September, 2016 - Week 3
At least 29 people injured after ‘intentional' explosion in New York City, officials say; second device located
by Mark Berman, Philip Bump and Renae Merle
NEW YORK — Dozens of people were injured Saturday night in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan in an explosion that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called “an intentional act.”
At least 29 people suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the blast, which occurred on the street and not inside a building, according to the New York Police Department. One person was seriously injured, said Daniel A. Nigro, the New York fire commissioner.
Not long after the blast, police said they had found another potentially explosive device just blocks away. This device appeared to be similar to a pressure cooker and had wiring on it, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation. Pressure cookers were used in the two bombs detonated at the Boston Marathon in 2013.
The second device was safely removed by the bomb squad, New York police tweeted early Sunday.
Police officers, firefighters and other first responders had rushed to the blast scene in Chelsea, which closed a major roadway, forced people out of nearby buildings and brought onlookers to the area.
De Blasio (D) said Saturday night that in the initial aftermath of the explosion, authorities had found “no evidence at this point of a terror connection to this incident.”
Although De Blasio said that the explosion was intentional and not an accident when he spoke during a briefing late Saturday, he added that little other information was available because the investigation was in its early stages.
“The exact nature and cause of this explosion has not yet been determined,” James O'Neill, the New York police commissioner marking his first day in the position, said at the news conference late Saturday. O'Neill did say that natural gas had been ruled out as a possible cause.
The New York Police Department's counterterrorism bureau said it was responding to the explosion, which came hours after a pipe bomb exploded in a Jersey Shore garbage can shortly before a scheduled charity race there benefiting Marines and Navy sailors. Officials with the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also said they were heading to the explosion scene.
De Blasio said authorities had not found anything connecting the Chelsea and New Jersey incidents. He also said that there was no specific, credible threat against New York from any terror group.
While O'Neill said authorities were still trying to determine what, precisely, exploded, the New York Police Department's counterterrorism bureau posted a photo online earlier Saturday showing what appeared to be a dumpster or garbage container mangled by a blast: (Picture on site)
Police in New York also reported shortly after 11 p.m. that they had found the “possible secondary device” a few blocks away from the Chelsea explosion scene. Police directed people away from that intersection, and one officer could be heard telling pedestrians that “there is a possible explosive” in the area.
Not long after midnight, police said in a statement that they were asking people in the area of this potential explosive to move away from their windows “until we clear the suspicious package,” although officers did not fully evacuate the area.
According to the Associated Press, the second device was removed with a robot and taken to the department firing range in the Bronx.
The explosion in the area of 23rd Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues happened at about 8:30 p.m. police said. Several of those injured were brought to area hospitals, J. Peter Donald, a police spokesman, posted on Twitter.
Photos and accounts posted on social media showed large crowds — as well as a large law enforcement presence — in the area near where the explosion occurred.
Soleil Filomena, 64, was leaving a convenience store at 7th Ave and 23rd street when she heard the explosion.
“It was so loud it just went through my whole body,” she said. “People started running up 23rd Street and I started running with them.”
Filomena said she saw a “big black cloud in the sky.” After the explosion, she said her “ear was ringing for 15 minutes.”
When Keith Salomon of Delaware felt the explosion, he was having dinner a block and a half from blast. His chair and table shook and he saw people being taken away in ambulances.
“We didn't know what it was and so at first we just kept eating,” said Salomon, 52, who was visiting his son in the city. “But then we realized something was wrong.”
Others did not hear the explosion but saw the aftermath. When Jacob Schulman left his apartment a few blocks away shortly before 9 p.m., he saw people running and screaming.
“I didn't know what was going on but everyone looked so panicked I started running too,” said Schulman, 26, who has lived in the neighborhood since 2014.
Two blocks from the blast scene, a group of people emerged from a screening of the animated movie “Beauty and the Beast” and saw the flashing lights. One man who came out of the theater said he could not hear anything and had no idea about the explosion not far from where he was sitting.
President Obama was briefed on the situation in New York and will be updated as more information becomes available, a White House official said late Saturday.
Speaking in Colorado not long after the explosion, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump quickly commented on the situation before much information was known.
“I must tell you that just before I got off the plane, a bomb went off in New York and nobody knows exactly what's going on,” said Trump shortly after getting off of his plane. His comments were made before authorities confirmed the nature of the explosion.
Late Saturday night, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said it was important to “know the facts” before drawing conclusions about such incidents.
The explosion in New York comes as foreign leaders, including many heads of state, are heading to Manhattan for the United Nations General Assembly. Secretary of State John F. Kerry arrived Saturday, while President Obama is scheduled to head to the city on Monday.
This annual meeting — held more than two miles from the site of the explosion in Chelsea — is traditionally a challenging time for New York, as many roads are shut down and the heavy security leads to increased traffic.
Pipe bomb explodes along Jersey Shore charity 5K racecourse, officials say
by Amy B Wang
Authorities are investigating a pipe bomb that exploded in a Jersey Shore garbage can Saturday morning, shortly before hundreds of people were expected to run through the area in a charity race benefiting Marines and Navy sailors.
The blast occurred about 9:35 a.m. near the boardwalk in Seaside Park, along the route of the Seaside Semper Five Marine Corps Charity 5K, according to the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.
There were no reported injuries or damage to surrounding buildings, and the area was immediately placed on a lockdown while bomb-sniffing dogs searched for other explosive devices, the prosecutor's office said.
Officials added that there was at least one other device reported that the New Jersey State Police would “make safe” but did not give further details.
The race had been delayed, so there were no crowds in the area at the time, according to authorities. A 1-mile Semper Five “fun run” had been scheduled to start at 9 a.m., and the 5K race had been scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m.
As late as 7 a.m., organizers were posting updates about the race on social media. It would have been the third annual running of the five-kilometer out-and-back along the Jersey Shore.
“OOHRAH!” read the caption underneath a video of an American flag waving near the would-be finish line. “PERFECT CONDITIONS FOR THE #SEASIDESEMPERFIVE”
However, less than an hour later, runners were being told there would be no race.
“#SeasideSemperFive just shut down bc of suspicious bag,” tweeted one participant, Felecia Wellington. “Not sure what is going on. We are being told to go home.”
Wellington, who declined to be interviewed but verified her social media posts, said on Twitter that she had not heard an explosion and that runners were evacuated before the area was shut down.
“Emergency services responded very quickly to the explosion & suspicious bag situation in Seaside,” Wellington tweeted again later. “Happy we are safe.”
Race organizers canceled the race at the last minute Saturday morning.
“Out of extreme precaution, this year's Seaside Semper Five has been canceled due to an unidentified suspicious backpack found at the race site,” read a statement on the race website. “The safety and security of our participants, spectators, staff and volunteers is of utmost importance.”
The event was put on by the MARSOC Foundation, a nonprofit group that supports active-duty and retired members of the Marine Corps, Navy and their families.
It is unclear how many runners had signed up to participate in the Semper Five race. Results from past years' races listed more than 700 finishers. Organizers did not immediately respond to an email inquiry Saturday.
Several local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies are investigating the pipe bomb. As of Saturday afternoon, the Ocean County Sheriff's Department was advising people to avoid the area.
In 2013, two explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured 264. Since then, security at that race — as well as at other major marathons and large-scale running events — has tightened.
Black man fatally shot by Tulsa police during roadside investigation of his stalled car
by Laura Bult
A black Oklahoma man, whom family say was unarmed, was fatally shot by police who were investigating the slain man's stalled car in the middle of the street.
Terence Crutcher, 40, died at a Tulsa hospital on Friday night shortly after the violent confrontation, the Tulsa World reported.
Police said Crutcher's SUV had been stalled at an intersection on Tulsa's northeast side on Friday evening. Officers en route to an unrelated call pulled over to investigate the vehicle around 7:40 p.m.
Crutcher's twin sister, Tiffany, told the Daily News her brother had just begun studying music appreciation at Tulsa Community College and had just left class when his car broke down. Crutcher's car had been in the shop recently and "was having some problems," she told The News.
Crutcher approached the responding officers on foot and failed to put his hands up when the cops ordered him to, police said.
"He refused to follow commands given by the officers," Tulsa police spokeswoman Jeanne MacKenzie told the Associated Press. "They continued to talk to him, he continued not to listen and follow any commands."
When Crutcher reached into the stalled car in the middle of the north Tulsa road, one of the officers fired his Taser gun. Shortly after, a second officer fired a single gunshot at the man, MacKenzie said.
Crutcher immediately dropped to the ground and was rushed to the St. John Medical Center, where he later died.
The police officer who fired the fatal gunshot has been put on leave, as is routine in cases of police-involved shootings, MacKenzie said. The county district attorney will investigate whether the shooting was justified.
Police have not revealed whether Crutcher had a gun on him at the time of the shooting, but his sister told Tulsa World that she is certain he was unarmed.
“One fact I do know is that my brother was unarmed,” she said. She told The News Crutcher was a father to four children and "was very excited" about starting his new college program.
Online court records show that Crutcher pleaded no contest in 1996 to carrying a concealed weapon and resisting an officer and was given a six-month suspended sentence.
An attorney for the family has demanded the Tulsa police department “immediately” release any video footage of the shooting. Police said they believe a dashcam would have captured the confrontation.
"All we want is for the police to be transparent in their investigation and provide the video we know does exist,” attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons told the News. "We want to know exactly what happened and go from there."
Solomon-Simmons is representing the family along with Melvin C. Hall and civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who has represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.
Solomon-Simmons called the killing "an extremely sad and serious situation as Terence was a beloved father, brother, son and friend."
According to a Guardian investigation into police-involved shootings in the U.S., Oklahoma cops kill people at a higher rate per capita than any other state.
Drugged driving a growing threat to public safety
by Keirsha Baron
Driving under the influence of alcohol throughout the years has significantly decreased thanks to awareness campaigns against drunken driving involving various sectors, such as law enforcement, the media and coalitions such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
National trends on drunken driving have dropped in the past few years, with alcohol-impaired driving facilities declining by 27 percent from 2002 vs. 2011. But how about driving under the influence of drugs?
The scary thing about drugged driving is that any person, teenagers and adults alike, is susceptible to drugged driving, whether one is taking illegal drugs, over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs.
You might think that this won't happen to you, and maybe it won't. I thought so, too. However, a few months ago, right after taking a prescribed medication, I drove directly to work, feeling a little drowsy but thinking I could manage it. While stopping at an intersection at Highway 12, the signal light turned green. I immediately drove forward, not knowing that it was the left turn light that turned green, not the solid green light for my lane.
I could have caused a major accident, injuring myself and other road users that day. Fortunately, the car I would have hit swerved away and prevented an accident.
What people don't think about is the aftermath of car accidents and fatalities resulting from motorists under the influence of drugs. Estimates have shown that 20 percent of car crashes in the U.S. are caused by drugged driving. A survey done in California showed that 14 percent of weekend nighttime motorists tested positive for impaired driving due to prescription drugs, illegal drugs or a combination thereof, compared to about 7 percent of drivers with alcohol in their system.
It is not surprising that being under the influence of any drug is dangerous because of its effects to the brain. Motorists may become less attentive and lose their coordination, altering their breaking time and judgment.
A person can still get a DUI in California for driving under the influence of either illegal or legal drugs, too. However, creating drugged driving legislation will not be as simple as in alcohol. Whereas alcohol impairment can be defined through a legal limit (0.08 percent blood-alcohol content), there is no easy way to determine an agreed-upon limit of impairment for drugs. Medications also affect people in different ways, making it difficult to draw the line of legality.
To combat this issue, law enforcement is stepping up by providing drug recognition experts, or police officers trained to identify drug-impaired drivers. Locally, city teams under the Solano County's ATOD Prevention Collaborative are also raising awareness campaigns in their communities on the dangers of drugged driving.
What can you do to prevent this issue? As a motorist, learn from my mistake – make sure to read medication labels or consult your pharmacist about the drugs' side effects. Follow the warning before taking the road; just because it is prescribed to you does not mean your driving will not be affected in any way. As a parent, advise your teens about the dangers of both drunken and drugged driving. As a local resident, talk about this issue and support your community's awareness and advocacy campaigns.
This way, we can collectively reduce drugged driving incidents in our county.
Video shows Wash. officers justified in fatal OIS
Michael Kurtz had called 911 saying he was suicidal, had a large knife and wasn't afraid to harm police officers
by Rachel Alexander
SPOKANE, Wash. — When three Spokane police officers pull up to the corner of a brick building, Michael Kurtz is facing the wall.
“Michael, my name's Chris, man what's going on with you?” Officer Chris LeQuire yells. Kurtz responds, “I just want to die.”
About a minute later, two officers shot and killed Kurtz after he approached them holding a knife.
Spokane police on Tuesday released body camera and surveillance video from the fatal shooting April 28 outside the House of Charity, a shelter and drop-in center for homeless people.
Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell ruled the shooting justified in June.
Kurtz, a homeless man, had been staying at the shelter before he was killed.
Body camera video shows a tense interaction as LeQuire tries to get Kurtz to talk to him. Kurtz had called 911 saying he was suicidal, had a large knife and wasn't afraid to harm police officers, police said Tuesday.
LeQuire tells Kurtz, “We just want to help you, man.”
Kurtz responds, “Kill me.” As LeQuire objects, saying officers don't want to do that, Kurtz continues, “That's how you help me.”
After LeQuire tries again to get Kurtz to talk to him, Kurtz begins walking toward officers holding a knife to his chest and screaming, “Kill me! Kill me!” LeQuire fires his Taser, but Kurtz remains standing and continues walking. Soon after, officer Ryan Atkins and Brandon Lynch shoot Kurtz, then rush to grab a medic bag from the car to treat him.
The video contradicts some witness accounts from after the shooting. One woman said Kurtz's knife was on the ground and that he told police to leave him alone, though other witnesses said they saw Kurtz holding the knife and walking toward officers.
The shooting led to confrontations with other House of Charity residents. One man, Arlo Morrow, began yelling and swearing at officers almost immediately after they shot Kurtz, saying, “Shoot me like you shot him!” Morrow was later arrested outside the House of Charity after he charged a police officer.
A woman, Elena Olson, was arrested after standing in traffic and then assaulting officers who tried to get her to move, police said.
The shooting also led to conversations about funding for services for homeless people and mental health. Spokane law enforcement director Jim McDevitt and Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich called a news conference shortly after the shooting, calling it a tragedy that reflected the lack of mental health resources for people in need.
Bishop Thomas Daly of the Spokane Diocese said the day after the shooting that had the shelter's hours not been reduced because of funding cuts, Kurtz would have been inside and able to get the help he needed from trained staff. Days later, the city announced a commitment to funding the House of Charity as a 24-hour emergency shelter starting in 2017, a plan that had been under discussion before Kurtz was killed.
Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, Major Crimes Lt. Steve Wohl reiterated that the shooting was tragic for everyone involved.
“We respond to suicide calls on a regular basis … and many times we can get them the help they need,” Wohl said.
Police: Anti-cop note found at scene of Pa. rampage
Police found a note at the scene of the rampage that expressed hatred toward law enforcement and a named probation officer
by The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA — A "rambling" note expressing hatred for police was found after a man opened fire on a Philadelphia police officer then went on a shooting spree, injuring a second officer, killing a woman and wounding three other people before he was shot and killed by police in an alley, authorities said Saturday.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said police found what he called a "rambling" note at the scene of the Friday overnight rampage that police believe was written by the gunman and that expressed hatred toward law enforcement and named a probation officer.
Ross said police believe only the one gunman was involved in the violent events, which he described as "completely bizarre."
The wild chase and shootout through the streets of Philadelphia began about 11:20 p.m. Friday when Sgt. Sylvia Young was ambushed while sitting in her patrol car; she was shot a number of times in the arm and protective vest, Ross said.
The gunman fled then shot into a nearby bar, hitting a security guard in the leg; he grabbed a woman and used her as a shield before shooting her in the leg, Ross said. Moments later, as police gave chase, the suspect shot into in a car, killing a woman and critically wounding a man.
Ross said two police officers and University of Pennsylvania police officer Ed Miller chased the man into an alley, where he was shot and killed. Miller was wounded.
Both Miller and Young, a 19-year police veteran, were in stable condition Saturday at Penn Presbyterian Hospital. Young was struck up to eight times. Bullets hit her protective vest and her left arm.
Aside from the officers, the identities of the suspect and others shot in the spree were not immediately released.
