October, 2016 - Week 3
Waves of cyber attacks hit Netflix, Spotify, Twitter
by Eli Blumenthal and Elizabeth Weise
SAN FRANCISCO — At least two successive waves of online attacks blocked multiple major websites Friday, at times making it impossible for many users on the East Coast to access Twitter, Spotify, Netflix, Amazon, Tumblr and Reddit.
The first attacks appear to have begun around 7:10 am Friday, then resolved towards 9:30 am, but then a fresh wave began.
The cause was a large-scale distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) against Internet performance company Dyn that blocked user access to many popular sites standstill.
Dyn reported the sites going down at around 11:10 a.m. UTC, or roughly 7:10 a.m. ET, posting on its website that it "began monitoring and mitigating a DDoS attack against our Dyn Managed DNS infrastructure."
In an update posted at 8:45 a.m. ET, the company confirmed the attack, noting that "this attack is mainly impacting US East and is impacting Managed DNS customers in this region. Our Engineers are continuing to work on mitigating this issue."
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the Department of Homeland Security was “monitoring the situation" but that “at this point I don't have any information about who may be responsible for this malicious activity.”
Amazon, whose web service AWS hosts many of the web's popular destinations including Netflix, also reported East Coast issues around the same time. In an update posted at 9:36 a.m. ET it said that it had "been resolved and the service is operating normally."
Amazon noted that it was suffering from a "hostname" issue and it was not immediately clear if it was related to the DDoS attack Dyn received.
Denial of service attacks are when someone, or a group of people, floods a particular site or service with large amounts of fake traffic in an attempt to overwhelm the system and take it offline. It was not immediately clear who initiated Friday's attack or why.
A post on Hacker News first identified the attack and named the sites that were affected. Several sites, including Spotify and GitHub, took to Twitter this morning to post status updates once the social network was back online.
Uh oh, we're having some issues right now and investigating. We'll keep you updated!
— Spotify Status (@SpotifyStatus) October 21, 2016
The upstream DNS incident has been resolved. We continue to monitor our systems while they deliver a backlog of webhook events.
— GitHub Status (@githubstatus) October 21, 2016
Twitter users similarly took to the service to keep lists of which sites were down and comment on the situation. The term DDoS quickly vaulted to among the top of the site's list of "Trending Topics" in the United States.
Websites that went down b/c of this morning's DDoS attack include:
— NUFF$AID (@nuffsaidNY) October 21, 2016
DDoS attack this morning takes out Reddit, Twitter & Spotify. Work productivity increases by 300%
— Anubis8 (@Anubis8) October 21, 2016
"DDoS attack this morning takes out Reddit, Twitter & Spotify," wrote user @Anubis8. "Work productivity increases by 300%."
Anyone else having a whole lot of trouble with sites loading properly this morning? Paypal is down, Twitter was down, Netflix half loading.
— Emmy Caitlin (@emmycaitlin) October 21, 2016
"Anyone else having a whole lot of trouble with sites loading properly this morning?," tweeted Emmy Caitlin. "Paypal is down, Twitter was down, Netflix half loading."
Looks like Twitter is down again.....now 1 billion people won't know what I had for breakfast.
— Ben duPont (@BenjaminduPont) October 21, 2016
How the attack works
Dyn provides DNS service, effectively an Internet address book for companies and that's what's being attacked said Steve Grobman, chief technology officer for Intel Security.
DNS stands for Domain Name Servers. These are computers that contain databases of URLs and the Internet Protocol addresses they represent.
"If you go to a site, say www.yahoo.com, your browser needs to know what the underlying Internet address that's associated with that URL is. DNS is the service that does that conversion,” said Grobman.
For example, the IP address for yahoo.com is 126.96.36.199.
The attack is on the Dyn server that contains that address book. Dyn provides that service to multiple Internet companies, so when someone types in twitter.com or tumblr.com or Spotify.com, via a complex series of jumps the address book is able to tell their browser which numerical IP address to look at.
The DDoS attack floods that server with illegitimate requests, so many that very few real requests can get through. The user gets a message that the server is not available. Service is intermittent because a few requests are sometimes still able to go through.
In addition, many sites keep cached address books their computers can refer to. However those caches always have a time limit on them and when that “time to live” expires, they must go back to the DNS server to confirm the IP address is valid. If the DNS server is unavailable, a site that was working could suddenly stop being available, said Grobman.
Member of Kansas 'Crusaders' group tipped off FBI before they planned bombings on Somali immigrants
by The Associated Press
WICHITA, Kan. — An anti-Muslim militia group in Kansas calling itself "The Crusaders" first came to the government's attention when one of its members, alarmed by the heightening talk of violence, contacted FBI agents and became a confidential source, prosecutors said.
The new details came Thursday in a government court filing in a case at an apartment complex where 120 Somali immigrants live in the western Kansas meatpacking town of Garden City. The government wrote that the men, two of whom are due in court Friday and the third Monday, should stay behind bars until trial because they pose a "substantial danger" to the community.
Patrick Stein, 47; Gavin Wright, 51; and Curtis Allen, 49, are all charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. They were arrested Friday in what the government says was a foiled plot to attack the apartment complex, where one unit is used as a mosque, on Nov. 9 — the day after the election. Prosecutors also said the men were planning other actions, and that one man was willing to kill another's girlfriend to protect the conspiracy.
Public defender Melody Brannon, who represents Allen, declined comment. Attorneys for the other two men did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the government's latest filing.
The FBI monitored the group for months and as attack plans became more specific, the informant introduced an undercover FBI agent to the group under the ruse that he could provide the requested explosives and weapons.
When Allen was arrested Oct. 11 for allegedly beating his girlfriend, local authorities learned about his involvement with the Crusaders and the group's attack plans. Stein and Wright were arrested three days later.
The government's filing also documents an arsenal of firearms, ammunition, bomb-making materials and other items that were found during searches of the men's homes, vehicles and a storage unit. Agents found aerial photographs in Stein's vehicle depicting what appear to be apartment complexes marked with large x's, as well as an aerial photo of a church and a Burmese mosque.
In support of the argument that the men pose a flight risk, prosecutors also noted Allen has failed twice to appear for proceedings in misdemeanor cases for domestic battery and a traffic offense. Stein, who has felony convictions for attempted burglary and attempted criminal damage, has failed to show up four times for court proceedings. Wright has no criminal history.
FBI director to cadets: Community policing will help close chasm
by John Barry
NEW LONDON — FBI Director James Comey told U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadets he has made it his mission to help close a chasm between members of law enforcement and people of color.
“The chasm is getting wider and wider,” Comey said in an hour-long address Thursday to the nearly 1,000 cadets. “Everyone in law enforcement has to know that history, has to own that history.”
The chasm can be narrowed by community policing, the director said. “It's hard to hate up close,” he said. “We must see the heart that is across from us.”
In addition, he said, the FBI needs to collect nationwide data on police shootings.
“We have failed to collect that data,” Comey said. “We need a national picture of what's happening here. In its absence, we're driven by anecdotes.”
In response to a question from a cadet, Comey said police officers need to get out of their cars and good people need to leave their homes and tell police about crimes they may have witnessed. But, he said, police chiefs have told him recently the opposite is often true.
He said police chiefs need to encourage their officers to get out into the community anyway.
“If you police well, you will be back, even if it ends in tragedy,” Comey said.
He said the FBI includes in its training to prevent racial bias the study of the bureau's 1960s wiretapping of civil rights leader Martin Luther King to illustrate “the danger in falling love with your own righteousness,” Comey said.
The FBI director spoke at the invitation of the academy's chief diversity officer, Aram deKoven.
He praised the cadets for choosing law enforcement careers.
“It will not make you wealthy — except in all the ways that matter most,” he said. In addition to its search-and-rescue job, the Coast Guard is responsible for enforcing federal laws in U.S. waters.
“May people be inspired by you and follow you into these seats,” he said.
Comey also strongly defended the FBI's investigation of Hillary Clinton's email use while she was secretary of state. “The FBI is honest, competent and independent,” he said.
Comey previously said while Clinton was “extremely careless,” she did nothing criminal.
If someone working for the FBI had done what Clinton did, Comey said, they would face severe discipline, including possibly being suspended or even fired or losing their security clearance.
"I am certain you would not be prosecuted,” Comey said. “It was actually not a cliffhanger.”
Body cameras alone can't improve community policing, but they're worth having
“Everything is being audio and visually recorded.”
Those words now accompany 911 calls and traffic stops in Frederick following the rollout of a new program this month that equips 18 members of the city's police force with body cameras while on duty.
With the addition of the cameras, Frederick becomes just the latest jurisdiction in the United States to have turned to the devices as a way to improve community policing and help ensure that police departments remain more accountable to the communities they serve and are more transparent in their actions.
And there is evidence they work. According to The Prosecutor, a publication of the Texas District & County Attorneys Association, a yearlong study on the use of body cameras by police in Rialto, California, showed that shifts of officers who had been assigned body cameras experienced half the number of use-of-force incidents as shifts of officers who did not use cameras.
That makes sense, say advocates of police body cams. People, including the police, behave differently when they know they're being watched. Indeed, when police wore cameras, every “incident of physical contact was initiated by a member of the public,” not by the police, according to Shira Scheindlin, who wrote about the Rialto study.
Police officers report that the cameras do help de-escalate encounters with the public, especially since footage obtained from them can be used as evidence in criminal prosecutions. They can also help weed out false reports of mistreatment by police officers. According to the Rialto study, the number of citizen grievances against the police dropped 90 percent one year after body cameras began being used. Cameras can both help to back up a police officer's account of an incident, and to provide a memory check in filling out a police report.
It's worth noting that of the six fatal shootings by Charlotte, North Carolina, police officers after the use of body cams was adopted by that police department, five of the incidents involved officers who were not wearing cameras — including the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in September.
The shooting of Scott, along with police-involved deaths of African-Americans by police officers around the country — 194 in 2016 alone — underscores the need for relations between police and the communities they serve to improve. And while there is little evidence that police target black Americans, they are 2.5 times as likely to be shot by police as white Americans are, according to an analysis of a database compiled by The Washington Post.
This reality makes the apology this month by the president of the 27,000-member International Association of Chiefs of Police an important overture toward resolving what he called a “deep-seated, generational mistrust” between police and the black community.
Speaking at a meeting in San Diego, Terrence Cunningham, the chief of police in Wellesley, Massachusetts, acknowledged that the relationship between the police and the black community has been beset with problems, not the least of which stemmed from the historical enforcement by police of deliberately discriminatory laws against blacks. Cunningham called law enforcement the “face of oppression for far too many of our fellow citizens” and the need to fix relations with the black community law enforcement's “fundamental issue.”
The use of body cameras is an important investment, but body cameras alone can't change attitudes. Police departments must also dedicate time and resources toward anti-bias and sensitivity training, for minority communities and other populations, especially people who are emotionally or developmentally disabled.
And let's face some hard facts. Too many police shootings happen because officers understand that they face a citizenry that is too often armed. In a country that has a nearly 1-to-1 ratio of people to firearms, it should surprise no one that police shootings occur with the frequency that they do. Laws that allow the open carrying of firearms, that weaken concealed-carry regulations and that make military-style weapons readily available make the job of the police harder, endangering officers and the public alike.
Until this country is determined to overcome its fetishistic relationship with guns, police body cameras will do little more than document the carnage.
Shakopee schools drop D.A.R.E. for own policing program
The district looked to condense the program and develop lessons that moved beyond drugs and alcohol, said Nika Summer district teaching and learning supervisor.
by Beatrice Dupuy
Shakopee public school officials are daring to break away from the pack to pilot their own drug prevention and community policing initiative.
Shakopee administrators swapped out D.A.R.E., the long-running school standard for substance abuse education, in favor of their own program, COPS, Community Outreach by Police for Students.
“We just wanted to really build a program relevant to the needs of our community,” said Nika Summer district teaching and learning supervisor.
The district made the move to drop D.A.R.E. in the 2014-15 school year following talks about redesigning middle school courses to fit with the new high school's academy-based model in which students take classes aligned with their interests.
At the time, a large portion of the sixth-grade health class was centered on D.A.R.E. Summer said the district wanted to condense the program and develop lessons that moved beyond drugs and alcohol.
The program developed in collaboration with administrators, teachers and police will integrate “courage is cool” as its underlying message throughout the COPS curriculum.
Starting this January, fifth-grade students will be encouraged to have the courage to make decisions to influence others positively, while sixth-graders will learn about resisting peer pressure and knowing the dangers of social media. Officers also will work with seventh-graders on the courage to say “No” and how to avoid risk. Unlike D.A.R.E., where school resource officers focused on fifth-grade students, Shakopee officers will have the chance to interact with fifth- through seventh-grade students.
“We are interacting with students at different age levels and helping them identify good behaviors vs. bad,” Shakopee Sgt. Angela Trutnau said.
Moving beyond D.A.R.E.
Shakopee is not the first metro school district to scrap its D.A.R.E. program. Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan dropped the program in 2010, then brought in Steps to Respect, a bullying prevention program.
“The biggest change is obviously having that relationship with a D.A.R.E. officer within our building and having fifth-grade students work closely with a police officer,” Rosemount Elementary School Principal Tom Idstrom said.
Over the years, schools have abandoned the program to save money and to launch their own programs.
D.A.R.E. has revised its curriculum nine times to meet the changing needs of schools. It even has a new name, “Keeping It Real.” The program now includes bullying, Internet safety, sex trafficking and community policing.
The new program is designed to be customized, said Kathi Ackerman, executive director of Minnesota D.A.R.E.
“The one thing D.A.R.E has never been criticized on is the fact that there is a relationship between a cop and a kid,” Ackerman said.
“We are finding a lot of the departments that dropped D.A.R.E … have no relationship between their communities and police.”
Ackerman said some school officials now want D.A.R.E. back at their schools, including Duluth. Ackerman is in early talks with Duluth on how to fit the program into its middle school curriculum.
“With Duluth, we are working on training their school resource officers to be D.A.R.E. officers,” Ackerman said. “Then they are not just arresting officers. They are forming relationships with the kids.”
Districts such as Minneapolis and St. Paul are tweaking their student-school officer relationships. Under new measures in St. Paul, officers are hosting monthly meetings with students on school and community issues.
Shakopee's COPS program also is emphasizing the relationship between students and school resource officers.
Summer said officers previously involved in D.A.R.E. had to go through intensive training, time that school resource officers can spend with students.
“They are part of the community,” Summer said. “It is not just an officer that is there when someone is doing something bad.”
American Policing: Restoring Trust, Building Community
by Vincent J. Bove
During the last few years, there have been incidents, controversies, and protests throughout America that must serve as a clarion call to renew, restore, and rejuvenate police-community unity.
A policing incident in any community can spark intense repercussions throughout the nation. Any breakdown of trust between community and police demands an urgent, unwavering, and complete dedication to remedy the problem.
Police-community collaboration will only be possible when leadership builds bridges of trust.
