difference in preventing terrorist attacks.
All these efforts will take time. We've made considerable progress so far, but there is much more to do. Fifteen years after 9/11, the public should know that our armed forces, along with the men and women of our homeland security, law enforcement and intelligence agencies are working hard to keep the American people and the homeland safe.
On this day and all others, we recall our DHS mission: “With honor and integrity, we will safeguard the American people, our homeland and our values.”
From the Department of Justice
Remarks at Justice Department Survivor Tree Plaque Unveiling for 15th Anniversary of September 11
by Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch
Good morning and thank you all for being here. It is a privilege to stand with this group of friends and colleagues as we gather to observe this solemn occasion. At this time, I ask you to please join me in a moment of silence.
Thank you. Fifteen years ago this Sunday, our world changed forever. September 11th, 2001 dawned clear and bright, but was soon clouded by the horror of the deadliest terrorist attack ever perpetrated on American soil. In a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania; at the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan; and at the Pentagon, just across the Potomac from where we stand, nearly 3,000 innocent people – including more than 70 members of our law enforcement family – were killed in an appalling act of malice and hatred. Today, we come together once again to mourn their deaths; to celebrate their lives; and to honor their legacy.
A decade and a half has elapsed since 9/11, but the passage of time has not dimmed the memory of those we lost. It has not erased from our minds the many acts of courage that brought light into that dark day. And it has not weakened our resolve to stay true to our highest ideals, to hold fast to our most cherished values and to continue following the course charted by our oldest principles. Every day, the men and women of the Department of Justice display that resolve when you fight to protect the weak from the strong, for fundamental fairness in our markets and for equal opportunity for all. And on this day of remembrance, let me also thank the terrorism prosecutors in our U.S. Attorney's Offices and the members of our National Security Division and the FBI's Counterterrorism Division, for all you to do defend the United States against an enemy that still has us in their sights.
Last year, as a sign of our pledge to remember – and as a token of our determination to persevere – we planted this sapling, which was seeded from a pear tree that stood on the World Trade Center plaza in 2001. Nearly destroyed when the twin towers fell, it was painstakingly revived with time and care. Now known as the “Survivor Tree,” it stands today at the 9/11 Memorial as a powerful emblem of renewal and resilience. Like its parent, our own tree has proven to be strong, enduring both the chill of a blizzard and the commotion of the courtyard's renovation. still small today, it will grow and flourish in years to come – a living expression of our nation's renewed hope and indomitable spirit – and this department's commitment to those ideals. Today, we complete the tree's dedication by installing a commemorative plaque that explains its special significance.
Of course, the most fitting and enduring memorial that we can dedicate to the departed is not a marker or a monument, but rather a stronger and more perfect union – one where every person can live in safety and peace, regardless of race, religion, background and belief. It is that ideal that defines our nation. It was that ideal that prompted the forces of hatred and intolerance to unleash such great devastation on our land 15 years ago. And it is that ideal that we must continue pursuing today – vigilant against those who still seek to do it harm and mindful of all who have died on its behalf.
So before we part, let us resolve to honor those we lost on 9/11 with our deeds as well as our words: not only with the hopeful symbol of this resilient tree, but also with the fruits of our work to make our nation strong; to keep our people safe; and to ensure that all Americans enjoy the rich and vibrant liberty, the fair and impartial justice and the real and lasting equality that is our birthright.
May God bless those whom we lost on September 11, 2001. May He send His grace and peace to the loved ones left behind. And may He continue to bless the United States of America. Thank you.
Has the party around Ground Zero gone too far?
by Steve Cuozzo
Fifteen years after 9/11, downtown is eating the terrorists' lunch.
And drinking it, too: The mortally shattered neighborhood has rebounded with booze-fueled gusto. The area has improbably blossomed into a river-to-river mosaic of fancy hotels, restaurants headed by celebrity chefs, Madison Avenue-level stores, sparkling new parks and (soon) the city's swankiest movie theaters.
On this 15th anniversary of the atrocity, which many believed would finish off lower Manhattan for good, the good times roll in every corner.
The zone around the World Trade Center is Ground Zero — for wining, dining and shopping. Selfie-snapping hordes make the enormous outdoor memorial pools, emblazoned with the names of the dead, seem more celebratory than solemn.
The party rages from indoor-outdoor Industry Kitchen cafe on the East River to alfresco heaven Beaubourg bistro on the Hudson. Even on Water Street's corridor of charmless office buildings, the Dead Rabbit saloon has earned the title of “World's Best Bar” from the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards, the “Oscars of the spirits industry.”
As a real-estate columnist still guilt-ridden over being marooned in Europe on 9/11 and for a week after, I've long advocated in these pages for a fully revivified, commercially healthy downtown. Yet, the triumph of life over despair seems so exuberant, I sometimes wonder: can “hallowed ground” stand so much merry-making?
Does the annual reading of victims' names give us license to party?
Of course 9/11 shattered not only downtown, but the whole city and the nation. Victims hailed from around the world. Even so, it was the few square miles at Manhattan's southern tip that suffered worst.
Remarkably, the district has more than “recovered” from the attack that wiped out 14 million square feet of office space, chased companies uptown and to New Jersey, closed subway stations and left blocks all around in ruins.
Sidewalks teem with families and pregnant moms. The just-completed, $500 million conversion of Art Deco skyscraper 70 Pine St. from vacant offices to filled apartments awakened many sleepy, narrow and dark blocks in Fidi's historic heart.
Many of my friends who neither work nor live in the area have no idea what it's like today. For them, memories of the blackened hulks of the old Deutsche Bank building at 130 Liberty St. and Manhattan Community College's old Fiterman Hall remain defining images.
The World Trade Center, too, lay in ruins for too long. Normally indomitable real-estate executives wore faces haunted by the loss of friends and colleagues. I descended into the muddy crater and saw almost nothing going on four years after the attack. A politically contrived, phony “cornerstone” laying for the Freedom Tower in 2004 was a mockery of real progress.
As recently as six years ago, One World Trade Center was little more than a slow-rising steel stump. Neither 3 nor 4 WTC was even started. The possibility that the 16-acre site would remain an empty pit indefinitely seemed all too real.
Yet, piece by piece, block by block, the rest of downtown was slowly clawing its way back with welcome grace notes.
Stone Street, once known as the “crack alley of Wall Street,” became a crowd-pleasing, European-style dining corridor. A new, glass-wrapped Staten Island Ferry Terminal banished memories of its squalid predecessor. The city built an East River Esplanade and a splendid new public pier. The hulking office tower 55 Water St. sprouted an “elevated acre” — a landscaped meadow three floors above ground.
Today, One and 4 World Trade Center, and nearly finished 3 WTC, confidently reclaim the skyline. The new and elegant 7 World Trade across the street is one of Manhattan's most coveted office addresses. The neighborhood's 62,000-strong residents can, on some days, seem outnumbered by tourists looking for the Statue of Liberty in the East River.
So much vibrancy can make the drawn-out, enervating strife among elected officials, public agencies, developer Larry Silverstein, architects, insurers and victims' families seem like a quaint memory.
Sure, much remains to be done. The World Trade Center is still waiting for one of its planned quartet of towers. Until a tenant comes along to justify its cost, the barren site is as awkward as a missing tooth.
But does anyone remember defeatist proposals to use the entire 16 acres for a memorial?
Or Donald Trump's sour-grapes warning (after his notion to rebuild the Twin Towers one foot taller than the originals gained no traction) that the 1,776-foot-tall Freedom Tower was “terrorist target No. 1 with a bull's-eye around its neck”?
Today's sexy, life-affirming downtown pokes a sweet thumb in the terrorists' eyes.
Data compiled by the Downtown Alliance business improvement district sketch a brave new world. The population, around 25,000 just before 9/11, will reach 70,000 in five years. There are 29 hotels compared with six in 2001. A thriving office market larger than most entire American cities was once Wall Street-dominated; now it boasts chemistry-changing media and fashion companies including Condé Nast, Time Inc., Omnicom, Droga5, SNY, Hudson's Bay Company, HarperCollins, Revlon, Gucci and Hugo Boss Fashions Inc.
Some $30 billion in public and private investment after 9/11 lent muscle to the miracle. But ordinary people from around America — and from around New York — provided the heart.
They voted with their feet, moving downtown or choosing to remain there despite miserable street conditions, predictions of long-term decay and fears of another attack. The stabilizing effect of committed residents gave companies such as WOR Radio and ABN Amro, both previously in Midtown, the confidence to relocate downtown.
Among those who stood their ground right after the attacks was arts and entertainment historian, Stephen M. Silverman, a former New York Post reporter, whose latest book is the critically acclaimed “The Catskills: Its History and How It Changed America” (Knopf).
Silverman personifies the steadfast spirit that saved lower Manhattan. Yet, like some others who've lived through the changes, he's ambivalent about rampant commercialization.
He moved from uptown to Beaver Street in 1998 and lived there happily until 9/11. His building emerged caked in soot from the whirlwind of smoke and ash. He has anguished memories of “Cantor Fitzgerald documents blown onto my roof deck, along with airplane parts and other flying debris.”
He and his dog spent the night elsewhere, “but we forced our way back through barricades the next day,” he recalled. Then he “hunkered down.”
He turned a broken seat from one of the hijacked jets over to the FBI “in exchange for their letting my dog run in fenced-off Battery Park.”
While he appreciates improvements since then — gourmet supermarkets! The High Line-like Liberty Park! — he acknowledges a certain sense of loss as well. “Gone is the greengrocer who opened a house account for me because with phone wires down through September 2001, credit cards couldn't be approved. In his place now: Hermes, Tiffany and soon Saks,” he said.
For sure, downtown can seem too happy. The slayground-to-playground transformation appears as carefree as if 9/11 had occurred not 15, but 100 years ago.
Next year, beloved Tribeca restaurant Nobu will pick up stakes for 195 Broadway at Fulton Street. The buzzed-over new Beekman Hotel opens this month with restaurants from Balathazar creator Keith McNally and super-chef Tom Colicchio.
The South Street Seaport will bring Jean-Georges Vongerichten and David Chang to Pier 17. At the super-luxury iPic cinema complex to open in the Fulton Market building on Oct. 7, waitresses in chic black dresses will serve filmgoers “curated” food and wine at their seats.
More than 100 pricey stores cleave a path through and around the massacre site's tragic heart. Saks Fifth Avenue will open in a few weeks at Brookfield Place, the former World Financial Center that narrowly survived 9/11. The Winter Garden had to be reassembled shard by shard; today it anchors a sea of boutiques and food courts.
Brookfield's complex is linked underground to the Port Authority's cyclopean World Trade Center Transportation Hub, much of which is a Westfield-run shopping mall.
Arguments about architect Santiago Calatrava's stegosaurus-like Oculus — is it a masterpiece or a $4.2 billion boondoggle? — give way to more mundane issues. Do I drop by Apple before or after choosing between shirts at Turnbull & Asser and Charles Tyrwhitt?
But again, the insistent question barges in: Doesn't the slaughter of 2,606 human beings at al Qaeda's hands deserve a higher form of remembrance and contemplation than a shopping spree or a bar crawl?
In fact, there is a shrine to our lost souls that blows away lingering unease that maybe we've forgotten 9/11 too soon. That of course is the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, which opened in May 2014.
An anguish-inducing but humane engine of catharsis, it unflinchingly evokes the indelible horror — and no small amount of heroism — of that incongruously sunlit day.
Its contained subterranean confines, deeper than the memorial pools, enjoin on us a hell from which there is no escape. It is so agonizing to witness, almost unbearably so, that it atones for all the above-ground pleasure-taking.
Boxes of tissues are on hand for good reason. Everyone will be affected differently by artifacts such as bloodied shoes, wrecked fire trucks and singed driver's licenses and lunch orders.
For me, the most awful sight might be photos of victims in the act of jumping or poised to jump from the burning towers. In a remembrance mounted nearby, a witness relates that one young woman, facing eternity, modestly held her skirt down against the wind.
Two years ago, I denounced a plan to open a cafe inside the museum where wine and beer would be served. “A bar and grill by any name on top of burnt fire trucks and human ashes is just plain gross,” I wrote.
The powers-that-be wisely dropped the idea. My griping might seem moot today.
We can sip fine Italian nebbiolo at Eataly from window tables directly over the memorial pools.
“Everybody had wine glasses in their hands,” marveled a friend who visited Eataly and its French counterpart, Le District, at Brookfield Place.
Maybe there's nothing wrong with that after all. The museum — alcohol-free and blessedly free of “interpretation” — provides all the sobriety we need to honor the innocents we lost and to cherish their memory.
In a Nov. 16, 2001, edition of the New York Post which commemorated the newspaper's 200th anniversary, I wrote, “One day terror will be vanquished.” I predicted that “a new icon of the harbor” where Post founder Alexander Hamilton first made landfall would soon rise where the Twin Towers stood.
We have a way to go to conquer terrorism. And for all the progress made, the new World Trade Center isn't quite finished. But already, we can claim a finer victory than “iconic” skyscrapers — the beating, human heart of a city that wouldn't take defeat for an answer.
Hope and Despair: Being Muslim in America after 9/11
by Aliyah Frumin and Amanda Sakuma
Fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks, Islamophobia is on the rise in America.
Anti-Muslim hate crimes are approximately five times more frequent than they were before 2001, according to the FBI.
The past year has been particularly brutal, especially in the aftermath of Islamic State-claimed attacks in Europe and the San Bernardino shootings last December carried out by a Muslim husband and wife.
More reports of mosque vandalism and attacks against those believed to be Muslim surfaced.
Anti-Muslim rhetoric has also been given an enormous boost of pseudo-credibility and prominence by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
In December, Trump called to ban all Muslim travel to the U.S. (he has since called for "extreme vetting" of people from "territories" with a history of terror, though the ban is still a position on his campaign website).
The heightened rhetoric has exposed an alarming trend that has developed since 9/11 -- Muslims are constantly and consistently cast as somehow un-American because of their faith.
The 9/11 attacks - carried out by 19 Islamic extremists - have no doubt changed how Muslim-Americans are perceived in this country, and those feelings have simmered for 15 years now.
Below, we explore the nine stories of Muslims-Americans affected by key flashpoints that have shaped the U.S. post Sept. 11, 2001.
They reflect on this year's anniversary and current attitude toward them with stories of solemnity, hope, and, in some cases, despair.
The Survivor: 'Muslims Died and Muslims Survived 9/11'
When the plane crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center, Aziz Ahsan wrote off the sound as the sonic boom from one of the Concorde planes that had been flying around his office.
He didn't realize the gravity of the situation until he was later caught in the debris field as the towers collapsed.
Ahsan narrowly made it out of the scene alive. And while he survived the worst terror attack on U.S. soil, as a proud Muslim America, it meant that Ahsan would also go on to live through the aftermath of fear and Islamophobia that would come, the side glances and hushed voices in public, the distortions in the media suggesting that those in his community were not true Americans at heart.
"Muslims died and Muslims survived 9/11," Ahsan said. "People just automatically assume that Muslims were not the survivors."
There's an obscure symbolism in that Ahsan rushed on the morning of 9/11 to buy the new postage stamp commemorating Muslim holiday Eid. He went to three different post offices before finding what he was after. He bought every stamp in stock, his own small gesture to show that the Muslim American symbol was in demand and to ensure that everyone in his community would have stacks of their own.
He was still clutching the stacks of stamps when a photographer caught him on the train ride home; his eyes bloodshot, his clothes covered in dust.
Fifteen years later, Ahsan has pieces of the debris still trapped under his eyelids. Everyday he wakes up he has a piece of twin towers still with him, but it's something he'd rather forget. For Ahsan, he wishes the date were like the 13th floor of old skyscrapers, where an elevator glides right over it, jumping from number 12 to 14.
"September 11 is like the 13th floor for me. I just don't want it in my life," Ahsan said.
The Grieving Mother: 'We Are an Invisible People'
Talat Hamdani, a Pakistan-born American citizen, lost her son, Mohammad Salman Hamdani, 23, in the aftermath of the attacks at the World Trade Center. He had raced to the site to help the injured.
He wasn't alone. Some 60 Muslims were killed in the 9/11 attacks. Their family members felt the same crushing uncertainty as other grieving families as they waited for days and months to find out if their loved ones were alive or dead — and the consequent heartache and despair after finding out it was the latter.
But these grieving Muslim families are often overlooked, Hamdani said.
"We aren't counted. We are an invisible people. People are always saying 'Muslim terrorists.' But we died too. Our people died too."
As she has every year since 2002, Hamdani will spend Sept. 11 with her other two sons, grieving for Salman in the country they call home, even if - due to what she describes as rising Islamophobia - it doesn't often feel that way.
"It's a hard day. We don't do anything," the 64-year-old retired school teacher said. "We just stay together and we shut down. We do not turn on the television, we cut off from the world and stay in our own little world. We might go for a drive, but we don't address the day itself. What can you possibly say?"
Even today, Hamdani, who lives in Lake Grove, New York, is fighting for her son's recognition as an NYPD cadet. Salman - who was initially wrongly suspected of being involved with the attacks - said ongoing discrimination against Muslims is a primary factor in why he isn't being recognized. "The Muslim community is under siege," she said.
The Lawyer: 'Guantanamo Was Barbaric'
In January 2002, just five months after the largest terror attack on American soil, the U.S. opened a military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It was marketed to the American public as a place to detain the worst killers and terrorists in the world. In reality, it was a place uninhibited by the confines of international and U.S. law.
Rooted at the core of Guantanamo, at the very design and implementation, was a visceral Islamophobia, said J. Wells Dixon, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights who represented detainees held inside the facility.
"There was a mass hysteria about Arab and Muslim men following 9/11," Dixon said. "Guantanamo was designed to be prison for the Muslim men and boys who the United States government thought should not be entitled to protections of U.S. and international law."
Then-Sen. Barack Obama built a core tenet of his 2008 presidential campaign on the promise to close Guantanamo. On his second day in office, President Obama signed an executive order to release the 245 detainees still held at the naval base and to shut down the facilities within a year.
Despite his promises, Obama approaches the final days of his second term with the Guantanamo Bay detention center still in operation. With political will waning in pledges to close Guantanamo down, the facility represents the hardships of reversing a policy built upon fear.
"What the United States did to Muslim and Arab men in Guantanamo was barbaric," Dixon said. "How did it happen? When you're so afraid of something or somebody that you don't understand, there is a tendency to view that person as someone, something other than a fellow human being."
The Mobilizer: 'Go From Being a Liability To Be An Asset'
Weeks before voters hit the polls in the 2004 presidential election, Muslim-American leaders were made the punchline of a comedy sketch on "Saturday Night Live." The laugh line, set up by Tina Fey, then-anchor of the recurring faux-newscast "Weekend Update," was harmless and playful -- it wasn't so much a joke as an uncomfortable truth.
"Several major American Muslim groups gave their endorsement to John Kerry this week," Fey said.
"In response, Kerry was like, 'Aw, no, really, thanks, I'm good. Thanks, though. Thank you.'"
That sketch, and the entire climate around the 2004 election, was telling of the lagging social and political capital that the Muslim community had been able to build up since 9/11, said Khurrum Wahid, a prominent attorney.
"That was a joke because Muslim groups were really seen as a liability," Wahid recalled of the "SNL" sketch. "How do we go from being a liability to be an asset?"
Wahid soon started Emerge USA, a nonprofit aimed at mobilizing Muslim-, Indian-, Pakistani- and Arab-Americans, registering them to vote and become politically active within the community.
Political engagement is an arena where Muslim-Americans lag behind the rest of the general public. Two-thirds of U.S. citizens who identify as Muslim (66 percent) said they are certain they are registered to vote, according to a 2011 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. By comparison, that share is closer to 79 percent of the general public that is registered to vote.
Wahid said his organization's sights are still in the future, but he's already seeing the shift in his own college-age children today.
"I believe that Muslims are in a state of fighting for their survival," Wahid said. "My daughter barely recognizes that. From her perspective, the big issues are class warfare and the differences between the haves and the have nots."