Mayor Jim Kenney praised officers and pleaded with them to follow Young's example and wear their protective vests.
"Thank you for what you do for us every day, and please, please, please, every shift, please wear your vest," he said. "They will save your life, as we saw tonight."
From the Department of Homeland Security
Secretary Johnson Awards NYC Police Commissioner Bratton DHS' Highest Honor
In recognition of his remarkable career, as well as for his contributions to making American citizens and the homeland safer, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson awarded Commissioner Bratton with the DHS Distinguished Public Service Medal.
Presenting the award on September 9, Secretary Johnson said, "Bill Bratton has never hesitated to be there for our country, for the City of New York, and numerous other jurisdictions which he served. He and I have been terrific partners in homeland security and law enforcement."
The Department of Homeland Security Distinguished Public Service Medal is the Department's highest civilian honor. It is awarded directly by and at the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security. The medal recognizes individual excellence in works to strengthen the homeland and efforts to ensure the safety and security of the American people.
Partnerships with local law enforcement are essential to advancing the homeland security mission. We must continue to work together to keep the American public safe. We have no better partner in this effort than the New York City Police Department.
Statement by Secretary Johnson Concerning the Cybersecurity of the Nation's Election Systems
In recent months we have seen cyber intrusions involving political institutions and personal communications. We have also seen some efforts at cyber intrusions of voter registration data maintained in state election systems. We have confidence in the overall integrity of our electoral systems. It is diverse, subject to local control, and has many checks and balance built in.
Nevertheless, we must face the reality that cyber intrusions and attacks in this country are increasingly sophisticated, from a range of increasingly capable actors that include nation-states, cyber hacktivists, and criminals. In this environment, we must be vigilant.
The Department of Homeland Security stands ready to assist state and local election officials in protecting their systems. In our cybersecurity mission, this is the nature of what we do – offer and provide assistance upon request. We do this for private businesses and other entities across the spectrum of the private and public sectors. This includes the most cybersecurity sophisticated businesses in Corporate America.
It is important to emphasize what DHS assistance does not entail. DHS assistance is strictly voluntary and does not entail regulation, binding directives, and is not offered to supersede state and local control over the process. The DHS role is limited to support only.
DHS offers the following services to state and election officials to assist in their cybersecurity:
Cyber hygiene scans on Internet-facing systems. These scans are conducted remotely, after which we can provide state and local officials with a report identifying vulnerabilities and mitigation recommendations to improve the cybersecurity of systems connected to the Internet, such as online voter registration systems, election night reporting systems, and other Internet-connected election management systems.
Risk and vulnerability assessments. These assessments are more thorough and done on-site by DHS cybersecurity experts. They typically require 2-3 weeks and include a wide range of vulnerability testing services, focused on both internal and external systems.
The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, or “NCCIC.” The NCCIC is DHS's 24x7 cyber incident response center. We encourage state and local election officials to report suspected malicious cyber activity to the NCCIC. On request, the NCCIC can provide on-site assistance in identifying and remediating a cyber incident.
Information sharing. DHS will continue to share relevant information on cyber incidents through multiple means. The NCCIC works with the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) to provide threat and vulnerability information to state and local officials. All states are members of the MS-ISAC. DHS requests that election officials connect with their state CIO to benefit from this partnership and rapidly receive information they can use to protect their systems. State election officials may also receive incident information directly from the NCCIC.
Sharing of best practices. DHS intends to publish best practices for securing voter registration databases and addressing potential threats to election systems from ransomware. These best practices documents will be publicly available by September 16, 2016.
Field-based cybersecurity advisors and protective security advisors. DHS has personnel available in the field to provide actionable information and connect election officials to a range of tools and resources available to improve the cybersecurity preparedness of election systems and the physical site security of voting machine storage and polling places. These advisors are also available to assist with planning and incident management assistance for both cyber and physical incidents.
In recent weeks a number of states have reached out to us with questions or for assistance. We strongly encourage more state and local election officials to do so.
From the Department of Justice
Department of Justice to Launch Inaugural National Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week
Attorney General Lynch will Travel to Lexington, Kentucky as Part of the Justice Department's Awareness Campaign to Address the Rising Public Health Crisis of Drug Addiction
The Obama Administration is announcing a “week of action” to raise awareness about the rising public health crisis caused by drug overdoses. As part of this effort, the Department of Justice designated the week of Sept.18-23, 2016, as National Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week. Senior Department of Justice officials, members of the President's Cabinet and other federal agencies will hold events focused on the work being done to address the national prescription opioid and heroin epidemic.
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch will travel to Lexington, Kentucky on TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2016, to hold a youth town hall at a local high school; meet with parents who have lost their children due to overdoses and now belong to the Heroin Education Action Team (H.E.A.T.); and deliver a policy speech regarding the actions and resources the Justice Department is bringing to bear on this issue.
“The heroin and opioid epidemic is one of the most urgent law enforcement and public health challenges facing our country,” said Attorney General Lynch. “Through National Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week, the Department of Justice seeks to raise awareness and prevent new victims from succumbing to addiction; to highlight the department's ongoing commitment to holding accountable traffickers and others responsible for this epidemic; and to help provide treatment to those grappling with addiction. To be successful in this important endeavor, we need the help of all our federal, tribal, state and local partners. In the months ahead, we will continue working to erase this scourge from our communities and to ensure a brighter future for all Americans.”
National Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week will reinforce the Justice Department's three-fold approach to the opioid and heroin epidemic:
1) prevent further tragedies by raising awareness regarding the Opioid and Heroin epidemic;
2) focus on enforcement priorities and highlight best practices; and
3) deploy resources for treatment. As part of the initiative, over 70 U.S. Attorneys around the country have already committed to doing over 160 different events around the country and over 90 events are planned at Bureau of Prison (BOP) facilities.
As part of the National Heroin and Opioid Week of action, the Attorney General is expected to announce a new strategy memo directed to the department that focuses on the three-fold prevention, enforcement, treatment approach to combatting the opioid epidemic. Earlier today, the President issued a proclamation designating September 18-23, 2016, as Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week.
ATTORNEY GENERAL LYNCH HOSTS TOWN HALL AT MADISON CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL
WHO: Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch
U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey
WHEN: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2016
9:00 a.m. EDT
WHERE: Madison Central High School
705 N 2 nd St
Richmond, KY 40475
NOTE: All media must present government-issued photo I.D. (such as a driver's license) as well as valid media credentials. Members of the media must RSVP for the above events to firstname.lastname@example.org
Email links icon. Space is limited and not guaranteed. Press inquiries regarding logistics should be directed to Rebecca.L.Stewart@usdoj.gov
Email links icon. Following the event, Attorney General Lynch and U.S. Attorney Harvey will hold a media availability. Additional details will be provided at a later time.
ATTORNEY GENERAL LYNCH DELIVERS REMARKS AT UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY
WHO: Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch
U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey
WHEN: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2016
3:45 p.m. EDT
WHERE: University of Kentucky
789 South Limestone St
Lexington, KY 40536
NOTE: All media must present government-issued photo I.D. (such as a driver's license) as well as valid media credentials. Members of the media must RSVP for the above events to email@example.com
Email links icon. Space is limited and not guaranteed. Press inquiries regarding logistics should be directed to Rebecca.L.Stewart@usdoj.gov
Email links icon. Additional details will be provided at a later time.
Senior Administration, DOJ Officials Events for National Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week of Action:
Monday, Sept.19, 2016
Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates will visit a BOP's Community Treatment Services program at the Renaissance Medical Group in Washington, D.C. The Community Treatment Program is the final stage of BOP's Residential Drug Abuse Program, as the inmates completing their sentences transition through Residential Reentry Centers. This visit will highlight BOPs efforts to provide treatment to inmates with substance abuse issues, particularly prescription and other forms of opioids.
Monday, Sept. 19, 2016
Acting Bureau of Prisons Director Thomas Kane will meet participants in a Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) at the Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland. This event is in conjunction with other special programming created during Administration's week of action within the 90 RDAPs around the country to help raise awareness about the severity of heroin and prescription opioid abuse. Activities will also include presentations by mental health service providers, inmate panel discussions, and observing moments of silence during community meetings for lives lost to opioid addiction.
Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016
Attorney General Lynch will travel to Lexington, Kentucky to hold a student town hall at a high school, meet with H.E.A.T. parents that have lost their children to heroin abuse, and then close the day at the University of Kentucky for a policy speech on how the department is addressing the issue through prevention, enforcement and treatment.
Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016
OCDETF Director Bruce Ohr will travel to New Mexico to hold meeting with the leaders of three pueblo communities in the Espanola Valley, which has the highest heroin overdose death rate in the country on a per capita basis. He will also do additional outreach meetings with tribal leaders to discuss DOJ assistance to address the heroin/opioid crisis in Indian Country and best practices for first responders to carry naloxone.
Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016
Secretary of the Veteran's Administration Robert McDonald , Principal Associate Attorney General Bill Baer , and ONDCP Director Michael Botticelli will participate in a roundtable discussion on the Administration's efforts to assist our nation's veterans suffering from opioid abuse.
Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016
Attorney General Lynch will deliver welcoming remarks prior to a screening of the “Chasing the Dragon” documentary, a film created jointly by the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). FBI Director James Comey and DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg will also participate in a question and answers session.
Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016
COPS Office Director Ron Davis will participate in a joint event at the Indianapolis Police Department headquarters to announce grant funding to support law enforcement efforts to combat the distribution and trafficking of heroin, methamphetamine and other harmful opioids. The COPS Office will also release a new report, “Building Successful Partnerships Between Law Enforcement and Public Health Officials to Address Opioid Abuse” to serve as a resources to better assist law enforcement strategies to address the complex rising challenges posed by opioid overdoses. Press inquiries should be directed to the COPS Office at 202-514-9079.
‘I've been kidnapped': Agonizing 911 call leads to 3 bodies, a terrified woman and a captor
by Fred Barbash
There are hundreds of missing people in Ohio. You can see them listed on a web site sponsored by the state's attorney general, the faces of men, women and children, classified as runaways, the lost, the injured, the “endangered,” many of whom, if the past is any guide, may never be found.
Stacey Stanley had not appeared on the list yet, perhaps because she had only been missing since Sept. 8.
Stanley, 43, was a heroin addict. She had been struggling with it for years, her uncle Argil Stanley told People. About six months ago, she made another effort to conquer her demons, and she appeared to be having some success.
“She had been off of the stuff the last six months and was living with her sister, going to work every day,” Stanley said. “She was sober and was taking care of herself. She had reclaimed her life.”
In that respect, her story is not unlike that of thousands, particularly in the rust belt states, which have been plagued with addiction and overdoses.
Then, on the night of Sept. 8, her son Kory said, she went out for coffee.
“She never made it home that night,” Kory told Fox8 Cleveland.
According to the missing person notice issued for Stacey Stanley, she was last spotted with a flat tire on her 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse, at the BP station on East Main St., in Ashland, Ohio, about 80 miles from Columbus.
The Ashland Police Department pleaded with the public on its Facebook page, posting her picture and saying:
Could u just help us by putting this out there for us we need all the help we can get please her name is Stacey Stanley but also goes by Stacey hicks lives in Greenwich Ohio but last seen in Ashland Ohio she has hazel eyes purplish black hair about 5' 5? around 175 pounds we located her car but not her.
While friends and relatives were combing Ashland looking for her, another woman disappeared.
The woman, who has not been named by police, had been out walking with a man she would later identify as Shawn Grate. It's unclear how she knew him or why she was walking with him.
He took her to an abandoned house in a desolate neighborhood of Ashland, where he tied her up and forced her to engage in sexual activity, she told police
Tuesday, she managed to loosen the ties that bound her, and she slipped over to a telephone in the bedroom. While the man slept, she called 911, whispering and clearly terrified about disturbing the man in the bed in the same room, a bed where she had moments before been lying captive.
“I've been kidnapped,” she told the responder, her voice quavering.
“Who abducted you?
“Shawn Grate,” the voice responded
“Where's he at now?”
“Sleeping in the bedroom … I'm in the bedroom with him.” “I'm scared,” she said.
When asked if she was bleeding, the woman said, “Not anymore.” When asked if he was armed, she said he had a Taser.
The 7 a.m. 911 call, punctuated by long silences, seemed like an eternity. (You can listen to portions here. Her name has been redacted by police.)
According to Fox8 Cleveland, it lasted 19 minutes. The woman's call to the Sheriff's Department in Ashland had to be transferred to a regional call center 20 miles away.
The Ashland Police Chief told Fox8 that 5 minutes passed before police were dispatched. Officers didn't have an exact address, so that second dispatcher had to gather information about the house and the suspect.
All she was able to tell them, according to a tape of the 911 call, was that it was near a laundromat in Ashland. They found her in a nearby house on Covert Court, in hindsight an apt name.
The woman's rescue is also heard on the tape, with an officer yelling to her, “Hurry up, hurry up, get out here.”
Finally, “Okay they have her,” the dispatcher said.
Grate. who was taken into custody, had kidnapped the woman, forcing her to engage in sexual activity since Sunday, according to court documents cited by local news outlets.
But that was not the end of the story.
When police searched the house, they found two bodies, both of them women.
One of them has now been identified as that of Stacey Stanley, the woman last seen on Sept. 8.
And police say Grate, described in some reports as homeless and on his Facebook page, as of August 8, as a new maintenance man at a Holiday Inn, then led them to a second house in nearby Mansfield, which had been burned down in June.
There, after combing through the debris Wednesday, authorities found the remains of another person in a ravine behind the property.
That body has yet to be identified, and will for the time being join a list, also on the attorney general's web site, of John Does and Jane Does classified simply as “unidentified remains.”
Thursday night, at a vigil for Stacey Stanley, her uncle said he believes his niece died for a reason, according to the Mansfield News-Journal.
The family likes to think that their search led the captor in the abandoned house in Ashland to sleepless nights, which made him fall fast asleep.
And that allowed the captive woman to place that long, frightening call to 911.
“It is a sad situation, especially the way she died,” Argil Stanley said of Stacey. “She was beaten to death. The cops said she was unrecognizable from the beating,” he told People.
Grate, 40, has been charged with abduction and two counts of murder and is being held in the Ashland County jail, the Ashland Times-Gazette reported. Further charges are expected.
According to WAVE3 News in Cleveland, Grate has a long history with the law, including arrests for domestic violence, marijuana possession and theft.
He has not yet filed a plea.
In his last Facebook post, Grate shared a large image. “Let's see,” it said, “if we can find 1 million who are unashamed to say with us Jesus watches over me.”
Man Shot After Striking Off-Duty New York Detective With Meat Cleaver, Authorities Say
by Christopher Miele, Al Baker and Emily Palmer
A man wielding an 11-inch meat cleaver near Pennsylvania Station and resisting police officers' efforts to catch him on Thursday slashed an off-duty detective in the head before being shot by the police, the authorities said, in an episode that sent commuters and tourists fleeing during the evening rush.
It started when the police confronted a man who was trying to remove a “boot” device attached to a tire on his car, officials said, and escalated into a chaotic chase through Midtown Manhattan that ended with officers shooting at him 18 times.
The man, Akram Joudeh, 32, was critically injured and taken to Bellevue Hospital Center, the police said. The off-duty detective, identified by the police as Brian O'Donnell, was in serious condition. Two other officers were taken to the center with injuries that were not life-threatening.
The episode began around 5 p.m. at West 32nd Street and Broadway when several officers responded to a report that Mr. Joudeh was trying to remove the device, Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said at a news conference on Thursday night. The police said they believed Mr. Joudeh, whose last known residence was in Queens, was living out of his car.
The chief of department, James O'Neill, said Mr. Joudeh pulled a cleaver from his waist band, threatened the officers and then fled. At one point, the chief said, the man mounted the front grille of a marked police car that had responded to the call. As officers pursued him, a uniformed sergeant “deployed a Taser , striking the suspect without apparent effect,” Chief O'Neill said.
As Mr. Joudeh ran along West 32nd Street, the off-duty detective, who was headed to Penn Station after a day in court, saw the pursuit and tried to stop him. He was struck in the head with the cleaver, “causing an approximate six-inch gash from his temple about down to his jaw,” the chief said.
Officers then fired at the man, striking him several times, the chief said.
Officials said Mr. Joudeh had several past arrests, but they would not elaborate on his criminal history. In 2010, Mr. Joudeh pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of petit larceny and was sentenced to 90 days, according to public records. In 2009, he was charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, but those felonies were dismissed, records show. He pleaded guilty to unauthorized use of a vehicle and was fined, but served no time.