These ideals will become reality when human contact, with respect as the foundation, is enhanced between police and the community.
Respect is the heart of community policing. This virtue must be complemented by improving use of force standards, enhanced training and certification initiatives, transparency and accountability, and a renaissance of ethical values in policing and throughout all of society.
Community Policing: Cultivating Human Contact
Modern technology can be a great asset to life when properly utilized.
But this technology has a downside when it replaces human contact. Human contact is essential for a healthy person, family, and community. It is also irreplaceable for police-community relations, and must be continually cultivated on the pillars of respect, courtesy, professionalism, and ethical values.
In my presentations for police, educators, students, and community leaders, I often use a graphic slide to emphasize the dramatic technological progress over the last twenty-five years.
We are able to instantly communicate with messages, pictures, documents, and videos and share anywhere on the planet.
Yet, I argue during these presentations that human contact has not improved during this same time-frame. Actually, it may have diminished as we have allowed technological communication to be a substitute for human contact.
This can be witnessed with the deterioration of family life, marriage, parenting, faith-based communities, civility, and community.
American policing has an opportunity to shine and enhance human contact, a critical component of community policing.
Human contact, built on the pillar of respect, must be the heart of policing. It is paramount for building trust and restoring community.
Pro-Police and Pro-Community
Trust and community is the heart of over two years of published works on issues critical to America for the Epoch Times.
Perhaps, these are best summarized by the first and second, of my nine principles, titled “Principles of American Policing.”
These principles, published in the May 1, 2015 edition are as follows:
Being pro-police and pro-community are inseparable, indefatigable, and pre-eminent. Police must at all times remain fully committed to protecting and serving the public through character, ethics, and leadership that is total and wholehearted. Police must be guided by a moral compass that honors the community, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.
Respect must be the heart of the police and it must be unwavering for the profession, colleagues, and community. Respect can only be earned through integrity, accountability, and transparency. These qualities build trust, legitimacy, and collaboration.
The True Heart of American Law Enforcement
On Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, James B. Comey, director of the FBI, spoke at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Annual Conference in San Diego, California.
Since I hold a profound appreciation for the FBI, and admire the leadership of Director Comey, I recommend careful reading of this speech.
Since Director Comey compliments my dedication to police-community unity, memorialized in my articles and speeches, I would like to highlight parts of his speech. His thoughts, paraphrased for the sake of brevity, include the following:
• There is a riptide of challenges for American law enforcement that demands leadership and truth to calm the waters.
• Leadership in policing demands that we know the people we serve and that we are completely dedicated to all the people, all the time.
• Good policing is respectful, disciplined, firm, fair, lawful, and transparent. Good police leaders blend combinations of kindness with toughness, humility with confidence, and decency with determination to deliver results.
• Leaders know the hopes, dreams, disappointments, and pain of black America. They know law enforcement's historical interaction with black America, and that African-Americans, like all Americans, want good policing, essential to safety and prosperity.
• Leaders understand that contemporary police challenges are being multiplied by a false narrative stating “Biased police are killing black men at epidemic rates.”
• True police leaders never give up because they care. They talk to their citizens, elected officials, media, and officers. They are respectful, moral, transparent, and support the mission of their officers who are making a difference, saving lives, and building bridges with community.
• There are bad cops … departments with troubled cultures … people are flawed. Law enforcement is in the spotlight, entrusted with power and authority, and we must accept the spotlight and demand higher standards for ourselves.
• Police officers are overwhelmingly good people … who took exhausting, dangerous jobs because they want to help people. They chose lives of service over self, lives of moral content, because that's who they are.
Although I normally conclude my articles with personal reflections, the final words for this article, from Director Comey's IACP speech, are respectfully reserved for him:
“As we work to close the chasm, we need to show the young people of America what it is like to choose service over self. We need to show them what American law enforcement is really like. Because if they know what we know, they will want to be part of it. And we also need to show the people of America, especially people of color and especially the black community, what we are really like. Because if they see what we see, the chasm will start to close.
“I saw the true heart of American law enforcement in a church in Orlando in June. I went down to have a private meeting with the first responders to the attack at the Pulse nightclub. I wanted to thank them, in person, and privately.
“As I stood looking out at the sea of faces, a hand went up. A man in uniform stood up. He told me his name and then he said, “I'm Jewish.” That confused me, but he went on. “I was one of the first there that night, and as I ran toward the sound of gunfire, at my side was a Muslim officer. We were Jew and Muslim and Christian. We were white and black and Latino and Asian. We ran to help people we didn't know and we didn't care what they looked like. We ran toward the danger because that's who we are, that's what we do. I thought you should know that. I think people should know that.” And then he sat down.
“That is the true heart of law enforcement."
Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. Bove is a recipient of the FBI Director's Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen To Their Cries.” For more information, see www.vincentbove.com
Number of killers hunting cops nationwide has risen
Despite the rising numbers, officers are far more likely to be killed during traffic stops and pursuits, serving warrants, and responding to calls
by Joe Mozingo
The patrol car pulled to the curb on a damp Halloween night in Seattle.
Following behind in an old Datsun 210, Christopher Monfort passed slowly and turned right.
Monfort, 41, had come to this quiet waterfront neighborhood to launch a revolution. He was obsessed with the Constitution, and saw police brutality as a rising tyranny. He equated officers with the Redcoats. And tonight he was out to hunt them with a .223 Kel-Tec assault rifle.
From inside the patrol car, police trainee Britt Sweeney saw a white flash burst like a lightning strike. The top of her head seared in pain as six more shots rang out. Officer Timothy Brenton hadn't fired a shot, and Sweeney soon saw why: He was sitting upright in the driver's seat, with head wounds so grievous she didn't need to check his pulse.
Barely a month later, 40 miles to the south, it happened again: A man walked into a coffee shop and shot four Lakewood Police Department officers dead.
The shootings convulsed the region that fall of 2009, much as the killings this summer of eight police officers in Dallas and Louisiana stunned the nation, and the killings Saturday of two Palm Springs police officers rattled Southern California.
A total of 12 officers have been killed in premeditated ambushes so far this year, two more than the last two years combined, according to FBI statistics.
Police assassins have included a ragtag smattering of white survivalists, black militants, people who identify with the anti-government “sovereign citizen” movement, hard-core criminals who have clashed with law enforcement for much their lives, and a variety of apparently suicidal people who wanted to depart with notoriety.
In two of the most recent ambush attacks against police — in Dallas, where five officers were stalked and killed and nine others were injured in July; and 10 days later in Baton Rouge, where six officers were shot, three of them fatally — the killers were African-American. In Palm Springs, where police say officers were lured into a trap, the suspected gunman is Latino.
Although most police shooters are white males, including Latinos, black men have been responsible for nearly 40 percent of the 232 ambush killings of police officers since 2002, according to a U.S. Department of Justice study last year.
For their portion of the population, black men have ambushed and killed officers at a rate three times that of white men.
Criminologists widely attribute the higher level of violence among African-Americans to entrenched socioeconomic disadvantages and resentment of police.
“High levels of poverty, higher levels of joblessness, neighborhood instability — people moving in and out — these contribute to the racial differences in violent offending, specifically homicide,” said Richard Rosenfeld, criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. “Also, high levels of discontent with the police and the degree with which police patrol their communities in an unbiased way.”
The shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge came at a time of heightened racial unrest over recent police killings of African Americans. They happened just days after the videotaped shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge on July 5 and Philando Castile in Minnesota on July 6.
Micah X. Johnson, a 25-year-old Afghanistan veteran, opened fire on officers at an otherwise peaceful Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas.
The shooter in Baton Rouge was identified as Gavin Eugene Long, 29, an Iraq veteran with a history of espousing violence against white “oppressors.”
In one of the many videos Long had posted, he depicted violence against authorities as part of a David-and-Goliath struggle. “One hundred percent of revolutions, of victims fighting their oppressors, from victims fighting their bullies, 100 percent have been successful through fighting back through bloodshed,” he said.
In Palm Springs, authorities say they are still trying to learn more about what may have motivated John Felix, 26, to put on body armor and grab an assault rifle with an extended magazine and wait for officers to respond to a disturbance call. A gang member who did 18 months in state prison for assault with a deadly weapon, Felix opened fire through a metal security gate, killing Officers Lesley Zerebny, 27, and Jose “Gil” Vega, 63, just as they arrived, authorities say.
“He wanted to gun down police officers because they wore the uniform,” Riverside County Dist. Atty. Michael Hestrin said at a news conference on Wednesday. “He was deliberate in his actions. He attacked the officers for no reason other than they were officers coming to a call.”
In the Seattle case, Monfort had a white mother and estranged black father. He had lived all over the country, and as a boy was the only black person in his town in Indiana.
While he harbored soaring ambitions, talking of attending Harvard Law School, he mostly drove trucks and worked security, before finally getting his bachelor's degree from the University of Washington in 2008 at age 39.
In class, he was a passionate, occasionally vitriolic student who saw himself as a protector of the Constitution, according to court testimony and a Seattle Times profile. He studied the disproportionate number of drug convictions for black people in Washington, and became outraged at a videotape that showed deputies beating up a 15-year-old girl in a holding cell.
King County Prosecuting Attorney John Castleton said Monfort told his friends he wanted to stop such behavior, but he never revealed plans, just frustration. “With Monfort, no one saw it coming,” Castleton said.
By Oct. 22 of 2009, his war began.
He firebombed police cars in a maintenance yard, and left a note referencing the jailhouse beating. Nine days later, Monfort launched his Halloween attack on the two officers in their parked car.
At his trial last year, defense experts argued that Monfort had a delusional disorder that made him believe killing officers was a moral act protected by the Constitution because it would stem police abuse.
Castleton argued that the killer's motivation was simple hatred, and the jury found him guilty of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Maurice Clemmons, the shooter in the second Seattle-area attack that year, didn't come by his hatred through social media or academic studies, but by a life of run-ins with the police. A habitual thief since he was a teenager in Arkansas, Clemmons, who is black, had spent 14 years in prison by age 32. He moved to Washington to start a new life, and worked a series of jobs.
Family members say he had a psychological breakdown in the spring of 2009. He saw himself as Jesus Christ, his wife as Eve and then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy as the devil, according to a book on the case, “The Other Side of Mercy,” by Seattle Times reporters Ken Armstrong and Jonathan Martin. He told people that God was “lining up all his soldiers in the penitentiaries.”
On May 9, he started throwing large rocks through neighbors' windows and then punched and wrestled the deputies who responded. When they finally subdued and arrested him, Clemmons declared: “White people will be killed if they do not right their ways. This will happen in the biblical sense.”
Clemmons was released on bond. If authorities had listened to many of the recorded calls he made in jail, they might have anticipated the violence to come.
“Sometimes it burns me in the chest, man, I have so much hatred for the police,” he told a friend during one call in September, according to Armstrong and Martin's book. “The strategy is gonna go, kill as many of them devils as I can, until I can't kill no more. … I ain't no more catch the cuffs. I'm going to war.”
On Nov. 29, four officers of the Lakewood Police Department lay dead at the Forza Coffee Co. in Parkland, Wash. Clemmons was killed by police at the conclusion of a statewide manhunt three days later.
Ambushes of more than two officers are exceedingly rare, and this was the worst in decades, getting nationwide attention. It had been 16 years since four federal agents were gunned down during a raid of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, but that was during a high-risk tactical situation, not an unprovoked attack.
Most ambush attacks on police are launched by gunmen acting alone, with little pre-planning, according to the 2015 Justice Department study, and despite the rising numbers, police officers are still far more likely to be killed during traffic stops and pursuits, serving search warrants, responding to calls and investigating suspicious activity.
“Premeditated ambushes are extremely rare events,” said George Fachner, a Justice Department researcher who co-wrote the study.
From 2004 to 2013, about 11 officers were killed on average each year in ambushes. While those numbers dropped in 2014, the premeditated attacks began to rise.
The first came that June in Nevada, and it involved a white couple, Jerad and Amanda Miller, who had migrated to Las Vegas from Indiana to start a new life. He was a convicted drug dealer and car thief, disowned by his family, unable to get a job. She was nine years younger, 22, and came to buy his extremist anti-government beliefs, much to the dismay of her parents.
They joined the movement to support Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who had become locked in conflict with the federal government over grazing rights.
Jerad Miller began to write about the need to fight a “tyrant's wrath,” and Amanda watched radical videos with titles such as “When is it OK to Shoot a Cop?”
His views came from an entirely different political constellation than the African-American anger of Monfort, Johnson and Long, and yet they drew a bead on the same target.
On June 8, 2014, the Millers walked into a pizzeria in east Las Vegas and shot two police officers to death. The couple fled to a nearby Wal-Mart, where they shot another man, and were killed themselves as police closed in.
Next hit was Pennsylvania, in the Pocono Mountains two months later. A state trooper stepped out the door of his station and was struck fatally by a .308-caliber rifle shot from the surrounding woods. A second trooper walking in from the parking lot was hit next and managed to crawl to safety inside.
Pennsylvania police launched one of the largest manhunts in state history for the suspect, Eric Frein, a white survivalist and self-trained sniper who had an obsession with the Serbian army and paramilitary groups.
He hid in the woods for seven weeks before he was caught without incident. He awaits trial.
La. officers investigating hit-and-run attacked by mob
Two Port Barre officers investigating a hit-and-run were attacked by residents with "anything they could get their hands on"
by The Advocate
PORT BARRE, La. — Two Port Barre police officers investigating a possible hit-and-run were attacked by residents with a fishing pole, a folding chair and a bicycle -- "anything they could get their hands on," police said in a statement.
KATC-TV reports that a mother, Lybeth Hardy of Port Barre, and her teenage son and daughter were arrested on counts of second-degree battery on a police officer and resisting arrest.
The severity of the officers' injuries was not clear.
"These officers were there to investigate a hit-and-run crash but instead had to fight with a family of all ages, defend their own lives and nearly had to use deadly force, all because of the disrespect and aggressive lifestyle that was taught from parents to children," Port Barre Police Chief Deon Boudreaux said in a statement.
Here is Boudreaux's full statement:
"When I arrived on scene, I was met with disrespect not only from adults but from teenagers and preteen children as well. One of the children took his shirt off and approached me in a combative manner and begin cursing me, using very vulgar language which included derogatory and racist remarks. He done this in front of his mother.
There is a parenting problem when children can stand in the presence of their parents cursing, threatening and assaulting police officers and using a racist terms towards others. These officers were there to investigate a hit-and-run crash but instead had to fight with a family of all ages, defend their own lives and nearly had to use deadly force, all because of the disrespect and aggressive lifestyle that was taught from parents to children. Had back up not arrived, had there been deadlier weapons laying around the yard, an officer, a husband, a father, could've lost his life over a hit and run complaint. A 15-year-old young man could have lost his life had it not been for the compassion and restraint by that police officer.