The Ex-Politician: 'The Easy Route Is To Blame Faith'
In 2009, Rashida Tlaib became the first Muslim-American woman to serve in the Michigan Legislature and only the second in history to be elected to any state legislature in the country. In 2014, she unsuccessfully ran for state Senate and candidly expressed the skepticism and downright racism she felt during that bid. "I ran for state Senate and people at the doors would tell me, 'I don't like your name.' That's code for 'I don't like your ethnicity.'" Once she received hate mail with the message, "A good Muslim is a dead one."
Islamophobia, Tlaib says, has gotten worse. Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, "I remember being in law school and there was a tremendous amount of fear, but there were a lot of people saying, 'This is not about Islam.' There was a message of unification," she said. "Now after the Iraq War and post-Afghanistan and ISIS and all that is happening at the same time with someone like Donald Trump running for office, suspicion based on faith is so heightened right now. I feel like it's gotten 10 times as worse. … The easy route is to blame faith, and I think that's what a lot of Americans are doing."
Tlaib (who plans on running for public office again one day) has two sons, age 5 and 11. Raising children as Muslims in America has been particularly challenging. She recounted her oldest son recently coming home from summer school. "The kids were saying that Trump is trying to take over the world and that he wants to get rid of Muslims. Mama, where are we going to go?" he asked. Tlaib told him, "We don't have to go anywhere. This is our country."
The Imam: 15 Years Later 'There Is More Fear and Suspicion'
Imam Muhammad Musri of Florida tried to dissuade Pastor Terry Jones when he sparked an outcry in 2010 over his plan to burn Qurans on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. There was a climate of hate then - but it's only gotten worse, said Musri.
Jones was a fringe figure in 2010, but his ideas have become mainstream. "This year, since the attacks on Paris and San Bernardino and Trump's statements, it changed everything. It became visible hate," said Musri. He added, "For American Muslims, 9/11 is a day we will never forget. It was a tragic event that was so historic that it changed our lives overnight, … While we are 100 percent committed to the U.S. as our country, the percentage of Americans who think otherwise has risen over the past 15 years. And today, the vast majority of Americans question our commitment, either openly or to themselves. They think that Muslims could not be loyal to this country, and Muslims have a different agenda, which is false."
This year's 9/11 anniversary coincidentally falls right before the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, which begins the evening of Sept. 12. During Sunday's services, Musri said he would touch on the attacks and will note that many people who lost their lives on that day were Muslims too. In addition, he said, "We will be talking about remembrance of tragedy on 9/11 and how 15 years later things are not better but there is more fear and suspicion today than before and what should we do about it — reach out to our neighbors, invite the outside community through open mosques and open houses to engage the people and let them know who we are and there is no reason for this fear because we are all on the same team, against terrorism and trying to protect our homeland."
The Advocate: Sharia Ban A 'Solution In Search of a Problem'
A new anti-Islam movement was planting roots in the heart of the Great Plains.
It began with an Oklahoma ballot initiative in 2010. A resounding 70 percent of voters called to amend the state's constitution to allow for a ban on the Islamic code of principles, known as Sharia law.
Muslims had lived in the region since the 1960s. But nearly a decade after the 9/11 terror attacks, fears crept up for Oklahoma voters that the Muslim culture posed an imminent threat to their way of life.
"It was a solution in search of a problem," said Adam Soltani, executive director of the Council On American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma.
It became the first in a wave of more than a dozen states to enact similar bans. Prominent political leaders within the tea party championed the issue from state to state, warning that Sharia threatened to undermine the rule of law and U.S. Constitution.
"They had already been so influenced by the emotion of fear," Soltani said. "It reached to all corners of our state."
Soltani's group took the issue to court, arguing that the constitutional amendment was a dressed up version of religious discrimination. A federal judge ultimately agreed, and the language was changed to no longer target Islam.
But Soltani contends that the heart of the issue was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what Sharia stands for, and what it means to have religious principles governing both private and public life.
"Sharia is not a common term we use. It's not a term that we even talk about, it's just ingrained within us and how we live, our relationship with God and our relationship with other people," Soltani said. "It is based upon mercy and compassion."
The Bereaved Brother: We 'Come Together and Heal'
It's been a little over a year and a half since the high-profile shooting deaths of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina - an attack that the victims' family members believe was motivated by hate. Craig Hicks, a neighbor, has been charged with their murders and faces the death penalty at trial.
Farris Barakat, the brother of Deah Barakat - a victim of the North Carolina shooting - said Islamophobia has only gotten worse since 9/11, and in particular the past two years. "Nobody has been so outspoken about it as Donald Trump and has made a point to use it so politically," he said, referring to Trump's call to ban Muslim travel to the U.S.
The Barakat brothers were in an Islamic grade school during the 9/11 attacks. "We were sent home for the next two weeks," Barakat recalled. "We received bomb threats at our school. It was the first time we were presented with this idea that Muslims or Islam could be behind it."
But Farris fondly remembers how religious communities have also come together in the aftermath of 9/11. On the tenth anniversary, he helped organize an interfaith build with Habitat for Humanity, working alongside his brother. At the end of the project, those who helped build a home for a family in need signed a plank of wood. Deah had written, "Salaam [peace] to the residents and guests of this home."
Farris said his brother's words "represented the actions of so many Muslims on that day — to come together and heal."
The Fallen Soldier's Family: Trump Doesn't Know What Sacrifice Is
Khizr and Ghazala Khan, who lost their son, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, in service during the War in Iraq, offered a strong rebuke to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's rhetoric in attacking Muslim-Americans.
Still, Trump dug in his heels by belittling the couple after their prime-time speech at the Democratic National Convention, sparking a major flash point in the presidential campaign that raised questions over Trump's temperament in addressing the grieving parents of a fallen American soldier.
How Much Really Changed About Terrorism on 9/11?
Three founders of modern terrorism studies reflect on what the world has learned about political violence—and what remains unknown.
by Brian Michael Jenkins, Bruce Hoffman and Martha Crenshaw
Prior to September 11, 2001, few Americans registered serious concern about terrorism in the United States. The attacks of 15 years ago were, and remain, the deadliest terrorist attacks in history. And yet terrorism was a deadly phenomenon around the world for decades before those attacks, and was the subject of study among a small community of researchers as early as the 1960s. What's truly different about the terrorism of the post-9/11 era, and what's been consistent over time? And why does the problem still seem so difficult to manage? Below, three of the scholars who helped define the modern field of terrorism research reflect on what's been learned, what's been forgotten, and what still isn't known about why terrorists attack.
Brian Michael Jenkins: The bookshelf on terrorism understandably expanded rapidly after the 9/11 attacks brought the issue so forcefully to the attention of the American public. Much of this literature reflects the commercial desire of publishers to exploit intense public interest. A lot of the entries fall into the category of lurid sensationalism and forecast imminent doom (“Al-Qaeda already has nukes in New York”) offer conspiracy theories (“What the government won't tell you”), or feed partisan agendas. As such, it informs us more about the country's state of anxiety than it does about terrorism. Memoirs of any former government official vaguely connected with counterterrorism also found publishers. But some of the new terrorism literature reflected excellent investigative journalism and offered insights about the nature of the adversary, a lot of it focusing on the specific issues faced by the United States as it went to war. Without 9/11 and the “global war on terror,” it is doubtful that there would so many histories of Afghanistan or Pakistan. We had to learn a great deal more about the specific terrorists we were up against.
Certain blank spots remain unfilled. How terrorists think about what they decide to do is one of them. During World War II, American generals studied the writings of their German counterparts. Remember the famous line from the movie Patton, when George C. Scott triumphantly shouts out, “Rommel, you magnificent bastard, I read your book.” During the Cold War, a great deal of scholarly research was devoted to understanding Soviet behavior. Terrorists were early on dismissed as evil, mad dogs—no further inquiry was necessary. The methods of interrogation, closed prosecutions by military tribunals, and the rules of classification have kept information out of the public domain. It would be useful to know the arguments that took place in al-Qaeda—surely there were some—about the intentions and likely consequences of the 9/11 attacks as its leaders discussed their plans.
The determination of today's terrorists to kill in quantity, and difficulties in predicting terrorist attacks and protecting all possible targets, or in striking back against attackers who often die in the attacks, have pushed the authorities in the direction of pre-emptive intervention. This includes efforts to counter radicalization and recruitment to terrorism. Who will become a terrorist remains difficult to predict. Efforts in the 1970s to understand why terrorists became terrorists produced little that was operationally useful. Terrorists were not crazy in the clinical sense. There were no discernible personality attributes beyond seeing the world in the black-and-white, us-versus-them mindset of all true believers. There are, however, many such people. We know only about those who become terrorists. Predicting dangerousness remains difficult. I am not persuaded that our current models of how people become radicalized and are recruited, or recruit themselves, to terrorism are accurate.
The fundamental philosophical questions remain: How much security can a government be expected to provide its citizens? What is the obligation of a nation to its citizens if they are held hostage abroad? Do targeted killings differ from assassinations? And are such killings a preferable, even more moral alternative, to less discriminate military operations? How do liberal democracies effectively deal with violent adversaries capable of great violence and remain democracies? Or will perpetual war incrementally push us toward tyranny?
Bruce Hoffman: With respect to the vast literature that has emerged on terrorism in the decade and a half since the 9/11 attacks, I have often marveled at how well many of the seminal works on the subject written over 40 years ago by both of you, Walter Laqueur, the late Paul Wilkinson, and others have stood the test of time. To this day, the syllabi for my terrorism courses contain as many (and perhaps even more) works that date back to that era than contemporary works.
This is not meant to imply that there have not been some enormously useful and important contributions to the literature in recent years, but rather to bemoan a proclivity towards amnesia, ignorance and a reinventing the wheel—often accompanied by the application of arcane quantitative methodologies—to aspects of terrorism that has added little to the corpus of work often published decades ago.
As the editor of a scholarly journal focusing on conflict and terrorism, I am continually surprised by how many submissions treat terrorism as something that began on 9/11 and whose authors seem to be unaware of the wealth of research and literature which predated that watershed event. Similarly, the fashion in terrorism studies today is highly methodological treatments replete with voluminous accompanying tables, figures, graphs, and statistical interpretations. While impressive in a purely technical sense, I often find little in them that is either new or genuinely advances the field or improves our understanding of the phenomenon.
There is also an understandable “herding” aspect to contemporary terrorism research around whatever the issue or threat du jour happens to be. It was suicide terrorism a decade ago, radicalization more recently, and “lone wolves” today. Less common in my experience are submissions that focus less on what is topical and in the news and more on what is unique, unusual, trendsetting, anticipatory, or novel. The literature on terrorism that authoritatively draws on historical comparisons, contemporary analogues, new theoretical interpretations, or truly innovative approaches seems to have become far less prevalent in recent years.
Your point, Brian, about the blank spots that remain unfilled in the study of terrorism is absolutely correct. These are timeless questions that go to the heart of our efforts to understand terrorists and terrorism and, as you and Martha well know, are by no means new.
For decades, scholars and analysts have searched for this holy grail of terrorism studies that would unlock all the mysteries about why individuals embrace violence in this manner. I am reminded here of the massive study undertaken by the West German government in the early 1980s in hopes of divining such an answer. The result was a multi-volume, meticulously detailed compendium of years of research that, as I recall, identified no single reason or universal explanation of why someone becomes a terrorist (or, in the contemporary vernacular, how one is radicalized).Much as we still lack an understanding of why persons become terrorists, we also still lack an understanding of how governments can best and most effectively respond to this menace.
The West Germans' failure to answer this provides a revealing window on the limits of contemporary research into the radicalization process that consumes so much scholarly and popular attention today. The West Germans of course had the luxury of focusing on a very discrete and homogeneous demographic. The Red Army Faction (RAF, or Baader-Meinhof Gang) and Revolutionary Cells, for instance, each had only a few dozen active members at most. They all came from the same country and had roughly similar backgrounds and socio-economic characteristics. Yet, even this concerted effort surveying and analyzing a small pool of violent individuals yielded no meaningfully broad explanations or useful generalizations. Compare that to today, when terrorist movements like ISIS have recruited tens of thousands of followers and fighters from some 120 different countries, and the challenges and limits of discerning how persons are radicalized and why they become terrorists become obvious.
Finally, to the fundamental questions, Brian, that you elucidate in your final paragraph, I would add that much as we still lack an understanding of why persons become terrorists, we also still lack an understanding of how governments can best and most effectively respond to this menace.
In this respect, the fact that terrorism is a strategy of provocation is often forgotten or neglected. Terrorists have arguably always attempted to provoke governments to react emotionally and precipitously to threats rather than respond in a sober and rational manner. Many critics charge that this is precisely what happened in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks with the declaration of an expansive “war on terror.” Yet, governments seem to have continually fallen into this trap—with the predictable result that we remain enmeshed in spiraling cycles of violence and campaigns with no end apparently in sight.
Hand-in-glove with this is a failure to understand that terrorism is also a strategy of attrition. It is designed not only to wear down the terrorists' government opponents and undermine the morale of both the authorities themselves and the citizens they either represent or are charged with protecting, but also over time to create deep fissures in national polities, to undermine public confidence in elected leaders, to foment paranoia and xenophobia, and thus cause liberal societies to adopt increasingly illiberal means to enhance security and supposedly better protect and defend against this threat. One just has to look at the divisive debates and political campaigns today in the United States, Germany, and elsewhere to see the corrosive effects that this terrorist strategy is having on our societies and political systems.
In this respect, the one thing that has changed today from the past is that the stakes are arguably bigger and more consequential than ever before. But that is a matter perhaps best taken up in the next exchange .
Martha Crenshaw: The tendency to oversimplify what is an extraordinarily complex phenomenon is still very much with us, especially with policymakers. People want to see terrorism through one prism. Or to see it in binary terms: It is either the work of evil fanatics or of misguided youth. The messy reality is hard to deal with. For many years researchers have been trying to explain that there is no single “terrorist profile,” but such a profile still seems to be the holy grail. Bruce is right about the West German study (five volumes); another interesting detail is that, of the over 200 leftist terrorists in jail in West Germany when the study was conducted, only a handful would agree to be interviewed.
This points to a general impediment to theory building: Terrorism is actually rare except in certain concentrated spaces like Northern Ireland in the past, and perhaps Iraq now. Also, there aren't many terrorists (or jihadists in contemporary idiom). There are many people who fit whatever profile can be drawn up, and a tiny number resort to violence. And within that small subset there can still be immense variation in motivation.
It is almost hard to remember what it was like before 9/11, and I think of our current students who were small children and have no basis for comparison of then and now. So much changed in such a short time. And the big question is of course “are we safer?” But seen in finer grain, is the massive counterterrorism bureaucracy the U.S. has built since 9/11 effective, even modestly so? I am reminded of the fact that many of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission did not address the issues they identified as the problem. So we have solutions that don't even appear to be in search of problems—as soon as the threat is defined as “terrorism” every apparent solution in sight is applied. Not to be too cynical, of course! But we haven't found good ways to measure the effectiveness of counterterrorism measures.
Like both of you, I am not a statistical researcher, and although I see the value of large databases (and have been involved with the Global Terrorism Database at University of Maryland from the beginning), I fear that researchers who have not worked through the arduous process of collecting data/evidence may take for granted the accuracy and comprehensiveness of datasets collected and classified by others. Analyses of aggregate data need to be aware of the limitations.
I agree with Bruce that terrorism is often intended to provoke (as jihadist ideologues will tell us themselves, e.g., through the book The Management of Savagery , which appeared online in 2004), and also to erode resolve and democratic values. Paul Wilkinson always stressed the threat of terrorism to liberal democracy. It can also be meant simply to punish. In that sense, it is no longer coercion. It is more akin to vengeance, but perhaps not exactly the same thing.
As Brian says, researchers could spend more time and effort trying to understand what the decision makers on the terrorist side are thinking. With regard to provocation, a subject I don't see much about is how terrorism provokes military intervention or escalation of existing intervention in civil wars—we've seen arguments that military intervention provokes terrorism, but has anyone argued that it's the reverse? Transnational terrorism that targets outside states draws them into local conflicts.
Along these lines, I often think that our current counterterrorism focus on “countering the narrative” neglects to consider how our actions affirm and reinforce the jihadist narrative. Perhaps I am too critical here, but it seems to me that American leaders and opinion makers in particular think of their/the enemy's “narrative” as entirely self-generated. We see that it is emotionally powerful, but we don't see why.
This problem is related to a tendency to spotlight the means of transmission of propaganda (social media now, tapes and cassettes of sermons years ago, radio even!) rather than the content of the message.
Brian Michael Jenkins: There is a notion that on 9/11, the world changed, and in many respects it did. But that has become a basis for discarding what happened and what was learned before. Bruce is right. We reinvent the wheel.
Bruce and Martha have both mentioned the famous study of German terrorists that with Teutonic thoroughness examined every aspect of their lives only to conclude that there was no distinguishing profile. Four decades later, we are launching efforts to counter radicalization. Some of these are local efforts to improve communications with communities believed susceptible to radicalization and recruitment. Some are efforts to enlist respected members of these communities to speak out against ideologies that promote violence. Some are broader efforts to counter incitement via social media. Some are efforts to identify individuals at risk in order to dissuade them from taking a destructive and self-destructive path. Judging by the British intervention program called PREVENT, this requires an intense and long-term effort. Dissuading individuals from becoming terrorists is, of course, preferable to shooting them later or putting them in prison. But we are still working in the dark. As Martha points out, there are a lot of people with radical ideas—which is not a crime—but only a handful of those holding extreme views will become terrorists. Dangerousness is difficult to predict.
We also know that radicalization is not a straight path. One individual may gradually radicalize over a long period, becoming more extreme and ultimately turning violent. Another may proceed directly toward violence, donning an ideological cloak or claiming affiliation with some group just before they act. Still others appear to head down the path toward violence, then back off. Much depends on what else is going on in their lives. Personal crisis may propel an individual toward violence. A good job or a newfound love may change one's course. How do you predict that?
Absent a profile we take a more wholesale approach, educating and enlisting entire communities where it is believed radicalization and recruitment are occurring or might occur. That appears to have worked in reducing the recruitment of young Somali men out of a particularly affected community in Minnesota where there was a recruiting network. Will it work elsewhere?
As authorities push upstream to intervene before terrorist-related crimes are committed, we have to be careful to avoid patrolling ideologies. What seems to be a sensible preventive measure can slide into policing beliefs.
Bruce mentions the objective of terrorists to provoke overreaction, and Martha raises concerns about the threat terrorism poses to liberal democracies. While American democracy remains strong, we have witnessed extraordinary changes over the past 15 years. It would be incorrect to say that civil liberties have been savaged, but we have laid the foundation for what, under a less benign government or a more frightened populace, could become a more oppressive state.
As the “old-timers” of the terrorism research community, we cannot claim to be smarter than anyone else, but we have been around for a long time. Historical perspective is valuable. It does not mean we have the answers. I was invited to testify before Congress for the first time in 1974. I was flattered and nervous. I carefully crafted my written testimony, rehearsed my oral testimony—my colleagues grilled me with questions that might arise. Had the members of the congressional committee asked, “How many machine guns does the IRA have?” I was ready. As I recall, one of the first questions a congressman asked me was, “Mr. Jenkins, how can we end terrorism?” I think I mumbled on for several minutes, pointing out that there were some things beyond even the august legislative powers of the United States Congress. If I were asked that question today, I am not sure I could give a better answer.
We have survived more than four decades of terrorism. People are shocked when I point out that during the 1970s, the United States survived 50 to 60 terrorist bombings a year. Imagine that volume of terrorist activity today. Had I, right after 9/11, forecast that 15 years later, we would still be engaged in military operations against terrorists in various parts of the world, my audience no doubt would have regarded that as dismaying, even though the analysts at the time reckoned that this would be a very long struggle. They would have been relieved to hear that in the following 15 years, fewer than a hundred people would be killed in the United States by jihadist terrorists. All deaths are tragic, but we have suffered far less at home than we feared in the immediate shadow of 9/11.
We need to take terrorism seriously, but we ought not to inflate the terrorist threat. In the interest of promoting action abroad and preparedness at home, our own officials often amplify terrorist threats. Even some generals, who should know better, describe the current contest with the Islamic State as World War III. It is not. True, our military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq have been costly—10,000 Americans killed, 50,000 wounded. In World War II, more than 400,000 died. And in that conflict, the United States, with a population of 130 million people, put 16 million in uniform, about 12 percent of the entire population. The equivalent today would be something like 38 million. The entire nation then was united in the war effort. Today, only the families of those in uniform are affected. There is no national unity, no sense of shared sacrifice, just the constant whine, "Are we safer now?"
