September, 2016 - Week 5
LAPD reassigns elite cops after killings fall in South L.A. but crime jumps in other parts of L.A.
(Video on site)
by Cindy Chang
With homicides declining steadily after a large spike earlier this year, the Los Angeles Police Department has scaled back an emergency crime-fighting operation that had flooded South Los Angeles with officers from the elite Metropolitan Division.
Starting on Saturday, more than half of the Metro officers who were deployed in South Los Angeles were assigned to other areas, though they will still be dispatched to crime hot spots as needed.
As violent crime has stabilized in the most dangerous parts of the city, the Hollenbeck, Rampart and the San Fernando Valley areas are among those that have seen increases partly as a result of the Metro officers being diverted to the South L.A. mission, said Asst. Chief Michel Moore. The Metro officers, he said, need to go back to other neighborhoods to stop violent crime from gaining too much momentum there.
“We don’t want to live on borrowed time,” said Moore, who heads the department’s street patrol operations.
Moore called the South Los Angeles operation a success but one that should be “measured timidly,” because there are still too many homicides and shootings in the area.
The strategy of flooding problem areas with Metro officers intensified last year, when Los Angeles saw its first jump in both violent and property crimes in more than a decade. Mayor Eric Garcetti reacted in April 2015 by announcing a plan to expand Metro, which includes SWAT, K-9 and mounted units and also provides security for visiting dignitaries, from 200 officers to about 400.
Metro officers working on crime suppression were initially distributed throughout the city. Then, in January, killings in parts of South L.A. jumped 50% compared to the same period last year.
In response, the LAPD flooded the Newton, Southwest, 77th Street and Southeast areas, which together account for about 48% of the city’s violent gun crimes, with Metro officers. The department also set up a command center to analyze crime statistics each day.
Starting in March, station captains conferred by conference call every morning at 10 a.m. to go over crimes from the day before, discussing patterns and strategies as well as where Metro officers needed to be deployed that evening.
The Metro officers, who receive specialized training and must pass rigorous physical fitness tests, have concentrated on areas where gangs are active or where a rash of crimes have recently occurred. They drive unmarked cars and do not have to respond to 911 calls as patrol officers do, so they can cruise around looking for vehicles to pull over for minor infractions such as tinted windows.
LAPD commanders would not release the number of Metro officers deployed in South L.A., citing safety reasons.
As part of the operation, motorcycle officers, who typically write traffic citations, focused on preventing robberies by spending time in areas where crimes have occurred, handing out fliers and getting to know residents. More detectives were assigned to night shifts so investigations could get started more quickly. Officers kept an eye on repeat offenders, visiting their homes and doing parole or probation checks.
If a murder could spark a retaliatory killing, officers tried to prevent more bloodshed by identifying people who might have a reason to seek revenge and by using gang intervention workers to tamp down rumors.
LAPD commanders point to the number of guns seized — more than 800 since the operation started in March — as one measure of success.
“We wanted to abate this crazy rise, and we did that,” said Cmdr. Dennis Kato of the South Bureau.
Though there will be fewer Metro officers in South L.A., the morning statistics meetings and some of the crime-fighting strategies will continue.
When the South L.A. operation began in March, homicides in the area were up by 33% over the year before. By early September, the area had recorded 83 killings versus 93 at the same time last year, an 11% drop. The number of shooting victims was down by over 19%, though violent crime was still up by over 14%.
Meanwhile, in the Hollenbeck Station area, which includes El Sereno, Lincoln Heights and Boyle Heights, violent crime has gone up by 28% compared to the same period last year. In the Rampart Station area west of downtown, homicides have increased by 150%, to 20 this year from eight a year ago.
Citywide, there have been 205 homicides this year, down 2% from last year. Robberies are up over 12% and aggravated assaults 14%. Over the last two years, violent crime has increased nearly 37%, and property crime has risen by 18%.
LAPD officials have pointed to various factors for the increases: more gang violence, a rising homeless population and Proposition 47, the 2014 law that reduced some drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.
Crime is also up in areas patrolled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which has seen a 9% increase in violent crime and a 5% increase in property crime over the last year.
Jon Shane, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former police officer, said that saturating an area with cops would be expected to produce short-term gains but is not a long-term solution.
“Solving the root cause of crime will not be accomplished by crackdown operations, that’s for sure,” Shane said. “You need a much more systematic intervention than just going out and taking enforcement action.”
LAPD commanders said they have continued with community policing strategies such as foot patrols, even as Metro officers who are not based in the area are engaging in more aggressive tactics, such as stopping drivers for minor violations and then searching the cars if they can find legal justification.
“We made a concerted effort not to cast the net on whole communities but on the people involved in that activity,” said Bill Scott, deputy chief of the department’s South Bureau.
But Peter Bibring, a senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said that making pre-textual vehicle stops alienate people in minority communities, many of whom are already suspicious of the police. Bibring likened the practice to the New York Police Department’s controversial stop-and-frisk, which ended after a federal judge ruled it to be unconstitutional.
In the vast majority of vehicle stops, “ordinary people, law-abiding Los Angeles residents, are treated as criminals by police because they live in one of these targeted areas, which are primarily communities of color,” Bibring said. “The treatment of law-abiding residents as if they’re criminals is corrosive to police-community relations.”
Last week, on a morning conference call for the South L.A. operation, Lt. Alex Vargas of the Southwest Station detailed some crimes from the night before.
A man with a tattoo of a cross on his cheek tried to rob a smoke shop using a handgun, Vargas said. In another incident, a group of juveniles suspected in several robberies ran from the police, and a 14-year-old who resembled the nerdy television character Urkel was bitten by a police dog.
After Vargas finished, Kato announced that one Metro platoon would continue patrolling the lower Baldwin Hills area, where gang activity has been a problem.
With a recent fatal police shooting in North Carolina sparking controversy, Kato urged the station leaders to check in with community leaders and see if any local demonstrations were planned.
Then Scott, the deputy chief, spoke.
“With everything that’s going on across the country, with the national news and policing, just remind your folks, as we do what we need to do to keep crime down, to take the time to explain to people why you’re stopping them,” he said. “Please just talk to your folks and make sure we’re doing our jobs in a way the public can accept, and I think we’ve been doing that.”
Presidential Proclamation -- National Community Policing Week, 2016
NATIONAL COMMUNITY POLICING WEEK, 2016
A PROCLAMATION -- BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Police officers are essential members of our communities -- maintaining our way of life depends on their dedicated efforts to keep us safe. These officers hold significant civic and law enforcement responsibilities and put their lives at risk to protect us each day, at times facing some of the most adverse circumstances imaginable. The overwhelming majority of police officers are fair, dedicated, and honest public servants who strive daily to cultivate and sustain positive relationships with the communities they serve and protect. As recent tragedies have illustrated, however, it is clear that there are still too many places in America where these relationships are strained and where officers and community members have struggled to build and maintain trust.
During National Community Policing Week, we reaffirm our commitment to supporting and advancing the practice of community policing and to fortifying the bonds between police officers and communities. Community policing recognizes that law enforcement cannot solve public safety problems alone and encourages interactive partnerships with relevant stakeholders -- including community groups, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and businesses. This active collaboration can improve public trust and fortify relationships, not only advancing public safety, but also deepening social connectivity and creating lasting solutions to challenging problems we face every day.
The underlying tensions that sometimes exist between law enforcement officers and communities span decades and reflect a breadth of social and cultural challenges, including racial and socioeconomic disparities. Through meaningful efforts to strengthen community policing, we can meet these challenges, improve these vital relationships, and make real and lasting progress. Together, we can take constructive steps to support our women and men in uniform while instilling confidence in the fairness of the justice system for everybody and ensuring that law enforcement officers discharge their duties impartially.
A critical part of enhancing trust is making certain that when an incident occurs, the public is confident that an investigation is fair and effective -- both for the officer and for the families of those who have been affected. We must also work with law enforcement on training, hiring, and recruiting techniques and provide support and proper resources as they deal with the challenges of the job. In 2015, I announced a Task Force on 21st Century Policing to bring together community leaders and law enforcement to provide recommendations to help us build the kind of trust we need. In the time since the Task Force issued a report of their findings, we have seen progress with respect to data gathering, training, transparency, and community outreach -- and communities across America are working to implement these recommendations. We must also recognize that we cannot keep expecting police to solve the issues we fail to address as a society, including poverty, substandard schools, inadequate job opportunities, and lack of care for mental illnesses or substance use disorders; doing so contributes to unrest in communities and exacerbates tensions.
My Administration has worked to bridge divides and bolster community policing efforts across our country. In 2014, the Department of Justice (DOJ) launched the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice to invest in training, evidence-based strategies, and research to help reduce implicit bias and enhance procedural justice and reconciliation. The DOJ has provided additional resources to the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services for hiring police officers across America and advancing 21st-century policing efforts. We are also continuing to provide millions of dollars in grants to agencies that demonstrate robust community policing initiatives. Last year, the White House and the DOJ launched the Police Data Initiative to encourage law enforcement, technologists, and researchers to use data to increase transparency and strengthen accountability between community members and police. And this summer, we launched the Data-Driven Justice Initiative to equip law enforcement officers with the tools they need to safely and effectively divert low-level offenders with mental illnesses out of the criminal justice system. The Federal Government must continue to partner with State and local leaders, as well as the law enforcement community, to expand best practices that increase trust and public safety.
Every American has the power to make change in their communities. By working together to improve law enforcement practices and ensure we give both police officers and community members the respect they deserve, we can fulfill this important endeavor. This week, let us rededicate ourselves to building a future in which police officers are honored for their sacrifices and supported by their communities and in which members of those communities can truly feel they are being served fairly and justly by our women and men in blue.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2 through October 8, 2016, as National Community Policing Week. I call upon law enforcement agencies, elected officials, and all Americans to observe this week by recognizing ways to improve public safety, rebuild trust, and strengthen community relationships.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.
Feeling earthquake anxiety? Here's what you can do to be prepared
by Colleen Shalby
The threat of a major earthquake looms over California once again. A series of small quakes under the Salton Sea has increased the chances of seismic activity near the San Andreas fault over the next few days. You probably don't need to get your post-apocalyptic underground bunker ready just yet, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared. Whether you need a refresher, or just never got the memo that your doorway isn't the best place to be during an earthquake, read on for some tips.
Have a survival kit ready at home and in your car
You can buy survival kits from Amazon or the American Red Cross. But if you'd like to go the do-it-yourself route, here are some basic items to include:
Bottled water (don't forget about your pets)
Canned food (and a can opener if needed)
A whistle to use if you need to be rescued
Walking shoes and socks
A written list of emergency contacts
Transistor radio and flashlight
Toilet paper and feminine hygiene items
Extra set of house and car keys
Know how you'll reach family and friends
Get technological: Facebook launched its Safety Check feature after an earthquake hit Nepal in 2015. It's been used time and time again during disasters as a way for people to let others know they're safe. If a major earthquake hit California, Facebook would probably activate it again.
Speaking of Facebook, consider downloading messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp to your phone. If an earthquake hits, you'd probably have the same chance of reaching people via SMS text. But the more options, the better.
Pick an out-of-state contact: Designate an outside point person to call and act as liaison in the event that you or your emergency contacts can't access cellphones, or in-state phone lines are jammed.
Decide in advance which items you'd want to grab and take
In a 2014 interview with The Times, “Organize for Disaster” author Judith Kolberg suggested people know in advance which items they'd grab if they had to leave their house with little warning.
"I have people write down 10 things they're going to grab if they have a day's warning, then narrow it down to five … then narrow it to three. Really know ahead of time what you need to have,” she said.
Your list could include anything from sentimental items such as photos or jewelry, to necessities like medication and EpiPens.
Prep your house
Do you know where your utility shut-off valves are located? If your gas, electric or water needs to be turned off, know where those are located in your house.
Is your furniture secure? Fix any faulty cabinets, shaky bookshelves or hanging picture frames to prevent further damage.
Drop, cover and hold. Don't stand up during an earthquake
If an earthquake hits, you're better off taking cover under a table, and away from windows, than standing in a doorway. The U.S. Survey of Geological Studies calls the latter “outdated advice” that can leave people susceptible to being knocked down. Identify areas in your house to take cover, protect your neck and head and steer clear of items that could fall.
If you're outside, stay away from telephone poles or lights that could fall. If you're driving, pull over somewhere safe and avoid trees and overpasses.
This might be easier said than done, but as with any disaster, remaining calm is crucial. Just remember, the odds of dying in an earthquake are small. As The Times reported earlier this year, it's a 1 in 20,000 chance over the course of a lifetime.
Fatal police shooting of 18-year-old after chase draws angry crowd in South L.A.
by Kate Mather
Los Angeles police fatally shot an 18-year-old man Saturday in South Los Angeles after he bailed out of a vehicle being pursued by officers and ran away on foot.
The fatal shooting of the man, identified by his relatives as Carnell Snell Jr., stirred anger among residents that lingered into the night. Police say Snell was armed with a gun, though residents almost immediately questioned that account.
The events leading up to the shooting began about 1 p.m. , when officers spotted a car with paper plates and tried to stop it, thinking the vehicle may have been stolen, Sgt. Barry Montgomery told reporters at 108th Street and Western Avenue.
When the driver of the vehicle failed to stop, officers began a pursuit, Montgomery said.
The vehicle stopped near 106 th Street and Western, and two passengers got out of the car and ran in different directions, police said. The officers chased one of them toward the back of a house on 107th Street, Montgomery said, where police shot him.
Trenell Snell, 17, said she was outside with friends when she saw her older brother, CJ, running from police. Trenell Snell started running too, she said. Then she heard gunfire — "boom, boom, boom, boom."
She hit the ground. When she got up, she said, her brother was on the ground, handcuffed.
"At the end of the day, the cops came and shot my brother," she said. "Killed my brother."
Relatives said Snell was killed outside his house.
Police have not said what exactly happened in the moments before the shooting, citing the early stages of the investigation. An LAPD spokesman said a handgun was found at the scene.
Police have not found the driver of the vehicle or the other passenger. They did not give any other information about those individuals.
As news of the shooting spread through the neighborhood, dozens of local activists and other people gathered on the outskirts of the police tape blocking a wide swath of the neighborhood, at one point crashing a police news conference.
"People are fired up and can't take it anymore," one woman said to another.
Tia Gonzalez, 36, said she came to the scene because she knew the community was "going to be hurting.” She criticized shootings by police, saying officers should be better trained to avoid killing people.