As I watched the police officers body camera videos, I was proud of the police officers' incredible restraint and professionalism but, I felt disgust towards the mother of those children. To see a whole family of adults and children surrounding police officers cursing and disrespecting them and making threats and then assaulting them with anything they can get their hands on, which included the fishing pole, the folding chair and one young man even picked up a bicycle and struck an officer. It's obvious this mother taught her children to disrespect authority and it could have very well cost her the life of one of her children. I find this very disturbing and disgusting. The lack of respect and lack of self-discipline.''
‘To be white is to be racist, period,' a high school teacher told his class
by Cleve R. lWootson Jr.
The lecture at the Norman, Okla., high school was intended to heal the racial divides, a student said.
The discussion's premise: White people are racist. All of them.
Following that discussion, an Oklahoma teacher is under fire and a high school is mired in the debate about how teachers should inject themselves into controversial conversations about race in the United States.
NBC affiliate KFOR reported on the controversy last week after receiving a recording from an offended student at Norman North High School.
In the recording, the teacher shows a YouTube clip about imperialism. A man in the video uses white-out on a globe to illustrate how European influence spread across the world.
The discussion follows.
In the recording, the teacher asks: “Am I racist? And I say yeah. I don't want to be. It's not like I choose to be racist, but do I do things because of the way I was raised.”
“To be white is to be racist, period,” the teacher says.
The offended student told KFOR in an interview that she felt picked on because she is white. The station didn't name the student or the teacher.
“Half of my family is Hispanic, so I just felt like, you know, him calling me racist just because I'm white. … I mean, where's your proof in that,” she said. “I felt like he was encouraging people to kind of pick on people for being white.”
“You start telling someone something over and over again that's an opinion, and they start taking it as fact,” she said.
As word of the lecture spread, some have criticized the teacher's tactics.
“Why is it okay to demonize one race to children that you are supposed to be teaching a curriculum to,” the girl's father asked in an interview with KFOR.
Students who support the teacher walked out of the high school in protest on Tuesday. Student organizers released a statement that the school district shared with media outlets.
“What has been reported in the news doesn't accurately portray what happened in our philosophy class, nor does it reflect what we believe in at our school,” said a student who organized the demonstration and participated in the lecture but was not identified by the school district. “The information was taken out of context and we believe it is important to have serious and thoughtful discussions about institutional racism in order to change history and promote inclusivity.”
The school district has not said whether the teacher is facing disciplinary action . In a statement, Superintendent Joe Siano said the conversation, while important, could have been handled better.
“Racism is an important topic that we discuss in our schools,” Siano said in the statement emailed to The Washington Post. “While discussing a variety of philosophical perspectives on culture, race and ethics, a teacher was attempting to convey to students in an elective philosophy course a perspective that had been shared at a university lecture he had attended.
“We regret that the discussion was poorly handled. When the district was notified of this concern it was immediately addressed. We are committed to ensuring inclusiveness in our schools.”
Scott Rogers, a former blogger for Conservative Voice, suggested the teacher went too far and told his Twitter followers the educator should be fired.
The incident illustrates the tightrope teachers walk between engaging students in the important issues of the day and staying neutral in a room filled with impressionable youths.
Implicit bias — the belief that we all have unconscious opinions about race, gender and ethnicity that subtly affect our actions — has been discussed in police stations, school rooms and on CNN. The nation has been grappling with the issue as it debates whether officers are more likely to use deadly force against minorities and whether teachers discipline black students more severely.
For teachers, racial bias can be an engaging, relevant civics lesson as much as it is a prescient social issue, educators and experts say. But conversations about race in an educational setting are delicate.
Still, the conversations are happening in schools whether teachers are involved or not.
Over the summer, students at a private school in Florida drew scorn when they had an Instagram debate about which was a more respectful way to use a racial slur for black people. Last month in Montana, two students made national headlines when one wore a shirt that said “White Power” on the front and another's had the word “Redneck” and a picture of the Confederate battle flag.
For Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, teacher Kathleen Melville wrote a blog post titled “Talking With Students About Ferguson and Racism” about the difficulty — and the necessity — of discussing race in U.S. high schools.
“Talking about race is not entirely new to my ninth-grade students, but it's definitely not a comfortable topic, at least not at school. As I get to know my students at the beginning of the year, I notice how they tiptoe around the issue. One student uses the term “white people” and then immediately apologizes to me: “Sorry, Miss. No offense. I mean Caucasian.” Another student mentions the demographics of a neighborhood, saying there are a lot of white people, and someone else responds, ‘Oooh! Don't say that! That's racist!' …
“This work with students does not come easily. The sanctioned curriculum avoids it and many administrators frown on it. But we need schools that give teachers wide latitude to tailor curricula to students' needs.”
2 Killed, 13 Wounded In City Shootings Wednesday
by CBS Chicago
At least two people were killed and 13 more were wounded in shootings Wednesday across the city, according to Chicago Police.
The latest slaying happened at 7:23 p.m. in the Back of the Yards neighborhood on the South Side, where a 39-year-old man was shot in the torso in the 4300 block of South Paulina. He was taken to the University of Illinois Hospital, where he died at 8:02 p.m., according to police and the Cook County medical examiner's office. His name has not yet been released.
At 6:54 p.m. in the South Side Bronzeville neighborhood, 24-year-old Christopher Walters was shot in the shoulder and leg in the 4700 block of South Prairie, authorities said. Walters, who lived in the 6200 block of South Champlain, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:49 p.m.
As of Thursday morning, police could not provide additional details on either homicide.
The day's latest nonfatal shooting happened at 10:34 p.m. in the Little Village neighborhood on the Southwest Side. A 24-year-old man was shot in the ankle in the 2200 block of South Ridgeway, police said. He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where his condition was stabilized. Police said the man would not provide investigators with further details about the shooting.
Less than five minutes earlier, a 22-year-old man was shot in the Marquette Park neighborhood on the Southwest Side. He was walking about 10:30 p.m. in the 7100 block of South Artesian when another male fired shots from a gangway, police said. The man suffered gunshot wounds to the left arm and left calf and was taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where his condition was stabilized. A police source said the man is a documented gang member.
At 10:08 p.m., a 16-year-old boy was walking in the 7500 block of South Loomis in the South Side Gresham neighborhood, when someone in a dark-colored vehicle fired shots in his direction, striking him in the left arm, police said. He was taken to Christ Medical Center, where his condition was stabilized.
Less than 30 minutes before that, a 22-year-old man was shot in the East Garfield Park neighborhood on the West Side. He was driving south at 9:42 p.m. in the 0-100 block of North Homan when someone in another vehicle pulled alongside him and fired shots, police said. He was shot in the right cheek and was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where his condition was stabilized.
At 6:53 p.m. in the West Side Austin neighborhood, someone walked up to a 22-year-old man in a park in the 200 block of South Central and shot him in the leg, police said. He was taken to Mount Sinai, where his condition was stabilized.
About 9:20 a.m. Wednesday morning, someone in a red vehicle fired a bullet that grazed the head of a 28-year-old man who was standing outside in the 3200 block of West Madison in another East Garfield Park neighborhood attack. His condition was stabilized at Mount Sinai, police said.
About 8:30 a.m., a 31-year-old man suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the torso in the 5800 block of West West End, police said. He was dropped off at West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, then transferred to Stroger Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition.
More West Side gunfire hit a 34-year-old woman in the side about 7:45 a.m. in Austin's 700 block of North Laramie, police said. She drove herself to Roseland Community Hospital, where she was listed in good condition.
Earlier, a man was shot while riding in a vehicle on the Bishop Ford Freeway on the Far South Side. Four men were in a vehicle about 1:30 a.m. heading south on I-94 near 111th Street when a black Nissan pulled alongside and someone opened fire, hitting a 22-year-old man in the hand in the back seat, according to Illinois State Police. He was treated at Christ Medical Center.
About 1:15 a.m., a black SUV pulled up to a 28-year-old man sitting in a vehicle in the 7300 block of South Yale in the South Side Englewood neighborhood, and someone inside it shot him in the hip, buttocks and leg, police said. His condition was stabilized at Stroger.
Just before 1 a.m. in the Washington Park neighborhood on the South Side, someone walked up to a 27-year-old man in the 5700 block of South King Drive and tried to rob him, police said. The robber shot him in the hand when he ran away. He took himself to the University of Chicago Medical Center in good condition.
A Southwest Side drive-by shooting wounded a 24-year-old man about 12:45 a.m. while he was walking in the 4600 block of South Cicero , police said. His condition was stabilized at Mount Sinai.
Wednesday's first shooting happened about 12:30 a.m. in Park Manor on the South Side, where two people walked up to a 19-year-old man in the 100 block of West 72nd Street, asked him which gang he was in, then shot him in the leg, wrists and shoulder when he said he wasn't affiliated, police said. His condition was stabilized at Stroger.
Eleven people were shot, three fatally, in attacks across the city on Tuesday.
Does Adding Police Reduce Crime? In Chicago, It's Complicated
Professor Wesley Skogan has studied police in Chicago for over 30 years and says the department's "traditional culture" needs a change.
by Jamal Andress
In August, Chicago had its most violent month in two decades with 90 murders in 31 days — pushing the number of homicides in the city past the totals in Los Angeles and New York combined.
"Policing here certainly needs a concerted attack on its traditional culture ... pulling down what we call the blue curtain of silence between them and the community," said Northwestern University professor Wesley Skogan.
In response, Chicago police plan to beef up the department by about 7 percent, hiring nearly one thousand police officers, but the jury is still out on whether that's the best way to combat crime.
"The mayor delivered for us; over the next two years we'll be adding 970 sworn positions," Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said.
Skogan has studied crime and police in the city of Chicago for more than 30 years and has studied the trends of police and crime in the city.
"For every 10 percent increase in police, violent crime goes down about 5 percent," Skogan said. "In the world of problems responding to policy, that's not shabby."
Some have estimated the cost to add these officers will be over $130 million in the first year alone — which has caused many to question what other antiviolence measures that money could pay for.
"This is a highly debated point ... that maybe police is not the best crime prevention use of the money," Skogan said.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said the hiring surge will consist of 516 officers, 92 field-training officers, 200 detectives, 112 sergeants and 50 lieutenants. He didn't mention the community policing program, known as CAPS, which stands for the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy.
CAPS lets officers work directly with the community to solve problems. The program has things like regular community meetings, which aim to build trust and understanding Social Issues" data-category-name="U.S."
between the police department and the people it serves.
"For Chicago, I think my No. 1 priority is actually not to spend it on other stuff," Skogan said. "... If you hired a thousand officers and told me that 200 of them were going to work on community policing, I'd be a happy guy."
Skogan worked with Chicago's community policing program and said at one time it was one of the best in the country. Back in 1999, the program had a $12.5 million budget, about 1.4 percent of CPD's total budget. In 2016, that budget sits at $3.9 million — about 0.3 percent of the overall budget.
"In the second half of the 1990s and early 2000s, people came from all over the world to look at Chicago's program," Skogan said. "... They were great in that day, and then they lost it."
Skogan says something needs to change not just in Chicago, but also nationwide.
"Policing here certainly needs a concerted attack on its traditional culture," he said. "... There needs to be an attack on the culture which is a very insular, very isolated from the community, very isolated from the mainstream of policing. ... They're not alone in that. You could probably come to that judgment for a big majority of police departments."
Texas deputy injured, suspect shot during traffic stop
A Dallas County sheriff's deputy shot and wounded a suspect who ran over his foot late Wednesday afternoon in South Dallas
by Claire Z. Cardona and Caleb Downs
DALLAS — A Dallas County sheriff's deputy shot and wounded a man late Wednesday afternoon in South Dallas, officials said.
The shooting occurred after deputies attempted to serve two warrants about 4:30 p.m. at a Church's Chicken. The man recognized the deputies and fled in a vehicle, Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Melinda Urbina said.
A short chase ended at the intersection of Lagow and Copeland streets, less than a half-mile away. The deputies got out of their vehicle, ran up to the man's vehicle and told him to get out, Urbina said.
The man put his car in reverse, running over a deputy's foot, and the deputy fired his weapon, striking the man an unknown number of times, Urbina said.
It's unclear whether the man had a firearm.
The man drove off and crashed a block away into the iron fence around a house at Lagow and Marshall streets. He took off on foot but collapsed and was apprehended, Urbina said.
The man, whose identity has not been confirmed, was taken to Baylor University Medical Center. He was in stable condition Wednesday night.
He will be charged with assault on a public servant and evading arrest.
Deputies will be reviewing security camera video from the Diamond J's convenience store near where the man crashed his car, Urbina said.
The shots rang out Wednesday afternoon as people were preparing to gather less than a mile away at the grocery store where a 6-year-old girl was wounded and a man was killed in separate shootings in less than a week.
The rally was arranged by the Next Generation Action Network, the group that organized a peaceful protest July 7 that ended in a deadly ambush on police officers in downtown Dallas.
"This type of violence is plaguing our community," Dominique Alexander, president and founder of the group, said ahead of the rally.
Hours earlier, 25-year-old Darrius Neal was fatally gunned down in the 2600 block of Pine Street, which is less than a mile and a half from the convenience store and not far from the site of the deputy-involved shooting.
The South Dallas shooting was the second on Wednesday that involved law enforcement.
A plainclothes Dallas police officer fatally shot a man Wednesday morning in west Oak Cliff after finding him in a vehicle stolen in a carjacking the night before.
Anthony Garcia, 24, got out of the car and approached the officer while holding a gun, police said.
Garcia died at the scene. The officer wasn't injured.
More details emerge in fatal Mich. OIS
Officials say the suspect, who was fatally shot by police, had intention to harm someone at the residence, but wasn't shooting purposefully at officers
by Christian Sheckler
BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — Authorities say they do not believe a man was trying to ambush police when he fired gunshots at a house after officers responded to a 911 call early Tuesday morning, prompting one officer to return fire and kill the man.
Instead, evidence suggested the man was targeting a person who lived at the house in the 900 block of Pavone Street, police said at a Tuesday morning news conference in Benton Harbor.
"At this point, we don't think it was an ambush," said Benton Harbor Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis. "It's clear there was an intention to harm somebody at that residence, but we cannot say he was shooting purposefully at officers."
Police first responded to the house about 2:17 a.m., after a 911 caller said someone was being held at gunpoint at the house. When police arrived, three officers approached the house while one stayed back to provide cover, said Benton Harbor Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis.
Residents at the house told police no one had called 911, and officers found no one was hurt or being held at gunpoint. As police officers were speaking with a female resident on the porch, four or five gunshots rang out from some bushes about 20 yards south of the house, McGinnis said.
Police and the female resident ran for shelter, while the officer who was providing cover opened fire with a high-powered rifle from behind a nearby tree. The gunman fired two more shots, and the officer fired another volley with his rifle, killing the man, police said.
Police had not released the man's name Tuesday afternoon but said he was a 28-year-old black man. He was taken to Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph, where he was pronounced dead.
When police searched the man, they found he had two semi-automatic handguns, one of which had spent its entire magazine of seven rounds, McGinnis said. The other gun was found in a pocket on the man's left pantleg.