Terrorism involves not just the terrorists and their counterterrorist adversaries. Terrorism is aimed at the people watching. It is intended to produce fear, which will, in turn, cause us to exaggerate the threat. And it often works. Research focuses on the terrorist threat and the countermeasures. We devote less attention to the reactions of the audience. We don't want to look at us.
Bruce Hoffman: The oversimplification that Martha refers to is of course completely encapsulated by the question posed to Brian more than 40 years ago by the congressman who asked, “How do we end terrorism?” A truthful answer today would be that, despite all the books, studies, analyses, simulations and exercises, we still don't know.
We do know how to mitigate the threat through physical security and other preventative and preemptive techniques. And, we know how to kinetically weaken terrorist groups. But as you both correctly observe, we have had far less success in countering their narrative much less breaking the cycle of recruitment and regeneration that has now enabled successive generations and branches of al-Qaeda to emerge—and which also produced an even more sanguinary off-shoot in ISIS.
We have thus experienced many tactical successes, but strategic victory against our terrorist adversaries remains elusive.
The fundamental problem is that they have proven more capable of adjustment and adaptation than we have. Terrorist groups seem to learn faster and better than in the past because they have to in order to survive. They have certainly shown themselves to be both more adept and far quicker in harnessing the power and potentiality of social media and other 21st-century digital communications platforms than their state opponents. They are also, frustratingly, now able to communicate more securely amongst themselves than ever before simply by utilizing readily available commercial apps downloaded from the internet.
The terrorists' skill at exploiting the array of 21st-century communications technologies, compared with the pre-digital limitations that existed only a decade ago, must surely factor into the astonishing longevity of many contemporary terrorist groups. This month, for instance, marks the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, but we forget that just a few weeks ago al-Qaeda “celebrated” its 28th year in existence. Hezbollah, to cite another example, is 34 years old; Lashkar-e-Taiba is 30; and Hamas is only one year younger. The longevity of these preeminent terrorist groups is testament perhaps to the intractable fixture of conflict in the 21st century that terrorism has become—and likely will remain.
Accordingly, one has to wonder whether from the terrorists' perspective they think they are losing. The threat posed by ISIS's caliphate may soon prove to have been a flash in the pan, but the fact that al-Qaeda has survived the greatest worldwide onslaught ever directed against a terrorist group by the most technologically advanced military in the history of mankind underscores how much more challenging counterterrorism is today compared with the 20th century—when many left-wing groups were small enough to be crushed by police action or simply outlived their relevance.
Brian Michael Jenkins: Prior to 9/11 and the declaration of the “global war on terror,” the government used the phrase “combatting terrorism.” War, in modern American military tradition, implies a finite undertaking—a clear beginning and end, while “combatting terrorism” implies an enduring task. In war, we seek victory. In combatting crime, we have no expectation of an ultimate police victory over all criminals and the end of crime. Instead, we expect the authorities to keep crime under control—that is, within limits society can tolerate. As Bruce points out, we can weaken terrorist groups, create a hostile environment for them, and take other measures to mitigate the threat, but can we realistically expect to achieve a final victory over terrorism?
The mobilization that the term “war” implied was a useful conceptual framework right after 9/11. It also signaled that the United States would not simply strike back and then wait for the next terrorist attack, as it had in the past, but that this was going to be a continuing campaign to bring the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks to justice, to disperse and destroy their organization—at least to the point that it was no longer capable of mounting another 9/11-scale attack. That was a more limited undertaking, but one that was going to require military force as well as intelligence work, diplomacy, law enforcement and all of the other instruments we could muster. It was anticipated that this would be a very long effort and we haven't succeeded yet. America's terrorist foes have been nimble and resilient and tenacious, as Bruce indicates, but they have also benefitted from dysfunctional governments, waves of protest, and ongoing conflicts across North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, and they have been able to fasten themselves on to local grievances and struggles, convincing their local allies and persuading the world that this is all part of a vast global jihad. What it is is marketing genius.
The terrorists have a second advantage. It is inherently less difficult to exploit anger and fuel violence than it is to bring or restore order. In continuing efforts to combat terrorism, the United States must be cautious not to assume the mission of removing every tyrant, fixing every failed state, eliminating every ungoverned space—in other words, reconstructing and policing the world. As we reflect upon 9/11, one poll asked whether the world is now a safer place. Is that America's burden?
Quick sidebar here: Over the long run, despite reported increases in terrorism, the declining number of armed conflicts in the world with fewer and fewer casualties from war suggest that, statistically, the world is, in fact, a safer place. But few think so.
With that, I'm off to the Middle East. Thanks and best wishes to all.
Martha Crenshaw: Bon voyage, Brian. We are getting security warnings here in Paris. Avoid places where tourists congregate, they say. In Paris! There are tourists everywhere.
Brian said years ago that terrorism was theater, and he is still right. The audience is the key to its effectiveness. I don't know that governments always keep that in mind. At least in the U.S. our counterterrorism “strategies” are usually framed at such a high level of generality that it is hard to integrate strategy and tactics. I don't think we've done a good job of linking the war on terrorism or AQ/ISIS to “countering violent extremism” (CVE), for example; it has not been possible to switch from war to CVE, but how do we combine them?
Why groups like AQ and others have proved so persistent and adaptable is a big question. Bruce points to their mastery of communications, linking them to their audiences in ways that weren't possible 15 years ago. If we stick to the theater metaphor, then we see that opportunities in failed and failing states, discredited authoritarianism, ethnic conflicts, and other local dysfunctions have provided a series of stages for their efforts. We, meaning the U.S. or the West, can't close off these opportunities, certainly not in the short run and probably not in the long run. We are also forced into compromises of our values in order to maintain order and create some sort of bulwark of stability in the short term. It's very frustrating.
I agree that terrorists' conception of "success" or "victory" is different from ours (not that we have a clear conception on our end). ISIS ideologues are preparing their audiences for the long haul. Losing the caliphate? Only a temporary setback, predicted by history.
Threat exaggeration has been encouraged by the politicization of the issue. It has become difficult for anyone to say that the threat is manageable, even though governments try to encourage “resilience.” The current presidential campaign is a good example.
Bruce Hoffman: Martha nails it when she writes that our enemies' conception of success and victory are vastly different than our own, and that losing the caliphate is, in their eyes, a mere tactical reversal. When a struggle is divinely ordained—as both al-Qaeda and ISIS claim theirs to be—all temporal setbacks or defeats are inconsequential and mere speed bumps on the highway to triumph: challenges deliberately put in the terrorists' path to test their fealty and ultimate commitment to the cause and the group that they serve.
In that respect, I wonder if bin Laden were alive today, how he would see things on this 15th anniversary of the September 11th attacks? Unfortunately, I think he would be rather pleased for several reasons.
First, bin Laden once remarked in a 1998 interview that he was not afraid of death and welcomed martyrdom. This was because he was confident that his death would "produce thousands of Osamas." Indeed, with the proliferation of tens of thousands of foreign fighters now engaged in combat in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Mali, his prediction has arguably (and tragically) come true.
Second, exactly six years ago, bin Laden called on his followers to carry out “Mumbai-style attacks” (in reference to the bloody, simultaneous terrorist strikes which convulsed that Indian city in November 2008) in European cities. There were no takers, since none of his acolytes were then able to do so. In the past year, however, we have seen the horrific attacks in Paris and then in Brussels that conform to this model. Admittedly, they were perpetrated by ISIS and not al-Qaeda or an al-Qaeda affiliate, but it is often forgotten that ISIS, notwithstanding its expulsion from al Qaeda in 2014, still reveres bin Laden and regards itself as the terrorist leader's most faithful progeny.
Third, we know from the documents seized by the U.S. Navy SEALs at bin Laden's Abbottabad lair in May 2011 that he sought to rebrand al-Qaeda and endow it with a moniker that also reflected its political aims and was less pejorative than the movement's original name. With the emergence of groups like Jabhat al-Nusra (now Jabhat Fatah al-Sham); Ahrar al-Sham; the variety of entities in Libya, Yemen, Tunisia and elsewhere calling themselves one form of "Ansar" or another; and many other violent Salafist-jihadi groups who ascribe to al-Qaeda's ideology, and often follow the orders of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, but deliberately eschew the al-Qaeda designation, bin Laden's hopes in this respect have been realized as well. Even worse, these "jabhats" and "ansars" are often regarded in the regions in which they fight as more "moderate" and hence acceptable than ISIS. This is a pernicious and lamentable development, indeed.
Finally, in 2005 bin Laden was presented with a seven-stage strategy to reverse al-Qaeda's then-declining fortunes and launch it on a trajectory to inevitable victory. Today, the al-Qaeda movement is arguably right on schedule in having fulfilled the first four stages of this epic battle plan. Regardless of whether it will ever be realized or completed, for the time being this successful progression feeds al-Qaeda's narrative, polishes their image to new and greater luster, and enabled the movement founded by bin Laden nearly three decades ago to carry on their struggle by continuing to attract recruits and support (financial and otherwise)—thus ensuring al-Qaeda's survival, at least for the immediate future.
Would-be Reagan assassin John Hinckley Jr. is freed after 35 years
by Shawn Boburg
John W. Hinckley Jr., wearing a baseball cap and carrying a small bag, on Saturday afternoon stepped into his Williamsburg, Va., home — he can call it that now — 12,948 days after his attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan shook the country and prompted an enduring debate about crime and punishment.
Hinckley's court-ordered transition from a mental hospital in the District to a gated resort community, where he will live with his 90-year-old mother, has forced residents of this small town to grapple with an unsettling reality: Living among them is a former would-be assassin who, according to medical experts, has recovered and is no longer dangerous.
Thirty-five years after the shooting, and after scores of temporary visits by Hinckley, the town of 15,000 is decidedly ambivalent about its newest resident.
As Hinckley made his way in a black SUV from St. Elizabeths Hospital to Williamsburg on Saturday, Mary Lou Yeager, a 78-year-old widow who lives a few doors down, wondered about her safety.
Across town at a bookstore, where Hinckley has been spotted during past visits, Felix Brandon, 79, said he believes that Hinckley deserved to be in prison because what he did was “unpardonable.”
And at a recreation center where Hinckley likes to exercise, Tom Leitch, 56, said he thinks that Hinckley, now 61, is just “an old man who poses no threat.”
The responses reflect the challenge Hinckley faces in rejoining the community, a key factor in whether his move will be a success, according to medical experts.
At the time of the shooting, Hinckley was a troubled 25-year-old obsessed with actress Jodie Foster and the movie “Taxi Driver.” He began stalking Reagan and on March 30, 1981, shot him, along with White House press secretary James Brady, a U.S. Secret Service agent and a D.C. police officer. Brady suffered brain damage and died of his injuries in 2014. The others recovered.
Hinckley's successful insanity defense before a jury outraged the nation and prompted changes that narrowed the application of that legal strategy.
Some in Kingsmill, the gated community Hinckley will call home, are skeptical that he is no longer a threat.
“It's not a matter of forgiveness but a matter of security,” said Joe Mann, a vocal critic of the release who lives about a half-mile from Hinckley's mother.
Hinckley's longtime defense attorney, Barry Wm. Levine, called that “misplaced fear,” citing a lengthy court opinion based on medical experts who testified that Hinckley was stable and had been in remission for more than 27 years.
“If those people who have concerns were fully informed, they'd have nothing to worry about,” Levine said.
The high-profile release spotlights a segment of the population who typically go unnoticed: People who have settled back into autonomous lives after being found not guilty of violent crimes because of their severe mental illness.
In Virginia, 265 people are living in communities after being found not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity. In each case, the person was treated at a state mental hospital and released by mental-health and court officials with conditions. The vast majority of those people — 84 percent — had been charged with violent crimes, including murder and attempted murder, according to state officials.
State officials also said there has been a very low rate of recidivism since 1992, when Virginia began the reintegration program.
“We have had very few reoffenders,” said Michael Schaefer of Virginia's Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. “I can count them on one hand.”
In Hinckley's case, the judge imposed dozens of conditions on Hinckley's release. Among them: He must remain within 50 miles of Williamsburg, report to a psychiatric team there and continue to undergo treatment.
The judge also said that Hinckley could be sent back to St. Elizabeths if he relapses or violates the terms of his release.
Hinckley started his three-day visits to Williamsburg a decade ago. The length of his leave gradually increased as he made strides in rejoining the community.
Until Saturday, he was spending 17 days each month at his mother's home. He has gone bowling, attended lectures and concerts, and volunteered at a nearby church. But his initial attempts to join volunteer groups and get a job have been repeatedly rejected, according to court records.
He has, however, been embraced by the Unitarian Universalist Church, where he has volunteered as a landscaper and now sells donated books to benefit the church.
Les Solomon, president of the church and a mentor, said he hoped the experience will allow Hinckley to turn the book-selling into a part-time job.
“John loves books, and he is so appreciative of what we do,” said Solomon, who invites Hinckley to his home about once a month. “We feel there's an opportunity to be of service to him, and it's a very rewarding experience.”
Hinckley is also interested in music and photography and developed a fondness for cats at St. Elizabeths Hospital.
He told a therapist that the only thing he'd miss about the hospital were the stray cats he feeds every morning, according to court records. When he entered his home Saturday afternoon, a driver followed him with a small pet carrier.
Acquaintances and neighbors in Williamsburg described Hinckley as quiet and reserved. In the past, he has spent his unsupervised time at shopping centers, bookstores and cultural events.
“He tried hard to make friends, but when people found out who he was, they'd shut down,” said John J. Lee, a psychiatrist who monitored Hinckley during his first visits to Williamsburg in 2006 and 2007.
At a neighborhood picnic three years ago, Hinckley wore a baseball cap and dark sunglasses and kept to himself, said neighbor Jack Garrow. “He hardly said a word,” Garrow added. After the picnic, Garrow turned to his wife and said: “Do you know who that was?”
Garrow, a former rear admiral in the Navy, said he can't forgive Hinckley for what he did but that he trusts the courts.
Many others interviewed in Williamsburg were not so sure.
“We don't like it,” said John Kahler, 48, standing in his mother's driveway on Saturday, just down the street from the Hinckleys. “Look what he did to Brady. Look what he tried to do to the president. Then the guy gets loose?”
Hinckley's prior visits to Williamsburg were closely scrutinized. He has provided hour-by-hour itineraries of his activities for preapproval and has been trailed by Secret Service agents. He will continue to be monitored but will not have to submit the same accounting of his time.
Carol Jenkins, 80, was at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in the New Town shopping center Saturday, where Secret Service agents once spotted Hinckley perusing books about presidents and assassinations when he was supposed to be at the movies.
“I have mixed feelings,” she said. “On the one hand, I think you have to be held responsible for your actions. But I assume — you have to — that the folks involved in his case know what they're doing.”
Judge denies Boston Police Union injunction on body cameras
After no officers volunteered, the union asked a judge to halt the program until a new agreement could be negotiated
by Zuri Berry
BOSTON — A Suffolk County judge has denied the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association an injunction on the pilot body camera program, paving the way for the program to start on Monday next week.
The pilot program was scheduled to start last week. But after no officers volunteered, BPD Commissioner William Evans ordered 100 officers to wear the cameras. That prompted the association to ask a judge to issue an injunction to halt the program until a new agreement could be negotiated.
Associated Justice Douglas Wilkins wrote in his opinion that "nearly everyone involved found it surprising that no officers voluntarily submitted an application to participate" in the pilot program.
"Had the Union mobilized even a small part of its membership, the Pilot Program would have proceeded as a voluntary program, avoiding any (of) the negative impacts allegedly flowing from the Commissioner's orders," Wilkins wrote.
Union President Patrick Rose testified Tuesday that the city violated its agreement with the union when Evans assigned officers to what was supposed to be an all-volunteer program. Rose acknowledged that he told members not to volunteer for the program before the union had reached an agreement with the city. But he insisted that once the agreement was reached, he encouraged officers to volunteer.
"We know we're going to have cameras on ... all I ever looked for was an agreement that took care of the things we wanted to take care of," Rose said.
After the ruling, Rose said he was "disappointed" by the outcome.
"I am disappointed in the court's ruling, but I still believe asking for the injunction was the right thing to do," Rose said in a statement. “If we don't fight to preserve our collective bargaining rights, we could lose those rights. If we don't challenge the City when they violate signed agreements, then how can we enforce agreements in the future?"
Rose said the union is "committed" to working with the city and the police department so that the pilot program "does what it is supposed to do, while respecting the rights of citizens and police officers alike."
“I believe what we are going to find is that the body-worn cameras will highlight the good work that is done by the members of the BPPA every day to protect and serve the people who live, work and visit the City of Boston,” Rose said. “I am confident that the officers participating in this pilot program will bring the same dedication and professionalism to this new challenge as they do to every other aspect of policing.”
Kay Hodge, a lawyer for the city, suggested that the union deliberately failed to encourage its members to volunteer for the program earlier this week.
"We believe the union is here with unclean hands," she said.
Union attorney Susan Horwitz used the same phrase when referring to the city. "Talk about unclean hands," she said, referring to the decision by Evans to order officers to wear cameras.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said he was pleased with the ruling.
"The Boston Police Department will continue to be a leader in innovative, community-based policing, and I look forward to seeing the results of the body camera pilot program," Walsh said in a statement.
On 15th anniversary of 9/11, 'the grief never goes away'
by The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. marked the 15th anniversary of 9/11 on Sunday, with victims' relatives reading their names and reflecting on a loss that still felt as immediate to them as it was indelible for the nation.
Hundreds of victims' family members, survivors and dignitaries gathered at ground zero under an overcast sky that shrouded the 1,776-foot-tall top of One World Trade Center, the centerpiece of the rebuilt site.
"It doesn't get easier. The grief never goes away. You don't move forward — it always stays with you," said Tom Acquaviva, of Wayne, New Jersey, who lost his son Paul Acquaviva.
James Johnson, a retired New York City police sergeant who is now police chief in Forest City, Pennsylvania, came to ground zero for the first time since he last worked on the rescue and recovery efforts in early 2002.
"I've got mixed emotions, but I'm still kind of numb," he said. "I think everyone needs closure, and this is my time to have closure."
President Barack Obama was scheduled to speak at an observance at the Pentagon. Hundreds of people also were expected at a ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Nearly 3,000 people died when hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville on Sept. 11, 2001. It was the deadliest terror attack on American soil.
The 15th anniversary arrives in a country caught up in a combustible political campaign, and keenly focused on political, economic and social fissures.
But some at the ceremony pleaded for the nation to look past its differences.
"The things we think separate us really don't. We're all part of this one Earth in this vast universe," said Granvilette Kestenbaum, who lost her astrophysicist husband, Howard Kestenbaum. "We're all ordinary, and we're all special, we're all connected. We waste precious time by thinking otherwise."
The nation tries to put partisan politics on hold on the anniversary, and both Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican rival Donald Trump were at the anniversary ceremony at the World Trade Center. Neither candidate was expected to make public remarks at a ceremony where politicians have been allowed to attend, but not speak, since 2011.
Clinton and Trump also followed a custom of halting television ads for the day.
While ground zero and the nation around it are forever marked but greatly changed since 9/11, the anniversary ceremony itself has become one of the constants in how America remembers the attacks after 15 years.
Organizers included some additional music and readings Sunday to mark the milestone year. But they were keeping close to what are now traditions: moments of silence and tolling bells, an apolitical atmosphere and the hourslong reading of the names of the dead.
"This idea of physical transformation is so real here," Sept. 11 memorial President Joe Daniels said this week. But on this Sept. 11 itself, "bringing the focus back to why we did all this — which is to honor those that were lost — is something very intentional."
The simple, reverential observance may be the norm now, but city officials fielded about 4,500 suggestions — including a Broadway parade honoring rescue workers and a one-minute blackout of all of Manhattan — while planning the first ceremony in 2002.
Financial and other hurdles delayed the redevelopment of the Trade Center site early on, but now the 9/11 museum, three of four currently planned skyscrapers, an architecturally adventuresome transportation hub and shopping concourse and other features stand at the site. A design for a long-stalled, $250 million performing arts center was unveiled Thursday.