“A police officer should not be the judge, the jury and the executioner,” she said.
Snell's mother, Monique Morgan, and other relatives gathered near more police tape on 107th, just down the street from where the 18-year-old was killed. They described Snell as a respectful young man who enjoyed skateboarding and cared deeply for his family.
“This is completely unexpected,” said Tasha Rangel, who has known Snell since he was a boy.
Snell's mother cried as she begged officers to let her past the tape to see her son's body.
"Please, can I see my son?" she said. "I want to see my son."
Officers soon let the family past the police tape to wait at another relative's home.
A woman driving down the street stopped her car near the crowd. "They killed him?" she asked through the open car window.
Her shoulders sank.
Later in the day, the crowd lingering outside the police tape grew — and, at times, grew more tense. People shouted profanities at a line of officers wearing riot gear. The crowd later shut down the intersection at 108th and Western, chalking Snell's name in the road.
"Say his name," one message said.
South Carolina first-grader dies days after Townville Elementary School shooting
by Meg Wagner
A South Carolina 6-year-old who was shot at his elementary school died Saturday, days after he lost 75% of his blood when a bullet ripped through his thigh.
Jacob Hall, a first-grader at Townville Elementary School, had been in critical condition since the Wednesday shooting. He died around 1 p.m. on Saturday, Anderson County Coroner Greg Shore said.
"God gave him to us and he was taken away from us by a senseless act," Jacob's heartbroken parents said in a statement.
"Jacob was sent to this earth for this short a period of time to show us that there is such a thing as pure love."
One of Jacob's adult brothers, Gerald Gambrell, wrote on Facebook, “God took his strongest soldier. Jacob will be with us forever and always in our hearts. I love you little brother and I can't wait till the day we meet again.”
The boy sustained major brain damage from the massive blood loss, and was placed on life support when he went into cardiac arrest, his family said.
Jacob, who had seven brothers and sisters, had been surrounded by family at Greenville Memorial Hospital since he was wounded.
"Jacob was going to do great things, and because of a senseless crime that nobody will probably ever really know why, that little life is cut short," his great-aunt Rebecca Hunnicutt told WYFF before his death.
Sandy Hook Promise, an anti-gun group established after 20 students were killed at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, offered its condolences to Jacob's family Saturday.
“We know firsthand the anguish his friends, family, teachers and classmates are facing,” the group said in a statement. “This didn't have to happen, it should not have happened, and we are deeply saddened to add Townville, and any town, to the growing list of American communities forever touched by gun violence.”
Jacob was one of three people shot on campus during the Wednesday shooting. The two other victims — another 6-year-old boy and teacher Meghan Hollingsworth — sustained non-life threatening injuries and were released from the hospital hours after the attack.
Police said the suspected shooter, identified by local media as 14-year-old Jesse Osborne, killed his father inside their family home before driving a pickup truck 3 miles down a country road to Townville Elementary.
The teen, who is not old enough to have a driver's license, only needed to make two turns to arrive at the red brick school — where he crashed the truck, got out and opened fire during recess.
He was charged as a juvenile with one count of murder and three counts of attempted murder Friday, the day before Jacob died.
Police have not determined a motive in the shootings. It's unclear if the teen — who was homeschooled after being suspended for bringing a weapon to class — had singled out Hollingsworth and the two children as targets, police said.
Jacob's adult brother Rodger Dale Hall said he was at work Wednesday when he learned about the shooting. His boss drove him to the hospital, and they listened to news updates on the radio on the way there. One of the hosts urged listened to pray for the victims and their families, he recalled.
"You hear stuff like that on the radio but it is never you," Hall told NBC News. "It's a big difference when you pray for other families and you (are) being prayed for."
U.S. Attorney Jim Lewis: Community policing is realistic, effective
by Jim Lewis
"Community policing." Is that a question or an answer — or both?
Community policing requires "partnerships [to] address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime." "Community policing" is not for the police alone; instead, it requires three essential partners: (1) local government must provide attention, resources, oversight and concern about the root causes of crime; (2) law enforcement must engage the community, have fair policies and practices, train officers well and ensure citizen safety and officer safety; and (3) the community must show up to help with problem-solving that will improve local conditions and reduce crime and to minimize involvement of youth in the criminal justice system. This is genuine community policing, according to the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Is this realistic? My six years as United States Attorney tells me that this is realistic — and effective. In Springfield, our local government supports a police chief and department that work hard to engage the community and address its problems, including work to reduce gun violence and to reduce opioid and heroin addiction. There are similar partnerships across central Illinois, particularly in Peoria, Bloomington-Normal and Champaign-Urbana.
Is community policing going well? Yes, but I'm never satisfied, not until we have addressed and resolved all our problems. I believe that the partners — local government, law enforcement and community members — need to continue to work on the problems that we have identified, reduction of gun violence and reduction of opioid and heroin addiction.
What about the root causes of crime? We have research that shows that we need improved employment opportunity and improved care and protection for our youth in order to address these causes. Employment opportunity does reduce crime; for example, research shows that employment of an at-risk group, ex-offenders, makes it quite unlikely they will commit another crime. Conversely, unemployment does increase crime; research by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the vast majority of gun violence (84 percent) in one American city comes from unemployed people; that same research also shows that young people are more likely to turn to gun violence if their history includes child abuse, school failure and gun trauma.
In order to reach these root causes, the business community and the community as a whole must address employment. Similarly, schools and communities must work to keep young people engaged in their education, so that there is a path to employment rather than a pipeline toward dropping out and perhaps prison.
In Springfield, we have a strong partnership of local government, law enforcement and community. We can make it stronger. Our community policing will help us reach toward our goals. But it leaves us the question: Will we address our underlying conditions, employment, education? Our community policing is an answer — with a question.
— Jim Lewis is U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois. He wrote this column to mark the Department of Justice's inaugural National Community Policing Week, which is Oct. 3-7.
Race and the Use of Police Force Discussed at Community Police Forum
HYANNIS – Citizens and police officers from across the Cape contributed to a cooperative conversation about race, community policing and the use of force Saturday at the Mid-Cape Community Police Forum.
The forum was held at the Zion Union Heritage Museum, and featured police officers from Barnstable and Dennis, as well as representatives from other towns.
A number of citizens' comments focused on examining the use of force that they have seen used in videos from across the nation, especially on minorities.
Barnstable Police Chief Paul MacDonald said that his department made an effort a few years ago to train officers on tasers, and he said the use of them in potentially deadly situations has successfully de-escalated many of them.
“If we do have some complaints against a single officer two or three times, even if he cannot be proved to be responsible for a wrongdoing, we will put him or her through re-training, counselling or whatever needs to be done to take care of it,” he said.
A number of the officers present noted that they do more on a daily basis than just make arrests and issue citations.
Dennis Police Officer Liz Tucker of Dennis related the story of when she helped a J-1 Visa worker who could not speak a word of English find his job site.
Addressing the concerns of some participants, Tucker stressed that the interaction proved successful because of her efforts to make herself appear friendly and helpful; the opposite of what many in attendance said they had experienced at some point.
But while most of the attendees' comments did not specify any directly racist action made by Cape Cod officers, Barbara Burgo said that she has experienced many interpersonal instances of racism on the Cape.
She said that, while bagging groceries at a grocery store, some customers refused to let a woman of color such as herself touch their products.
Attendees agreed that the way to prevent potentially race-driven, or any kind of violence from and against police officers is to continue to provide them with enough officers to serve the fluctuating population of the communities they serve, and to provide their communities with education regarding their work.
Citizens' police academy courses were lauded at the forum for doing just that, and many of both the officers and the citizens present said they would like to see more of them at other stations in the future.
Police are reaching out
Officers learn from diverse community groups
by Fernando Del Valle
HARLINGEN — New police officers and cadets are reaching out to diverse groups to better serve the community.
Police Chief Jeffry Adickes launched the Community Immersion Project, assigning new officers to better understand the homeless, the mentally ill and the LGBTQ community.
“Those groups sometimes feel disenfranchised if we don't serve them well,” Adickes said. “It's about being thoughtful in enforcement.”
Adickes developed the program, which earned a certificate of recognition from the International Association of Chiefs of Police Civil Rights Committee, while working with the Austin Police Department in 2003.
“It's kind of cutting-edge,” Adickes said. “I'm really proud of it.”
Adickes launched the project with a training session aimed at helping new officers better understand the importance of reaching out to the three groups as well as other “cultures” within the Harlingen community.
“This program pushes new HPD servant leaders out in the community to learn about cultures that sometimes feel disenfranchised when dealing with police officers on the street and our civilian dispatchers or jailers so they can better understand them and ultimately better serve them,” according to a press release announcing the program.
“The program is built on bridging mutual respect, mutual trust and understanding.”
It's all part of “community policing,” Adickes told a class of new officers and cadets.
“When we talk about community policing, we're investing in the community,” Adickes told the class Thursday. “It's not just a philosophy, it's the way we do business at the Harlingen Police Department.”
Adickes stressed the importance of understanding that public perceptions about police are based on experiences.
“Excessive force, dishonesty and poor service” can shatter the public's trust in police, he said.
He said an officer's “poor experience” reflects on the police department.
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” Adickes said. “When you go out you're building a reputation. When they see a Harlingen police car, it's important they trust us.”
Officer Jacob Perez, who was hired in January, said he wants to help build “community trust.”
“Many times the community reaches out to police for help,” Perez said in an interview. “We're reaching out to the community to see what we can do to help.”
Officer Yesenia Vega, who took the job last year, said she wants the community to better understand her work as a police officer.
“Community policing is about us getting involved with the community, empathizing with all members of the community no matter what race, gender, ethnicity or culture,” Vega said.
“We want people to be less aggressive with police. We want them to understand we're human, just like them. You have people highly intoxicated, mentally unstable. We want them to understand we're here for them. We're here to help.”
Officer Isaac Silva, who's worked with the department for about a year, said the community can help officers do their jobs.
“It's good to build a rapport, even with the people we arrest,” Silva said. “They may know information we don't. They're real helpful. ‘Be cool with us, we'll be cool with you.'”
As part of the project, new officers will spend 40 to 50 hours reaching out to the homeless, the mentally ill and the LGBTQ community, Adickes said.
Officers will interview group members to learn “what these cultures expect,” documenting their research.
Then in about two months, the police department will hold a public forum in which the groups will teach a class on their cultures.
“The most important thing is that we are building Harlingen police officers and they are building relationships and learning about the cultures as they are in Harlingen and the Rio Grande Valley,” the press release said.
Summit on violence draws faith leaders, police and community
by Tom Regan
DECATUR, Ga. - Nearly 200 people, including a variety of religious leaders and an Atlanta Police Department commander gathered in prayer and for a panel discussion on ways to build understanding between law enforcement and communities.
The event, called "Summit on Violence," took place Saturday morning at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Decatur.
Atlanta Police Homicide Commander Major Adam Lee III told the gathering that training and day-to-day involvement of police officers in the concerns of communities are key to reducing confrontation and building trust.
"I've been here 29 years. Watching law enforcement, there is a systematic problem that's going on with police and in communities. We are guardians, not warriors. In Atlanta, we have something special. Historically, we have always embraced community policing. We started it when it wasn't known. You cannot be successful if you don't embrace your community," Lee said.
Lee discussed the ongoing violence connected with gangs. He said the police department implemented a gun reduction task force last summer to address gang-related shootings, and that one of the task force's findings was alarming. Many gunshot wounds on teens and young adults were self-inflicted.
"Many of the gunshot wounds were superficial. Some of these young men were shooting themselves for street cred. They considered it a badge of honor. They shot themselves and reported that someone else did it,” Lee said.
One panel member said the city of Atlanta still has far to go to reduce excessive force by police officers. He cited former Atlanta police officer James Burns, who was charged with murder after shooting an unarmed African American man in June.
"Let's just be honest. The nation is on fire. With smartphones, we now see ourselves, unarmed black, brown and low income individuals getting shot. Until the disparities in the justice system from police to judges are addressed, until there is equality and end of senseless over-policing, there will never be peace," said civil rights activist Marcus Coleman.
The organizer of the summit said faith and dialogue are instrumental to change, as is a reduction of violence.
"It is important that we, as a society, hold onto our faith as we forge our way to finding solutions," said the Rev. Roy A. Lee.
Rev. Lee said all participants in the summit will be encouraged to take the discussion back to their communities and share it on social media.
Congress rebukes Obama, overrides veto of 9/11 legislation
Both the House and Senate voted to allow families of Sept. 11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts for its alleged backing of the attackers
by Richard Lardner
WASHINGTON — In a resounding rebuke, Democrats joined with Republicans Wednesday to hand Barack Obama the first veto override of his presidency, voting overwhelmingly to allow families of Sept. 11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts for its alleged backing of the attackers.
Both the House and Senate voted decisively to reverse Obama's decision to scuttle the legislation. Democrats in both chambers abandoned the president in large numbers despite warnings from Obama and top national security officials that flaws in the bill could put U.S. interests, troops, and intelligence personnel at risk.
The Senate vote was 97-1, with only Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., backing the president. The House vote a few hours later was 348-77, with 123 Democrats rebuffing the president and voting to override. Obama said during a CNN interview that overriding his veto was a mistake that may set a "dangerous precedent."
Lawmakers said their priority wasn't Saudi Arabia, but the 9/11 victims and their families who continue to demand justice 15 years after attackers killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, the Washington, D.C., area, and Pennsylvania. Fifteen of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudis.
"Overriding a presidential veto is something we don't take lightly, but it was important in this case that the families of the victims of 9/11 be allowed to pursue justice, even if that pursuit causes some diplomatic discomforts," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., a chief sponsor of the bill.
Speaking at a forum in Washington, CIA Director John Brennan said he was concerned about how Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally in the Middle East, would interpret the bill. He said the Saudis provide significant amounts of information to the U.S. to help foil extremist plots.
"It would be an absolute shame if this legislation, in any way, influenced the Saudi willingness to continue to be among our best counterterrorism partners," Brennan said.
On CNN, Obama said that a few lawmakers who backed the bill weren't aware of its potential impact. He didn't name them. "And, frankly, I wish Congress here had done what's hard," he said. "It was, you know, basically a political vote."
But Republicans and Democrats said the White House had been slow to respond to the bill and miscalculated lawmakers' intent to act on the legislation along with the 15th anniversary of the terror attacks. When Obama and senior national security officials such as Defense Secretary Ash Carter finally weighed in, it was too late.