McGinnis said three of the four officers at the scene were wearing body cameras, and the three body cameras together supported the officers' accounts.
Some of the footage showed muzzle flashes from the gunman's position, McGinnis said. He added that the department planned to release all the video evidence after Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic reviews the case, a process that could take several weeks.
Michigan State Police are handling the investigation, which is standard procedure for Benton Harbor police in cases of officer-involved shootings. Police have not named the officer who opened fire, but McGinnis said he had been on the force for less than a year. He is on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.
Michigan State Police Lt. Chuck Christensen said the officer fired 15 rounds. It was unclear how many bullets hit the gunman and where he was struck. An autopsy was being conducted Tuesday morning, but the results had not been released by early afternoon.
Although no one was being held at gunpoint when police arrived at the house Tuesday morning, detectives believe the person who called 911 had credible information about the gunman targeting someone at the house, Christensen said. He said there's no reason to believe the person who called 911 was working with the gunman to lead police into an ambush. Witnesses, phone records and history suggested the man had a dispute with someone who lived there, he said.
By late morning, at least three dozen people lingered along Pavone Street near the shooting scene. Many of them expressed frustration and beliefs that an innocent black man had been gunned down, though at least one resident offered comments that seemed to support the police version of the incident.
Two residents at the scene identified the man as Darius Wimberly, including Alice Smith, a close friend who described herself as Wimberly's "god sister." Most people said the man was known by the nickname "Karate" because he practiced Tae Kwon Do.
Antwon Johnson identified himself as the man's brother, saying he was kindhearted and often spent time teaching neighborhood kids martial arts. Johnson, who would identify his brother only as Karate, said the killing added to mistrust of police among the black community.
"The sad thing is, we're afraid of those who are paid to protect and serve," Johnson said. "No one should wake up and be scared of the police."
But one neighbor, Annie Hall, said she heard two distinct sets of gunshots, which she said was evidence that the man traded fire with the police.
"I was lying down and I heard 'pop, pop, pop,' then I heard 'boom, boom, boom, boom' right back at him,'" Hall said. "Me personally, I hate that it happened like that, but I heard it. Somebody shot first, and they shot back."
Christensen said the gunman was riding a bicycle when he began firing. The first shots came from a clump of bushes near a small park, and the man had moved closer to the street before the officer returned fire, Christensen said. Police seized the bicycle as evidence, along with a vehicle that was hit by a gunshot.
In the wake of the shooting, city officials urged those frustrated by the killing to remain peaceful. At the same time, the officials acknowledged the city's history of tension between black residents and police, underscored by five nights of riots in 2003 that were sparked by the death of a 28-year-old black man who died in a crash after a police chase.
The 2003 riots were concentrated at Pavone and Empire Avenue — less than a block from the scene of Tuesday's fatal shooting.
"We hope we don't have any issues. We understand people will be hot, we understand people will have their opinions," McGinnis said. "I think we can agree to disagree peacefully. That's why we think it's important to get the facts out."
In a press conference later Tuesday that was streamed online by area television stations, Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad said city officials had met with family of the man who was killed, in an effort to answer questions and ease tensions.
Though some neighborhood residents angrily questioned the man's shooting, they said they planned to protest peacefully and did not expect violence.
"We're not out here to hurt nobody," Alice Smith said. "We just want justice."
Residents like Annie Hall, who remembered the 2003 riots, hoped that was the case.
"I hope it stays peaceful," she said. "Don't burn down our city, y'all."
from: Association of Deputy District Attorneys
Proposition 57 Will Hit Minority Communities the Hardest
by Eric Siddall
from: Association of Deputy District Attorneys - firstname.lastname@example.org
We have an incarceration problem in this country. Minority communities bear the brunt of this harsh reality. We need to acknowledge this fact and discuss a smarter, nimbler, and more humane approach to this challenge.
But we also have another problem. Far too many people of color are victims of crime, a fact often overlooked in the current criminal justice debate. We need to acknowledge and address this harsh reality as well.
Prop. 57 presents itself as an answer to this problem, but a closer look at the initiative indicates it will only make things worse for California's minority communities. First, a few important statistics. Despite representing 6.5 percent of the state population, blacks comprise 24 percent of its prison population. Male blacks who drop out of high school face a 70 percent chance of going to prison, compared to 17 percent of similarly situated whites. These facts should give us pause and demand reflection.
However, behind these incarceration numbers are numbers that are equally terrible. In the United States in 2015, according to the FBI, more than 50 percent of all murder victims were black, despite the fact that blacks comprise only 12 percent of the US population. 7,039 African-American men and women were the victims of homicide, out of a total 13,455 homicides nationwide. This means blacks suffer a rate of victimization more than four times higher than their representation in the overall population - this is unacceptable.
To be sure, overall homicide rates have dropped substantially since the early 1990s, which is something for which we should be thankful. In 1993, the year before California's Three-Strikes was enacted, there were 1,944 homicides in Los Angeles County. By 2015, this number had dropped to 649.
Despite this remarkable reduction in the overall rate of homicides, minority communities still face the most significant impact of crime. Today, within a 5-mile radius of the Compton courthouse, there are approximately 118 criminal street gangs. In the past six months, there were 528 violent crimes in Compton per 10,000 residents, including 21 homicides. Fourteen of the 21 homicide victims were black, despite the fact that Compton is 40 percent African-American. Compare this to Brentwood which had a mere 18 violent crimes per 10,000 residents and suffered no homicides.
Frankly, considering these numbers, it might seem easy for the Westside family to vote "yes" on Proposition 57. Crime is not something they experience on a daily basis. They don't have to take a different route to school in the morning because there is a yellow tape blocking off a crime scene. Crime for that family is an allegory. It is a conversation piece.
For the family in Compton, crime is a daily reality. Every other week, there is a body bag carrying a young male away to the coroner's office. Every night there is an airship hovering over the city while a pursuit occurs on the ground of a carjacking suspect. If you look at a gang map, almost every inch of Compton is covered by a gang claiming a part of the city. Brentwood doesn't even have a gang map.
My opposition to Proposition 57 is personal. For the past eight years, I was assigned as a prosecutor in the South Central Judicial District. This is an area that covers Compton and Watts. When I see these numbers, it makes my blood boil, because behind each number is a wounded family and community. Too often, I have sat in my office with a mother and father grieving over their young son. What I find morally reprehensible is that we continue to allow neighborhoods like Compton and Watts to experience huge murder rates while Brentwood is safe and sound.
This is no doubt that we need to take a compressive approach to crime that goes well beyond incarceration. We need to acknowledge that our high incarcerations reflect a societal failure. We need to address the socio-economic issues that underline the many problems of lower income communities.
Proposition 57 does none of the above. Read the one-page summary - the Proposition allows tens of thousands of violent, dangerous and career criminals to be released early.
It disarms us from attacking the criminal element, it releases prisoners back into vulnerable communities, it does nothing to address recidivism, and it breaks the promise we made to victims and witness. Proposition 57 is a well-intentioned disaster that will only lead to more crime, more death, and devastated communities.
Eric Siddall is Vice President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles. To contact a Board member, click here.
New York police officer fatally shoots 66-year-old woman
by Ralph Ellis and Kwegyirba Croffie
A New York City police officer shot and killed a 66-year-old woman while responding to a call at a Bronx apartment, police officials said Wednesday.
Officers went to the Pugsley Avenue apartment around 6 p.m. Tuesday after a neighbor called 911 about an "emotionally disturbed person," Assistant Chief Larry W. Nikunen said.
A sergeant entered the seventh-floor apartment and encountered the woman, who was armed with scissors, but he persuaded her to put them down, Nikunen said.
The woman grabbed a baseball bat and attempted to strike the sergeant, Nikunen said. The officer fired two shots, striking the woman in the torso, he said. She died of her injuries after being taken to Jacobi Medical Center.
The officer was armed with a Taser, but it was not deployed, Nikunen said.
The reason it was not deployed and whether it was necessary for the sergeant to open fire will be a part of the investigation by the New York police's Force Investigation Division, Nikunen said.
The officer is a white male and an eight-year veteran of the New York City Police Department. The woman was a 66-year-old black female who lived alone, Nikunen said. Police have not identified the officer or the woman.
The killing comes after protests in recent years over police shootings of black people in cities such as Charlotte, North Carolina, and Ferguson, Missouri. Protesters have been demanding justice and an end to police brutality.
Nikunen said that the New York police has a history of responding to this apartment for similar disturbances.
"There have been several instances with this individual with similar types of calls," Nikunen said, adding he did not have the details on those earlier incidents.
The pros and cons of stun guns: An embattled matter of safety for both cops and civilians
by Chris Sommerfeldt
The police-involved shooting death of an emotionally disturbed Bronx woman Tuesday evening sent shockwaves across the city after it was revealed that the sergeant who fired the fatal shots carried a stun gun.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. blasted the sergeant for failing to use the electrical weapon instead of his revolver and demanded a full investigation into the fatal shooting of the 66-year-old woman, whose name was Deborah Danner.
And while Danner's death is a tragedy, it's impossible not to consider the fact that this sergeant's alleged failure echoes a much larger issue: are stun guns effective?
Until very recently, the NYPD kept all so called “conducted electrical weapons” (CEWs) out of the hands of its men and women in blue out of concern for previous scandals.
As police departments across the country began embracing stun guns on a large scale roughly 15 years ago, the NYPD allowed only some sergeants and specially trained units to wield them. The reluctance stemmed from the department's controversial use of an earlier version of the electrical weapon, perhaps most notably in 1985 when four Queens officers were arrested for torturing three prisoners with handheld stun guns.
Decades later, following national outrage over the numbing number of police-involved shooting deaths of unarmed black men, the NYPD — under the leadership of Bill Bratton — opened up to the idea of using more CEWs. Since last summer, the department has trained over 4,000 officers to use the devices, hiking the total number of Taser-trained officers up to almost 10,000 on a force of roughly 36,000, according to a New York Times report from this summer.
To further implement the use of Tasers, the NYPD this June added a section to its patrol guide, which says that CEWs can be “effective” for subduing aggressive suspects and emotionally disturbed persons. It lists the weapons as “less lethal” alternatives to use in order to prevent individuals from physically injuring themselves or others.
The weapons use compressed nitrogen to fire barbed probes — also known as darts — trailed by thin wires that serve as electrical conductors. When the darts latch on to a target, the person who fires can send 50,000 volts of electricity straight into the target, causing involuntary muscle contractions and temporary disablement. A 2011 Department of Justice review concluded that CEWs thereby make it easier for cops to arrest and subdue suspects without seriously harming them, noting that 99.7% of people shocked by the weapon suffer no injuries or minor injuries.
On a national scale, statistics from the Bureau of Justice show the total number of police departments that use CEWs has skyrocketed since the turn of the millennium. In 2000, only some 7% of departments used them. In 2013, over 81% did.
Yet, despite widespread use and the DOJ's positive findings, critics on both sides of the aisle have raised warning fingers over stun gun use.
This summer, the New York City's Civilian Complaint Review Board issued a “privileged and confidential” 43-page report obtained by the Daily News, which said that cops too often use Tasers on unarmed and already subdued suspects. Meanwhile, a report issued in January in Connecticut — the first state to record every stun gun incident — found that cops there used Tasers against black and Hispanic suspects at a disproportionate rate as compared to white suspects.
Further, an Amnesty report from 2013 spurred intense debate by showing that 540 people died from police encounters involving Tasers between 2001 and 2012.
One such encounter was the 2008 death of Inman Morales, a disturbed Brooklyn man who plunged 10 feet after cops Tasered him without placing an air bag below the ledge he was standing on. Morales was naked and landed headfirst on the pavement outside his Bedford Stuyvesant apartment when cops stunned him.
Conversely, some in law enforcement argue that cops are put at increased risk when departments rely too heavily on Tasers.
A recent example involved a female police officer in Chicago who was severely injured on Oct. 5 when 28-year-old gang member Parta Huff punched her and slammed her head against the pavement after crashing his car in front of a liquor store while high on PCP. The officer told her supervisors she had refrained from using her firearm because she was afraid that shooting Huff would lead to scathing media coverage against her and her department. Instead, she used her Taser, which proved ineffective against the raging gang member.
Huff was charged with attempted murder of a police officer and the unidentified female cop remains hospitalized.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson later told reporters intense media attention is causing officers across the U.S. to “second guess” themselves.
“This officer could (have) lost her life,” he said. “We have to change the narrative of law enforcement across this country.”
Suspects on loose in San Francisco school shooting
Intense fight with armed intruder caught on camera
by Max Blau and Rolando Zenteno, CNN
(CNN) The shots rang out, one after the other, outside San Francisco's June Jordan School for Equity on Tuesday afternoon. At first, students shrugged off as a prank; that was, at least, until school officials triggered an immediate lockdown.
In the end, four students were shot in the parking lot of the small public high school, San Francisco Police Officer Carlos Manfredi told CNN.
According to CNN affiliate KRON, investigators are now searching for multiple suspects who may have targeted a female student who is now in critical condition.
The San Francisco Unified School District said the shooting was "an isolated incident outside of the school building where one student was being targeted by outsiders."
Once the shooter struck the students, they ran across the lot toward the locked-down school for safety, CNN affiliate KGO said.
Student Nia Gastinell said her classmates hid underneath desks and were instructed to stay away from windows.
Police cleared each room in the school. About an hour later, the lockdown was lifted.
Headed to the hospital
Emergency responders later transported one victim, a 15-year-old female in critical condition, to San Francisco General Hospital to receive treatment for an upper-body gunshot wound, according to KRON.
The two of other victims, both male, received treatment at the hospital. The last student, a male teenager who walked into a police station with non-life-threatening injuries, also went to the hospital.
According to police, four male suspects, all wearing dark hoodies and jeans, remain at large. It's unclear whether they fled on foot or in a getaway car.
School district officials tweeted that June Jordan will be open for class Wednesday. They plan to have additional "support" on hand for both the students and staff who might be fearful of what lies ahead.
"You don't know if somebody's going to die the next day," Gastinell said. "Or come back and shoot again into our school."
What it would mean to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall
by Samuel Granados, Zoeann Murphy and Kevin Schaul
Donald Trump has made no secret of his plan to build a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border — and persuade Mexico to pay for it.
The Republican nominee has been remarkably vocal about the proposal, one that 6 in 10 voters disagree with. The wall, he argues, is needed to curb illegal immigration, reduce gang violence near the border and stop drugs from reaching the United States.
For now, fences cover just 700 miles of the nearly 2,000-mile-long border. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, opposes completing the wall — but as a senator, she voted for the 2006 bill that led to construction of most of the existing fence.
The idea of "completing the wall" has been part of political rhetoric since construction of the fence began. But now, a decade after the majority of the fence was built, opinions are divided on whether a barrier spanning the entire border is necessary — or even feasible.
Mara Kiska, a San Diego resident, says, "Well, have you seen the wall? It's like you could hop over it. It's like a joke. It's a joke."