Around the Trade Center, lower Manhattan now has dozens of new hotels and eateries, 60,000 more residents and ever-more visitors than before 9/11.
Meanwhile, the crowd has thinned somewhat at the anniversary ceremony in recent years. But there's been no sustained talk of curtailing the ceremony.
Cathy Cava, who lost her sister, Grace Susca Galante, has attended all 15 years.
"I will keep coming as long as I am walking and breathing," Cava said, wearing a T-shirt with her sister's photo.
"I believe most of her spirit, or at least some of her spirit, is here. I have to think that way."
Biden reflects on 9/11: 'The nation didn't bend, it didn't break'
by Sarah B. Boxer
Ahead of the 15th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, Vice President Joe Biden reflected on the will of the American public not to falter despite the “incredibly devastating” attacks.
“The nation didn't bend, it didn't break,” he said.
Speaking to Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric, Biden praised the ability of Americans to “just get up,” even after further attacks, such as the Boston Marathon bombing and San Bernardino shooting. “I think elected officials so underestimate the grit, determination and absolute courage of the American people.”
On Sept. 11, 2001, Biden was a senator from Delaware and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“What was underestimated by everyone, I think, is the lingering consequences for the people, and the firefighters, the first responders, and now people who were just in the area,” said Biden.
Biden was speaking to Couric following an emotional appeal at the Stand Up to Cancer telecast in Los Angeles. Last year, his son Beau died of brain cancer at just 46.
“Speaking of cancer, there's mounting evidence that a lot of these folks are coming away with cancers, the consequence of being exposed to everything from the asbestos to the burning plastic, the whole range of things.”
More than 5,000 cases of cancer have been linked to the toxic dust that workers encountered in Lower Manhattan after the attacks, and the number is steadily rising according to CDC data.
Late last year, Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act, named for a New York City police officer who died of a respiratory disease attributed to his search-and-rescue efforts after the attacks. The $8.1 billion law is intended to cover anyone who suffers from diseases related to service in the aftermath of Sept. 11.
On Sunday, the vice president is planning to participate in a pregame ceremony with first responders to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks at the Philadelphia Eagles-Cleveland Browns NFL game in Philadelphia.
Why I Serve
How 9/11 Impact4e3d the Lives of ICE Employees
(Videos on site)
The motivation and commitment of ICE employees is tantamount to the agency's continued success safeguarding the American people and countering terrorism. These are some of their personal stories from 9/11.
For U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees, the prevention of another 9/11 is the reason many go to work each day. The very existence of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and ICE, is the result of the worst terrorist attack on American soil.
Ken Genalo vividly recalls the scene at Ground Zero fifteen years ago as a volunteer first responder with the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service's Special Response Team in Newark, New Jersey: the turmoil, the smoke, the smell of burning in the air.
Yet these days Genalo, now the assistant field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in Newark, talks about his memories with a different focus – one of inspiration.
Inspiration in the form of the camaraderie among the law enforcement community whose members rushed into the devastation without hesitation.
“We were all there; it didn't matter what state we were from, it didn't matter what agency we were from – local, state, or federal – everyone left what they were doing in order to come here and help the City of New York in a time of great need,” he said.
Inspiration in the form of his motivational message to his current employees.
“I use 9/11 as a motivational factor for myself, in the way that I preach my supervision to my delegates, my subordinates, my managers. And I want them to also use 9/11 as a motivational factor because it shows how important that the job and the mission is for ICE ERO to keep the homeland safe. And the bottom line is that we must protect the people of the country, and then at the end of the day we all must go home to our families.”
And finally, inspiration in the form of personal pride to work for ICE.
“I'm 25 years with the Immigration Naturalization Service beforehand, and now ICE ERO,” he said. “I'm very proud of the job. It's an important job that we do. And a lot of it is to keep the country safe, keep the people of the United States safe, and to protect them from terrorism, protect them from public safety issues, criminals …”
“On 9/11 I was having breakfast with a Pearl Harbor survivor and he said to me, ‘This will be your generation's Pearl Harbor.' And I sincerely believe that,” he said.
Barrett Weiser, now a section chief with ICE's Office of Professional Responsibility, was a Naval reservist on active duty at the time of the attacks.
Weiser worked in recovery and salvage of the Pentagon site working with the FEMA logistics team. His job was to stabilize the building, recover bodies, and help those who needed it. He later moved to the Pentagon Family Assistance Center, located in Arlington, Virginia, where he helped care for the families of the people killed on 9/11, whether they were from American Airlines or from the Pentagon.
He recalled the strength of the families he worked with: “I was honored and privileged to work with them. These families took the tragic and sudden loss of their loved ones with so much grace and so much elegance. Probably other than being a parent, it was the most rewarding experience in my life.”
Weiser reflected on the significance of the 9/11 memorials: “the Rabbis tell us when you're born, your book of life is opened. And all the years of your life the angels write in that book but your book doesn't close when you die. It stays open as long as one person remembers your name. And these memorials help us to remember these people's names.”
Caroline Clark was in eighth grade on 9/11 but remembers her mother crying and the general confusion of the day. She reflects on how those events changed how her generation thought and learned about history: “I think as a millennial, the world changed for us in the way of insecurity. Because growing up, world history classes, American politics classes had to be changed. And to understand that the United States wasn't the world superpower, that we could be attacked in our homeland just like Pearl Harbor. It was a weird time to grow up.”
The impact of 9/11 was a large influence on Clark's career choice, “I decided in law school that national security and immigration were the subjects that were the most interesting to me.” She uses the impact of 9/11 to inform her daily work with ICE as an immigration attorney with OPLA. “Every day when I go into the courtroom I'm able to make arguments for the United States about how this individual can pose a threat to national security, how this individual can harm our community, why their criminal records are serious, and why they need to remain detained while they pursue their immigration case before an immigration judge.”
On 9/11, Scott Weems was assigned to the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, New York, as a detention enforcement officer. As an officer in New York City, Weems was used to hearing about accidents involving aircraft in the City so he was not alarmed when he first heard about a plane hitting the World Trade Center, “On a cloudy overcast day sometimes the tops of the Towers would be covered by clouds and fog cover. I just assumed it was a small plane that lost its way and might have clipped the Tower.”
He started to watch the coverage on television and said to himself, “That was not a small plane. It was an airliner.”
Weems often thinks of the generational impact 9/11 will have on future Americans. “I think about the children,” he says, “I think about the children that were in the classroom with President Bush and the children who survived their parents and their brothers and their sisters and I imagine it's hard to have to live your life under that kind of shadow.”
As a then-detention enforcement officer, one thing Weems said he will never forget were the detainees, both immigration detainees and U.S. Marshal prisoners facing sentencing that came up to him in the days that followed, asking if they could give blood or help by digging at Ground Zero.
“Of course it was not allowed at the time, but it struck me that at one of America's most dire moments, individuals that we were in the process of separating from their families and moving from this country, or about to be incarcerated because of criminal offenses they committed, were still offering to help those in need,” he said.
“A loud boom behind me” is how Wen-Ting Cheng experienced 9/11. She was in her office which faced the World Trade Center from the northeast. She turned around and saw ten floors of the World Trade Center on fire.
The terror she felt while evacuating her building was palpable. She remembers; “There were people everywhere, there was a lot of chaos and confusion.” Despite the building being on fire, Cheng did not think that the Tower could come down.
Wen-Ting Cheng is the chief counsel for Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) in New York City.
“There was certainly a feeling that life as we knew it would never be the same again,” she said.
She strongly felt that she wanted to do something to help.
“I certainly had a feeling that I had to do something. I had been with the federal government for several years at that point, but what working for the government meant to me before 9/11 and after 9/11 were two entirely different things. After 9/11, the pride that I had in working for the government has carried me for the following decade and a half.” She said it's driven her to be the best that she can be in her career and seek new challenges.
“It's given me the perspective to realize that, you know, what I do on a daily basis is immensely important. And I'm part of a fabric, a greater web of law enforcement that protects the people of the United States. What carries me through is knowing how what I do makes a difference – a very big difference. Working for ICE is a tremendous source of pride for me,” she said.
EAD Peter Edge:
Peter Edge, Executive Associate Director of HSI, remembers a perfect day on 9/11. He decided to take the morning off and spend time with his young daughter.
As a special agent with the U.S. Customs Service, he was called in as a first responder and was immediately looking through “a pile of rubble” for survivors. Working in the extreme heat had an unexpected consequence, “all the agents in my group found ourselves walking funny. Our soles had melted a little bit from the heat of the pile.”
While there were some surprises, employees had prepared for emergency circumstances. EAD Edge described how his colleagues had special training: “We were very lucky because in 1993 when the World Trade Center was bombed, there was a lot of smoke. And after that, we practiced regular drills, fire drills, and evacuation drills from that building. So our people in the office were very used to the evacuation process. We were very fortunate that we didn't lose anybody that day.”
EAD Edge described what motivates him to serve the ICE mission and public: “A commitment to my fellow man. I mean—we are here to serve and protect. We take an oath as law enforcement officers, and it's very important to recognize that oath and act upon it. That rolls into working together and being a team. And never forgetting that, you know, you don't do this job by yourself. Our job is to go into harm's way when everyone is evacuating.”
The fact that her mother was supposed to be at the Pentagon gives Jennifer Fenton, ICE's Inspections and Detention Oversight Division director, a lot to think about when it comes to 9/11. “She was supposed to be at the building; my mom should have been at the Pentagon,” she recalled. Her mother was delayed in getting to the office and was not there when the plane hit.
Fenton was a law student on 9/11 and in her shock learning about the attack on the Pentagon, she realized her mother's old office space was located where the plane hit. She remembered; “The wedge that ultimately was hit was her office space; that was my mom's office space.”
Waiting for news about her mother was difficult. “We waited, and waited, and waited over four hours to hear from my mom. She had to walk back to Crystal City to her office. She made it back and the first thing she did was call me.”
Fenton strongly believes in the strength of ICE and how it continues to expand its mission.
“The mission of the department and of the agency is unparalleled. I come from a place where I know this work is hard and it can be trying, but the benefit that we bring to this country in an effort to prevent what almost happened to me that day is significant. Never again; not on my watch.”
Dennis Carroll was working as a splicing foreman for Verizon on 9/11. On that day, he was going about his normal routine checking on his employees in the field
He remembers watching the television coverage after the World Trade Center Towers collapsed: “I was just amazed at what had happened…sitting at home watching the guys down here trying to find survivors. Being home, but not being able to do anything was very frustrating. And I know I'm not the only one that felt that way. There are a lot of people I worked with that felt the same way.”
Carroll knew that he wanted to join law enforcement after 9/11 and is now an ERO deportation officer assigned to the Violent Criminal Alien Section in New York.
“After that day, I knew I had to make a change,” he said, “and I wanted to make a change in the best way I could and come to law enforcement.”
Within two weeks, Carroll was looking for a federal job online and started with ICE in 2005. He is confident he did the right thing: “My job now I love. I wake up every morning and I don't hit the snooze. I mean you could, but I'm making a change. We're out there arresting bad guys and making the community safe. And that's the best I could ask for.”
Darren Williams is the ERO assistant field office director in New York. On 9/11, he was reviewing immigration files in his office in Jamaica, Queens, about two blocks west of John F. Kennedy International Airport. After 9/11, he was reassigned to Federal Plaza in lower Manhattan with the National Fugitive Operations Program as one of the first eight original teams. In 2003, his team was rolled into ICE.
“After 9/11 more people came up to us and were proud, including my family, you know? ‘Hey, my son works for the government,' I mean, it was a big deal.”
He said he believes that ICE is critically important to the security of the nation.
A New York City police officer on 9/11, Ulrich was dispatched to Ground Zero right away. Ulrich, now a deportation officer with ERO, remembers the huge pile of rubble: “There was a mound of rubble anywhere between fifteen and twenty stories high. It was smoking. I remember the smell. They formed a bucket brigade from the top to the bottom, probably 400 cops on each line and we handed down rubble bucket by bucket.”
Ulrich recalled, “As we went through the rubble, some people were identified through their shield numbers or their nameplates or, you know, the serial numbers on their guns.” Ulrich attended thirty-seven funerals in the months after 9/11.
He was encouraged and inspired by an early visit from President George Bush: “I was proud to be an American and I was glad to hear what he had to say. He was going to do whatever he needed to do for the United States to bring the people to justice that were responsible for it. It was good to hear the Commander-in-Chief say that.”
Doug Nagel was struck by the changes in law enforcement in the months following 9/11, “For law enforcement it was a huge change. For our country's security posture it was a massive change. We went from a posture of what we thought was pretty tight, and within a matter of three years we had completely rewritten all the security postures. We were doing things at a much higher level than we had ever done before.”
Nagel now works in D.C. with ICE as an inspection and compliance specialist.
“At any given moment, something catastrophic could happen. It's happened here in the D.C. area in the past. But now on the grand scheme of security you really have to pay attention to what you do whether you are riding the metro, the train, or if you're just commuting in traffic, you just have to be very vigilant.”
He believes steadfastly in the ICE mission: “It's my belief that ICE is truly important because the mission that they have is to help identify criminal threats that are coming across the border…prevent them from getting here in the first place hopefully, but if they're here, get them identified and get them removed.”
Karen Gregori Dove:
Karen Gregori Dove is the assistant director of the Workers Compensation Program for the Office of Human Capital within ICE's Management and Administration (M&A) directorate. On 9/11, she was at the INS office on 425 I Street in Washington, D.C. She witnessed the damage from the plane hitting the Pentagon: “We looked out the window and we could see plumes of thick black smoke, which appeared to be coming from the Department of Justice, the Main Justice building, and we didn't know what was quite frankly happening.”
Dove explained how the event impacted her career. “It gave me more pride and passion in working for a law enforcement agency,” she said. “It made me feel proud that, okay, I'm part of this bigger thing; protecting the country, the citizens, and helping others throughout the world.”
Reggie Irby has always linked his experience as a firefighter to helping others. A firefighter in Philadelphia, Irby and his colleagues were called to help in New York soon after 9/11. As part of a critical incident stress debriefing team, he ended up speaking with many firefighters about their experiences post-9/11, “So once I got to New York and we went down to Ground Zero, and we had a mission to go out and talk to those firefighters, it hit me. You know? I'd seen what had happened. I'd seen the devastation. Everything was in shambles. All the buildings around were pretty much destroyed. And from that point on, you know, I knew I had to – what I had to do.”
He continued: “So as I walked around Ground Zero, they had staging areas and firefighters were sitting there with that 30-mile stare. And I would walk and I'd sit down, talking to them if they wanted to talk. Some did. I also talked to firefighters who really expressed their feelings, talking about how the pressure from all of this searching and, you know, dealing with people was starting to affect them already… I listened to those guys and listened to how bad they wish they could have done something else or wish they would have been there instead of the other firefighters – and I heard that a lot.”
Irby is now a lead employee relations specialist with the Office of Human Capital in M&A.
“I'm the type of guy who is part of the team,” he said. “I work in Human Resources, but I get to help managers manage their employees. And the job they have is a stressful job, and these guys are working around the world and things are happening.”
Gas tanks and Arabic documents found in unmarked car by Paris' Notre Dame cathedral spark terror fears
by Henry Samuel
Gas tanks and documents in Arabic were found in an unmarked car next to Notre Dame cathedral, sparking fresh terror fears and at least four arrests, according to French reports.
A couple known to intelligence services as being "favourable to the ideas of Isil" were arrested on Tuesday night on their way to Spain, after an anti-terror investigation was launched following the discovery of the suspicious vehicle containing up to seven cylinders on Sunday yards from the cathedral - one of Paris's most visited landmarks.
A second couple was detained overnight on Wednesday.
Documents in Arabic were reportedly found inside the car outside the cathedral and were "in the process of being translated".
The car, a Peugeot 607 with no number plates, contained no explosives or detonators, according to French reports. "They were not linked to any kind of fuse," one source close to the investigation told l'Express. Its warning lights were on.
According to BFM TV, one empty canister was found in the back of the car and six full ones in the boot. The type of gas they contained was not specified.
The car had been abandoned just yards from Notre Dame, located on the Île de la Cité, by the river Seine.
The first couple, a man aged 34 and a woman aged 29, were arrested on a motorway lay-by near Orange, southern France. The pair were being questioned by French domestic intelligence agents who can hold them for 96 hours without charges under French anti-terror laws.
The second pair was picked up near Montargis, about 110 kilometres south of Paris.
The daughter of the car's owner, described by her father as being radicalised, is also wanted for questioning, police said.
Police were alerted to the car when a resident rang in to say a vehicle had been poorly parked at 43 rue de la Bûcherie in the 5th arrondissement with its headlights on.
Although unmarked, investigators quickly traced the car to its owner, who Reuters reported is on a French list of potential terror suspects and "has been identified, arrested and placed in custody".
"We think that this person was conducting a test," one police source told Reuters. "The fact that there was no detonating device linked to the gas tanks and that the warning lights were left on are as if they were trying to attract attention."
Bernard Cazeneuve, the interior minister, declined to comment specifically on the arrest. But he said praised the "extreme vigilance" of police and intelligence who are working "with an unrivaled intensity" in the context of "an extremely high threat".
"Since the start of the year, we have arrested 260 people, most of them incarcerated, a significant number of whom were preparing attacks that could have led to tragedies," said the minister.
But Florence Berthout, centre-Right mayor of Paris' 5th arrondissement, said she had been informed on Monday that the vehicle had "remained stationary for almost two hours" despite being in a zone where parking is "forbidden".
"We have security forces who are tired and who don't have the power of ubiquity. We need to boost the numbers (in such) highly highly-frequented historic districts," she said.
Paris has been high terror alert since the November 13 attacks in which 130 people were killed and French intelligence services have been warning for months about the threat of car bombings.
In May Patrick Calvar, head of France's intelligence service, DGSI, told MPs that he was "convinced" that Isil would "move to the booby-trapped cars stage and explosive devices and that they will move up the scale in this way".
"We risk being confronted with a new form of attack: a terrorist campaign characterised by placing explosive devices in places where large crowds are gathered, and multiplying this type of action to create a climate of panic.
"Once they have bomb makers in place on our soil, they'll be able to avoid sacrificing fighters while creating maximum damage," he said at a parliamentary national defence committee meeting.
Thibault de Montbrial, president of the domestic intelligence think tank, CRSI, said: "A certain number of recent discoveries are considered by analysts to be 'tests' that may prefigure future attacks".
This week, François Molins, the Paris prosecutor, warned that while Isil - which claimed responsibility for the attacks - was losing ground in Syria and Iraq, the threat of terror strikes in Western Europe was ironically "reinforced" as the jihadist group sought to lash out.
One "worrying factor", he told Le Monde, was the threat of the return to France of around 2,000 French nationals either on their way to Syria or wishing to return. Some 700-odd are currently in Syria, he estimated.
In recent months, Mr Molins said, judges had noted "an acceleration of cases of young female minors with very worrying profiles, very harsh personalities. The are sometimes behind terror projects that from an intellectual standpoint, are starting to be very well thought-out."
Mr Cazeneuve said in recent days that French security services had arrested seven terror suspects in the month of August, including three that were in the process of planning an attack.
On Tuesday, Manuel Valls, the prime minister, warned: "The terror threat has never been so high."
FAA Warns Airline Passengers Not to Use Samsung Smartphone
by The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — U.S. aviation safety officials took the extraordinary step late Thursday of warning airline passengers not to turn on or charge a new-model Samsung smartphone during flights following numerous reports of the devices catching fire.
The Federal Aviation Administration also warned passengers not to put the Galaxy Note 7 phones in their checked bags, citing "recent incidents and concerns raised by Samsung" about the devices. It is extremely unusual for the FAA to warn passengers about a specific product.
Last week, Samsung ordered a global recall of the jumbo phones after its investigation of explosion reports found the rechargeable lithium batteries were at fault. In one case, a family in St. Petersburg, Florida, reported a Galaxy Note 7 phone left charging in their Jeep caught fire, destroying the vehicle.
Australian airline companies were among the first to take measures. Qantas has asked passengers not to switch the Note 7 devices on and not to charge them during flights, its spokeswoman Sharna Rhys-Jones said. Media reports said other Australian airlines took a similar step, including Jetstar Airways and Virgin Australia.