The Senate passed the bill by voice vote in May. The Obama White House then made the mistake of thinking the bill would stall in the Republican-controlled House. In August, 9/11 families pressured Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., while he was on a campaign swing in New York.
On Sept. 9, two days before the 15th anniversary of 9/11, the House passed the bill by voice vote with little debate.
Despite reversing Obama's decision, a bipartisan group of 28 senators led by Bob Corker, R-Tenn., suggested that defects in the bill could open a legal Pandora's box, triggering lawsuits from people in other countries seeking redress for injuries or deaths caused by military actions in which the U.S. may have had a role.
Corker, the chairman of Foreign Relations Committee, chided the White House for being outraged over the outcome when the administration did so little to sustain the president's veto.
"There was zero desire to sit down and talk about a way to get to a better outcome. Zero," Corker told The Associated Press. "To my knowledge, I don't know of a call from Obama to a single senator over this."
In a letter sent Tuesday to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Obama said the bill would erode sovereign immunity principles that prevent foreign litigants "from second-guessing our counterterrorism operations and other actions that we take every day."
But proponents of the bill dismissed Obama's concerns as unpersuasive. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate's No. 2 Republican, and other supporters said the bill is narrowly tailored and applies only to acts of terrorism that occur on U.S. soil.
Families of the victims and their attorneys dismissed concerns over the legislation as fearmongering. "We rejoice in this triumph and look forward to our day in court and a time when we may finally get more answers regarding who was truly behind the attacks," said Terry Strada, national chair of the 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism.
The legislation gives victims' families the right to sue in U.S. court for any role that elements of the Saudi government may have played in the 2001 attacks. Courts would be permitted to waive a claim of foreign sovereign immunity when an act of terrorism occurred inside U.S. borders, according to the terms of the bill.
Obama vetoed the measure last week, telling lawmakers the bill would make the U.S. vulnerable to retaliatory litigation.
In a separate letter sent Monday to a senior House member, Defense Secretary Ash Carter described the potential for foreign litigants to seek classified intelligence data and analysis and sensitive operational information to establish their cases in what could be an "intrusive discovery process."
Calif. police buy bike for teen who walked hours to work
Benicia police noticed Jourdan Duncan walking during the graveyard shift near a highway overpass
by PoliceOne Staff
BENICIA, Calif. — On a busy California highway, Benicia police noticed a teenager walking during the graveyard shift on multiple nights.
“Usually in the industrial area, there's no foot traffic, so it was kind of weird to see someone walking around on foot,” Cpl. Kirk Keffer told The Washington Post.
The officer stopped his patrol car, and approached 18-year-old Jourdan Duncan to find out what he was doing there by himself.
Duncan told Keffer he was walking back to his parents' home from his job where he works on a packaging line from 3 p.m. until around midnight. He was saving up money for college, and eventually wanted to be an officer with the California Highway Patrol, the publication reported.
Cpl. Keffer offered Duncan a ride home and discovered Duncan walked two hours to and from work every day because he didn't want to burden others by asking for rides.
Keffer told his shift supervisor about Duncan, and they put together money to get Duncan a bike to shorten his commute.
“We would like to acknowledge your hard work and dedication for what you do and setting the example for kids your age,” Keffer said they told him. “Hopefully this'll make your trip easier.”
Duncan told the publication his commute is down to an hour and the Benicia Police Department has offered him a ride-along to give him an inside look into law enforcement.
“It's something I've been interested in since high school. A lot of my family members, they're in law enforcement,” Duncan said. “It's like, what they do and, due to a lot of people thinking that there are bad cops out there, I want to prove that all cops aren't bad — which is true, due to what just happened to me.”
Why is Chicago a murder capital? Clues from a bloody month
91 homicide victims made August the deadliest month in the city in two decades
by Don Babwin
CHICAGO — Fourteen-year-old Malik Causey loved the way gangs took what they wanted from people on the street, the way members fought for each other, the way they could turn drugs into cash and cash into $400 jeans.
His mother tried to stop him. She yanked him out of houses where he didn't belong. She cooked up a story about Malik punching her so the police would lock him up to keep him safe for a while.
Then on Aug. 21, Monique Causey woke to discover that her son had sneaked out of the house. Before she could find him, someone ended his life with a bullet to the back of his head a few blocks away.
"I went to him and cried and told him he wouldn't make it," Causey said. "But this fighting, jumping on people ... this is all fun for them. This is what they like to do, you know, so how can you stop them?"
Malik Causey was one of 91 homicide victims in Chicago in August, the deadliest month in the city in two decades and the latest milestone for a metropolis becoming known for its murder rate. Already, killings here have jumped 46 percent over the same period last year, climbing past the 500 mark — a total larger than Los Angeles and New York combined.
An analysis of the August toll shows more clearly than ever who's dying in the Chicago slaughter and what's behind it: surging violence in a handful of the city's most impoverished neighborhoods, which are riven by loosely organized street gangs.
Young African-American men are the chief victims. In a city that's one-third black, the overwhelming majority of those murdered in August — 71 — were, like Malik, African American. Another 11 had Hispanic surnames. Almost half were in their teens or early 20s.
And more than 70 percent of those shot to death appeared on the Chicago police's "Strategic Subject List," which includes 1,400 people considered likely targets of violence based on gang involvement or criminal record.
To those outside Chicago, the rising murder toll might suggest a city wracked by widespread violence, but August portrays a much narrower picture of constant tit-for-tat attacks among gang members, with bystanders sometimes caught in the crossfire.
"People are arguing on Facebook over the color of some girl's hair, real simple things ... and they carry guns and when they finally catch each other, that's how it be," said Derrick House, 51, a former gang member and ex-convict who now works trying to prevent violence. "When they see the person they looking for, they don't care who else is out there, old people and kids, they just start shooting."
Ronnie Hutchen, 28, was one of the month's first victims. An acknowledged member of the Traveling Vice Lords, he was a veteran of the gang scene in the Austin neighborhood on the city's west fringe, which is dotted by boarded-up houses and of knots of men and teens standing around in the middle of the day. Most of those with jobs or options have fled.
Police don't know why someone thrust a knife into Hutchen's chest. But he had been in many scrapes with rival gangs, and had 56 arrests over the years, mostly in drug and weapons cases. Also, according to his court file, he'd told a judge that he'd worn a wire so federal agents could listen in on a cocaine buy.
The Englewood neighborhood on the south side was a particular hotspot for August murders. It's one of the city's poorest areas, with more than 40 percent of the residents living below the poverty level. This year, homicides there are up 171 percent over the same time last year.
Englewood is among four out of Chicago's 22 police districts that accounted for about a third of August's murders.
One Englewood victim was Denzell Mickiel, 24, who was shot in the face on Aug. 8 over what police suspect was a gang dispute. At the time he died, Mickiel was awaiting trial for allegedly firing shots at a group of people in 2014.
Tuesday, Aug. 23, provided a particular glimpse of how the city's murder toll steadily grew.
On that day, Victor Mata, 22, a member of a faction of the Satan Disciples, was found dead in the front yard of a house. It was the fourth time he had been shot in recent years.
Christopher Hibbler, 42, who belonged to the Black P Stones, a leading black street gang, died when people in a car sprayed gunfire at the corner where he was standing.
Tykina Ali, 20, was shot when someone opened fire on her boyfriend's car.
Johnell Johnson, a 37-year-old member of the Black Gangsters on the city's West Side, was found dead in the street, shot in the face.
According to community activists, the eagerness to kill wasn't as great years ago when these neighborhoods were dominated by larger, more organized gangs that concentrated on carving out and defending drug turf.
Now, "I don't hear much about Gangster Disciples against the Vice Lords," said Marshall Hatch, a minister in the East Garfield Park neighborhood where Causey lived. "I hear block against block."
Abner Garcia was born into the gang-dominated Back of the Yards neighborhood and knew what could happen to him. He joined the Army after high school, then upon his discharge volunteered at a YMCA program to help young men steer clear of gangs.
On Aug. 13, he was driving down the street when someone inside a van flashed gang signs at him, according to police. Words were exchanged before someone in the van shot Garcia in the head.
In Chicago's deadliest neighborhoods, a young man can be assumed to be in a rival gang just by being there.
Arshell Dennis III, 19, the son of a Chicago police officer, came home from college in New York to visit his family and was sitting on their porch when a man walked up and killed him with a bullet to the chest on Aug. 14.
"We think it was a case of mistaken identity and he was killed by someone who thought he was in a gang," said police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
Today, Monique Causey, who works for a company that makes pizzas, thinks her son might still be alive if only she'd been able to move him someplace safer. She spoke of how smart her son was, what a whiz he was with computers and how he understood that he needed to leave behind his life on the streets, go to a safer school in the suburbs, graduate and make something of himself.
After he died, she discovered, still in the package, a pair of $400 jeans in her son's bedroom. She knows where the money came from — the same place that killed her son.
"The streets," she said.
Police shoot, kill black man in San Diego suburb
by The St.Louis Post-Dispatch
Police shot a man they said was acting erratically in a San Diego suburb Tuesday, drawing an angry group of protesters who believed it was another instance of law enforcement shooting an unarmed black man. The man died at a hospital.
Several dozen people, most of them black, gathered and some cursed at officers guarding the scene in El Cajon after the shooting.
Many were chanting “black lives matter!” and “hands up, don't shoot!”
The protesters later went to police headquarters, reports CBS San Diego affiliate KFMB-TV. The protest was angry but peaceful.
The fatal shooting comes soon after black men were kshot and killed by police in Tulsa, Okla., where peaceful protests developed, and in Charlotte, where violent protests broke out.
A woman who was working the drive-thru window at a restaurant next to the shooting captured it on video. The woman turned her phone over to investigators voluntarily and signed a consent form, police Lt. Rob Ransweiler said.
Police said the man did not have his hands up when he was shot, as some witnesses have said, and police said the cellphone video shows it.
The shooting happened shortly after 2 p.m. Police said the man refused multiple orders to take his hand out of his pocket, kept pacing and at one point drew something out of his pants pocket and then extended both hands toward the police officer.
As Victim's Family Members Speak Out, Many Questions Remain About El Cajon Police Shooting
by Chip Yost and Mariel Turner
The family of Alfred Okwera Olango spoke out at a press conference on Thursday following a El Cajon police shooting that left the 38-year-old dead.
Plenty of questions surround this week's shooting death of Olango -- a killing that authorities say happened after the man raised an object with his hands in a threatening "shooting stance" toward an officer.
That object, police said Wednesday, turned out to be a vaping device, though the officers didn't know what it was at the time.
"I think his mind was just not communicating, how could he even understand anyone coming," said Pamela Benge, Olango's mother. "Mental breakdown is not easy to control. It needed someone who could, who was true and could just calm him down, and then take care of the situation. That's all the call was called for, not to come and just finish his life."
Tuesday's shooting drew dozens of protesters to El Cajon's police department after a woman identifying herself as the dead man's sister alleged on a bystander's Facebook Live stream that she had told police he was "sick" and that she asked police to help him, not shoot him.
The Olango family's attorney, Daniel Gilleon, told KTLA that the incident was not a suicide by police scenario.
"I know from the very beginning, because of the way they've pitched this case, that they're going to take this position of suicide by cop," said Gilleon. "I know that, but the problem with that is that they're doing it in an unfair way by selecting, cherrypicking a still image to portray that situation. So it's just unfair."
Who called police, and what was said?
Nearly 50 minutes before officers arrived and found Olango behind a restaurant, El Cajon police Chief Jeff Davis said, a woman identifying herself as his sister called to say the 38-year-old man was acting erratically. She said he was mentally ill and wasn't armed, Davis said.
He said the caller talked about a man who was "not acting like himself" and was allegedly walking in traffic.
What exactly was said is unclear. The call or calls have not been released.
But Davis' account comports with what a distraught woman told a bystander who was recording a video on Facebook Live on Tuesday after Olango's shooting.
In the video -- recorded by Rumbie Mubaiwa -- a woman identifying herself as Olango's sister says she called 911 to ask police to help him.
She describes him as "sick." Officers can be seen congregating in the background as the woman sits on a rock wailing.
"You guys killed my brother in front of me," she cries, as Mubaiwa records the scene. "Why couldn't you guys Tase him? Why? Why? Why? Why?"
How many calls were made?
Police initially said they received three calls over those 50 minutes, though Davis later said he wasn't sure of the number, or whether someone other than the woman called.
Davis didn't offer an explanation for the 50-minute response time, other than it took "that long to clear officers to get out there."
Davis said he couldn't confirm that the woman was the man's sister because she declined to cooperate with investigators after the shooting.
"We have a lot of questions. ... We would certainly like to speak to her," Davis said Tuesday evening.
Was the man mentally ill, as the caller claimed?
Davis said investigators don't know whether Olango was mentally ill, as the caller claimed.
"That's part of the investigation right now," he said.
Asked whether there was any indication the man was under the influence of anything, he said, "Not that I'm aware of, no."
What will videos show?
Police said videos of the shooting were recorded -- but aside from a still image from one of the recordings, the footage has not been released.
Will the videos back up the officers' accounts? El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells said the district attorney's office would decide whether to release the videos to the public after it examines the evidence.
Police said that when they arrived, Olango refused multiple instructions to remove one of his hands from his jeans pocket. When Olango didn't comply, according to Davis, one officer drew his gun and pointed it at him while continuing to tell him to remove his hand from his pocket. The other officer prepared a Taser.
At one point, Olango "rapidly drew an object" -- later identified as the vaping device -- placed both hands on it "like you would be holding a firearm" and stood in a "shooting stance," according to police.
In response, one officer fired his gun at Olango, while a second officer simultaneously discharged his Taser, Davis said.
The still image that authorities released shows two police officers, at least one of whom appears to be aiming at a black man in jeans and a T-shirt. The man has his hands stretched out in front of his torso, as if he was aiming at something.
A witness recorded the shooting with a cell phone and voluntarily gave it to police for their investigation, Davis said. He did not say whether the still image came from this cell phone footage.
How many videos exist?
Other video exists, the chief said, without elaborating.
"Investigators are reviewing video (from the witness) and other video recovered from the scene. All video recovered so far in this investigation so far coincides with the officers' statements," the chief said.
Obama again defends Kaepernick, but also sends him and other athletes a message
by A.J. Perez
President Obama again offered support for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's and other athletes who kneel during the national anthem, but also said they should realize how the protest affect those who have lost a family member in combat.