De Le, also a San Diego resident, says, "Right now, we have a fence. But a fence can be cut. But I would rather have a solid wall. A solid concrete wall. The entire border needs to be walled off from California all the way up to Texas. Illegal immigration is a drain to America, and they are doing nothing but bringing this country down. And look at them, they come here — they mostly uneducated, they commit a lot of crime, they are low-class people. They're trash. Let's build a wall, a fence, whatever. Let's keep illegals out. I cannot wait to be walking down the street and see American faces again for a change. They might call me racist. I don't care."
Some Mexicans worry the rhetoric surrounding the border wall debate will worsen relations between the two nations. Dalton Ramirez, who makes pinatas of Donald Trump in Reynosa, Mexico, thinks Trump's rhetoric provokes racism.
"That border wall, it sounds ridiculous to me. Even more when I hear that we are going to pay for that. It's talk of war. It's like going back to ancient times. I think they are just words he says. But who knows? If he is elected, maybe he'll do it.
The U.S. and Mexican economies are deeply intertwined. This can be seen clearly in the agricultural communities along the border. Scott McWilliams owns Val Verde Wool and Mohair in Del Rio, a place that remains mostly unfenced and where ranchers from both nations come together to do business.
"A high percentage of our retail business comes from Mexico. So we have a great relationship with the ranching community over there as well as here. If the wall was built, that might stop some of the drug traffic from coming through their ranches before they get to our ranches. So it could be a positive for them as well. It would have to be such a wall and monitored in such a way that it actually worked, but I've seen fences built in this country in places you wouldn't imagine you could build one, and they managed to do it."
Some locals stress the enormous logistical challenges of building a wall. The Lake Amistad in Texas is just one example of the rough terrain.
The shifting border
Mile by mile, the landscape and culture along the border vary wildly. West of El Paso, through New Mexico, Arizona and California, where most of the existing fence has been built, the border is largely a series of straight lines drawn by men. But to the east, in Texas, it follows the winding path of the Rio Grande. Most of the border land here is still unfenced.
Barrier construction in this area would be difficult because of the region's isolation and rough terrain. The federal government owns very little land in Texas, so a bigger fence would require the use of private land, adding to the legal and logistical challenges.
But most challenging of all, the Rio Grande is a natural feature — not a man-made boundary. Rivers erode the land they pass. They flood. They dry up. They sometimes change course. A completed border barrier would have to navigate these natural challenges.
Near the mouth of the Rio Grande lie the twin towns of Matamoros, Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas. Here, the land is remarkably lush, the river winding and prone to flooding. The United States and Mexico have had multiple disputes over land affected when the river has changed course.
Border fencing is sporadic here. Where fencing does exist, it often sits far from the river, outside its flood plains - creating wide seams between the fence and the official border. Jeremy Barnard, general manager of a golf resort, worries that his business would be walled off from the United States if the barrier is completed.
"There's about 200 residents on the south side of the levy that would be displaced if you built the wall right here on this levy. They'd be cut off from America and be in a no-man's land. A lot of people just assume the wall would be built right here at the edge, and that's not true. There's lots of people and communities that would be affected in a different way."
For some, living in these seams is already a reality. Construction of the existing barrier impacted hundreds of landowners. Farms and farmland were fenced out. Important wildlife sanctuaries were fragmented.
Eloisa Tamez, Lipan Apache civil rights leader in Brownsville, says, "This is my indigenous land. This is where all my ancestors have come from. That's where I was born, right here. That's not the original house, but that right there is where I was born and raised. The property extends onto the other side of the levy. I requested direct access. They denied it. By not having direct access to my property to see how things are on the other side, I have to go 1,200 feet to the east, or twice that length to the west. And now there's a gate there. ... If they took the land to build this wall, what is the benefit? Have we seen the benefit? Has it done anything to prevent the drug trafficking or the so-called undocumented coming through?"
A complicated answer
Whether the existing barrier has achieved its goals is up for debate.
Fencing is just one part of the effort by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to secure the country's borders. The number of Border Patrol officers has doubled in recent years. Where no fencing exists, cameras and sensors do.
Data released by CBP suggests that illegal immigration has decreased since 2001, but it's difficult to show which specific policies made a difference. The Great Recession, which began in 2008, almost certainly deterred some economic migrants, researchers say.
One consequence of tightened border security policies is that routes for migrants - many of whom are Central Americans, not Mexicans — have become more dangerous.
Today, most deaths reported by Border Patrol officials occur in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, where most of the border remains unfenced, and in the Tucson, Arizona, area, which is mostly fenced.
Border enforcement has pushed migrants off existing routes into more deserted areas. In southern Arizona, migrants walk dozens of miles through the desert, carrying water in plastic jugs.
"Dinah Bear, president of Humane Borders, says, "People are dying out here. We've had around 3,000 confirmed migrant deaths in southern Arizona. We know that we're going to be finding bodies for years, for decades. As the border wall has gone up in various areas of the border, it's moved people into more remote areas. We have seen a baby who is still alive who was trying to nurse from its mother, who was dead. We have had a 1-year-old die. Several of our volunteers have found dead bodies."
Tucson is one of the most challenging places to attempt a border crossing. In 2015, the Border Patrol had more than 790 rescues in the Tucson sector. The death rate is one of the highest along the border.
Immigration is a complicated issue; a barrier along the border addresses just one part of it. An estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants already live in the United States, representing 5 percent of the labor force.
Emma Sanchez embodies the intertwined nature of border protection and immigration policy. She is married to a U.S. veteran and has two American children but was deported 10 years ago after being found without documents.
Every Sunday, dozens of deported mothers like her meet for a church service at Friendship Park, the only binational meeting place between the United States and Mexico. Situated at the west end of the border, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean between San Diego and Tijuana, the park provides divided families a chance to catch up with their loved ones — if only for a few hours, and only through an 18-foot-tall steel and mesh fence.
"We're a group of moms," says Sanchez. "We're all deported moms, repatriated moms. I didn't kill anyone, I didn't steal. I didn't commit a big offense. My only crime was staying in the country without documents, going into the country without documents. That was my crime."
Araeli Sanchez, Emma's sister, who lives on the American side, says "I think it's sad that we have to look at each other through a wall. And it's heartbreaking because I'm there right there and my dad is right there and I can't give him a hug or I can't give him a kiss. The pinkie finger is the only one that goes through the little holes, and that's the only way we can touch each other."
Emma Sanchez: "It's very hard to see these little persons and not being able to embrace them, see my little niece and not being able to embrace her. Hear her saying she wants to come to the house, and knowing that she can't come to the house, that I can't bring her, that it isn't something possible. I think it's like prison, jail, the way that they put these walls here. This wall is something really painful. It is inhumane."
City leaders discuss future of police-community relations in Baltimore
Progress highlighted during panel discussion at Towson University
by Vanessa Herring
TOWSON, Md. —Towson University students could one day become part of the Baltimore Police Department.
That was the message heard from city leaders as part of a panel discussion on police community relations that took place Monday at the university.
Panel members admitted that long standing issues won't be fixed overnight, but said improvements are being made.
"We tend to have a lot of students interested in criminal justice fields and so they need to understand the complex dynamics of these kinds of circumstances in order to hopefully change systems when they venture out into the world,” Towson University sociology, anthropology and criminal justice professor Elyshia Aseltine said.
The discussion on Baltimore police-community relations started by having panelists reflect on April 2015 and underlying issues that caused tensions to bubble over after the in-custody death of Freddie Gray.
"You can start with zero tolerance policing but it goes a little bit deeper than that,” Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott said.
Baltimore police Maj. Steve Ward said the desire for improved crime statistics was an additional factor in creating the climate that led to the unrest and riots.
“You start giving people criminal records in the community that you're serving (and) guess what? They can't get a job and so we have to get back to the basics of serving our community,” Ward said.
Charlene Bourne, the president of the Eastern District Police-Community Relations Council said the police department has improved community engagement over the last year and a half, but it is always a work in progress.
"You have to work every day on that relationship,” Bourne said. “It's just like having a marriage, you have to work at it every single day."
Munir Bahar, a co-founder of 300 Men March, said that the community has to play a role, too.
"Why is it that police have to come into a community to make sure that someone is safe,” Bahar said. “Where are the men in that community to make sure that (say), ‘No you're not hitting this woman today. You're not hitting that child today. You're not disrespecting this old person today."
Scott told the group that real change will come with accountability.
"Agencies and people only work towards what they're held accountable for,” Scott said.
Scott said he has asked a state lawmaker to introduce legislation this winter that will create a community police steering committee made up of citizens, the police commissioner, and police union representatives. They would be required to come up with an annual community policing plan Scott said.
IACP President apologizes for ‘historical mistreatment' of minorities
IACP President Terrence Cunningham said police have historically been a face of oppression, enforcing laws that ensure legal discrimination and denial of basic rights
by Elliot Spagat
SAN DIEGO — For some, the apology went too far. For others, it didn't go far enough. For many, it was just right.
The president of one of the largest police organizations in the United States on Monday apologized for historical mistreatment of minorities, calling it a "dark side of our shared history" that must be acknowledged and overcome.
Terrence Cunningham, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, said at the group's annual conference that police have historically been a face of oppression, enforcing laws that ensured legalized discrimination and denial of basic rights. He was not more specific.
Cunningham said today's officers are not to blame for past injustices. He did not speak in detail about modern policing, but said events over the past several years have undermined public trust. His comments come as police shootings of black men have roiled communities in Ferguson, Missouri; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and suburban St. Paul, Minnesota; and as black shooters have targeted officers in Dallas, the St. Louis suburb of Ballwin and Baton Rouge.
"While we obviously cannot change the past, it is clear that we must change the future," Cunningham said. "We must forge a path that allows us to move beyond our history and identify common solutions to better protect our communities.
"For our part, the first step in this process is for law enforcement and the (International Association of Chiefs of Police) to acknowledge and apologize for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society's historical mistreatment of communities of color," he said.
Cunningham received a standing ovation for his remarks from thousands of law enforcement officials before he introduced U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who largely avoided the topic. He has been police chief since 1999 in his hometown of Wellesley, Massachusetts, an affluent, overwhelmingly white, low-crime suburb near Boston. He served three years as vice president of the police chiefs association before becoming president in 2015 for a one-year term.
David Alexander III, police chief in Pensacola, Florida, said recognizing historical injustices is key to addressing race relations, just as acknowledging domestic violence was a step forward.
"When you don't know the history and you say, 'Well, there is no problem,' then you pretty much present yourself as insensitive to the issues," said Alexander, who is black. "The issue of racial tension has been a part of American history since its settlement."
Delrish Moss, who has been police chief of Ferguson, Missouri, since May and is black, said he had negative encounters with police when he was growing up, including being called racial epithets.
"There are communities that have long perceived us as oppressors, there are communities that have long perceived us as the jackbooted arm of government designed to keep people under control, and that's one of the things we have to work hard to get past," Moss said. "I'm glad it's being addressed ... because the only way to get past it is to first acknowledge the existence of it."
Leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement were less enthusiastic.
Campaign Zero co-founder DeRay Mckesson said he looked forward to Cunningham's comments being backed up by deep, structural changes to policing and the criminal justice system.
Lt. Bob Kroll, head of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, thought Cunningham's statement went too far. In his city, two white officers fatally shot a black man last November.
"Our profession is under attack right now and what we don't need is chiefs like him perpetuating that we are all bad guys in law enforcement," Kroll said. "I think it's an asinine statement. ... We've got officers dying on almost a daily basis now because of this environment, and statements like that don't help."
Ala. police chiefs say it's getting harder to recruit
Police chiefs are having a harder time recruiting and are concerned that if trends continue they could have trouble putting enough officers on the street
by Lawrence Specker
MOBILE, Ala. — Police chiefs in some of Alabama's biggest cities say they are having a harder time recruiting and they are concerned that if trends continue they could have trouble putting enough officers on the street.
Racially charged incidents such as the fatal 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., had been a source of controversy well before 2016 began. But this year brought several more disputed incidents, including the June shooting of Mobile teenager Michael Moore, that created challenges for hiring and keeping local police officers.
In the wake of Moore's death, Mobile Police Chief James Barber and Mayor Sandy Stimpson said that interest among potential recruits to Mobile's police academy had dropped dramatically. Stimpson said other departments share the same concerns.
Stimpson said that the discussion came up during a recent meeting of mayors and police chiefs. Stimpson said Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper told the group that he could start with a list of hundreds of interested applicants and wind up with only a few dozen qualified candidates. "He's really found it very difficult to hire," said Stimpson.
There's some kinship between Birmingham and Mobile, Stimpson and Barber both said, in that they both must do their hiring through county personnel boards, which add steps to the process. "If we're lucky, we're able to hire somebody six months after they apply," said Barber. "Really it's more like a year."
What Barber calls "the Ferguson effect" is more recent. In Mobile it took on a personal note after the Michael Moore incident. The killings of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge didn't help with recruitment.
Last year, the Mobile Police Department had 227 applicants for its police academy, and 179 took a written test that is the first hurdle in a process including physical tests and background checks. This year, 183 applied but only 69 took the first test.
Retention has suffered as well.
"We've lost over 100 officers since January of last year," said Barber. Two-thirds has been what you might call normal turnover, such as officers moving on to other agencies offering better pay. "The new trend we've seen is getting out of law enforcement entirely," Barber said.
The job sends officers out to confront the worst of society, Barber said. "What you see in the Ferguson effect, and the failure of some local leaders," he said, gives officers the feeling that they're sticking their necks out for people who won't support them.
"The message is, you can do everything right ... and still be cast out of your career," he said. "We can't have some elected leaders condemning an action they know nothing about."
Stimpson said that after he became mayor in 2013, police and fire department concerns about pay and recruitment quickly came to his attention. He said he's tried to focus on factors within city control, such as raising pay. The city recently did pass a $5,000 police pay raise. Barber said it improved morale among officers on the force, although it hasn't changed the MPD's low starting pay – which ranges from $30,000 to almost $35,000, depending on education.
In Tuscaloosa, Police Chief Steven Anderson can take comfort in offering a far better starting salary -- $45,678 -- for patrol officers. But he too has seen things change due to a general "negativity" in society's view of police, and a "breakdown of trust in the minority community."
"The baseline challenge for us ... is finding qualified applicants in the minority community and among women," said Anderson, who is Tuscaloosa's first black chief. The terrorist attacks of September 2001 pushed the pendulum one way: More people supported first responders, and more people wanted to join their ranks. Anderson said the recession of 2008 also helped recruitment, as the force offered a steady job in uncertain times.
Nowadays, he said, the pendulum has swung the other way. Social media fuels "such a rush to judgment" in controversial police encounters, he said. "We've got to take a step back ... We've got to understand there's a limited amount of transparency you can provide when you're conducting an investigation."
"I think it's generational as well," Anderson added, "especially when we hire people out of college." In a lot of cases, he said, they want to get some experience and then move on to federal agencies.