Shares of Samsung suffered their second worst day of the year, tumbling 4 percent Friday on the Korea Exchange.
Samsung launched the latest version of the Note series in August. The Note series is one of the most expensive lineups released by Samsung, and the devices usually inherit designs and features of the Galaxy S phones that debut in the spring. Samsung also added an iris scanner to the Note 7, which detects patterns in users' eyes to unlock the phone.
Before the issue of battery explosions emerged, supplies were not keeping up with higher-than-expected demand for the smartphone.
The Note 7 isn't the only gadget to catch fire thanks to lithium-battery problems, which have afflicted everything from laptops to Tesla cars to Boeing's 787 jetliner.
Rechargeable lithium batteries are more susceptible to overheating than other types of batteries if they are exposed to high temperatures, are damaged or have manufacturing flaws. Once the overheating starts, it can lead to "thermal runaway" in which temperatures continue escalating to very high levels. Water can extinguish the flames, but doesn't always halt the thermal runaway. Flames will often reappear after initially being quenched.
Lithium batteries are ubiquitous in consumer electronic devices. Manufacturers like them because they weigh less and pack considerably more energy into the same space than other types of batteries.
Earlier this year, the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency that sets global aviation safety standards, banned bulk shipments of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries as cargo on passenger planes until better packaging can be developed to prevent a fire from spreading and potentially destroying the plane.
US appoints first federal cybersecurity head
by Joe Uchill
The White House on Thursday named retired Brig. Gen. Gregory J. Touhill the first-ever Federal Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).
The announcement was made by Tony Scott, the federal chief technology officer, and J. Michael Daniel, the special assistant to the president and White House cybersecurity coordinator, in a joint blog post.
Touhill is the current deputy assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications in the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications at the Department of Homeland Security. He will report to Scott in the post, which was created in February as part of the the Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP).
Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) praised the appointment in a written statement.
“I fully support the Administration's selection of General Touhill as the inaugural federal CISO, as he has a proven record of managing cybersecurity processes both with the Air Force and the Department of Homeland Security,” Langevin wrote.
A three-decade service member in Air Force, Touhill last served as director of command of Control, Communications and Cyber Systems at U.S. Transportation Command, where he was “responsible for the planning, integration, operations and maintenance of U.S. transportation command's [command, control, communications and cyber systems],” according to his 2013 Air Force bio.
Touhill holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Penn State University and a master's degree in systems management from the University of Southern California.
In the job posting for the CISO position, Touhill's upcoming role was described as the senior Office of Management and Budget official “responsible for advising OMB and agencies on federal cybersecurity policy strategy and oversight across federal information technology systems,” advising on policy, recruitment and security practices across federal agencies.
“Touhill has his work cut out for him. While the federal government has taken important steps to better secure its networks throughout President Obama's time in office, too many components continue to fail to properly assess their cybersecurity risk and thus underinvest in attack prevention, mitigation, and resilience,” wrote Langevin in his statement.
The White House also appointed the first Touhill's staff member. Grant Schneider, the current director of cybersecurity policy at the National Security Council, will serve as acting deputy CISO.
Describing the deputy CIO position in the blog post, Scott and Daniel explained the post, at least in part, will address the strange timing of his appointment — with the coming election, it is unclear what happens to Touhill in just a matter of months.
“In creating the CISO role, and looking at successful organizational models across government, it became apparent that having a career role partnered with a senior official is not only the norm but also provides needed continuity over time,” the blog explained.
14-year-old Kentucky boy gives homeless man the shoes off his feet
by Jennifer Earl
This 14-year-old boy may not call himself a “hero,” but in the eyes of at least one homeless man in West Louisville, Kentucky, that's exactly what he is.
Laron Tunstill, who is nicknamed “Ron Ron,” was with the non-profit group PURP - an organization that's “dedicated to help kids find their purpose” - doing homeless outreach on Labor Day when he spotted a man wearing shoes covered in holes.
Without exchanging any words, the boy sat down next to the older man, untied his shoes and handed them over.
At first, the man said “No.” But Ron Ron insisted.
“He was poor. So, you know, I just did what I had to do,” Ron Ron told CBS News.
An image of the pair went viral on Facebook with nearly 8,000 shares.
“Today a 14 year old from West Louisville, KY gave his shoes off of his feet to a homeless man!” the nonprofit posted on Monday. “While other 14 year olds are shooting and joining gangs Ron Ron is living out his purpose in life.”
Jason Reynolds, the founder of PURP, said Ron Ron comes from a crime-ridden neighborhood. He's been watching the teen grow into a fine young man over the past three years that he's been with the organization.
“When I first met him, he was wild,” he joked. “Now, three years later, he's finally coming around. He's going around and spreading love and trying to help others spread love.”
Hundreds of people commented on the post, praising the boy for his selfless act.
“This is awesome, I was always taught it's better to give then receive,” one Facebook user commented.
“What an awesome Ky teen - many people live their whole life without discovering the best part of living,” another replied.
Ron Ron says he was “just doing the right thing.”
On Wednesday, the group created a GoFundMe account with a goal of $5,000. Within 24 hours, the group has already received $690 in donations.
The money will go toward buying “Ron Ron” a new pair of shoes and possibly a bus that can help kids do more outreach in the community, Reynolds said.
NFL commissioner doesn't agree with Kaepernick's actions
Roger Goodell recognizes the quarterback's right to protest, but doesn't agree with his actions
by Barry Wilner
NEW YORK — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell disagrees with Colin Kaepernick's choice to kneel during the national anthem, but recognizes the quarterback's right to protest.
Asked by The Associated Press about Kaepernick's decision not to stand before games when the national anthem is played, Goodell said in an email Wednesday: "I don't necessarily agree with what he is doing."
"I support our players when they want to see change in society, and we don't live in a perfect society," Goodell added. "On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that."
Goodell added that NFL players having a visible platform for their viewpoints. With that comes responsibility to use those platforms properly.
"We have to choose respectful ways of doing that so that we can achieve the outcomes we ultimately want and do it with the values and ideals that make our country great," said Goodell, whose late father, Charles, was a U.S. senator.
"I think it's important to have respect for our country, for our flag, for the people who make our country better; for law enforcement; and for our military who are out fighting for our freedoms and our ideals."
The San Francisco 49ers quarterback wouldn't stand for the anthem at the team's preseason games, with teammate Eric Reid and Seattle's Jeremy Lane doing the same. Kaepernick has cited racial injustice and police brutality among the many reasons for his actions and said he plans to continue to not stand for the anthem during the regular season.
Kaepernick said Wednesday on his Instagram account that he will donate all the money he receives from his jersey sales to charity to thank fans for their support. He said he's pleased his 49ers jersey has become the top seller in the NFL since his protest became public.
The 49ers open their season at home against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night.
Also in reaction to Kaepernick's actions:
— U.S. hockey coach John Tortorella said he'd bench any player who stays seated during the national anthem. Tortorella, who will coach the United States at the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, told ESPN : "If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game."
— New York Jets receiver Brandon Marshall spoke out on WFAN Radio, saying he disagreed with host Boomer Esiason, who had criticized Kaepernick.
"The only thing I would love for everyone to really think about is: What does the American flag mean to them? When I look at the American flag, I see a bunch of fights — how much we have overcome," Marshall said.
Marshall said he'd stand for the national anthem this weekend, but he didn't criticize Kaepernick's actions.
Waterloo calls on community policing expert
by Tim Jamison
WATERLOO — A retired North Carolina homicide detective is coming to Waterloo this week to help rebuild bridges between the community and law enforcement.
Garry McFadden, whose community relations initiatives with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department have won national awards and an invitation to the White House, is scheduled to be in town Wednesday through Saturday.
The public will be invited to a community round table discussion jointly sponsored by the Waterloo Police Department, local NAACP chapter and Mayor Quentin Hart from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the Waterloo Center for the Arts.
“I'm passionate about this,” McFadden said. “My concept and my approach is going to be totally different.”
Hart and Safety Services Director Dan Trelka visited McFadden in Charlotte last month and got approval from City Council members to spend up to $2,500 for his trip to Waterloo.
The 35-year veteran police officer now works on community initiatives in Charlotte and as a consultant. He said he's versed on troubles facing Waterloo, including neighborhood violence and several lawsuits brought by African-American residents claiming police abuse.
“Both sides want to be treated equally — law enforcement wants to be treated fairly and the community wants to be treated fairly,” McFadden said. “I'm going to make sure everybody understands it's going to take more than what you believe to make it work.”
McFadden plans to meet with neighborhood organization leaders, two police department shifts, council members, the NAACP, Human Rights Commission, Eastside Ministerial Alliance and others during his stay.
On Friday, he plans trips around the community to meet “people who are not at the table.”
LaTanya Graves, president of the local NAACP chapter, hopes McFadden's trip can help resolve a growing chasm of trust between police and the black community.
“I've been getting calls and a lot of people are upset about what they've seen,” she said. “A lot of people are saying they don't hold officers accountable for going overboard.”
Graves said she's urging people not to be discouraged. She was encouraged the police and NAACP to work together to host the round table discussion.
Mayor Hart said he's been working on a community policing initiative since taking office in January but didn't have funding for training and McFadden's visit until the new budget year in July.
But he said McFadden's visit is very relevant given the lawsuits and concerns raised both about shootings and the police lawsuits.
“We've had some bumps along the way and may have some more,” he said. “In times like now we need to work as hard as we can to build up trust and make a change for the future.
“Community policing is more than just an officer walking up and waving at someone in a store. It's a philosophy, an approach,” Hart added. “It has to start with the community; it has to start with our police department.”
Some television viewers may recognize McFadden, who has been featured on “America's Most Wanted,” “The First 48” and “The Justice Files.” The Investigative Discovery channel presented a series “I Am Homicide” this year, which focused on several of his cases.
A “cops and barbers” program McFadden started with three local barbers focused on community relations was cited as a top 10 initiative by President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing in 2015.
Police chief ushers in new approach to community policing and robberies, burglaries decrease
Robberies are down roughly 50% as compared to last year
by Carolyn Blackburne
Martinsburg Police Chief Maury Richards has been serving the city for a little under a year. Under his leadership, officers have embraced a fresh take on community policing.
“That's creating a partnership with police and the citizens of this community. Not only to fight crime, but to make our neighborhoods safer. It's working very well,” Chief Richards said.
After a crime spike of 75% more robberies in 2015 as compared to 2014, the crime is down roughly 50% this year. Burglaries are also on the decline. There have been 127 burglaries so far in 2016, and 190 burglaries in the first three quarters of 2015. That is a decrease of 33% as compared to last year. During the period of January 1 st to September 1 st in 2016, there have been 12 total robberies in Martinsburg as compared to 23 in the same time period of 2015. There has also been a decrease in strong arm robberies from 18 in 2015 to 9 in 2016.
“We've taken a really focused approach following up on these crimes, doing better interviews, getting more assistance from the community, targeting some of these serial criminals.”
Chief Richards said it is a combination of building a stronger relationship with the community, diligently following up on crimes, and getting drugs off the streets.
“The crimes of robberies, burglaries, and selling drugs on the street are something we're going after aggressively and because of the great partnership we have with the citizens of this community we've had great success.”
Also new this year, officers are online reaching out to the public. Authorities said it is easier than ever to submit a tip, just click here.
Officers are also using this new approach to arrest drug dealers. At least 30 drug dealers have been arrested since May of this year.
“That is our focus is to get drug dealers off the streets and give a very clear message: if you're going to sell drugs in Martinsburg, we're going to lock you up.”
Chief Richards anticipates that crime will continue to drop in the coming months and eventually the number of burglaries will decrease by more than 33 percent by the end of the year.
SC officer who fatally shot teen fired without notice
Attorneys for Police Lt. Mark Tiller say he was given almost no notice before Police Chief John Covington said in a news release that Tiller would be fired
by Jeffrey Collins
COLUMBIA, S.C. — A police officer who is being fired more than a year after shooting an unarmed teen in a case that prosecutors decided not to pursue has not been told why he is losing his job, his lawyer said Tuesday.
Seneca Police Lt. Mark Tiller was given almost no notice before Police Chief John Covington announced in a news release Saturday that Tiller would be fired at the end of the week, attorney John Mussetto said.
"Chief Covington has only referred to this as a 'personnel matter' and has given no further details on the termination," Mussetto said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.
Covington used the same language in the news release. Tiller will remain on the city's payroll until Friday.
The lieutenant has been in law enforcement for a decade and worked in Seneca since 2010. His firing doesn't mean he can't find another job as an officer, under South Carolina law.
Tiller was helping with a drug sting in a fast-food restaurant parking lot in July 2015 when he went to arrest Hammond and his passenger.
Tiller said he shot at the moving car because Hammond was about to run him over and he feared for his life. But video from his patrol car showed him move toward Hammond's car, grab the front fender and fire his gun after the car moved past.
While Tiller might have made a bad decision heading toward Hammond's moving car, the officer had less than three seconds to react and broke no law, Solicitor Chrissy Adams said in October after deciding not to charge the officer.
Federal authorities are still investigating the shooting. Hammond's family agreed to a $2.1 million settlement with the city of Seneca.
Hammond's family released its own statement about Tiller's firing, calling him a rogue officer whose unjustified actions tarnished the reputations of the vast majority of good officers.
"With each passing day the Hammonds never lost hope that Lt. Tiller would in the future never again have the highest honor of serving the public as a police officer, wear the uniform and carry a weapon," the family's statement read.
Tiller was assigned to training classes up until August, including one course titled "De-escalation: Surviving Verbal Conflict." He completed four training classes after the July 2015 shooting, according to his South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy records.
Tiller's first job was with West Pelzer police, where he was employed from January 2006 to August of that year. From August 2006 until June 2007, he worked for Clemson University police, then in June 2007 he joined the Clemson city police, where he worked until being hired by the Seneca police department in January 2010.
Experts question NC trooper's tatics in fatal shooting
Experts say high-speed chases can trigger physiological changes in the drivers that can affect their decision-making
by Michael Gordon
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two experts in law enforcement training say a North Carolina state trooper's decision to mount a high-speed chase that ended with the fatal shooting of a Charlotte deaf man may have escalated the incident beyond what was needed to make a safe arrest.
The Aug. 18 hot pursuit down Interstate 485 ended not far from Daniel Harris' home in northeast Charlotte when the 29-year-old was killed by Trooper Jermaine Saunders after he left his car and fled.
Saunders had chased Harris' car for some eight miles at speeds reaching 100 mph after the trooper said he clocked Harris' Volvo going 88 in a 70 mph zone. Saunders had also rammed Harris' car on a busy interstate exit ramp onto Rocky River Road in an attempt to stop his flight.
No bystanders were injured. But experts say high-speed chases pose a significant but less obvious risk: Triggering physiological changes in the drivers that can affect their decision-making. Police trainers call it "the adrenaline dump."
"There's a sensory overload involved in a pursuit. The adrenaline amps up. You get tunnel vision," said Jeff Lockaby, a former training officer for the Greenville County (S.C) Sheriff's Office. "These are such dynamic, fluid situations that can change with the flick of an eyelash. When things go bad, they go bad very fast."
Geoff Alpert, a nationally known expert in police training, says Saunders' decision to chase Harris for that long a distance appears to have aggravated the situation, with Harris speeding up rather than slowing down after Saunders put on his blue lights.
Alpert believes Saunders should have backed off as the chase dragged on, particularly since officers apparently knew Harris was heading to his family's home in the Seven Oaks neighborhood and had another officer waiting there when Harris arrived.
"The whole point is to get the guy to slow down," said Alpert, a University of South Carolina criminologist and frequent critic of hot pursuits. "Why chase? It doesn't make sense. If they knew where he lived, why did they not just go to the house?"
"Officers need to get to the point where they do not raise the risks to themselves, the public, even the bad guy. You don't know why he was running. All he's doing is speeding."
A state investigation continues, and Saunders, a 28-year-old with two years on the force, remains on administrative leave. The North Carolina Troopers Association, which reportedly has hired a lawyer for Saunders, did not respond to a phone call or email seeking comment.
What led to the shooting remains unknown. The use of lethal force is considered legally justified when officers have the reasonable fear of imminent death or serious injury to themselves or others.
Harris' family says he was unarmed and was afraid of police due to past misunderstandings involving his deafness. Harris had been arrested in three states for resisting arrest. He was convicted in Connecticut; the other charges were dropped.
He was shot within seconds of Saunders reporting "a jump and run," meaning Harris had left his car and was trying to flee.
Under North Carolina law, driving 18 miles over the speed limit can be considered reckless driving.
Jason Donath, the dead man's brother, said in an email to the Observer that the law enforcement response was excessive given Hariris' alleged violation.
"To me, it's incomprehensible that I lost my brother in such a senseless way," Donath said. "An officer that should be protecting my family ended up shooting my brother for speeding."
Better or worse?
North Carolina Highway Patrol policy classifies speeders among the traffic violators "who present a substantial continuing hazard to the public."
"These persons should be apprehended as quickly as possible, consistent with the exercise of due care for the public's safety," the policy says.
If a trooper launches a hot pursuit, the officer and a supervisor "shall constantly evaluate (the) decision to continue a chase."
That choice basically boils down to a decision. Which poses the bigger risk: Not stopping the suspects or continuing to chase them?
Most police chases still involve relatively minor offenses like speeding. Given the threat to officers, bystanders and suspects, several states and cities have reduced the justifiable circumstances for a hot pursuit.
In 2012, the Florida Highway Patrol restricted chases to suspected felons, drunk drivers and reckless drivers. The number of pursuits dropped by half, USA Today says. But more than a third of the chases in 2013 and 2014 violated the new standards, the paper said.
Lockaby says his 30-year law enforcement career included occasions when he was behind the wheel during hot pursuits and the monitoring supervisor back at the station for others.
"When I first started, it was the norm to pursue someone to bring them to justice, to account for their actions, and officers were under a lot of pressure to do that. But innocent bystanders often got caught in between," he said. "The profession has evolved."
At the Observer's request, he listened to the 19-minute recording of radio dispatches between Saunders, his dispatcher and his trooper supervisor during the pursuit of Harris.
In a series of emails, Lockaby commended the trooper's frequent updates on his location, traffic and road conditions. While Alpert criticized Saunders' tactical decision to ram Harris' car on the exit ramp to Rocky River Road -- calling it a significant risk to nearby motorists -- Lockaby described it as "a clear indication of an officer thinking and acting rationally vs. reacting."
The so-called precision immobilization technique, or PIT, is designed to stop a fleeing car by knocking it sideways.
"It's kind of hard to argue that the trooper wasn't in control if he executed a complex maneuver involving two moving vehicles," Lockaby said
He said Saunders sounded "calm and controlled throughout."
Yet, he added. "The 'shots fired' airs VERY quickly after the subject exits his Volvo. These incidents almost always escalate very quickly in unexpected ways, which is all the more reason for calm, cool heads deciding to chase or not."
Alpert and Lockaby wondered how the incident might have ended if Saunders had stopped chasing Harris and instead driven to his home at a later and calmer time to make the arrest.
Said Lockaby: "As an officer, you always have to ask yourself: Are my actions making this situation better or worse?"
Texas constable's office destroys thousands of pieces of evidence
Prosecutors say as many as 21,500 pieces of evidence could have been destroyed that led to erroneous jailing and convictions
by Lise Olsen and Brian Rogers
HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Federal investigators are working with local authorities to untangle the destruction of what prosecutors say could be as many as 21,500 pieces of evidence by the Precinct 4 constable's office that led to erroneous jailing or convictions of more than 150 defendants.
Federal officials have the authority to investigate if they determine the loss of evidence led to wrongful incarcerations -- a potential violation of federal civil rights laws.
"We are aware of the allegations, and are coordinating with local authorities," said Shauna Dunlap, an FBI spokesman. "If in the course of the local investigation, additional information arises indicating potential federal criminal violations, the FBI will take appropriate action."
Defense attorney Paul Morgan, whose case first drew public attention to the issue, called Tuesday for outside investigators to handle the probe, saying the Harris County District Attorney's office has a conflict of interest.
District Attorney Devon Anderson's public integrity section already is investigating problems that have affected both pending and recently prosecuted cases, but would welcome an outside audit and federal agencies' help as the scope of the problem continues to expand, said Jeff McShan, the office spokesman.
Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman, meanwhile, said he believes the agency's evidence problems are smaller than the DA has described and were limited to one "rogue employee" -- Corporal Chris Hess.
In a news conference broadcast live from his office in Spring on Tuesday, Herman painted a picture of a property room that was stuffed with evidence and a deputy who haphazardly cleaned out drugs, guns and other items over the course of weeks while other officers followed correct evidence destruction procedures.
Herman left open the possibility that Hess may face criminal charges.
"The problem was one employee and that employee has been fired," Herman said. "Whether it's accidental, negligent or intentional, the DA's office will find out. I assure you."
Calls to Hess' attorney, Burt Springer, were not immediately returned on Tuesday. But Springer said Friday that his client was wrongly singled out and blamed for the actions of an entire team of deputies who were not given clear orders. Springer said the errors were systemic and not Hess' fault.
Mostly drug cases
Hess is a master peace officer who has been with Precinct 4 since June 1991, according to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.
Herman emphasized that though he, too, is a longtime Precinct 4 employee, he only became constable in May, when former Precinct 4 Constable Ron Hickman was named Harris County sheriff.
Herman said his own internal affairs investigation began in March when the agency discovered evidence had been wrongly destroyed in 26 open drug cases. He said his agency immediately contacted the DA's office and found out only then that the public integrity section already had begun investigating problems affecting three open drug cases.
His office has since reviewed 7,761 items destroyed by Hess, but claimed problems appear limited to 861 items in 470 cases. Much of the rest of the destroyed evidence included stolen property and items related to cases that had been closed, Herman said.
DA 'playing politics'
Herman said the DA's larger estimate of 21,500 pieces of evidence relates to the desire to audit Hess' work back to at least 2007. Herman said he has already contacted an outside auditor to assist in that effort and he emphasized that he did not believe other employees participated in inappropriately destroying evidence, though he said others have left the department.
As part of his own review, Herman said he found that Hess had never properly obtained court orders needed to properly destroy weapons or drugs, as required under the Texas penal code.
In two letters sent Tuesday to the U.S. Attorney and various local officials, defense attorney Morgan called for a federal investigation and for Harris County commissioners and other officials to conduct their own independent financial and performance audit so that Harris County leaders -- and taxpayers -- can determine how much evidence was wrongly tossed since 2007.
"My biggest concern that I have with all of this is that we have an elected DA that's playing politics with other elected officials," Morgan said in an interview with the Chronicle. "We can't trust her to investigate herself. We need to see how big the scandal is -- and the right (entity) to get involved is the federal government."
Morgan's client was facing a 25-year sentence for a methamphetamine charge last month when Morgan learned on the eve of trial via an email message from a Precinct 4 lieutenant that the evidence had been destroyed.
Harris County commissioners did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Morgan's request for further audits. The Harris County Attorney's Office declined comment because the loss of evidence is already the subject of a criminal probe.
Herman said he welcomed an investigation by any other agency, but said his internal affairs division has not found wrongdoing by any others at the department.
"We've learned a good valuable lesson," he said. "Unfortunately, this guy was in a position where he could devastate a lot of people and he did it."
He noted that his agency recently passed an inspection in which the county's own auditors asked for officials to account for about 100 pieces of evidence out of the thousands that were in the property room.
Records show that Harris County Auditor Barbara Schott completed a review of Precinct 4 accounts in June -- a review that included the evidence room. Among other things, the auditor suggested that large amounts of cash stored in the evidence room should be more closely monitored and perhaps deposited instead of being held. But her report did not reflect any missing evidence or other significant problems.
Auditors visited Precinct 4 in late 2015 to do their review and were not later told of the irregularities that were found in March or of Hess' firing, though they were still compiling their report at the time.
"We had no knowledge of that. I didn't learn about those things until it was in the news," said Mark Ledman, chief assistant of the Harris County audit division.
507 Homicides in Chicago, Mayor Says No Comment
The nation's third-largest city passed a grim milestone during Labor Day weekend.
by Alan Neuhauser
He's pledged new initiatives to stop the violence and get guns off the streets, called for "more resources for our children" to stem the shootings.
In many ways, anti-violence activists say, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is saying the right things. But after another 13 people were killed in Chicago over Labor Day weekend, including a retired pastor, pushing the city's total homicides this year to 507, the Mayor's Office declined to comment, instead referring questions to the city's police department.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, in turn, blamed the violence on gangs, themselves fueled by what he described as entrenched social inequality and poverty.
"It's not a police issue, it's a society issue," he told reporters Tuesday. "Impoverished neighborhoods, people without hope do these kinds of things …. You show me a man that doesn't have hope, I'll show you one that's willing to pick up a gun and do anything with it."
The police department, he added, "is doing its job."
The tally of 507 killings was compiled by the Chicago Tribune, which has tracked every slaying this year. It includes homicides that spilled onto expressways – which fall under the jurisdiction of the State Police – and the kinds of justifiable homicides committed in self-defense. As a result, their count is slightly higher than the police department's official figure of 488.
Nonetheless, the city's murder rate is 50 percent higher than last year. There were 92 killings in August alone, Chicago's deadliest month in 23 years. The total number of people killed in Chicago so far this year eclipses the numbers for the nation's two largest cities – New York City and Los Angeles – combined.
"This is clearly an epidemic rise in violence," says Charlie Ransford, senior director of science and policy at Cure Violence, a Chicago-based nonprofit that treats violence like a health issue.
The surge in homicides, he pointed out, correlates with an abrupt cut in state funding in March 2015 for prevention programs like CeaseFire Illinois, a branch of Cure Violence. After 17 months of rising violence, notably a spike of 897 shootings through July, about $4.5 million was restored this summer for the program as part of a state budget stop-gap.
"It takes all of us to work on the issue. It takes police, it takes community, it takes all of us. The police can't do it alone," CeaseFire executive director Mark Payne says. "We need line item funding every year to deal with this issue because it's a pervasive issue."
It's also an issue that threatens to overwhelm other bright spots like "the hundreds of kids graduating and going to college for the first time," says Adam Alonso, executive director of the anti-violence group BUILD, or "the shooters and gang members who have turned their lives around and are mentoring young people to not do what they did."
Faced with more than 500 murders, he says, "It's appalling. I don't think there's anything else to say when you see numbers like that and you see the lives impacted in this way."
Top cop after violent holiday weekend: 'It's not a police issue, it's a society issue'
by Jeremy Gorner, Peter Nickeas, Elvia Malagon and Alexandra Chachkevitch
After another violent holiday weekend, Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Tuesday his department is doing all it can to combat violence rooted in "impoverished neighborhoods" where "people without hope do these kinds of things."
"It's not a police issue, it's a society issue," Johnson told reporters outside police headquarters after a long weekend that saw 65 people shot, 13 of them fatally.
"Impoverished neighborhoods, people without hope do these kinds of things," he said. "You show me a man that doesn't have hope, I'll show you one that's willing to pick up a gun and do anything with it.
"Those are the issues that's driving this violence. CPD is doing its job," he continued.
Johnson pointed to increases in gun arrests this year over last year -- and more than 6,000 illegal gun recoveries so far in 2016 -- as evidence that officers are out on the streets working.
But he acknowledged that the fallout from last year's release of the Laquan McDonald video, and the amplified distrust between the police and African-American community, doesn't make it easy for his officers.
"Of course, they're human. They're people," Johnson said. "So of course, nobody wants to be the next viral video. These officers have families to take care of too."
The weekend had begun relatively quietly. But the violence spiked on the last day, with 31 shot between 6 a.m. Monday and 3 a.m. Tuesday. Nine of the fatal shootings occurred over that period.
Among those shot was a woman who is nine months pregnant and was wounded in the abdomen on the same block where someone had been killed less than 20 hours earlier. No information on the baby was available. A man she was standing near was left in critical condition in the same shooting around 3:30 p.m. in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.
Farther south, a retired pastor from East Chicago, Ind. was shot to death outside a senior housing complex in the South Shore neighborhood around 6:30 a.m. Monday.
Police say the man was found dead, shot in the face outside the Senior Suites of Rainbow Beach near 77th and Exchange around 6:30 a.m. Monday. Residents identified the man as Allen H. Smith and said they heard him arguing with another man before shots were fired.
Police said they took into custody another resident of the home. No charges had been filed.
The Labor Day weekend was the deadliest of the three holiday weekends this summer. The Memorial Day weekend saw 69 shot, six of them fatally, and the Fourth of July weekend recorded 66 shot, five of them fatal.
Early Monday morning, it appeared Chicago had a chance of ending a holiday weekend with fewer than four dozen people shot, which would have made it one of the least violent weekends of the summer.
The uptick in shootings in this weekend's final hours mirrored the end of the Fourth of July. Gunfire in the final hours of that holiday made up half the entire weekend's bloodshed.
Police attributed the 11th-hour surge to retaliatory acts, often involving gangs, after a weekend of parties and tense encounters.
Homicides in Chicago this year have risen to levels not seen since the 1990s, when killings peaked at more than 900 annually.
The 92 homicides in August was the most the city had seen in a single month since July 1993 when 99 people were slain.
Through 5 a.m. Tuesday, the city recorded 488 homicides, marking a 47 percent increase from 331 for the same year-earlier period and exceeding the 481 for the entire 2015, according to official Police Department statistics.
The number of shooting victims has topped 2,930, approaching the 2,988 total for all of last year, according to a Tribune analysis.
Even at 488 homicides, the Police Department's statistics do not include killings on area expressways, police-involved shootings, other justifiable homicides or death investigations that could later be reclassified as homicides.
The Tribune's own database, which primarily uses the Cook County medical examiner's office to determine whether to count a death as a homicide, put the total number of killings at 512 as of early Tuesday.
Homicides and shootings in Chicago continue to far outpace both New York and Los Angeles, both bigger cities. According to official statistics through late August, the most recent publicly available, New York and Los Angeles had a combined 409 homicides, well below Chicago's total.
As homicides rise, Chicago mayor looks to hire more cops
Many have pushed Mayor Rahm Emanuel to hire more officers, saying the city needs to go beyond hiring only enough to replace those who are retiring
by John Byrne, Hal Dardick and Bill Ruthhart
CHICAGO — Reeling from Chicago's deadliest month in 20 years and facing criticism about his new police oversight plan, Mayor Rahm Emanuel tried to change the subject Friday by floating the vague notion of hiring more cops to fight the city's scourge of shootings.
But Emanuel would not say where he'd find the money for the officers or whether the new cops would be enough to keep up with the hundreds who have left the Police Department or are expected to retire.
Instead, the mayor talked generally about "putting more police on the street" and offered a series of elusive answers when pressed for the details.
"I'm working, (police) Superintendent Eddie Johnson and I have been working through this for a while," said Emanuel, who noted he is planning a Sept. 20 speech on policing. "And we will have the resources for more officers."
The mayor was asked if he was just talking about keeping up with Police Department attrition or actually hiring new cops to patrol the city's most violent neighborhoods, with a reporter noting that CPD has about 400 vacancies for sworn officers.
"That's not true. That's not true," Emanuel responded.
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, however, said the department is about 468 cops short of full staffing — which is 12,600 sworn officers. Guglielmi said an additional 100 officers just graduated from the academy and an average of 200 to 300 officers retire each year.
In raising the notion of hiring more cops, Emanuel also stressed his usual talking points of needing stronger gun laws and more investment in struggling neighborhoods.
"It is a complex problem with multidimensional facets to it," the mayor said of the city's surging homicide numbers. "It's not just about more police, but it will include that. But it's also about more resources for our children, more resources for our neighborhoods and stiffer laws that reflect the values of our city."
Talk of hiring more cops allowed Emanuel to pivot from what has been a less-than-desirable week of news for his administration on the city's policing front.
August marked the most violent month in Chicago since 1996, with at least 472 people shot. There were 92 homicides, the most since 1993, according to police statistics. Overall, the Police Department has recorded 474 homicides this year — closing in on last year's 481 with nearly four months left this year.
Emanuel also received strong pushback this week on the plan he laid out to overhaul civilian oversight of the beleaguered Police Department by replacing the long-ineffective Independent Police Review Authority and replacing it with a new Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA.
While the new agency would have more powers to probe alleged police misconduct, Emanuel's proposal ensured that the mayor's office would retain significant control over how cops are investigated and disciplined.
Emanuel's head of IPRA would move over to run the new agency, and the mayor's plan doesn't spell out how future directors of the agency would be selected. To the dismay of several aldermen, COPA also would not have a guaranteed budget, allowing for the possibility it could be weakened in the future through spending cuts. A new police watchdog would be appointed by the city's inspector general, who also is appointed by the mayor, and COPA would not be free to hire its own attorneys separate from the Emanuel-controlled Law Department.
Earlier this week, Emanuel's City Council floor leader tried to use the possibility of hiring more cops as an argument against creating guaranteed funding for the new oversight agency. Ald. Patrick O'Connor, 40th, said it would be better to determine COPA's funding in the context of the entire city budget, which the mayor will propose in October.
"I just think with all the strain on our budget — and the desire to actually hire more police, not just hire people to watch the police — we might be better to have this conversation as a whole thing surrounding the police budget and not just the budget of this entity," O'Connor said Wednesday.
By Thursday, O'Connor was offering cryptic talk of Emanuel hiring more cops, telling the Chicago Sun-Times the mayor would hire "hundreds" more. After teeing up the topic for Emanuel, O'Connor did not respond to several messages seeking comment.
Emanuel's talk of hiring more officers also comes as members of the City Council's Black Caucus have discussed adding funding for as many as 500 additional officers on top of the hundreds lost through attrition.
"I have been trying to get the temperature of my colleagues about hiring more cops and would there be the stomach for it, and specifically the number I'm throwing out is about 500, and the cost would be about $50 million," said Ald. Howard Brookins, 21st. "And would there be the stomach to raise taxes to do that?"
Brookins, who noted last year's record-high property tax increase to cover police and fire pensions, said it's easier politically to raise taxes when residents know they are getting something in return. More police officers could fit that bill.
For years, many aldermen have been criticizing Emanuel's policy of using cops on overtime to flood troubled neighborhoods when violence flares. They have unsuccessfully pushed the mayor to hire more officers, with the administration contending it's more cost-effective to use overtime because that doesn't push up benefit costs.
Ald. George Cardenas, 12th, said the city needs to go beyond hiring only enough officers to replace those who are retiring, as has been done in previous years.
"We are going to take the opportunity and do the math," Cardenas said, "and not just keep up with the attrition."
But on Friday, Emanuel wanted no part of math or specifics.
"I'm going to be really clear: more cops on the street — kids, guns, gangs off the street," Emanuel said. "And the resources will apply directly."
Sept. 11 Marked Turning Point For Muslims In Increasingly Diverse America
by Tom Gjelten
Fifteen years after the attacks of Sept. 11, Americans have grown aware not only of the danger of terrorism but also to the reality that their nation is far less white, Christian and European than it used to be.
"Culturally, we're a country of Bollywood and bhangra and tai chi and yoga and salsa and burritos and halal and kosher," says Diana Eck, professor of comparative religion at Harvard University and author of A New Religious America .
Through her direction of the Pluralism Project at Harvard, Eck and her researchers have documented the growth of an "interfaith infrastructure" in the country.
"After 9-11," she says, "it became important to know more clearly who is in our community. The level of ignorance was cracked. It is far from solved, but I think 9-11 did bring a moment of awakening that the 'we' of the United States is changing."
A recognition of America's increased diversity is especially critical for the Muslim American community. The Sept. 11 attacks were carried out in the name of Islam, and a majority of Muslims in the United States have said it became harder after those attacks to be a Muslim in this country.
In response, many are taking the responsibility themselves for improving relations with their neighbors. One important consequence of Sept. 11 was that Muslims, most of whom are immigrants, concluded they needed to become more socially and politically engaged.
"Before Sept. 11, Muslims – the majority of them – were living here physically, [but] mentally and spiritually they were living back home," says Zahid Bukhari, executive director of the Council for Social Justice at the Islamic Circle of North America.
Interfaith efforts in those days were scorned as un-Islamic, he says. Bukhari, who moved from Pakistan to the U.S. in the 1980s and now lives in Frederick, Md., urges his fellow immigrant Muslims, including the most devout, to turn their attention away from their native lands and focus on their adopted homeland.
"God will not ask them, at the Day of Judgment, what they have done in Karachi or Lahore or Istanbul," Bukhari says. "God will ask me what I have done in Frederick, with my family, with my neighbors. Did I become a symbol of goodness or a symbol of badness?"
Part of this new engagement effort among immigrant Muslims has been to promote more civic participation.
"There were a lot of controversies whether we should take part in the political process," Bukhari says. "Was it halal (Islamically permissible) or haram (prohibited)? Now that debate is over."
The struggle to improve the image of Muslim Americans has not been easy. A 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center found that of eight major religious groups in the country, people ranked Muslims at the very bottom.
But Besheer Mohamed, one of the researchers on the report, says one conclusion was that the more interaction there is between Muslims, Christians and others, the better their relations.
‘Coffee with Your Cops' to unite police, citizens
by Evelyn Carriere
The Wharton Police Dept. has taken big strides to bridge the sometime uncomfortable gap between community members and police officers.
On Wednesday, Wharton police along with the Milam Street Coffee Shop will host an early morning event where community members and police officers can visit and get to know each other.
Wharton PD follows the principals of the famous late Sir Robert Peel. Peel, a British Statesman back in 1830, believed in nine fundamental principals to help policing with a community. One of those nine principals involved community policing where citizens police alongside officers to make communities safer so more people would take pride in their city and in the safety of others.
Det. Ariel Soltura said Wharton police also believes in a “kick the can” philosophy where if an officer sees a child kicking a can down the street, physically or metaphorically, the police force will often try and replace that can with a toy or a tool to further help the child. He says other officers are being written up in other communities for going out and playing baseball with kids. He also says that here in Wharton that behavior is actually highly encouraged.
“If you take part in a child's life, you have a better opportunity of keeping kids off the streets,” said Soltura. “Policing shouldn't be adversarial, when we police with a community, it humanizes police officers and keeps everyone in the community safer.”
Soltura goes on to talk about the burden that is placed on police officers everyday by having to arrest someone. He speaks about how taxing it is on the soul, and how terrible it is to have to live with taking someones freedom away.
Wharton PD believes that by reaching out into the community and having citizens help police a community along side officers it could help with some of the burden.
Coffee With Your Cops is just another one of those tools that Wharton PD is using to get closer to the community in order to change the perspective of police officers with citizens.
Soltura has worked with other police departments and social media to humanize police officers and allow people to feel like they are a part of the policing process.
Soltura says that as a department they have been allowed to do more than other departments because Police Chief Terry Lynch believes in truly serving the community by integrating the community with the police.
Soltura said that having a chief that embraces that philosophy makes a world of difference when it comes to the community. He said that people start to trust officers and when there is really something wrong they are able to help.
Soltura talks about how the spread of community policing appeared to be an uphill battle when they were taking strides to integrate police officers within the community. He says that it was no easy task, but with the support of his police chief at the time and his current Police Chief Lynch has been able to continue growing the trend in hopes of other police departments integrate themselves into the community.
He says that it is becoming the norm now to see community police officers being silly on the job, but it hasn't always been that way.
Soltura credits Lynch with being one of the first innovative police chiefs to start community involvement with police officers.
“Chief would teach cadets at the academy the importance of making friends and showing citizens that they are here to help,” said Soltura.
After becoming police chief he hired like minded progressive police officers and detectives to make sure the philosophy and principals play out.
“As a police officer you can only be as involved as your community and your chief wants you to,” said Soltura. “I am hoping that the overall perspective of police officers will change, and in the meantime we will do everything that we can to try and change the negative connotation that goes along with being an officer.”
Coffee With Your Cops, kicks off Wednesday and will be held the first Wednesday of every month from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at the Milam Street Coffee Shop, 200 W. Milam St. in Wharton. Free regular coffee will be offered for law enforcement officers and citizens.
City Council seeks to mend community-police relations through new subcommittee
Alders, MPD work together to address major concerns of Madison residents
by Alice Vagun
After a contentious summer filled with debate over the Madison Police Department's policies and procedures, the Madison City Council created a subcommittee in attempt to improve police-community relations.