Asked about the possibility that the attack might have been tied to terrorism, Chief O'Neill said, “As part of our investigation, nothing's off the table.”
The chase left commuters and tourists scurrying for cover as officers flooded the area during the start of the evening rush near a transit hub. Mr. Bratton addressed concerns that so many shots were fired in such a busy area.
“Sufficient shots were fired to deter the attack on my officers,” he said.
Richard DeWald, a nurse, said he narrowly avoided Mr. Joudeh during the pursuit. “He just seemed wild and crazy,” Mr. DeWald, 56, said. “First there was yelling, and then all I heard was the gunshots.”
Witnesses said they saw Mr. Joudeh on the corner of 32nd Street and Avenue of the Americas, clutching a large meat cleaver to his chest. They said he was silent and his face was expressionless.
“He didn't say a word, that's the thing,” said Jonathan Schneier, who works at a software company and watched the episode unfold from across the street.
Mr. Schneier said the officers, shouting “Drop the weapon,” pointed their guns at the man, who appeared “flustered.”
“He just looked like a crazy guy with a huge weapon,” he said. “He just literally looked like a deer in headlights.”
Mr. Schneier said the man began “sprinting as fast as he could” and was pursued by police. About 10 seconds after that, Mr. Schneier said, he heard gunshots.
“I called my girlfriend right away and told her what happened,” he added. “It's New York. Stuff happens.”
Robert Mennella of Bridgewater, N.J., said he had left the subway station at 32nd Street and Seventh Avenue and was headed to Penn Station.
He said he saw a number of unmarked and marked police cars racing along 32nd Street when he heard gunshots.
“Everybody turned around,” he said. “Some people stood there with their phones to take pictures, and I just took off.”
Sandra Bland's family hopes $1.9M settlement results in jail reform nationwide
by William Lee
The family of Sandra Bland has struck a $1.9 million settlement in a wrongful-death lawsuit, according to the family's attorneys. Bland's mother hopes it could eventually result in jail reforms nationwide.
Bland, 28, an African-American woman, died in a Texas jail cell in July 2015 a few days after a white Texas state trooper stopped her for a minor traffic offense. Her arrest was captured on dashcam video and released publicly, adding to an ongoing national debate over how law enforcement treats African-Americans.
Attorneys for Waller County, Texas, insisted the agreement was not yet final and required approval by officials there, but Cannon Lambert, the Chicago-based attorney representing Bland's mother, called the deal "absolute" and that the family's lawsuit would be dismissed in a few days.
Bland's mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, who emerged as a national voice against police brutality as she pushed for answers in her daughter's death — told the Tribune Thursday that the settlement also calls for changes in the way inmates are monitored, which she says is the real victory.
"This is the beginning of a new chapter for the rest of the mothers who felt like they just haven't been heard," Reed-Veal told the Tribune at her attorney's Loop law office, wearing a red dress and a button with her daughter's face pinned near her heart.
"They've been calling out, asking for changes in the criminal system and the jailing system and this is just the beginning of that. I believe there's going to be a ripple effect. If people get together and mobilize, I believe there will be a ripple effect where Waller County won't be the only one to make these changes," Reed-Veal said.
Lambert said that in addition to the $1.9 million to be paid by Waller County and the Texas Department of Public Safety, the settlement calls for changes in how prisoners are handled at the county jail where Bland was held, including the presence of emergency medical technicians on all shifts and increased training of personnel.
"This is what I call God's victory," Reed-Veal said.
Lambert called the settlement historic, but gave credit to Reed-Veal.
"You never see settlements like this," said Lambert, accompanied by fellow attorney Larry Rogers. "It was something that she has fought for since the beginning and she was unrelenting. She insisted that there be changes made and she won."
Bland, a former Naperville and Aurora resident, was in Texas in July 2015 to start a new job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University, when state Trooper Brian Encinia pulled her over for allegedly failing to signal while changing lanes. Video from Encinia's squad car and a microphone on his uniform show the two beginning to argue over the trooper's request that Bland put out her cigarette. Encinia then reaches into Bland's car and tries to drag her out before arresting her.
"Get out of the car!" Encinia is heard saying. "I will light you up! Get out!" The two struggled outside the car as Encinia handcuffed her and called for backup.
After being unable to pay bond, Bland spent three days in the county jail before she was found hanging in her cell. Authorities ruled it a suicide.
Bland's family filed a lawsuit, contending among other things that jail personnel should have checked on her more often.
The family's complaint also contended that Encinia falsified the assault allegation to take her into custody and that jail personnel failed to keep her safe. County officials said Bland was treated well while locked up and produced documents that showed she gave jail employees inconsistent information about whether she was suicidal.
Encinia was indicted on perjury charges last January and later was fired from his job. Two jail guards who have since left their jobs admitted under oath to their roles in falsifying a jail monitoring log that indicated guards checked on Bland an hour before she was found hanging in her cell.
Still, many unanswered questions about her daughter's time in custody linger, and while she's pleased with the proposed settlement, Reed-Veal hasn't accepted that her daughter, who was so excited about a fresh start, would kill herself, according to her attorney.
"She does not believe that it was a suicide, by any means," Lambert said.
In July, Reed-Veal appeared on stage at the Democratic National Convention with other black mothers whose children died during encounters with law enforcement.
Despite persistent questions about how her daughter died, Reed-Veal said she's decided to channel her anguish into action. She said she hopes to keep up the pressure and continue for criminal sanctions against Encinia.
"Now the blaring is out there, people are listening," she said. "It's been going on for years, but now the country is listening and so hopefully we can get from just listening to let's get some action going, let's make things happen."
Community policing highlighted during WPD Assessment progress report
by Chris Arnold
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – When Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay took over the department in January, he made it clear that community policing was of the utmost importance.
Back in February 2015, Wichita State University released its assessment of the police department.
It gave the department recommendations on how they can improve their relationship with the community.
Today, Ramsay went over a detailed progress report dealing with the assessment, saying they have made progress.
Ramsay says the department has been heavily involved in the community.
“We have been busy attending many of the different neighborhood meetings operated throughout the city and have attended over 50 to date, we did the neighborhood cookouts where we had officers really focusing on reengaging for the community,” said Ramsay.
Those in the community, like Brandon Johnson have taken notice.
Johnson is the Executive Director of CORE, Community Operations Recovery Empowerment.
“Those opportunities he's presented through the barbecues, the subsequent cookouts other patrols have had have offered those opportunities for the dialogue, which is the most important piece,” said Johnson.
Ramsay says one effort is to reach out to several communities in Wichita.
After the Orlando shooting, he assigned two officers to regularly attend meetings with the LGBT community.
Ramsay also formed an Hispanic Advisory Board, a Spanish Facebook Page, Spanish news briefings and assigned an officer to be a liaison for the Hispanic community.
That targeted outreach is something Johnson feels is important.
“I think in the past WPD and this Hispanic community had had some issues because there was no outreach, there are also some fears in the Hispanic community in regard to law enforcement and ICE and things like that, so it is great for the department to reach out,” said Johnson.
Ramsay says community policing is helped by the department being staffed at the highest level in seven years.
Johnson feels more officers are needed to allow for more community policing, but says the department doesn't have to wait to get the ball rolling.
“We're moving in the right direction, again I think community policing can happen now,” said Johnson.
While Johnson is pleased by the progress from the assessment, he has some concerns, mainly with transparency.
He touched on the Community Advisory Board.
It's something he says could make the community really happy or really skeptical of police, depending on how it is implemented.
It's one thing Ramsay says is still a work in progress, saying they are about six to eight months away from a solid plan.
Community, police together must solve neighborhood problems
by Ben McBride
“I don't know what it feels like to walk in your shoes. I don't know what it feels like to wake up every morning and kiss the people you love, knowing that your job can put you in grave danger. I don't know what it feels like to be tasked with making split-second decisions that can change or end a person's life.
“But I know what it feels like to walk in my shoes. And my hope is that I can talk to you about my shoes, and, in exchange, maybe you trust me to talk about your shoes; and we will find a way to come together on a journey that will connect us on a trusting path.”
This is the opening statement I've shared with more than a thousand police officers in my work to bridge the gap between law enforcement and communities of color. It hasn't been easy; cynicism is high on both sides.
On the one hand, African Americans and communities of color have a history of mistrusting (and fearing) law enforcement — sentiments that are reinforced when we see footage of young, unarmed people of color brutalized and shot by police.
On the other hand, the attacks on law enforcement by extremists create unjust pain and deepen the chasm of mistrust and defensiveness in the public safety community.
Fortunately, a new effort was announced this week that aims to reverse these trends in California, bringing together communities of color and law enforcement to not only create trust but also reforms that are good for public safety. And it will start with each side bringing their honest selves.
I myself have enough racial baggage with law enforcement to justify residency in the land of cynicism. When the Ferguson Uprising occurred, after the “shot heard around the trust-building world,” I had to make a choice: continue my work addressing the trust deficit or give in to my own cynicism and bias.
I've been racially profiled. My brother was assaulted by police in college. My father is a product of the Jim Crow South. My great-uncle was rumored to be killed by the Ku Klux Klan, some of whom were off-duty police officers.
But partnership calls for something different. Something more courageous and radically counterintuitive. For transformative change, we must commit ourselves fully to walking in each other's shoes.
As a faith leader in Oakland Community Organizations, we piloted a trust-building program from 2013 to 2015. With community participation and perspectives as a centerpiece, we trained 700 Oakland police officers on the historical effects of policing, how to better listen, see other's perspectives, and maintain trust throughout interactions.
An important component of the program was creating a space for Oakland residents and police officers to identify reforms together. One such policy prevents dangerous foot pursuits by police into residential backyards — a leading factor in officer-involved shootings. In the 20 years before our program, an Oakland officer was involved in a fatal shooting every six weeks on average. After implementation, OPD went 23 months without a single, lethal officer-involved shooting (and experienced fewer officer-related injuries during the same period).
In 2015, as founder of Empower Initiative, I collaborated with the California Department of Justice and Jennifer Eberhardt of Stanford University to train 70 law enforcement executives and create a curriculum based on California Attorney General Kamala Harris' Principled Policing Training manual. The goal: Bring community members and law enforcement together to reform policies and repair relationships.
Moving forward, PICO California will build upon this important trust-building work over the next two years. With the support of seven California foundations, we will equip community members to train 3,000 officers in Sacramento, Stockton, Richmond, Berkeley, San Francisco, Fresno, Modesto, Bakersfield, Los Angeles County, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego. As part of 120 regional meetings with law enforcement and community members, we will identify and implement concrete policy solutions for improving police and community relationships.
And that's what we need: Community members and law enforcement working together to identify concrete solutions for neighborhoods across California.
We are calling Californians to step into each other's shoes and widen the circle of our concern. Partnership is not an option; it's a necessity. It's going to take real leadership to see each other's point of view, without total agreement, and pioneer new roads that lead to safe, peaceful communities. And that's something we all want and deserve.
The Rev. Ben McBride is the deputy director at PICO California, a statewide network of 500 faith institutions and community organizations. A former pastor, he has served as the primary non-police trainer for the Oakland Police Department's Procedural Justice & Police Legitimacy Course. He lives in Oakland.
Self-Assessment Reveals Improvement in Policing
by Olga Enger
Since Middletown Police Chief Anthony Pesare was hired in 2004, he has aimed to expand the department's community policing department. A recent study demonstrated the chief has made progress toward that goal.
“It's a proactive approach to policing. The chief has made it a priority,” said Middletown Police Lt. Jason Ryan.
In August, members of the department, along with 23 community partners, took part in the Community Policing Self-Assessment Tool (CP-SAT), which is an anonymous online survey measuring community partnerships, problem-solving, and organization transformation. The assessment is sponsored by the Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office and is administered by ICF International.
Overall, the results demonstrated improvement since the department last took the assessment in 2014. Additionally, the scores were higher than similar departments across the country.
The program will soon expand yet again.
Police are launching a new community policing initiative, called the Safe Response Program, which is a database designed to help officers interact with children.
“We are starting with special needs students. In the case of a child going missing, we will have information such as what are some things he likes that may help calm him down. Is he afraid of sirens or uniforms? Where are some places he would likely go? Anything that could help us out,” said Ryan.
To kick start the program, the department is inviting parents of special needs children to an open house on Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 6 p.m. that will provide more information.
“There will be cruisers outside, available for the children to see and touch. They can meet some officers. We are hoping to expand the program to all residents, but are starting with children of special needs,” Ryan said.
Thirty-six members of the police department and 23 community partners responded to the survey. Line officers, fire line supervisors, and command staff were asked to participate. Available responses ranged from 1 (“not at all”) to 5 (“to a great extent”). In general, responses were between 3 and 4 (“somewhat” and “a lot”) for community partnerships (3.6), problem solving (3.7), and organizational transformation (4). In 2014, responses were slightly lower at 3.2, 3.4 and 3.8, respectively.
“The community officer will respond to neighbor disputes, try to resolve issues. For instance, if there is a noise complaint, but the party dispersed before police arrived, our community officer will still follow up,” Ryan explained.
Community partnerships are defined as collaborative relationships between community entities and the police department, intended to increase trust and improve problem solving.
“We have 19 officers assigned to various entities around town. They range from group homes, to churches, to nursing homes,” the lieutenant said.
For the most part, command staff reported the department was performing at slightly higher levels than line staff and first line supervisors. For instance, the first line supervisor reported the department was “somewhat” (3) engaged with individuals in the community, while command staff responses were closer to “a lot” (3.6).
The highest scores were reported in organization transformation, which refers to the alignment of personnel to support community partnerships.
The Middletown police department has one community police officer and two full-time school resource officers, dedicated to the high school and middle school.
“The officers partner with the School Department to work with everything from cyber bullying, drugs, or other day-to-day instances,” said Ryan. “They have offices at the schools and are available to students throughout the day. They are also visible in the lunchrooms, in the halls.”
However, the school officers are tasked with more than enforcement.
“They are encouraged to participate in school activities such as prom, graduation, and sporting events,” said Ryan. They also lead the school DARE program, educating students about the dangers of drug use.
In 1989, the Newport Police Department was the first department in the state to implement a community policing program. The department allocates four officers to different areas of the city. This summer, community officers engaged local children with programming such as surfing, fishing and geocaching activities.
How to Reform Policing From Within
by William J. Bratton
I am a police reformer and have been since I was promoted to the rank of sergeant in the Boston Police Department in 1975. There were many good cops in Boston in those days, but there was also an insular culture that had some racist, brutal, corrupt and lazy elements. I was motivated to advance in rank to get above the bad actors and to try to do something about them. I had a vision of policing, shared by others of my generation, that looked beyond the stultifying bureaucracy, the curdled cynicism and the sheer indifference that characterized a lot of police work then.
A few years later, as a lieutenant, I helped to develop an early community-policing pilot project in the Fenway neighborhood. Those of us involved wanted to break out of the blue cocoon surrounding policing and work closely with neighborhood residents to protect their communities.
I have carried those experiences and ambitions to the six police departments I have been privileged to lead. In each case, I have worked to change the culture and reach and motivate the officers, connect with the community and reduce crime. My best work in motivating cops was probably in the New York City Transit Police in 1990 and 1991; my best crime fighting, in the New York Police Department in 1994 and 1995; and my best community work, in the Los Angeles Police Department from 2002 to 2009.
The opportunity to come back to New York for a second time awakened the old ambitions, and working with a superlative team at the department and having the unstinting support of Mayor Bill de Blasio, I tried to fold everything I had learned over the years into a reform package that would revitalize a great police agency.
There are police reformers from outside the profession who think that changing police culture is a matter of passing regulations, establishing oversight bodies and more or less legislating a new order. It is not. Such oversight usually has only marginal impact. What changes police culture is leadership from within.
You have to understand the police and their worldview. Officers now live in a transparent world, with continual monitoring by cellphones, dashboard cameras and body cameras, which sometimes reveal genuine wrongdoing but also can lead to second-guessing of officers' actions by politicians and the public. You have to show them you care about them, their safety, job satisfaction and careers. And you have to prove it by making fundamental changes in management, equipment, working conditions, training, discipline and operations.
Then you have to motivate other leaders in the organization to share your vision and sense of urgency. You have to reach out to the idealist who lives in the heart of many a cynical cop, the officer who joined the police to help people and make a better world. This is a profession in which you can have a life of significance, a life that matters.