He doesn't have to go through a personnel board but hiring is still a struggle. In May the Tuscaloosa Police Department had 272 online applications, out of which 119 people showed up for a test that 95 or 96 passed. After physical tests and background checks, he said, "We ended up with maybe about 25 individuals we could put on a roster and consider hiring."
Even then, he said, it's a year to 18 months before they're fully trained, off probation and able to work alone.
Anderson said that his department is budgeted for 286 officers and was able to stay close to that until 2014. Since then, he said, "we have had a difficult time," and the force tends to hover around 265.
In Birmingham, where the base pay ranges from $37,232 to $41,038 depending on education, the force is larger but so is the shortfall in manpower. According to figures provided by Public Information Officer Lt. Sean Edwards, the force is budgeted for 914 officers and has 820.
The constant cycle of training replacements has a price. As Barber said, "if you're losing 60 a year, that's $3 million you're spending" just trying to get replacements trained and on the job.
The Huntsville Police Department offers relatively high starting pay, at about $39,000. Even so, Lt. Stacy Bates, a public information officer under Chief Mark McMurray, said recruitment has gotten harder.
"I'd say in the last year, last year and a half, it's been an issue," said Bates. He allowed that in some controversial incidents, police critics might have legitimate concerns, while in others the sense of injustice is all a matter of perception. But either way, "as a police officer, you're under a microscope."
Last September, recruitment started with a pool of 918 people who'd expressed interest. This year, Bates said, that was down to just under 600. Eventually that was whittled down to about 40 qualified applicants for about 20 openings. "I'm sure a lot of people would be tickled to have 600 people apply," said Bates.
The HPD has an authorized strength of 430, Bates said, but "We're hardly ever at 430, and it's been that way for years." However, he attributes turnover to retirement and to officers going to work for other agencies.
"We haven't had anybody say they were getting out because they were sick of law enforcement," he said.
Public criticism does make the job less attractive to some, he said, but added: "What we're seeing is, if your heart's truly in public service ... none of that's going to matter."
That resonates with Barber's view. He thinks the world has changed. Chiefs have always had to consider crime. Since 9-11 they've had to consider national security as well, he said, and now they have to factor concerns about civil unrest into their plans.
"In my 28 years, I've never seen a more challenging time," he said.
What hasn't changed, he said, is that cops have a different way of looking at the world. When the average citizen hears of some terrible incident like a mass shooting, Barber said, he or she is grateful not to have been there.
"A cop's mentality, when they react to the exact same situation, is, 'I wish to God I had been there,'" said Barber. "They're just wired that way."
Group working to help Mo. parents address trauma
Parents as Teachers of Missouri says it'll use lessons learned from protests that followed the fatal Ferguson OIS to help parents address the challenges of trauma
by The Associated Press
FERGUSON, Mo. — A nonprofit organization in Missouri says it'll use lessons learned from protests that followed the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson to help parents address the challenges of trauma.
Parents as Teachers of Missouri is part of a national effort working with parents to promote school readiness and healthy development for children, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
It has scheduled a forum Monday in Ferguson as part of the program's national conference.
The organization, according to its website, helps professionals "work with parents during the critical early years of their children's lives, from conception to kindergarten" by scheduling home visits and developing relationship-based curriculum for each family. After lawmakers cut spending for Parents as Teachers and redirected the nonprofit to use the rest of its funds to reach more vulnerable families, the organization decided to look at how it engages people of color and find better ways to partner with parents dealing with stress from poverty, neighborhood violence and inequity.
The August 2014 shooting death of Brown, a black and unarmed 18-year-old, led to months of protests in the St. Louis suburb that grew violent at times and was a catalyst for the national Black Lives Matter movement. Darren Wilson, the white Ferguson officer who shot Brown during a confrontation, was not charged and later resigned.
Parents as Teachers educator Angela Gardner said parents are trying to learn how to talk to their young children about the different issues surrounding the protests, including racism, policing and trauma from looting and tear gas.
"There were also safety concerns," Gardner said. "Parents were afraid to let their kids walk to the bus stop by themselves."
Gardner, an African-American, said she also experienced stress since her sons joined the protests.
She added that in the past year, parent educators of the Normandy school district in St. Louis County have been mapping houses on Google to create safety plans for high-crime neighborhoods. Gardner also stays informed about crime in other neighborhoods so she can recognize other parents' stresses during Parents as Teachers visits.
Chief operating officer of the nonprofit, Cheryle Dyle-Palmer, said it's important for the organization to lead the nation on dealing with trauma because extreme stress in the household can severely hamper child development. A previous Post-Dispatch report included research saying that childhood trauma can lead to outcomes like depression, heart and kidney disease and other chronic illnesses.
The forum's participants will get a bus tour of Ferguson and St. Louis to understand the region's tension and challenges regarding inequity.
Ivette Morales, a program supervisor from Los Angeles' El Nido Family Centers, said she wanted to learn better ways to empower parents to create positive change in their own neighborhoods.
"We can so relate to Ferguson," she said, recalling the 1965 Watts Riots and the 1992 rioting in Los Angeles that followed the acquittal of four white officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King. "We're trying to get these families to come out to the bigger community and really take back their community."
Illegal Immigration Is Changing. Border Security Is Still Catching Up
by Amanda Sakuma
llegal immigration into the United States isn't what it used to be.
The prevailing assumption that Mexican migrants, mostly men, are streaming into the United States illegally in search of jobs is long outdated, the Obama administration said this week. Instead, it's overwhelmingly families from Central America who are being intercepted together at the border.
And this distinction between the shifting demographics at the border isn't just semantics. It's not so much an illegal immigration problem, but rather, a steady stream of asylum-seekers.
U.S. officials have known for years that a significant number of Central American migrants are actually turning themselves in at Border Patrol stations and begging for protection. And because they're asylum-seekers, agents can't simply turn them away or immediately deport them. The United States has a legal obligation to accept the thousands of migrants until their asylum claims are processed.
The dynamic places strains an on already overburdened immigration system in which court cases are backlogged for years. But increasingly, the steady migration stemming from the Northern Triangle of Central America — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — exposes weak spots in U.S. immigration policy.
No matter how much the United States steps up security measures at the border, it has little impact on the government's legal requirement to provide at least temporary protection to migrants seeking asylum.
"Walls alone cannot prevent illegal migration," Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement Monday. "Ultimately, the solution is long-term investment in Central America to address the underlying push factors in the region."
For the second time on record, more Central Americans were seized along the U.S. border than Mexicans were in a single year, Johnson announced Monday.
A total of 408,870 migrants were apprehended in fiscal year 2016, rivaling migration levels that led to a crisis two years earlier as a surge of unaccompanied minors overwhelmed federal resources at the border.
Maureen Meyer, a migrant rights expert at the Washington Office on Latin America, said the underlying forces driving people from Central America were largely unchanged from 2014.
Homicide rates in Guatemala and Honduras have dropped slightly in recent years, but they still rank among the most violent countries in the world. The United Nations designated El Salvador as one of the deadliest countries outside of a war zone. Meanwhile poverty and wealth inequality remained rampant throughout the region.
"It's not just economic migrants that are trying to get to the United States for a better living," Meyer said. "The numbers constitute a high degree of people fleeing for their lives."
The Obama administration initially responded to the 2014 border crisis by filling up immigrant detention centers with mothers and their children while their asylum claims were assessed.
The intention was to swiftly process and deport the detainees while sending a strong message back to Central America that the United States would not tolerate illegal immigration.
Instead, what authorities later found was that the vast majority of the detained families passed the first of many tests on their asylum applications — more than 86 percent of immigrants held in family detention showed a "credible fear" of returning to their home countries, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It meant they could remain in the United States to follow their applications to the end.
Michelle Brané, director of migrant rights at the Women's Refugee Commission, says the administration's push to discourage people from coming to the United States has, instead, backfired. Federal courts soon chipped away at the scope of the administration's immigrant family detention practices.
And according to Brané, the new border statistics only confirm that Central Americans will continue to find a way to the United States, no matter what stands before then.
"If you're in a burning house, you're going to find a way out no matter how many obstacles are put in your way," Brané said.
Police: Armed man shot, killed by officer in Benton Harbor
by Wood TV
BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WOOD) — Authorities say a man was shot and killed by an officer after he opened fire on police in Benton Harbor Tuesday morning.
A release from the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety says officers were called to a home in the 900 block of Pavone Street around 2:15 a.m. on a report that a man was being held at gunpoint by another man.
When officers arrived at the home they were told that no one from that home had called police; however, they allowed officers to check the house anyways.
The officers didn't find anything and were leaving the house when police say a man emerged from the street and fired multiple shots at officers.
As officers ran for cover, one officer returned fire and hit the shooter. The man was taken to Lakeland Hospital where he was pronounced dead. His name has not been released. An autopsy is being conducted Tuesday morning in Grand Rapids.
Officers say the suspect had two handguns on him at the time of the shooting.
The officer involved has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation by Michigan State Police. No officers were injured in the shooting.
Around 30 people were seen standing just outside the crime tape — some yelling “Black Lives Matter.”
A man told 24 Hour News 8 that his cousin was shot eight times by a Benton Harbor officer and died.
“They gonna keep on killing us,” yelled one neighbor.
The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety is expected to hold a news conference at 11 a.m. 24 Hour News 8 will carry the conference live on woodtv.com.
Police, community aim to strengthen ties
by Eliza Fawcett
As recently released data indicates mixed public approval of the New Haven Police Department, NHPD officials and leaders of Mayor Toni Harp's Community and Police Relations Task Force are grappling with how to increase officer diversity — the central issue of the discussion on strengthening trust between the NHPD and residents.
According to the Greater New Haven Community Index 2016, which DataHaven released on Oct. 10, public perception that the police force does a “good job” diverges based on place of residence, income and age level. In the city of New Haven, only 50 percent of those surveyed approved of the NHPD's work. In contrast, 92 percent of residents in Elm City suburbs such as Branford and North Haven responded that their local police force does a good job. In the Greater New Haven area, which includes New Haven proper as well as 12 surrounding suburbs, older people and those with greater incomes are far more likely to approve of the police, the data indicated.
The New Haven Police Department has prioritized efforts to build relationships with community members over the past few weeks. Officers held a golf tournament in early October to benefit the New Haven Police Activity League, which runs athletic programs for children. A day later, the NHPD hosted the “Cops and Ballers” basketball tournament in Edgewood Park.
And just last week, police officers and community members came together to plant flowers in Newhallville, according to Barbara Fair, a longtime New Haven activist and member of the Community and Police Relations Task Force.
These events will also not be the last, said NHPD spokesman David Hartman, who said there are a number of new initiatives on the horizon.
Still, some community members contend that building trust between residents and police officers requires changing police recruitment policies, which has been a primary focus for the task force.
Last week, the NHPD began training its most diverse class of recruits in the past five years, a group which also boasted one of the highest percentages of New Haven residents. This was an important first step, said Fair, but it must be part of a larger effort to improve the NHPD.
“We claim that we have community policing,” she said. “Since we throw that claim around, we like to see police officers who look like the people.”
She contended that the NHPD must strive to recruit from New Haven, since local officers care more about the communities they police if they also live in them, adding that diversity should come from New Haven, not its suburbs.
In an interview with the News last week, Hartman expressed a similar sentiment, saying police officers should represent the communities they serve and that the department prioritizes recruits from local neighborhoods. He added that current demographics in the department's ranks reflect racial diversity.
“We have not one white police commissioner,” he said. “One of the four chiefs is white.”
Still, the mayoral task force is concerned by allegations that many New Haven residents of color have wanted to join the NHPD in the past, but have not passed the recruitment process, Fair said. One of those applicants, Miguel Pittman, who is also a member of the task force, said many residents of color feel deterred from applying to become NHPD officers.
“Our community knows that it's very difficult to get in [to the NHPD],” Pittman said. “A lot of us feel, what's the point of applying when it's rigged?”
Pittman, who unsuccessfully applied to be a police officer in 2013, went through a monthslong process to obtain a copy of his entire application file, hoping to understand why he was not approved. Though the NHPD denied his initial November 2015 records request, along with a second one in March 2016, he then filed a complaint with the Freedom of Information Commission in Hartford, and received a copy of his file this summer.
Pittman believes that increased transparency in the recruitment process will help make the ranks of the NHPD more accessible for all New Haven residents, especially those of color.
“I'm hopeful, but I'm willing to fight for it, no matter how long it takes,” he said.
The mayoral task force on police and community relations meets every other Thursday at City Hall.
Suspect involved in Calif. OIS aimed assault rifle at officers
Police say a man pointed an assault rifle at two officers, but it malfunctioned and officers fired their weapons in self-defense
by The Associated Press
VALLEJO, Calif. — Northern California authorities say the shooting of a toddler Sunday may be linked to a man who was later shot by police after he pointed an assault-style weapon at officers in a Starbucks shop.
Vallejo police say a man opened the Starbucks door Sunday night and pointed what appeared to be an assault rifle at two officers. Police say the gun seems to have malfunctioned.
The officers then chased the man on foot as he continued to manipulate his gun. Officers shot the man three times and he was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, Vallejo police said.
They say he was wearing body armor and also carrying a loaded handgun.
Earlier Sunday in nearby Suisun City, Suisun City police received a call that a 2-year-old child had been shot inside a home. The child was taken to a local hospital for a gunshot wound.
Preliminary information indicates the wound was accidental and self-inflicted.
A person who was present when the child was shot left the home before officers arrived, police said.
Commander Andrew White of the Suisun City Police said a joint press conference with Vallejo Police will be held at 10:30 a.m.
The area is about 30 miles north of San Francisco.
FBI arrests man who left bomb outside Colo. police station
David Michael Ansberry was taken into custody in Chicago for his connection with a homemade explosive left outside Nederland Police Station
by Sadie Gurman and Eric Tucker
DENVER — Authorities have arrested a man in connection with a homemade explosive left outside a police station in a small northern Colorado mountain town.
The man, 64-year-old David Michael Ansberry, was taken into custody over the weekend in Chicago, two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the case.
On Oct. 11, a detective found the device in a backpack and brought it into the police station, believing it was lost property. Robots searched the device and it was eventually detonated in the parking lot of the town's main retail complex, a strip mall that houses the five-officer police department.
Investigators say it was an active explosive that failed to detonate.
It was not immediately clear what charges Ansberry would face. Nor was it clear whether anyone else is involved in the incident. U.S. attorney spokesman Jeff Dorschner declined to comment.
The case rattled this mountain-ringed town of 1,500 people southwest of Boulder best known for its love of legal marijuana and its annual celebration of a frozen corpse that draws tens of thousands of revelers.
4 Ala. officers, suspect injured in standoff
Suspect Demetrae Griffin allegedly assaulted an officer and threw a rock through a deputy's vehicle
by Michael Wetzel
MOULTON, Ala. — A former Speake football star injured four law enforcement officers in a standoff Sunday, authorities said.
Moulton police Chief Lyndon McWhorter said the suspect, Demetrae Griffin, of Moulton, was tased “multiple times” during the two-hour standoff.