The council announced the creation of the subcommittee in early August. The city's Organizational Committee approved it shortly after.
Breaking the tension
There has been an unprecedented interest in MPD over the last several months, City Council President Mike Verveer, District 4, said. He said he believes most of the interest has to due with the use of force, past officer-involved shootings and the “dramatic” arrest of a young woman at East Towne Mall in June.
In June, the council unanimously approved a $400,000 study into MPD's practices, policies and procedures. Seven consultants have since expressed interest in conducting the study, Verveer said.
In addition to the new subcommittee and the $400,000 study there are two different groups: the Police Policy and Procedure Review Ad Hoc Committee and the Public Safety Review Committee, which are also evaluating MPD's practices.
Verveer said he hopes the subcommittee will work toward strengthening the relationship between MPD and the community.
Goals for the subcommittee
The group, officially named the Subcommittee on Police and Community Relations, will operate on four basic charges:
Create a forum for residents and council members to discuss police-community relations.
Look at policing policies and models used by other cities.
Share information about MPD training, data, trends and policies.
Develop short-term recommendations to bring to City Council.
Overall, the subcommittee will function as a venue to hear community feedback and to have an in-depth discussion on current MPD and their interactions with the community, Ald. Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, District 5 , said in an email to The Badger Herald.
The committee will schedule a public hearing session and ask MPD to present the alders with information and data on a number of policies and practices such as use of force, Bidar-Sielaff said. The members will then deliberate and develop a set of recommendations to address those issues, she added.
Community members will be also be allotted time to give a public testimony at each meeting.
Verveer met with MPD Chief Mike Koval in late July when he first came up with the idea. Verveer said Koval was “very accepting” of the idea and pledged MPD's support. Capt. Jim Wheeler will serve as MPD's liaison to the committee.
Verveer said he appointed Alds. Bidar-Sielaff, Denise DeMarb, District 16, Rebecca Kemble, District 18, Sheri Carter, District 14, and Marsha Rummel, District 6, to serve on the committee. Other council members are still allowed to attend and participate in meetings, he added.
Multiple evaluations of MPD could result in ‘redundancy'
Despite Koval's support to participate in the initiative for a new subcommittee, Koval said in an email to The Badger Herald that he is concerned their objectives could result in “redundancy” and the possibility of the committee stepping too far beyond its original goals, because of the evaluations of MPD that already exist.
“There is already a Public Safety Review Committee as well as an ad hoc committee that has been tasked to review our policy, procedures and culture,” Koval said. “It is my hope that the issues and the time dedicated to this subcommittee will be clearly established at the outset so that MPD is not simultaneously reporting to three different government bodies.”
While the $400,000 study is being conducted and the ad hoc committee continues to meet. Verveer said he hopes the new subcommittee will not duplicate their efforts, but rather complement the work.
The Subcommittee on Police and Community Relations will officially meet for the first time Sept. 14 at 7 p.m.
Colo. deputy critically wounded in shootout
Detective Daniel Brite was critically wounded after a suicidal suspect opened fired on officers
by Rachel Riley
PARKER, Colo. — The man who died in an exchange of gunfire after shooting a Douglas County deputy on Friday has been identified as 40-year-old Randall Rodick.
About 2:30 p.m. Friday, deputies responded to reports of a suicidal subject near North Dixon Drive and East Pine Lane in Parker. While trying to leave the area in a motorhome, Rodick shot at the officers, who returned fire.
The deputy, Detective Daniel Brite, was hospitalized Friday. He was moved from the operating room to the intensive care unit that night, according to a tweet from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.
Brite, who has worked for the office since April 2014, remained in the intensive care unit in critical condition Saturday morning, the Sheriff's Office said.
"We are asking for continued prayers for Detective Brite during this critical time in his recovery, and for his wife, Christine, and their family, as well as all the officers involved in this situation," Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said in a statement. "These situations are difficult for any law enforcement officer. The suspect was highly armed and extremely dangerous and it is clear to me these officers likely prevented a larger scale incident which could have endangered more officers and citizens had he not been stopped. I'm very proud of them."
Rodick, who was identified by the Douglas County Coroner's Office on Saturday, lived near where the shooting occurred.
Three nearby schools, Sierra Middle, Pine Lane Intermediate and Pine Lane Elementary, were put on lockdown after the incident.
In addition to the Sheriff's Office, Colorado State Patrol, Parker Police Department and South Metro Fire Authority originally responded to the incident. The Sheriff's Office, as well as the 18th Judicial District Critical Response Team, which handles officer-involved shootings, and a group of regional detectives from Parker and Castle Rock police departments are investigating the shooting.
Orlando police chief defends shooting data
Police Chief John Mina said race does not play a role in an officer's decision to use a weapon
by David Harris and Charles Minshew
ORLANDO, Fla. — Seventy percent of the 50 people shot at by Orlando police officers since 2009 are black men, according to data released Friday by the department.
Of those officer-involved shootings, 12 of the 16 men killed by police were black men, the data shows.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said race does not play a role in an officer's decision to use a weapon.
"If you look at the merits of each individual case and the investigation, it is clear that race doesn't factor into the decision for an officer to use deadly force," Mina said.
But Natalie Jackson, a civil rights attorney, said the numbers were concerning, especially when considering the Orlando population is about 28 percent black.
The high number is based on a "cultural fear of black men."
"This is what the Black Lives Matter movement is all about," she said.
Orlando officers are only allowed to use force when there is a threat of great bodily harm to themselves or others, according to department policy.
The data was released as part of Orlando police's involvement in the White House Police Data Initiative. The program recommends that departments use data to help the public better understand police.
Orlando also has released calls for service and use of force reports.
Mina said the data was released to show the department is transparent and can be accountable to the public. He said Orlando is one of only 15 departments nationwide to release such data.
"[It] demonstrates our commitment to this type of transparency and openness and will further enhance public trust," he said.
There were 41 people shot by police since 2009 and 9 people who were shot at but not hit, the data shows.
The information includes the names, ages and races of the officers and suspects. It also has the type of incident officers were responding to, the type of weapon used by the suspect and the officers' age and tenure.
"Unfortunately, it says the law enforcement profession is dangerous and we have to deal with violent offenders who have intentions of harming our officers," Mina said.
Overall, the number of times police officers fire their weapons is low when compared to the number of interactions the have with the public, Mina said.
"The vast majority of incidents with police are peacefully resolved," he said.
Of the 50 suspects in the 47 officer-involved shootings info about them includes:
• 48 were male
• The youngest was 16, the oldest was 57
• 15 were white, although the department did not list the ethnicity of the suspect (such as Hispanic)
• 27 had guns, 15 were in vehicles (one of which the suspect had a gun), one had a baseball bat
In the 88 instances of an officer firing a weapon, info about the officers includes:
• 86 were male
• 60 were white, 12 were Hispanic, 12 were black and 4 were another race
• The average age was about 34 years old
• The average tenure was about 7 years
Police have come under scrutiny in recent years in shootings of unarmed men.
There were four incidents listed where the unarmed person was shot by Orlando police because the suspect reached for something or got into a fight with police.
"It is difficult to comment on other situations throughout the nation but I believe this could be a result of our training," Mina said. "We are able to train more than just the State requires to maintain our law enforcement certifications. I believe we receive some of the best training in the country."
The four do not include the 2014 fatal shooting of Maria Godinez, who was hit by a stray bullet fired by Orlando police Officer Eduardo Sanguino at Kody Roach.
It also says a man, Karvas Gamble Jr., was armed when he was shot and killed by police, but his family disputes the fact that he had a gun.
All but one officer was cleared of wrong doing in the cases. Officer David Johnston was fired and charged by the State Attorney's Office after he fired at a vehicle from nearly 90 feet away. He was sentenced to 5 years probation.
Boston police union goes to court after officers' resistance to wearing body-worn cameras
Boston Police Patrolmen's Association claims the city violated an agreement when officers were involuntarily assigned to wear them
by The Associated Press
BOSTON, Mass.— Boston's largest police union is headed to court to try to halt a program requiring officers to wear body cameras.
A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in Suffolk Superior Court.
The Boston Police Patrolmen's Association claims the city violated an agreement when Commissioner William Evans assigned 100 officers to wear the cameras after no one volunteered. The union is seeking an injunction to temporarily halt the initiative.
The two sides had reached an agreement in July calling for 100 officers to volunteer to wear body cameras for six months.
A union lawyer says the injunction request seeks to stop the city from implementing the program until the two sides can renegotiate.
Activists have called for police body cameras since the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.
Black Lives Matter partners with charity in a sign of growth
by The Associated Press
Black Lives Matter, which two years ago grew out of street protests and a social-media hashtag, has quietly established a legal partnership with a California charity in a sign of the movement's growth and expanding ambition, the Associated Press has learned.
The formal relationship between the national Black Lives Matter network and the San Francisco-based International Development Exchange represents another side of the loosely knit group that many Americans recognize for its sometimes-disruptive demonstrations against police shootings of unarmed black men.
Since November, the nonprofit charity also known as IDEX has been acting as a mostly unseen financial arm of Black Lives Matter, with the ability to receive grants and tax-deductible donations on the group's behalf. More recently, the relationship evolved into a contractual partnership that will run through at least mid-2017.
IDEX is managing the group's financial affairs, allowing Black Lives Matter to focus on its mission, including building local chapters and experimenting with its organizational structure.
"We completely understand the network is in its baby stages, and it's going to take some years" to develop, IDEX executive director Rajasvini Bhansali said in an interview.
The goal, leaders say, is to jointly seek social change in struggling communities in the U.S., as well as in Asia, South America and Africa, where the charity has operated for years.
The partnership links the national protest movement, which has chapters in nearly 40 U.S. cities and several more abroad, with a small charity that has worked with the needy on several continents. IDEX collected about $2 million in contributions and grants in the year ending June 2015, according to federal tax records.
"We've connected people across the country working to end the various forms of injustice impacting black people," Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza said in a statement. The organization needed to partner with an organization that "can support us as we build these connections on a global scale."
It's not clear what the partnership will mean for the overall direction of Black Lives Matter, which has been alternately praised and derided for its confrontational tactics.
The agreement comes at a time when Black Lives Matter and a constellation of related groups are receiving a surge of donations and pledges of financial support. Together they are seeking reforms such as remaking the prison system, adopting universal healthcare and offering free college education.
For example, the Ford Foundation, working with the Borealis Philanthropy organization, hopes to attract as much as $100 million for the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition with ties to dozens of groups, including the Black Lives Matter network. Grammy Award-winning singer The Weeknd said last month that he is donating $250,000 to the Black Lives Matter movement.
"It's not a time for donors to sit back and criticize," said Leah Hunt-Hendrix, co-founder and executive director of Solidaire, an alliance supporting progressive political causes that has invested about $800,000 over two years in various groups in the movement, including Black Lives Matter, Black Youth Project 100, Southerners on New Ground and the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice.
"We still live in this legacy of drastic exploitation and marginalization and violence," Hunt-Hendrix said. "If we are ever going to address racism in America, this is the time and this is the opportunity."
A key aspect of the agreement involves exchanging information and building potential alliances between Black Lives Matter and IDEX's partners overseas. The idea is for the groups and movements to learn from each other.
Black Lives Matter has agreed to make donations to IDEX's partners in Zimbabwe and South Africa, in lieu of an administrative fee for the charity's services, Bhansali said.
Part of the tie between the groups is personal: Bhansali has known Garza and fellow Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors for about a decade through their work, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area.
She said Black Lives Matter has a strong interest in learning from social and cultural movements around the globe, which makes it a natural fit with IDEX and its work in needy communities in Africa, Asia and South America, where IDEX has supported more than 500 projects since 1985.
The charity's projects have ranged widely, including helping Nepalese women establish a credit system through so-called microfinancing and working with a group to alleviate industrial pollution in South Africa.
In addition to its agreement with the charity, Black Lives Matter appears to be taking steps to answer criticism that it is little more than noise on the street, lacking direction and purpose. It is part of a recently established coalition of dozens of organizations known as the Movement for Black Lives, which has published a detailed agenda of goals.
Many of the proposals are familiar, such as channeling more money into poverty programs and raising taxes on the wealthy. Other ideas include obtaining reparations for past racial injustices and spending as much as $4 trillion to create government jobs for black workers and subsidizing businesses to hire black workers.
"Things like racism just can't be fixed by this or that single policy," Hunt-Hendrix said. "It requires massive cultural change."
Molotov scorches cop's lawn
by Antonio Planas and Matt Stout
Police and firefighters are investigating whether an officer was targeted after a “Molotov cocktail-like device” was found on the front lawn of an officer's home this past weekend, cops said yesterday.
Boston police said they responded to a call about 8 a.m. Sunday for what appeared to be an incendiary device, said BPD spokesman James Kenneally.
There was minor damage done to the officer's lawn, Kenneally said. BPD and the fire department are investigating “whether the officer's home was targeted,” Kenneally said in an email.
Cops released a photo of the apparent Molotov cocktail which showed what appeared to be a Corona beer bottle and a patch of burned grass.
A memo was sent to officers Sunday from the Boston Regional Intelligence Center showing the same picture.
The officer's identity and address were not made public by police yesterday.
“The safety and well-being of my officers is always of the highest importance to me and, as a result, this is an incident we are taking seriously and investigating accordingly,” Boston police Commissioner William B. Evans said in a statement.
In addition to Sunday's incident, there have been three instances when lug nuts on officers' private vehicles appear to have been “tampered with or loosened,” Kenneally said. He was unable to provide
Mayor Martin J. Walsh said yesterday he spoke with Evans and was unsure if the officer was targeted. But, he said, any violence aimed at police is unacceptable.
“Their job isn't an easy job and often times when there's a contract dispute or talk about body cameras, it's easy to go back and forth and pick sides,” Walsh said, referencing current controversies. “But at the end of the day, their job is a difficult job and we stand with them and support them the best we can.”
Community Policing: Where Do We Go From Here?
by Christopher Moraff
This summer, Philadelphia took a critical step towards reimagining the role of police when its City Council voted on June 23 to decriminalize a raft of public nuisance offenses—including disorderly conduct, obstructing a highway and public drunkenness. Instead of a misdemeanor arrest, officers now have the discretion to issue citations with fines of $50-$100 for some minor offenses.
That's a departure from the aggressive enforcement of so-called “quality of life” offenses associated with “broken windows” policing—blamed by some for contributing to a breakdown of trust between law enforcement and many of the communities they serve. Like vagrancy laws of old, disorderly conduct statutes, in particular, have been criticized for being overly broad and disproportionately applied in poor and minority neighborhoods.
Under the new strategy, Philadelphia expects to eliminate 10,000 cases a year from the criminal justice system. The city's police officials say these statutory changes lay the groundwork for a new approach to policing, in which law enforcement is just one avenue for addressing social problems that affect public safety.
“We're telling officers that they can't arrest their way out of every problem,” said Capt. Francis Healy, legal adviser to Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, who is overseeing the changes.
“The future of community policing is happening here in Philadelphia.”
Whatever one chooses to call it – and community policing seems to be the buzzword of the day – giving cops tools other than handcuffs to do their job is essential to addressing the breakdown in public trust in police.
But community policing, or its more formal name—Community Oriented Policing (COP)—is not a new concept. And it has a checkered past. This has prompted a predictable backlash of criticism around the renewed interest in its potential.
Writing last month in The Crime Report, former NYPD officer-turned criminologist Eugene O'Donnell of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice all but dismissed the concept as a fanciful pipedream. He wrote:
Community policing -- which is ill defined and amorphous -- is once again being offered up as an ameliorative in the midst of our current crisis It is never quite clear what it is or how it works in a poor or high-crime community, but it advances the notion that if the police are nice to everyone the world will truly shine.
O'Donnell's skepticism is not without merit.
It's been 22 years since the Department of Justice established its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to advance a public safety model built around community partnerships, problem-solving and organizational transformation. Despite pouring nearly $15 billion of taxpayer money into that effort, it's hard to turn on the TV news and conclude it's been a success.
Nearly every local law enforcement agency in America boasts a “community policing” program. Yet public trust in law enforcement is now lower than it was in 1994, the year COPS grants were authorized.
The good news is the current push for more community policing has three things going for it that were absent in the 1990s: It coincides with a national effort to reverse the tide of mass incarceration; parallels a growing hostility to zero-tolerance “broken windows” policing; and is operating in a political climate amenable to intelligent alternatives to the “War on Drugs.”
More than 30 cities—including Philadelphia —have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, and nearly two dozen have launched, or are in the process of launching, a pre-booking diversion pilot for other drug offenses based on Seattle's Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program. LEAD is grounded in the principles of harm reduction, which focuses on mitigating the negative consequences of drug use through community interventions other than prosecution.
These are positives signs. However, fixing the problems that plague many of America's policing establishments presents a number of challenges -- beginning with unravelling the factors that doomed the first wave of community policing.
A Troubled Legacy
At least six of the cities where the most controversial police killings have occurred since 2014 -- New York, Chicago, Baton Rouge, Cleveland, Tulsa, North Charleston, S.C., and Baltimore – have received generous federal grants to establish community policing programs: Several have even been recognized for their efforts (Chicago, Tulsa, North Charleston).
Research suggests that inconsistent messaging about the overarching goals of community oriented policing is largely to blame. A comprehensive survey of community policing research published in 2014 concluded that “a lack of fidelity to the 'ideal' model of [community-oriented policing] and the resulting morass of strategies that have come to define the approach” have produced stark variations in its application.
What makes community policing look so good on paper is also what makes it difficult to implement in practice. By emphasizing a flexible, individualized approach to law enforcement, there is no single playbook for departments to follow. This can lead to broad variations in COP initiatives, some of which have little resemblance to what early theorists envisioned.
That assessment is shared by early architects of the COP philosophy, who say the transformative principles they envisioned became grossly distorted in the years following the creation of the COPS Office by the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
“What happened to community policing is a tragedy,” said Bonnie Bucqueroux, a former Michigan State University professor who helped create the first federally funded community policing pilot project during the administration of George H.W. Bush.
I interviewed Bucqueroux last year shortly before she passed away at the age of 71. She didn't mince words in describing how the strategy got derailed by the law-and-order mentality that drove criminal justice policy making in the late 1990s.
“The COPS movement was started by this progressive group of [police] chiefs and redefined by a conservative administration that insisted on an 'arrest-first' policy,” she told me. “The federal government, as far as I'm concerned, destroyed community policing.”
The late Prof. Bucqueroux was a protege of criminologist Robert Trojanowicz, who, in 1983, founded the National Center for Community Policing at Michigan State. In the early 1980s Trojanowicz devised ten principles of community-oriented policing —among them, decentralized and personalized policing; community empowerment; proactive problem-solving; and grassroots creativity and support.
These feel-good phrases are now part of the common language about policing, but they shared a street-level approach: placing more discretion in the hands of street cops to collaborate with community members on finding solutions to public safety challenges.
For what it's worth, many of the problems that afflicted community policing can be chalked up to bad timing.
Wars on Everything
The introduction of COPS grants in 1995 coincided with the passage of some of the toughest anti-crime measures in decades, along with an aggressive expansion of the “War on Drugs” and—after 9/11—the “War on Terror.”
Wars need foot soldiers, so for most of its existence the COPS Office prioritized the placement of more cops on America's streets. (The DOJ has funded the hiring of more than 127,000 new police officers since its inception, and has spent $1 billion just since 2010 on hiring grants.)
Ostensibly, these new officers were hired to engage in community policing activities. In practice, however, many police agencies took advantage of Washington's largesse to flood neighborhoods with aggressive, “zero-tolerance” enforcement operations.
For example, in 2006 the International Association of the Chiefs of Police presented a community policing award to the Jacksonville Police Department for its “Operation Intensive Care Neighborhood” —a zero-tolerance enforcement sweep that resulted in over 2,850 arrests, most of them for minor offenses. Departments misusing community policing resources to conduct “homeless sweeps” have become so problematic that the COPS Office issued a memo last year encouraging alternative approaches.
The conflation of community policing with broken windows policing has been compounded by the absence of reliable metrics for assessing community policing outcomes. Although crime control is just one goal of COP, crime statistics have become the gold standard for measuring its success. The introduction of CompStat by the NYPD the same year the first COPS grants were authorized helped further frame this numbers-driven approach to policing.