Here is how we have worked to reform from within.
We remade the training regimen. Instead of new officers patrolling high-crime “impact zones,” without introduction to those neighborhoods, new officers do six months of field training and work with more than 800 community partners citywide. For veteran officers, training now includes three full days of instruction in de-escalating confrontations and treating people, including criminals, with respect and fairness. In the subway and elsewhere, we are applying a less arrest-driven approach to calming and controlling emotionally disturbed people and agitated substance abusers, as well as matching the variety of homeless people with the services they need, rather than time in jail.
We have renewed and improved every aspect of police technology and taken the giant step of putting a smartphone in the hands of all police officers so they have faster and more complete information about breaking situations, thus cutting response times and greatly increasing situational awareness.
Challenged by the Islamic State and its bloody attacks in Europe and lone wolf attacks here at home, we have expanded the counterterrorism capabilities built by Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly. The new Critical Response Command fields more than 500 highly trained, fully equipped counterterror officers who can respond, if necessary, to simultaneous attacks all across the city.
Last, we are transforming the patrol model. The old one, with most officers running from service call to service call, left no time to work closely with residents. The public was alienated from the cops, and vice versa.
The neighborhood-based policing program, which will be in half of the precincts and all of public housing police service areas by October, is designed to set things right. Anchored in specific areas instead of answering calls across entire precincts, officers are being given the time, training, resources and encouragement to work with community members at problem solving.
By localizing police service, we are breaking down barriers and building trust with truly productive partnerships. We are also changing the police culture by orienting the daily work of officers toward service and communications. My successor as commissioner, James P. O'Neill, was the principal architect of this plan, and he will bring it to full flower.
My youthful vision of neighborhood policing on the streets of Boston's Fenway as I began my career is becoming a reality on the streets of New York as I end it.
Rodney King's daughter stands side-by-side with LAPD
Despite Lora King's own negative interactions with police, she said a whole police department can't be judged by the actions of a few
by Amanda Lee Myers
LOS ANGELES — Rodney King's daughter was just 7 when her father was beaten bloody by officers with the Los Angeles Police Department.
She was eating breakfast when it came on the morning news — video footage showing LAPD officers kicking and hitting her unarmed father dozens of times with batons. It gave her nightmares for years.
In a striking scene that stood in sharp contrast to the 1991 beating, the now 32-year-old Lora King stood shoulder to shoulder with about a dozen LAPD officers Thursday, hugging many of them. She was there to join them in a talk to young people who have had their own run-ins with police.
Her message: It's more important to build bridges with officers than to stand against them.
"That's actually what my dad stood for, so I'm following in his footsteps. He had no hatred in his heart for police," King said ahead of her talk with about 50 young adults with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, which provides at-risk youth with job training, education and work.
King, an administrative assistant at an accounting firm, said she's had her own negative interactions with police. Despite that and her father's beating, she said a whole police department can't be judged by the actions of a few.
"It is hard to trust," she said. "But it's not going to get anything resolved by hating."
More than anything, officers need to listen to the community, and the community needs to keep an open mind, she said.
Rodney King died at the age of 47 after he accidentally drowned in 2012.
His beating was the touchstone for one of the most destructive race riots in the nation's history. The 1992 riots lasted three days and left 55 people dead, more than 2,000 injured and swaths of Los Angeles on fire. At the height of the violence, King pleaded on television: "Can we all get along?"
Lora King said her father's beating was an eye-opener at the time, "but it's like everyone dozed off again."
Concern over police tactics has been mounting in recent years in the wake of a number of deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of officers across the country. Police have increasingly become targets themselves, most notably when a sniper killed five officers in Dallas in July.
King sat next to LAPD officers as they spoke with young adults about interacting with police, discussing what they can do to help diffuse situations and how police can improve.
Lovis Bell was among them.
The 23-year-old landscaper, who is black, first learned of Rodney King's beating when he was 14. He said he's had his own negative interactions with police that he believes were racially motivated, including once being slammed up against a gate, leaving scars on his chest.
But Bell said Lora King's message was powerful and struck a chord.
"I'm still mad, but there's no point," he said. "There's no room for hate inside my heart."
Senior Lead Officer Rashad Sharif, who is black, was still a rookie with LAPD when King was beaten and was in the thick of the riots the following year.
He said Lora King's willingness to join the department to reach out to young people shows just how much LAPD has evolved in the past 25 years.
"That's a lot of courage to come here and be like, 'That's the same uniform that put my dad in the hospital,' " Sharif said. "Having her here is like full circle ... I just wish I could have met her dad to say, 'Hey, I'm sorry, too.' "
Parents push for police CPR training in NY
Carmen Ojeda was rushing to the hospital when she told an officer who pulled her over her daughter needed CPR, but he didn't know how to perform it
by PoliceOne Staff
NEW YORK CITY — Carmen Ojeda was pulled over while rushing her daughter Briana to the hospital because of an asthma attack.
During the frantic drive, Carmen was stopped by the police when she drove the wrong way down a one-way street. She told the officer her daughter needed CPR, but he said he did not know how to perform it, according to the New York Times. By the time Briana was brought into the hospital she was dead.
Since their daughter's passing in 2010, Carmen and her husband, Michael, have been pushing state lawmakers to pass “Briana's Law”, the publication reported. The bill would require officers around New York to be recertified as CPR proficient every two years.
With the help of the Ojedas, Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz first introduced the bill in 2011, and four times again after that. The reintroductions came after officers didn't perform CPR in 2013 on a man who had a fatal asthma attack while being detained, and after the controversial death of Eric Garner in 2014.
“We're trying to pass this law for everyone,” Mr. Ojeda told the publication. “It's like a double-edged sword. Not only are people dying, but police officers aren't being trained to save lives. If you're a human being and you don't have this training, it's got to affect you.”
Briana's Law has passed through the State Assembly, but failed multiple times in the State Senate. Despite an offer from the American Red Cross to train a group of officers who could then train the rest of their departments, the bill has stalled because of perceived financial burdens to PDs, Mr. Ortiz told the NYT.
Tyree King, 13, Fatally Shot by Police in Columbus, Ohio
by Kurt Chirbas and Alexander Smith
A police officer fatally shot a 13-year-old he was trying to detain following reports of an armed robbery, according to officials in Columbus, Ohio.
Authorities identified as the boy as Tyree King. The Columbus Division of Police said in a statement that King "pulled a gun from his waistband" when officers attempted to take him and another male into custody Wednesday night.
Following the shooting, police said investigators recovered a BB gun with an attached laser sight from the scene.
Police were called to a report of a group of people — including one armed with a gun — demanding money at 7:42 p.m. ET.
Officers arriving at the scene saw three people matching the suspects' descriptions around a block away. However, when they attempted to speak with them, two of the males ran away, according to the police statement.
"Officers followed the males to the alley ... and attempted to take them into custody when one suspect pulled a gun from his waistband," it added. "One officer shot and struck the suspect multiple times."
King was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead at 8:22 p.m. ET.
No one else was injured. The other male suspect was interviewed and later released pending further inquiries,
As with all police-involved shootings, the officers will receive "mandated psychological support counseling" and be given the opportunity to "take leave time to assist in recovery from a traumatic experience," according to the Columbus Division of Police.
The officer who fired the shots is a nine-year veteran of the force who just recently transferred to the zone where the incident happened, according to NBC station WCMH.
The incident comes almost two years after 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot dead by a police officer in Cleveland, Ohio.
Rice, a black sixth-grade student, was holding a pellet gun when the officer shot him within two seconds of arriving at the scene.
His death sparked protests over policing and racial bias. Last December, a grand jury chose not to indict the two officers involved. In April, the city of Cleveland agreed to pay $6 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit brought by the Rice family.
Meek Mill's Cousin Among 5 Dead in 15 Hours of Bloodshed Throughout Philadelphia
Philadelphia's homicide rate is up more than 10 percent compared with this time last year
by Morgan Zalot
A violent day on the streets of Philadelphia left five people dead, including the cousin of rapper Meek Mill, in numerous shootings and stabbings over the span of about 15 hours on Tuesday.
The bloodshed began in West Philadelphia just after 9 a.m., when police say someone shot a 25-year-old man in his side, chest, buttocks and shoulder at 52nd Street and Wyalusing Avenue. Police took the victim to Presbyterian Hospital, where he was in stable condition.
The bloodshed only worsened from there.
A little more than three hours later, about 12:30 p.m. shots rang out on Thayer Street near Kensington Avenue, in Kensington, leaving a pregnant woman with gunshot wounds to her stomach and head, a man with gunshot wounds to his stomach and head and another man with a gunshot wound to his groin, according to police. All three victims in that shooting were taken to Temple University Hospital in critical condition.
About the same time, officers performing a wellness check at a home on the 12000 block of Elmore Road in Northeast Philadelphia made a gruesome discovery: a 68-year-old woman, later identified as Virginia McLaughlin, along with Lawrence Carty, 60, both dead of stab wounds. Police said McLaughlin lived at the home on Elmore Road and Carty lived on the 3500 block of Grant Avenue, also in the Northeast.
Police said they believe Carty died of self-inflicted wounds to his arms, but did not say whether authorities have ruled the case a murder-suicide. They said they believe an argument motivated the violence.
Less than five hours later, a shooting in Philadelphia's Fairhill neighborhood left a 32-year-old man dead, police said. Gunfire erupted on Howard Street near Cambria about 5:20 p.m., leaving the man dead of several gunshot wounds to his torso.
A Verizon worker on the block at the time scooped up the victim and drove him to Episcopal Hospital in his work van, according to police, and was being interviewed by detectives after the shooting. Investigators said they believe the shooting was drug-related, and no arrests had been made as of Wednesday morning.
About two hours after that, just after 7:30 p.m., a man who would have turned 25 on Wednesday stumbled into the alley behind his Southwest Philadelphia home and died after police say someone shot him several times. Police said they believe the man was standing on his back steps between the 5800 blocks of Cobbs Creek Parkway and Fernwood Street when someone shot him, then fell down the steps and died. Several cameras in the area captured the gunman fleeing the scene, police said.
About an hour later, about 10 minutes before 9 p.m. in West Philadelphia, a 24-year-old man suffered a gunshot wound to the back on Frazier Street near Media, in the Carroll Park neighborhood. Police said that victim was hospitalized in stable condition and officers arrested the suspected shooter.
The violence didn't end there. Less than a half-hour after that, about 9:10 p.m., a 27-year-old man showed up at Albert Einstein Medical Center with gunshot wounds to his back, police said. The man told them someone shot him on Opal Street near 66th Avenue. No arrests were reported, and the man was in stable condition.
Less than an hour later and across the city in South Philadelphia, 21-year-old Angelo Colon died after police say someone shot him in the head outside a take-out restaurant at 18th Street and Snyder Avenue. Colon, police said, is the cousin of Philadelphia-born rapper Meek Mill, who took to Instagram to express his grief over the young man's death.
"Watching my family die to these Philly streets ... My mission is to save my family from these streets and change the mindframe of all my lil cousins growing up in it! #RIPLO," Mill wrote in an Instagram post about the killing.
A second man, age 27, also suffered two gunshot wounds in that shooting but survived and went to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital for treatment. Police said the suspected shooter took off in a dark sedan and that cameras in the area may help them solve the case.
Back in Kensington, a retaliatory shooting on Lee Street left two people wounded shortly after 11 p.m., according to police. Chief Inspector Scott Small said investigators believe that shooting was payback for an earlier homicide in the neighborhood. It was unclear what homicide to which the shooting was connected.
Across the city again, in South Phladelphia's Point Breeze neighborhood, a man suffered a gunshot wound on Latona Street near 16th about 11:30 p.m. No arrests were reported in that shooting.
Police reported only one arrest, in the West Philadelphia shooting on Frazier Street, among the shootings.
Philadelphia's homicide rate, according to police statistics, is currently up 11 percent year over year compared with 2015. As of Tuesday night, the city has recorded 203 homicides so far in 2016, compared with 181 as of the same date last year. The jump is even larger compared with 2014, when 176 homicides were recorded year-to-date, and 2013, when there were 172 homicides.
RPD puts focus on community policing with new position
by Jon Hand
The Rochester Police Department wants to place a high-level focus on the relationship between its officers and the residents with whom they interact.
Mayor Lovely Warren on Wednesday announced the city would be creating the high-ranking role of deputy chief of community relations to accompany the two existing deputy chief positions — administration and operations. The three positions are directly below Chief Michael Ciminelli.
Warren said the position would help bolster the embattled relationship between officers and residents.
"At a time when we see the relationships between police departments and communities across our country become strained, we must make every effort to maintain and advance the level of trust between our police officers and the community," Warren said during a news conference introducing the man who will fill the position, current Deputy Chief of Administration Wayne Harris. "The creation of this position at the deputy chief level represents an incredible investment toward building that trust in Rochester."
Harris, who has served in his current role since 2014, is a Rochester native and has held a variety of positions in the department.
Harris has also had a history with community engagement as he has been integral part of the department's connection with groups such as the Clergy on Patrol, the Police Activities League, Project TIPS, Rochester Youth Violence Partnership, Teen Empowerment, and others.
"We're sort of bringing it all together in one package," he said.
TE Director Doug Ackley applauded the city for "making relations with residents a priority and for choosing Wayne Harris to spearhead these efforts that are of a more critical nature than ever."
"The RPD has been moving in this direction and my hope is that this will lead to more meaningful opportunities for police to be informed by and interact with our community to heal and build relationships," Ackley said.
Harris has been on the TE board for about a year, Ackley said, but has been an advocate for the group and the youths with whom it works for many years.
"Wayne has been a strong advocate for initiatives that build bridges between youth and police," Ackley said. "He has supported efforts like the recent training of RPD recruits in the academy led by Teen Empowerment youth to provide new officers with tools to more effectively understand and communicate with young people in Rochester."
In his new role, Harris will be charged with overseeing the effectiveness of the newly organized five-section patrol model, implemented last year, and the fledgling Body-Worn Camera Program. "He will also work closely with Patrol Sections, Neighborhood Service Centers and all RPD personnel to ensure community concerns are communicated directly to the Office of the Chief and are addressed properly," according to a release.
Harris said his goal in his new role is to create bridges into the community — an objective in which he has a personal stake.
"It's putting the focus on how are things we are doing in the police department going to impact the community and how can we continue to bridge that gap with the community," he said.
"Clearly there are some things that have happened across the country in the past couple of years that have been concerning," he said. "As an African-American I'm sort of struck on both fronts: I'm a law enforcement officer who is sworn to get out there and protect and serve and to work with the community I serve, but I learned very early on coming into this career — my father said 'Don't forget, at the end of the day you have to live in this community.' So I am a part of this."
Panel tackles public safety and racial justice
by John Croman
MINNEAPOLIS - Keeping the lines of communication open, treating people with mutual respect and understanding others' perspectives are key to bridging the gaps between law enforcement and communities of color.
Those were among the takeaways from a forum Wednesday at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, an event that featured local and national experts on law enforcement and racial justice.
"This is not just something that's impacting people in other parts of the country," Minneapolis NAACP president Nekima Levy-Pounds asserted, making reference to the officer-involved shooting deaths of Jamar Clark in Minneapolis and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights.
"It's happening right here in our own backyard, so what are we going to do about it?"
Plymouth Police Chief Michael Goldstein said there shouldn't be such a huge divide between police officers and those they serve.
"Police officers are part of the community and should not be apart from the community," Goldstein told the crowd. "We need to have that understanding. Police need to recognize this, community members need to recognize this."
He said officers are being asked to handle an increasingly complex set of problems and taking on many more social agency roles under the auspices of keeping the peace. But he said officers need to remain mentally healthy to be effective.
"We were meeting with faith leaders in north Minneapolis, who are from north Minneapolis, and they stated that they wanted policing, but that they cannot have broken police officers policing their streets."
Nkechi Taifa of the Open Society Foundations said that much of the tension between communities of color and law enforcement is rooted in historic roles police played during the slavery era of containing and restraining African Americans who tried to assert their rights or step out of prescribed roles.
Cedric Alexander, a CNN law enforcement analyst, said at a time that the U.S. in under external threats it shouldn't be vulnerable to domestic turmoil at the same time.
"And there's no more important time in America's history, it's as important for police and community to be together, because as a country, as a nation, we're only as strong as our partnerships in our communities."