"I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who, for example, had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing," Obama said. " I also want people to think about the pain he may be expressing about somebody who's lost a loved one that they think was unfairly shot. One of thing I saw about American democracy is that it can be frustrating, but it's the best system we've got.”
Obama's comments were in response to a question from an enlisted member of the Army who was an audience member at a CNN town hall on Wednesday. He spoke for about three minutes about the growing number of athletes' protests, which center around calling attention to police shootings of people of color.
Obama said he understands the frustrations of the protesters and defended their right to freedom of expression.
“I also always try to remind folks that part of what makes this country special is that we respect people's rights to have a different opinion and to make different decisions on how they want to express their concerns,” he said. “The test of our fidelity to our Constitution, to freedom of speech, to our Bill of Rights, is not when it's easy, but when it's hard. We fight sometimes so that people can do things that we disagree with, but that's what freedom means in this country.”
Nationally renowned cop visits Berkeley to share community policing tips
by Andy Banker
BERKELEY, MO (KTVI) - An Arkansas cop is getting the VIP treatment in St. Louis. Officer Tommy Norman of the North Little Rock Police Department is famous for his viral Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts.
For the first time, he's left Arkansas to share his approach to a job that seems to be tougher than ever. To him, it just shouldn't be that way.
He started posting videos of his trip from the airport.
He was cracking up his comrades as he spoke to police, local government leaders, and residents from across the St. Louis area in Berkeley, Wednesday afternoon.
He let them in his secret.
“Spend more time out of your police car than you do inside of it,” he said. “Put more miles on your police boots than your police car.”
He truly “walks the walk” and posts the playful proof.
His approach to community policing has been a constant for his 18 years as an officer, he said.
His use of social media to promote started 3 years ago with a Facebook showing kids handcuffing him in the back of his police car.
“They'll remember that forever. I'm so glad they opened the door back up,” he said.
When he posts about people in need, people from around the country send things to help. The approach builds trust that helps solve and prevent crimes; that withstands turmoil of police shootings, he said.
It doesn't come easy.
“You've got to come back the next day, the next day, and the next day. So, year after year after year, those relationships – they don't go away…when you drive that police car and park in front of that house, when those kids run to your police car…they really see past that police car and they see past the uniform. They see that friend, that big brother…as a police officer, your badge should have a heartbeat and not an ego,” he said.
His department had embraced the approach and crime was down there, said. More than that, the relationship between the community and police just felt good. The job was more fun and rewarding.
This is busy trip for Norman. He's serving ice cream with St. Louis police Thursday on the Polar Cops ice cream truck, then throwing out the first pitch before the Cardinals game at Busch Stadium.
Alabama mayors promoting community policing
Mayors boast increase of neighborhood involvement
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.
Community policing in the national spotlight at presidential debate
by Ashley Arnold
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – While protests rage across the country, the necessity of community policing was one of the few things Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump could agree upon.
Here in Wichita, we're seeing a different kind of conversation between police and community activists, in a shift that's been attributed mostly to Wichita's chief Gordon Ramsay.
“My goals is to be, have legitimacy in this community with our efforts in what we are doing,” said Ramsay last Friday, “and that's one reason I wanted to come here today.”
Activist A.J. Bohannon has been involved in many of the ongoing conversations with the chief and community members.
“It's really been some mixed emotions. you know a lot of people in the community were kind of reluctant at first to take that step and you know receive the olive branch that the chief was handing out to the community,” said Bohannon. “Once they saw things, you know, start rolling in a positive direction a lot of them were more open to some of the things that we were doing and more open to having some of those discussions and coming to some of the places of events that we were holding.”
Pastor Herman Hicks, of Greater Pentecostal COGIC, is a member of the God Squad, the group of local faith leaders working to improve community relations. He agrees that he's seen progress, but says patience is necessary to see true change. “It takes time to change a culture, and really, this is a culture. It's a culture in the police department as well as in our community. It takes time to make those changes, so we're not there yet not even close, but we're getting there.”
A Wide Gulf Persists Between Black And White Perceptions Of Policing
by Sonari Glinton
A new study highlights differences between the races as they view the recent spate of deadly encounters between blacks and law enforcement.
A survey by the Pew Research Center finds only a third of blacks and nearly three-quarters of whites say police in their communities do an excellent or good job using appropriate force.
From Pew's report:
"Most whites (75%) say their local police do an excellent or good job when it comes to using the right amount of force for each situation. Only 33% of blacks share this view; 63% say the police do only a fair or poor job in this area. About six-in-ten Hispanics (62%) say their community's police are doing at least a good job in this area, while 35% say they are doing only a fair or poor job.
When it comes to treating racial or ethnic groups equally, 35% of blacks say the police department in their community does an excellent or good job, compared with 75% of whites. Conversely, about a quarter (23%) of blacks say their police department does only a fair job and about four-in-ten (38%) say they do a poor job. (Among whites, about a quarter – 24% – say their department does only a fair job or a poor job in treating racial and ethnic groups equally.) Roughly six-in-ten Hispanics (58%) say their local police are doing an excellent or good job in this area, while 38% say they are doing only a fair or poor job."
The two races come to different conclusions about the reason for fatal incidents. About 8-in-10 blacks (79 percent) say the recent deaths are a sign of systemic problems between police and the black community, compared to 54 percent of whites.
The survey was conducted online and by mail with 4,538 U.S. adults between Aug. 16 and Sept. 12. The poll came before protests of a Sept. 16 shooting in Tulsa, Okla., as well as the fatal shooting of a black man in Charlotte, N.C. That shooting on Sept. 20 set off two nights of protests.
There are areas of agreement. Regardless of race, many Americans say the public protests of the shootings of blacks are motivated by long-standing anti-police bias as well as by a genuine desire to hold police accountable for their actions. Overall, about two-thirds of the public (63 percent) say the protesters are driven by a genuine desire to hold officers accountable.
Both groups favor the use of body cameras by police to record encounters when dealing with the public. Overall, only about a third of all those surveyed have a "lot of confidence" in their own police department.
Graphic video released of La. boy's shooting by police
Defense attorneys for Derrick Stafford and Norris Greenhouse Jr. argue the deputies acted in self-defense
by Michael Kunzelman
MARKSVILLE, La. — After a police body camera captured two deputy city marshals firing on a car and killing a 6-year-old boy, the head of the Louisiana State Police said the video was the most disturbing thing he's seen.
Nearly a year later, the public is getting its first look at the graphic footage.
The state judge presiding over the murder cases against the two deputies allowed reporters to make copies of the tape Wednesday after a hearing where it was formally introduced as evidence.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys previously described in writing how the footage depicts the shooting, which stops less than a minute into the video. The rest of the nearly 14 minutes of footage shows the stomach-churning aftermath, as the officer with the body camera checks on the lifeless body of Jeremy Mardis while his critically wounded father, Christopher Few, lies bleeding on the pavement.
Prosecutors showed the tape in court Wednesday to support their claim that one of the deputies, Derrick Stafford, had a pattern of using excessive force — including last November's fatal shooting of Jeremy Mardis in Marksville.
Matthew Derbes, a prosecutor from Attorney General Jeff Landry's office, said Stafford's pattern of hurting people he's arresting also provides a motive for shooting at Few while his hands are raised.
"Motive is something the jury wants to hear," Derbes said. "Why would they do this?"
Defense attorneys for Stafford and Norris Greenhouse Jr. argue the deputies acted in self-defense. They claim Few drove recklessly while leading officers on a two-mile chase and then rammed into Greenhouse's vehicle as he was exiting it, before he and Stafford opened fire.
"Christopher Few was a suspect before they knew that child was in the car," said Christopher LaCour, one of Stafford's attorneys.
While the video doesn't capture the entire pursuit, state District Court Judge William Bennett noted that the footage doesn't show Few's car posing a threat to the officers as they fired.
"That car was not being used as a deadly weapon at that time," Bennett said. "I daresay it was not even close to being used as a deadly weapon at that time."
The video from the body camera worn by Marksville Police Sgt. Kenneth Parnell III lacks audio for the first 27 seconds. The deputies began shooting before the audio begins.
Prosecutors say the video shows the deputies firing from a safe distance from Few's car. Stafford's attorneys, however, argue the 27-second-long segment without audio makes it impossible to determine if he started shooting before or after Few raised his hands inside the car.
After the shooting and sirens stop, somebody yells at Few to show his hands. Few was slumped over the blood-stained door on the driver's side of his car when officers approach him.
"Is he hit at all?" Stafford later asked Parnell.
"Who?" Parnell replied.
"The driver," Stafford said
"Yeah," Parnell responded.
"I never saw a kid in the car, man," Stafford said. "I never saw a kid, bro."
About seven minutes after the shooting, Parnell opened the passenger door to Few's car, shone a flashlight onto Mardis, nudged his right shoulder and checked for a pulse. Then he walked over to another officer and said he found a faint pulse on the boy.
Donning surgical gloves, Parnell walked back to the boy's side of the car and shone a light on the boy again.
"Oh, my God," he muttered.
Several minutes later, a paramedic told Parnell the boy was dead.
Defense attorneys have suggested investigators rushed to judgment. George Higgins, one of Greenhouse's attorneys, said investigators have no evidence that any of the bullets fired by Greenhouse struck Few or his son.
Higgins asked State Police detective Rodney Owens during Wednesday's hearing why the deputies were arrested before obtaining results of ballistics tests.
"You didn't know that Mr. Greenhouse did not shoot anybody when you arrested him?" Higgins said.
Owens acknowledged that he didn't. But investigators later traced 14 shell casings to Stafford's semi-automatic handgun and determined four other shell casings recovered at the scene came from Greenhouse's gun. Of the four bullet fragments recovered from the boy's body, three matched Stafford's weapon and another couldn't be matched to either deputy.
Owens also testified that there isn't any physical evidence that Few's car collided with Greenhouse's vehicle, but he couldn't rule that out as a possibility.
Stafford and Greenhouse await separate trials on second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder charges.
Stafford, a Marksville police lieutenant, and Greenhouse, a former Marksville police officer, were moonlighting as deputy marshals on the night of the Nov. 3, 2015, shooting.
Stafford's trial is scheduled to start Nov. 28; Greenhouse has a March 13, 2017, trial date. Bennett refused Wednesday to consolidate the cases for a single trial.
State Police Col. Mike Edmonson cited the video when he announced the arrest of the two officers on Nov. 6.
Study: Police using body cameras see huge drop in complaints
A Cambridge University study of British and U.S. police shows a 93 percent decrease in the number of complaints made against cops when they are using body cameras
by Danica Kirka
LONDON — A Cambridge University study of British and U.S. police shows a 93 percent decrease in the number of complaints made against officers when they are using body cameras — pivotal findings that suggest the simple devices could reduce conflicts between police and the public.
The idea behind the study is simple: people who are being observed — and know it — change their behavior. Researchers suggested that cameras encourage best behavior on the part of both the officers and the public.
"Everyone is recording the police except themselves," said Barak Ariel, a criminologist from Cambridge University who led the research. "Now we have something from the officer's point of view from the very beginning of the interaction."
The study says using body cameras could lead to a "sea change in modern policing."
Such conflicts were underscored in Britain in August, when a black former soccer star, Dalian Atkinson, died after being shot with a police Taser.
Michael Naughton, an associate professor at the University of Bristol Law School, embraced the main finding of the study, arguing that the technology has long existed to record all interactions between the police and the public.
"One wonders why such an initiative has not already been introduced," he said via email. "It would allay fears (and the reality) of police misconduct and abuse. It would enhance trust and confidence in the police. It really is a no-brainer that body cameras should be embraced and harnessed without further delay."
In Britain, some 45 territorial police forces are still rolling out such equipment among staff, a survey by Press Association said. Ariel said most large police forces in the United States use such cameras, but thousands of smaller forces still do not.
The study involved West Midlands Police, West Yorkshire Police, Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Police Service of Northern Ireland and police departments in the California cities of Ventura and Rialto. Some 2,000 officers and 1.4 million working hours were studied over a year.
In some cases, complaints went down to zero.
"We are about to face a turning point," Ariel said. "I think in 25 years all officers will be using a camera."
FBI director: Database coming on police use of deadly force
The FBI will have up and running within two years a database that tracks instances of police use of deadly force
by Matthew Daly and Eric Tucker
WASHINGTON — The FBI will have up and running within two years a database that tracks instances of police use of deadly force, FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers Wednesday at a congressional hearing that reflected the sustained political interest in the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
The database is intended to capture how often police officers kill citizens in the line of duty and to correct a record-keeping gap that Comey said has resulted in uninformed conversations, based on anecdotes and not facts, about use of force. Demands for more complete records have grown in the past two years amid a series of high-profile deaths at the hands of police officers.
"Everybody gets why it matters," Comey said of the planned database at an oversight hearing of the House Judiciary Committee.
Much of the hearing, though, focused on the FBI's handling of the now-closed investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state. Republican lawmakers demanded to know why the Justice Department had granted immunity to multiple individuals interviewed during the investigation, including Clinton's former chief of staff, and questioned whether someone in a less-powerful position than Clinton would have received the same treatment.
The FBI recommended against prosecution in July and the Justice Department closed the matter. Comey again rejected the idea of a double-standard and that political considerations were factors in the case.
"You can call us wrong, but don't call us weasels. We are not weasels," Comey said.
It was the second time in two days that Comey has faced questions from members of Congress. He is the sole witness as the House Judiciary Committee reviews the FBI's performance in what is likely to be the agency's final oversight hearing this year.
On Tuesday, Republican senators on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee pressed Comey on whether anything could have been done differently to prevent recent acts of extremist violence, such as the Orlando nightclub massacre or the Manhattan bombing. Comey told senators that the FBI is transparent about mistakes, but under questioning from Republicans, he did not agree that anything should have been done differently.
Republicans in the last two days have seized on revelations that the Justice Department granted some form of immunity to nearly a half-dozen individuals tied to the Clinton email investigation.
Comey said agents granted immunity to Cheryl Mills, Clinton's former chief of staff, because they wanted to inspect her laptop as part of the investigation. The immunity deal was limited to information contained on her laptop, Comey said.
Republicans have assailed Comey's decision not to prosecute Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president, accusing her of mishandling classified information.
"It defies logic and the law that she faces no consequences for jeopardizing national security," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia.
Comey also is likely to be grilled about a former State Department employee who helped set up the email server. The House could vote as soon as Thursday on a resolution to hold computer specialist Bryan Pagliano in contempt of Congress.
Could police keep the peace by walking more beats?