“There were people in the COPS Office who really wanted to focus on substance, but when the federal government started throwing lots of money out there it undercut any useful efforts,” said John Eck, who spent 17 years as research director of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and now teaches criminology at the University of Cincinnati. “The emphasis was ‘get the money out first, and ask questions later,' which shifted discussion to quantities of cops instead of quality.”
Community Policing 2.0
For better or worse the ongoing national dialogue on police reform has breathed new life into the idea of community policing. The President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing dedicated one of its six “Pillars” of reform to a recommitment to COP principles. Police departments around the country have responded by experimenting with new strategies to improve policing outcomes, or else are polishing off old ones—like the expanded foot patrols that defined community policing efforts in the 1980s.
Just this month, the New York Police Department expanded its Neighborhood Coordination Program, which divides precincts into smaller geographical units with the intent of building stronger partnerships between police and the communities they serve. The program has been operating as a pilot in the Far Rockaway section of the city since last year, with some reportedly positive results.
Similar initiatives that employ dedicated beat cops in smaller geographical units known as “Police Service Areas” (PSA) have already been underway in several municipalities— including Philadelphia and the District of Columbia—and smaller jurisdictions such as Allentown, PA, Fairfax County, VA, and Grand Rapids, MI.
A district commander of D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department announced last week that the city would begin to consolidate the city's PSAs into larger sectors as a result of staffing shortages, but assured concerned residents at a community meeting that they would not feel the impact of the changes.
In Philly, each PSA is headed by a police lieutenant and staffed on average by three sergeants and 39 officers who focus on patrol and community engagement, rather than call-driven services.
These early efforts have shown promise in repairing frayed police-community relations.
In a recent New York Times op ed , Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and civil rights attorney Connie Rice touted the Los Angeles Community Safety Partnership for its measurable success at lowering crime and improving police-community relations. Now in its fifth year, the program—which placed dedicated community engagement officers in four of Los Angeles housing projects—has been lauded by civic groups.
More law enforcement agencies are acting proactively to head off problems before the boil out of control. Efforts at training police in de-escalation tactics, implicit bias and crisis intervention are underway in a number of cities.
Madison's ‘Mental Health Officers'
Last year the police department in Madison, WI, began employing specially trained “Mental Health Officers” who work closely with citizens that are either dealing with issues of mental health themselves or within their families.
These officers work closely with mental health care facilities and organizations to try to proactively get individuals in need of services in contact with the appropriate organizations. The Madison Police Department (MPD) was chosen by the Council of State Governments Justice Center as one of six national law enforcement/mental health learning sites dedicated to expanding the practice.
This month the MPD turned its commitment to mental health care inward to address how the psychological trauma experienced by officers affects their tactical decisions.
“We have to be our best selves,” said Kristen Roman, captain of community outreach at MPD, and leader of a pilot program with the University of Wisconsin-Madison on the effect of ‘mindfulness training' on officer stress. “We need to take care of ourselves to take care of others.”
The results, she noted, impact every level “from an individual officer all the way through the organization and into the community.”
These reforms can have a compelling impact on the way police officers deal with crises. But the transparency of the process is also critical. With the entire nation focused on policing practice, law enforcement agencies are opening themselves to an unprecedented level of public scrutiny.
As part of that development, a dozen police departments (including Philadelphia) have invited the DOJ to assess their practices under its recently established “Collaborative Reform” initiative—which seeks to head off problems before they become crises.
These efforts all provide evidence of a renewed commitment to reforming police practices. But even some of community policing's strongest supporters view the recent emergence of Community Policing 2.0 with caution.
“I think we are moving in the right direction,” said Frank Straub, Director of Strategic Studies at the Police Foundation. Prior to joining the Washington-based think tank, Straub helped develop community-oriented policing programs in Spokane, Indianapolis and White Plains, NY, where he served as police chief.
“My concern is that we don't stay committed to this process for the long haul and that we allow ourselves to get sucked into a series of prophylactic solutions,” he said.
Straub's concerns are well founded.
Why ‘Coffee With a Cop' Doesn't Help
By and large, community policing over the past decade has fallen into the category of “prophylactic solutions,” with departments shifting between broken windows-style enforcement initiatives and mostly cosmetic citizen engagement activities— typically involving some form of food or beverage and a folksy name (“Coffee with a Cop” being especially popular).
“We'd have police departments host community picnics where they hand out hot dogs and soda to people and call it community policing, but once all those hot dogs are handed out, it's back to traditional policing practices,” said Bruce Benson, who served as deputy chief in Flint, MI, before becoming a consultant on community policing.
The DOJ is seeking an extra $42 million next year add more cops to America's streets, bringing it total COPS Hiring Program budget to $229 million. To ensure that money is well spent and has enduring impact will require better oversight practices.
As recently as 2013, the Government Accountability Office estimated that fewer than 20 percent of the applications funded under the COPS Hiring Program contained data showing how additional officers would be deployed in community policing.
At the direction of its Office of Inspector General, COPS has been working on better monitoring of its grantees to ensure they are using funds properly, but it's too early to tell how effective that will be.
Where's the Political Will?
Unless the COP model is linked to systemic changes in the policing profession its impact will be minimal. The official in charge of the DOJ's COPS Office acknowledged as much in a recent agency newsletter.
“There is no question that rank-and-file officers must be held accountable for their actions,” wrote Director Ronald L. Davis. “However, if the systems in which they operate are flawed, even good officers can have bad outcomes.”
But identifying the structural impediments to reform is far more complex that revamping training models or weeding out so-called “bad apples.”
“The system itself is remarkably resistant to reform,” said Norm Stamper, who served as chief of the Seattle Police Department during the tumultuous 1999 World Trade Organization gathering. “Policing culture is paramilitary, bureaucratic and command and control influenced. As long as that structure doesn't change it's going to produce isolation and in-group solidarity.
“So even when you do get a committed chief you have cops who are willing to wait out those change agents. We need to ask hard questions and experiment with new organizational structures.”
In June, Stamper released a new book titled “To Protect And Serve” that calls for a radical transformation of American law enforcement. He supports the idea of concentrating COP efforts into small geographical areas, but proposes establishing citizen councils to work directly on a day-to-day level with police. In Stamper's view, citizens should be involved in all aspects of police operations, from hiring decisions to oversight of police misconduct and lethal-force investigations.
There is some movement in that direction. In March, Newark's Municipal Council voted unanimously to create what the American Civil Liberties Union calls “one of the strongest police oversight boards in the country.”
Newark's new Civilian Complaint Review Board has the authority to subpoena police officers, audit policies and practices, and oversee police disciplinary processes. Similarly, city leaders in Chicago are pushing to replace the scandal-plagued Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) with a more powerful Civilian Office on Police Accountability.
This kind of strong legislative action is necessary for reforming the police, because when left solely to the discretion of departments themselves, unpopular changes to practice, policy or management protocol are likely to get diluted, misunderstood or simply ignored before they ever reach street level.
“In many cases community policing is about changing the whole philosophy of the police department, changing the whole organizational structure so that officers have more discretion and can be more proactive,” said Charlotte Gill, a researcher at George Mason University's Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy.
“That's a really, really big change from the traditional reactive model of the policing.”
The Unions Push Back
Frank Straub's experience before joining the Police Foundation this summer reveals the level of pushback such efforts are likely to meet without robust political will.
In 2010 Straub was hired by the City of Indianapolis as Director of Public Safety with a mandate to reform the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. His efforts met with stiff resistance, mostly from the city's Fraternal Order of Police. Within two years, the union triumphed and he was forced out of the post.
Straub was subsequently named chief of the police department of Spokane, WA, where his reform efforts were even less appreciated. He was forced to resign that post last year under strong pressure from police union officials and subordinates, and amid allegation of sexual harassment that were later determined to be unfounded.
Asked to reflect on the experience, Straub said municipalities often underestimate the level of political will it takes to enact real reform.
“Organizing a number of programs is relatively easy. But when it came time to fundamentally address the culture of the police department... that's where the disconnect happens,” he said. “In Spokane and in other police departments there is considerable tension between officers who want to hold on to that enforcement-minded tradition and believe that the community support roles should be handed off to someone else.
“Sometimes when push comes to shove it's easier to push the chief out than have a conflict with civil service employees.”
As chief of the Seattle Police Department, Stamper spent six years locking horns with the Fraternal Order of Police over his reform efforts. He says any effort to reform police practices will be doomed unless public officials are willing to play hardball with police unions.
“I have no problem with [union] advocacy, but by statute many states have granted management prerogatives to unions and dismantling those is a real challenge,” he said. “You're talking about conditions that are enacted in labor contracts. I mean we got a separate set of due process rights for police officers.”
If there is a lesson to be learned from the failure of first-wave community policing programs to facilitate reform it's that society placed too much responsibility on police to change themselves.
Avoiding a repeat of past failures means embracing an amalgam of proven strategies that includes problem-oriented policing (which addresses the root causes of public disorder) and a harm reduction approach to illicit drug use. And this will require the combined efforts of law enforcement, legislators, community groups, social service organizations, and—perhaps most importantly in this election year—voters.
Law enforcement is, after all, ultimately a reflection of society's mores. If we want more conscientious police, we need to start by electing more conscientious public officials. Last month voters sent this message in Florida when they voted out controversial “tough on crime” prosecutor Angela Corey in favor of her more reform-minded opponent.
The stars may be aligned for community policing to finally generate the returns it once promised, but first we must reassess the laws we ask police to enforce—and the environment we ask them to do it in.
“Community policing is about more than the police and it's about more than the community,” said Eck. “Policing is ultimately a political endeavor. Cops have very little direct control over the environment in which they operate, [so] what we want out of cops has to be consistent.
“The first step is to ask what the public thinks as a community: Why is this a problem? And that leaves it to legislators to draft solutions that address these things.”
As nation ponders community policing, Scott and Gowdy hope S.C. can engage in the debate
by Emma Dumain
WASHINGTON — During the August congressional recess, 12 U.S. House members — participants in a bipartisan group tasked with restoring trust between police and civilians — dialed into a conference call.
U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., provided an update on how his community was doing after Alton Sterling, a black man, was shot and killed by white policemen outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge.
U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., shared local reactions to the news that the New York City Police commissioner was stepping down.
And U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., recalled the “homework assignment” he'd given to his working group colleagues: Talk to people you wouldn't normally speak to, Gowdy said. Find someone who has had an experience unlike any you have known.
Hours after the conference call concluded, Gowdy was off to follow his own advice. He stepped into the Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia, joined by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and nearly two dozen fellow South Carolinians — half of them from the faith community, half of them with careers in law enforcement; most of them non-white.
They were gathered for the first of what Gowdy and Scott hope will be many private meetings made up of the same community stakeholders all around the Palmetto State. The purpose is to share stories, trade ideas and most of all have a forum in which to speak candidly without fear of scrutiny from the public or by the media.
“First we establish credibility,” Scott said. “If you don't establish the bond of trust, everything else is secondary.”
The two lawmakers are close friends who came up with the idea of forming the discussion group over the course of regular dinners together on Capitol Hill. The working group was formally convened in late July after a series of deadly clashes around the country between African-Americans and police officers necessitated some type of congressional response.
Their life experiences have informed their outlooks. Gowdy, who is white, previously served as the state's 7th Circuit solicitor and approaches the criminal justice debate from a prosecutor's perspective.
“I have never been stopped by law enforcement because of my race. Ever,” Gowdy said. “But the African-American pastors around that table have never likely had to sit with the parents of a homicide victim and heard why they have to resolve this case in a way that makes none of us happy because they can't cooperate with the police. There are certain elements within certain communities where distrust for police and the criminal justice system is so great they will not even cooperate.”
Scott, who is black, recently delivered a series of Senate floor speeches about his experience with prejudice, describing painful confrontations with police officers even as an elected official. He is deeply committed to his faith and the extent that wounds can be healed through love — a theme he revisits when talking about the Emanuel AME Church shootings.
The thought of bringing representatives from churches and police departments together came from an observation Gowdy said he and Scott shared: “The most segregated hour in all of South Carolina is 11 o'clock on Sunday mornings.”
Both men insist their goal is not to walk away with a legislative proposal; that's for the congressional working group. Rather, Gowdy and Scott want South Carolina to be a part of a national conversation about criminal justice and sentencing policy, about what residents and law enforcement can do to help each other do their jobs and live lives in peace.
In many ways South Carolina is already part of the debate. In April 2015, Walter Scott, a black man, was shot and killed by North Charleston officer Michael Slager following a scuffle during a traffic stop. Then in June, Dylann Roof, an avowed white supremacist, killed nine black parishioners at Emanuel AME. Both Slager and Roof await trial.
“We had an officer-involved shooting and the most serious charge that could be leveled, was leveled,” Gowdy said. “We had a horrific mass killing in Charleston, and the result was the exact opposite of what the perpetrator had intended. (Sen. Scott) always wants to stop and at least take an assessment of how far we have come, and then let's tackle, ‘how we do go even farther?' Clearly something already exists here. It's about seizing what's already there.”
Scott too was optimistic.
“We had a very fruitful conversation about who we are as South Carolinians,” he said of the first meeting. “One thing that we already recognize is that we are already a national model.”
Jersey City public safety citizen advisory board hosting public meeting
by Caitlin Mota
JERSEY CITY The recently reorganized public safety citizen advisory board will be holding its first public meeting tomorrow.
The board was organized in 2014 and is designed to serve as a systems of checks and balances with the city's public safety department. The nine person committee meets regularly with Public Safety Director James Shea.
Residents are encouraged by the board to attend Tuesday's meeting at the Mary McLeod Bethune Life Center at 6 p.m. to express and discuss their safety concerns. Representatives from the city are also expected to attend.
Six new members were added to the board in May. Jersey City spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill previously told The Jersey Journal the board has lead to new policing initiatives, which includes a plan to create a database where residents can inform police ahead of time if someone in their household has mental health disorders.
The Bethune Center is located at 140 Martin Luther King Drive.
Calif. jail reviews security after 2 officers shot
An ex-convict shot and wounded two unarmed officers in the lobby
by The Associated Press
FRESNO, Calif. — A central California jail was examining security measures after an ex-convict shot and wounded two unarmed officers in the lobby, but officials said Sunday that they did not plan any immediate changes.
After reviewing Saturday's shooting that left correctional Officers Juanita Davila and Toamalama Scanlan in critical condition, authorities will decide whether to alter procedures in the public area of the Fresno County jail, sheriff's spokesman Tony Botti said.
Unarmed officers guard the facility and visitors go through metal detectors leading to secure areas, Botti said. The jail lobby is closed but could reopen later Sunday.
Thong Vang, 37, is accused of shooting the officers in the head and neck areas during a struggle and has been booked into jail on suspicion of attempted murder, possessing a handgun as a felon and bringing drugs into a jail. He was placed on a parole hold, Botti said.
Vang was released from prison in 2014 after serving 16 years for raping three girls aged 14 and under, Sheriff Margaret Mims said. He had no criminal violations since his release.
Botti said he didn't know if Vang had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.
Scanlan, who has 10 years of experience, and Davila, an 18-year veteran, approached Vang after he tried to cut to the front of the visitors' line and began pacing near a secure area of the jail.
The officers were trying to get him to sit down when shots rang out. About 15 people, including small children, ran to safety.
Officers inside the jail ran to the lobby, where a lieutenant shot at Vang, who returned fire, Botti said. No one was hit.
Officers tried to subdue Vang with a stun gun, but he would not give up and ran to the hallway of the jail records area, authorities said. When confronted by sheriff's deputies and a Fresno police officer, Vang dropped his weapon and told authorities he wanted to be arrested, Botti said.
The injured officers were dragged out of the lobby and taken to the hospital to undergo surgery. Vang was taken to the hospital for minor scrapes and cuts.
Christy Rodriguez told the Fresno Bee newspaper that she and a woman with a walker hid in the bathroom after they heard the gunshots. Moments later, an officer yelled at them to get out of the building.
"This is crazy. This isn't supposed to happen," Rodriguez said.
A reasoned response to Colin Kaepernick's national anthem protest
As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously said, “you are entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”
by Doug Wylie
Colin Kaepernick — a second-string (at best) quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers — recently raised a ruckus when he refused to stand during the singing of the national anthem during a pre-season football game. He then made national headlines with his explanation for his seated position.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said. “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder... There is police brutality — people of color have been targeted by police.”
As an American, Colin Kaepernick may exercise his First Amendment right to free speech — however, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously said, “you are entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”
From Washington State to the Washington Post
Kaepernick's assertion that police are intentionally “targeting” people of color with brutality is simply untrue — it is a false narrative which has been perpetuated by groups and individuals who have an anti-police agenda — and it has been debunked by researchers and media outlets alike.
For example, Washington State University conducted a comprehensive study of deadly force, and published the results in the Journal of Experimental Criminology in 2014. Aided by criminologist David Klinger, lead researcher Lois James found that participants “were more likely to feel threatened in scenarios involving black people. But when it came time to shoot, participants were biased in favor of black suspects, taking longer to pull the trigger against them than against armed white or Hispanic suspects.”
In a Washington Times article on the study, Klinger indicated that after independently interviewing more than 300 police officers he concluded that “while they don't want to shoot anybody, they really don't want to shoot black suspects.”
Further, when the Washington Post studied a year's worth of officer-involved shootings, they discovered that “in three-quarters of the fatal shootings, police were under attack or defending someone who was.” The Post found that “28 percent of those who died were shooting at officers or someone else. Sixteen percent were attacking with other weapons or physical force, and 31 percent were pointing a gun.”
Kaepernick also said, “You don't have to do the same amount of training as a cosmetologist. I mean someone with a curling iron has more education and training than people who have a gun.”
Also untrue — in fact, totally absurd.
As we all know, basic academy training is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to law enforcement education. The FTO program and the probationary training period are rigorous. Ongoing in-service training is continual. Furthermore, many departments also require at least a two-year criminal justice degree.
Officers are required to know massive volumes of case law — decisions from the Supreme Court on down to all the lower courts. They have been asked (forced?) to take on the role of social worker, child protective services, and even street psychologist. To infer that a hairdresser is better educated than a cop is utterly ridiculous.
From SFPOA to ACSO
In response to Kaepernick's statements, the San Francisco Police Department POA sent a letter to 49er President and CEO Jed York and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. In the letter, POA President Martin Halloran said that Kaepernick has “embarrassed himself, the 49er organization, and the NFL based on a false narrative and misinformation that lacks any factual basis.”
Halloran then invited any and all comers to participate in police training. “As a gesture to build communication and understanding about the law enforcement profession, the SFPOA extends an open invitation to Mr. Kaepernick and any player or employee from the National Football League to visit the SFPD Academy and partake in any of the simulations that recruits participate in during their training. This will hopefully expose them to a very small fraction of what officers experience daily on the streets of our city.”
Across the Bay, the Alameda County Sheriff's Office sent an open invitation via Facebook for Kaepernick to visit and train at their Regional Training Center.
“We would like to cordially invite you to the Alameda County Regional Training Center,” the letter said. “The RTC is currently in session hosting our 156th and 157th basic police academies. In addition to the academy, we train thousands of law enforcement officers from throughout the state and country in all aspects of our profession, including use of force. We have a specially designed Use of Force simulator that puts officers in situations where they must make split second decisions on what actions to take.”
Some officers have said that they are “done with the NFL” and won't watch or go to the games. That's their right as well, but I prefer to approach the matter in the same way as SFPOA and ACSO. I will not waste time watching the 49ers (they are going to be terrible) but I'll take in a game played by my New York Football Giants, who recently sent a pretty deliberate signal about their stance on the national anthem.
Meanwhile, officers will continue to provide security to NFL games. They will likely have to deal with disputes between people in the stands — disputes over whether or not to stand for the national anthem, for example — and they will ensure that the players on the field are protected. They will do this with honor, not because of Colin Kaepernick, but in spite of him.
About the author
Doug Wyllie is Editor in Chief of PoliceOne, responsible for setting the editorial direction of the website and managing the planned editorial features by our roster of expert writers. An award-winning columnist — he is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column — Doug has authored more than 900 feature articles and tactical tips on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA). Doug is active in his support for the law enforcement community, contributing his time and talents toward police-related charitable events as well as participating in force-on-force training, search-and-rescue training, and other scenario-based training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.