Alexander, who is the deputy chief operating officer of the DeKalb County Office Public Safety in Georgia and serves on the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing, said in some ways dynamic has changed due to the emergence of cell phone videos that document lopsided encounters between police and citizens.
"I think we also have to accept the fact that merely because you did not see a 10-year-old kid slammed up against a police car does not mean it does not happen," Alexander said. "It just means you didn't see it."
Levy-Pounds said it's impossible to separate income disparities from the disproportionate numbers of black men who are tripped up by violations of low-level ordinances.
"We are kicking the poor while they are down," Levy-Pounds said.
"And rather than opening the door to economic opportunity and correcting the wrongs of the past, we allow police forces to patrol those neighborhoods and to criminalize people who are often engaged in nonviolent, low level offenses."
Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said during his adult life he's seen the Minneapolis Police Dept. make great strides in its relations with LGBTQ community, but still lag behind when it comes to African American communities.
"That does tell us something else, and I believe deeply part of what that tells us is that race matters in this discussion. This is not about fair policing alone," Rybak remarked.
"We need to recognize there are deep endemic issues of race, and police departments can't solve them, but they are at the front end of that, and you've got to put race on the table."
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman spent much of his time explaining how attitudes have change, and that 19 percent of the lawyers working in his office are now persons of color, versus just three percent when he first took office in the early 1990's during his first stint in the job.
Freeman took criticism from the NAACP and Black Lives Matter for his decision not to prosecute the officers involved in the death of Jamar Clark, citing state laws that make it virtually impossible to convict an officer who is acting out of fear for his own life.
He said he took the decision upon himself because the grand jury process used for all previous cases was too secretive.
"Because of the lack of transparency and accountability, we decided to never use a grand jury for any officer-involved cases moving forward," Freeman said.
Rybak said it's important for those who don't have family members in law enforcement to understand they're privileged.
"The privilege that my family does not have to worry about me walking out on the street, because someone else's family member is sending their loved one into harm's way every night," Rybak explained.
"And as someone who put police officers in harm's way every single night, we have to get real about what we're asking police to do."
For more information, log on to the St. Thomas website.
FW Public Safety Director talks 'firearm problem' and recent homicides
by Kelly Roberts
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Two homicides involving more than one victim – in less than a week. Fort Wayne's Public Safety Director said he can't remember a time when the city has seen anything like it. York sat down with NewsChannel 15 to address the city's recent homicides.
“When you're on a ship and you hit an iceberg, it doesn't matter where you are on the ship you're all endangered of sinking,” York said.
The city's recent crime is the iceberg, and the ship's passengers are the community. This year's 34 homicides have not broken the city's homicide record. In 2013 there were 42 homicides within the city limits, and three more in Allen County.
But it's breaking other records.
“I can recall having triple homicides but never more than one in any given year,” York said.
The tally so far this year is three.
“I think we're all upset by it,” York said.
The latest homicides have caught the attention of larger media outlets in the state. York said he doesn't think the crime has deterred anyone from visiting Fort Wayne, but knows it doesn't help the city's image.
“That's why it's so discouraging and upsetting, over and above the violence, Fort Wayne we've worked so hard to do just that- improve our image” York said.
York also believes most of the community knows why these crimes are happening.
“The victims of these crimes are involved in illegal activity,” York said.
York elaborated that you're less likely to be a victim of a crime if you aren't involved in it yourself. In the case of this weekend's quadruple homicide that wasn't the case. It was a domestic situation. In any case, York said these crimes aren't random.
The bigger issue York wants to address is the number of guns on the streets. Fort Wayne's homicide trend is following other urban areas where homicides are up including Chicago, Indianapolis and Memphis. York said the main reason for this spike is that more people have guns.
“A lot of people don't like to hear this but we have to get a handle on our firearms problem,” York said. “It is a problem. Whether it is extended background checks, different manners of record keeping.”
To help solve that firearm problem, York said police work closely with the federal agencies in the city, and more officers plan to move to the homicide and gang and violent crimes units.
Report: Is the 'Ferguson effect' real?
L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck cited the lack of public trust as the 'real Ferguson effect' earlier this year
by Mike Maciag
When crime rates began to climb in St. Louis in late 2014, Police Chief Sam Dotson offered an intriguing explanation. A “Ferguson effect,” following the widely condemned killing of a black teenager by police in a nearby suburb, had led to trepidation on the part of some officers in enforcement situations, and to a feeling of empowerment among offenders.
The theory provoked significant interest among law enforcement officials and academics who have since debated its merits in academic studies and in the press. FBI Director James Comey has given it further credence, suggesting police have become more cautious due to a fear of being caught on camera. But nearly two years after Dotson's initial remarks, there is little agreement about what form the Ferguson effect is taking, or even if it exists at all. Nor is there consensus about whether a national crime wave is actually occurring.
The latest research on the issue, conducted by University of Missouri–St. Louis professor Richard Rosenfeld for the Justice Department, found a spike in homicides between 2014 and 2015. The number of murders in 56 large cities rose an average of nearly 17 percent in that one year -- the steepest annual increase since at least the 1980s -- and 12 cities recorded spikes exceeding 50 percent. Most striking was the revelation that the 10 cities with the biggest increases were characterized by large African-American populations. “The increase is real and worrisome,” says Rosenfeld, who now thinks the Ferguson effect theory is plausible.
The findings come with several caveats: It's not yet known just how widespread the increase in crime is; the one-year jump in the murder rate follows decades of decline; and recent national trends for other types of crime aren't yet available. Overall crime rates in a different sample of 30 large cities reviewed by the Brennan Center for Justice were essentially unchanged last year.
The aspect of the Ferguson effect that's received the most attention is the notion that officers are pulling back on enforcement and proactive policing, fueling a crime increase. In Chicago, shooting arrests dropped last year, but gun violence climbed in the months following the release of a video showing the police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. “We have allowed our police department to get fetal, and it is having a direct consequence,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a meeting in 2015.
So far, however, there is insufficient evidence to support the idea that “de-policing” has led to a nationwide crime wave. In New York, for example, no relationship has been found between crime rates and a reduction in aggressive stop-and-frisk police tactics. The city, which started to curtail the practice drastically in early 2014, has seen overall major felony crimes continue to drop near historic lows. Ronal Serpas, who co-chairs the group Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, recalls warnings about de-policing when police dashboard cameras proliferated in the early 2000s. De-policing didn't happen then, and it's not happening now, he says. “It's dangerous when well-informed people keep saying this even though they don't have any proof of it.”
One prominent official with a different view is Malik Aziz, who heads the National Black Police Association. Following the recent shootings, Aziz has seen and heard of officers not injecting themselves into situations that could provoke controversy. “It was only after the murder of Freddie Gray in Baltimore that police were being charged with crimes, and it set a new narrative,” he says. “They fear a type of engagement that may have some backlash to it.”
Meanwhile, a second version of the Ferguson theory, one that hasn't received as much publicity, is gaining traction. It contends that heightened racial tensions and a distrust in police are contributing to higher crime rates. L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck cited the lack of public trust in police as the “real Ferguson effect” in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times earlier this year. Weaker links between law enforcement and the community make police less effective, he wrote.
Under this scenario, criminals might feel more empowered to carry weapons and take matters into their own hands, or residents might be less apt to assist in investigations. While the two versions of the Ferguson effect aren't mutually exclusive, Rosenfeld thinks concerns around police legitimacy are more plausible. “If there is some kind of a Ferguson effect at work,” he says, “it has got to extend beyond de-policing.”
Testing this emerging hypothesis, however, is difficult. Research by Yale University professor Tom Tyler suggests that procedural fairness influences the perception of police legitimacy, which in turn acts as a strong determinant of public compliance with laws and a willingness to cooperate with investigations.
A July Gallup poll found 67 percent of blacks felt they were treated less fairly than whites by police, a rate that's remained fairly constant over time. Similarly, a recent Pew Research Center poll reported 18 percent of blacks said they'd been stopped unfairly in the previous 12 months, compared to just 3 percent for whites surveyed. While law enforcement agencies have worked to strengthen local ties via community policing efforts, Aziz says, they've often failed to engage groups of African-Americans with negative perceptions of police.
Serpas, a former New Orleans police chief, doesn't think the “declining trust” version of the Ferguson effect is any more valid than the de-policing argument. He points out that gaps in trust have remained consistent over time.
“Over 30 years, we've made a lot of changes and haven't really moved the needle much,” he says.
Homicide spikes in some cities, Serpas believes, are more likely a result of factors like more children being born into disadvantaged families or repeat gun offenders not being locked up. The Justice Department report also considered the effects of falling imprisonment rates and expanding heroin markets, but these trends predate the recent rise in homicides.
Any effects of recent high-profile shootings involving police are likely playing out differently across cities. It's worth noting that just 10 of the 56 cities reviewed in the Justice Department study accounted for two-thirds of the surge in homicides.
“Any increase in crime is driven more by local factors,” says Ames Grawert, an attorney with the Brennan Center for Justice.
Further clarity on the Ferguson effect should come later this fall, when the FBI releases complete 2015 crime data compiled from all participating law enforcement agencies nationwide. Rosenfeld and others argue the FBI should release preliminary numbers more regularly, similar to economic reports, instead of waiting roughly 10 months after the end of each year. The FBI says it's redeveloping its systems and anticipates more frequent publications.
While local departments track their own stats, it's currently difficult to know whether any uptick in crime mirrors what's happening in other jurisdictions. “The data can't be used to address crime problems as they're emerging,” says Rosenfeld. “Imagine if unemployment was increasing and the Labor Department was utterly silent.”
Medal of Valor awarded to cops who responded to San Bernardino terror attack
Six officers who responded to the San Bernardino shooting massacre were among those awarded the Medal of Valor
by Sophia Bollag
LOS ANGELES — Six officers who responded to the San Bernardino shooting massacre in December were among those awarded the Medal of Valor on Monday.
Gov. Jerry Brown and Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris presented the medals, the highest honor California awards to public safety officials, to eight officers in a ceremony at the Capitol.
“You and your families give so much to your state and your country,” Harris, who is running for U.S. Senate, told the officers at the ceremony. “Through their sacrifice, their courage and their bravery, [the officers] did everything that was important and needed to be done for homeland security."
Redlands police Officer Joseph Aguilar; San Bernardino police Officers Brian Olvera and Nicholas Koahou; and Deputy Bruce Southworth and Cpls. Rafael Ixco and Chad Johnson of the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department were all honored for their roles in a firefight with the San Bernardino shooters.
After the terrorist attack in December at a San Bernardino government building that left 14 dead and 22 wounded, the two shooters fled the scene in an SUV. Officers cornered the car on a residential street, where a shootout ensued that left both assailants dead and two officers wounded.
California Highway Patrol Officer Brett Peters was also honored for saving a man who tried to jump off an overpass in Oakland. San Diego firefighter Alexander Wallbrett was awarded a medal for rushing to defend a colleague from a knife-wielding assailant.
White House raises refugee target to at least 110,000
by Juliet Eilperin
The Obama administration seeks to accept at least 110,000 refugees from around the world in fiscal 2017.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry briefed lawmakers Tuesday on the new goal, which is an increase from 85,000 in fiscal 2016 and 70,000 in the previous three years. It represents a 57 percent increase in refugee arrivals since 2015, as ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere have spurred an exodus of migrants seeking asylum in Europe, Canada and other regions.
A senior administration official, who asked for anonymity because the policy is not yet officially announced, "is consistent with our belief that all countries should do more to help the world's most vulnerable people."
The official added that Kerry told lawmakers "that if it is possible to do more" in terms of accepting refugees, "we would."
The increase comes even as the question of refugees has emerged as an issue in this year's presidential campaign. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump initially called for a halt to Muslims seeking to enter the United States but later modified this goal to say the ban should apply to any applicants coming from a country with a history of terrorism. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has called for the United States to accept more refugees from Syria, which has been embroiled in conflict for more than five years.
UPD proposes community policing with multicultural approach
by Allie Kirkman
University Police Department is hoping to partner with different organizations around campus to create a multicultural approach to community policing.
UPD Chief Jim Duckham and Ro Anne Royer Engle, interim associate vice president for student affairs and enrollment services, presented their goals for the upcoming academic year at the Board of Trustees meeting Sept. 9.
According to the presentation, UPD defines community policing as a philosophy.
“Community policing is really a philosophy more than anything or one particular program," Duckham said in the meeting. "A lot of times, I will be talking to chiefs of other departments and I hear an officer talking about how they have community policing with one officer or one specific program and I cringe when I hear that because that's not community policing."
Community policing is a philosophy that has to start at the top of the university, he said.
Community policing was described as a department-wide approach to intentional partnership development geared at problem solving, increasing meaningful engagement, service oriented, compressive training and evaluating performance.
"Department members participate in training on topics like cultural diversity, bias incidents, hate crimes and racial profiling because it's important that police understand the community's concerns and perspective on important topics, such as race relations," Duckham said in an email from university strategic communications.
The meaningful engagement aspect of community policing is one component that Duckham stressed.
“UPD will continue to seek opportunities to engage with the Ball State community,” Duckham said. “UPD has attended student organization meetings, met with executive boards and attended programming in residence halls, with the goal of interacting with students and building relationships. The department is always looking for opportunities to build relationships, increase understanding and establish trust. The response by the community to UPD's efforts has been positive.”
The partnership among UPD and the Multicultural Center was created to dispel the myth about what policing is on campus and redefine what policing at Ball State is going to look like by engaging in all of the different campus communities.
“This academic year, UPD hopes to partner with different organizations, such as the Multicultural Center, to jointly host programs that will improve police and community relations,” Duckham said.
Duckham was not available to comment beyond this. When the Daily News reached out for an interview, questions were directed to Lisa Renze-Rhodes, director of media strategy, who Duckham answered them through. When asked for further comment, the university declined.
Kenly police officer faces involuntary manslaughter charge
by Sharon Nunn
Jesse Santifort, a Kenly, North Carolina, police officer, added to the growing conversation about police use of force when he was indicted Sept. 6 for an involuntary manslaughter charge.
Santifort was charged in connection with the death of Alexander Thompson, who died after Santifort tased him, according to the (Raleigh) News & Observer.
Six months ago, North Carolina was in the national spotlight because of another officer-involved killing — Akiel Denkins was shot four times by officer D.C. Twiddy, who claimed he shot Denkins out of fear.
North Carolina's 2016 officer-involved deaths are similar to other major cases that held the nation's attention for months.
They have all raised major questions about the criminal justice system and how police departments are managed, reviewed and disciplined.
Increasing community policing and introducing body cameras have emerged as popular solutions to officer-involved killings, with police departments in the Raleigh-Durham area pushing on both of these fronts.
In terms of community policing and getting community members to know their law enforcement officers, the Durham Police Department and Durham Parks and Recreation sponsor the Police Athletic League. This free-of-charge program brings together law enforcement and youth.
Durham and Fayetteville police departments both participated in the nationwide ‘Running Man Challenge,' which typically involves police officers dancing with community members.
Local cities are also making moves toward body cameras. Chapel Hill's police department started using body cameras this fall, and Raleigh approved body camera use in March.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' most recent information shows the nationwide push for community policing training is gaining traction.
In 2013, 97 percent of training academies provided community policing training.
Similarly, the Department of Justice pledged $20 million to expand the use of body cameras in 2015, which is a part of a larger proposal by President Obama to spend $75 million over three years for the purchase of 50,000 body cameras for law enforcement officers.
In a press statement, Bureau of Justice Assistance Director Denise O'Donnell said, “Body-worn camera technology is a valuable tool for improving police-citizen relationships.”
And 32 percent of local police departments already used body cameras in 2013 before the push for widespread use started.
Despite these changes, controversial killings of African Americans continue to plaster news headlines fairly frequently.
With more than 45,000 officers entering basic training each year, the effect of these new approaches to policing remains to be seen.
Whether you know a cop a big factor in police trust, Midstate researchers say
by Chris Davis
MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) – Renewed debate over race and policing sprung up in recent days as San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick stayed seated during the national anthem.
The football player said he wanted to draw attention to the treatment of minorities. Waves of protest have followed and Tuesday, local researchers and police leaders tackled the question in a panel discussion: How does race factor into policing in the Midstate?
Police departments like to talk about “community policing” — getting to know the people they serve better. It turns out your confidence in police may have more to do with who you know than how you look.