The case for getting out of the patrol car
by ALISSA WALKER
The shootings of unarmed black men at the hands of police have spurred a nationwide movement calling for law enforcement reform. In nearly every tragic incident, the same strikingly universal image is presented as evidence—one victim, usually on foot, surrounded by the strobing lights of dozens of patrol cars.
Cops roving cities in police cruisers have become a ubiquitous part of the urban landscape. But having law enforcement officials monitor cities in glass and steel bubbles has proven problematic. Not only does a patrol car further isolate police from their communities, it sets up an undeniable us-versus-them hierarchy on American streets.
New policing programs that encourage cops to walk instead—called “foot beats”—are proving that walking can be transformative for neighborhood safety. In fact, this style of policing was endorsed by Hillary Clinton at last night's debate; by contrast, Donald Trump embraced the controversial tactic known as stop-and-frisk, where officers must essentially engage in racial profiling.
While the traditional concept of walking the beat has never disappeared from denser cities like New York and Boston, it has become less and less common in most American cities over the years. One reason is the way our cities have grown—the distance that some cops would have to cover on foot would make it statistically impossible to keep the peace.
Take Los Angeles, where the police force is tasked with patrolling almost 500 square miles, much of it long, sprawling blocks that are certainly not considered to be “walkable” terrain. LA's geographic challenges, as well as the lingering racial tensions after the protests and riots of 1992, made it a prime candidate for a new policing approach promoted by the Urban Peace Institute. The nonprofit was founded by civil rights attorney Connie Rice, an early advocate of what's become known as community-based policing, and a member of President Obama's Task Force on 21st-Century Policing.
Community policing—also known as relationship-based policing or partnership policing—aims to engender a trusting relationship between officers and the people they're meant to protect, two groups which, in big cities especially, can have strikingly different social, racial, and economic backgrounds.
Walking the beat, engaging with residents at a personal level, is at the heart of that initiative. “If you understand the culture and you respect it, you'll be able to police it more effectively,” said Fernando Rejón, a director for the Urban Peace Institute who helps to train law enforcement officials in community-based policing and gang intervention.
In 2011, the LAPD launched its first Community Safety Partnership (CSP) in partnership with the Urban Peace Institute and the city's housing authority. Officers selected for the pilot program received a different set of skills than most cops. They were shown how to spot signs of post-traumatic stress and mental illness which could cause violent behavior. They were specifically trained to work with kids and teens, as up to 40 percent of all residents of public housing are under 18. And they agreed to devote five years to the same neighborhood—long enough to learn residents' names.
The first CSPs began with officers patrolling a handful of densely populated public housing communities in Watts. One of those officers was LAPD Lieutenant Emada Tingirides, who recently spoke about the effectiveness of the program at a race and justice summit sponsored by The Atlantic. She had grown up in South LA and believed she understood the community's challenges—until she started walking in Watts, she said. “I thought I was an expert on my job until I let my community teach me.”
Foot beats changed the community dynamic. Not only were smaller issues like graffiti and vandalism easier to see and fix on foot, police could have daily check-ins with elderly residents and small business owners. Cops on foot helped kids get to school on neutral paths that didn't cross into contested gang territory. Soon, police officers found themselves taking on new roles, like coaching sports teams and leading Girl Scout troops.
Most notably, over the first three years, homicides plummeted by 50 percent.
The program now includes several neighborhoods throughout South and East LA. Foot beats probably won't be implemented in every single LA neighborhood, but they can be introduced where tensions are running high to diffuse a potential flashpoint long before it becomes the next viral video. “The CSP is intentional about building trust and relationships,” said Gilberto Espinoza, senior associate of prevention programs at the Urban Peace Institute. “Getting out of the car is something you have do.”
Other cities are also seeing success with community policing. Homicides dropped in New Haven, Connecticut, after police started walking their beats. The community policing program in Dallas, Texas, has been credited for keeping the peace after five police officers were shot and killed at the end of a previously peaceful protest in July. Similar foot beat initiatives are underway in Milwaukee, Portland, Oregon, and Baltimore. And two years after Ferguson's civil unrest spurred a global movement, the city is building a new neighborhood policing program built around walking.
While applying community policing to a city's most dangerous neighborhoods can have a positive impact, walking the beat needs to be part of a more comprehensive, reform-minded strategy. Critics say that police departments must first work to hire officers who fit the racial and ethnic backgrounds of the communities they're patrolling. Reform would also mean an end to incentivized arrest rates and decriminalizing minor drug offenses.
At least one aspect of foot beat data is irrefutable. Cops who practice community policing are statistically less likely to draw their guns, something that Tingirides confirmed personally—she had not shot or killed anyone in her 22 years on the force.
Especially in neighborhoods still reeling from social unrest, foot beats might even give officers a chance to repair the relationship in one way that only face-to-face, sidewalk encounters could. As she walked her beat, she found herself apologizing, said Tingirides. “Saying I'm sorry, not for what I did, but for what this badge and uniform means for so many people.”
Maybe the best way to repair the broken relationships between police and the people they protect is to get out of the car and rebuild that trust, block-by-block, step-by-step.
Video Shows DC Officers Performing CPR on Bleeding Man
(Video on site - very graphic)
by BEN NUCKOLS, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — A motorcyclist who was fatally shot by a District of Columbia police officer bled heavily on the sidewalk next to a police car as an onlooker screamed and officers performed CPR on the wounded man for more than three minutes, a video released Tuesday shows.
Terrence Sterling, 31, of Fort Washington, Maryland, was shot by an officer in the early morning of Sept. 11. Police said Sterling, who was black, was shot after he rammed the passenger-side door of a police car while trying to flee a traffic stop. His death has prompted protests from people who knew him and activists seeking transparency about what led to his death.
The officer who shot Sterling — identified by police Tuesday as Brian Trainer, 27 — did not turn on his body camera until after the shooting, police said. In footage from Trainer's camera that police made available Tuesday, Sterling can be seen lying on the ground astride his motorcycle and bleeding heavily.
In the background, a clearly alarmed bystander can be heard screaming “Oh my God!” At one point, the woman yells, “Michael Brown,” the name of an unarmed black teenager fatally shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri, whose death led to widespread protests and sparked a nationwide debate about use of force by police.
The video shows the officer scrambling to retrieve a first-aid kit for the man, who is bleeding heavily. The officers remove Sterling's helmet and clothing and perform CPR. It's not clear how soon after the shooting the CPR begins.
The officer performing chest compressions on Sterling can be heard repeatedly urging Sterling to look at him and keep his eyes open. Sterling appears to be bleeding from a wound in the neck or upper chest.
The shooting happened downtown, about four blocks from the Washington Convention Center. Police have said they got reports about a motorcyclist driving erratically before officers stopped Sterling.
An attorney for Sterling's family did not immediately return messages seeking comment Tuesday. Kevin Donahue, the district's deputy mayor for public safety, said Sterling's relatives were shown the video before it was released to the public.
The U.S. Attorney's office and the police department are investigating the shooting. Trainer is a four-year veteran of the department.
In response to the officer's failure to activate his body-worn camera, city 911 operators have been instructed to remind officers to turn their cameras on, and officers have been instructed to acknowledge the reminder. However, Donahue said Tuesday that the department has not had a widespread problem with officers not activating their cameras. In a monthlong span, cameras were activated 55,000 times, and officers failed to turn them on 10 times, he said.
The department is in the process of outfitting all patrol officers with cameras. Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser has pledged to release body-camera footage when it's in the public interest, and her administration has released video of previous shootings by officers.
Why the Charlotte Police Chief Was the 'Least Likely' to Go Into the Force
by Elizabeth Chuck
For Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney, his admitted unease with law-enforcement started when he was eight years old: A pit in his stomach would form every time a police cruiser's blue lights flashed nearby.
By age 10, that mistrust of police had been cemented after his father was discovered dead in a river — and a local sheriff hastily classified it as an accidental drowning, not a murder, Putney, now 47, has acknowledged publicly several times.
Putney himself became a police officer 26 years ago, rising through the ranks until his promotion to Charlotte police chief 15 months ago.
Those who know him say he chose to enter the force so he could make a difference from within, smooth out racial tensions he had felt as a black man, and make the community more comfortable around officers than he had ever been.
Now, a week after a black man was shot dead by a Charlotte police officer, Putney is being accused of putting his officers' needs before those of Keith Lamont Scott's family. Activists are demanding his resignation, arguing Scott's death was the latest in a string of racial profiling by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
Putney did not immediately return a phone call from NBC News. A former colleague described him as shy and reserved, a "thoughtful person dedicated to his work" who helped bring implicit bias training to his department — an initiative aimed at preventing unconscious bias from affecting law enforcement decisions.
"I know that this troubles him deeply because of all the work he's done," former Charlotte-Mecklensburg Police Department Chief Darrel Stephens told NBC News. Stephens has known Putney since 1999 and is now the executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, a national organization of police chiefs.
But on Monday, activists argued that both Putney and Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts had failed to protect citizens, particularly minorities and the working class.
"This moment represents a tipping point for a community that has had its trust repeatedly broken by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department," said Bree Newsome, a Charlotte advocate who made headlines last year when she scaled a flag pole at the South Carolina statehouse and removed the Confederate flag.
She and several other activists and citizens have called on Putney and Roberts to resign.
Not everyone agrees, however. Sean "Lucky" Corbett, a former felon who pulled his life together to start Da Lucky Spot Barbershop in Charlotte six years ago, said Putney is a friendly face around town who puts the needs of the community first.
"He's at every town hall meeting you invite him to. Chief Putney was in my barbershop this Thanksgiving, passing out turkey. Every coat drive that I have, he's there, and most of the time, he's not in uniform," Corbett told NBC News.
Putney's father is never far from his mind, Corbett added.
"He was the least likely that you would have ever thought would have been a police officer because he didn't like them because of what happened with his father. Once he had the opportunity, he decidd to fight the battle from within, and that's what he's been doing, he said."
Putney grew up in rural Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, the youngest of seven children. He has spoken about his father's death and the ensuing fallout publicly: "I thought they didn't care about the value of a black life," he told Charlotte Magazine last year.
Determined to fight the injustice he felt, Putney studied criminology in school and planned to be a lawyer, until a police officer friend swayed him to consider policing instead by telling him it was a "noble profession."
Putney referenced that conversation in July, following the killings of five Dallas police officers in a fiery speech that ended up getting more than 2 million views online. In it, Putney acknowledged his own fears of bias in policework as a black American, but also defended his fellow officers.
"In this profession, we do have a racist, bigoted history, and that hurts me," he said in the July speech. "Because of my distrust of police, even now when I see blue lights, it hits me in the stomach. I've had that reaction since I was eight years old."
But, he added, police officers put themselves in danger every day to protect their communities.
"I'm always black. I was born that way, I'm going to die that way. But I choose to put myself in harm's way with the honorable people who wear these uniforms," he said.
In the same speech, he touted the training he had brought to his department as a beacon of hope for officers and their communities nationwide.
"We're different in Charlotte," he said. "We're a good kind of different."
Rochester, New York
Mayor Seeks to Improve Community Policing With Citizen Help
by Sasha-Ann Simons
To get to the root of the problems between some Rochester residents and officers, the city plans to go straight to the sources.
At a news conference Tuesday morning, Mayor Lovely Warren announced an initiative dubbed “90 Days of Community Engagement” that will begin in October. At her request, Rochester Police Chief Michael Ciminelli and the department's deputy chief for community relations will spend the first 60 days gaining public input on how to further improve the relationship between officers and the community. Officers are also expected to provide feedback with the same goal in mind.
“I refuse to believe that building a culture of respect and understanding on our streets is unattainable because I believe in both our citizens and in our police department,” said Warren.
The new plan comes nearly two weeks after a viral video showing a city officer wrestling a woman from behind on Hollenbeck Street, as she walked away from him. The woman was standing on the sidewalk while officers blocked neighborhood streets to make an arrest. She can be heard yelling at the officers, “Get off of him!”
One officer shouts back, “You were told to leave multiple times. You either leave now or you go to jail,” before running toward and tackling the woman. The controversial Facebook video, posted on September 15, has been shared about 8,300 times and viewed more than 330,000 times.
Mike Mazzeo, president of the union that represents Rochester police officers, cautioned Monday against a rush to judgment and said that the video doesn't tell the whole story. He also said body cameras worn by officers do not operate correctly and that officers have not been properly trained. Ciminelli disagreed with the latter claim and defended allegations that the videotaped officer in question intentionally turned his body camera off.
“This is the only time that it happened. We think what happened is it was the contact between the body of the person being arrested and the officer, so we're looking more at the placement of the camera,” Ciminelli said.
The Mayor has asked to be presented with a draft strategic plan on community policing, which she hopes to receive by the New Year.
Councilmember Adam McFadden also outlined a process for City Council to strengthen the current Civilian Review Board which gives oversight to the Police Department. He's proposing to move forward with a previous community request for subpoena power.
“We want our civilians to feel safe and comfortable in bringing about complaints and we want them to feel like they do have a process that will work in their favor.”
RPD has released body camera and blue light camera videos from the September 15, 2016 incident mentioned above. The videos are on the site.
MPD application numbers drop amid current tensions between community, police
As 59th recruiting class is sworn in, MPD faces four-year low in applicants
by Alice Vagun
Only a few days into her internship with the Madison Police Department last year, Samantha Triny right away could sense their deep commitment to the community.
As part of her criminal justice certificate program, the University of Wisconsin alumna was required to do an internship in the criminal justice field. She said she knew nothing about policing, but read peer reviews of internships with MPD and decided to explore one.
“I fell in love with getting out in the community, meeting people and helping and talking to them on their worst days,” Triny said. “I felt like I could make a difference.”
Triny is one of 23 MPD recruits who were sworn into the academy Sept. 12. Over the next six months, the 59th recruiting class will be trained to become full-fledged police officers.
Now, two weeks into recruitment training, the current MPD recruit said she was surprised and impressed that everyone around her knew people in the community by their first names. Triny said she is excited to change the view the community has toward police.
Despite excited recruits like Triny, applications for MPD were at a four-year low in 2016.
Sgt. Tim Patton, MPD's recruiting coordinator, said recent tensions between police and the community may have contributed to the overall drop in applications that MPD has experienced.
Typically on the low end, the department sees a minimum of 500 applications per year, Patton said. On the high end, historical data has shown nearly 1,600 applications coming in.
Since 2012, the number of applications has dropped more than 50 percent. That year, the department received 1,508 applications. Four years later in 2016, that number has dropped to 673.