Three of the four officers were taken to Lawrence County Medical Center, with one, Sgt. Ashley Bolden, requiring staples in his head, McWhorter said.
The other two officers treated at the Lawrence County Medical Center emergency room were police officer Shane Burkett and sheriff's deputy Keith Pepper, McWhorter said. He said officer Marcus Solomon was injured but did not require hospital treatment.
The suspect, who authorities said threw a rock through the window of an unoccupied deputy's vehicle, was transported to Decatur Morgan Hospital.
No charges had been filed late Sunday.
The State Bureau of Investigation will investigate, McWhorter said.
Lawrence Sheriff's Office Capt. Tim McWhorter said he believes an argument between the suspect and his mother started the incident.
“The suspect is believed to have gotten out of her car on Highway 157 and started walking toward Byler Road." He said the suspect caused a disturbance near the Urgent Care Center on Alabama 157 and a call was made to 911.
When police officers arrived, Moulton police Chief Lyndon McWhorter said, the suspect assaulted the officer, who called for additional support. The Lawrence County Sheriff's Office arrived and confronted Griffin. McWhorter said the suspect assaulted the officer.
“They tased the suspect and the first taser had no effect on him at all,” Lawrence Sheriff's Office Capt. McWhorter said. The suspect then threw a large rock through the windshield of the deputy's patrol car and then entered the car “like he was going to drive it away,” Capt. McWhorter said.
Authorities said Griffin stayed in the patrol car “about two hours.”
Chief McWhorter said three officers took turns holding the door closed so Griffin could not get out until he surrendered. During this time, family and friends of the suspect arrived to talk with him.
Chief McWhorter said trooper Mike Colburn gained some rapport with Griffin. “They were talking about Christ and hell,” he said. “That seemed to calm Griffin some.”
Rich Dutton, the Lawrence County High football coach, said he heard about the standoff and texted Chief McWhorter to offer his assistance.
“When I arrived he was sitting in the vehicle,” Dutton said. “We tried to calm him down. I was trying to remind him of what he had accomplished in his life and to assure him he would be OK.”
Dutton said Griffin “started showing some good emotions.”
But Griffin brandished a knife when he left the car, Capt. McWhorter said. McWhorter said family members were yelling for officers not to kill him.
“Our officers took a defensive stance and tased him a few times again,” he said.
Griffin fell and was handcuffed and ankle-cuffed, Chief McWhorter said.
Authorities said Griffin appeared to be having mental issues.
Dutton said the lawmen made him proud.
“They did something special today,” he said. “They were phenomenal, showing uncommon patience. It could have ended badly. I'm really proud to live in a community where the police handled things like they did today."
Griffin starred in football at Speake High School before being severely injured in a shooting his senior year. The University of Tennessee had recruited the 6-foot-2-inch, 275-pound defensive tackle shortly before he was shot in his chest and stomach at a Caddo party in 2009.
In 2012, Griffin played defensive end for Eastern Arizona Community College and later transferred to the University of North Alabama, but did not play.
Woman who shot NYPD cop in head with pellet gun arrested
Tiara Ferebee is held on a $1M bond for shooting a plainclothes NYPD officer in the forehead last week
by Lisa Irizarry and Matthew Chayes
NEW YORK — A Riverhead woman charged in the pellet-gun shooting of a plainclothes NYPD officer was ordered jailed on $1 million bond or $500,000 cash bail at her arraignment Sunday night in Queens Criminal Court.
Tiara Ferebee, 24, of Andrea Court, faces charges of first degree attempted assault and criminal possession of a weapon, according to a court complaint.
She appeared in court Sunday night in front of Judge Gia Morris. Before Morris set bail, Ferebee's attorney told the judge no evidence exists connecting his client to the crime other than her alleged proximity, and no weapon was recovered.
The NYPD press office earlier Sunday said Ferebee was accused of attempted murder of a police officer but that charge was not listed in court records.
Just after 5 p.m. Wednesday, a projectile from a pellet gun fired by a passenger in a brown 2015 Nissan Altima struck the officer, Adam Jangel, in the forehead as he drove an unmarked police vehicle west on Jamaica Avenue and 168th Street, in Jamaica, Queens, the NYPD said.
The Altima was traveling east on Jamaica Avenue at the time and had a Missouri license plate, police said. Jangel was taken to Jamaica Medical Center. He was not seriously injured, authorities said.
Jangel “has a foreign metal projective lodged in his forehead, lodged between his skin and his skull,” NYPD Officer Joseph Zvonik wrote in a court complaint filed against Ferebee.
Jangel's “front driver's side window was open, and he heard a pop sound and immediately felt a burning pain to his forehead,” according to the complaint.
Officers arrested Ferebee Saturday after an investigation and the circulation of surveillance photos police said showed her sitting in the Altima.
In the complaint, Ferebee is quoted telling investigators she didn't remember much about the shooting or anything else that day.
“I don't know if I had a gun. I don't remember. I don't know and I don't remember if I discharged a gun in the car,” Ferrebee said, according to court papers. “You know why you have me here. Just book me.”
A car matching the description of the Altima has been linked to similar shootings at vehicles on Sunrise Highway on Long Island in which at least one victim was hit, according to prosecutor Sonia Kaczmarzyk, adding that video exists connecting the Altima to the shooting.
A Suffolk police spokeswoman said Sunday night that the department's “Criminal Intelligence Bureau has provided assistance” to NYPD detectives on the case, but the department would not comment on the nature of the assistance.
David Blondell, Ferebee's Legal Aid attorney, said she was charged merely for allegedly being in the area of the shooting.
“She's being punished for being near where something happened,” he said.
Blondell said Ferebee is a lifelong Long Islander and the sole caretaker of her parents.
He said the video doesn't show anyone pointing a weapon.
From the Department of Homeland Security
DHS Surge Capacity Force
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) personnel have an immense responsibility: every day, we safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values. It is this important calling that has driven so many to enter the DHS workforce, committing their life's work to something greater than themselves. And it is my great honor to support DHS employees in the work that they do each day.
So far, over 6,000 DHS employees have gone above and beyond the call of duty, joining the DHS Surge Capacity Force. Members of the DHS Surge Capacity Force are non-emergency DHS personnel from across the Department who sign up to deploy to a disaster in the event that our Nation experiences an event so catastrophic that even the resources of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are overwhelmed.
Since its creation, the DHS Surge Capacity Force has deployed only once. In October 2012, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, DHS activated the Surge Capacity Force, sending more than 1,100 DHS employees to assist FEMA with response and recovery efforts in New York and New Jersey. But we know that we are only one bad day away from needing to activate the DHS Surge Capacity Force again. For that reason, we work each day to recruit more DHS employees to join this important initiative, and train them to be at their best for communities that have been through the worst.
Surge Capacity Force volunteers are permanent and temporary full-time DHS employees who sign up to help FEMA in support of state and local response and recovery efforts. By increasing our ability to “surge”, we as a Department and as a Nation become better prepared for catastrophic disasters of all kinds.
Surge Capacity Force volunteers are driven by the same spirit that brought them into government service in the first place: a desire to help and the knowledge that their work is making a real difference in the lives of others.
Statement by Secretary Johnson on Southwest Border Security
In Fiscal Year 2016, total apprehensions by the Border Patrol on our southwest border, between ports of entry, numbered 408,870. This represents an increase over FY15, but was lower than FY14 and FY13, and a fraction of the number of apprehensions routinely observed from the 1980s through 2008. Apprehensions are an indicator of total attempts to cross the border illegally. Meanwhile, the demographics of illegal migration on our southern border has changed significantly over the last 15 years – far fewer Mexicans and single adults are attempting to cross the border without authorization, but more families and unaccompanied children are fleeing poverty and violence in Central America. In 2014, Central Americans apprehended on the southern border outnumbered Mexicans for the first time. In 2016, it happened again.
Southwest Border Apprehensions - FY13-FY16
Unaccompanied children and families have presented new challenges in our immigration system. I have traveled to the southwest border 17 times over the last 34 months as Secretary and have seen this personally. We are determined to treat migrants in a humane manner. At the same time, we must enforce our immigration laws consistent with our enforcement priorities. This has included, and will continue to include, providing individuals with an opportunity to assert claims for asylum and other forms of humanitarian relief.
At the same time, we are providing a safe, alternative paths to our country for individuals in need of humanitarian protection. Earlier this year, the Government of Costa Rica announced its agreement to enter into a protection transfer arrangement with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration to help address the Central American migration challenge. We're also establishing an in-country referral program in countries of origin including Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. This program enables vulnerable residents in the region to be considered for refugee protection in the United States after being screened and interviewed by DHS officers. We have also announced an expansion of the categories of individuals eligible for participation in our Central American Minors program when accompanied by a qualified child. We promote and encourage use of these programs.
Border security alone cannot overcome the powerful push factors of poverty and violence that exist in Central America. Walls alone cannot prevent illegal migration. Ultimately, the solution is long-term investment in Central America to address the underlying push factors in the region. We continue to work closely with our federal partners and the governments in the region, and are pleased with the $750 million Congress approved in FY 2016 for support and aid to Central America. We urge Congress to provide additional resources in FY 2017.
But, there is more to do for border security. I urge the next Administration and the next Congress to continue to make smart investments in border security technology, equipment and other resources. This is what our experts on the border -- those on the front lines every day, charged with the responsibility of protecting our borders – tell me each time I ask them.
At all times throughout President Obama's administration, we have endeavored to enforce the immigration laws in a fair and humane way, consistent with the immigration system we have. But, the reality is the system is broken, and badly need of comprehensive immigration reform that only Congress can provide. For one thing, we must reckon with the millions of undocumented immigrants who live in the shadows in this country, who've been here for years, and who should be given the opportunity to come forward and get right with the law. It is my profound hope that the next Congress will finally address this and other issues, and enact comprehensive immigration reform.
The new immigration enforcement priorities President Obama and I announced in November 2014, which focus on serious convicted criminals and those apprehended at the border, are being implemented effectively by our immigration enforcement personnel. Our priorities are reflected in actual results. Today, over 99% of those in immigration detention fit within one of our enforcement priorities; and around 85% are within the top priority for removal. In 2009, just 35% of those deported by ICE were convicted criminals; today that percentage is about 60%. Enforcement actions that began early this year, focused on families and unaccompanied children now over 18 that were apprehended at the border.
Earlier this week, I paid my sixth visit to Mexico as Secretary of Homeland Security. On this visit I met with President Peña Nieto, my counterpart the Secretary of Government Miguel Osorio Chong, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Claudia Ruiz Massieu, Secretary of Finance Jose Antonio Meade, and Attorney General Arely Gomez Gonzalez. Our working relationship is strong, and we've committed to do even more for our mutual border security interests. Additionally, we've resolved to create a standing U.S.-Mexican working group, staffed largely with career officials, to ensure a permanent dialogue on security issues that will sustain itself past the Obama and Peña Nieto Administrations.
In recent months we've seen an influx of Haitian nationals on our southern border, principally at certain land ports of entry. On September 22, I announced we would resume removals of Haitian nationals in accordance with our existing enforcement priorities. In light of Hurricane Matthew, which struck Haiti on October 4, removal flights to Haiti have been suspended temporarily. Working with the Government of Haiti, DHS intends to resume removal flights as soon as possible. DHS and the Department of State are working with the Government of Haiti and other key partners to ensure that removals occur in as humane and minimally disruptive a manner as possible. The policy change I announced on September 22 remains in effect. Haitians attempting to enter the United States without authorization will continue to be placed into immigration detention.
With our interagency partners, DHS continues to aggressively target and dismantle the transnational criminal organizations that smuggle and exploit migrants. One recent example is “Operation ALL IN.” This operation resulted in the apprehension of 100 individuals now facing federal prosecution at either the federal, state, or local level. Those arrested as part of Operation ALL IN include smugglers, as well as gang members and sex offenders.
Suspect who shot officer then took off in police car, still on the run
by Madison Park and Joe Sutton
A suspect shot a Fairbanks, Alaska, police officer multiple times and then fled in his patrol car early Sunday.
Sgt. Allen Brandt sustained serious injuries and was transported to Anchorage for treatment where he was listed in stable condition, according to the Fairbanks Police Department. Brandt worked 11 years with the Fairbanks police.
The suspect remains on the run, as police warned he was "considered armed and dangerous."
Shortly after midnight Sunday, Fairbanks police received a call about shots fired.
Dashboard cam video
The officer's dashboard cam showed his car traveling on a street when it stopped next to a man, dressed in dark clothing, who was walking on the sidewalk. The man ran in front of the police car to the left side of the vehicle while holding something in both of his hands.
The dashcam video released by the police does not contain any sound.
The officer radioed that he had been shot, according to Fairbanks police.
The suspect drove the police car a few blocks away from the site, according to police.
A second dashboard cam video released by the police showed the moment the suspect ditched the police car and walked away into a street.
Police described the suspect as an Alaska Native male in his 20s, who was seen in the videos wearing a dark jacket, dark pants and a knit hat.
FBI Director Rejects Talk of Epidemic of Police Bias Against Blacks
James Comey says most police officers are overwhelmingly good people
by Dan Frosch
FBI Director James Comey gave an impassioned defense of police officers Sunday, saying most are overwhelmingly good people working during a “uniquely difficult time in American law enforcement.”
Speaking at a conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police in San Diego, Mr. Comey pushed back at what he said was a narrative forming in the U.S. that “biased police are killing black men at epidemic rates.”
“There are bad cops. There are departments with troubled cultures. Unfortunately, people are flawed,” he said. “But for law enforcement, the spotlight is brighter, and the standards are higher. And that's the way it should be.”
Mr. Comey said the emerging narrative was driven by video images of “real and gut wrenching misconduct,” but also on perceived misconduct. And he said it was given force by “the awesome power of human empathy.”
He also cautioned that there were only a small number of videos and not yet enough data to show whether police shootings were more pervasive in some communities than others.
“In the absence of information, we have anecdotes, we have videos, we have good people believing something terrible is happening in this country,” he said. “In a nation of almost one million sworn law enforcement officers, and tens of millions of police encounters every year, a small group of videos serves as proof an epidemic.”
The Justice Department announced last week it would start collecting data on police shootings, and Mr. Comey said such a database was critical in helping the police improve public perception of officers and closing “a chasm of distrust and fear.” The move came after several years of mass protests over police-involved shootings that have roiled American cities.
“Our officers see the videos. They desperately do not want to be in one. They think about that all the time,” he said.
Mr. Comey said the abyss between law enforcement and the public, particularly the black community, would only begin to close when the narrative of policing being inherently violent and racist was changed. And he added that the altruistic motivations of good officers needed to be conveyed, even as bias and misconduct of bad ones were rooted out.
“This country will be deeply, deeply sorry, if great young talent, kids who want to help other people, chose some other way to serve,” he said.
Indianapolis police credited with saving suspect's life
by The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - An Indianapolis police sergeant is being credited for helping to save the life of a would-be burglar who badly cut his leg on a barbed wire fence.