In Pennsylvania, most people — around 80 percent, Penn State Harrisburg assistant professor of criminal justice Jennifer Gibbs said — trust cops.
“Most citizens don't have negative encounters,” Barbara Thompson said, “and so I think they believe that everything is okay if it's okay with me.”
Thompson works at Penn State Harrisburg. She was one of a few dozen at the school's policing panel. The focus: building trust.
“You got to get it right every time and we don't, you know,” Susquehanna Township police chief and panelist Rob Martin said. “We're not perfect. We hire from the human race.”
Whether or not someone is confident in police depends on some factors you'd expect, like negative interactions with police in the past or being the victim of a recent crime.
“But then this social distance comes in,” Jonathan Lee said. The assistant criminal justice professor has been looking into local departments and their standings within their communities.
He's zeroed in on that phrase, “social distance,” basically, do you personally know a cop you can have a comfortable conversation with? If so, you're more likely to have confidence in police overall.
Lee showed that again by surveying students on campus. “For both white and black students,” he said, “it is all about social distance with the police.”
The preliminary data show community policing works, Lee said: More cops interacting with more people means more confidence. But it's not a simple solution; researchers might better understand why some people don't trust police, but panelist Shaun Gabbidon, a distinguished professor of criminal justice, warned against drawing too many conclusions.
“The long view suggests that there is a reason that blacks and other minorities tend to be suspicious of the police,” he said.
As much as cities like to rely on community policing, an obvious obstacle is money. Departments have to hire more officers to keep up with the call load if more are out in the community.
Swatara Township, for instance, would have to hire about 20 more officers to fill the gap, chief Jason Umberger said, at about $100,000 per officer. But he said current programs and a push toward better relationships could serve as a model for other communities.
“And we need to continue to talk,” Thompson said. “If we stop talking, if we stop trying to improve, then we're sunk.”
Neighborhood Policing is Driving Down Crime in Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace and South Slope: NYPD
Crime has dropped 20 percent in the NYPD's 72nd Precinct since community policing hit the ground, the precinct's top cop said.
by John V. Santore
SUNSET PARK, BROOKLYN — Crime in the NYPD's 72nd Precinct has decreased 20 percent since the precinct began using community policing in April.
The statistic was offered at a public meeting Tuesday hosted by Captain Emmanuel Gonzalez, who commands the 72nd. The precinct patrols South Slope, Windsor Terrace and Sunset Park.
Earlier this year, major crimes in the precinct had collectively been up nearly 25 percent compared to the same time period last year, Gonzalez said.
However, the neighborhood policing program — in which Neighborhood Coordinating Officers, or NCOs, are dedicated to each of four quadrants within the 72nd — has produced closer police-community relations and more tips for officers to act on, Gonzalez said.
Through Sep. 4, major crimes were collectively up about 5 percent in the 72nd compared to the same period in 2016, according to official police statistics.
Burglary has decreased 32 percent so far this year, with 89 recorded incidents compared to 131 last year. However, felony assaults have increased (172 reported this year compared to 158 last year), as has grand larceny (310 incidents compared to 254 last year) and auto thefts (75 incidents vs. 65 during the same period in 2015).
Gonzalez said that some auto thefts have occurred when drivers exit their cars without taking the keys out of the ignition, a "crime of opportunity" that took place three times just this week.
He also said that the precinct's felony assaults are being "driven by domestic violence," adding that his officers are "doing a lot of outreach work" at churches, hospitals and other locations.
The precinct has also seen four murders this year, compared to none in 2015, including the April death of South Slope business owner Phil DelleGrazie, killed when a man attempted to steal his truck. Gonzalez did not speak about the precinct's other murders.
He stressed, however, that crime trends in the 72nd are headed in the right direction, adding that he "completely attributes that" to the precinct's NCO. The captain urged residents to continue reporting quality of life concerns to the city's 311 system, and to report issues to their NCOs directly.
Below is a list of the 72nd's four NCO precincts, followed by the officers assigned to each. The NCOs from Sector A will host a public meeting on Sep. 17 at 10:30 a.m. at M.S. 88, located at https://goo.gl/maps/UoTnSRH25tk 544 7th Ave.
Wilfredo Montes: 917-912-0960, firstname.lastname@example.org
Danny McGrath: 917-853-2601, email@example.com
Gary Bonavita, firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian Cassidy, email@example.com
Carmela Andersen, 929-375-2344, firstname.lastname@example.org
Philip Buonora, 929-371-7705, email@example.com
Richard Fuentes, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sue Liu, email@example.com
Ariz. driver rams into officers, faces attempted murder charges
Three officers were injured after Marc LaQuon Payne apparently drove his vehicle at the officers before hitting a patrol car and crashing
by The Associated Press
(Video on site)
PHOENIX — A man is facing three counts of attempted first-degree murder for driving toward a group of Phoenix police officers outside a gas station, striking two of them, authorities said.
Three officers were injured after Marc LaQuon Payne apparently drove his vehicle at the officers before hitting a patrol car and crashing into the front of the QuikTrip store around 2 a.m. Tuesday.
"We are confident that this is an intentional act," Phoenix Police Chief Joseph Yahner said at an afternoon news conference. "Our officers were targeted. I'm outraged by this incident. This stuff needs to stop."
Payne, 44, was taken to a hospital in serious condition and is expected to be booked into jail after he's released, according to police who believe he was driving impaired.
It wasn't immediately clear if Payne has an attorney yet.
Police released a store surveillance video of the incident. It shows a vehicle backing out of a parking space, circling the parking lot and then accelerating toward the three police officers.
A 41-year-old police sergeant suffered a broken leg, a 36-year-old veteran officer had minor injuries and a 33-year-old officer on his first day of training suffered a head injury.
The video shows the rookie officer thrown several feet in the air and hitting the front windshield of the suspect's vehicle, police said.
One officer managed to jump out of the way, but was injured during a struggle with Payne following the incident.
The names of the three officers were being withheld by police. All were taken to hospitals for treatment.
Minn. police attempt to stem gang bloodshed
By gathering gang intelligence from wiretaps, social media postings and informants, Minneapolis police are working to stop gang violence
by Libor Jany
MINNEAPOLIS — On paper, it had all the makings of a revenge shooting.
Minneapolis police detectives figured that the perpetrator crept up to the dining room window under the cover of darkness one night last week, and squeezed off a trio of shots from a semiautomatic handgun. All three bullets found their intended target, a man in a wheelchair who police say was hit in the torso, wrist and leg, but is expected to survive.
It wasn't his first brush with death, either — the victim, who was unnamed in a police report, had been shot twice before: once in a 2008 drive-by shooting that left him paralyzed from the waist down, and again earlier this year when gunfire erupted at a large parking lot gathering off W. Broadway Blvd., leaving one man dead and another wounded.
Both incidents are thought to be tied to a furious and complex gang war in parts of the city's North Side that has contributed to the majority of the city's homicides and dozens of shootings, while leaving residents both fearful and jaded by the violence outside their doorsteps.
The 25-year-old New Hope man has the regrettable distinction of being counted twice among the roughly 170 gunshot victims in north Minneapolis — and 245 citywide — through Sept. 5, roughly the same number as were shot across the city during the same period last year. While fewer people have been killed this year than last, police say the drop is as much a testimony to bad marksmanship than anything else.
The latest violence flared over the weekend, when a 21-year-old man was shot in the face after an argument at a house party in the Hawthorne neighborhood that was attended by members of rival gangs, according to police. No one has been arrested in the homicide, the city's 24th of the year.
Last week a shootout between rival groups damaged several cars and sent students and teachers scrambling at nearby Sojourner Truth Academy when a bullet shattered a hallway window.
Police estimate there are about 20 to 25 gangs — with another 20 or more smaller subsets, called "cliques" — in operation across the city, said Officer Corey Schmidt, a police spokesman.
Among the 25 gangs, there are some alliances that allow members to freely associate with one another. The number also includes ethnic and immigrant gangs, along with larger biker gangs.
Schmidt said a majority of this year's homicides are attributed to "some type of a gang relationship or affiliation."
"However, we cannot confirm the exact number until all cases would result in an arrest of a suspect," Schmidt said.
As a result of the escalating gang war, several crews have banded together to form two larger factions, the High End and Low End, their territory roughly divided by West Broadway.
The recent bloodletting bears little resemblance to gang conflicts of the past, authorities say.
In the past, larger, established street gangs like the Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords, which for all of their violent tendencies, police say, operated under a strict code of conduct for members as they fought over lucrative drug-selling real estate. No longer.
In their place are brash new groups with names like Skitz Squad, Emerson Murder Boyz, Loudpack and T-Blocc, whose members are noticeably younger and quicker to resort to violence, often because of a perceived slight on social media or over an incendiary YouTube video.
Lt. Jeff Rugel, commander of the department's five-man gang squad, said most violence is the work of a small number of teenagers and young men, eager to settle long-standing beefs with rival gang members.
"A guy could've shot someone five years ago, and they went to prison, and now they're out of prison, and they're shot at because the gang doesn't think that justice was served," said Rugel, who also runs the department's intelligence-gathering center.
'A systemic issue'
At daily briefings at the MPD gang unit's north Minneapolis headquarters, screens display feeds from traffic cameras in crime-plagued neighborhoods, while officers pore over the latest gang intelligence gathered from wiretaps, social media postings and informants.
At the first sign of trouble — a shooting the night before, or a threatening Facebook post — officers hit the streets, knocking on doors and speaking with gang members to ward off retaliatory violence. A vigilant eye on social media is key.
"If there's too much back-and-forth chatter, it's an indication of a possible pending shooting," Rugel said.
With so many different crews, their membership and allegiances seemingly changing by the week, it's hard to pin the blame on any one group, Rugel said. But the Tre Tres Crips — who have aligned themselves with other "High-End" gangs like the Taliban, Young 'N Thuggin' and Emerson Murder Boyz — have emerged as one of the area's most ruthless. The Tres, an offshoot of the Shotgun Crips gang, first came to the attention of law enforcement in 2005 for its role in a string of armed robberies throughout Minneapolis and several western suburbs.
But officials say that the community must do its part and provide information about open cases. But in certain neighborhoods, reliable eyewitnesses are hard to come by. When police detectives come calling, people's memories get short and they have a hard time recalling names and faces, out of fear of retaliation or in accordance to the street code that forbids "snitching."
Despite efforts, some community activists say that police have been largely ineffective in quelling the violence in certain neighborhoods because of outdated methods of fighting crime.
Others point out that the answer lies in understanding and then addressing the complex social forces that contribute to crime.
"We have a systemic issue, which is a confluence of a number of things: economic disparities, and some of the groundwork that has to happen in order for young people to feel hopeless enough to go around and shoot each other," said D.A. Bullock, a North Side resident and filmmaker whose work grapples with inner-city issues.
Police in recent years have acknowledged the shortcomings of the traditional approach of "arresting away the problem," and have turned to a more community-policing oriented model, while working more closely with federal agencies like the FBI and ATF.
Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek, whose office runs the county's Violent Offender Task Force, which is frequently involved in apprehending gang members. He said law enforcement agencies are forced to balance their activities between long-term drug and gun dealing, while at the same time addressing day-to-day violence. He, like Bullock, agreed that the problem is larger than making one arrest at a time.
"Crime is cyclical. It has to do with economic disparities. It has to do with the [presence] of criminals when they're in their crime-prone years,"Stanek said, adding that authorities must do more from the ground up to combat the allure of gangs.
"I mean, all young people want to be loved, nurtured, respected," he said.
More than 3,000 shot in Chicago this year
Chicago surpassed 500 homicides after eight were killed and 35 were wounded this past weekend
by Jeremy Gorner, Peter Nickeas and Liam Ford
CHICAGO — Dominice Hallom was an 18-year-old living on Chicago's Far South Side when the Chicago Tribune featured him in a story in 2008 after he had been shot and wounded in two separate incidents three months apart.
After the second shooting, the former standout point guard at Corliss High School had recalled how he had played dead, twitching his prone body to convince the masked gunman that the bullets were continuing to strike him after the first shots hit him in the back and right calf.
He had professed to have learned his lesson, telling the Tribune, "It's easy to get into trouble, it's hard to get out of it."
Just days after the story ran in June 2008, though, Hallom was shot again. Then he was shot again in August 2010 and yet again in August 2015, surviving each time, according to Chicago police.
But his luck finally ran out over the weekend. For the sixth time in less than a decade, Hallom, now 27, was shot, but this time he died of his wounds. Police identified him as a documented gang member and said he was fatally shot about 2 p.m. Saturday as he sat in a parked vehicle in the Southwest Side's Chicago Lawn neighborhood.
With the weekend toll of eight killed and 35 wounded, Chicago surpassed another dreaded milestone in a year that has seen the worst violence in two decades. As of early Monday, at least 3,028 people had been shot, more than the 2,980 for all of 2015, according to data collected by the Tribune. Last week, Chicago topped 500 homicides after tallying 481 all of last year, according to the Tribune data.
Diane Latiker, who heads the anti-violence organization Kids Off The Block, took Hallom's killing hard. Her daughter had once dated him, and Latiker had tried to steer Hallom in the right direction over the years. She recalled he once even moved to Texas to escape the violence and had dreamed of becoming a lawyer to help others.
On Monday, after learning about Hallom's death on Facebook, Latiker spoke with a sullen look on her face, saying she was consumed by guilt.
"My feeling personally is that I failed him," she said in the living room of her Far South Side residence. "I've got to realize that I can't lay that all at my feet, but it hurts so bad to know he doesn't have a chance."
"That gun gives young people power, and most of them think that's the only power that they have, so the prize is to get a gun to show I got the power."
Nearly a third of the more than 3,000 shootings took place in just three police districts on the West Side, the Tribune found. Harrison ranked the worst among the city's 22 districts with 423 people shot, compared with 237 at this point last year, according to Tribune data collected from staff reporting and police reports. In two other West Side districts, shootings more than doubled — 265 people were shot in Austin, up from 112, while Ogden saw 232 people shot, compared with 106.
On the South Side, the Englewood police district, long troubled by gun violence, had the worst violence, with 324 people shot so far this year, up from 246 a year earlier.
Three districts saw slight drops in shootings, all of them on the North and Northwest sides: Jefferson Park, from 14 to 12; Lincoln, 17 to 14; and Rogers Park, 37 to 34.
The Tribune analysis found that 30 children 13 and under had been shot so far this year, compared with 25 at this time last year.
Police officials have blamed much of Chicago's violence on the flow of illegal firearms through dangerous neighborhoods and an intractable gang problem. The gangs, once highly structured and hierarchal, have fractured into small factions. With social media, petty disagreements and personal disputes can quickly turn violent, crime experts have said.
Another factor contributing to the violence could be a drop in morale among Chicago police officers because of heightened scrutiny in the fallout over the fatal shooting of black teen Laquan McDonald by a white officer. In interviews, officers told the Chicago Tribune earlier this year that they had taken a more cautious approach to their work, concerned they could end up in a viral internet video, sued or fired.
The weekend violence included Keekee Fleming, 18, fatally shot Sunday evening while attending a vigil for Nahmar Holmes, 23, who was killed on the same block on the South Side a day earlier, according to police. Two other teens were shot with Fleming near 89th and Justine streets.
The three were in a group gathered around candles and a makeshift memorial about 8:15 p.m. when a gray van pulled up and an occupant opened fire, police said. Fleming was hit in the head and pronounced dead at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, according to police and the woman's family.
A 16-year-old boy was shot in the buttocks and an 18-year-old man was shot in the armpit and chest, according to police. They were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where they were in serious to critical condition, according to Chicago fire Cmdr. Frank Velez.
The vigil was being held for Holmes, who was shot to death around 5:20 p.m. Saturday as he stood in front of a home in the same block. Police said two people walked up and began firing, hitting him several times. He was taken to the Little Company of Mary, where he was pronounced dead. Authorities said he lived on that block.
The deadliest stretch of the weekend was Saturday into Sunday morning, when four men were killed and at least 16 other people were wounded.
Among those wounded was a 17-year-old football player at Chicago Vocational Career Academy, according to police. He was standing in front of a home in the 10900 block of South Eberhart Avenue when a gray sedan drove past and fired shots, police said.
The boy was hit in the back and right hand and transported to Christ Medical Center, where his condition was stabilized.
The weekend began with a fatal shooting shortly before midnight at Division Street and Maplewood Avenue that was witnessed by police.