While part of the drop can be attributed to an improved economy since MPD is competing with an active job market for applicants, Patton also recognizes the current climate in the country as a potential factor. He said “non-traditional candidates,” who may already have established careers in other fields, are less likely to explore a career at MPD.
“Recent calls for criminal justice reform, the significant attention to policing and policing relationships — specifically with communities of color — may have an impact on the hiring of non-traditional candidates,” Patton said.
Additionally, public confidence in police is dropping to its lowest level in nearly 22 years. According to a 2015 Gallup poll, only 52 percent of Americans have expressed either a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in police.
Unsurprisingly, the amount of confidence varied between white and black citizens. UW sociology professor Pamela Oliver said this distrust is likely tied to officer-involved shootings of unarmed people.
Oliver argued there have been longstanding patterns of aggressive and coercive policing in communities of color and distrust in the police among those particular communities isn't something new.
“Surveys 20 to 30 years ago showed distrust in the police as well, but recent news coverage of police killing unarmed people certainly reduces confidence in police and impacts the perception of police,” Oliver said.
Many people are thinking twice about becoming a police officer as there is a growing potential to be charged for misconduct or use of excessive force for acting in a way they thought was appropriate in the given circumstance, Patton said.
For Triny, however, instances like those have only motivated her to use her to join the force to change the view toward police. Using her communication skills effectively, she said, is important in deescalating certain situations and upholding a level of transparency with the community.
But despite the drops in both application numbers and confidence in police, Patton said MPD is looking for candidates who have a desire to serve the community — not police it.
“We want people with strong communicational, relational skills and that are service-oriented people that are ready to contribute to bettering the quality of life,” Patton said.
Most importantly, Patton added, MPD is looking for a track record of engagement. Whether it being involved in one's neighborhood or on campus, he said MPD values those willing to work inside and outside of their eight hours.
Similarly, Triny said she hopes to use her experiences from UW to foster relationships with the community during her time at MPD.
“Everyone works hard to keep it a positive atmosphere,” Triny said. “I hope to use my communications skills effectively so [the community and police] can be on the same level and understand each other.”
Civilians can change policing
by Martin Alan Greenberg
The recent police shootings need not become just another set of statistics of officer-involved killings. Terence Crutcher, 40, in Tulsa, Okla., and Keith Lamont Scott, 43, in Charlotte, N.C., have been singled out by various groups as the latest black victims killed by law enforcement.
Crutcher's shooting is seen as especially devastating, since Crutcher had a stalled car when police approached him and video evidence shows he had his hands in the air in the immediate moments before he was shot. An officer involved in Crutcher's killing has already been charged with felony manslaughter.
As the presidential election quickly approaches, the candidates have been asked about their police policy plans to reduce the occurrence of these types of tragic events.
Thus far, these national leaders have stated as their best ideas: a need for Americans to try to walk in the shoes of the oppressed (Donald Trump); and for the national government to develop better policing standards (Hillary Clinton).
Charlotte's police chief has articulated a better idea. Able-bodied persons might consider becoming involved in the justice system — perhaps becoming a member of the police force. He is urging Americans not to turn away from America's tradition of civic participation.
While he did not specifically mention the concept of "volunteerism" during his recent media interviews, this concept can serve as the vital link that is needed to build vibrant communities and a stronger nation.
Many notable police and civilian experts have recognized that civilian crime prevention offers numerous ways to enhance the quantity and quality of services for the improvement of public welfare. More than two decades ago, Willie Williams, the police chief of the city of Los Angeles, noted that "the reserve program is probably the keystone of what community policing is about." He was addressing a graduating class of over 50 new members of his civilian-based reserve police force academy. The LAPD Reserve Corps has been a launch pad for many seeking lifetime careers in law enforcement.
Significantly, the city of Tulsa has utilized volunteer unpaid citizen police in one capacity or another since 1953. Currently, the Tulsa Police Reserve consists of highly dedicated and motivated men and women who want to serve their community by volunteering their time and effort through law enforcement.
The Charlotte- Mecklenburg Police Department also utilizes volunteers in a variety of capacities to help ensure the safety of the citizens of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. These well-trained and qualified citizen volunteers are serving in an animal control unit, as citizens on patrol, in the Mobile Radar Unit, as members of the Bilingual Volunteer Unit, in a special events committee, and in an auto theft Crime Scene Search Unit.
However, the use of volunteers is often praised, not because they support racial harmony as well as community solidarity and development, but because they represent a cost savings to their communities.
Every effort needs to be made to adjust these views so that the full import of their value can be appreciated. Moreover, their use in school-based programs is needed to help support "failing schools," needy families and to motivate students.
What has taken place in just a span of a few days is not a Charlotte problem or Tulsa problem: It's an American problem. Both the citizenry and the police can do much by acknowledging the facts of history, such as centuries of wrongdoing towards minorities (e.g., slavery, Jim Crow laws, etc., police brutality) before community-police relations can heal.
Next, the police can take a giant step and make every effort to enlist the services of the public in becoming a part of the solution.
Martin Alan Greenberg of Niskayuna is the director of education and research for the New York State Association of Auxiliary Police Inc.
Back to basics of police work
by Anthony Bradley
America has found itself at a crossroads, further embroiled in divisive tensions between law enforcement officials and the local citizens they are sworn to serve. The recent shooting deaths of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Okla., and Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, N.C., have only further encumbered any chance of reconciling the trust that has been lost between the two entities in cities and towns across the nation.
Perhaps the most viable solution to this ongoing tragedy is to return to the "old school" tactics of law enforcement.
A study released last week by the Washington-based nonprofit Police Foundation proves that such solidarity can be achieved by convincing cops to park their police cruisers and get back to patrolling the streets by foot.
The study examines the positive impacts of foot patrol programs in five cities across the nation: Cambridge, Mass.; Evanston, Ill.; Kalamazoo, Mich.; New Haven, Conn.; and Portland, Ore. - and the data found that such programs reduced crime rates, improved the legitimacy of police forces, and ultimately strengthened relationships between communities and local law enforcement agencies.
The study concluded that foot patrol programs improved the relationship between citizens and law enforcement, enhanced the ability of the police force to enforce the law, changed how citizens viewed officers, and reduced both the fear of crime and the number of violent crimes committed. Additionally, the data show that foot patrols even have psychological benefits for officers, as they have more opportunities for positive interaction with the local community.
Some outside studies quoted by the report have found that smaller communities (like the ones examined in the Police Foundation report) benefit the most from increased foot patrols.
In most of these cities, foot patrols create a better sense of approachability, familiarity, and trust of officers among residents of the community, and in some instances, cities reported higher levels of overall satisfaction with the police from members of the community.
For example, a collaboration in Philadelphia between the police force and Temple University's Department of Criminal Justice found that when they sent foot patrols into the areas of the city with the highest crime rates, those rates often fell as a result. After three months, the areas witnessed a 23 percent decrease in violent crime and a prevention of 53 violent crimes.
If the outcome in Philadelphia is any indication of the success of these policies, the Police Foundation report must be taken seriously. Bridging the disconnect between police officers and citizens - who see themselves on the same side of promoting human well-being - could certainly help ease the current tensions, and, in a perfect world, even end them completely.
The future success of law enforcement nationwide rests on how well agents can serve the communities they protect by keeping citizens safe and by fairly, yet effectively, enforcing the rule of law. A return to tested and tried tactics like foot patrols might be a small step, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.
If we care about the common good of man and envision neighborhoods where citizens can thrive and truly flourish alongside law enforcement, both entities must trade in their escalating adversarial roles for mutually beneficial partnerships and collaboration.
While the implementation of community policing may seem more expensive in the short term, it is no more costly than the price cities and towns must pay to rebuild businesses and homes that are destroyed or vandalized during outbreaks of violent riots or social unrest.
Furthermore, as our nation has sadly come to realize all too well, no price can ever be placed on the value of a human life.
Use-of-force review ongoing
by Beth Walton
ASHEVILLE - Community representatives offered input on the police department's use-of-force policy last week with an emphasis on de-escalation.
The Community Police Policy Work Group provided recommendations based on best practices in policing, said Asheville Police Department Spokeswoman Christina Hallingse. This includes valuing the sanctity of life.
Once a draft of the revised policy is completed, APD will schedule a final meeting for review, she said.
"This work group is an opportunity for community leaders to provide valuable input on policing in our community, with specific emphasis on use-of-force and de-escalation," Asheville Police Department Chief Tammy Hooper said in a statement to the Citizen-Times.
"There is, of course, more work to be done in building relationships and trust between law enforcement and community members. This process is a valuable step toward that goal and APD's commitment to community policing and partnership."
Sixteen individuals joined police at the Sept. 19 meeting, including City Councilwoman Julie Mayfield; CEO of the Housing Authority Gene Bell; Superintendent of Asheville City Schools Pam Baldwin; and President of the Asheville Branch of the NAACP Carmen Ramos-Kennedy.
An analysis of the Department's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats were discussed, such as how to build community trust and make the complaint process more accessible, Hallingse said.
The Community Police Policy Work Group meetings are not open to the public. The Vera Institute of Justice, a nonprofit based in New York City, is facilitating the dialogue. The Vera Institute works with government to build and improve justice systems that are fair, safe and conducive to stronger communities.
Other organizations represented on the Community Police Policy Work Group include the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce; Black Lives Matter Asheville; Building Bridges; Campaign for Southern Equality; Christians for United Community; Citizens Police Advisory Committee; Elders Fierce for Justice; the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance; Our VOICE; the Racial Justice Coalition; the Residents Council of the Asheville Housing Authority; the Stop the Violence Coalition; Veterans Treatment Court; and the YWCA of Asheville.
Hooper chose the participating organizations after soliciting input from the Racial Justice Coalition.
Showing Up for Racial Justice and the Citizens Police Advisory Committee were not included in the chief's initial list.
The size of the group was limited in order to improve its effectiveness, Hooper said at a recent meeting of the Citizens Police Advisory Committee, a city board set up for citizens to discuss policing in their neighborhoods.
A member of the committee was already on the work group due to his affiliation with the Residents Council, she told those assembled.
The chief of police also serves on the Citizens Police Advisory Committee as a nonvoting member.
Charlotte residents denounce officials over police shooting
Residents complained about what they called unaccountable police officers and civilian leaders who have failed to force change
by Emery P. Dalesio, Tom Foreman Jr., and Jay Reeves
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Angry Charlotte residents verbally lashed City Council members for hours, complaining about what they called unaccountable police officers and civilian leaders who have failed to force change as the city marked a week of protests since a police officer fatally shot a black man.
At its Monday night meeting, the council opened the floor to dozens of residents who voiced their opinions about the Sept. 20 shooting of Kevin Lamont Scott by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police. Many called on Mayor Jennifer Roberts, Police Chief Kerr Putney and other council members to resign on the seventh day of protests since the shooting.
"It's going to be rough in these streets until you give justice to our people," said the Rev. Milton Williams, the final speaker in a three-hour string. "Our city's in an uproar, and you did not respond."
Many of the speakers carried signs expressing their anger. One man's sign called for the repeal of legislation taking effect Oct. 1 that blocks the release of police video without a court order. Many speakers demanded that police release all video footage of the confrontation.
Scott's family and advocacy groups complain that the department divulged only about three minutes of footage from two cameras. They have urged the police department to release all other video footage it has, as well as audio recordings of communications that could clarify how the situation unfolded. A media coalition also is requesting more footage.
"We have no reason to trust you, and you're giving us even less," Khasha Harris told City Council members.
Some speakers brought their children, not only to share in the moment, but in several instances, to address the council. Many in the crowd were brought to tears by the comments of Zianna Oliphant, a child who needed a stool to be seen over the lectern.
"It's a shame that our fathers and brothers are killed and we can't see them anymore," Zianna said. "It's a shame that we have to go through that graveyard and bury him. We need our fathers and brothers to be by our side."
Council member Kenny Smith said the council should be listening and taking action to answer the concerns.
"The unrest here has been decades in the making," council member Al Alston said. "Tuesday was the boiling point, and it's getting hotter."
The footage released so far of Scott's shooting left questions in many people's minds — including whether he was holding a gun, as police have stated. Scott's family said he didn't have a weapon. The footage includes body camera video from one officer, but not the black officer who fatally wounded Scott, who was 43.
The gun recovered at the scene of Scott's shooting had been stolen and later sold to Scott, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police source told The Associated Press on Monday. The source insisted on speaking anonymously because the State Bureau of Investigation continues to look into the case. SBI Agent Erik Hooks declined comment when asked whether the gun had been stolen.
At a rally at a downtown church, North Carolina NAACP President Rev. William Barber said federal authorities should investigate the city's police department. Police officers who fail to operate their body cameras during an encounter should be prosecuted, Barber said.
Six people were fatally shot since body cameras were given to all patrol officers about a year ago. But the officers who fired the fatal shots in five of those cases — including Scott's — weren't using the cameras.
Charlotte police didn't respond Monday to requests for information about those cases.
Houston gunman had 2 weapons, thousands of rounds at scene
A disgruntled lawyer wearing military-style apparel with old Nazi emblems had more than 2,500 rounds of live ammo when he randomly shot at drivers in a Houston neighborhood
by Juan A. Lozano
HOUSTON — A disgruntled lawyer wearing military-style apparel with old Nazi emblems had two weapons and more than 2,500 rounds of live ammunition when he randomly shot at drivers in a Houston neighborhood before he was shot and killed by police, authorities said.
Nine people were injured during Monday morning's shootings on the street in front of a condo complex. Six were shot and three had eye injuries from flying glass. One person was in critical condition.
Police did not identify the man and did not have information about a motive. A bomb-squad robot examined a Porsche that police said belonged to the gunman. Texas motor vehicle records in a commercially available database showed the car is licensed to Nathan DeSai at an address in the condo complex.
The man had two legally purchased guns — a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun and a semi-automatic rifle commonly known as a Tommy gun —and an unsheathed knife.
Nine officers were involved in a shootout with the man, who was firing randomly at people driving by, police said.
Mayor Sylvester Turner told KTRK-TV in Houston that DeSai was a lawyer who was "disgruntled" and was "either fired or had a bad relationship with this law firm." But DeSai's former law partner, Kenneth McDaniel, disputed that assertion, saying they jointly closed their 12-year-old law firm in February due to economic conditions related to Houston's energy industry downturn.
McDaniel also said he hadn't had contact with DeSai lately and that police called him Monday morning to check on his safety, though they didn't explain why.