The Indianapolis Star reports (http://indy.st/2dIdYlU) Sgt. David Kinsey applied a tourniquet to the 30-year-old man's leg around 2:30 a.m. Sunday before he was taken to a hospital.
Police had responded to an alarm at L.E. Myers Co. and when they arrived the man ran away, jumped the fence and fled into the woods. He snagged his right leg on the fence. A police dog helped officers track the man, whose shorts were soaked with blood.
Kinsey tells the newspaper it shows people “we don't just take bad guys to jail” and is an example of good things done by police.
Edison Police Launch High-Visibility Bike Patrols; To Enhance its ‘Community Policing' Effort
by The Tapinto Edison Staff
EDISON – Police launched a new bike patrol unit this week that will have officers conducting high-visibility patrols at municipal parks, Edison's portion of the Middlesex Greenway and at Menlo Park Mall, according to officials.
In addition to the bike patrols, Mayor Thomas Lankey also announced that Edison has joined a growing number of New Jersey communities to show support for its police officers with a blue stripe painted along two roads that lead to the municipal complex and police headquarters, a press release from the township said.
“Our new bike patrols will enhance public safety. They will be highly-visible, easily recognizable and have more maneuverability, able to go places that patrol cars cannot reach,” Chief of Police Thomas Bryan said in the release. “These bike patrols are also part of our community policing initiative, offering people more opportunities to strike up conversations with officers at our parks or outside the mall. Community policing is all about getting people get to know our officers better and visa-versa.”
The bike patrols will be used to monitor parades and special event where there are large gatherings, Bryan said in the release.
Assigned to the bike patrols are Officers Jennifer Aldahondo, Lisa Cimmino, Christopher Gadomski and Neel Patel, the release said.
According to the release, the officers' training and special equipment, including Trek Police Edition Patrol bikes, were paid for predominantly with criminal forfeiture funds.
Unveiling the new blue line on town hall roadways, Mayor Lankey described it as “a visible symbol of our appreciation and support for our Police Department's men and women, who serve Edison with honor and dignity. We value their dedication, professionalism and service.”
“It's a modest, but very meaningful gesture to our police officers,” PBA Local 75 President Michael Schwarz said in the release. “That thin blue line has given them a greater sense of pride, knowing our township recognizes, supports and appreciates their efforts.”
According to the release, the new blue line runs along Hoey Drive, between Talmadge Road and the municipal complex, and along POW-MIA Boulevard, which leads to police headquarters past Lake Papaianni Park and the municipal skateboard park.
Community Policing, Prayer Vigils, New Efforts Try to Heal Racial Tension
by Julie Brown Patton
A Facebook post from a Georgia police officer captured a lot of attention this week after he described how frightened a Black teen male was when he pulled him over for texting while driving. Some better news is that more community residents are investigating how to bridge police-civilian gaps in understanding through new programs.
Tim McMillan, who identifies himself as a police officer in Georgia, wrote in the Facebook posted that as soon as he went over to talk to the driver, McMillan thought the young black man appeared paralyzed with fear about interacting with the officer - perhaps because of recent widespread coverage of black men getting killed by cops, even during routine traffic stops, suggests Attn. But McMillian went on to explain he simply wanted to warn the driver of the dangers of doing something else while driving.
Some people recommend requiring police officials to undergo racial bias training to eliminate any biases that police officers may have on the job. New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino recently called for statewide bias training of police officers to help fight this issue.
Other communities have embraced community policing, which entails police officers being more hands-on with civilians in their everyday lives. Community policing is meant to foster positive, constructive relationships between police community and local residents.
"Community policing is a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies that support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime," the Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services states on the department's website.
Some people are promoting transparency from police departments, including the release of police dash cam footage in instances of police-related fatalities. There also are calls for the demilitarization of police forces, along with the implementation of police body cams to increase accountability on the job.
Other solutions have included decriminalizing certain offenses, such as marijuana possession. Another recommendation is to help treat mentally challenged people rather than instinctively throw them behind bars. The Justice in Policing Toolkit asserts that incarceration has been wrongly used "as a one-size-fits-all" approach by police.
The organization Campaign Zero is also working to create a safer country for the black community through specific solutions regarding police killings, such as limiting police interventions, improving community interactions and ensuring accountability.
FBI director: Lack of use of force data fuels negative narrative
OIS videos are shared broadly across the internet and can fuel the negative anti-police perception, even if the data isn't there to back it up
by Eric Tucker
WASHINGTON — Dramatic videos of deadly law enforcement encounters and the absence of reliable data about how often police use force contribute to a regrettable narrative that "biased police are killing black men at epidemic rates," FBI Director James Comey said Sunday.
That story line has formed amid a lack of comprehensive, national data about how many citizens are killed or injured at the hands of police officers.
Videos of fatal police encounters that capture the public's attention and are shared broadly across the internet can fuel the perception that "something terrible is being done by the police," even if the data aren't there to back it up, Comey said, speaking in San Diego during a gathering of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
"It is a narrative driven by video images of real and gut-wrenching misconduct, by images of possible misconduct, by images of perceived misconduct," Comey said. "It's a narrative given force by the awesome power of human empathy."
Americans "actually have no idea if the number of black people or brown people or white people being shot by police is up, down or sideways over the last three years, five years, 10 years," or if black people are more likely than white people to be shot during police encounters, Comey said.
That narrative creates a wedge between law enforcement and the public, keeping "good officers in their car" and perhaps causing them to think twice before making a certain traffic stop at midnight, Comey said.
"Our officers see the videos. They desperately do not want to be in one. They think about that all the time," he added.
On the other side of the divide are distrustful community members who stay quiet instead of sharing information with the police after a crime, he said.
"And so into the chasm, into that gap of distrust, fall more dead young black men. In places like Chicago, we know what the chasm looks like and how much pain it causes," the FBI director said.
The FBI is moving forward with plans for a national database to track information about police use of force, Justice Department officials announced last week.
"We need to collect actual, accurate and complete information about policing in this country so that we have informed debates about things that matter enormously," he said.
Terrorist plot by militia group in Kansas thwarted
Federal investigators stopped a domestic terrorism plot by a militia group that planned to detonate bombs at a Kan. apartment complex where a number of Somalis live
by Tim Potter and Amy Renee Leiker
GARDEN CITY, Kan. — Federal investigators said Friday they stopped a domestic terrorism plot by a militia group that planned to detonate bombs at a Garden City apartment complex where a number of Somalis live.
Three southwest Kansas men were arrested and charged in federal court with domestic terrorism, Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said at a news conference in downtown Wichita.
The three are suspected of conspiring to set off a bomb where about 120 people – including many Muslim immigrants from Somalia – live and worship, Beall said.
An apartment at the complex also serves as a mosque, officials said.
Curtis Allen, 49; Gavin Wright, 49; and Patrick Stein, 47, were arrested in Liberal on Friday morning, Beall said. Allen and Wright are Liberal residents; Stein lives in Wright, a small town just east of Dodge City.
Wright is the owner of G&G Home Center in Liberal, Beall said. Allen works there.
The three men are being held in Sedgwick County and face arraignment there at 10 a.m. on Monday. If convicted, they could face life in federal prison, Beall said.
The men are members of a small militia group that call themselves the Crusaders, Beall said. The bombing was scheduled for Nov. 9 so as to not affect the general election.
“It is very concerning and very disheartening,” Hussam Madi, spokesman for the Islamic Society of Wichita, said of the planned attack.
“I thank God that they were able to be caught before anything can happen. We don't need such actions here within our community and within our country.”
‘Culture of hatred'
Beall said the investigation involved an FBI probe “deep into a hidden culture of hatred, violence” and what amounted to a startling plot. The FBI launched its investigation eight months ago, on Feb. 16.
“These individuals had the desire, the means and the capabilities and were committed to carrying out this act of domestic terrorism,” Special Agent in Charge Eric Jackson said at Friday's news conference.
In an e-mailed statement after the plot's announcement, the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on state and federal law enforcement agencies to step up protection for mosques. The group is the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization.
“Given this alleged plan to attack a Kansas mosque, the two other hate incidents reported today against Islamic institutions in Michigan and New Jersey, and the overall spike in anti-mosque incidents nationwide, state and federal authorities should offer stepped-up protection to local communities,” Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement.
Beall and Jackson, at the news conference, said the men were stockpiling weapons and were going to publish a manifesto after the bombing. One of the men said that the bombing would “wake people up,” Beall said.
They formed a plan of violent attack targeting Somalis and – after considering a host of targets, including pro-Somali churches and public officials – settled on the apartment complex, he said.
The plot involved obtaining four vehicles and filling them with explosives. The men discussed parking the vehicles at the four corners of the complex and detonating them to “create a big explosion,” Beall said.
They planned to use a cellphone to detonate the explosion. Allen said he had the materials and said they would test them, the court affidavit said.
In addition to the apartments and the mosque, the affidavit said “Stein, Wright, and Allen … discussed targeting churches in Garden City that have supported refugees.” Stein said one particular church “needs burnt to the ground.”
The men also talked about targeting “city/county commission meetings, local public officials, landlords who rent property to Muslim refugees, and organizations providing assistance to Muslim refugees.”
Beall said Stein met with a confidential FBI source in rural Finney County on Wednesday to examine some automatic weapons brought by the source from an FBI lab in Quantico, Va.
After trying out two of the firearms, Stein took the FBI source to see the Garden City complex the attack was targeting.
Stein told the FBI source he would provide ammonium nitrate for the bomb and that he wanted to contribute $200 to $300 for other materials, Beall said.
Three different times, a court document said, Stein did surveillance “on potential target locations around Garden City and other parts of southwestern Kansas.”
Stein and other Crusaders met in a field to avoid FBI surveillance, and Stein brought up the Orlando nightclub shooting.
“He proposed carrying out an attack similar to the Orlando shooting against a Muslim refugee location in Garden City,” the affidavit said.
Stein also told the FBI source he was worried Allen's girlfriend would go to the Liberal Police Department and disclose the militia's plans, Beall said. Allen, he said, had been arrested in a domestic violence case in Liberal on Tuesday.
According to the affidavit, that's what happened.
On Tuesday, Allen's girlfriend called Liberal police, said she was battered by Allen and was leaving their home. She showed Liberal officers a room in the home with a large amount of ammunition and components to make more and build firearms.
That night, officers stopped Allen and found ammunition, including an AK-47 magazine.
Also Tuesday, the girlfriend told the FBI she saw a white powder being made at G&G. The powder looked like explosives, the affidavit said.
Then on Wednesday, a search of the mobile home business found a possible detonator plus items used to make improvised explosives, it said.
Also found, the affidavit said: “A yellow binder and paperwork labeled ‘The Anarchist Cookbook.' ”
Police officers in Liberal estimated they found “close to a metric ton of ammunition in Allen's residence.”
The defendants were “planning to take imminent actions,” said Jackson, the FBI special agent in charge.
“They were committed to carrying this out,” he said.
Jackson would not be specific about how the FBI got the information that led to the investigation.
He described the defendants as being part of a militia with “sovereign citizen” ties.
Asked whether there could be more suspects, Jackson said, “We feel as though the individuals involved in this plot have been stopped and that the individuals' plot has been stopped.”
Beall referred to the defendants' group, the Crusaders, as being an isolated group.
Jackson wouldn't say how big the group was or whether it had links to other groups.
Beall said the case shows that such an attack “can happen anywhere.”
Blue lines painted on streets in support of police draws critics
Police say the lines symbolize the bond between communities and officers, but critics are concerned the lines could be polarizing rather than unifying
by Michael Boren
WOOLWICH TOWNSHIP, N.J. — A handful of South Jersey towns have painted a blue line on roads near their police departments to express support for officers, drawing mostly praise from residents but also concerns from critics that the lines could be polarizing rather than unifying.
The lines, painted between yellow lane dividers at the request of mayors and public works officials, have appeared in Cherry Hill, Haddon Heights, and Oaklyn in Camden County, Mantua Township and Woolwich Township in Gloucester County, and Westampton Township and Evesham Township in Burlington County.
"We have only received positive feedback from our community," Evesham Police Lt. Joseph Friel said.
But not everyone supports the lines.
In North Jersey, a borough councilman last month suggested they send the wrong message and could be portrayed as racist. Another critic, John Burns, chairman of Black Lives Matter New Jersey, said they divert attention from issues such as racial bias by officers and are a response to a perceived threat.
"They feel as though Black Lives Matter is attacking police officers individually," Burns said. "We're saying that there is a systemic problem."
Police say the lines symbolize the bond between communities and officers.
"That line shouldn't represent one side vs. the other," Cherry Hill Police Chief William Monaghan said. "It should be all-inclusive of the community."
Mayor Chuck Cahn personally paid to have the line painted shortly after Labor Day outside the township's municipal building. Officials in other towns have used private donations or resources such as existing paint.
Monaghan said officers view the line as a morale booster - a reminder the majority of the nation's officers are good, even if the bad ones often make the headlines.
"There has been this broad brush applied to the profession as a whole because of the actions of a few," Monaghan said.
The fatal shootings of black males by officers in recent years - from New Jersey to Minnesota to Oklahoma to North Carolina - have stirred nationwide calls for police reform.
At the same time, the slayings in July of five officers in Dallas and three officers in Baton Rouge, La., have heightened calls to support police departments.
A National prism
Whether the blue lines play a role in the national debate is a point of contention.
In Closter, a small borough in Bergen County, Councilman Brian Stabile objected to the idea of a blue line last month.
"We're a town that's less than 5 percent black and there is a major national race issue in this country," he said, according to NorthJersey.com. "The prism of the nation right now says that if you put a blue line there, you are a racist."
Stabile, reached last week, declined to elaborate on his concerns, but said about the issue: "I'm happy that it's being discussed."
The largest demographic in most of the South Jersey municipalities with blue lines is white.
In Camden, where blacks and Hispanics make up 95 percent of the population, police have not considered having a line painted. Neither have police in Willingboro, where blacks and Hispanics make up 80 percent of the population.
Police in towns with the tribute say the intention is not to take sides in the national conversation on race relations and policing.
"To me, all lives matter," said Bruce Koch, the chief in Haddon Heights, where a public works official painted blue for police and red for firefighters along Station Avenue last month. "It's not a black thing. It's not a blue thing. All lives matter."
The "thin blue line," as it's called, has historically been used to honor fallen officers and symbolize the duty of police to protect citizens from criminals.
It's unclear who started the most recent trend of painting the line on streets. Residents in other states such as Ohio and Texas have painted small blue lines on their curbs.
In Pennsylvania, the trend of adding the tribute to roads has been less widespread than in New Jersey. Hanover Township in the Lehigh Valley painted a blue line in the summer for the Colonial Regional Police Department, which serves the area. Philadelphia police said they have not seen the tribute on streets outside their stations.
Pennsylvania and New Jersey have banned it on state-run roads.
Transportation agencies in both states made the decision out of caution, because the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which specifies how roads should be painted, does not say whether the blue line is allowed.