The officers saw a car drive by a restaurant and at least one occupant open fire, according to a law enforcement source. A person outside the restaurant began firing toward the car, according to the source.
One or more of the officers fired shots, and the person outside suffered injuries that weren't life-threatening, according to Chicago police. No officers were reported injured.
Soon after, a teen was found fatally shot in a car farther west on Division Street, police said. He is believed to have been killed in the gunfire that the officers originally witnessed, police said. He was identified as Louis Rodriguez, 18, of the 1300 block of North Oakley Boulevard.
9/11 flag flap sparks heated debate at Occidental College
by Gregory J. Wilcox
EAGLE ROCK -- While some Occidental College students are condemning the destruction of a 9/11 memorial of miniature flags placed on campus \, others are defending the vandals saying the American flag is “a symbol of institutionalized violence.”
Occidental sophomore Alan Bliss, president and co-founder of the Occidental College Conservatives Club, formerly known as Oxy Republicans, said Monday that students were seen stomping on the flags, breaking them, riding their bikes over them and putting them in the garbage in what he described as a “blatant disregard for the memorial.”
Members of the Oxy Republicans spent Saturday night placing flags for each of the nearly 3,000 people killed on Sept. 11, 2001, in the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil. The memorial was erected to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the tragedy but by Sunday morning the display had been destroyed.
In addition, dozens of flyers were put up in the quad area that Bliss said disrespected the 9/11 victims. Some read “RIP the 2,996 Americans who died in 9/11. RIP the 1,455,590 innocent Iraqis who died during the U.S. invasion for something they did not do.”
While it is important to honor the lives of innocent Iraqis who lost their lives as a result of 9/11, “it is in no way Okay to vandalize a memorial meant for 9-11 on Sept. 11 and distract from that memorial,” Bliss said. “Their lives should be honored — (but) not in a format that these bullies decided to do that in.”
Not everyone agreed. In a Sunday Facebook post, Coalition Oxy for Equity and Diversity (CODE) stated that many students experienced “distress” when they saw the American flags covering the Academic Quad on Sept. 11.
“As students of color, this symbol of the American flag is particularly triggering for many different reasons,” the post stated. “For us, this flag is a symbol of institutionalized violence (genocide, rape, slavery, colonialism, etc.) against people of color, domestically as well as globally.”
The post went on to say that if the goal is to commemorate the lives lost during 9/11, “the singular nature of the American flag fails to account for the diversity of lives lost on that day.”
Late Monday morning, students were scattered around the quad, working on their laptops and eating lunch. The majority of students approached at the small liberal arts school attended by a young Barack Obama from 1979 to 1981 did not want to comment on the vandalism.
But the memorial resonated with Savon Brown, an 18-year-old math major from New York City. His family was living in Brooklyn when the two hijacked planes smashed into the upper floors of the World Trade Center towers.
“It was disrespectful and it was very inappropriate of someone to remove those flags,” Brown said. “Removing those flags in the middle of the night was disrespectful to those who put them up.”
Natalie El-Ha, 18, and a freshman from Minneapolis, said there was not a lot of discussion about what the Republican club had planned.
“I think that part of the problem was a lack of dialogue when it was announced that the flags would go up. I didn't know that each flag represented a person. I thought they were just going to cover the quad with flags,” she said.
Jessica Wilcox, 21, and a senior psychology major from Oakland, speculated that the vandals may have been trying to make a political point. There are bombings “every day” that are not talked about and everyone who dies in them should be honored, she said.
“I think that the flags represented someone's freedom of speech and somebody wanted to take that away and this was the most practical way to do it,” she said.
But Gordon Zhang, 18, and a psychology major from Seattle, said that whoever uprooted the flags is not representative of Occidental's student body.
“I think the action of those who took out the flags and put them in the trash represents a very, very small (number) of students. They might have been out partying and it's being blown out of proportion,” he said.
He also doubts it was a political statement.
“I think for it to have been political there would have been a manifesto and somebody would have taken credit for it,” Zhang said. “But it was disrespectful to do it.”
Erica O'Neal Howard, Occidental's acting dean of students, said in a statement that an investigation is under way and the college “will take appropriate disciplinary action.” She urged anyone with information about the incident to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Vandalism or other acts that substantially interfere with the rights of others to engage in protected speech violate the college's Student Code of Conduct and the spirit of this institution,” Howard wrote.
N.C. police search for man who shot police officer
by Michelle Boudin and Dan Yesenosky
SHELBY, N.C. -- Police are searching for a North Carolina man suspected of shooting a police officer, who later died from his wounds.
Officer Tim Brackeen of the Shelby Police Department died Monday morning from his injuries after he was shot early on Saturday while serving outstanding warrants.
Ashley Hamrick, a mother of two, said she was sitting in her car in front of her house when she witnessed 23-year-old Irving Fenner, Jr., shoot officer Brackeen.
"I saw this man shoot this cop and then he said, 'Ashley, Ashley!' like he was warning me not to say something, but I'm brave."
Hamrick said she's known Fenner, Jr., her whole life.
"The light from the streetlight hit his face and I seen it, and I know it was him," she said.
Hamrick says the suspect was her roommate's boyfriend, but they'd kicked him out a week ago. She said she doesn't know why he was back at the house.
"I've seen him be abusive but I never thought he'd shoot a cop," she said.
Hamrick said she knew officer Brackeen, who helped her get out of an abusive relationship and would often check on her wellbeing. c
"Tim was not just a cop, not just a friend, that's my family," she said.
During his career, Brackeen was named Officer of the Year and won several merit awards.
City Council wants new community policing panel
by Yvonne Wenger
The Baltimore City Council is petitioning state lawmakers to create an oversight panel to steer Baltimore's community policing efforts.
City Councilman Brandon M. Scott introduced a resolution at Monday's City Council meeting asking the General Assembly to authorize the committee to annually evaluate the relationship between the police and Baltimore residents and develop a strategy to engage the public. It passed unanimously.
Police need a calculated approach to interacting with the community, with plans catered to individual neighborhoods, Scott said.
"How are our officers going to engage with young people, at rec centers, on street corners, without a 911 call being involved?" Scott said. "This is part of their work."
Del. Antonio L. Hayes, a Baltimore Democrat, is expected to file legislation to create the panel when the General Assembly convenes in January.
"This could create a link between communities and the Police Department," Hayes said. "Right now, there is a lot of lip service around community policing. Hopefully, this will provide something more sustainable."
Hayes said other jurisdictions around the country have created similar boards. He plans to spend the coming months working to build support for the proposal.
Creating such a committee would require state action because the City Council does not have the authority to do so. The bill would allow the city to create the committee, and the council would decide how it would function.
Police spokesman T.J. Smith said the department would work with the council as legislative efforts proceed. "We are always supportive of new opportunities to engage the community," Smith said.
Scott envisions the panel being made up of about 20 people. He wants one member of the public from each of the Police Department's nine districts, a public housing resident, a youth representative, the police commissioner and multiple elected officials or their designees.
The committee would issue a report every November outlining ways for police to create consistently positive interactions between officers and community members, Scott said. Officers, he said, could be required to participate in neighborhood events and interact with schoolchildren, African-Americans, ex-offenders and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Scott said creating the committee could build on actions the Police Department will be taking to repair relationships after the recent release of the U.S. Department of Justice report on Baltimore policing. The report concluded that city police routinely violated people's civil rights through discrimination, excessive use of force and other actions.
Creating the steering committee would protect the efforts from future commissioners who might want to abandon community policing, Scott said.
"Agencies are responsible for what they're held accountable for, and right now they're not held accountable for community engagement," Scott said. "We need to push the envelop a little further. Our city will be much greater for it."
Justice Department report: Baltimore police routinely violated civil rights
by Jon Paepcke
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. —Mayors from four of Alabama's largest cities came together Monday to promote community policing.
Birmingham's William Bell was joined by Mobile's Sandy Stimpson, Montgomery's Todd Strange and Tuscaloosa's Walt Maddox at the Westin Hotel in downtown Birmingham.
The four pushed the positives of their police departments becoming more connected with the communities that they serve.
Strange said it is not a program, but a mindset officers should have every time they patrol their beat.
Bell said they are already seeing it pay off in Birmingham.
After six people were shot in the Gate City community Sunday night, he said numerous witnesses came up to him and police officers to tell them what they saw.
In the past, he said, very few people would have come forward in that situation.
He credits officers' willingness to get to know the people in the neighborhoods, instead of only showing up to fill out a police report.
Report on San Bernardino shooting: Community policing tactics can help with terrorist response
by Melanie Eversley
Community policing tactics can help with responses to terrorist incidents such as the fatal mass shooting that took place in San Bernardino, Calif., last December, according to a report from the Department of Justice and the Police Foundation, also based in Washington.
The Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, and the foundation conducted a critical incident review of the shooting that left 14 dead and 22 injured. The organizations produced a list of tactics that work or that could help in future such incidents.
The shooting took place on Dec. 2, when a couple, Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Maleek, opened fire at the Inland Regional Center, a social services site, as employees with the San Bernardino County Environmental Health Department were meeting. Both were shot and killed by police.
In a 141-page report titled "Bringing Calm to Chaos," COPS and the Police Foundation concluded that methods such as communication between various layers of response organizations and making sure agencies are up to speed with technology can help with the response to such incidents.
Among the tactics that the report concludes can help:
Build relationships between organizations, leaders, and between police departments and communities. These links should be in place before such incidents take place.
Set up a unified response command for such incidents.
Set up regional, multi-organizational training sessions.
Insure that agencies are up to speed when it comes to equipment and technology.
Insure a 360-degree response by also including mental health and faith-based organizations in plans.
"As was demonstrated in San Bernardino, a detailed review can be of great value to a law enforcement agency, enabling significant improvement of policies, procedures, systems and relationships," Ron Davis, director of COPS, wrote in the report. "It can also help other public safety agencies prepare for mass casualty incidents."
Waterloo mayor backs police-community relations efforts
by Pat Kinney
WATERLOO — Mayor Quentin Hart said Monday he fully supports the Waterloo Police Department's efforts to improve community relations and declined to make any public statement on any city official's or employee's job performance.
Hart made his comments following a difficult several weeks in which the city paid out cash settlements for abuse suits involving officers and brought in a community policing expert from North Carolina for meetings with police, city officials and the community, among several other measures.
“I support the Waterloo Police Department and support any necessary change we need to bring about the type of change to better serve our community,” the mayor said.
“We are facing some challenges right now,” Hart added. “With the community and the Waterloo P.D., I'm sure we can work together to face whatever challenges are in front of us right now.”
Citing city policy, Hart declined to comment publicly on the job performance of any specific individual, including Waterloo safety services director Dan Trelka, who oversees police and fire operations and is the city's police chief.
“I've never done that publicly. I'm not going to talk about his job. We don't talk about internal things like that,” Hart said. “I'm in support of the Waterloo Police Department. I support seeing it being successful and I'm not going to comment on anybody's position.” He said that is consistent with the policy of past mayors and of the city government organization as a whole.
In response to the incidents and concurrent litigation and settlements, Trelka has redoubled training efforts, equipped police with body cameras, investigated incidents involving officers and took disciplinary action where deemed appropriate. Trelka, contacted Monday, declined comment on the mayor's statements but did feel he has had the city's support in the initiatives taken.
Many of the abuse incidents involved white officers and black citizens, raising questions about the racial disparity between the predominantly white makeup of the police force in proportion to the overall population of Waterloo — which has the highest percentage African-American population in the state — as well as the city's challenges in recruiting black officers.
Trelka has admitted his officers have made mistakes, but he hopes new training for police and an educational effort geared toward the residents will help build bridges. He also said there is an ongoing dialog among himself, citizens and the U.S. Department of Justice and two DOJ training sessions have been offered.
Also, earlier this month, the department hired consultant Troy Cicero of Chicago to provide diversity training to its officers.
The department also brought in another consultant, Garry McFadden, a retired North Carolina officer who met with city and police leaders, NAACP representatives and the community last week.
Trelka has said one of the things working against the police department is the confidentiality that surrounds discipline that is handed out in instances of officer misconduct. Under state code, discipline and the reasons it may or may not be warranted, cannot be publicly discussed.
The city and individual citizens also have launched a number of public outreach efforts to improve police-community relations.
Operation Public Relations, a community-law enforcement family event organized by a group of black and white volunteers was attended by several hundred people in July at Sullivan Park.
Another event, in August, was National Night Out, the annual event held by Waterloo's network of neighborhood associations throughout the city with the support of the city and law enforcement. Police and firefighters showed off equipment and received hugs from ordinary citizens.
One day after National Night Out activities, the Waterloo Human Rights Commission conducted a well-attended program, “Reaching for Respect: Our Police, Our Partners,” at Jubilee United Methodist Church. It was designed for law enforcement and residents to meet as neighbors and “have some courageous conversation with each other,” said Rev. Abraham Funchess Jr., Jubilee pastor and Human Rights Commission director.
In June, for the second year in a row, Mount Carmel Baptist Church, one of east Waterloo's leading predominantly African-American churches, hosted a law enforcement appreciation day as part of its regular Sunday service.
W.Va. officer fired for not shooting at armed man
Officials said Stephen Mader put two other officers in danger by not shooting Ronald D. Williams Jr., who was armed
by Sean D. Hamill
WEIRTON, W.Va. — After responding to a report of a domestic incident on May 6 in Weirton, W.Va., then-Weirton police officer Stephen Mader found himself confronting an armed man.
Immediately, the training he had undergone as a Marine to look at “the whole person” in deciding if someone was a terrorist, as well as his situational police academy training, kicked in and he did not shoot.
“I saw then he had a gun, but it was not pointed at me,” Mr. Mader recalled, noting the silver handgun was in the man's right hand, hanging at his side and pointed at the ground.
The man was Ronald D. “R.J.” Williams Jr., 23, of Pittsburgh, and what happened in the seconds after Mr. Mader's initial decision is still being investigated by Mr. Williams' family as well as the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union.
Mr. Mader, who was standing behind Mr. Williams' car parked on the street, said he then “began to use my calm voice.”
“I told him, ‘Put down the gun,' and he's like, ‘Just shoot me.' And I told him, ‘I'm not going to shoot you brother.' Then he starts flicking his wrist to get me to react to it.
“I thought I was going to be able to talk to him and deescalate it. I knew it was a suicide-by-cop” situation.
But just then, two other Weirton officers arrived on the scene, Mr. Williams walked toward them waving his gun — later found to be unloaded — between them and Mr. Mader, and one of them shot Mr. Williams' in the back of the head just behind his right ear, killing him.
A month-long West Virginia State Police investigation later concluded the shooting was justified, a decision the Hancock County, W.Va., prosecutor, Jim Davis, announced at a news conference on June 8.
But a case that has been handled by local law enforcement from the first day on with some peculiar twists — failing to publicly name Mr. Williams for three days, the assignment of an investigator who left for a week-long vacation the next day and tension with Mr. Williams' family — only got more peculiar.
Mr. Mader — speaking publicly about this case for the first time — said that when he tried to return to work on May 17, following normal protocol for taking time off after an officer-involved shooting, he was told to go see Weirton Police Chief Rob Alexander.
In a meeting with the chief and City Manager Travis Blosser, Mr. Mader said Chief Alexander told him: “We're putting you on administrative leave and we're going to do an investigation to see if you are going to be an officer here. You put two other officers in danger.”
Mr. Mader said that “right then I said to him: ‘Look, I didn't shoot him because he said, ‘Just shoot me.' ”
On June 7, a Weirton officer delivered him a notice of termination letter dated June 6, which said by not shooting Mr. Williams he “failed to eliminate a threat.”
The notice of termination included two other incidents in which the city believed Mr. Mader acted improperly: An incident in April where neither he nor two other more experienced officers - the same two who were involved in the Williams' case - reported as suspicious the death of an elderly woman who appeared to have had a stroke and fallen in her home, though no one has been charged in her death; and an incident in March when a woman complained that Mr. Mader was rude and swore at her when she asked why her husband was being arrested for disorderly conduct over receiving a parking ticket.
Mr. Mader believes he was not at fault in either situation and he was never given an opportunity to clarify what happened in each case.
The city held a termination hearing on June 29 to approve the decision, but a frustrated Mr. Mader did not attend the hearing.
When he read stories a day after he got his termination letter about how Chief Alexander said in the June 8 press conference that all three officers were back at work and doing well, Mr. Mader was incensed.