"He went his way with his practice and I went with mine," McDaniel said, adding, "All I can say it's a horrible situation. I'm sad for everyone involved."
Calls placed to phone numbers connected to DeSai and his father were not immediately answered. DeSai's father, Prakash DeSai, told KTRK that his son lived in the condo complex and drives a black Porsche. He also said his son, whom he saw Sunday, was upset because "his law practice is not going well" and stays upset "because of his personal problems."
Perrye Turner, special agent in charge of the FBI's Houston Division, said officials don't believe the incident is tied to terrorism.
Jennifer Molleda and her husband live in the same condo complex as Nathan DeSai. Though she heard gunshots about 6:12 a.m. and called 911, her husband left for work. The 45-year-old called not long after and he told her, "I'm hit, I'm hit."
After the shooting stopped, Molleda found her husband, 49-year-old Alan Wakim, several blocks away in the parking lot of a strip mall. His Mustang had two shots that went through the windshield, and he told her that he saw a red laser beam before the shots were fired. He was taken to a hospital to be treated.
"He got out of his car, we hugged, we cried," Molleda said, adding that after she saw everything, she believes DeSai was "aiming to kill."
Jason Delgado, the property manager of The Oaks at West University condo complex, said DeSai was involved in two recent incidents at the complex.
In August, Delgado said, police were called after roofers working in the complex said DeSai pointed an assault-style rifle at them. He said there wasn't enough evidence to move forward with charges because the man contended he didn't point the gun at roofers. Molleda mentioned the same incident.
Last week, DeSai became upset because of water pressure problems at his home, asked for maintenance help and expressed his displeasure in an email to the management firm that implied he'd "intimidate his way to getting what he was asking for," Delgado said.
Ohio cop pulls over grieving man for speeding, drives him 100 miles
After initially pulling Mark Ross over for speeding, an officer offered to drive him 100 miles to meet up with his family
by PoliceOne Staff
TROY, Ohio — After receiving a phone call that his sister had died, Mark Ross was speeding down an Ohio highway to meet his family in Detroit when he was pulled over by Sgt. David Robison.
“I knew I was going to Jail due to a petty warrant,” Ross's Facebook post read. “The police called Wayne county and they refused to come get me because of the distance. I explained to the officer that my sister had died and that I needed to get to my mother asap.”
Ross wrote that Sgt. Robison saw the sincerity in his plea and began to pray for him and his family. Because they towed his vehicle due to his outstanding warrant, Sgt. Robison offered to drive Ross 100 miles to Detroit to meet with his family.
“Everybody knows how much I dislike cops, but I am truly grateful for this guy,” Ross wrote. “He gave me hope.”
ICE arrests 36 fugitives across US during Operation Safe Nation and Operation No Safe Haven III
WASHINGTON – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 36 fugitives during concurrent nationwide operations this week – Operation Safe Nation and Operation No Safe Haven III. Of those arrested, 17 were sought because they may pose a threat to public safety or national security, including individuals suspected of providing material support to a terrorist organization and 19 were sought for their known or suspected roles in human rights violations overseas.
During the operations that concluded Wednesday, the ICE National Fugitive Operations Program arrested the fugitives in coordination with the ICE Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center, the ICE Counterterrorism Section and ICE field offices in the following cities: Atlanta; Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco and St. Paul, Minnesota. This concurrent nationwide operation was the first of its kind. It focused on the apprehension of fugitives known or suspected to pose a danger to public safety or national security and those known or suspected of human rights violations.
“Through the vigorous use of our unique investigative authorities, ICE will continue to ensure that our great nation provides no safe haven for human rights violators and other national security threats,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña. “To those hiding in the shadows: we will find you, arrest you and bring you to justice.”
The foreign nationals arrested during these operations all have outstanding removal orders and are subject to repatriation to their countries of origin. Of the 36 individuals arrested, four are also criminal aliens, convicted in the U.S. for crimes such as drug trafficking, bribery, domestic violence and driving under the influence.
Those arrested during Operation Safe Nation included:
- An individual from East Africa previously under investigation for his suspected association with individuals of national security interest. The individual has an extensive criminal history, including violent and drug trafficking offenses;
- Three individuals from South Asia who were known or suspected to have provided material support to a terrorist organization whose members have engaged in assassinations and used explosives and firearms to endanger people and destroy property;
- An individual from North Africa who was suspected of having ties to international terrorism and was convicted of a crime in connection with an attempt to import a controlled substance into the United States.
Those arrested during No Safe Haven III for known or suspected human rights violations included:
- Three individuals from China who assisted in forced sterilizations and forced abortions upon victim patients or incarcerated religious practitioners who were later persecuted;
- An individual from the Eastern Europe who admitted to participating in military attacks upon civilians in which victims were raped and murdered;
- A senior military officer from South America working in conjunction with the state's intelligence service unit implicated with a clandestine death squad.
ICE is committed to rooting out those who pose a threat to national security or public safety, including known or suspected human rights violators who seek a safe haven in the U.S. ICE investigates those who try to evade justice by seeking shelter in the U.S., including individuals suspected of providing material support to a terrorist organization, espionage, or export violations, and those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, and the use or recruitment of child soldiers.
ICE Fugitive Operations Teams conduct investigative enforcement activities every day to identify, locate and arrest those who are removable from the U.S. and present a heightened threat to public safety and national security. The efforts of these teams result in hundreds of arrests per week, both from daily operational activities and organized operations such as the operations announced today.
The ICE National Criminal Analysis and Targeting Center (NCATC) provided critical investigative support for this operation, including criminal and intelligence analysis from a variety of sources. The NCATC provides comprehensive analytical support to aid the at-large enforcement efforts of all ICE components.
ICE credits the success of this operation to the combined efforts of the U.S. National Central Bureau-Interpol Washington which provided critical support with deconfliction, foreign criminal history, and identity confirmation information.
“Interpol's investigative tools provide U.S. law enforcement with a suite of databases that provide real-time biometric, travel document, and criminal background information,” according to Interpol Washington Director Geoffrey S. Shank. “These operations exemplify what can be achieved when U.S. and international law enforcement agencies have immediate access to information.”
The FBI, ICE liaison to the National Joint Terrorism Task Force, U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. Marshals Service, whose deputies and personnel provided significant investigative assistance in meeting these common public safety and national security goals with ICE, were also key to the success of these operations.
Members of the public who have information about those presenting a national security threat and/or suspected of engaging in human rights abuses are urged to contact ICE by calling the toll-free ICE tip line at 1-866-347-2423 or internationally at 001-1802-872-6199. They can also complete ICE's online tip form.
ICE removes Guatemalan fugitive sought for aggravated kidnapping
BUFFALO, N.Y.— A Guatemalan man, who recently concluded a two-year federal prison term for re-entry after deportation, and is wanted in his home country for aggravated kidnapping, was turned over to authorities in Guatemala Wednesday by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
Mynor Guillermo Pinto-Lopez , 35, was repatriated on board an ICE Air flight that originated in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. After arriving in Guatemala City, ERO officers transferred Pinto-Lopez to the custody of Guatemalan law enforcement.
"Mr. Pinto-Lopez will now have to face justice for his alleged criminal acts," said Michael Phillips, field office director for ERO Buffalo. "My office is committed to working closely with our foreign law enforcement partners to remove and return individuals like this, who are wanted for violent crimes in their home countries."
According to DHS databases, Pinto-Lopez was removed from the United States in 2009. After illegally entering at an unknown time, he was later convicted federally in 2014 for re-entry after deportation and sentenced to 24 months in prison, most of which he served at the Federal Correctional Institution at Ray Brook, New York. He was then transferred to the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility, where ICE officers made final preparations for his repatriation.
Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 1,789 foreign fugitives from the United States who were being sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with the ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Office of International Operations, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.
Dept of Justice
Orange County Man Sentenced to 30 Years in Federal Prison for Conspiring to Join ISIL and Engaging in Fraud
SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA – An Orange County man who attempted to travel to the Middle East to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was sentenced this afternoon to 30 years in federal prison for conspiring and attempting to provide material support to the terrorist organization.
United States District Judge David O. Carter imposed the sentence on defendant Nader Elhuzayel, 25 of Anaheim, following a two-week federal trial that ended in June when a federal jury returned guilty verdicts against Elhuzayel and co-defendant Muhanad Badawi after deliberating for just over an hour. When imposing sentence, Judge Carter said of Elhuzayel, “There’s no remorse, no repudiation of ISIL, only death and destruction.” Judge Carter also commented that the fact that the defendant made repeated calls for martyrdom “makes [him] especially dangerous.” In addition to the 360-month sentence, Judge Carter ordered supervised release for life.
In addition to the terrorism counts, the jury also found Elhuzayel guilty of committing 26 counts of bank fraud and found Badawi guilty of one count of financial aid fraud.
“Today’s sentence reflects the gravity of the defendant’s plan to betray his country and join a terrorist organization dedicated to the murder of innocent individuals,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “As this case shows, the ability of individuals with the desire to support ISIL to use the Internet and social media to conspire with each other poses a grave threat to our national security. So-called ‘foreign fighters’ like this defendant pose a serious danger both overseas and here at home. There can be no doubt that law enforcement’s disruption of their plans saved lives, both in the United States and abroad.”
The evidence at trial showed Elhuzayel and Badawi used social media to discuss ISIL and terrorist attacks, expressed a desire to die as martyrs, and made arrangements for Elhuzayel to leave the United States to join ISIL. In recorded conversations, Elhuzayel and Badawi discussed how “it would be a blessing to fight for the cause of Allah, and to die in the battlefield,” and they referred to ISIL as “we.”
The trial evidence also showed that Elhuzayel used social media to communicate with ISIL supporters and operatives, to disseminate pro-ISIL information, and to assist ISIL supporters by distributing social media account information for those whose accounts had been suspended. Elhuzayel maintained a Facebook account with the ISIL flag as his profile picture. He used the account to ask Allah to grant him martyrdom and success in leaving United States to fight for his cause and to ask Allah to “destroy your enemies and give the Islamic state victory.” Badawi also had a Facebook account, on which he made posts that supported ISIL and violence aimed at non-Muslims, and he indicated that he intended to join the terrorist organization.
According to the trial exhibits, on October 21, 2014, defendant Badawi made a video of defendant Elhuzayel swearing allegiance to the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In the video, Elhuzayel pledged to travel to join ISIS to be a fighter for the organization, according to court documents.
The evidence at trial further showed that, on the day of the May 3, 2015, attack in Garland, Texas, Elhuzayel received social media communications from Elton Simpson, one of the perpetrators of the attack, and that Elhuzayel wrote to Simpson “I love you for the sake of Allah brother may Allah grant you Jannat al ferdaus [the highest level of Paradise reserved for martyrs].” In addition, Elhuzayel received and disseminated social media communications from ISIL operative Abu Hussain al Britani, also known as Junaid Hussain, including communications trumpeting the Garland, Texas, shootings. On May 7, 2015, four days after the Garland shootings, Elhuzayel and Badawi made travel arrangements and purchased Elhuzayel’s plane ticket to join ISIL.
Both Elhuzayel and Badawi were arrested on May 21, 2015, as Elhuzayel attempted to board a plane at Los Angeles International Airport to travel to Turkey to join ISIL. Badawi had purchased a one-way ticket on Turkish Airlines for Elhuzayel to travel to Israel, with a layover in Istanbul. In an interview with the FBI, Elhuzayel admitted that he intended to deplane in Turkey and seek contacts to facilitate joining ISIL.
“The defendant pledged allegiance to an avowed enemy of the United States and carried out a significant bank fraud scheme to fund his plans to join the terrorist group, which calls for the murder of Americans” said Deirdre Fike, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Office. “The efforts by the Joint Terrorism Task Force in thwarting this horrible plot cannot be overstated, and I commend federal prosecutors in bringing this defendant to justice.”
Elhuzayel was also convicted of obtaining cash through a scheme to defraud three different banks by depositing stolen checks into his personal checking accounts and then withdrawing cash at branch offices and ATMs in Orange County. The money generated from the bank fraud was intended to finance his travel to Syria to join ISIL.
Both men have been held in federal custody without bond since their arrests.
Judge Carter is scheduled to sentence Badawi on October 17 at which time he will face a statutory maximum sentence of 35 years in federal prison.
The investigation in this case was conducted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Orange County, which includes the following agencies: the Anaheim Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Secret Service, IRS – Criminal Investigation, the City of Orange Police Department, the Irvine Police Department, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Orange County Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory, the United States Attorney’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General provided significant assistance in the investigation and at trial.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Judith A. Heinz and Deirdre Z. Eliot of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section, and Julius J. Nam of the General Crimes Section, with substantial assistance from Trial Attorney Michael Dittoe of the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section.
Tracy Webb, Director of External Affairs
United States Attorney’s Office – Central District of California
How two police shootings of black men sent Tulsa and Charlotte in different directions
by Jaweed Kaleem and Kristi Eaton
The recent fatal police shootings of two black men spurred soul-searching across the nation but drew vastly different reactions from the cities in which they took place.
In Tulsa, Okla., on Thursday, a group of 50 demonstrators was preparing to march when people suddenly started cheering. "Have some ice cream!” activist Shay White told demonstrators from a microphone. The officer who shot Terence Crutcher had just been charged with manslaughter. White told everyone to go home to rest, and the crowd quickly obliged.
At the same time, more than 1,000 miles away in Charlotte, N.C., marchers were just getting started. They attempted to take over a highway when police in riot gear hit them with tear gas.
"We want the tape!" they shouted, demanding that police release the video of Keith Lamont Scott's death.
Both cities have a fraught history with race and policing. But Tulsa, the more segregated of the two, has attempted reforms in recent years and embraced transparency in dealing with the community after a shooting.
Charlotte, on the other hand, is still reeling from an incident in September 2013, when a white police officer fatally shot Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed 24-year-old black man, with 10 bullets after he crashed his car in a neighborhood a few miles from where Scott died.
A jury deadlocked in the trial last year and the dead man's family settled a civil lawsuit with the city for $2.25 million. Police have faced criticism for being slow to implement the racial bias training and community outreach they promised after the shooting.
In Tulsa, clergy-led vigils followed Crutcher's shooting, with the city's police chief vowing to “do better.” Within two days, video of his death was released to Crutcher's family, who watched it with black pastors and elected officials. At one point, the chief consoled a family member who couldn't endure the footage.
Police publicly released video clips a day later, and charges were filed less than a week after the shooting.