“How can you say all the officers are doing well when you just terminated one yesterday?” Mr. Mader said in a recent interview. “I think he did that just to give the public a good view of the officers.”
As for why he was fired, Mr. Mader said it seems obvious to him why that was done.
“Firing me for it, it's less of an eyebrow-raiser then to say the other officers are justified in what they did — which I think they were.”
Why the chief told reporters, and Mr. Williams' family in a private meeting with them a week later, that all three officers were back to work is not known.
Neither Chief Alexander, Mr. Blosser nor Mr. Davis returned calls seeking comment. The Post-Gazette was told to contact Cy Hill, an attorney representing the city, but Mr. Hill did not return repeated voicemail messages and emails.
As a former officer, Mr. Mader is all too aware of the interest this case might have for those on either side of the ongoing controversy over the shootings of black men by white officers across the country.
Mr. Mader is white and Mr. Williams was black. But Mr. Mader said the other two officers — who are also white — did the right thing given their situation.
“They did not have the information I did,” he said. “They don't know anything I heard. All they know is [Mr. Williams] is waving a gun at them. It's a shame it happened the way it did, but, I don't think they did anything wrong.”
As for Chief Alexander?
“It was like [Chief Alexander] was a good guy and the next second he's throwing me under the bus,” he said.
Jack Dolance, an attorney for the Williams' family, said that how and why Mr. Mader was fired “is pretty clear evidence of their policy and that the way they feel [the shooting of Mr. Williams] should have been handled. Not only do they think he should have been shot and killed, but shot and killed more quickly.”
Mr. Mader, 25, thought his hiring by the city in July, 2015, in a job that would pay him about $34,000 the first year, would turn out to be a good move for him, his young family, and the city.
He grew up in Weirton, graduated from Weir High School, married his high school sweetheart five years ago, and was raising two small boys (now ages 4 and 1) in the city when he got the job after serving for four years with the Marines, including a tour in Afghanistan.
“I was definitely excited,” he said, recalling the swearing-in ceremony. “It was the challenge. I like challenges; that's the reason I joined the Marines because they said it was the hardest branch to be in. And I was excited because it was a better opportunity for my family and I was getting a chance to be an officer in the town I grew up in.”
He is now going to school to get his commercial license to drive trucks, but he said he'd consider going back into law enforcement if a job came up.
After he received his termination notice, Mr. Mader sought attorneys to help him fight the city. He was told because he was still a probationary employee in an “at-will” state, he could be fired for any reason and there was no point in fighting the city.
One attorney told him the best he could hope for was to ask to resign instead of being terminated.
“But I told [the attorney] ‘Look, I don't want to admit guilt. I'll take the termination instead of the resignation because I didn't do anything wrong,' ” Mr. Mader said. “To resign and admit I did something wrong here would have ate at me. I think I'm right in what I did. I'll take it to the grave.”
San Bernardino police see surge in violence
The city is on track to have more murders than in any year since 1995, when 67 people were killed, and there is no clear explanation why
by Paloma Esquivel
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — The sound of gunfire and sirens drew about a dozen people out of their homes on San Bernardino's west side one recent Wednesday night.
A beat-up Honda sat in the street — a small cross dangling from the rearview mirror, two bullet holes in the door. Rescue workers pulled Alejandro Herrera, 28, from the driver's seat and wheeled him into an ambulance.
“The other day, they killed someone down the street,” said a middle-aged woman, leaning against a fence next to her husband. All around this part of the city, she said, there are candlelight memorials to victims of violence.
“Before, we would hear about killings every once in a while. Now, there are so many,” she said, asking that her name not be published for fear of becoming a victim herself.
A few days later, in a neighborhood less than two miles away, investigators pulled the body of Jose De La Torre, 24, from the trunk of a Nissan.
The next night, Shonta Edwards, 33, was shot to death outside an apartment complex about half a mile from there.
And soon enough, Herrera, who died at the hospital, had his own candlelight memorial on the sidewalk in the neighborhood where he was shot.
San Bernardino, still healing from the Dec. 2 terror attack, has seen a surge in violence this year unlike any it has faced in decades. With four months left in 2016, there have been 150 shootings and 47 slayings in the city of 216,000 residents. It had 44 homicides all of last year, including the 14 people killed by terrorists at the Inland Regional Center.
The city is now on track to have more murders than in any year since 1995, when 67 people were killed, and there is no clear explanation why.
Residents and officials point to a police force hobbled by budget cuts and attrition. But the budget situation was bad last year too, and the homicide rate was far lower.
San Bernardino has had about as many homicides as Oakland, which has nearly twice the population. San Jose, almost five times more populous than San Bernardino, has had 35 killings.
If the current pace continues, San Bernardino will end the year with a homicide rate of about 31 per 100,000 residents. Chicago's rate last year was about 18; Los Angeles had seven.
In addition to the 47 homicides, three people have been killed by police.
“Our city right now is bad,” said resident Aguadia Brown, 27, whose cousin, a friend and his son all were killed this year. “It's like everyone is on edge, and nobody really knows how we're going to fix this.”
The killings have disproportionately victimized the city's black residents, who account for 14 percent of the population but nearly half of those killed. Certain neighborhoods have been affected, but the mayhem has occurred throughout the city.
Police Chief Jarrod Burguan says the city has been especially hard hit by state initiatives that reduced some drug and property-related felonies to misdemeanors, leading to shorter sentences for criminals.
Others say the city's dearth of economic opportunities, its years of cuts to diversion programs and a lack of other basic services — such as working street lights in many neighborhoods — have contributed to this year's violence.
Because of San Bernardino's financial turmoil, which began even before it declared bankruptcy in 2012, the size of the Police Department has been reduced repeatedly over the years.
The ranks have gotten so thin that officers who specialize in drugs, gangs and traffic enforcement have been reassigned to patrol just to keep up with calls for service.
“We're not getting to calls fast enough,” Burguan said. “We don't have the capacity to investigate everything that's reported in the city.”
The Dec. 2 attack turned the world's eyes toward San Bernardino. And the presidential election has made it an ongoing political talking point.
But even as its name has come to symbolize the dangers Americans face at the hands of terrorists, the city is suffering a mounting nightly toll with little attention from the outside.
On a Friday night in June, Det. Ernest Luna and Officer Brian Olvera drove through town in a patrol car, a rifle mounted between them.
They had been pulled off their regular gang detail to patrol the streets for a 45-day operation aimed at calming the surge of violence. The city also paid four county deputies to beef up its numbers during that period.
As they wound their way through San Bernardino, Luna said officers who won widespread support after the terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center now struggle to get information from residents that might help solve or prevent violence.
“During IRC, it seemed like everyone loved us,” Luna said. “But it's kind of gone back to how it was.
“A lot of times, they're scared,” he added. “They have to live in the neighborhood.”
Fewer than 40 percent of this year's homicides have been solved.
In one neighborhood, Luna and Olvera drove past a corner where a long-established gang had painted two tall, elaborate murals of the Virgin of Guadalupe and the Aztec calendar — each emblazoned with the gang's name in massive letters.
The brazen graffiti on the walls of two neighborhood stores is a vivid reminder of the city's dwindling resources.
In 2008, there were more than 340 police officers on the force. Today, there are about 215.
The gang unit used to be twice its size, Luna said.
The department has fewer officers per capita than nearby Riverside and Ontario, neither of which have comparable problems with violence.
Burguan said he needs about 300 officers to comfortably meet the city's basic service needs — more, he said, if city officials expect to blunt violence through sheer police presence.
The city is trying to make do as it prepares to emerge from bankruptcy later this year.
The Police Department is trying to fill about 30 vacancies and is hoping for a federal grant to add 11 officers. But the hiring process is slow.
In the meantime, officers are busy.
Before their shift was over, Luna and Olvera stopped to talk with the mother of four young gang members about one of her son's Facebook posts and responded to a man exposing himself at a convenience store.
They stopped a group of young men drinking beers outside an east-side neighborhood and entered their names on gang identification cards. They helped search for and arrested a teenager who they heard had pulled a gun on people in an apartment complex.
And nearby, officers responded to a stabbing that — two weeks later, when the victim died — would become another homicide.
Two days before Herrera was killed, a few dozen clergy members, residents and activists gathered to call for an end to the violence.
They began in front of St. Bernardine Church, the city's oldest Catholic parish, and walked two-by-two to City Hall, about a half-mile away, shouting, “Alive and free is what we want to be.”
When they reached the steps of City Hall, a woman read aloud the names of San Bernardino's homicide victims.
“We remember you,” the crowd replied.
“We remember you.”
The march and recitation of names are a monthly ritual organized by Inland Congregations United for Change, a coalition of local religious groups and others that has been pushing the city to do more to stop the killings.
Organizer Sergio Luna, a father of two young children who has lived in San Bernardino for 17 years, says the violence weighs on the entire community.
“Knowing there's a few shootings within a few blocks from your house,” he said, “that brings a psychological toll.”
While the death toll is particularly high this year, Luna said that for years, San Bernardino has had a high homicide rate that went largely ignored.
After the terror attack, he said, “all of a sudden, everyone cared about mass shootings in San Bernardino. But we've been crying about urban gun violence for many years.”
Since 2014, when there were 43 homicides — about one every eight days — the group has been pushing the city to adopt Operation Ceasefire, a program used in cities around the nation to reduce homicides by reaching out preemptively to those at risk of violence.
“We cannot only prioritize first responders after violence takes place if we're not prioritizing preventing violence from taking place in the first place,” Luna said.
Burguan, the police chief, said that earlier this year, the city was turned down for a state grant to help fund Operation Ceasefire.
The decision made Burguan wonder whether the city is alone in its battle against killings, he said.
“Who really is that concerned about San Bernardino? Or are people at the state level happy letting San Bernardino drown in this stuff?” he said. “We clearly have the most significant crime spike of any place in the state, and all that money went elsewhere.”
City Manager Mark Scott said San Bernardino is looking for other private or government grants to fund Operation Ceasefire, which he estimates would cost about $500,000. The city agreed to spend $175,000 on it.
On a hot evening in July, a man waiting outside a liquor store on the east side shot 9-year-old Travon Williams, his father and another man. The boy had spent the afternoon swimming with his dad.
Travon's family didn't have the money to pay for his burial.
So in a ritual that has been enacted after many of the city's homicides, Travon's family and friends, and those of his father, spent hours in restaurant parking lots, washing cars and soliciting donations from passing drivers.
On a 104-degree day, they hosted a park barbecue that from afar might have been mistaken for a birthday party. They sold snow cones and popcorn and T-shirts with a photo of Travon and his father, superimposed with angel wings.
It was more than just a fundraiser, family members said. It was a call to the community to gather, to draw some attention to the onslaught of violence that had now claimed the life of a fourth-grader.
“It's not even just because of my nephew, but because of all the killings that happened before him and all the ones that have happened after,” said Travon's aunt, Erica Newman. “We're trying to stop all this killing.”
When the day of the funeral came, hundreds of mourners filled the Way World Outreach, a large church not far from Cal State San Bernardino.
Father-and-son caskets were covered with red, white and blue flowers. Travon's younger sisters wore red, white and blue barrettes.
Toward the end of the service, mourners began a procession past the caskets. Many were in their 20s and held small children by the hand or babies in their arms. They visibly struggled to walk past the slain 9-year-old boy.
The pastor walked to the front of the room and leaned into a microphone.
“This is not normal,” he said emphatically. “It's not normal to see mothers cry, aunties cry, because their children are killed.
“This is enough, Lord, of young people losing their lives. This is enough. This is enough.”
Police departments shelve body cameras, cite data costs
Police departments that outfitted their officers with body cameras have now shelved them, blaming new laws requiring videos to be stored longer
by Rick Callahan
INDIANAPOLIS — Police departments in at least two states that outfitted their officers with body cameras have now shelved them, blaming new laws requiring videos to be stored longer, which they say would significantly increase the cost.
About a third of the nation's 18,000 police agencies are either testing body cameras or have embraced them to record their officers' interactions with the public. But departments in Indiana and Connecticut suspended their programs this year after their states imposed considerably longer video-storage rules.
Clarksville, a southern Indiana town just north of Louisville, Kentucky, began using body cameras in 2012 for its 50 full-time officers and 25 reservists. That program ended in late June when Chief Mark Palmer pulled the cameras in response to Indiana's new law requiring agencies using the cameras to store the videos for at least 190 days.
Palmer said his department's video storage and camera maintenance costs had been between $5,000 and $10,000 a year under its 30-day video storage policy. But the new law that took effect July 1 would have raised those costs to $50,000 to $100,000 for the first year, he said, by requiring videos to be stored more than six times longer.
Palmer said the department would have had to buy new servers and may have had to buy new cameras and software and to train someone to use it, and that although the cost would have been lower in subsequent years, it still would have been high.
"This has really hit us hard. That's not the kind of thing we budgeted for when we set this year's budget in place," Palmer said of his department in the Ohio River community of about 20,000 residents.
The adjacent city of Jeffersonville also shelved its 70 officers' cameras for the same reasons, and other Indiana police agencies have delayed committing to the cameras while they monitor the new law's impact.
Palmer said he's working with Jeffersonville police on ways they might be able to resume their programs by holding down costs by sharing equipment with other agencies.
Civil rights activists have long called for police officers to wear body cameras, and even more so since the 2014 fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by a white officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst for the national American Civil Liberties Union's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, acknowledged that costs of operating body camera programs can be daunting. But he said he's concerned that some departments might use the costs "as a cover" to avoid the added layer of oversight the cameras bring.
"There could be good reasons for a community not to adopt body cameras, but a police department's desire to escape accountability is not one of them," Stanley said.
Looming higher video storage costs were also the reason the Berlin, Connecticut, police department ended its body camera program this year after testing eight body cameras that had rotated among its 42 officers, said Chief Paul Fitzgerald. His department followed the Connecticut state librarian's suggestion to retain video for 60 days, and longer in instances involving ongoing investigations or citizen complaints.
But Fitzgerald shelved the cameras in January in response to new state standards approved late last year. Those standards, which a Connecticut law directed a state board to draft, require all body camera videos to be stored for at least 90 days — and for at least four years if they're deemed evidentiary.
"Everybody's trying to maintain budgets and that becomes very difficult," Fitzgerald said. "It's the long term costs, of unfunded mandates."
At least eight states — Indiana, Oregon, Illinois, Nevada, California, New Hampshire, Nebraska and Georgia — have laws spelling out how long police departments must preserve the footage the cameras capture, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Police departments typically have to buy new servers or pay for a cloud service to store the videos. And additional staffers often need to be hired to handle public records requests, manage videos that must be stored for long durations and redact videos to blur the faces of minors or otherwise protect privacy.
Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, whose Michigan department covers Detroit's northern suburbs, said he won't equip his 900 officers with the cameras largely because his department's startup costs for the cameras and storing the resulting videos for just 30 days would amount to more than $1 million a year.
"For body cams it's a deal-breaker. I won't implement them," he said.
Medium-sized police departments, those with between about 50 and 250 officers, appear to be facing the biggest challenges with video storage because they often don't have enough space on servers or hard drives for their considerable data storage needs, said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum.
Small police departments and large metropolitan departments seem to be having an easier time managing their body camera costs, he said. And in a decade, Wexler predicts, departments without the cameras affixed to officers' uniforms will be rare and competition among vendors will mean the videos will be cheaper to store.
"That's going to be a good thing for the field," he said.
NJ bill would require cops to be ID'd within 48 hours of shootings
The requirement calls for names of all officers at the scene to be released to the public within 48 hours of a fatal shooting or incident
by PoliceOne Staff
TRENTON, N.J. — A new bill proposed to the New Jersey State Legislature would require officials to identify police officers involved in fatal shootings within 48 hours of the incident, according to NJ.com.
The publication reports that the requirement was added to a piece of legislation that would put all officer-involved shooting investigations under the attorney general.
The addition states names of all officers present at the scene be released to the public, except in cases where the attorney general finds such a disclosure "will jeopardize the officer's safety or the safety of the officer's immediate family," according to the proposed text.
Currently, fatal shootings involving local departments are investigated by county prosecutors, but if they involve county or state departments they are investigated by a division under the attorney general's office.
Many New Jersey police representatives call it an “unnecessary intrusion” on their departments.
New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association Spokesman Rob Nixon said the bill "starts with an assumption that's never been proven: that our county prosecutors are incapable of impartiality in seeking justice when police officers are involved in a shooting."