In Charlotte, protests left businesses looted and a 26-year-old protester dead. Hundreds came into the streets of downtown as the National Guard patrolled with rifles.
Police showed Scott's family video of the shooting two days after his death, but vowed not to release footage to the public despite family demands. The police chief said he was against “full transparency” and suggested charges — if any — would be pressed only after a protracted investigation.
He relented to pressure four days after Scott's death, releasing inconclusive tapes that further fueled anger on the streets and demands from demonstrators for more evidence. The officer who shot Scott is on leave. The city-imposed curfew was lifted Sunday.
"What [was] there to hide? Why did this happen in Tulsa and not here?” said the Rev. Rodney Courtney. “We look and we wonder.” Courtney is an activist and pastor at Neely's Grove AME Zion Church in Gastonia, outside Charlotte.
Marq Lewis, who helped organize protests in Tulsa, said the release of the police video there quickly eased building anger. Lewis praised the Tulsa Police Department, saying officers provided protection for demonstrators. “That a lot of times tears down the tension,” said Lewis, president of the grass-roots group We the People Oklahoma, referring to the group's cooperation with officers and the release of the tape.
In Charlotte, there was disdain even among community groups that have worked with police. "To the police chief whom we had worked with very closely in the past: Shame on you," Corine Mack, president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP branch, said during a blistering news conference last week with black leaders.
Oklahoma passed a law in 2015 that allows for the release of body camera video, with exceptions for footage that depicts a death unless it was caused by a law enforcement officer. In North Carolina, a law will go into effect in October that prevents police from releasing such videos unless they are ordered to by a judge.
The Rev. Traci Blackmon, a United Church of Christ pastor from Ferguson, Mo., who was on the front lines there after the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown, said both cities had learned from the social movement that has grown around police shootings but had diverged in their reactions.
"What I see is the consequence of seeing this play out in Ferguson, in Baltimore, in Chicago, in Texas. You have quicker responses by people who now come together," said Blackmon, who met over the weekend with black clergy including Courtney to plan the launch of a Commission on Reconciliation and Equity.
"I don't give the kudos to charge an officer with manslaughter when it's murder, but it is a step forward from what we have had in the past," Blackmon said.
There were also significant differences in what the videos displayed. The footage of the Tulsa shooting clearly shows Crutcher had his hands up and that he had no gun; the video of Scott's shooting doesn't make it clear whether he had a gun and shows his hands at his side. But reaction to the shootings varied before the public or families had seen police evidence.
In Tulsa, community members credited clergy in keeping demonstrations peaceful before video footage was released, while protests in Charlotte were initially less organized and erupted into riots hours after Scott's death.
Though action in both cities was dominated by locals, the Charlotte protests also attracted a handful of high-profile activists from California, Missouri, South Carolina and other states.
Courtney, the North Carolina pastor, suggested that greater numbers of people may have protested in Charlotte because the city has a larger African American population and more black-run institutions. Among its 800,000 people, 34% are black and 44% are white.
The city has one of the fastest-growing poverty rates in the country, which is largely concentrated in poor black neighborhoods on its west and east sides, fueling a larger sense of inequality that was on display at the protests. But those trends don't “explain or excuse violence,” said Courtney, noting that police in riot gear and memories of other recent police shootings made for a volatile climate.
The city of Tulsa, with 400,000 residents, is 15% black and 57% white, and has its share of controversy over policing. Black residents largely live on the city's north side, where Crutcher died.
The scars of violent 1921 race riots linger, and activists said a collective memory of them may have made protesters more hesitant to express themselves through property damage. The 1921 violence began after accusations spread that a black teen had assaulted a white teen, and a white mob burned 1,100 businesses and homes in a black neighborhood. As many as 300 people died.
Activists have criticized the city's police, saying they have shifted in recent decades from a community policing model. Crutcher's shooting came nearly five months after a Tulsa County volunteer deputy was sentenced to four years in prison on a manslaughter charge for shooting and killing Eric Harris, an unarmed black man, during an undercover operation in 2015. The white reserve deputy said he mistakenly reached for his gun instead of his Taser.
Small rallies have continued in Tulsa, where some residents have pressed for murder charges against the officer who shot Crutcher.
Nancy La Vigne, director of the Justice Policy Center at the Washington-based Urban Institute, said the contrasts between the two cities boiled down to the “difference between being open and transparent and not.”
“You can see for yourself,” La Vigne said. “It's stunning."
Real community policing
by R. Allen Hayes
As any responsible police official will tell you, police enforce the law but they don't necessarily keep order. Peace and order are mostly maintained by voluntary compliance with the law due to personal values and by community norms which discourage anti-social behavior. The police become involved when a few individuals decide to violate the community's peace, but overall compliance is a collective effort.
That having been said, it is vital police gain and maintain the trust of the community. If they are viewed like an “occupying army” who don't respect the community or have its best interests at heart, then they won't get the support they need to enforce the law, even though the citizens themselves may desperately want a more peaceful, orderly community. The use of excessive force by the police, or perceived discriminatory application of the laws, prevent the bonds of trust from being established.
Across the nation and the world, programs labeled “community policing” have been implemented. Some of these are mere window dressing, designed to take the heat off public officials without really changing police/community relationships. However, many programs have been effective in breaking down barriers between the community and the police and enabling them to pursue a common goal of public safety.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to study community policing in Northern Ireland, where the strained relationships between Catholics and the police resemble those between African-Americans and the police here in the U.S. As part of the peace process, they implemented a comprehensive program of community involvement in policing, including neighborhood committees that held frequent meetings with the police. They appeared to be making progress in breaking down some of their historic distrust.
There are two important characteristics of successful programs. First, the police make a serious effort to change the values and behavior of officers on the street so they don't perpetuate mistrust. Unless this street level culture is addressed, it is hard to move forward. Second, citizens need to commit a large amount of time and effort to the hard work of jointly achieving public safety with the police. A lot of people complain about “too many meetings” but believe me, it takes a lot of them to make community policing work.
I greatly appreciate Mayor Quentin Hart's efforts to resolve issues that prevent effective policing in our diverse community. I am hoping he and Chief Dan Trelka can move ahead in creating a truly effective police/community partnership, one that respects the needs and perspectives of all sides. Community policing is more than having MacGruff, the crime dog, show up at neighborhood picnics. It involves both the police and the community rolling up their sleeves and seriously working together.
NY police ditch squad cars for foot patrols to bridge community divisions
Newburgh's push to exit squad cars for more frequent foot patrols is part of an effort to bridge the divide between poor urban communities and officers
by Michael Virtanen
NEWBURGH, N.Y. — Two officers wearing bulletproof vests walk block after block through one of the toughest neighborhoods of this small city that has earned an oversized reputation for violence, with 55 shootings last year.
Nearly every third house they pass is boarded up. Others are strewn with trash. Some young men sitting on stoops give hard stares. But the officers keep moving, talking to dozens of residents as they pass.
"Where've you been? I've been worried about you." ''What's up, man?" ''Did you go to school today?"
Older residents seem happy to see them. Some ask them to stick around. Young children, herded by their mothers, wave and smile.
"You get more by being friendly than by being miserable," Officer Jeff Perez said.
Newburgh's push to exit squad cars for more frequent foot patrols is part of an effort in the state's violent crime hotspots to bridge the divide between poor urban communities and law officers suspected of picking unfairly on minorities. And it comes at a time when police killings of minority suspects anywhere — most recently in Columbus, Ohio; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Charlotte, North Carolina — have the ability to create tensions on the street everywhere.
"It's affecting us. Things halfway across the country. It's crazy," said Officer Chris Tabachnick, Perez's partner on the foot patrol.
The foot patrols were done in pairs for safety, even before recent events, Lt. Richard Carrion said.
"There was a time in society they were hurting themselves and we were just the police," Perez said. "In this day in society, police are targets."
With about 28,000 people in nearly 4 square miles, this city 70 miles north of New York City consistently has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the state. Including the 55 shootings, it recorded four murders, 19 rapes, 128 robberies and 261 aggravated assaults last year.
Newburgh's 85-officer department shared a small part of the state's $13.2 million grants this year aimed at reducing violent crime, money that went to 20 police departments in 17 counties. One key emphasis of the 3-year-old program is ensuring that interactions between officers and individuals are respectful, fair and perceived that way.
"It's the face-to-face contact, meeting people as people on equal terms," said Michael Green, executive deputy commissioner of the state's Division of Criminal Justice Services, which administers the grants. "It's hard to do that with a police car."
At a bodega at the end of their route, Tabachnick pointed out a man whose brother was killed in a confrontation with police a few years ago and threatened revenge. And there was another who had been shot at but refused to say anything to police because he is skeptical of them.
Larry Williams, a retired warehouse worker sitting on a stoop by his house, bantered with Perez, who met him with a fist bump.
"I enjoy them," he said of the officers. "I don't know about the rest of the people."
Patrolling chronic "hotspots" is one of four "evidence-based approaches" the grants fund, this one aimed building trust in communities where the large majority of people aren't criminals, Green said. Another is "focused deterrence," putting more attention on chronic offenders.
Some past approaches, such as "zero tolerance" for minor violations, had unintended consequences of making some people in high-crime communities feel police were just looking for an excuse to pick on them.
While the results in Newburgh will take time to determine, they are already clear elsewhere, according to David Kennedy, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
He heads the National Network for Safe Communities, working with Newburgh and other cities to reduce gun violence and homicides through specific strategies with statistical backing.
"We know in a very solid way ... as perceptions of legitimacy, especially the legitimacy of the police, go down, particularly in troubled neighborhoods, crime, including violent crime, goes up," Kennedy said. "That is a measureable and measured phenomenon."
Kennedy said most violent crime is caused by less than 1 percent of people in chronic hotspots, particular street corners and blocks, not whole neighborhoods, where most people believe in the law.
"They very, very much want safety and security," he said.
Neighborhood crime unit proposed for SFPD
by Jonah Owen Lamb
A proposal to create a special neighborhood crime fighting unit within the San Francisco Police Department will go before voters in November.
Supporters say Proposition R will act as an accountability tool to make sure police are addressing property crimes as well as violent crimes.
“Prop. R is fundamentally a community policing measure,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener, adding the measure will ensure the department commits resources to crimes such as vandalism, bike thefts, auto break-ins and burglaries.
Wiener, who sponsored Prop. R, said it will require that 3 percent of the department be assigned to such a unit.
“We insist that you push some of these officers into the neighborhoods to deal with some of these low level crimes,” he said.
While While the language of the proposition admits that most crime is down, it notes that property crime remains an issue in many lower crime areas that don't have as much police presence as areas with high crime.
Wiener said the measure would not micromanage police, with whom he worked on the measure's language, but simply alters some staffing in the department and involves the community in creating plans to fight crime.
“With all respect to the Police Department, they don't get to make all the decisions on public safety in San Francisco,” he said, noting that the police are responsible to the elected representatives of The City.
But not everyone thinks the measure would achieve what it sets out to address.
Jeremy Pollock, an aide to Supervisor John Avalos who both oppose the measure, has filed a lawsuit against the measure.
Pollow also wrote in a streetsblog.org editorial that the measure is poorly thought out and will not achieve its purported ends.
“[Prop. R] is a poorly conceived policy,” wrote Pollock. “I fully support SFPD increasing its focus on foot patrols and community policing. But Prop. R will assign 60 officers to what is called a ‘Neighborhood Crime Unit' that won't be assigned to neighborhood police stations? — ?they would be a centralized unit based out of SFPD's Mission Bay Headquarters.
He added, “It's totally unrealistic to expect 60 cops (out of a department with nearly 2,000 officers) to do all that and walk foot patrols in every neighborhood!”
The measure needs at least 51 percent of the votes to pass.
Why the Charlotte OIS video shouldn't be released
Calls for police use of force transparency overlook the real risk to public safety personnel by releasing the video
by Heather R. Cotter
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney's decision to delay the release of the OIS video is the subject of current debate. The officers on scene declared Keith Lamont Scott had a gun and the public is saying that he had a book. It is possible he had both in his possession. The fact of the matter is that we do not know, but in time we will know the totality of the circumstances.
Several law enforcement officers, the family of the victim, members of the community and the media are openly discussing that transparency by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department will resolve the unrest. Transparency is being narrowly defined as showing the video footage of the incident.
CMPD is being broadly transparent by keeping the media and the public updated on their actions since the incident occurred. The current calls for transparency are conveniently overlooking the real risk to public safety posed by the release of the video in the current climate and protecting the public and the emergency responders is the Putney's primary responsibility.
While there are a number of reasons behind the Putney's informed decision, here are two reasons why I believe the Putney's call is the right one.
1. Limited viewing during an active investigation
Tuesday's incident is an open investigation. In a press conference Thursday, Putney said that he is only showing the video of the OIS to the family of the slain man. While public outcry and pressure from the media to release the video is worthy of leadership deliberation, I respect the Chief's decision to keep the video guarded during an active investigation of an incident that occurred only a few days ago.
2. Right now, restoring order is paramount
The risk of increased rioting is a serious matter for Putney to factor. There are a number of steps that need to be taken before any evidence should be released. Protesters are highly adaptive and unpredictable during civil unrest and Putney's decision to hold off the release of the video may help the city restore order before things get worse. Charlotte is already in a state of emergency and releasing the video can potentially result in additional havoc and put bystanders and officers in unnecessary danger. During civil unrest, the city is likely factoring in their resources, from force protection and interoperability to equipment and critical infrastructure assessments such as hospitals and telecommunications. That takes time and careful evaluation.
Consequence management is in the public's and city's best interest. Releasing the video too soon will conjure more emotions and unpredictable behavior and may impact the agency's investigation. Community and officer safety is a more important and urgent matter than releasing the video.
Putney's decision to delay publicly releasing the video is a responsible one, regardless of whether it may put to rest speculation about the nature of the shooting. It's too hard to predict the response of an angry crowd or expect a rational reaction. In time, it is likely that the video of the OIS will be released, but the time is not now.
About the author
Heather is the Senior Editor of PoliceOne and CorrectionsOne. She has been working with law enforcement and public safety professionally and personally for over 15 years. She understands that although agencies have similar operations and missions, every agency is unique when it comes to their standard operating procedures, business requirements, and communities they serve.
Prior to joining Praetorian Digital, Heather worked as a consultant to several state and federal agencies. She also spent a few years working at the IACP. In her spare time, she volunteers at the International Public Safety Association. Heather earned her Master's degree from Arizona State University and her Bachelor's at Indiana University, both in Criminology. Heather currently calls Arizona home.